"So Let it Be Written... So Let it Be Done"

The life and times of a real, down to earth, nice guy. A relocated New Englander formerly living somewhere north of Boston, but now soaking up the bright sun of southwestern central Florida (aka The Gulf Coast). Welcome to my blog world. Please leave it as clean as it was before you came. Thanks for visiting, BTW please leave a relevant comment so I know you were here. No blog spam, please. (c) MMV-MMXV Court Jester Productions & Bamford Communications

Monday, September 29, 2008

One of the Best songs ever...

...which I had to share with you tonight.

"You're the Inspiration" by Chicago

You know our love was meant to be
The kind of love that lasts forever
And I want you here with me
From tonight until the end of time

You should know, everywhere I go
You're always on my mind, in my heart
In my soul, baby

You're the meaning in my life
You're the inspiration
You bring feeling to my life
You're the inspiration
Wanna have you near me
I wanna have you hear me sayin'
No one needs you more than I need you

And I know, yes I know that it's plain to see
We're so in love when we're together
And I know that I need you here with me
From tonight until the end of time

You should know, everywhere I go
Always on my mind, in my heart
In my soul

You're the meaning in my life
You're the inspiration
You bring feeling to my life
You're the inspiration
Wanna have you near me
I wanna have you hear me sayin'
No one needs you more than I need you

During the summer of 1986, I went to see Chicago at Great Woods in Mansfield, MA. What a concert!! I went with some of my friends on staff that year (though I don't remember who went with us, besides possibly David Harrison). I had my driver's license but didn't have a car on campus, so going with a group was the only way to do it. We had lawn seats that night and I remember it was overcast and the grass was damp. I didn't care. Their album "Chicago 17" had just recently been released and they performed all the songs from it and many of their older, classic tunes that night. Their music was all over the radio that year and I remember listening to my cassette tape over and over and over again. I could sing along (however badly) because the lyrics were included.

Ahhh, the memories...

I would love for this song to apply to someone special in my life once more.

"Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow but some day soon and for the rest of your (my) life."

(Sorry, had to insert the movie quote in there because it popped into my head as I typed and it seemed to make sense...)

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Sunday, September 28, 2008

First Presidential Debate

I was going to comment on Friday's first Presidential debate today, but I'm not going to now since I read this from our good buddy scribe in the wee hours (way too early) this morning.

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Saturday, September 27, 2008

SNMR 5.15: "The Natural"

Tonight's SNMR feature is "The Natural" (1984,PG,138 minutes), starring Robert Redford, Glenn Close, Kim Basinger, Robert Duvall, Wilford Brimley, Richard Farnsworth, Barbara Hershey and Robert Prosky. The film was directed by Barry Levinson.

PLOT SUMMARY: This is the story of fictitious baseball player Roy Hobbs (Redford) and the New York Knights. Roy is a young phenom on his way to a tryout with the Chicago Cubs. On the way to the tryout, he gets sidetracked and his life goes in a different, unplanned, direction. Sixteen years later, a middle aged Roy Hobbs gets his chance to show what he can do on the field.

MY OPINION: I think this is one of the better baseball movies ever made because it is not just a story about baseball. It's a story about desire and dedication. It's a story about missed opportunities and taking advantage of the opportunities presented to you. It's also about family and the importance of relationships.

The cast in this film is phenomenal- The lifelong sweetheart (Close), The pesky newspaper reporter (Duvall), The temptation (Basinger) and even the manager (Wilford Brimley) are superb. Barry Levinson does a great job directing the movie. Sure, the film has it's hokey moments, like when Hobbs a) has his ball get struck by lightning, knocking the cover off of it (like his manager told him to do) b) having a home run shatter the clock and c) having a home run shatter one of the lights which causes an impromptu fireworks display. I also appreciate the allusions to real baseball people. Obviously The Whammer (Joe Don Baker) represents Babe Ruth, The Judge (Robert Prosky) represents Charles Comiskey (who was the notorious owner of the Chicago White Sox for many years) and Hobbs represents Ted Williams, a lefty who wore number nine and who, if not for two interruptions in his playing career by stints in the US Army (for WWII and Korea), may have been considered the greatest to ever play the game. Even so Williams is still considered in this argument/discussion.

On the DVD version that I watched, there was an excellent documentary with director Levinson and Cal Ripken, a real life retired baseball player of some note. I would have liked to hear some cast interviews, though.

It's hard to believe that this movie was released twenty-four years ago. Even if baseball is not your thing, this is still a worthwhile movie to watch.

**** out of *****

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Paul Newman (1925-2008)

Hollywood has lost another legend. Paul Newman, 83, died of cancer today at his home in Westport, Connecticut. More importantly, the world has lost a great humanitarian and philanthropist.

This is the story that the Boston Globe ran today.

Here's one piece I found on cnn.com. Pictured: Newman in 1965 (top left) and Newman with wife of fifty years, Julie Woodward (bottom left).

I never got into many of Newman's films, but those I did see were excellent.

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Friday, September 26, 2008

Yankees return to the Fens

For the first time since 1995, the New York Yankees will not make it to the playoffs. I'm really quite broken up about that. Really I am......





NOT!!!!

Seriously though, to make the playoffs for 13 consecutive years is quite an accomplishment, for any team but especially in baseball because not as many teams qualify for the playoffs as in the other major sports.

The Yankees do come to Fenway for the final three games of their season this weekend. It's always fun when the Sox and Yankees play, no matter the situation. It's an important series for the Red Sox, as they tune-up for the playoffs.

There is a small chance that the Red Sox could still win the American League East, if Tampa loses its final three games and if the Red Sox can sweep the Yankees. Otherwise the Red Sox will enter the playoffs as the AL Wild Card team and will play against the Los Angeles Angels in the first round.

So far this season, the Red Sox lead the season series, 8-7.

The pitching match ups for this weekend's battle with the Yankees is as follows (as always, updates provided after the conclusion of each game):

Sept. 26th Yankees 19, @ Red Sox 8
WP=Robertson (4-0), LP=Pauley (0-1)

Sept. 27th (postponed, rain)

Sept. 28th Yankees 6, @ Red Sox 2
WP=Mussina (20-9), LP=Matsuzaka (18-3)

Sept. 28th @ Red Sox 4, Yankees 3
WP=Hansack (1-0), LP=Veras (5-3)

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Thursday, September 25, 2008

a new addiction

For the last couple of months, I've been spending quite a bit of time in the evenings and on weekends playing this game called Rummikub.

It really is quite fun and highly addictive.

My mom started playing it when she went on vacation to visit my grandmother in Florida earlier this year. My parents taught me how to play and my kids learned from watching us play. My sister, brother and his kids now all know how to play.

We've also gotten quite competitive with it, but in a fun way.

We've played it so much that I had to buy another set because some of the painted numbers on the tiles were fading and chipping. One of the things I like about it is that it gets the mind working.

If you've never played this game, you should try it. It's lots of fun.

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Saturday, September 20, 2008

No SNMR today

My humblest apologies to those of you who read this feature regularly (I'm sure there are one or two of you out there) but I've just been really busy this week and haven't had the chance to watch any new movies or write any suitable reviews. Usually I try to stay one week ahead (at least) and have a review in the can just in case.

All things being equal (and they hardly ever are) the plan is to get back into the swing of things for next Saturday.

In the absence of a new review, feel free to revisit a previous SNMR post. Maybe you missed one along the way. They are all conveniently linked over there on the sidebar. Scroll down far enough and you'll see 'em.

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Saturday, September 13, 2008

SNMR 5.14: "The Phantom of the Opera"

Tonight's SNMR feature is "The Phantom of the Opera" (2004, PG-13, 143 minutes), starring Gerard Butler, Emmy Rossum, Patrick Wilson, Minnie Driver, Simon Callow and Miranda Richardson. The film was directed by Joel Schumacher. It is based on the novel by Gaston LeRoux and the stage play by Andrew Lloyd Webber.

"The Opera ghost really existed. He was not, as was long believed, a creature of the imagination of the artists, the superstition of the managers, or a product of the absurd and impressionable brains of the young ladies of the ballet, their mothers, the box-keepers, the cloak room attendants or the concierge. Yes, he existed in flesh and blood, although he assumed the complete appearance of a real phantom: that is to say, of a spectral shade." --Gaston LeRoux from the Prologue to his novel.

MY OPINION: Emmy Rossum does a fantastic job playing the part of Christine Daae, both with her singing and acting. Minnie Driver's small part as Carlotta is amusing, even though her voice was dubbed for most of the film. Gerard Butler, who played The Phantom, was a horrible casting choice. His performance to me seemed uninspired. Directing this type of film is not Joel Schumacher's strength. He seems to me to be more suited to direct big budget action films, not sedate period pieces such as this. I was also disappointed in the make-up under the Phantom's mask. It wasn't hideous enough and not scary at all.

What this film does have going for it is that the script is based on the stage play by Andrew Lloyd Webber, which I saw with my ex at the Wang Theater in Boston in 1991 or 1992. The music is awesome and prompted me to acquire the cast recording two CD soundtrack set, which I found reasonably priced on eBay.

For a long time I've wanted to read the original novel but never got around to it. Maybe someday.

The film is okay but doesn't hold a chandelier bulb to Webber's stage play.

**½ out of *****

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Thursday, September 11, 2008

my brush with literary fame

I don't remember if I've ever told this story on my blog before. This post started out as a comment on another blog. The following is a true story.


I'll admit it, I've never gotten into the writing of Stephen King and never even knew what he looked like.

I went to a Red Sox game once and the usher who helped me find my seat told me that "I was the lucky one."

I had no clue what he was talking about until I saw my seat, which was on the aisle on the first base side. Sitting in seat #2 was a thin, gaunt looking man with glasses who had a big hardback novel in his lap.

My initial impression was, "who in the %&*!^&*$*# brings a freaking novel to a baseball game! If you love to read your book so much, stay home and read it!! What a freaking moron!"

Then I heard the names, "King" and "Stephen" mentioned (apparently by his wife and son) but not in the same sentence, as I took in the sounds and conversation of the pre-game ballpark crowd. Then it dawned on me who I was sitting next to and why the usher called me lucky.

So I asked him for his autograph.

He politely refused, reasoning that if he signed something for me, then he'd have to sign stuff for everyone else and his enjoyment of the ball game would be ruined.

Having been, at one time, an autograph seeker groupie I respected and understood his reasoning for refusing my request, instead of being mad and considering him a freaking a$$hole.

Another fella recognized him and came up and asked him for his autograph, which he also politely refused.

As the course of the game went on, we started talking about baseball, the Red Sox and the game we were watching. We even high-fived on one occasion when the Red Sox were doing particularly well.

Late in the game King asked me if I thought the Sox would let the rookie (making his major league debut that night) bat in a tight, crucial situation. I told him that I did and my reasoning why. He seemed to find my explanation sound and appeared to agree with me.

If memory serves, I was rewarded when the rookie not only batted in said late game situation, but also got a hit which scored some runs for the Red Sox.

When the game ended (the Red Sox won) and we were about to leave, King reached over, grabbed my program and signed it, because I didn't hound him for an autograph and because for three hours that night, we became friends.

If you asked Stephen King about it today, I doubt that he would remember me. He might remember the game, being the renowned Red Sox fan that he is, but probably not me. But that's okay, it's certainly a night I'll never forget.

BTW, the year was 1992 and the rookie was John Valentin, who wore #13 and primarily played shortstop during his time with the Red Sox. I can't remember the score of the game, but I believe the Red Sox were playing the Texas Rangers that night.

Yes, I still have the autographed program somewhere and maybe the ticket stub from the game too.

And I've still never been able to get into the voluminous mass of Stephen King's published work.

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Monday, September 08, 2008

season over after 7 minutes 33 seconds

For years we've been hearing how indispensable Tom Brady is to the success of the New England Patriots and how he's the one player whom they could not afford to lose to an injury.

Well, halfway through the first quarter of the Patriots 17-10 win over Kansas City yesterday, Brady went down with a season ending left knee injury, forcing 4th year back up Matt Cassel to step into the fray and carry this team as far as he can.

How many games will the Patriots win now in 2008? I had them penciled in for 13-14 wins and a long run through the playoffs as a #1 or #2 seed. Now I'd say the Patriots are a 10-11 win team and a best case scenario 4th seed in the tough American Football Conference.

Yes, it will be an adjustment for the Patriots and fans to get used to Matt Cassel. Matt who?? As important as Tom Brady is (he is after all the franchise), there are other talented players on this team who will now have to step up and play better each week to help fill the void. The Patriots struck gold in a similar situation in 2001, can they do it again?.

I was listening to the game on the radio when it happened and watched the hit on Brady (ad nauseum on Boston area television stations) and I agree that it looked like there was no maliciousness involved in it. It was a football play, as Steve Young put it on ESPN tonight, that happened within the game.

Who needs a sure-fire first ballot Hall-of-Famer, two-time Super Bowl and reigning league MVP Quarterback anyway?? Fifty touchdown passes. Bah! Who needs that?

We'll see how much the Patriots do over the next four months, that's for sure....

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Sunday, September 07, 2008

Flag Football season is here

but only for the month of September.

This is the second season that M has participated in his town's flag football program. The league is for 1st thru 3rd graders. There are six teams in the league and each team plays two games per Sunday. The games are 20 minutes long with two ten minute halves. Each team takes turns playing offense and defense for a half.

M's team this year has adopted the nickname "Jedi" and wear blue t-shirts. M wears #9 this year. Last year his team wore green t-shirts and M wore #12.

The first games were today and the weather was absolutely perfect for it. M's team won the first game. I'm not sure which team won the second game. During the second game M got to play quarterback. He threw two beautiful passes... but both were intercepted by the other team.

Even though the emphasis in these games is having fun, playing as a team and learning the basics of football and not wins and losses. But I have to say that some of the kids on M's team seem to be more interested in fooling around than actually learning how to play. I'm proud to say that M is one of the most intense and coachable kids on the team. He doesn't fool around, is always paying attention to the coaches and because of this is one of the better players.

Next year M wants to try playing tackle football. That will be fun. Yeah, baby!!

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Saturday, September 06, 2008

SNMR 5.13: "Raising Helen"

Tonight's SNMR feature is "Raising Helen" (2004, PG-13, 115 minutes), staring Kate Hudson, John Corbett, Helen Mirren, Joan Cusack, Hayden Panettiere, Spencer Breslin and Abigail Breslin. The film was directed by Garry Marshall.

PLOT SUMMARY: What happens when you are young, single and carefree when parenthood is suddenly thrust upon you because of a family tragedy? That's what we find out when Helen (Kate Hudson) is chosen to raise her older sister's three children after she and her husband die in an automobile accident?

MY OPINION: In the hands of a less experienced director this film could have turned out to be a major disaster. Director Garry Marshall understands how these type of films work and knows how to get the most out of the cast even if the script is not top notch. I thought the premise of the story was interesting but the script could have been a little tighter. Hudson and Corbett give fine performances and Joan Cusack is excellent. It was refreshing to see the clergy portrayed as a protestant (Lutheran) minister instead of a Catholic priest, which is what you see in most films.

All in all this is a decent film. I've seen better movies and I've seen worse ones, too.

*** out of *****

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Thursday, September 04, 2008

Football season is here!

College football games started last weekend.

The NFL season started tonight with Washington losing to the New York Giants, 16-7, at the exit 7W Meadowlands in the wilds of New Jersey. There's also a full slate of games on Sunday and a Monday night doubleheader.

Now it's time to officially put the Patriots heartbreaking Super Bowl loss in the rear view mirror and focus on the new season.

Do I think the Patriots will go 16-0 in the regular season again?

No.

But with a soft schedule, a 13 win or better regular season record is a real possibility. Home field advantage in the AFC goes through Foxboro until further notice.

With that, here are my predictions for another wonderfully glorious, highly emotional NFL season:

Division Champions

AFC East- New England Patriots
AFC Central- Pittsburgh Steelers
AFC South- Indianapolis Colts
AFC West- San Diego Chargers

AFC Wild Card teams- Cleveland Browns and Jacksonville Jaguars

NFC East- Dallas Cowboys
NFC Central- Green Bay Packers
NFC South- New Orleans Saints
NFC West- Arizona Cardinals

NFC Wild Card teams- Seattle Seahawks and Philadelphia Eagles

SEEDINGS:
AFC:

1. New England
2. San Diego
3. Indianapolis
4. Pittsburgh
5. Cleveland
6. Jacksonville

NFC:

1. Dallas Cowboys
2. Green Bay Packers
3. New Orleans Saints
4. Arizona Cardinals
5. Seattle Seahawks
6. Philadelphia Eagles

Wild Card Playoffs
AFC- Cleveland over Pittsburgh and Indianapolis over Jacksonville
NFC- Seattle over Arizona and New Orleans over Philadelphia

Conference Semis (Divisional Round)
AFC- New England over Cleveland and San Diego over Indianapolis
NFC- Dallas over Seattle and Green Bay over New Orleans

Conference Championships
AFC- New England over San Diego
NFC- Dallas over Green Bay

Super Bowl XLIII @ Tampa, FL
New England over Dallas

Seriously people, did you really think I'd pick against the Patriots? When you come as close to perfection as they did in 2007 and not get it leaves you with a big chip on your shoulder and a super bad taste in your mouth. I don't care if you hear that they've put that devastating loss behind them. They're human and want to prove that they can regain the mantle of champions. Afterall, it has been three years since the last one. Plus, no one plays the us vs. them card better than Coach Bill. Nobody. Even if he never shows emotion in public or in the press, you can bet he does with his team. He'll drill it into their heads until they're repeating it in their sleep.

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Tuesday, September 02, 2008

90210

For some reason, when new shows come on television, I rarely watch them right away. Such was the case earlier this year with Friends, as my regular readers will know.

That was also the case with Beverly Hills 90210 back when I was in college. I started watching that show sometime in 1994 or 1995, once it reached syndication. Quite frankly, what got me into the original show was Jennie Garth (Kelly Taylor) and Gabrielle Carteris (Andrea Zuckerman) whom I found incredibly attractive. I'm not so sure what happened to Gabrielle Carteris or what she looks like these days, but Jennie Garth is still hot (like last year when she did Dancing with the Stars).

Once I got into the show, I asked my wife (at the time) to tape it for me every day, since my job required me to work second shift two to three times per week. So for a time I was watching it in syndication and watching the new shows as they would come out weekly, starting with, I think, season five through season nine. I don't think I ever bothered with the final season, season ten.



Recently and much to my delight, I managed to acquire the first two seasons of the original Beverly Hills 90210 at a very reasonable price. I had seen some of the episodes but not all of them.

Did you know that a pre-"Friends" Matthew Perry has a guest starring role near the end of season one? Or that Vivica A. Fox has a guest spot in the first third of season two episodes?

Whether you were a fan of that show or not, it was one of those foundational shows that solidified FOX network as viable in comparison to the big three of ABC, CBS and NBC. You know, back in the day when there weren't a gazillion channels on cable and there was no such thing as tiers of channels that you could order from the cable company. When people said that there was no need for a fourth major network.


Which brings me to tonight's series premiere of 90210, the new spin off series I've been seeing the previews for all summer. I'm watching it now as I write this and I'm not sure what to make of it so far. Some of the characters from the old series have parts in this series and some of the characters of this series are the children of the kids in the old series. There are so many characters and plot lines in this two-hour episode that I'm not sure which characters we're supposed to like and which we're not.

I'm going to try and get into this show but my gut feeling is that it won't last but two or three seasons, if that. One of the reasons the original 90210 did so well at first was because the show was very topical and issues oriented for the first three plus seasons, blending the issues with the drama and character stories, then moving into pure glitz, glam and evening soap-opera plot-lines. This new show is getting into the soap opera style from the get go.

Yes, I know that I skipped tonight's Big Brother episode to watch 90210 and that's okay. I know I can watch BB tomorrow on cbs.com.

Anyway, I enjoyed watching the first two seasons of the original BH 90210, which means that eventually I'll buy the other eight seasons but not right away. Seasons three through five are still way too expensive for my taste and seasons six through ten haven't even been released yet.

Don't you worry about me, though. I've found some other older television shows on DVD to occupy my time, which I'll blog about after I've watched them.

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Monday, September 01, 2008

Books of the Month - September 2008

Happy Labor Day, everyone!

With the Democratic National Convention now behind us and the Republican Convention beginning this week, I thought it would be relevant to focus this months selections on the candidates running for President. Especially now that we're beginning the homestretch in the race for the highest office in the land and arguably the most powerful job in the world.

I strongly believe a person's religious faith shapes their character, Presidential candidate or not.

This first selection will give you a clearer picture of what Democratic nominee Barack Obama believes. There have been many misconceptions circulating in the shark infested media waters about Mr. Obama. I mean, don't you have to be a Muslim with a name like Barack Obama?



Product Review from amazon.com:

Get inside the mind and soul of Barack Obama.

In The Faith of Barack Obama, New York Times bestselling author Stephen Mansfield takes readers inside the mind, heart, and soul of presidential hopeful Barack Obama—as a person of faith, as a man, as an American, and possibly as our future commander in chief.

America faces looming inflation, climate change, a national credit crisis, war in the Middle East, threats to security and liberty at home, and skyrocketing oil and gas prices.

With all of these threats to our security, prosperity and freedom on the horizon, it has never been more important to choose the right leader for America.

“If a man’s faith is sincere, it is the most important thing about him, and it is impossible to understand who he is and how he will lead without first understanding the religious vision that informs his life,” writes Mansfield.

In The Faith of Barack Obama, Mansfield holds back nothing to share that vision and explain its roots, including:

• Obama’s upbringing in a non-Christian home
• the influence on his life from his agnostic mother and Muslim father
• his remarkable turn to Christianity after working in the inner cities of Chicago
• his years at the controversial Trinity United Church of Christ
• his association to the radical teachings of Rev. Jeremiah Wright
• the source of Obama’s relentless optimism and hope for America

Every American voter concerned to know more about Obama’s beliefs, both religious and political, and how the two intertwine should read this book, as should every thinking person who continues to shape and evolve his or her religious beliefs.

Barack Obama, according to Mansfield, is “raising the banner of what he hopes will be the faith-based politics of a new generation . . . and he will carry that banner to whatever heights of power his God and the American people allow.”

“You must read this perceptive and well written book. Then you will know why Barack Obama has such a passion for justice and equity, such a gift for filling people of different generations with a new found hope that things can and will change for the better.” —ARCHBISHOP DESMOND TUTU

Order your copy here and here.

For this month's second selection, and in the interest of fairness, I was looking for something similar about John McCain. However I couldn't find anything, so this will have to do.



Product Review from amazon.com:

Books by politicians are not often worth reading, but John McCain's Faith of My Fathers is an astonishing exception to the rule. The Republican senator from Arizona has a remarkable story to tell--better than just about any of his peers--and he tells it well, with crisp prose and an unexpected sense for narrative pacing. The first half of the book concerns his naval forbears: his grandfather commanded an aircraft carrier in the Second World War, while his father presided over all naval forces in the Pacific during the Vietnam War. They were the first father-son admirals in American history.

Young John McCain knew he had enormous shoes to fill and rebelled against many of the expectations set for him. At the Naval Academy, he was nearly expelled, graduating fifth from the bottom of his class. He never became an admiral, but achieved fame another way: as a naval aviator in 1967, he was shot down over North Vietnam and spent several years in POW camps, where he was beaten, tortured, and nearly allowed to die. McCain describes the awful details of his imprisonment and tells how he stayed mentally strong during seemingly endless months of solitary confinement and how he communicated in code with fellow captives.

Faith of My Fathers concludes with McCain's release and contains no information about his subsequent political career. It is, nonetheless, a complete and compelling memoir of individual heroism--one that will interest both political and military history buffs. --John J. Miller


Purchase your copy here and here.

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