Cannonball Read IV

A bunch of Pajibans reading and reviewing and honoring AlabamaPink.

Archive for the tag “military”

pyrajane’s review #38: Drift: The Unmooring of American Military Power by Rachel Maddow

Rachel Maddow makes me feel smarter because I like the way she explains things.  She also makes me feel woefully under-informed because she is crazy smart.  But she makes me feel hopeful because she knows what’s going on even if I’ll never be able to keep up.  I love her.


I never would have picked up a book on military history if she wasn’t the author.  It’s not that I don’t care about it, but I don’t understand it and find it confusing and super depressing.


This was fascinating and scary and, yes, depressing.  Read more over on my blog, including an apology for any mistakes.  I had the audio version for this and wasn’t able to tag the millions of things I wanted to talk about.


Valyruh’s #CBR4 Review #48: Zero Day by David Baldacci

Holy cow! Baldacci actually stole a brilliant character from a competitor author and made it work…sort of.  With his latest thriller, author David Baldacci introduces a new hero John Puller, who appears to be modeled precisely on the Reacher “prototype” made famous by author Lee Child. Both Jack Reacher and John Puller (“reacher” and “puller”?) are essentially army cops—Reacher is a former M.P. (military police) and Puller an Army warrant officer. Both are big, brawny, silent, loner types who carry a lot of internal baggage but not much else. Both end up in hairy situations that rapidly evolve into huge conspiracies, and both invariably team up—temporarily–with cool kick-ass female cops/FBI/sheriffs.  Neither have the time nor, it would seem,  the inclination, for a serious relationship with anyone or anything.

There are differences, to be sure. Reacher carries his toothbrush around with him and has no place to call home, while Puller—still active military—has a cat waiting for him back in his minimalist apartment, whenever he drops by for a shower and change of uniforms. More importantly, Puller has a father—a former highly-decorated general slowly dying of Alzheimers—and a brilliant older brother serving a life sentence for some undefined act of treason. But in mode of action, Reacher and Puller are carbon copies, which makes for a rather disconcerting read by someone–like me–who has enjoyed all of the novels of both authors.

In a nutshell, Puller gets deployed to a tiny and dying coal town in West Virginia where a visiting Defense Intelligence colonel and his entire family were murdered. Puller is sent in solo, with no back up, and is told that the case is important and unusual, but is given no further information or instruction. Several more bodies are discovered and his only ally in the investigation is a lady cop related by marriage to the wealthy and despised owner of the coal company that is slowly killing the town and who is Puller’s first suspect. Many characters of varying degrees of believability are introduced to the plot, which unfortunately remains rather opaque throughout much of the novel, but which is finally and dramatically unveiled near the end and then solved in typical big-bang fashion by Baldacci’s hero.

While Baldacci’s writing is always fast-paced, exciting, and filled with lots of political, intelligence, military, and technical savvy, it still falls short of the nuanced ambience of the Jack Reacher novels. The plot of Zero Day, as with many of Baldacci’s books, is just shy of implausible but a fun read for all that.

Cfar1′s #CBR4 review #04 of Glen Cook’s The Tower of Fear

I first became acquainted with Glen Cook’s work because of a stranger’s recommendation in a bookstore on a snowing winter afternoon. I was looking for something to ride out what became one of my state’s worst winter storms and was in the process of purchasing books by Robert Jordan and David Eddings, a man standing near me notice what I was getting and asked if I had tried Glen Cook, the particular book he pointed to had a cover that would have looked more at home sitting next to a Ross McDonald book. It showed a fedora sporting character and a leggy blond, it just happed to include a centaur and an dwarf . I bought it based on the cover and the recommendation. It’s odd that my introduction to Mr. Cook was through the one series that is least like the others. Mostly Mr. Cook writes military science fiction and fantasy. He is best known for the Black Company and Dread Empire series. His fantasy/PI series, The Garrett Files, is less well known and a lot lighter in spirit.

This book is a stand-alone book. It is military fantasy, although with a mid-eastern type setting rather than the more standard western European one. The book is a very easy read with one exception. Rather than focusing on large military battles, this book focused more on political intrigue, double-crosses, secret maneuvering and assassinations, waiting until near the end to give us an all out battle. The issue I mentioned, and it may just be me, but there were several instances where a character would have a name
very similar to another and I would read half a page, puzzled, only to realize I had misread the name.

The basic plot is that long ago a powerful mage/priest was leader of a nation. While at war with another nation, during a major assault, a wizard/assassin attacked and kills him. The leader’s wife, a witch, freezes the two at the last moment of combat. This is the prolog. The action in the book takes place years later as four forces maneuver for control of a major city-nation. One seeks revolution, one the status quo and the other two work for their own ends. The city is in an uproar as someone is kidnapping children
and keeping them for a time only for the children to later be found wandering the city with no memory of the incident left. When a great leader of a nomadic mercenary force arrives with his men to shore up the military presence of the city, and a new governor takes over, the city catches fire.

I enjoyed this book, so far Mr. Cook has never disappointed me.  Other than the confusion of similarly named  characters I had no issues with the book, it was well paced and interesting.

genericwhitegirl’s #CBR4 Review #1: Zarqawi’s Ice Cream by Andrew Goldsmith

I had a war kick a couple years ago where I read books written about an Army Ranger, a Navy Seal, and reconnaissance Marines. So it was a no brainer that I might be interested in hearing about Army infantry soldiers. Whether or not you agree with the US involvement in countries like Iraq and Afghanistan, you have to admit that those who have served overseas have some pretty knarly stories to tell.

Zarqawi’s Ice Cream is a collection of stories, impressions, and memories of Goldsmith’s time in the Army, and specifically, Iraq. This book is written differently from the others I had read. Although each book has a distinct voice and personality, Goldsmith’s quasi stream of consciousness style definitely stands out. Although I’m not sure if I like it or not, it definitely gives his story telling an interesting style. Rather than a straight out narrative, “Hi, I’m Andrew and this is my story…” Goldsmith journals each chapter independently. There is a loose connection from chapter to chapter, but each really is its own story. He has an artful way of conveying his message, even if he IS talking about something gritty or even disturbing. The downfall, however, is that I didn’t feel a real connection to Goldsmith or the other people he writes about. He seems detached from the narratives, and it made me feel a bit detached to the book as a whole.

So while I feel like the book is well-written, it’s not my favorite military read.

See The Blist to read more reviews by genericwhitegirl.

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