Monthly Archives: October 2011

The definitive biography of the legendary conservative Senator from South Carolina.

In the tradition of Clay and Calhoun he served in the United States Senate until they shipped him home from Washington in his coffin. He was no less eloquent than they were and no less determined to protect his beloved South. The problem was that by the end of his service he had become a lone voice in the wilderness where even a kind word in his behalf could end a political career. This is by no means a fair and balanced appraisal of his work, nor is it even a complete one, it is however about the best we will get until the revisionists resurrect him one hundred years hence and place the deserved laurels on his grave.

Strom : the complicated personal and political life of Strom Thurmond      Jack Bass and Marilyn W. Thompson  Legislators United States Biography, Thurmond, Strom, 1902-2003  New York : Public Affairs, c 2005 Hardcover. 1st ed. and printing. xvi, 415 p. : ill. ; 25 cm. Includes bibliographical references (p. 369-392) and index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG

In Strom, Jack Bass and Marilyn W. Thompson deliver a remarkable look at the life of a remarkable — and complicated — politician. First elected to public office in 1929, Strom Thurmond was a pivotal figure in the nation’s politics for more than seven decades particularly when it came to issues of race: the Dixiecrat presidential candidate in 1948, originator of the 1956 “Southern Manifesto” against the Brown vs. Board of Education ruling, holder of the record for a Senate filibuster for his opposition to the 1957 Civil Rights Bill. Yet as a young man Thurmond had secretly fathered a daughter with the family’s black maid, and quietly supported her through college and beyond.

An intense public examination of Thurmond’s legacy began when he left the Senate at age 100, continued when he passed away soon after and only grew when Essie Mae Washington-Williams announced in December 2003 that she was the senator’s long-rumored black daughter.

Bass and Thompson knew Strom better than any other journalists. They both covered him for years and broke the big stories. In Strom, they tell us a great deal about power and politics in our nation and race’s twisted roots in the 20th century South.

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Without Knowledge, Skill cannot be focused. Without Skill, Strength cannot be brought to bear and without Strength, Knowledge may not be applied.

Some several centuries ago the humanitarian crisis was invented. That is not to say that before that time there had been no problems of conquest, war, famine and death but the rise of the modern newspaper and the need to market the same meant that the slaughter of 10,000 – or 10,000,000 – or as many dying because the crops failed or earthquakes and tidal waves brought down principalities and kingdoms became a tale that could be retailed to the common man. And just as surely as men answered the call of “Deus le Volt” and marched off to the crusades man are still willing to march off in pursuit of perfection of whatever their view of a better world may be today.

The communist Chinese sought to extend their dominion over Asia and the Buddhists were willing to defend their homes – the teachings of Buddha holding no more sway than the teachings of Christ held in the Crusades. Our interest at the time was in limiting, or at least slowing, Chinese communist aggression. We were blessed to have leadership that realized that no direct intervention would work but we were ready, willing and able to fight a proxy war – in the name of freedom – and that is what we did.

I often regret the lack of clarity and honesty in confronting geopolitical problems. It should be enough to determine at Country [A] poses a threat and be prepared to counter that threat. Should Country [A] reduce potential to act and make casus belli then they should be reduced to a state where they can no longer disturb the peace – it really is that simple.

When we allow the fog of isms to cloud our judgement we wind up fighting wars we shouldn’t – and maybe not fighting some we should – and we wind up with half measures that have left to continent of Asia in the grip of the most thoroughgoing barbaric regime in modern history. This book is a record of one more failure of a free people to share the blessings of liberty.

Buddha’s warriors : the story of the CIA-backed Tibetan freedom fighters, the chinese invasion, and the ultimate fall of Tibet      Mikel Dunham :     Foreword by the Dalai Lama  Tibet, China History 1951  New York : J.P. Tarcher, c 2004 Hardcover. 1st ed. and printing.     433 p. : ill., map ; 24 cm. Includes bibliographical references (418-423) and index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text.   VG/VG

Buddha’s Warriors is the first book that brings to life Tibet before the Chinese communist invasions and depicts the transition of peaceful monks to warriors with the help of the CIA.

Tibet in the last sixty years has been so much mystified and politicized that the world at large is confused about what really happened to the “Rooftop of the World” when Mao Tse-tung invaded its borders in 1950. There are dramatically conflicting accounts from Beijing and Dharamsala (home of the Dalai Lama’s government-in-exile). Adding to the confusion is the romanticized spin that Western writers and filmmakers have adopted in an effort to appease the popular myth of Shangri-La.

Buddha’s Warriors is no fairy tale. Set in a narrative framework but relying heavily on the oral transcripts of the Tibetan men who actually fought the Chinese, Buddha’s Warriors tells, for the first time, the inside story of these historic developments, while drawing a vivid picture of Tibetan life before, during, and after Mao’s takeover.

The firsthand accounts, gathered by the author over a period of seven years, bring faces and deeply personal emotions to the forefront of this ongoing tragedy. It is a saga of brave soldiers and cowardly traitors. It’s about hope against desolation, courage against repression, atheism against Buddhism. Above all, it’s about what happens to an ancient civilization when it is thrust overnight into the modern horrors of twentieth-century warfare.

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“Asia is not going to be civilised after the methods of the West. There is too much Asia and she is too old.” ― Rudyard Kipling

The playing fiels of the Great Game

Tournament of shadows : the great game and race for empire in Central Asia      Karl E. Meyer & Shareen Blair Brysac  Great Britain Relations Asia, Central  Washington, D.C. : Counterpoint, c 1999 Hardcover. 1st ed., later printing. xxv, 646 p. : ill., maps ; 24 cm. Map of Asia on endpapers. Includes bibliographical references and index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG

The original Great Game (1800–1917), the clandestine struggle between Russia and Britain for mastery of Central Asia, has long been regarded as one of the greatest geopolitical conflicts in history. The prize, control of the vast Eurasian heartland, was believed by some to be key to world dominion. Teeming with improbable drama and exaggerated tensions, the conflict featured soldiers, mystics, archeologists, and spies, among them some of history’s most colorful characters.

While the original Great Game ended with the Russian Revolution, the geopolitical struggles in Central Asia continue to the present day. Beginning with the soldiers and propagandists of the Victorian era, Tournament of Shadows chronicles nearly two centuries of conflict in the Eurasian heartland, conflict that has spawned wars in Afghanistan, the invasion of Tibet, and economic scrambles for control of Caspian oil.

Karl E. Meyer and his wife Shareen Blair Brysac have created a vivid narrative that brings to life the engaging personalities in this colorful conflict:

• Russia’s greatest explorer, Nicholas Przhevalsky, who died trying to shoot his way to Lhasa;

• Nicholas Roerich, the Russian artist and mystic who searched for fabled Shambhala under the patronage of Henry Wallace, the American Secretary of Agriculture;

• Philadelphia socialite Brooke Dolan, like a figure out of Hemingway, who reached Lhasa as an OSS operative;

• SS Captain Ernst Scha;fer, who led an expedition to Tibet in the late 1930s in an attempt to confirm Nazi racial theories;

• William Rockhill, the first American to befriend and advise a Dalai Lama;

Sarat Chandra Das, the Bengali explorer who went to Lhasa in the secret service of the Raj.

Revealing a wealth of new material that has never before been published, Meyer and Brysac have written a sweeping history of a riveting tournament, a two-century joust with political and economic implications that remain as topical today as this morning’s newspaper.

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Thirty years after the most legendary shipwreck on America’s inland waters. Michael Schumacher examines the productive life and untimely demise of the Edmund Fitzgerald.

Shipwrecks in Whitefish Bay

from The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald

Does any one know where the love of God goes
when the waves turn the minutes to hours?
The searchers all say they’d have made Whitefish Bay
if they’d put fifteen more miles behind ‘er.
They might have split up or they might have capsized;
they may have broke deep and took water.
And all that remains is the faces and the names
of the wives and the sons and the daughters.

Gordon Lightfoot

Mighty Fitz : the sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald      Michael Schumacher  Shipwrecks Superior, Lake, Edmund Fitzgerald (Ship)  New York : Bloomsbury Pub. : Distributed to the trade by Holtzbrinck, 2005 Hardcover.     1st U.S. ed., later printing. 243 p. ; 25 cm. Includes bibliographical references (p. [213]-231) and index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text.  VG/VG

The disappearance of the Edmund Fitzgerald remains one of the great unsolved mysteries in maritime history. The specifics of what happened to the “Mighty Fitz” in the early hours of November 10, 1975, will never be known.

What we do know: The Edmund Fitzgerald, a massive ore carrier, had been fighting its way through a pounding November storm on Lake Superior. She was losing ground—the Fitz’s radar was out, and she had taken on water in the midst of gale-force winds and mountainous seas—but there was no reason to think she wouldn’t find safe harbor at Whitefish Point, Michigan.

Last word from the ship’s captain: “We are holding our own.” Suddenly the ship disappeared from radar. By all indications, the 29-man crew had no idea they were in mortal danger, and they nosedived to Lake Superior’s bottom before they could call for help. A massive search ensued but failed to find a single survivor.

Michael Schumacher relays in vivid detail the story of the Edmund Fitzgerald, its many productive years on the waters of the Great Lakes, its tragic demise, the search effort and investigation, as well as the speculation and the controversy that followed in the wake of the disaster.

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The tragic and mesmerizing story of the deadliest American fishing accident in 50 years, the 2001 sinking of the Arctic Rose.

The Bering Sea

58 Degrees North: The Mysterious Sinking Of The Arctic Rose      Hugo Kugiya  Shipwrecks Bering Sea, Arctic Rose (Trawler)  New York : Bloomsbury ; [United States] : Holtzbrinck Publishers, 2005 Hardcover. 1st U.S. ed. and printing. 265 p. ; 25 cm.  Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text.  VG/VG

In the spring of 2001, newspapers across the country reported that an industrial fishing trawler had gone down in the icy waters just below the Arctic Circle, with the boat’s position last recorded at 58 degrees north. The Arctic Rose sank so abruptly in the middle of the night that there was not even time to put on survival suits or call for help, and all fifteen men aboard were killed.

Journalist Hugo Kugiya’s investigation reveals a powerful story of adventure and disaster, illuminating how the modern industrial fishing industry gave rise to these sailors’ dangerous and strangely archaic life. He recreates the stories of the fifteen young men, all of wildly different backgrounds, trapped in close quarters and able to call home or mail letters only in their occasional returns to port. And finally he traces the Coast Guard investigation, the most costly in history, as the authorities try to figure out what really sank the Arctic Rose.

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