Thursday, September 27, 2007

Sort-of read: "Guns Illustrated 2007" edited by Ken Ramage

Sort-of read: Guns Illustrated 2007: 39th Edition edited by Ken Ramage, 2006, 9780896894266.

I usually do not read the articles in this annual since the articles are just industry updates. I read through specs, find errors (there are always a few), and play If I Could...

There are many variations to If I Could... Variations include: pick one from each page, pick anything and have unlimited ammunition, pick one from each category, pick a 10,000 rifles to outfit the Union Army in the Civil War, pick ten to fill a safe, etc.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Read: "The 47th Samurai" by Stephen Hunter

Read: The 47th Samurai by Stephen Hunter, 2007, 9780743238090.

The latest novel by Hunter to feature his character Bob "The Nailer" Lee Swagger. Good but the second part was the better of the two halves. The Swagger books have all been gun books except this one. This one is a sword book - which was difficult to get used to. I was expecting guns, guns, guns and got none.

It starts off with Bob's father Earl Swagger fighting on Iwo Jima in a one-man bunker attack that earned him the Medal of Honor, then segues to the mostly retired Bob Lee in Idaho. Bob Lee is scything a plot of land when a retired Japanese officer named Yano - about Bob's age - drives up and announces his father was at the bunker that Earl took on single-handedly. Yano suspects that Earl may have kept Yano's sword, Bob tracks said sword down and delivers it to Yano in Japan. Yano and family are killed and Bob gets his dander up and goes out for revenge while absorbing as much Japanese culture, character, and sword training he can.

This novel is a lot different than the other Bob and Earl novels and it took me about halfway through to really get into the book. First off, I'd gotten more used to the Earl character since the last few Hunter novels I read featured Earl instead of Bob. It took me a while to warm back up to Bob. One big problem I had with the book is that Hunter discusses modern Japanese culture and the blending of politics with the yakuza much like Barry Eisler does. Since Eisler's writing on the topic is terrific Hunter's retread did not interest me much.

Bob Lee can be corn-pone; always ready with an odd saying, bluntly speaking the truth, and ready with self-deprecating humor or arrogance skewering wit.

Kondo took a small breath.
"You fight like a peasant," he said.
"I am a peasant," Bob replied.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Just Read: "Thank God I Had A Gun" by Chris Bird

Just Read: Thank God I Had A Gun: true accounts of self-defense by Chris Bird, 2006, 9780965678452.

Very good. Fourteen stories of self-defense.
Bird interviewed most victims and he writes about the event, the victims' training and mindset and any mental trauma they had to overcome afterwards.

The events are told and then analyzed by firearms instructor and journalist Bird and - for me - are great reinforcement and reminders about awareness and training. Two big points that go hand-in-hand are the response time by police - even when they know shots have been fired - and that assailants would continue to move and fight after being mortally wounded.

One incident had a smaller guy, five foot five inches tall, getting robbed in his motel room. The victim shot both robbers with his .45 but still had to physically fight them off after emptying his weapon. One of those robbers died from the wounds which hit center mass. Another incident had a lady in Arlington, TX shooting an home intruder who had been fleeing from police. Even with cops actively searching her neighborhood it took six and half minutes for them to arrive at her home. Never mind the debacle in New Orleans after Katrina when the cops were nowhere to be found, or rural areas where the Sheriff's office has a slow response time.

Shot placement and good defensive rounds rule.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Re-Read: "Run, Boy, Run" by Uri Orlev

Re-Read: Run, Boy, Run by Uri Orlev, 2003, 0618164650.

Dirty fucking Nazis. Human garbage.

I re-read this for the Men's Book Club. When I first read this novel I considered it one of the best books I ever read. I was riveted to the story of 8 year old Jurek and his time growing up during World War Two in the Warsaw Ghetto and Polish countryside. (My notes from the first reading with plot description)

The book is still good - and I still rank it very high - but since I already knew the outcome and read of the horrendous things that Jurek overcame means I did not feel the same emotional impact as before. Damn dirty Nazis. What kind of a person intends to kill a nine year old boy? The Gestapo. Not to mention the the other close calls Jurek had with regular troops who shot at him.

Jurek's survival is amazing and his survival is due to a handful of kind people and Jurek's own personality, endurance, and tenacity. Orlev writes without a lot details and he doesn't go delve into Jurek's emotions and reactions. I liked that because it let my own reactions and emotion be in the forefront. I felt like more of a participant with Jurek rather than an observer.

Dirty, filthy Nazis.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Re-Read "Maus: a survivor's tale" by Art Spiegelman

Re-Read Maus: a survivor's tale by Art Spiegelman, 1986, 0394747232.

Great book. Damn Nazis. Re-read this for the Men's Book Club. I probably come away with different views and insights each time I read this.

One thing that strikes me is how people were just stuck having to accept things. So many opportunities to die and so many escapes from death. Spiegelman's dad was a bit of a wheeler-dealer and the contacts he made kept him alive many times.

Spiegelman asks his dad if the dad had to pay a relative to help him out of one jam. His dad says, "Hah! You don't understand... At that time it wasn't anymore families. It was everybody take care for himself." You never could know who to trust and what was safe. I wonder if I survived through something like that whether the need for revenge would be burning me.

Damn Nazis.