Posted tagged ‘books’

Enemy of All Mankind

June 2, 2020

This is my most recent book titled. “Enemy of All Mankind: A True Story of Piracy, Power and History’s First Global Manhunt” by Steven Johnson. This is a story of an English pirate named Henry Every who captained a pirate ship called “The Fancy” in 1695.

The Fancy was originally named the “Charles II” after the British King. It became “The Fancy” when Every and his men commandeered the ship in A Coruña, a port city in Spain. At that point the ship was renamed “The Fancy” and began its life as a pirate ship attacking shipping in the Indian Ocean.

Here is an excerpt from Chapter 1:

On a clear day, the lookout perched atop the forty-foot mainmast of the Mughal treasure ship can see almost ten miles before hitting the visual limits of the horizon line. But it is late summer, in the tropical waters of the Indian Ocean; the humidity lingering in the air draws a hazy curtain across the spyglass lens. And so by the time the English vessel comes into focus, she is only five miles away.

Eventually, the Fancy makes it way to Nassau in the Bahamas. Some of the crew took their share of the loot and returned to England where some of the crew were captured and eventually tried for piracy and other crimes.

So after the ships captured all of the loot, they had to make a hasty escape. They would certainly not want to be found and they couldn’t just waltz down the Thames to be greeted by the crowds.

The last part of the book covers the trial of six pirates that had been captured. The British government were trying to make a strong statement against piracy, so the trial was very important to the image of security of shipping.

So the first trial, the pirates were found “not guilty”. Of course, the Brit’s didn’t just let them go. So they had been found not guilty of piracy but the prosecution decided to charge them with mutiny. A subtle difference, I guess.

So on the second trial, they were all found guilty. In those days, they didn’t wait for an appeal. They just took them down to the execution dock and hanged them all. Back in those days executions were VERY public.

Here’s some more text:

Several days after the second trial ended, the six convicted mutineers—including Joseph Dawson, who had pled guilty twice—were brought back to Old Bailey for sentencing. Standing at the bar for one last time, each man was asked in turn by the clerk why they should not be sentenced to death for their crimes.

And one more thing, Henry Every was never captured.

It was an interesting book about which I had little knowledge. Worth reading.

Friday

May 15, 2020

Not going anywhere today. Yesterday, we picked up a few things for Mary that the caregivers said she needed. Needed shampoo, body wash and diapers. Picked the stuff up at Ralph’s and headed over to Long Beach.

We can’t go in to visit. We just put her name on the bag and left in a tent outside the door. Called the caregiver that stuff was there and should be picked up.

Then we headed back to San Pedro to get takeout at Pacific Diner. Paula had a BLT and I had a club sandwich. I had wanted a tuna melt but they were out of tuna. Who runs out of tuna fish?

We picked up our food and headed up the hill to stop at the overlook on Gaffey with great view of LA Harbor.

I started a new book today that I got from the LA Public Library titled “Yogi” by John Pessah. Interesting.

So we’re just hanging out today. Doing laundry. Empty trash and recycling. Reading, crossword puzzles, etc.

BTW, did you know that public libraries allow you to download books for free? The app for the LA public library is called “Libby”. For my east coast friends, there is an app for the Boston Public Library. Click the link for the pointer to the App Store. Did I mention that it is free?

Thursday – Books

May 7, 2020

What has everyone been reading? I just finished a book titled “Quackery: A Brief History of the Worst Ways to Cure Everything” by Lydia Kang MD. It’s an amazing story of the ways that people thought would cure their many ills. Scary stuff indeed. But for now, I’m going to switch over to fiction. Some of the non-fiction is getting too scary for me.

So I started reading a Michael Connelly book. Michael Connelly has written a ton of crime novels about the LAPD. One of his main characters he has written about is one Hieronymus (Harry) Bosch. Harry is a veteran homicide detective for the LAPD. The book that I am currently reading is titled “Two Kinds of Truth” . Harry has been fired from the LAPD and is working on cold cases for the San Fernando PD with his office in the basement jail of the police station. This is a lot less scary than the non-fiction.

So I’ve been telling Paula for a zillion years that I have to stop watching late night TV. I keep finding out about new books that I want to read. Stephen Colbert had Stephen King on his show a couple of nights ago. He was pitching his new book. The book is titled “If It Bleeds” Here is another case of non-fiction being scarier than fiction. Well maybe with Stephen King, the fiction is just as scary

So then we had a discussion about our favorite Stephen King books. For me, a toss up between “The Stand” and “Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption”. Of course, Shawshank was made into an excellent film starring Morgan Freeman and Tim Robbins.

“The Stand” was written in 1978. Scary stuff about a pandemic. Eventually, I will get around to rereading both titles again. I will write more about “The Stand” after I reread it.

That’s all for now. Stay safe.

Joe

Monday

April 27, 2020

Good morning everyone. We are continuing our stay at home and we are doing well. We have not been sick. We are staying occupied. The archiving of our old photo albums is continuing.

This post is mostly about the books that I have been reading. Reading is one of my prime activities to conquer the boredom.

I read all of my books on my iPad’s Kindle app. I try to avoid buying the books. I check the Libby app (LA Library) for availability. Libby is a free app where one can download the books to your Kindle app for three weeks. They have a limited number of copies of any one book available for download. If the requests exceed the number of books, you get added to the waiting list. Beats paying $10-$15 to Amazon.

Sometimes, I find out about books from late night TV shows like “Late Show with Stephen Colbert”. Another source for me is “CBS Sunday Morning”. They interview authors about new books that are coming out. So I write myself a note to check out the book(s) to download later. I’ve often told Paula that I need to stop watching late night TV, too many books to read.

This is the story of lawyers who work on cases where inmates have been wrongfully accused of a crime. The fictional story is based on a real organization called “The Innocence Project” that works on proving innocence of inmates wrongfully convicted of a crime. Reading Grisham tends to be a page turner for me. It took me three days to read the book. When I was done, I sent it back to the Library, just like a paper book.

Next up (sourced from CBS Sunday Morning) are two books, both non-fiction about our current situation. First is a book titled “Quackery – A Brief History of the Worst Ways to Cure Everything” by Lydia Kang, MD and Nate Pederson. I am doing this one first, because it was available for free from the Libby app. The title just about says it all.

Next up is a book titled “The Coming Plague” by Laurie Garrett. (Also, sourced from CBS Sunday Morning). Apparently, this is a popular book. I have put a hold on it with “Libby”. Expected wait time is six weeks. I probably won’t buy it for now. I’ll check back at Libby after I finish Quackery. Also available from Amazon.

Friday

April 17, 2020

It seems that I have missed a couple of days. I just didn’t have much to say. It seems though that people are having trouble remembering what day it is. It it wasn’t for my iPad and iPhone I wouldn’t know either.

So let’s begin. I went out to Albertson’s for a few things. We had run out of milk. Paula had been drinking milk some evenings instead of wine. I was also going to try and find some TP.

Here’s my list:

  • Milk
  • Tangelos
  • TP
  • Kleenex
  • Liquid hand soap
  • Hydrogen Peroxide
  • Box of white wine

Got the milk. Bought two half gallons of 1%. Got the TP. I had been told by Dan that they put out the TP first thing in the AM. Then when it’s gone, it’s gone. Going earlier improved your chances. So I scored a 6 pack of rolls. No choice. You get whatever they’ve got. Got the tangelos.

No on the Kleenex, hand soap or H2O2. Got the wine. Plenty of booze. Beer and wine are not in short supply.

So I finished the book about crossword puzzles. I am in awe of some of the people that are stars on the crossword puzzle tournament. I started reading “True Grit” by Charles Portis. This is the basis for the John Wayne movie of the same name. So far the movie is pretty faithful to the book. By the way, the kindle version was only $2. Such a deal.

On another subject, masks. Masks are required for visits to the grocery store. When we shopped on Tuesday, I wore a home made mask. Today I used a folded bandanna.

What many folks don’t realize the masks are intended to keep you from spreading your germs. Not for protecting you from getting someone else’s germs. Ie. Coughing in the vicinity of another person.

The first mask had problems in that it redirected my exhaling on to my eye glasses causing the glasses to fog. I also had trouble sipping my iced coffee.

Today, my bandanna was less problematic in that regard. Besides, when not in the immediate vicinity of other people, I let the bandanna slip a bit. I will be happy when we are done with the mask requirement, PITA.

By the way, the grocery store was not very crowded.

Later,

Joe

Sunday

April 12, 2020

Another day, another…Just more crossword puzzles and jigsaw puzzles and reading. We watched the Easter Service for Oceanview Baptist online and talked with our son Neil and his wife on the phone. That’s about it.

Cloudy today but no rain so far.

So I thought I would write about the books that I am reading. I have 3 or 4 that I am working on.

I was reading a book by Paul Klugman. Paul is a columnist for the New York Times and usually writes about Economics. The book is titled “Arguing with Zombies“. I got the book for free from the LA Public Library. Libraries have started lending ebooks now. They download the book to your Kindle reader. You get the book for three weeks before it gets deleted.

If the book is on a best seller list, you will have to wait. The app puts you on the hold list. Just like a conventional library.

So I got about half way through the book before the time ran out. I was having trouble remembering stuff about various things like monetary policy and the like.

At the same time, I have been reading a book titled, “The Ones We’ve Been Waiting For” by Charlotte Alter. This is a book about a new generation of political leaders that are up and coming in US Congress. I bought this book, not from the library.

Next up is a book titled, “Thinking Inside the Box” by Adrienne Raphel. This is a history of crossword puzzles. Also, it includes an interview with Will Shortz, the editor for the NY Times crossword. Lots of interesting history.

That’s enough for now. Stay safe and hang in there. This won’t last forever (I hope)

TTFN

Joe

The Nickel Boys

September 11, 2019

NickelThe latest book that I just finished was “The Nickel Boys” by Colson Whitehead, This is the fictional story of two black boys sentenced to a hellish juvenile reform school called “The Nickel Academy” near Tallahassee, Florida. The author says it’s fictional but it sure felt like the real thing.

The book is set in the 1950’s to early 1960’s, when race relations were just starting to change,

If a boy were to die while incarcerated, the body would be unceremoniously buried in an unmarked grave behind the school. No one either in government or the public seemed to care or even know about the place.

All it took was a seemingly minor mistake and one would be convicted to the reform school during the Jim Crow era in the south.

I could hardly put the book down. The follows Elwood and Turner through their life at the “Nickel” where one could be put into a hot, solitary confinement for any minor infraction.

There was a building for the black boys and one for the whites, but one gets the impression the black boys had it much worse.

Colson Whitehead won the Pulitzer Prize for his previous book “Underground Railroad“. I will get to that book when I get through by backlog of other books to read.

I’ve got to stop watching late-night television. Invariably, there is someone pitching there new book that they would like you to buy and read. And usually, I add the books to my Kindle reading list.

Other books that I am working on are “Home (Portal Series Book 3) by Richard Bowker. (Shameless Plug: Rich is my brother, and he would love to have you reading his books that are available on Amazon, either paperback or kindle.)

And finally, the other book that I am working on is “The Inn” by James Patterson. Book about an ex-cop living in Gloucester, MA.

Call the Midwife

July 21, 2019

Call the MidwifeI just finished “Call the Midwife” by Jennifer Worth. “Call the Midwife” was the basis for a PBS series of the same name. This book is actually book one of a three book series, but stands alone pretty well on its own.

The books tells the stories of midwifes, nursing and medicine in the East End of London during the 1950’s.

Paula and I had watched the PBS TV series a few years ago and our friend Roberta recommended that we read the books that were the basis for the TV series.

Indeed, the TV show is still going strong with season 8 just released. I just checked the PBS web site and found that Call the Midwife is on season 9. Still going strong. Click here to see the PBS site for Call the Midwife.

I really enjoyed reading book one and I will probably go back and read books two and three when I get around to it.

One of the comments in the book is about family size. It says that women in the East End typically had about 10 children over their child bearing years. Indeed, I learned later in life that my father had about 10 siblings. I only knew three of his brothers who we saw often when we were growing up. Many of his siblings had never reached adulthood, having died of a variety of diseases that are preventable in this day and age.

The book probably goes deeper into the lives of her patients in the East End. It seems to me that there are stories in the book are a bit too much for television.

Where the Crawdads Sing

July 11, 2019

crawdadsWhere the Crawdads Sing” is a both a love story and a murder mystery. It is the story of Kya, the marsh girl, who lives deep in the wetlands of North Carolina. The book has been on the Amazon best seller list for 43 weeks now.

Kya’s story starts with her mother leaving her to be alone with her drunken father. She learns to adapt to the marsh lands of North Carolina. Eventually her father leaves her, never to be heard from again. The story follows her learning to adapt and survive in her surroundings.

The story jumps between Kya adapting to her situation in the wetlands of NC and a murder investigation of a young man who was romantically involved with Kya. Did Kya do it? You will have to read it to find out.

I would write more but that would give away too much. This is a great story. Definitely worth reading.

The Black Thorn

April 18, 2019

41lCC6CPC2LJust finished reading “The Black Thorn”  by John Desmond. John Desmond is also a history teacher at Billerica Memorial High School. Our son, Mike, had him for an AP History course back in the late 90’s.

This is the story of Eamonn McDonagh, a Irish tenant farmer in the 1850’s who struggles against his English landlord in his town. He creates a secret society called the “Black Thorn” that proceeds to fight the oppression by the English.

He son, Joseph, witnesses the death of his father at the hands of the English. Joseph leaves Ireland in a “Coffin Ship” bound to America. Then the story tells of Joseph’s life in a coal mine and then in infantry of the Civil War.

Then Joseph comes back from the war to the coal mine. He then proceeds to form a union to fight the unfair labor practices of the mine owners.

Then there is violence in the murder of one of the mine owners. Joseph and his men get the blame and go to trial.

If I said anymore it would be a spoiler alert.

The story is historical fiction. The characters are not real but are based on real events in the Irish potato famine and the civil war.

Great read. I learned much about the civil war and other events of the time. I could hardly put it down. It took me only about five days to read cover to cover.