CATEGORIES

Review of “A Roman Peace in Briton: Blood on the Stone” by Dana Burgess

When I finished my first novel, “A Roman Peace in Briton: Blood on the Stone”, I must admit that I was quite pleased with myself. Little did I know that writing the novel was the easy part.  I quickly learned that marketing and selling the novel is where an author makes their hay, so to speak.  A huge part of marketing in today’s publishing world, is convincing the more credible book reviewers to take a gander at one’s work.  As one published author recently shared with me, “A book review is worth a thousand ads.”

To that end, about a month ago I sent out a stack of my books to willing reviewers. Of course, I didn’t expect immediate results as I know how busy reviewers can be, many juggling careers, writing their own novels, and writing reviews.  Yours truly has his own stack of books that I intend on whittling down and churning out reviews on.  Be that as it may, here is one of the first reviews to emerge of “A Roman Peace in Briton: Blood on the Stone”, by Dana Burgess of Let’s Book it.

Culture of Drinking

The culture of drinking permeates our society
The media and peers pressure to alleviate sobriety
Messages converge and conflict to create confusion:
designed by purveyors and marketers to create the illusion
That alcohol is the key to enhance life’s experiences
That beer, wine or drink is a must in all circumstances
To celebrate, commiserate or punctuate each time
a social gathering is planned, a well-stocked bar is prime
Raise your glass, give a toast, down a shot, it’s expected
Not interested? All protests and excuses are rejected
because drinkers can’t handle it, they get uncomfortable and nervous
When there’s a holdout, they relentlessly press him into service
to fill his glass with something stronger than water or carbonation
so they don’t have to face the mirror for succumbing to their own temptation
Instead they hide behind the false camaraderie
created by a bottle instead of shared history

For many who believe the hype, it follows them back home
so pervasively throughout the media is the image shown
they start by drinking with others — pretty soon they drink alone
even those who have it buried deep within their genes
who’ve had blackouts, loss of speech and a host of other things
fool themselves into believing that the disease can’t touch them
even as they ignore the pain and grief that others will condemn
But for the few who’ve battled and been scarred
every day is a constant struggle against the bombard
of images, words and pressure
trying to make them something lesser
than what they’re striving so hard to become
to sail above rather than to stay numb
one day at a time, that is their prayer
for salvation from the demons that stare
trying to seduce them into falling from grace,
laboring constantly and tirelessly to erase
the ebb, flow and pull of addiction pulsing through their veins
or the sight of a loved one trying to throw off those chains

Jody L. Barilla
© 3/15/09

We

Not easy to retrain your brain from “we” to “I”
After a lifetime of eating the whole pie
Already come from different planets, Venus and Mars
Then sprinkle these pronouns among the stars
It is a concept that transcends the grammatical
And operates to append the compatible
To learn to factor two not one in the equation
And include another in the conversation
Creating a dialogue
Translating the monologue
To share an equality of vision
And walk together on the same mission
Transforming the drum beat of two separate hearts
Into the base heat of souls refusing to be torn apart
The path will be rocky with hidden pits and cracks
But “we” can offer the support that “I” otherwise lacks
11/18/10

Gil Anderson’s, Going Fore It in golf and in life

In reading Mr. Anderson’s book, two things stood out: he’s a decent writer and has a severe golf fetish.   Regarding his approach to the craft of writing, in “Going Fore It“  Anderson marries descriptiveness with a merciful conciseness that leads the reader very smoothly through the book.   As for content, Anderson calls upon a lifetime of golfing experiences to paint the picture of the mental relationships between golfer, golfing, the golf course and course design itself through a light transcendentalist prism.  He then blends these relationships by connecting the proper mental approach of the game of golf to achieving peak performance in life.  His skillful crafting of such a weighty subject of spirituality was kept light and entertaining, culminating in a smooth read.  However, themes of eastern philosophy and transcendentalism along with the clear influence of Deepak Chopra were a bit overwhelming.  At times I found myself reaching for the granola and wanting to light some incense to enhance the experience.  While reading the book, though I had no reason to question the author’s handling of the English language and the game of golf, I did find myself wondering why I was reading it.  Though Anderson and I are both avid golfers and share a love and appreciation for the game, there seemed to be a major divide regarding the role the game plays in our lives.

I agree with the author on the idea that a clear mind off the golf course leads to better scores on the golf course.  Having distractions carried onto the course doesn’t lend itself to proper concentration and scoring on it.  If you have ever played a round of golf when skipping out of a work meeting and feel guilty while draining a thirty foot put, you know exactly what I mean. Mr. Anderson has a great description of a interesting concept called “mindful mindlessness” that addresses this scenario wonderfully.   The author explains the concentration concepts that many apply on the course and then also applies them off the course.  He caddies your brain through connecting you to how you were able to focus to score well, then deconstructs it to apply that mindset to life in general.  It is at this point where the divide between the author’s view on golf and life and my own personal view of its place threatened to morph into canyon-like status.  Anderson steeps himself so deep in a worshipful trance focused on the game of golf and the courses it is played on, that it becomes borderline bizarre.  Correction. It is bizarre. It is reminiscent of the character Ty Web from the movie Caddy Shack, but only if we were forced to take him seriously.  Anderson’s reverence for the sport squarely places him in a unique sort of yogi zen master positioned within his own brand of new eastern golf theology. In short, golf is both his mantra and his idol and he is not shy about it in the least.  Or he may just be a skilled writer, excellent golf instructor and a misguided spiritual adviser who is actively seeking to proselytize.

In the end if you enjoy a smooth read, are golf obsessed, and are not attached to any western religious dogma then this book is for you.  It is well written, entertaining and should not take you too long to get through.

Book Trailer

Check out the trailer for my debut novel!

“The Devil Colony” book review

Written by New York Times best selling author, James Rollins, The Devil Colony continues the legacy of Painter Crowe and his crack team of military veterans, patriotic scientists and intellectuals, all of which comprise The Sigma Force: a secretive, black-op organization who match brains and brawn with the enemies of freedom.   Admittedly, I was a tad skeptical when publicist and media guy, Mike Farley, queried whether I was interested in reviewing the novel.   Why was that?  Because in my estimation, it’s generally difficult for an author to maintain quality momentum when writing a series, particularly a series that stretches beyond three or four books, regardless of how invested a reader becomes in the characters in the initial installment.  You know of what I speak. Just ask fans of Anne Rice.

What started with a tantalizingly fresh rendition of vampire lore in Interview with a Vampire eventually morphed into tedious swathes of forced prose and stale, stretched literary concepts by the time her fifth installment in the Vampire Chronicles came to press.  Reading Rice’s fifth installment, Memnoch the Devil, was much like watching Michael Jordan play basketball.  I’m talking about the Michael Jordan who played for the Washington Wizards, not the legendary hall of famer who led the Bulls to multiple NBA rings.  Jordan had lost a step or two by the time he laced up his sneakers for the Wizards in 2001 and as much as the NBA and its fans adored him, it became tiresome to watch him clang jumpers, complain to the refs and blame the slick floors for his lack of lift-off when taking it to the hole in the fourth quarter. (Sounds eerily reminiscent of Lebron James post-Cleveland departure to the Heat, doesn’t it?)

But as for my initial reticence regarding James Rollins’ newest installment in the Sigma Force series, I humbly stand corrected.  The Devil Colony is a soaring, from the foul line slam dunk.  Chock full of action and sweeping across continents and history, Rollins guides the reader back to America’s infancy and into the present, cleverly splicing legend, fact and myth into a breathtaking conspiratorial tale of what might have happened and what could be.

Beginning with the book inside jacket teaser, “Could the founding of the United States be based on a fundamental lie”, Rollins’ sixth installment in the series explodes from the pages with intrigue: strange artifacts, gold plates inscribed with semi-Semitic script and hundreds of prehistoric mummified bodies of Caucasian origin are discovered out west in a secluded mountain cave system sparking controversy as the U.S. government and the Native American Heritage Commission race to lay claim to the remains and more importantly, the artifacts.   However, the U.S. government and the Native Americans are not the only ones vying for the strange artifacts.   A secret society known as the Guild, with its enormous wealth, resources and protective cloak of anonymity, has also entered the fray, its objective to steal the strange artifacts and harness the artifacts’ power and mystique for their own purposes, and the Guild is not easily subdued.   Manipulating America’s course since the time of the thirteen colonies, the Guild’s shadowy influence permeates every U.S. institution, showing itself to be more than a match for Painter Crowe’s vaunted Sigma Force.

That’s all the detail you readers will pull out of this reviewer. If you want more, you’ll have to read it for yourself.  If you like your novels served action heavy, with a dash of true science and spiced with archaeology and history with a garnish of plausible fiction, then by all means read The Devil Colony.

A Roman Peace in Briton: Blood on the Stone

Previously on Joe Unleashed, the world bore witness to how I felt about the state of the publishing industry and in particular, the fear and loathing in which I held it. I’m certain I’m not the first novelist or writer to harbor such sentiments. As a matter of fact, witnessing the proliferation of e-reader devices and vanity presses, I’m quite sure of it.  But alas, nevermore shall I dwell on such thoughts.  The die is cast and the proverbial Rubicon crossed. With very little peril, I may add.  Very anti-climatic and not nearly as dramatic or performed with the same flourish as the late, great Julius Caesar when he originally coined the phrase.

Nonetheless, here is a peek at my debut novel,

Over two thousand years ago, in a vanished world in which gallant death and honor still holds sway, Gaius Julius Caesar is blitzing through Briton’s fierce, blue-painted warlords, exacting a heavy price in exchange for peace. News from Rome and word of rebellion in war-ravaged Gaul cut short Caesar’s invasion of Briton, leaving him little choice but to return to the mainland. Leaving for Gaul, Caesar entrusts a depleted legion to Cussius Caesar, and senior centurion, Marcus Rulus. With orders to further explore Briton and return to Gaul with the tribute, Marcus and Cussius find themselves in a remarkable quest to carve a future out of the land. A Roman Peace in Briton follows the lives of those left behind whose fates become bound to the people of the fabled, fog-bound lands of ancient Briton. Filled with dramatic scenes and abounding in fictional and historical personalities, A Roman Peace in Briton hooks with passionate storytelling and engulfs the reader in events of historical legend.

Still not enough? Then how about a brief excerpt randomly selected from deep within the book itself. Here it goes:

The knoll itself was a decent observation point from which to survey the countryside, including the surrounding hills. The hill slanted down gently and opened up into a small valley through which the stream they had crossed earlier meandered. The wheat in the fields had already been threshed and was now winnowing. In other fields, farmers had stripped the pastureland of its bounty, and all that remained was a thick carpet of waist-high grasses that swayed uneasily in the westerly wind.

“Enemy!” screamed an alert troop. Marcus pivoted in the direction of the pointing legionary. A short distance away, a figure emerged from the fading green of the forest. Behind the figure, mild hills sloped upward to verdant woods, deep with oak and ash. Marcus smiled grimly, for he knew the forest awaited the opportunity to spew forth its content of warriors.

The solitary figure stared upward toward the waiting Romans. Marcus could just barely make out the warrior’s features. He appeared to be very tall, with rippling muscles under clear white skin striped with woad. His hair glowed blond but not unnaturally so, and was thick and shaggy like a horse’s mane. He had a cloak fastened at the shoulder with a brooch that reflected brightly in the sun. He rode perpendicular to the forest edge, brandishing his sword and bellowing loudly, banging shield and sword together, his voice reverberating roughly within the natural acoustics of the small valley.

“He seems quite belligerent and full of himself now, doesn’t he?” said Marcus, eyebrow raised in calculation. “I can’t make out what he’s yelling. Is he directing that noise toward us?” he facetiously asked Leko, a playful smile on his lips.

Leko shrugged at the spectacle. “He’s putting forth his bona fides. He is Gymm of the Coritani, son of the King, and he’s boasting of the enemies he’s bested in combat,” he said for Marcus’ benefit. “He’s also challenging you to come out and fight him man to man, in single combat to the death.” He turned to Marcus, eager to see whether or not he would accept the challenge.

Marcus gritted his teeth and a predatory grin spread across his lips. Every fiber of his being tensed as the challenge branched its taunting tentacles deep within his spirit and a primeval surge hotly coursed his veins. Though just as enthusiastic to meet the challenge issued by the boisterous enemy warrior, he maintained the stony discipline emblematic of his rank.

“Nonsense,” he said to the skeptical Leko. “We fight together.” He noticed Leko’s expression of questioning disappointment. “I have greater responsibilities than charging out at a silly challenge issued by a half-naked barbarian. We will accept his challenge to fight, however,” he said. “Tell him so, but first offer him the opportunity to surrender. Promise him he will be treated fairly.”

Leko took a deep breath, filling his lungs as full as possible before yelling in the direction of the raging warrior. “My commander accepts your offer of battle, but he would rather not see brave warriors die needlessly. In an offer of friendship, he asks that you consider surrendering. No harm will befall you, and your warriors will be treated with honor. This my master has promised.” As Leko finished, he stole a glance at Marcus to see if anything further should be added.

The strutting warrior leapt off his horse, again clanging his sword and shield together loudly. Jeering, he pulled down his leather trousers, grabbed his privities and gesticulated crudely in the direction of the bemused Roman ranks. Marcus shrugged. He needed no interpreter to get the gist of that response.

That’s enough for now. Just enough to whet your appetite.  If you want more, just skip over to Amazon and order a print version, or download the book on whatever e-reader platform you happen to be going with these days.

Outlaw

Determined to turn over a new leaf, I sprang out of bed this morning at 5 a.m., brewed a fresh pot of coffee and powered up my laptop.  I will be the first to admit that sometimes my mind wanders.  It’s not an unusual affliction.  Many of you readers out there in Internet-land probably suffer from the same malady.  As a matter of fact, I think the internet may be contributing to the condition.  I mean, come on, the world at present is like one giant train wreck, with news of calamity, war, uprisings, natural disasters and failing world economies springing forth from one headline after another.  It’s the virtual equivalent of rubber necking.  You know what I speak of.  How easy is it to surf from site to site until something snares your eye and manages to keep your attention for a minute or two, before clicking off and onto another site?  It’s the same way with the television.

Kicked back in the lazy boy, bowl of popcorn on the lap and a stack of books piled on the end table, I sometimes find myself flipping through the 400 plus channels made available by my cable carrier.  Personally, I really don’t think I need four hundred plus channels.  I could probably survive with one or two of the cable news networks, National Geographic, the History Channel and Espn.  But neither the internet or the television is truly indicative of my attention disorder.  It still comes down to the books.

I literally have seven new (to me) books I picked up and received from various sources residing on my workstation table as of this past Monday.  I finished the first of them by noon on Tuesday with the intention of immediately scurrying off to my laptop to churn out a review for JoeUnleashed.  Alas, the best of intentions fall prey to the promising allure of another good read.  So as of last night, I realized that I was reading three different books at once and still had not penned the review of the “Outlaw”, the book I started Monday evening and finished at lunch on Tuesday.  It is now Saturday morning and I’m three-quarters of the way through the other three novels and still the review of “Outlaw” remains untouched.  Ugh.

So, with new leaf freshly turned and the smell of strong coffee wafting in the air, I present Angus Donald’s “Outlaw”, a novel of Robin Hood.  I will not waste time or print rehashing the saga and tale of Robin Hood.  It’s one of the world’s best-known stories or mythologies and there are plenty of books and movies depicting the character.  However, none of the previous renditions have presented the noble villain in quite the same light as  Donald has in “Outlaw”.

All the stock characters remain; Robin of Sherwood, Little John, Will Scarlet, the Sheriff of Nottingham, and Friar Tuck and the fair maiden, Marie-Anne, Countess of Locksley.  But as mentioned previously, this is not your parents’ Robin Hood, nor that of Kevin Costner or Russell Crowe.  This is Robin Hood as seen through the eyes of fugitive peasant youngster, Alan Dale.  Desperate, destitute and larcenous-minded, Alan runs afoul of the Sheriff of Nottingham when caught thieving a meat pie to feed he and his mother (his father had been dragged out in the middle of the night by the Sheriff and unceremoniously hung from an oak as a warning to others who may challenge the primacy of the local lord).

Faced with losing his hand for the thievery, Alan seeks the intervention and protection of none other than the Lord of Sherwood, Robin Hood.  Hence begins an apprenticeship at the knee of Robin and an immersion into a world of violence, treachery, romance, drunken debauchery and religiosity, both Christian and pagan.

Fast-paced and descriptively presented, “Outlaw” had a familiar feel to it, but with a jolting liveliness that infused a new flavor into one of history’s most favored villains.  In sum, Donald’s rousing yarn is well worth the time.

THE TWELFTH IMAM

Read some newspapers, national periodicals, or internet news sites trumpeted by “trusted” media outlets and the casual reader could very well come away with the notion that America is being overwhelmed by religious extremists of the Christian variety.  Witness judges who tack copies of the Ten Commandments on their courtroom walls, or pastors and priests with the temerity to speak of the Constitution’s guarantee of an individual’s right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, and the right to life movement in the same breath, and then sit back and wait for the hoots of derision to explode from the pens of editorialists and the mouths of talking heads.  Or witness how a public school down south would dare to conduct a graduation ceremony with a cross lurking auspiciously somewhere in the background. Gasp! Shriek! (Hold on a moment while I wail and tear out my hair at the unimaginable apostasy and affront to secular humanism).  And forget about trying to teach creationism alongside the current scientific dogma of evolution.  If it were attempted I’m sure some offended citizen would speed dial the ACLU hotline and an advocate would be filing an injunction faster than you could say Genesis.

Now, I’m sure some of you are sitting there scratching your heads with eyes wide and rolling in disbelief and mumbling to yourself that you thought this site was about books. Well, it is about books and literature. I’m just pointing out that in my opinion, more than a few intellectuals, academics and a goodly number of journalists seem to savage prominent displays of Judeo-Christian faith while giving an entirely different brand of religiosity a pass, if you will. Call it a casualty of our PC (politically correct) culture.

And what is this brand of religiosity to which I refer?  Is it science as humanity’s newest god and its narrow-minded exclusiveness of its practitioners who espouse science and the attainment of knowledge above all else?  Is it secular humanism and its quest for moral fulfillment through reasoning, ethics and justice absent God or religion?  Yes, and no, but neither is actually the topic of today’s blog post.  What I’m referring to is the brand of Islam currently being exported by Iran.

Before I go any further, I would like to fill in a little background as to what prompted this blog post and consequently, the reading and review of Joel Rosenberg’s The Twelfth Imam.  There’s a growing sense in cultures around the world that the apocalypse is right around the corner. Secular humanists are not immune to the alarmism with shouts of man’s imminent demise through global warming and global cooling, streaking meteors, massive earthquakes and tsunamis.  Merely pick a natural disaster and apply.  We Christians have our books of the Bible that speak of the end times, most specifically, the Book of Revelations, though I refute this May 21, 6:00 pm fad making its rounds as unscriptural and unsupported by the Bible (No one knows the day or hour: Matthew 24:36) . Islam is no different.  They have their apocalyptic messiah as well.

If you have been paying any attention the past thirty years to world events, and specifically, the Middle East (aside from the first and second wars in Iraq), you may have noticed that the fundamentalist regime of Iran is not friendly to western culture in the least. As a matter of fact, the official line is one of direct hostility exemplified by boisterous proclamations of its desire to annihilate Israel, and of course, America. And for good measure throw in the regime’s dedication to the financing, arming and training of terrorist groups such as Hezbollah, Hamas and the resident despot of Syria, Bashir Assad.

The current figurehead for anti-western sentiment is embodied in Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.  A fiery orator with populist leanings, Ahmadinejad makes no bones about his desire to hasten the return of Shiite Islam’s messiah, the Mahdi, also known as the 12th Imam.  In fact, in Ahmadinejad’s first speech to the United Nations, he took to the global stage in New York City and prayed out loud for the hasty return of the hidden imam. The underpinnings of this messianic yearning for the Mahdi is that he is expected to return before the Day of Judgment to lead the righteous against the forces of evil. Now whom does Ahmadinejad consider the forces of evil to be?

To answer this I suggest letting Joel Rosenberg entertain you with his latest splendidly researched and thought-provoking thriller, The Twelfth Imam.  Rosenberg, a New York Times best-selling author, takes the reader inside the messianic Mahdi movement of Shiite dominated Iran.  The main character of the novel, David Shirazi, is an Iranian-American of Shiite extraction that is initially recruited by the CIA to infiltrate al-Qaeda cells in Europe and Pakistan.  Rumblings from within Iran of a mysterious religious cleric claiming to be the messiah, coupled with the regime’s relentless and secretive pursuit of nuclear power prompt Shirazi’s reassignment:  Infiltrate Iran and gather information on Iran’s nuclear facilities and disrupt its nuclear weapons program before it’s too late.

There was a lot to like about this book.  It was entertaining, relevant to current events and did a fabulous job of simplifying the complex and mystical aspects of Shiite end-times theology.  Rosenberg also demonstrated a deft touch in extrapolating on the geo-political import of Shiite eschatology, an area this blogger and reviewer was woefully deficient.  In sum, this novel was one of the best fiction/suspense political thrillers I’ve had the joy to read this year.  Pick up a copy and enjoy.

Ten Books Every Soldier Should Take on Deployment

Terror mastermind and mass murderer Osama bin Laden may be dead and his body sunk and polluting the depths of the ocean, but the duties incumbent upon America’s armed forces have not waned and likely will not for the foreseeable future.  What that means is a continued strain on our armed forces and the dutiful sacrifice that comes with it.  Witness my neighbor, Anthony Fought, a sandy haired, unassuming thirty-year old, representative of America’s current citizen-warrior class.  Initially serving with the 107th Cavalry and currently a member of the Ohio National Guard’s 148th Infantry Battalion, Anthony has been deployed overseas twice during his tenure as citizen-soldier since enlisting in 1999.  The first overseas activation saw Anthony and his battalion deployed to the Balkans of eastern Europe in 2004; Kosovo to be exact, a city that is home to a majority population of Muslim Albanians, while just so happening to be the ancient home and center of religious devotion to a minority bloc of ethnic Orthodox Christian Serbs.  In short, Kosovo was the typical tinder box of religious and ethnic strife where American citizen-soldiers like Anthony and the 148th find themselves stuck between implacable enemies bent on cleansing the other from their midst and whom were less than friendly with the American soldiers tasked with keeping them from the others throats.

The second time Uncle Sam called up his unit was in 2008. Recently married and the new owner of a well-kept home, Anthony stoically accepted the news of the call-up and made preparations to leave his new bride and home.   He and the other soldiers of the 148th answered the call to arms only to find themselves sweating under the weight of 70 pounds of armor in the 110 degree desert heat of Kuwait and Iraq.  Each mobilization and ensuing deployment took these neighbors, friends, co-workers, husbands, sons and brothers away from their loved ones for at least a period of 13 months.  More months are added to the tally when the pre-deployment training is worked into the equation.

So what’s a soldier to do with his downtime when deployed overseas and surrounded by a hostile, suspicious populace?  It’s not as if every day and minute is filled with missions and it’s not as if the soldiers can stroll off base to shop for souvenirs at the local bazaar. That’s a sure way to find oneself on the wrong end of a jihadist youtube video, a plight no one really wants to contemplate. In between missions pulling security for supply convoys trekking the dangerous roads of Iraq and Kuwait, boredom inevitably sets in and boredom is the timeless enemy of every soldier, just as much as any AK-47 toting, IED-placing terrorist is. The days, weeks and months must be filled and the ways in which that time is filled is key to maintaining morale.

The military does its collective best to thwart this enemy with disciplined physical training, mission briefings and access to the PX (Post Exchange to those readers unfamiliar with military nomenclature). But there are other amenities made available to the soldiers and many engage in epic bouts of xbox, darts and pool, while others stalk the phone banks and computer terminals so as to keep abreast of current events and make much needed contact with loved ones back in the States.

But what about the books?  Is it all guns, tanks, xbox and weight lifting and e-mails home?  Of course not. And that’s why I picked Anthony’s brain for “Ten Books Every Soldier Should Take on Deployment”.  Soldiers are just like you and me and what is especially poignant about the list is the revelation that our soldiers and their corresponding likes and dislikes are a direct reflection of our culture.  Even 5000 miles away from home and with the prospect of a shortened lifespan lurking in the back of their minds, America’s citizen-soldiers seek the solace of a good read, relevant to their current situation.  And so, without any further ado, I present the list of books Sgt. Anthony Fought was so kind to compile for this blog post:

#1 Band of Brothers by Stephen Ambrose:  Personally, I loved the HBO series based on the novel and if the series is any reflection of the quality of the book itself, it’s pretty much a no-brainer as to why Anthony placed this one atop his list (though I would have placed the Bible at number 1 if it were my list, considering where the deployment is at, the dangers involved and what’s at stake.  But this is Anthony’s list and he and the other soldiers are the ones carrying America’s load in present times.)

#2 D Day: June 6, 1944: the Climactic Battle of World War II by Stephen Ambrose:  America’s foremost military historian is at it again.

#3 The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon by David Grann:  From across the fence separating our backyards, Anthony gushed about this book.  Someone please remind me to ask him to borrow it. It sounds fascinating.

#4 Inferno by Dante Aligheri: I can’t and won’t disagree with Anthony on this one.  It made my own list of Ten Books Every Guy Should Read.

#5 Forrest Gump by Winston Groom: America loved the movie so why not the book?

#6 The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown: I’ve read it myself and watched the movie.

#7 Angels and Demons by Dan Brown: Did not read this one, but I’m hoping that Anthony still has it on his bookshelf.

#8 Pete Rose: My Prison Without Bars (with Rich Hill): Come on, it’s Pete Rose.  Odds are it’s a good read.  I would wager as much. Any takers?

#9 Lord of the Flies by William Golding: A classic read sporting the timeless theme of good vs evil, chaos vs order, peace vs violence, this blogger was pleased to discover its inclusion on the list.

#10 Gates of Fire by Steven Pressfield:  This one, among other titles penned by Pressfield, already resides on my bookshelf.  Historical fiction at its finest, Gates of Fire chronicles the Battle of Thermopylae and the Spartans heroic stand against Xerxes and his invading horde in an authentic and riveting read sure to thrill even the most tepid of historical fiction fans.  A fitting finale to a well-promulgated list. Take a bow, Staff Sgt.  Anthony Fought. Job well done.