Book Review - "Warriors" by Ted Bell

Posted By Blackfive • [April 08, 2014]

The following book review is a special for BlackFive readers provided by Elise Cooper.  You can read all of our book reviews by clicking on the Books category link.

9780062279385_p0_v4_s260x420Best-selling author Ted Bell’s latest book Warriors delves into the dangers of an emerging China.  This spy thriller brings back his main character Alex Hawke who is not the ordinary super spy.  In this novel Hawke plays a supporting role to the gripping plot, which the author uses as a sounding board to wake-up Americans.

Bell commented to blackfive.net, “The whole China angle came about while at Cambridge.  From 2011 to 2012 I was elected to be a visiting scholar and a visiting writer in resident by Sir Richard Biling Dearlove, the retired head of MI6, now a professor there.  We focused on the issue of China with a subset of North Korea.  It was fascinating for me because anyone who wants a future in the intelligence community, the highest level of military, espionage, and intelligence, were there.  It was like Spy vs. Spy meets Harry Potter.”

The plot begins when a rogue Chinese military general kidnaps American scientist William Lincoln Chase and his family.  Chase is known for his research on creating weapons that will alter the global balance of power.  Intertwined with this are the sub-plots that have Scotland Yard Chief Inspector Congreve Ambrose investigating the murder of a Cambridge professor and coming to the rescue of Hawke’s son with the culprits being beastly black birds.

Although Bell told blackfive.net that most of the technology in the book was fictional, there is a believability and realism to it.  Readers will be engrossed with the highly advanced fighter jet designed to deliver Alex to his Chinese contact, a pair of equally advanced missiles designed to prevent him from making that meet, sophisticated drone planes, and a new class of submarine that is able to stay submerged in the water without a crew.

The torture scenes, although old school, are never the less very graphic and sophisticated, displaying the cruelness of the Chinese and North Koreans.  Bell wonders where the outcry is considering “waterboarding to them would be like me shooting you with a squirt gun.  These places are horrific and no one does anything about it.  There are four of these prisons with thousands of people who are sent there if they make the government angry.  Yet, China continues to fund the North Koreans, probably because, excuse my language, North Korea is China’s bitch, happy when they give the US a hard time.”

Many of Bell’s fans have likened Alex Hawke to James Bond, a comparison he disagrees with. The author describes his main character as dashing, sophisticated, emotional, witty, passionate, and a very eligible bachelor.  He noted, “Bond was a creature of the 20th century where as Hawke is from the 21st century.  He is thirty-three years old and the sixth richest person in England.  Unlike Bond Alex is a living breathing man who falls in love, misses his child, gets hurt, sees the world as good vs. evil, and can be very emotional. He represents a way of life that is rapidly receding in America.  Alex is a man of character with the bulldog tenacity of Winston Churchill and Ronald Reagan.  All these men would never give in.  We have gone from fighting on the beaches to sun tanning on the beaches.”

There are two powerful themes from the book. The mindset in Washington: We will not have to worry about the Chinese military capability until well into the next decade, and Washington behaves like a crippled giant.  Bell commented, “Looking at every possible recent scenario we are on the losing side, whether in Crimea, Syria, or Iran, our government makes a big show but there is never a price to pay.  Our navy is the smallest it’s been since WWII.  It is like we are dismantling this country with a lot of damage being done.  We are on the defensive, which is depressing.  China is becoming much more powerful.”

Ted Bell hopes his readers will find Warriors, a “tongue in cheek book, that is fun to read while learning a little something.”  This book accomplished this and a lot more with a gripping and realistic plot with likeable main characters.

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Exclusive Interview with Nelson DeMille - "Plum Island" to be brought to television!

Posted By Blackfive • [April 07, 2014]

The following is a special for BlackFive readers provided by Elise Cooper.  You can read all of our book reviews by clicking on the Books category link in the far right sidebar.

9780446515061_p0_v2_s260x420Plum Island, the New York Times best-selling book by Nelson DeMille, will likely be made into a television series. Produced by Sony and Lionsgate for a cable TV station, each of the ten episodes will be one hour long. This novel introduced the wisecracking, confident, not politically correct, street-smart character, NYPD John Corey. Although Plum Island was supposed to be a stand-alone book the popularity of Corey convinced DeMille to make him the lead in a series of novels. The dean of political thrillers was kind of enough to take time away from writing his next John Corey book to speak with blackfive.net about this project as well as future projects.

Plum Island’s plot begins with Corey on medical leave, recovering from bullet wounds, when his friend, chief of the Southold Police Department, enlists his aid while looking into the double homicide of Tom and Judy Gordon, also friends of Corey.  They happen to be employees of Plum Island, the nearby high-level bio-containment facility located in Long Island, studying deadly diseases such as anthrax and simian Ebola. The investigation originally leads the detectives to suspect the Gordons’ of stealing a vaccine with the motive of peddling it to the pharmaceutical world for billions of dollars. But Corey contemplates a competing theory that the couple might have been involved in selling drugs, or looking for buried treasure. The local murder investigation soon crosses jurisdictional boundaries and draws county, state, and federal investigators with Corey’s nemesis Ted Nash also introduced in this novel.

Although written in 1997 it is still relevant today with the many different issues explored: genetically engineered viruses, bio-terrorism, government cover-ups, and government surveillance.  DeMille commented to blackfive.net, “It will be interesting to see how the screenwriters make it into a contemporary piece.  Originally, pre-9/11 it was not well guarded and was under the jurisdiction of the Department of Agriculture.  However, today it is under the control of Homeland Security.”

Hopefully the screenwriter, Ron Bass, will be able to capture not only John Corey’s personality but also his partner’s, Beth Penrose.  In all of the Corey books the characters dialogue helps to create a plot that has tension, suspense, and humor, including the silly type jokes DeMille is known for as a writer. The female lead plays the perfect “straight man” to Corey matching his wit, wisdom, and sarcasm. As DeMille describes it, “Usually the women in Corey’s life are the voice of reason.  In the books he brings in his street smarts and the women bring in the logic. The one thing that was told to me is what they might do with Corey’s romantic interests.  They are hinting that possibly he would not ever be married.  What they might do is have the male/female lead romantically involved with some sexual tension.”

How much control will DeMille have over the project? DeMille’s short answer was not much.  However, he has offered his advice and is hoping that Bass will take him up on it.  “I think having the author involved is a good thing because it makes the project more successful.  On the other hand I don’t want to meddle since writing for a TV show is such a different format than what I am used to.  I sometimes wonder why a book property is bought for the screen considering all the changes made.  You wonder if they are buying the story or buying it for the built-in audience of the author. A good TV series allows the viewers to really understand the characters that the novelist has written.  One of my other books was made into a screenplay where they missed everything and the screenwriter did not understand that people want to read and watch other people. Without the jokes and sarcasm the characters do not sound like real people.  My son interviewed to be a screenwriter for this project since in TV land there is a team of writers.  Maybe if he is chosen he will consult with his father.”

If the pilot is successful a TV series will be made with the possibility of a feature film being produced. There is talk that each season will be based on the next Corey book.  His favorite book, The Lion’s Game is considered for the second season.  “Although I resisted a TV series for a number of years I decided to go with it because of the very good cable shows currently on TV.  Also, TV is willing to deal with Islamic terrorism while feature films will not.  The reason for this is the need for movies to be distributed overseas.  They would have to worry about the movie theatre being blown up, threats, and any backlash, while TV shows are just watched in people’s homes. That is why there is great interest in making my latest book, The Quest, into a feature film.  It does not deal with terrorists and is marketed as Indiana Jones meets The Da Vinci Code.”

DeMille also noted the book he is currently working on will be another John Corey novel, A Quiet End.  Corey is no longer with the Anti-terrorism Task Force and now works for the Diplomatic Surveillance Group, essentially being demoted.  His new duties include following people from the foreign embassies.  Assigned to watch the Russian UN mission Corey finds out that one diplomat is a bad guy associated with the KGB.  DeMille noted, “This book is about a resurgent Russia which as you know I thought about long before the Ukraine crisis.  The theme of this book is that the Cold War has come back with Corey understanding the Russian threat as existential and long range. This book is almost like a stand-alone in the same way as Plum Island.”

He also told blackfive.net, the female lead will not be Corey’s wife, FBI agent Kate Mayfield who is off to Washington DC after a promotion. “There will be sexual tension with his new partner. He is having problems with his wife since her promotion.  They seem to be drifting apart.  Something has to happen with Kate because the backstory has become cumbersome.”

Fans of the John Corey series are looking forward to two new projects, a new book due out sometime later this year, and a TV series probably entitled Corey.  With any luck, next fall fans will be able to get their fix of John Corey.  Hopefully, the TV series will maintain DeMille’s fingerprint over this great character.

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Running A 5K

Posted By Laughing_Wolf • [April 07, 2014]

Those of you who have been following over at LaughingWolf and Facebook know that I made a major lifestyle change just about a year ago.  The result is that I have dropped more than a few inches off the waist (have no idea on weight as that is, frankly, a meaningless measure), enjoyed the best health I've had in years, and have picked up doing things I've not done in far too long.  

One such is running, as in cross-country/long-distance running.  I'm a plodder more than a runner, always have been, but it is one of the things I really want to do.  So, I will be taking part in Hope For The Warrior's 5th Annual Big Apple Run For The Warriors, which is also starts events for Army Week .  What does that have to do with you? Well, there are two things. 

I want to invite all our readers to join me in walking/running/rolling/loping/whatever the 5k.  It isn't about how fast we do it, but rather that we do it.  

Second, I want to use this to raise funds for Mission: VALOR as well as Hope for the Warriors.  So, I've set a goal to raise $500 which will cover expenses (registration and new shoes, literally nothing fits anymore) with everything over expenses going to Mission: VALOR.  I've got some free coaching and such lined up, and plan to start building for this as quickly as possible.  You can donate through my GoFundMe (http://www.gofundme.com/2wwguw), or the PayPal link at LaughingWolf.  Just want to donate to Mission: VALOR?  The best way is via the Square Marketplace.  Reminder, we are not yet at 501(c)(3), but working on it.  Want to just put it to HftW?  Well, that info coming soon once I get registered.  

5thBA

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Time For a Caption Contest

Posted By LongTabSigO • [April 06, 2014]

Ok...Time to get the creative juices flowing....

 

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And.....GO!

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Crisis Hotline: Will You Be There?

Posted By Laughing_Wolf • [April 05, 2014]

Army Week Association and HBO are putting on a special screening and panel discussion about the real issues facing our veterans when it comes to mental health and suicide prevention.  If you are interested in reality and not media/agenda fantasies, you really want to be there.  This is first-come/first-served so RSVP now.  

AW-HBO1

Click on the image to enlarge and get the RSVP information. 

LW 

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Book Review - Conversations with Coach Wooden

Posted By Blackfive • [April 03, 2014]

The following book review is a special for BlackFive readers provided by Elise Cooper.  You can read all of our book reviews by clicking on the Books category link on the far right sidebar.

9781595800763_p0_v3_s260x420This time of year has sports fans euphoric since it is the beginning of the baseball season and March Madness is heating up.  A new book, Conversations with Coach Wooden by Gary Adams is very relevant since it combines both these sports.  Gary Adams was the long time coach of UCLA baseball who shared an office with the legendary Coach Wooden for almost a decade after the legendary basketball coach’s retirement.

The book reflects on Wooden’s core philosophies and principles behind his numerous basketball successes.  It also shows how Wooden influenced Adam’s career and coaching style as they became very close friends.  Adams told blackfive.net, that his first year of coaching was Wooden’s last.  After retiring UCLA’s Athletic Director asked Adams if he wanted a high profile officemate.  “The book describes how we met and told me ‘Gary, you know you are coaching my favorite sport, baseball.’”

Adams went on to say that during an interview Wooden commented that he was never asked to be an assistant baseball coach.  Adams chuckled as he noted, “I would have been proud and honored for him to be my bench coach.  Can you imagine having Coach Wooden as my right hand man to help me think about what I should do?  Unfortunately, during those times there was never such a thing as a bench coach.”

There are many stories about former players, as well as how both coaches viewed the changes to the games.  Both coaches, as with today, believed change is not necessarily for the better.  Regarding basketball Wooden was disheartened with the one and done, the slam-dunk, and the “show-off” players.  He felt basketball was no longer a sport but pure entertainment.  For him, the beauty of basketball was in the fundamentals of it being a team sport.  In the book Adams quotes Wooden, “Those fancy behind-the-back passes and showmanship slam dunks do not make the execution of the game any better.  They are only done to entertain the fans.  Well it does not entertain me.” He went on to say that the best basketball is having sound fundamentals that emphasize “good old-fashioned teamwork.”

Wooden thought, “the slam dunk may be good for entertainment, but it’s not good for the game.”  He once told Adams that at a UCLA basketball game a Bruin went high in the air and did a slam-dunk.  His response was, “that player would have been sitting on the bench before his feet landed on the ground.”

Baseball according to both coaches has not changed for the better with the American League rule of having a designated hitter. Adams said he and Coach Wooden did not like the designated hitter rule because it took the strategy away from the game.  Would a pitcher who is doing well be pulled for a pinch-hitter?

Conversations with Coach Wooden is an engrossing book for both a sports fan and a non-sports fan.  If you like basketball or baseball, the reader will love the personal stories of the coaches and players in this book.  But beyond that is the life lessons these two coaches taught through the sports of baseball and basketball.  These lessons seem to have been forgotten by some Americans today.

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Steve Russell- A good man for Congress

Posted By Uncle Jimbo • [April 02, 2014]

Not just a good man for Congress, but a good man period. Steve Russell is the real deal. I had the privilege of meeting him and working with him on several projects a few years back. He has been active in the Oklahoma legislature and now is going to come to the House of Representatives. I say going to come, but I want you to help make sure of that. I am sending some funds his way and I hope some of you will too.

A few short notes about him that will give you a feel for him. He commanded the battalion that had responsibility for Tikrit and the surrounding areas during the hunt for and capture of Saddam Hussein. As a Lieutenant Colonel he was involved in a vehicle chase and firefight that led to him personally dispatching the brother in law of one of Saddam's sons. He was awarded the Bronze Star for Valor S a result of that action. He was at the forefront of efforts to make sure we didn't cut and run from Iraq before we won that war and has been highly active in current efforts to take care of veterans.

Bottom line is that he is too good a man to be in Congress. But since he is willing to take one for the team, we should back him up. Here is the donate page and feel free to share this info around.

 

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Photo - End of S.F. Op

Posted By Blackfive • [April 02, 2014]

Hires_140320-A-CL980-835cA U.S. Special Forces soldier returns from leading a patrol of Afghan commandos during an operation in the Khogyani district in Afghanistan's Nangarhar province, March 21, 2014. U.S. Special Forces Soldiers advised and assisted the commandos during an operation to disrupt insurgent movement. The soldier is assigned to Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force Afghanistan. U.S. Army photo by Spc. Connor Mendez

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Book Review - Children of the Revolution

Posted By Blackfive • [April 02, 2014]

The following book review is a special for BlackFive readers provided by Elise Cooper.  You can read all of our book reviews by clicking on the books category link on the far right sidebar.

9780062240507_p0_v3_s260x420Peter Robinson’s latest book, Children Of The Revolution, intertwines a murder mystery while bringing back the seventies era.  As with all of his books Robinson explores a few social issues within a strong character based story.  For this novel, he discussed the issues of date rape, sexual abuse, abuse of power, betrayal, Marxism, and the comparison of students in the seventies with today. What makes the plot intriguing is the use of folk music lyrics to enhance it. 

Being a Grateful Dead fan he used their songs to enrich the plot.  He noted, “ Folk songs talk about love and murder.  I thought of the idea from the time I did performances in England with Martin Carthy.  I wrote a story specifically around the songs he wanted to sing.  He would open with a song and then I would start reading the story, pause, and have him sing another song.  Five songs were chosen throughout and the short stories, Deadly Pleasures, was specifically written for this performance.  By the way, Carthy was one of the people who introduced Bob Dylan to England in the sixties.”

Children of the Revolution begins with Inspector Banks investigating the death of a recluse college professor who was dismissed for alleged sexual misconduct four years ago. Along with 5,000 pounds found in his pockets, Professor Gavin Miller’s body position indicated that the cause of death was not natural. Banks struggles to find answers as to why Miller would have committed suicide and begins to wonder if he was pushed off the nearby bridge. Robbery, blackmail, or revenge is the possible motive for the untimely death. Banks suspects Lady Veronica Chalmers because of her apparent link with the victim going back to the early seventies at the University of Essex, then a hotbed of political activism. After the inquiries, he is brought on the carpet by his supervisors and warned to stop. Banks continues to conduct his investigation under the radar, with the help of new DC Geraldine Masterson, DI Annie Cabbot and DS Winsome Jackman.

Robinson commented to blackfive.net, “My stories start with the setting, in this case the old abandoned railway line that had a bridge overhead.  I thought this would be an interesting place to find a body.  Then I began to look at British contemporary history and thought it would be interesting to see what happened to those people from the seventies era.  I came up with a plot that allowed me to do this. I enjoy writing about the characters.  In fact, I never know who did it until I am part way through the plot and a character seems to present itself.”

Readers can see the evolution of Detective Alan Banks from his initial appearance in 1987 to now where he is a lot more cynical and melancholy.  He is an old fashioned detective that would rather use his thought process, assessment of characters and his own decision-making than the modern technology of today.  This can be exemplified with the quote by Banks, “I’ve often thought that solving a crime has far more to do with understanding people and their motives than it does with spectrographic analysis and DNA.” Robinson does not see his main character as a hero figure or a brilliant sleuth like Sherlock Holmes but does think “he is from the age group that finds political correctness rather tedious.”

Blackfive.net was given a heads up about his next book, whose title for the British audience will be Abattoir Blues, but could change for the American reader.  The theme deals with some rural crimes in Northern England, that Robinson considers “a nice backdrop for a murder mystery.”

Children of the Revolution has Banks pondering aging and his mortality as well as his career.  Through his contrast of the different periods including student life the readers will learn about those eras.  This book is complex and thought provoking between a riveting mystery and an exploration of the social issues.

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Final Decision on the KSM Trial

Posted By Grim • [April 02, 2014]

The KSM trial will not be held in New York City, in spite of Holder's continuing belief that NYC is the right place for it.  B5 has been on this for a while.  Almost five years ago, Jimbo and I attended a rally promoting this decision.  

We're pleased to see the administration come around.

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