New Paperbacks: Navajo Code Talkers, A Massacre of Mormons, the Destruction of American Newspapers and Two New Novelsby Larry Cox on Sep. 11, 2012, under Uncategorized
The Deal from Hell: How Moguls and Wall Street Plundered Great American Newspapers by James O’Shea (PublicAffairs, $17.99)
When I first reviewed this book in 2011, the destruction of Tucson’s newspapers was playing out before our eyes. A paragraph from that review is as pungent now as it was then:
“If you watched in dismay at the recent gutting of the Arizona Daily Star, this new book should be at the top of your summer reading list…How Wall Street bankers plundered great American newspapers to line their pockets is a story that will make most readers burn with rage. Based on exclusive interviews and testimony from bankruptcy proceedings, this narrative is filled with examples of backstabbing, double dealing, and outright insidious behavior on how big business is conducted in modern America.”
The only thing that has changed since the original publication of this excellent book is that big business has become even more brazen and ruthless. I’m talking to you Bain Capital.
O’Shea’s compelling book should be required reading for the business majors in our colleges. It is that essential and that relevant.
Hemingway’s Girl: A Novel by Erika Robuck (New American Library, $16)
Erika Robuck, a Maryland-based author, got the idea for her novel while visiting Ernest Hemingway’s house in Key West, Florida. Later, as she began her research, she discovered a photograph of Hemingway on the dock in Havana with a marlin. Near him was a Cuban girl with an unforgettable stare. That girl became the focus of her new novel.
It isn’t easy to weave pieces of history with fictional characters and events and have them almost seamless but Robuck manages to do just that. Colorful, bigger-than-life characters and crisp writing are showcased in a beautifully crafted story that is compelling, vivid, and indelible.
One Foot in the Black by Kurt Kamm (MCM Press, $14.95)
Even though this is a novel, the narrative is crafted so well one can almost smell the wildfires which are the true focus of this story.
Greg Kowalski leaves his home in Michigan for California where he becomes a helitack (helicopter attack) wildland firefighter. When his captain dies during a major conflagration on a mountainside, Greg realizes he must come to terms with not just the death of his mentor but also unfinished business with his father.
Kurt Kamm uses the access he had to the fire camps and training academies of CalFire and the L.A. Fire Department to give his book a realism that is graphic, dramatic and gripping. If you have ever wondered what it’s like to face a wall of flames fifty feet high, at least part of the answer can be found in this remarkable tale of courage and challenge.
Bones in the Well: The Haun’s Mill Massacre, 1838: A Documentary History by Beth Shuman Moore with a foreword by Will Bagley (University of Oklahoma Press, $19.95)
This incident is one of the defining moments in the history of the Church of Latter Day Saints.
The Mormons immigrated into Missouri at the urging of their prophet, Joseph Smith. The new settlers were immediately seen as outsiders and so began a major conflict.
During the autumn of 1838, Governor Lilburn Boggs issued an order that Mormons should be treated as enemies and either exterminated or driven from the state. Several days after the order was issued, a Missouri militia attacked a small Mormon settlement at Haun’s Mill, killing seventeen men and boys and wounding more than a dozen others.
As Will Bagley points out in his foreword, “More than most documentary histories, “Bones in the Well” serves up large chunks of history…raw (T)hese survivors’ stories are filled with harrowing imagery (and) teach us much and give us even more to ponder about fear, hatred, and religion.”
Code Talker: The First and Only Memoir by One of the Original Navajo Code Talkers of WWII by Chester Nez with Judith Schiess Avila with a foreword by Jeff Bingaman, U.S. Senator from New Mexico (Berkley Caliber, $16)
During WWII, the Japanese managed to crack every code the United States used — except one. The Marines worked with 400 Navajo recruits to develop and implement a secret military language. It became the only unbroken code in modern warfare and helped assure victory for the United States over Japan in the Pacific.
Chester Nez was raised on the Navajo reservation during the 1920s and didn’t learn English until he was enrolled in kindergarten. Even though he was punished for speaking his native language, he managed to retain it. Nez worked with twenty-nine other code talkers, and their Navajo language helped win the war. Nez, the last surviving member of this elite group, lives in New Mexico.