Soldiers of a Different Cloth by John Wukovits

Military chaplains—if the person does their job correctly, they are some of the most underappreciated people in the military. John Wukovits brings his superb World War II knowledge to chronicle some of the University of Notre Dame’s clergy who served as chaplains in the U.S. military during World War II in Soldiers of a Different Cloth: Notre Dame Chaplains in World War II.

Wukovits highlights a few of the 35 clergy members from Notre Dame who served during the war. He pays particular attention to Rev. Joseph D. Barry, Rev. John E. Duffy, Rev. Henry Heintskill, and six missionaries caught in the Philippines at the beginning of the war (Sisters Mary Olivette and Mary Caecilius and Brothers Theodore Kapes and Rex Hennel, and Fathers Jerome Lawyer and Robert McKee).

Wukovits’ strength of highlighting the individual is in full display in the book.

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A Libertarian Walks Into a Bear by Matthew Hongoltz-Hetling

I have some strong libertarian leanings, mostly on economics and size/scope of government stuff, and am a big fan of localism so I Was intrigued when I saw A Libertarian Walks Into a Bear: The Utopian Plot to Liberate an American Town (And Some Bears) by Matthew Hongoltz-Hetling on NetGalley.

I mean, it sounds like a pretty interesting story, right?

Once upon a time, a group of libertarians got together and hatched the Free Town Project, a plan to take over an American town and completely eliminate its government. In 2004, they set their sights on Grafton, NH, a barely populated settlement with one paved road.

When they descended on Grafton, public funding for pretty much everything shrank: the fire department, the library, the schoolhouse. State and federal laws became meek suggestions, scarcely heard in the town’s thick wilderness.

The anything-goes atmosphere soon caught the attention of Grafton’s neighbors: the bears. Freedom-loving citizens ignored hunting laws and regulations on food disposal. They built a tent city in an effort to get off the grid. The bears smelled food and opportunity.

It turned out to be another book I would give 3.5 stars. The kind of book that makes you pause of a moment when you are reviewing it on Goodreads. You know, did you “enjoy it” or “really enjoy it?” I was somewhere in between I guess.

A Libertarian Walks Into a Bear is a somewhat rambling portrait of small town New Hampshire through the lens of a group of libertarians seeking very limited government/interference and the habits of bears. In the style of narrative nonfiction, the author seeks to give the reader the feel of the people and communities while offering insight through history, science and even literature. It doesn’t take sides per se and offers a rather balanced perspective; letting the people and events speak for themselves for the most part. Although, he clearly prefers the bears…

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Mythopedia: An Encyclopedia of Mythical Beasts and Their Magical Tales

I am not sure how I stumbled on Mythopedia: An Encyclopedia of Mythical Beasts and Their Magical Tales at NetGalley but I am glad I did.  I was able to get a digital review copy of the hardback book that will be published on Tuesday.

What is Mythopedia?

From the West African fable of Anansi the Spider, to Michabo, the magical hare who rebuilt the world and Tanuki, the sweet but troublesome raccoon-dog of Japanese folklore, Mythopedia is an encyclopedia of mythical creatures that covers legends, tales and myths from around the world.

Lovingly created by the illustration duo behind popular flipbook Myth Match, Good Wives and Warriors, this book contains pages upon pages of cultural folklore from around the world.

Organized by geography (The Americas, Europe, Africa, Asia & Oceania), it offers a basic overview of mythological creatures from all over the globe. Plus, colorful and imaginative illustrations.

Some of the creatures will be familiar (most likely those from The Americas and Europe but some from Asia and Africa as well) while others are strange and exotic (Grootslang: and elephant-snake hybrid; Aun Pana: a creepy monster fish from the Amazon jungle; or Encantado: a bizarre shapeshifting dolphin).

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North! or Be Eaten by Andrew Peterson

For those of you not following along, I’m reading the Wingfeather Saga to mark the release of new collectable hardcover editions being released this year.  Specifically, books three and four being released on October 6.

Alas, rather than hardback I am reading them on Kindle so I am not getting the full effect of the new covers, maps, and illustrations by Joe Sutphin.  Kindle reading does make it easier to read in bed at night without disturbing my wife so it has that going for it.  And it does give me a sense of the added material even if not quite as grand as the hardbacks.

I am pleased to report that the books seems to be getting better as we go. I enjoyed On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness and found the second half of the book more engaging than the first.

And that pattern continued with North! or Be Eaten

Janner, Tink, and Leeli Igiby thought they were normal children with normal lives and a normal past. But now they know they’re really the Lost Jewels of Anniera, heirs to a legendary kingdom across the sea, and suddenly everyone wants to kill them.

In order to survive, the Igibys must flee to the safety of the Ice Prairies, where the lizardlike Fangs of Dang cannot follow. First, however, they have to escape the monsters of Glipwood Forest, the thieving Stranders of the East Ben, and the dreaded Fork Factory.

But even more dangerous are the jealousies and bitterness that threaten to tear them apart. Janner and his siblings must learn the hard way that the love of a family is more important than anything else.

I think I enjoyed this second book in the Wingfeather Series more than the first because there was more action and much more of the larger picture was revealed.

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Audiobook Review: Countdown 1945 by Chris Wallace

After I heard Chris Wallace on special Dispatch Live event with Jonah Goldberg, I put Countdown 1945: The Extraordinary Story of the Atomic Bomb and the 116 Days That Changed the World by Chris Wallace, with Mitch Weiss on my TBR pile.

Not that I am particularly interested in WWI (military history is Jeff’s bailiwick) or the dropping of the atomic bomb, but because I was interested in seeing how Wallace made the subject interesting given we all know what happened and the issues involved have been debated too death.  I was curious to see what an old school, straight shooter journalist made of the history.

It turned out the easiest way to get a copy from the library was to listen to the audiobook narrated by Wallace himself. So when it became available, I grabbed it and started listening.

Not surprisingly, Wallace is a great narrator and the style and focus of the book work well in audio format.  Unlike some more dense and technical history, I found this enjoyable to listen to and easy to pay attention

As to content, I found it to be a compelling and informative look at the events leading up the dropping of the atomic bomb on Japan in August of 1945. It gives you the perspective not only of President Truman and other larger than life figures but also of a host of minor characters from scientists and military leaders to those who worked at Oak Ridge and Japanese citizens who experienced the destruction of Hiroshima.

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