Review of ‘Autobiography of Howard Hughes’

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Reclusive billionaire, Howard Hughes, is one of the most famous, and little-known men of the 20th century. Tycoon, recluse, filmmaker, and aviator, more myths have been circulated about Hughes than the ‘Flying Dutchman.’ Clifford Irving’s Autobiography of Howard Hughes: Confessions of an Unhappy Billionaire purports to be Hughes’ life story, told in his own words. While the veracity of this account cannot be definitely established, it rings true, and is not just a story of Howard Hughes, but a series of untold stories of many other luminaries in American history during the period of Hughes life.

Whether you chose to believe this account or not is irrelevant, it is mesmerizing reading. A new, and somewhat disturbing look at the lives and times of some of the most well-known personalities in politics, entertainment and business, that will challenge everything you think you know.

I give it four stars.

Review of ‘Life Among the Piutes’

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The Piute Indians (also known as the Paiutes) lived in what is now Nevada before their first contact with whites. According to Piute legend, Indians and whites were once brothers and sisters, but were separated because they could not get along. So, when they had first contact with whites, Winnemucca, the main chief, saw it as a sign that the siblings were to once again be united. That relationship, however, took a bad turn when it transpired that the white expansion to the west was to displace, and in some instances, destroy, the indigenous culture.

In Life Among the Piutes, Sarah Winnemucca Parker, granddaughter of Winnemucca, tells the history of this first contact, through the forced removal of the Piutes from their ancestral home to reservations along with other tribes, and the many injustices visited upon the peaceful Piutes by greedy Indian agents and unscrupulous land grabbers.

First published in 1883, this was the first known publication by a Native American woman, and it details Sarah’s life and activities, leading her to become an activist on the East Coast for an enlightened Indian policy. Edited by Mrs. Horace Mann, it retains Sarah’s words and speech patterns, making it all the more profound. Rich in detail and unsparing in its descriptions of the privations suffered by Indian tribes in the face of the inexorable onslaught of westward expansion, it is a must-read for anyone who wants to know the true story of our country’s development.

I received a free copy of this recently published e-book version of this ground-breaking work.

I give it five stars.

Review of ‘The Reminiscences of a Marine’

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Published originally in 1930, The Reminisces of a Marine, is the account of the life of John A. LeJeune, who served for eight years as the Commandant of the Marine Corps. LeJeune’s story of his childhood, growing up in the turbulent years immediately after the Civil War in reconstruction-era Louisiana, and his career, first as a naval officer and finally as a U.S. Marine.

LeJeune’s account, while intensely personal, also highlights many of the pivotal events of world and American history of the period; notably the Spanish-American War, the period of heavy American involvement in Latin America, China, and the Philippines; and the horrific trench warfare of World War I in Europe. He also outlines the history of the Marine Corps in the 20th century, and the pivotal role he played in making it a quasi-independent part of the Department of the Navy.

With knowledge of world events since 1930, something that LeJeune, from his vantage point would not have, one can also see the foreshadowing of many triumphs and tribulations that persist down to the present day. From the often troubled relationships we have with our southern neighbors, a residue of the years of American occupation and involvement in internal affairs, to the prickly familial relationship with the Philippines.

This book should be read by anyone interested in a personal look at America during the period between the end of the Civil War and the conclusion of World War I, as the United States reestablished itself as a world power.

I received a free copy of this book. I give the author a posthumous four stars.