Sunday, December 30, 2012

The Intercept – Dick Wolf (William Morrow)


Osama Bin Laden is dead…terror lives on.

Dick Wolf is the creative force behind one of the longest running television brands in the history of the box of light, the Law and Order series; so it should come to no one’s surprise that he has crafted one of the year’s best thrillers with his first foray into novels.

Wolf sets the story in motion with fits of stops and starts to lay the foundation, the cornerstone being the takedown of Bin laden and the treasure trove of secrets left behind in his compound. Ripped from today’s headlines is Wolf’s calling card and plays it to maximum effect here.

One of the terror mastermind’s final mandates is that future operations not be based on past glories. So when a would be Jihadist tries to take over the cockpit of an international flight in-bound for LaGuardia Airport only to be stopped by a Flight 93 style passenger take down; red flags start waving for the Intel folks charged with preventing terror attacks.

Wolf perfectly captures not only the inner workings of the anti-terror types, but he is spot on in his take on how the media create instant celebrity with his story line on the passengers involved with putting a stop to the terrorist. Wolfs adds just the right amount of high profile reality players like New York Mayor Bloomberg and President Obama to keep the story real world relevant.

Wolf’s lead character, NYPD Intel unit officer, Jeremy Fisk brings the right level of obsession to the story of the hunt for the “real” terrorist. Fisk gets cover billing with the subtitle “A Jeremy Fisk Novel” so here’s hoping Wolf is planning to serve up another long-running series. Based on this first salvo, he’s off to a great start.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Merry Christmas Alex Cross – James Patterson (Little Brown)


The most dangerous thing in Merry Christmas Alex Cross, the latest installment in the long running series of popular whodunit’s from mega-best- selling author James Patterson, is not a psycho killer, pistol packing punk or even an Islamic terrorist hell bent on destruction. Nope, it turns out the most dangerous item in the story is the hero’s telephone!

It’s a showy Christmas Eve in Washington, DC when what has to be the most dreaded sound in the Cross family home front, the ringing of the phone calls the master detective/psychologist off on another adventure to face down evil.

While bestselling authors have often been unable to resist the urge to use the Christmas holiday as the backdrop of their story, this one may leave long time Patterson fans more than a little cold. While not truly a collection of short stories or novellas strung together around the Cross family holiday, the book is made up of at least three storylines that don’t quite hang together. Disjointed is the best word I can come up with to describe the effort.

At times it feels like the ridiculously prolific Patterson had a few storylines hanging around the “it’s a good story, but I can’t quite make a book out of it file” that he decide to pull together with a little Christmas glue. After the phone rings for the third time, you start to wonder if the DC police can’t do anything without Alex Cross.  

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Pizza Bomber: The Untold Story of America’s Most Shocking Bank Robbery (Berkley Publishing)


Full disclosure: I literally had a front row seat for much of the early portion of this horrific story. I am a recovering radio talk show host; my morning show was broadcast from a studio situated on State Street in Erie, Pennsylvania, which was directly across the street from the office building that housed the Erie office of the FBI. On a regular basis during the early days of the investigation of what would be dubbed the Pizza Bomber case, I attended press conferences that were held in the FBI office or a block down in Erie City Council chambers.

I waded through much of the same information that Erie Times News reporter and co-author of this book Ed Palatella did and regularly saw Jerry Clark, the FBI agent in charge of the investigation and co-author standing to the side of the podium where the latest information was being discussed. With that front row seat, I regularly saw law enforcement types including Clark, parade the string of bizarre characters involved in this story through the side entrance of the Highmark Building and into the FBI office for questioning.

On one occasion my co-host had the opportunity to pepper William Rothstein, a large, bearded, character decked out in his trademark bib overalls, with questions live on the air, while he stood on the sidewalk outside the studio waiting for a ride. Rothstein remained tight lipped, not responding to any question posed.

They say that truth is stranger than fiction and if any fiction writer had ever proposed a book laced with such a bizarre cast of characters and such a truly far-fetched story, they would likely have been laughed out of any publisher’s office. It is that dysfunctional, gang who couldn’t shoot straight and the tenacity of Clark and his fellow investigators that make this story so interesting.

It was a beautiful, sunny day on Thursday, August 28, 2003. The events that would unfold on the busy retail hub that the locals in Erie call “upper Peach Street” were incredible to the point of almost defying description. Brian Wells, a pizza delivery man walked into a branch of PNC Bank wearing and oversized T-shirt covering a large, metal contraption that was fitted around his neck, carrying a large, black device that was fashioned to resemble a cane, that would later be determined to be a cane gun, and demanded money from a teller.

Shortly after the bank robbery was completed, Wells was stopped by police and placed on the ground in front of his vehicle. It was at this point Wells began a rambling dissertation about the device that was locked around his neck. Police quickly determined that the collar could indeed be an explosive device as Wells claimed. The first responders backed away and called for the Erie Police Bomb Squad to respond to the scene. As time dragged while the bomb squad attempted to work their way through the usually hectic Peach Street traffic, Wells became increasingly agitated, pleading with those on scene to help him and remove the locked collar.

At 3:18 PM, three minutes before the bomb squad would arrive on scene, the device detonated, killing Wells and sending this story into the national spotlight. It would also start the clock on the investigation that would consume hundreds of man hours, cost participants in the investigation their marriages and take countless twists and circuitous turns before concluding with indictments of the conspirators who were involved in the twisted plot to rob a bank.

Central among that group was Marjorie Diehl-Armstrong, a near-infamous women who was serving time for the murder of her boyfriend, James Roden. Investigators believe Roden had made the fatal mistake of claiming he would expose the bank robbery plot to law enforcement which led to his untimely demise. Further twisting the tale was that fact that Roden’s body ended up in the freezer at Rothstein’s house. Armstrong had first come to attention of law enforcement when she was acquitted of the murder of another of her beaus in the late 1980s.

As I worked my way through the book I was amazed to remember how many of those that played a role in the extended tale had succumbed to illness or had died under mysterious circumstances. The story has told by Clark and Palatella has a disjointed feel to it, but when you reflect on just how twisted this tale became and the manic mental state of those involved in the plot, that disjointedness seems almost fitting.

Despite that front row seat, the book does reveal some amazing detail of how investigators honed in on this group, picking up threads of the story that would lead to not only the indictments, but also the convictions of those central to the story. Palatella details his nearly daily conversations with Diehl-Armstrong, as she called collect from whatever correctional facility she was currently housed in to berate, rant, rave and regularly, loudly, proclaim her innocence. It made me feel sorry for him and glad she didn’t have my number.

While some, including Wells family may disagree with the outcome of the case, Pizza Bomber is a fascinating look into the day-to-day inner workings of the investigation into what certainly is and will remain one of the strangest crimes in U.S. history.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

David Von Drehle - Rise to Greatness: Abraham Lincoln and America's Most Perilous Year (Henry Holt)


Who would have thought that 2012 could easily be dubbed “The Year of Abraham Lincoln” given the Stephen Spielberg big screen adaptation of Lincoln’s story and the number of books that have been offered up this year on Honest Abe.

Let me start by saying that I am not a Civil War buff and I don’t play one on TV, but I thought that David Von Drehle’s approach to writing Rise to Greatness: Abraham Lincoln and America's Most Perilous Year was interesting in that rather than trying, as so many historians do, to capture a subject life and work, this book tackles just one year, 1862.

While many Civil War historians will point to 1863 as the critical year in that war, Von Drehle makes an interesting case that 1862 was the critical year for Lincoln and the decisive year for the future direction of American history.

Von Drehle tackles the subject literally one month at a time, with each chapter dedicated to one month, which is not only an interesting literary devise, but one that builds momentum as the story progresses. Von Drehle’s approach does not intrude or sculpt or massage events to fit his narrative, instead he allows the natural flow of history to drive the storyline.

All too often we have seen historians intrude, interpret and invade the story they are attempting to tell with their own bias on the subject; Von Drehle allows history to tell the story while placing it in the context of the era it occurred. For me that is all any historian worth his salt could and should do.

Friday, December 7, 2012

David Baldacci – The Forgotten (Grand Central Publishing)


There’s trouble in Paradise and an over-sized military cop is on the scene to check things out and get to the bottom of a mysterious string of deaths and a fistful of nasty characters. Lee Child’s talented tough guy Jack Reacher? Nope. David Baldacci’s Maj. John Puller, a special agent in the Army’s Criminal Investigative Division (CID).

Puller, first featured in Baldacci’s Zero Day, makes his return in The Forgotten as he heads to Florida’s panhandle city Paradise to follow up on a letter his Aunt Betsy sent to his dementia ridden Father. The letter alludes to mysterious occurrences and how things are not as they seem.

Puller arrives just in time to learn his Aunt has turned up dead; whether it’s murder or an accident remains to be scene. The back drop for this misadventure is the beautiful ocean side setting complete with great weather, sandy beaches, and wealthy tourists and retirees. Peel back a few layers and there’s plenty of intrigue and bad actors to go around.

Baldacci weaves in a heaping helping of action and a series of interesting characters including a Bulgarian giant, who allies with Puller to take down a human trafficking ring at the center of the story. The Forgotten makes for fast and entertaining read.\

 No Puller will never be Jack Reacher…then again neither will tiny Tom Cruise who been mis-cast in the Reacher movie.

 

Steve Chandler – 100 Ways to Motivate Yourself (Career Press)


Have you ever wondered why there are literally shelves full of so-called “self-help” books at your local bookstore that sell tons of copies every year? Logically, if these books offered the magic bullet, the secret to success or whatever answer the reader is seeking, then wouldn’t that eliminate the need for new books in the category?

The answer to the questions lies not within the pages of the books, but within the persons buying and reading all those  books.  Steve Chandler the author of the bestselling Success Library series also gives a simple, winning, hint in this the third edition of 100 Ways To Motivate Yourself.

While I have read and reviewed a shelf full of these kinds of books, I don’t think I ever remember an author nudging the reader to “Apply the book you read.” No magic hocus pocus, no secrets to unlock, no course book to work through or DVDs to watch, just straight forward DO IT!

While I don’t think anything in Chandler’s list is earth shattering or groundbreaking, I like the fact that he keeps things simple, straight forward and easily actionable. Things like 22. Kill Your Television, 51. Advertise Yourself and 72. Go To War, aren’t objectives that take weeks to plan then put into play. Chandler’s list contains a wide range of things that you can put into play today.

You won’t be able to use all of the 100 Ways to Motivate Yourself, but chances are you’ll find more than a handful that you can put into action and have a positive impact. While it won’t clear the book shelf it will offer you workable solutions.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Richard M. Cohen – I Want To Kill the Dog (Blue Rider Press)


I want to be perfectly clear upfront; I do not hate dogs, cats or any other pets. That being said, I came to the conclusion a few years back that pet ownership is a form of mental illness!

It was the story of a women who spent tens of thousands of dollars and involved a kidney transplant for a mutt including the purchase of a pure bred, cross country airplane trips for the surgery and $1500 per month anti-rejection drugs that drove me to the conclusion. A trip to the local SPCA or shelter could have rewarded this women with a wonderful loving animal, but she chose to squander a fortune on “a member of the family.”

 

So when I started reading Richard M. Cohen’s book, I Want To Kill the Dog, I thought I had found a kindred spirit. Cohen laments that his wife, TV personality Meredith Vieira and his family allowing the family mutt, Jasper to rule the roost. It sounds like Jasper was not the first of the four-legged ruler to run the show in his house.

After being subjected to fury terrorism, Cohen clearly is in my court and not bow wowing down at the pedestal of four-legged friend worship. For him a dog is just a dog, not a member of the family.

This short, at times humorous, little book elevates the value of family with a sense of humor over that of man’s so-called best friend.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

John Taylor – In the Pleasure Groove (Dutton)

Confessions of a music addict:
- I love music…a wide range and variety of music.

- I am also a fan of music related biographies even if they fall into the formula of something out of the Behind the Music series…you know; boy gets guitar, boy forms band, band becomes hit, band goes on tour, band gets girls, band does drugs, band has a falling out, guitar player goes to rehab and drummer goes back to delivering pizzas, guitar player gets clean, guitar player orders pizza and drummer delivers, a tearful reunion ensues with plans for a new album and tour!

- Duran Duran would not have been my first choice of 80s bands to have survived and continue to have a successful career three decades later.

I approached Duran Duran bass player John Taylor’s bio, In the Pleasure Groove, not from the perspective of a sweaty palmed fan, but that of a fan of music bios and Taylor’s thundering rhythm foundation he laid down with drummer Tony Thompson for the band Power Station.


Groove serves up a generous helping of all the usual go to storylines of a music bio; Taylor details his musical start during the heady punk rock days of the Sex Pistols and how has his skills developed not only did his sound evolve but also the band’s look, heavy on the eyeliner and women’s clothes.

The early days were replete with revolving door band members and the magic moment when the right mix of players came together to create what would become the final version of the band. Hitting the road and record deals come quickly followed closely by recording, debut albums and the nearly mandatory trek to the United States.

Taylor laces just the right amount of personal anecdotes that the formulaic story doesn’t become dull. Yes there are your standard stories of drugs, rehab, and a parade of model girlfriends and wives. In the Pleasure Groove is an entertaining, quick read.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Rick Santorum – American Patriots: Answering the Call to Freedom (Tyndale House)


More often than not when we hear or read stories of America’s founding it is packaged in the form of group of men dubbed “the Founding Fathers.” With American Patriots: Answering the Call to Freedom, former Presidential candidate, Senator Rick Santorum delves into the deep bench of folks who sacrificed blood, sweat and fortune to contribute to the founding of this great nation.

Broken down into three section; Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness the book spells out 25 tales of the heroes to that founding. While the contributions of the likes of the familiar; Washington, Jefferson, Madison and Franklin are widely acknowledged, Santorum also provide detail into the likes of Dabney, Hart, Darragh, and Francisco and the critical role they played.

At a time when our nation is in danger slipping into an abysiss this book is a strong reminder the sacrifice those present at the founding made for the liberty that so many will so easily sacrifice for silly handouts from the government. I would recommend buying a copy for any Obama voter, but they would likely be too distracted by their Obama phone and too stupid to read it anyway.

 Tyndale House Publishers has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book for my honest review.

Nelson DeMille – The Panther (Grand Central Publishing)


Nelson DeMille’s wise-cracking former,  New York detective turned terrorism fighter John Corey returns to working his way through the feline themed terrorists in the The Panther.

After finally dispatching the Lion, in a two book story arc, Corey and his FBI agent wife Kate Mayfield find themselves tossed into the role of bait for the terrorist who masterminded the bombing of the USS Cole in Yemen.  DeMille spins his cast of familiar players  including; Anti-Terrorism task force members, double and triple dealing CIA types and equally suspect Middle Easterners who’s allegiance seem to be for sale to the highest bidder.

Demille’s storyline loses a bit of punch as the book drags between action sequences. It is his attention to detail, character and setting authenticity and Corey’s punch line humor that will carry the reader through the progression.

While Corey plays the buffoon, it is his tack sharp eye to detail that helps him see through the carefully drawn plotting of his demise, not only by the terrorists, but also his alleged allies in the in the CIA. In the end it is the skillful twists and turns crafted by DeMille that make him the master of the thriller.

While Demille’s usual suspects make appearances, those new to his stories will find The Panther entertaining and engaging.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Richard Minitier – Leading From Behind (St. Martins Press)


The President of the United States is often referred to as the “leader of the free world.” The underlying premise of award winning, investigative journalist Richard Minitier’s latest best seller Leading From Behind” is an examination of the leadership skills of President Barack Obama.

 

Minitier examines Obama’s quick rise to the highest office in the land and dissects Obama’s leadership, notably on some very high profile issues like debt/taxes, healthcare, and foreign policy issues like killing Bin Laden and Israel..

While the so-called “Affordable Care Act” has been labeled one of Obama’s signature first term achievements, Minitier makes the case that Obama amounts to nothing more than an absentee landlord when it came to getting the heavy lifting done on getting the bill passed. While it is the legislative branches purview to write and pass legislation, it is the President who often drives the bus on what they deem to be pet projects or legislation.

Certainly healthcare reform was front and center on the Obama agenda when he took office in 2009. Yet when it came to deliver the goods on a reform plan, Obama bailed and left the heavy lifting to then House Speaker, Nancy “we have to pass the bill to find out what’s in it” Pelosi.

If you have any working knowledge of Obama’s brief exploits in elective office where he made of habit of not taking a stand, not leading and not voting or voting present. In the Illinois state house, Obama voted present 129 times during his tenure. The folks at  govtrack.org place Obama at the mid-low point, if albeit to the far left end of the spectrum when it came to leading on legislation in his two grueling years in the U.S. Senate. Obama chose to sit back while old dog Democrats like Reid, Feinstein, Kennedy, Clinton, Biden, and Specter took the legislative lead.

A quick look at “key” votes in 2008 (according to Project Vote Smart) Obama, a man of the people who claims to care about the middle class, he did not vote on legislation ranging from; Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEP), funding for AIDS/TB/Malaria prevention, a Medicare Bill, Housing foreclosure assistance program and an economic stimulus plan, among others.  

During the 2008 Presidential campaign some pundits were critical about Obama’s lack of experience and his voting record as his desire to pursue higher office and not want to leave a trail or record to have called into question. Minitier however points to a guy not so concerned with being on the record, but the exact opposite of a leader; a guy who is disinterested, rick averse and generally believes he is above it all.

Leading From Behind paints a Barack Obama as a guy who truly believes that he was elected President and he should get everything he wants; someone who confuses Presidents with dictators. It clearly seeps through his approach to leadership, to dictate without having to do the heavy lifting of actual governing. Actual governing can and should pawned be off on others that are beneath him; hence his passing the real work off to others, mostly women. Given the tenor of his campaign’s claims that Republicans are engaging in a “war on women” it makes you wonder about Obama’s attitudes toward women when they are positioned as mere work horses.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Ben Coes – The Last Refuge (St. Martins Press)


After reading The Last Refuge, I have to ask: Is it time to add the name Dewey Andreas to the list of tough, patriotic operators that include Scot Harvath and Mitch Rapp?

Andreas is the creation of author Ben Coes, a guy who would clearly fit in nicely with the likes of Brad Thor and Vince Flynn the creators of Harvath and Rapp. Coes works the street corner where politics and terrorism intersect.

While Coes comes from the political side of that equation, having served as a speechwriter during the Reagan and George H W Bush administrations and as Mitt Romney’s campaign manager during his successful run for Massachusetts Governor, he clearly grasps the danger that terrorists pose to liberty.

Andreas is your classic, self-reliant, rules be damned hero who cuts his own path in taking out the bad guys. The Last Refuge takes on a ripped from today’s headlines quality, with the storyline of Iran developing a nuclear weapon that it plans to smuggle into Israel.

The Last Refuge, moves at a blistering, race the clock pace as Andreas moves through exotic locales, crosses paths with characters who are most comfortable working the underbelly of the world, as he tries to thread the needle of not only derailing Iran’s plot to destroy Israel, but to free his friend, a Mossad agent from an Iranian prison.

Along the way clueless politicians and bureaucrats attempt to put roadblocks in Andreas’ way, all in the name of political considerations. All in all it adds up to a fun read and the hope that somewhere out there is a guy like Andreas looking out for us.  

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Communist – Paul Kengor, Ph.D. (Mercury Ink)


“You may know a man by the company he keeps” – Proverb

There have been many variations of this proverb…you may have heard it as “judge a man by the company he keeps.”

Best-selling author/scholar Dr. Paul Kengor really makes no judgments in his new book The Communist, an accounting of self-proclaimed communist Frank Marshall Davis and his mentoring of a young, would be President, Barack Obama.

When you stack this carefully researched, detailed and notated book alongside the President’s relationship with domestic terrorist turned college professor Bill Ayers and his wife, fellow Weather Underground terrorist, Bernadine Dohrn and the Reverend Jerimiah “God Damn America” Wright it makes for a thought provoking portrait of those who influenced the development of President Obama’s political mindset.

Aside from not reading the book, slinging the usual mud and name-calling, Kengor’s detractors will undoubtedly try to minimize the level of influence that Davis had on the young Obama, and will shout about the dangers of “guilt by association.” Those complaints don’t stand up to scrutiny, when you know that Obama himself regularly referenced the influence “Frank” had in his life in his autobiographical memoir “Dreams From My Father”.

So who was Frank Marshall Davis? Kengor details Davis’ life from a youth growing up in racially constricted Kansas, to his becoming (literally) a card-carrying member of the Communist Party USA (#47544 based on his FBI file) a Communist sympathizing columnist and mentor to Barack Obama. In the prophetic final line Kengor rightly proclaims; “The people who influence our Presidents matter.”

Kengor extensively details the brutal racism that Davis was subjected to and speculates that it may have moved Davis to the dark side and a ripe candidate to be attracted to communism. Davis became a community activist, not only through his columns for the Chicago Red Star newspaper, but also as a labor movement activist.

Davis Influencing Obama

The most striking part of The Communist is what I can only describe as the constricting, concentric circles that seem to surround President Obama; the incredible “coincidences” and crossing of paths between Davis and those who continue to influence the President and his decision making process. The Valarie Jarrett’s and David Axelrod’s of the world.

Davis’ influence is clear.

What would motivate a newly elected President, in one of his first acts in office, to return a bust of British Prime Minister Winston Churchill; a gift from one of our staunchest allies, that held a place of honor in the George W. Bush Oval Office? A quick read of Davis’ scathing writings on Churchill might be a good indication to the cause of this bizarre move.

Davis’ formula for economic recovery in the 1940s may seem familiar with his Qbama-esque “public works projects” (shovel ready jobs), anti-Wall Street “big business” and “wealth redistribution” writings.

While Obama decries “tax cuts for the rich”, Frank Marshall Davis decried “GOP would spare the rich with (a)20 percent tax cut plan”…January 11, 1947! Is it any wonder that Conservatives say that the Democrat party have no new ideas?! Davis and the Red Star regularly accused Republicans of wanting to “hurt the poor and pad the wallets of the rich…with phony tax cuts that only benefit the rich and corporations.” Sound familiar?

One of Davis’ favorite target of scorn was General Motors. He regularly derided GM’s wealth and referred to GM leadership as “General Motors Hitlers.” Obama “saved GM” by nationally the company and seizing control with the government bailout. Davis favored redistribution of wealth to have “healthcare for everybody.” The crippling financial and healthcare meltdown we face due to Obamacare is still to come.

Is Barack Obama a Communist? I will suggest you follow Kengor’s advice; read the book and decide for yourself. Is he misguided politically and has he been negatively influenced by the company he keeps?  In my opinion…without question.   

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Marcus Luttrell – Service: A Navy Seal At War (Little Brown)

On a June night in 2005, on the mountainous border between Afghanistan and Pakistan the world changed forever for Navy Seal, Marcus Luttrell. As the best laid plans of Operation Redwing to track and capture a notorious al Qaeda leader came unglued, leaving Luttrell and his team surrounded by a heavily armed force and ending with his teammates dead and Luttrell severely injured by a rocket propelled grenade and the lone survivor.
Luttrell told the story of that horrific battle and that of his mates in the bestseller Lone Survivor.
How does a badly injured Navy Seal respond to the loss of his entire team and serious injury? By dusting himself off, returning to crushing training schedule and flinging himself back into battle; this time in the al Qaeda hot bed, Ramadi in the Anbar Province.

In Service: A Navy Seal at War, Luttrell details the process he went through to recover from not only his bodily injuries, but the scars left by the loss of his Seal team. In many ways, Luttrell’s return, not only from that ill-fated mountain side but in many ways to life is due to the dedicated members of his military ‘family”.
You have to wonder what it is that drives these brave individuals to subject themselves to the torturous training, the unrelenting pace of military operations and the constant position as the tip of America’s military spear. The only answer is that these are a special breed of human beings, cut from a different cloth and called to a higher purpose.
Luttrell takes inside the pre-planning, staging and execution of a steady stream of operations and those operators who risk life and limb every time they step into battle. As the plan for the battle for Ramadi evolved, Luttrell talks extensively about the real change of mindset when it comes to the approach of involving the Iraqi people in the process of the battle for and protection of their own freedom.
Luttrell’s insights into the warrior’s mindset and the conversion of Iraqi religious and sectional leaders from supporting terrorists to supporting freedom. You can read between the lines, the internal struggle that Luttrell subjected himself to, as he went through a life transition.


Sunday, July 1, 2012

Edward Klein – The Amateur – Barack Obama in the White House (Regnery Books)

When he was elected, I labeled the Barack Obama presidency the “second term of Jimmy Carter” and I could not have been more right! The similarities are striking! The hallmark of both the Carter and Obama administrations is economic turmoil, global unrest and glaring ineptitude on the part of the President to address any of the pressing issues facing the nation.

What’s the old saying is a man is judged by the company he keeps? Here is yet another striking similarity between Obama and Carter. As Edward Klein points out in his latest book The Amateur – Barack Obama in the White House Obama, much like Carter came to Washington with almost no leadership experience and surrounded by an equally neophyte group of advisors.

Carter surrounded himself with likes of rookie political strategist Hamilton Jordan, corrupt businessman Bert Lance, former community organizer Andrew Young and liberal academic Zbigniew Brzezinski. Obama has repeated that mistake selecting a cadre of the ill-equipped, inexperienced and downright clueless senior staffers. Washington, DC and the White House is no place for a huge learning curve.

Klein runs down an almost frightening resume of ineptitude on the part of Obama’s primary advisor Valerie Jarrett; who’s only apparent claim to fame is her ability to “fail upward.” She started her political career as the “public black face” of Chicago Mayor Richard Daily. Despite screwing up as a “city planner” and costing Chicago millions in funding, she managed to land on her feet taking on the role of executive director of a public housing project, with a salary and deferred compensation in excess of three quarters of a million dollars.

The role of these senior advisors is to guide any President around the pitfalls that confront them on a daily basis. Klein outlines Jarrett’s seemingly self-centered focus; more concerned with conserving and protecting her power rather than aiding Obama. Either blinded by loyalty or cowed by his own stupidity, Obama has been able to grasp the shortfall in his own team.

While his status as a card-carrying amateur is certainly glaring when it comes to dealing with the mounting economic issues facing the country, Klein points out that Obama’s ineptitude is never more dangerous than in the national security front. Clearly Obama lack of real world experience and his allegiance to an almost childlike world view fostered by liberal academics has led to him on a global, apology tour of the Middle East, Asia and Europe.

This lead from behind approach has led to the glaring mishandling of hot spots like; Egypt, Libiya, Yemen, and Syria, among others. He continues to send muddled, incoherent messages on what role he believes the United States should play in world affairs.

It is Obama’s reliance on an organizational chart, top-heavy with un-vetted czars and his apparent boxing out of advice from those members of his Senate confirmed, Cabinet members that is striking.

The best example of his apparent tone-deafness is illustrated by his endless rounds of golf, to date over 100 rounds, and he and First Lady Michelle Obama’s high-priced taste when it comes to world travel and high end vacation spots. At a time when the much of the country is hurting and nearly half of U. S. households are cueing up for food stamps, the Obama’s jet set lifestyle isn’t sitting well with the average taxpayer. The defense coming from amateur advisors that “the President deserves a vacation” rings very hollow. No one would begrudge the President a break, but over 100 rounds of golf?

The Amateur – Barack Obama in the White House is a scathing indictment and a solid case for sending this collection of rank amateurs packing back to Chicago.

Michael Hyatt – Platform: Getting Noticed in a Noisy World (Thomas Nelson)

I have a dual confession to make…I love to read books on business, leadership and marketing, but I never buy them when they are new. I am amazed the tidbits and strategy that I have picked up on over the years that I use in my own business and my “day job” but I don’t get sucked into the latest and greatest “must have” books.
Why you ask? Call me cheap, but more often than not business people jump on the latest trendy thing, rush out and buy these books, are excited to dive right in and then about 3 chapters in the brakes lock up and book ends up collecting dust on the shelf. Then six months later they get donated to a local charity sale or end up in a yard sale and that’s where I come in!
I think more often than not, these kinds of books offer great ideas, but don’t offer the easily actionable steps that allow people to put the strategies into action. And I think that is exactly what sets the latest book from best seller author Michael Hyatt apart from the shelves of other similar books.

In Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World Hyatt lays out an easy, step-by-step road map for building your personal brand. While many business strategy books offer lofty platitudes about process improvement and paradigm shifts, Hyatt literally walks the user through the process in a manner that doesn’t go so far as saying his way is the only way, certainly offers guidance through the process.
Hyatt further illustrates many of the steps with how he himself has not only used the process, but also made missteps and errors along the way and how to avoid the pitfalls. I found myself for the first time since college taking a highlighter to a book and keeping a notebook handy to jot down the ideas that Platform generated along the way.
When you ponder the so-called fire hose of information that we deal with a daily basis with things like: websites, blogs, Facebook, Twitter, You Tube and other social media outlets, it can seem like a daunting task to deal with all that’s involved, whether you are starting your own business, an established business or charged with marketing for a company. Hyatt helps to pare that process down to manageable bits.
He not only addresses the something to sell or say, he also tackles the development of your business or product; after all it is the foundation upon which your platform is built.
The problem I ran into during the course of reading Platform was that it generated so many good action steps that it can seem overwhelming. Hyatt does a nice job of reminding the reader that building their platform is a process and it can and should be done over the course of time. Which is why, at Hyatt’s suggestion, I now find myself using Evernote to keep track of everything that is on my plate!
I can guarantee that Platform: Getting Noticed in a Noisy World will end up on your desk for you to refer to often rather than gathering dust on your bookshelf.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Bobby Keys- Every Night’s a Saturday Night:The Rock ‘n’ Roll Life of Legendary Sax Man Bobby Keys (Counterpoint)

Over the years I have interviewed dozens of performers who cited the Beatles historic performance on the Ed Sullivan Show as the inspiration for starting their music careers. A nearly equal numbers were inspired by Elvis Presley’s appearance on Sullivan’s show. Bobby Keys’ story of career choice inspiration is wholly unique; first hearing then seeing Buddy Holly and the Crickets playing at the grand opening of a new gas station in Lubbock, Texas was what set Keys on the road to cross paths with and become a sax player and sideman for legendary performers including the Rolling Stones, Joe Cocker, John Lennon and Eric Clapton among many others.

In his new autobiography, Every Night’s a Saturday Night: The Rock ‘n’ Roll Life of Legendary Sax Man Bobby Keys, Keys lays out the tale of his wild child youth that later continued into his wild child adulthood. The story he weaves is one of a life in a nearly constant state of flux; as he fluidly leads an at times hand to mouth existence and a life of excess; fueled not only by legendary amounts of drugs and alcohol, but the music that became the real driving force of his life.


Keys clearly embraces his excesses, laying out tales of tour physicians and their “little black bags”, detailing drug enhanced/addled performances, chemically fueled run ins with law enforcement and a particularly colorful story involving a groupie, a bath tub and a huge/expensive quantity of champagne.

The narrative of the story is pretty loose, as Keys recollections of life on the road and in the studio over the course of five plus decades drifts towards stream of consciousness, at times blurred by the passing of time and more than a few deceased brain cells. Keys is at his best when he reminisces about his tours of duty with the Stones.

He offers up interesting insight into the inner workings of the band, the relationship between Keith Richards and Mick Jagger and the veteran drummer, the timeless Charlie Watts. Jagger and Richards are clearly the creative force that has driven the Stones over the course of their career and while they are truly rock ‘n’ roll survivors, Keys depicts the often tenuous relationship dynamic between the pair.

It is his decades old friendship with Richards that Keys offers the great detail about. Richards has championed the sax man’s presence in the band through the good the bad and the ugly.  It is Richards who brought Keys onboard for recording sessions and tours and he is ultimately responsible for rehabilitating Keys reputation with his fellow Stones after a drug and alcohol fueled falling out with the band. The dynamic relationship between Jagger and Richards is put in focus by Richards’ embrace of Keys return to the fold and Jagger’s disdain, because “nobody leaves the Rolling Stones.

If you pick up this book looking for fluid prose you likely be disappointed, but you’re looking for interesting anecdotes and great stories of a rock ‘n’ roll life, then Every Night’s a Saturday Night will fill the bill.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Mark Titus- Don’t Put Me in Coach (Doubleday)

How can I best describe Don’t Put me in Coach?

Don’t Put me in Coach is Rudy for the South Park Generation…or A Season on the Brink with Beavis and Butthead. That’s close, but this book lacks the hero who works hard to overcome adversity and achieve his dream of playing a division 1 college sport and while there is references to occasional fisticuffs, no chairs were thrown by any crazed coaches.


The books parenthetical title sums it up; My Incredible NCAA Journey from the End of the Bench to the End of the Bench. Hardly inspirational stuff, though the so-called millennial generation may find Mark Titus’ success as a smart-ass blogger who chronicled his time as a walk on bench jockey at Ohio State amusing.

Clearly the goal of the book was not for Titus to wax poetically about the beauty of sport and the dedicated athletes who work hard to pursue championships as way to many blowhard sports writers have done over the years. Titus doesn’t spend a whole lot of time or ink worrying about trying to preserve relationships with his teammates; more often than not he set about trashing and bad mouthing the guys he played with.

It’s pretty clear that Titus was handed the golden ticket and his goal wasn’t to hone his game and crack the lineup, but to see exactly how far he could push the envelope or maybe the better analogy is, how hard he could push before his finger broke through the toilet paper.

Don’t Put Me In Coach ends up being a chronicle of a dysfunctional sports family…imagine your family’s Thanksgiving dinner, but with a bunch a really tall guys who spend way too much time together. There’s bound to be some laughs, someone is gonna get hurt and it’s no surprise when someone snaps and comes to blows.

As goofy as some of the stories are, they do ring true. That, and having crossed paths with him during my couple year stint working in the NBA Development League, I totally believe Titus’ story about his short time roommate Ivan Harris. But you’ll have to pick up the book to get the details!




Friday, March 16, 2012

Kent Hartman- The Wrecking Crew: The Inside Story of Rock and Roll’s Best Kept Secret (Thomas Dunne Books)

Confession time, not only am I a music junkie, I am also addicted to liner notes. As a kid I started combing through the fine print on album jackets and loved it when record companies moved away from the plain white inner sleeves to include more tidbits of info about the band, the producer, the studio and so on.

I have also been fascinated by books written about the inner workings of bands and recording sessions. Even tough I wasn’t a big Beatles fan, Mark Lewisohn’s book “The Beatles Recording Sessions” was a slice of nirvana, detailing the tiniest details of life inside Abbey Road Studios.


So, Kent Hartman’s new book The Wrecking Crew: The Inside Story of Rock and Roll’s Best Kept Secret, was right up my alley. Motown had the legendary Funk Brothers. In Nashville the go to studio musicians were The A Team and Atlantic Soul had Booker T and the MGs to lay down the musical bedrock on which so many classic songs were built.

Hartman’s book lays out the left coast version things with the rolling group of great players who worked on a steady stream of hits from artists like the Beach Boys, Sonny and Cher, The Monkees, Mamas and Papas, Simon & Garfunkel, the Byrds, a pile of Phil Specter productions, and many more.

Hartman really details what amounts to the birth of Rock and Roll, not as a musical form, but as a recording industry. Prior to the early 60s, record labels were all about finding great songs for their artists to record. That attitude carried over in the early days of rock music, where the producers were the stars and the “artists” were the interchangeable parts that got plugged into the formula when it came time to market the product.

The Wrecking Crew were a lose collection of players that more often than not got the call when it came time to make records. Players like drummer Hal Blaine, guitarist Glenn Campbell, keyboardist Leon Russell, guitarist Tommy Tedesco, bassist Carol Kaye, and a few dozen more played on literally hundreds of hit records and racked up dozens of Grammy awards along the way.

Hartman puts Campbell’s transition from side man, to Beach Boy to session star to hit-maker in his own right in focus through out the book. Campbell was one of a small number of these extremely skilled players who made the leap into stardom. Hartman begins the thread with Campbell’s rough and tumble childhood and completes the circle with Campbell building not only a wildly successful career in music, but a 16,500 square foot mansion at its peak.

Hartman profiles with insider details, the stories of the prolific, creative and musically gifted cats, who not only played the hits, but often added the musical missing piece. Carol Kaye playing around on her bass dropped the memorable dum dum dum da dum da d um rift that kicked off “The Beat Goes On” and gave Sonny and Cher an over due hit. Blaine was famous for coming up with just the right beat at the right time. He provided the thunderous explosions during Simon & Garfunkel’s “The Boxer” during the lie la lie lie lie crescendo of the song by recording a drum beat from the bottom of an elevator shaft.

Liner note fans will love Hartman’s Timeline, source notes and bibliography which lays out the finite details of the Wrecking Crew. This story is a fascinating look at the inner workings of the early days of rock and roll.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Elmore Leonard – Raylan (William Morrow)

Voice on tape…Your mission Mr. Big Honkin’ Blogger, if you choose to take it; is to write a review of the new Elmore Leonard book, Raylan, without out using the following terms: the master,  masterpiece, genius, the Dean, the King, the greatest, best, maestro, and legend or legendary.

It seems that at some point during his 40+ book career that each of those prohibited terms have been have been applied to Mr. Leonard and/or his writing. Along the way he has created not only a legion of memorable characters, but also a massive group of fans that follow these quirky, occasionally twisted and often flawed folks.

This collection of shorter novellas features U.S. Marshall Raylan Givens, popularized by actor Timothy Olyphant in the TV series Justified. While Leonard amerces his readers in easy rolling dialog and off the beaten path settings, these abbreviated approaches tend to come up a little short in delivering a complete story; in short, they read more like a TV script than a book.

While this approach may leave some longtime Leonard fans unhappy, the pure poetry of his dialog should be absorbed by anyone who wants to take on the challenge of creating timeless fiction and drawing full-blooded characters.  

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Jan Brewer – Scorpions for Breakfast: My Fight Against Special Interests, Liberal Media, and Cynical Politicians to Secure America’s Border (Broadside Books)

This is not a typical political biography, but the story of what spurred the Arizona law known as SB 1070 – Support our Law Enforcement & Safe Neighborhood Act.


Article IV – Section 4 of the U.S. Constitution imposes on the Federal Government the duty to “protect each [State] against invasion…domestic violence.” At its best, the federal government selectively enforces our laws with regard to protecting our borders and immigration. That lack of protection and the violence and high costs that have become part and parcel of life along our southern border spurred Arizona to action.

The Arizona law has been labeled racist and worse, but that can be said of just about anyone or anything that disagrees with President Obama. What it really boils down to is a fundamental difference in the interpretation of the Constitution and private property rights. Brewer correctly believes that citizens have the Constitutional right to be safe on their property.

Brewer outlines not only the negligence of the Federal government for not enforcing our border security, but their complicity in the death (in Arizona) of border patrol agent Brian Terry. It was the Obama administration failed program known as Fast and Furious, in which the Justice Department, under the failed leadership of Attorney General Eric Holder, that allowed 2020 weapons to be purchased and funneled to Mexican drug cartels on the border. One of those weapons was used in Agent Terry’s murder.

Brewer quotes Cochise County Sheriff Larry Dever’s testimony to the Senate Homeland Security Committee; “We cannot sit by while our citizens are terrorized, robbed, and murdered by ruthless and desperate people who enter our country illegally.

In contrast, Obama and his ilk would have you believe that every illegal – or as they dub them, undocumented – alien is a hard working family man with a wife and two small children, he is desperately trying to feed, clothe and put a roof over.

Holder highlighted his incompetence in exchange with Texas Congressman Ted Poe, where he admitted that he hadn’t actually read the 10-page law – but that hadn’t prevented him from publically and with some regularity stating his opinion that the law was unconstitutional.

Holder would later be joined by Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and State Department spokes-weasel P J Crowley, two more members of the Obama administration who criticized the Arizona law that were forced to admit publically that they hadn’t bothered to read the law before registering their public denunciations of it.

This amazing account not only spells out Brewer’s courageous fight to secure and protect the people of Arizona, but serves to highlight the utter incompetence of the Obama administrations law enforcement and Homeland Security leadership.    


Saturday, February 25, 2012

The Operators: The Wild and Terrifying Inside Story of America’s War in Afghanistan– Michael Hastings (Blue Rider Press)

If you believe:

  • That terrorism should be dealt with as a law enforcement matter…
  • That you can use diplomacy and negotiate with terrorists…
  • That the treatment of prisoners during interrogation at Abu Ghraib amounted to heinous acts of torture…
  • That politicians and diplomats have all the answers….

Then this book is for you.


The Operators is Michael Hastings’ book length adaptation of his Rolling Stone magazine article entitled The Runaway General, which profiled General Stanley McCrystal and caused the firestorm that led to McCrystal’s sacking from his role as commander of the Afghanistan operations.

Of course to buy into the story, you would have to buy into Hastings contention that General McCrystal and his team, are the first members of the military that ever blew off a little steam and chose to disagree with their boss, in this case President Obama and his policies. Hastings seemed genuinely shocked that McCrystal and his pals would occasionally consume large quantities of adult beverages and bad mouth the boss and tell a few bad jokes.

Hastings seemed concerned about the honor of no less an intellectual heavyweight than Vice President Joe Biden from being labeled Joe “Bite Me”. Imagine the outrage…soldiers who swear, drink and drop F-bombs! Oh the humanity!

After reading The Operators I can’t help but wonder what the Pentagon leadership is thinking when they delude themselves that they can win friends and favorable coverage by allowing access to clearly liberal reporters like Hastings and equally liberal outlets like Rolling Stone. That magazine came of age during the Viet Nam war and while society has evolved, Rolling Stone has remained firmly implanted in the mindset of mistrust of the military and anything but liberal socialist government.

Hastings disdain for the military seeps through in his writing despite his desire to be a part of the action and fit in with the people he writes about. I can’t quite shake the image of Jack Nicholson’s monologue from A Few Good Men with the line about wanting him out there on that wall…Liberals love to disparage the military at the same time they enjoy and indulge in the freedoms that the military fights to preserve every day.

Hastings seems to have three guiding forces at play throughout the book; he is first and foremost a liberal. Second he is clearly a supporter of Hillary Clinton and is influenced by the Clinton doctrine – that treats terror a legal rather than military issue, that would have us go back to the do nothing approach to dealing with terror where we try diplomacy and to buy our friends. Third, he supports Obama, but only because he sees the President as a fellow traveler while clearly questioning whether President is Liberal enough.

The only real revelations to come out of The Operators was the sickening fact that the Pentagon was actually considering awarding a medal for “courageous restraint” to members of the military who put themselves in harm’s way, but rather than taking out a threat with force they held back. The clear stupidity in this thought process would have lead more often than not to this being a posthumous award. It isn’t now, nor has it ever been the charge of the military to restrain themselves; their purpose has been twisted over time by Liberal outcry.

The second revelation is that even in war torn Afghanistan the Obama administration feebly clings to the ridiculous notion of so-called “green energy” as Hastings describes the Afghan disgust over a $1.9 million solar panel array that ‘didn’t work.”


Friday, February 17, 2012

Vince Flynn – Kill Shot (Atria Books)

Kill Shot marks the 13th novel from thriller author Vince Flynn and the second installment of the American Assassin series of books, designed to back fill the story of Flynn’s heroic killer Mitch Rapp.



The story finds Rapp diligently and single-handedly working his way through a hit list of terrorists when someone throws a wrench in the works and sends assassins after the assassin, leaving Rapp on the run and doubting the players on his own team.

The story line of Washington insider infighting, political types getting in the way of people doing the heavy lifting is a familiar one to Flynn fans. Flynn does a masterful job of painting the halls of power and the action in the field. You can feel the slime of the Washington insiders and envision the hulking thugs.

Kill Shot is light on plot but heavy on great characters and does its job of filling in the blanks about how Rapp became the stone cold hero. While the whole story takes place over a short period of time and limited space, it is the interactions between the characters and their often diametrically opposite goals that drives the story
Flynn draws characters in black and white, who remain interesting and easy to love or hate. While the initial shot in this series, American Assassin, left some fans short, this round has Flynn back and track and me looking forward the forthcoming third installment.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Dylan Ratigan - Greedy Bastards (Simon & Shuster)

I have always found the portrayal of Conservatives as “angry white guys” entertaining and misguided. Grab your Advil, tune in MSNBC, which is guaranteed to induce a headache, and soak up to nearly non-stop anger and bitterness of the cavalcade of Liberal hosts.
That is the point you have to start from when you read Greedy Bastards by Dylan Ratigan, host of MSNBC’s The Dylan Ratigan Show, described by the press materials accompanying the book as “one of the highest-rated, daytime shows on the network.” Talk about damning with faint praise…given the cable news channel’s less than stellar audience numbers.


In Greedy Bastards, Ratigan attempts to details his perspective on our “broken system.” He runs down what ails a wide variety of problems ranging from banking to the stock market and healthcare to big oil/energy. Taking off on his crusade to remove money from politics, Ratigan attempts to draw correlations between the root cause of the problem and the flow of cash to politicians.

I don’t disagree! But I do find it interesting that Ratigan spent much of his early career as a financial journalist covering Wall Street yet he didn’t do a whole lot to raise red flags about the ridiculous Ponzi schemes and outright fraudulent financial instruments that the folks he was charged with covering were creating that became part and parcel of the financial meltdown tsunami that mowed down the housing, banking, finance and insurance industries in it’s wake. These guys created a financial house of cards that got a total pass from the regulators and politicians that wrap themselves in the cloak of looking out for the little guy and Ratigan stood idly by and said nothing until now.

Full disclosure; my day job is in the healthcare industry, so I read that section of the book with great interest. Ratigan lays out a classic example of his friend “Larry” who was clearly suffering a repetitive stress hand injury and was offered medical advice to address the issue with physical therapy which would have offered some relief. “Larry” decided not to follow through on the exercises that were recommended…let me stress that point; “Larry” decided not to follow through on the exercises that were recommended, and later needed to have surgery to solve the problem. It seems more than a bit ridiculous to indict the entire industry based on a patient choice.
Surprisingly, Ratigan does offer up a market based solution to the problem of the high cost of healthcare, rather than turning to the government to fix the problem. He advocates for a solution that I have pushed for many years; allowing market forces of health savings accounts and patient choices to drive down the cost of healthcare through competition and increasing quality.
The roadblock to most solutions tends to be the government and a HUGE increase in regulation. Ratigan bemoans some regulation, while pushing for new regulations, never accounting to the very real costs of those regulations and the fact that regulatory costs get passed through the so-called “greedy bastards” and get paid by the end-users.
The cartoonish cover may not have been the best choice, because it sets the tone for Ratigan’s BAM, BIFF, POW, approach; skimming the surface of very real issues, yet not really offering much in the way of in-depth solutions to the problems. Instead he chooses to nibble around the edges of solutions or offering up tried and failed solutions; like the electric car to solve the so-called energy crisis.
The real solution is not getting money out of politics, which is a limitation on free speech. The real solution is an energized, alert and informed electorate that pays attention and calls their elected officials when the put self-interest over public interest and an electorate that understands that the government is not the source of solving problems, but the source of creating problems.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Betsy Myers - Take The Lead

Ms. Myers was the COO of the Barack Obama presidential campaign and chaired the Women for Obama campaign organization in the last election cycle. She has served as the executive director of the Center for Public Leadership at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. She, like her sister Dee Dee, was a senior official in the Clinton administration, working as the President’s advisor on women’s issues; women’s issues… not the President’s issues with women…I’ll leave it to you to fill in your own punch line.
Suffice it to say that Myers has tackled some high profile, high powered leadership roles. Yet I find her book, Take the Lead, as not so much a leadership book, but rather a set of what she describes as 7 core principles, that she wraps with political antidotes as an example of those principles in practice.
Myers 7 principles include:


• Connection – Making people feel seen and heard

• Collaboration – Being willing to embrace different points of view

• Authenticity – Knowing who you are

• Respect – Treating each person as important

• Clarity – laser focus and uncompromising consistency

• Learning - always listening and staying open to new ideas

• Courage – The courage to take risks; to apologize; to tell the truth; to grow
This could be the most contradictory list I have ever seen. Taking Ms. Myers at her own words, how can you be willing to embrace different points of view and be open to new ideas, yet remain uncompromisingly consistent? Does this say more about my Myers background in the political realm then about leadership?

Politicians by their very nature are some of the least authentic people I have ever encountered. Realistically speaking, if Barack Obama had been genuinely authentic during his Presidential campaign, does anyone really believe that he would have been elected President?

Boiling it down, Ms. Myers “core principles” aren’t a road map to leadership, but a road map to becoming a Democrat politician. It reads like a playbook for talking a good game, but doesn’t really show how to deliver the goods, which is really what Democrat elective politics have become – make it sound like you care about and issue/person, act like you’re going to do something, but never really deliver on a promise.

It’s interesting that the two powerful leaders that Ms. Myers worked for were so uniquely skilled at connection, yet such utter failures at having the courage to tell the truth. Interesting political insights…maybe. Leadership book…not so much.

My Life Deleted, by Scott and Joan Bolzan and Caitlin Rother.

By Katie Johns – Guest Reviewer


How would you like to go to work one morning, slip and fall, and wake up hours later lying in your own blood, not knowing who you are, how you got there, and where you are?

This very thing happened to Scott Bolzan who owned an airplane business with his wife, Joan. He was the kind of man who woke up in the middle of the night and started working on his very successful business. Scott went into work at about 5 in the morning, worked for several hours, and simply walked into the men’s bathroom where his life was changed forever.


He slipped and fell on something oily, tried in vain after several hours to get back up, but kept slipping only to hit his head against the hard tile floor over and over.

Finally after getting up he hailed a woman walking through the building starting her business day. This was only the beginning of a strange new world of a major traumatic brain injury that irrevocably changed Scott’s life.

You see, after falling, repeatedly hitting his head numerous times, Scott lost all of his memory. He woke up in the hospital not knowing who he was, if he was married, or even what a hospital was. Scott essentially was taken back to being an infant, and could not remember anything.

When his wife of about 24 years walked into his hospital room, he didn’t know who she was, or what a wife was. He did not recognize any of his family members.

Scott had major head trauma, so horrible, he had to teach himself what everything was again. His wife daughter and son had to tell him about his life all over again.

Scott Bolzan’s story is fraught with heart wrenching misery, but you will see a man who was once a determined NHL football player, become a determined, strong man who digs deep to learn about his life, and how he teaches himself what everything is again. You will feel horrible for him in this story that could have turned out to be a feel sorry for yourself kind of book. But it’s not, My Life Deleted will teach everyone, even people who have had brain injuries, how to push past the pain, and get back into the game.

My Life Deleted is a story of a how a man relearns about his life, and how he relearns about all the things we learn as we grow up. It’s a story of character building, everyday problems, struggles, the agony of defeat and the hard won victories Scott and his family build on. It shows how a successful man realizes he was a not so nice a guy, and changes his personality becoming yet again a monetary success. He even becomes more of a nicer, more sensitive kind of guy, the kind of guy he never was before.

My Life Deleted is an interesting read, but it is written very simply. You will not get a complicated, big word kind of book where someone is trying to impress scholars. You will discover a simply written book, because you will realize that Scott is still learning about the world. This is a real life story that just might teach you how to push past all the misery in your life, and that hard work, a great attitude and determination will get you through even the worst of all situations.