Category Archives: History

100 Seconds to Midnight: Conversations at a Seminar by Surendra Kumar Sagar

Reviewed by Douglas R. Cobb

100 Seconds to Midnight: Conversations at a Seminar is the latest intriguing and eye-opening book by the often prophetic and always interesting author, Surendra Kumar Sagar. The provocative title references the so-called Doomsday Clock and how close the hands of it have moved towards midnight, the time when Doomsday will supposedly happen and all of mankind will potentially perish.

In 100 Seconds to Midnight, Sagar illustrates how close we have come to midnight and the roles he feels that the Trump administration and the Deep State have played in moving the hands ever closer to the fatal hour through a series of fictitious conversations held by Hollywood and Bollywood actors portraying famous dead intellectual personages such as Albert Einstein, Erwin Schrodinger, Leonardo Da Vinci, Diogenes of Alaska and himself, at a seminar. Though the topics and possible conclusions of the conversations at the seminar are, as the author calls them, “mind exercises,” they are meant to both enlighten the readers of 100 Seconds to Midnight and to urge them to get involved and do whatever they can to help ensure the continuation of intelligent life on Earth.

Kudos to the author for including the topic of COVID-19 in his book, and the ramifications the rampant spread of it and its variants, as well as the fatality rate of the virus, has had upon the entire world. The response that the countries of the world, and the somewhat initial delayed response of the United States, has pushed the hands of the Doomsday Clock somewhat closer to midnight, though it is heartening that vaccines have been invented to combat the disease, and that they are fairly effective against it.

Politically speaking, Surendra Kumar Sagar does not appear to take any side, as far as if he leans more towards Republican or Democrat points of view when it comes to who is more at fault in advancing the hands of the Doomsday Clock. Both sides are at fault, along with the Deep States and political leaders of the other countries of the world. What is more important than who is at fault is what can be done to reverse the trends and actions that have caused the hands to steadily approach Doomsday. While there are numerous disconcerting things that the fictitious versions of famous historical figures discuss in the seminar that Sagar depicts in 100 Seconds to Midnight, the author is not all gloom and doom. There is still a chance to reverse some of the deleterious trends and slow down the Doomsday Clock’s steady ticking towards midnight.

The Greatest War Stories Never Told: 100 Tales from Military History to Astonish, Bewilder, and Stupefy (The Greatest Stories Never Told) by Rick Beyer

Reviewed by Allen Hott

A really great read! The book is made up of many stories of strange but true happenings during wars. Some of these go back to 371 B.C. and some are as recent as 1991. The stories cover all sorts of happenings, some of which we are all aware of happening but we didn’t know the whole story behind the happening. It is a non-fiction book but reads almost like fiction when the stories are told….some are hard to believe.

In 371 B.C. the Spartans from Greece lost a major battle to Thebes in the battle of Leuctra. As good as the Spartan army was at that time the Thebes army of 300 soldiers really outclassed and outfought the Spartans. Strangely those three hundred soldiers were composed of 150 couples. That is right ….the Thebes had an army of 300 gay folks and this “band of lovers” knew how to fight!

Late in the 1200’s the Chinese built the best weapons in the world and were using them to expand their empire. However the weapons eventually did move to other parts of the world. And that begat problems for the Chinese. Their problem was that their ammunition was not as effective as others began to use. The reason was they had fewer domesticated animals!

New Yorkers: A Feisty People Who Will Unsettle, Madden, Amuse and Astonish You by Clifford Browder

Reviewed by Lisa Brown-Gilbert

When it comes to New York City, its dynamic environ and multicultural fusion of distinctive inhabitants, author Clifford Browder focuses his keen literary eye on his life and experiences as a seasoned resident there, as well as providing glimpses of the eclectic history of the city in his recent work, New Yorkers: A Feisty People Who will Unsettle, Madden, Amuse and Astonish You. Moreover, being no stranger to using the backdrop of New York as a setting for his previously published books, including a series set in nineteenth-century New York, titled Metropolis, author Browder once again provides an intriguing exploration of a very culturally distinctive locale.

Moreover, this is not your typical cut and dry biography, providing dry facts; instead, the read is a heartfelt memoir of a man and the city he lives, loves, survives and works in. The narrative keeps you rapt in its pages with a winning combination of information gleaned from Mr. Browder’s unique standpoint, research, and experiences from his many years as a resident. Consequently, author Browder does well with transfixing the mental eye with descriptions of his life as a longtime resident, including historical glimpses and insider tidbits of the better-known aspects of New York as well as the lesser-known and even the obscure.

Dirty Science: How Unscientific Methods Are Blocking Our Cultural Advancement by Bob Gebelein

Reviewed by Nancy Eaton

Dirty ScienceBob Gebelein begins by stating “This book needs to be written.” “The story needs to be told.” You will discover why he makes this statement as you read this book.

I’m only going to mention a few subjects in this book because I don’t want to give too much away for the readers.

The author begins many of the chapters with a question. “Have you been ridiculed by members of the scientific establishment because of your psychic beliefs?” So, just think about this statement. Many of us have experienced spiritual believes and psychic experiences. What happens when you express these beliefs and experiences to other people? Do they look at you like you are some kind of quack? It doesn’t even have to be someone with a scientific background. These beliefs are ground into our minds because, as the author states, “science has tapped into a human psychological need for authorities who are people who know all the answers”. These scientists believe there is no reality beyond the physical. Therefore, people who express an interest in subjects like clairvoyance, the power of prayer, reincarnation, etc. are dismissed as mentally incompetent. We all know that there is much more to clairvoyance, reincarnation, etc. The author states that he had a dream about his grandmother’s death one hour before he received the telegram. I, also, had an experience similar to this when my father was very ill. I came to the hospital to visit him and he told me that he had a lot of visitors that day. When I asked him who came to visit, every person he named was dead. I knew right then and there that he was getting closer to death. I’m sure many of us have had experiences like this whether it pertained to death, a miracle that happened because of prayer, or how about the times we have gone to a certain place and felt like we have been there before? How about the times when we first met a person and could swear we knew this person before? Could this possibly be anything to do with reincarnation?

Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand

Reviewed by Allen Hott

UnbrokenThis is quite a story about an Olympic runner from the U.S. team In the Berlin Olympics of 1936. Although he didn’t win the race (he finished 8th) but he ran the fastest final lap not only in the race but of anyone in distance running in the Olympics. His time of 56 seconds was so astounding that Adolf Hitler made a point to meet and congratulate him at the race’s end.

The runner was Louis Silvie Zamperini, son of Italian parents who moved the family to California where they basically lived in severe poverty in the late 20s and early 30s. Louie led a slightly tough young life as he was basically a wild young man. At an early age he was drinking, smoking, and actually living like a bandit in that he would steal food especially as he was always hungry. He always felt that he could fend for himself in all areas. He was lucky in that his older brother, Pete, who was almost a direct opposite type of boy, took very good care of Louie. There were also two younger sisters in the family who helped to somewhat control Louie.

Chanting the Feminine Down by James C. McCullagh with Roy McCullagh

Reviewed by Chris Phillips

Chanting the Feminine DownOddly enough, when an author subtitles his book it is often more about the author then the book. However, McCullaugh here declares this to be a “Psychological, Religious and Historical Novel,” he is not being disingenuous.

This story is well researched and well documented. It is a tribute to the author’s dedication and abilities in research and correlation of large amounts of data and information. The author provides source references and other interesting information at his website, Chanting the Feminine Down.

Corn, Cotton and Chocolate: How the Maya Changed the World by James O’Kon PE

Reviewed by Ray Palen

Corn, Cotton and ChocolateNo civilization in the history of our planet existed longer than the ancient Mayans. The historic period that they were at the forefront of lasted for 3500 years. This is an unheard of figure and, arguably, one which will never be beat. This civilization reigned from roughly 2500 B.C. to 900 A.D. However, most of what they achieved went all but unnoticed. There was no written or oral news to traverse the globe to describe their exploits and the impact they had on the planet and the rest of mankind. In essence, they were the ‘phantoms of history’.

CORN, COTTON AND CHOCOLATE: HOW THE MAYA CHANGED THE WORLD looks like a textbook, something you might have to purchase for your Social Studies class. It could also be a highly quoted text to aid in your term paper or thesis research. Sounds like some pretty dry stuff, huh? I am happy to say that in the hands of author James O’Kon, this eye-opening work was never short on surprises and could gladly hold the interest of any intelligent person seeking to learn more about perhaps the most influential civilization of all-time.

Rather than a straight chapter by chapter review I thought I would make things more interesting.

10 Things The World Can Thank The Mayans For

1. The Mayans were Cosmic Philosophers. They always considered themselves sky watchers and this need to understand the universe above and around us made them the earliest known astronomers. They were able to gain an uncanny knowledge of the harmonious composition of the cosmos. Yes, well before Carl Sagan!

2. They were the greatest agronomists in word history. They made famous the term cultivar. Not just an assemblage of plants or flowers but a natural process honed through careful cultivation. They can thank Columbus for spreading the word around his global journeys about the original ‘flower power’ people.

3. The invention of the number zero. This is nothing to laugh at (no pun intended). Mathematicians have proclaimed that one of the singular accomplishments of the human era, and the greatest intellectual feat of the Maya, was the number zero. This was a culture that was so introspective and intelligent that they were actually able to grasp the concept of something having no value — but still making it the starting point for numerical sequences!

4. Maize. Long thought to be a Native American find, Maize or as we more commonly refer to it — corn — was brought about due to sophisticated cultivation of high yielding grain. Some have called it the Maya’s greatest invention. They were eons ahead of the trend of genetic manipulation in creating food products — particularly, one in which people today cannot go to the movies without enjoying the ‘hot air-popped’ version of Maize.

5. The avocado. The fruit botanically known as Persea americana has grown in popularity in recent years due to its’ health benefits. This tropical delight is the central ingredient in the beloved Guacamole Dip. The Mayans cultivated Avocado trees whose origins may stretch back to the Cenozoic Era.

6. The Cassava and how it changed the way the world is fed. Cassava root was also mass cultivated by the Mayans and the ‘bread of the tropics’ took off in many different cultures throughout the world. This great source of carbohydrates stands behind only sugarcane and sugar beets in that category.

7. Bubble Gum. O’Kon talks about the mass-produced sticks of hard gum that used to accompany every package of baseball cards (long before collectors scoffed at the practice as lowering their value). We can thank the Mayans who took Chicle or the sap of the sapodilla tree and turned it into a substance to be chewed and enjoyed. Not sure if they actually blew bubbles with it or not…

8. Chocolate/Cocoa. Many of us, particularly the ladies, have a very personal relationship with chocolate. Can you imagine Valentine’s Day or Easter without it? It was the Mayans love affair with chocolate and cocoa in general, four millennia ago, that made this the treat of choice. Yes, they even made a warm, frothy beverage from it!

9. Cotton. This has long been attributed to the great cotton plantations of the southern United States. However, it was once again the expert cultivation of the wild cotton plant that turned this into the world’s most valuable and productive vegetable fiber. It also makes for some really smooth and breathable fabric for clothing.

10. Tobacco. Cigarette and cigar smoking, along with the second-hand smoke they produce, may be taboo in recent years due to the adverse health conditions they can cause. That being said, it is impossible to not recognize how every civilization has been touched by tobacco — from Native American peace pipes to the Marlboro Man. Again, the Mayans cultivation of Nicotiana paved the way for a vice that has been enjoyed by every civilization that followed them.

This just scratches the surface on all the terrific research James O’Kon applied to this text. A fun and interesting read. More importantly, you can feel O’Kon’s enthusiasm for the subject in every paragraph and that also elevates it far above your average textbook.

Pride of the Valley: Sifting through the History of the Mount Healthy Mill by Tracy Lawson and Steve Hagaman

Reviewed by Allen Hott

Pride of the ValleyA slightly different book for most readers but a very good read and especially if you have any interest in southern Ohio history. Pride of the Valley was actually the name of a brand of flour that was milled at the Mt Healthy mill. That mill was a historic fixture for many years.

Click Here for More Information on Pride of the Valley

The Mt Healthy mill was built by Jediah Hill in the early 1800’s. Hill had moved to southern Ohio from New York and settled in the Mill Creek valley in what was to become Hamilton County. Hill’s mill was built for “harvesting” lumber originally and due to the tremendous growth in the area lumber was at the time a valued commodity.

Writer, Sailor, Soldier, Spy: Ernest Hemingway’s Secret Adventures, 1935-1961 by Nicholas Reynolds

Reviewed by Caryn St. Clair

Writer, Sailor, Soldier,SpyAuthor Reynolds holds a PhD from Oxford, is a former Marine who also worked as a CIA officer eventually settled into the role of military historian. It was while he was helping gather information for a new exhibit at the CIA Museum on the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), that Reynolds ran across several documents referencing Ernest Hemingway. That in itself was not so surprising as anyone who has read any of Hemingway’s work is aware the author worked as a war corespondent and also lived in Cuba as Castro came to power. However, his findings went far beyond that. He was surprised to find hints that Hemingway had once been associated with the NKVD which was the forerunner of the KGB, served as a spy for the US but also later a supporter of Castro. Make no mistake, this not some drily written tome of historical facts and documents. Reynolds seriously researched Hemingway’s life during each of these times and wrote a book filled with the author’s fascinating adventures. An author who already had a reputation of living life mostly out of bounds. How much research did the author do? There is roughly 80 pages of notes at the end of the book before the index.

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Much has been written about Ernest Hemingway already. Most people with any interest at all in the author knows of his 4 wives, his penchant for adventure regardless of the danger, his reputation as a hard drinker and his periods of deep depressions. This book gives readers a ring side seat into the larger than life figure explaining why all of those things happened to him. One of my favorite tales was of Hemingway actually patrolling the US coast line looking for German subs, a job he was sanctioned by the military to do. He was not just looking for them, his desire was to find and sink one. It isn’t just that he did this that makes this so interesting. It is the enthusiasm he put into the project that is. In many ways, he seems like a man who has never outgrown the little boy playing at war. One of my biggest surprises was how easily Hemingway was able to work his way into situations. He started as a writer covering WWII but slowly wormed his way into working for the OSS under the code name ARGO as a spy. He managed to get himself very close to the front lines, and even managed to fly for the RAF.

War, Spies & Bobby Sox (Stories About World War II at Home) by Libby Fischer Hellmann

Reviewed by Teri Davis

War, Spies and Bobby Sox“The volume of literature about World War Two has both fascinated and intimidated me. I suspect its popularity comes from the fact that it was the last time there was clarity between good and evil.”

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The Incidental Spy” is the story of Lena, a German Jewish refugee as she begins her new life in Chicago during 1935. Lena is fortunate to be sponsored by her aunt whose husband is a mathematics professor the University of Chicago. Immediately, she is enrolled in English and typing classes and quickly becomes a secretary in the physics department at the University. Naturally, it is hard knowing what is happening to the rest of her family a continent away. With erratic communication, the constant strain of her parents’ hardships, as well as her first love, are trying. Do you move on or wait?