Random Firings of Neurons

The rest of your life is going to be spent getting back up after life has knocked you down again. You might as well just get used to it.

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Location: Round Rock, Texas, United States

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

On books

Since I have had my very first request for a topic, I feel it would not be fair of me to not discuss it.

The Red Falcon (long may he soar!) posited the notion that one can tell a lot about another person by what books they have on their bookshelves. I disagree with this slightly, as I have known people who had books on their shelves, just to appear intelligent, when in actuallity, they were no smarter than the average garden slug. (Some of the smarter slugs, on the other hand...) Also, my book shelves tend to stay at about the same density of books, due to my tendency to give lend books to others. So, my bookshelf is not really an indication of what I like to read, mainly because most of the books I like have been lent out to others.

But, I can say that I do have some favorite books that have managed to remain on my shelves for longer than a couple of months. One of them is The Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors, by James Hornfischer. It is the book that I pulled my previous reference to Cmdr. Ernest Evans from. If you have not yet read Last Stand, I implore you to do so. Especially if you are a Navy-type who needs some ammo to shut up them darned arrogant Marines. It would be safe to say that few naval engagements in history were fought as fiercely in a one-sided battle. While Cmdr. Evans was one of the only CMOH winners, the bravery exhibited by the sailors and airmen of Taffy-3 that day were easily the equal of the bravery exhibited by the Marines at Iwo Jima. And that, my friends, is not easy for a Marine to say. But it is true. Read the book, and judge for yourself.

Another favorite book of mine still on my shelf is Flags of our Fathers, by James Bradley. I would be remiss if I didn't include at least ONE book about Iwo Jima! What I found most interesting about the book, though, is that one of the flag-raisers, the only non-Marine in the photo, lived out the rest of his days in Appleton, Wisconsin, just a two-hour drive from where I live! To think, all those years, and I was just a short drive from one of the most famous non-famous people in American history. I was awed, and very proud, to find that Jack Bradley (the US Navy Corpsman at the base of the flag) had continued Wisconsin's fine tradition of serving Our Nation well, with accolades neither needed nor accepted. His son (the author) was driven to write the book after finding out not only did his father have a little more than a passing familiarity with the flag raising (the family knew he had some connection), but that Hospitalman Bradley also won the Navy Cross at Iwo Jima. In all the years that James had known his father, Jack Bradley had only once mentioned his time on Iwo Jima to the family, and that was only in a passing reference. Imagine what it would be like, after the death of your father, to find out that he was a decorated war hero, and one of the six men in the most replicated photo in history.

One of my favorite books that I always feel I have to defend is The Cartoon History of the Universe. It's a cartoon, so how good can it be, right? Or how serious? Let me tell you, while it is a decidedly leftist, anti-religious series, the history in it is quite good. It also helps that there is a laugh a page, at least. Larry Gonick, the author, has a gift for sight-gags that do not detract from his subject matter, but rather add to it. I only have the first three volumes of Cartoon History, but I am anxiously awaiting Volume Four, and later volumes.

I have many other books on my shelf that I would love to discuss, but those are the three that are most forward in my mind right now. I may discuss some of the others at a later date.

Semper Fidelis: Always Faithful, to God, Corps and Country