non-fiction

Review of ‘Sons of My Fathers’

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With General Sherman’s Union forces closing on Atlanta, 19-year-old Ulysses Simpson and his father, Bayliss, on leave from their Confederate units, set out to avenge the death of a younger member of their family slain by a band of deserters, an action that sets the Simpson clan on a course that will have a significant impact on future generations.

A hundred years later, Ron Simpson, having enlisted in the army during the Vietnam War, and trained as a helicopter pilot, traumatized by news of the massacre by US forces at My Lai, is faced with a decision—does he honor his oath to serve his country, no matter what, or does he follow his own conscience, and his desire not to kill.

Sons of My Fathers by Michael A. Simpson is a mostly true, multi-generation, family saga that explores the stress that can be put on a family when personal values conflict with the expectations of society or the organization to which a person belongs. Using the backdrop of the Civil War, a conflict that pitted brother against brother, and threatened to fracture the nation, the author contrasts that period with the Vietnam War at the height of the anti-war movement, when citizens began to question the wisdom and integrity of those elected to lead the nation. Using historical sources and family recollections, Simpson takes the reader inside the internal conflicts that rage when the decisions and orders from those in leadership veer from the personal moral codes of individuals, and show the need of individuals to take personal responsibility for their decisions and actions.

In today’s climate of moral ambiguity and political uncertainty, this book is food for thought. In addition, it’s a highly compelling read that shows the personal anguish of war and its impact on those called upon to fight; providing lessons that can help navigate the treacherous waters that we face, not just in war, but in every facet of life.

I received a free copy of this book, and found that, once I started reading, I was unable to put it down. This is not just a war story, nor is it your typical coming-of-age novel. It’s a blueprint for living a life that has meaning, and being able to respect the one person who really matters in life—yourself.

Without hesitation, I give it five stars.

Review of ‘The Otherness Factor’

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If you’d like to learn how to build sustaining relationships, a good book to read would be The Otherness Factor by Kathleen Hall and Bonner Hardegree. Using the Socratic question and answer method, and tapping into the work of ancient and modern philosophers, they show how beliefs in morals, ethics, religion, etc ., are a matter of choice, and that we can co-develop good relationships by learning to appreciate otherness.
A worthwhile book to read in our current climate of political and social divisiveness.

I give the authors five stars for this one.

Review of ‘How to Meditate’

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How to Meditate by Tahlia Newland is a brief, but comprehensive book on the value of meditation. It includes a history of meditation and its benefits, and has a thorough set of guidelines for achieving the most from meditation. The author dispels many of the myths that Westerners have about meditation and gives complete guidelines for incorporating meditation in your daily life.

If you’re already meditating, or considering starting, this book will set you on the right path to get the most from it. Its easy-to-read style makes it a must-have for beginners and a good jolt to the brain cells of veterans as well.

I received a complimentary e-file of this book, and have already found several extremely useful nuggets of wisdom to incorporate in my own daily meditation routine.

Five stars.

Review of ‘The Tumor’

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Author John Grisham, who has penned several award-winning legal thrillers, says that The Tumor is his most important book. The story of Paul, a 35-year-old man diagnosed with a brain tumor, is first given as it happened, then Grisham provides a fictional account set in the future when ultrasound can be used to successfully treat and control such conditions.

While this lacks the suspense of the average Grisham novel, and is mainly a promotion for the ultrasound treatment, the author’s skill with words makes it a worthwhile read.  An interesting subject, but not Grisham at his best, so I give it four stars.