Friday, September 21, 2012

If It’s Wrong and Doesn’t Work, End It

by David Darracott, author of Internal Security
and guest blogger for The Jag Review

Some friends ask why I chose to write a novel that includes such a distasteful topic as torture.  It is so ugly and controversial, most people would rather avoid the subject altogether.  Further, Internal Security depicts the reality of the act, not some harmless comic book version.  Why, indeed?
The truth is, I could probably write a second book on why it is so important to challenge this ancient and immoral practice.
Torture-them-until-they-talk is a very bad policy that will come back to haunt our nation for decades— perhaps centuries.  Overstatement?  Hardly.  In the Constitution, our founders specifically outlawed cruel and unusual punishment, along with self-incrimination, for good reason.  For them, memories were still fresh of abuses suffered at the hands of brutal rulers in the countries they had left behind in Europe.  They still remembered horrifying and senseless punishment meted out in its worst forms, and they resolved to prevent it from ever happening here.
Today, most Americans prefer not to think about torture at all, but it is particularly uncomfortable to those who want to think of our nation as wholly benign and just.  Torture, for any reason, is wrong.  Inflicting pain and degradation on a fellow human being has no true justification.  As a captive, the victim cannot fight back, cannot escape, cannot seek protection.  Moreover, if the victim claims innocence, perhaps truthfully, the torturer increases and prolongs pain in an attempt to get at a supposed truth, thus torture presupposes guilt.  If guilty, your pain worsens—if innocent, it also worsens.
Anyone suffering excruciating pain and fear of death would do anything to make it stop, which brings up a central and highly practical argument against coercive interrogation—it does not work.  A tortured human being will say anything—including truth or lie or in between—to end their pain.  Information obtained by such methods is worse than useless because it has no credibility, and therefore, can only mislead.  Indeed, how could anyone deranged by intense pain even be sure of what they are saying?  How could they ascertain fact from fiction?
Wouldn’t you say or do anything to have a live electrode removed from your tongue?  Or to have a black hood taken off your head you’ve been forced to wear for days.  Or to clear your lungs of water as you choke to the point of unconsciousness?   After hours or even months of such treatment, would you even know your own mind and memories well enough to distinguish a lie from the truth?
Our founders knew full well that government-sanctioned torture has a way of flying out of control.  They had experienced that kind of government in Europe and wanted to end it.  They understood that allowing these methods to be used on suspects is just a short step from using it on anyone.  You, yes you, could be next.  They understood that lesson from direct experience.  Perhaps we have forgotten it. 
When examined even casually, nothing about torture sounds very sensible.  Yet it is exactly what our nation has done recently, and is most likely still doing at secret sites around the world.  Torture is not comic book violence.  Real people suffer real horror, all in the name of somehow keeping us free and safe, as if freedom and safety have any validity when we betray our core principles so readily.
Still unsure?  Ask any man who spent time in a prison camp in North Vietnam or North Korea what he thinks of torture.  Or perhaps ask a survivor of Stalin’s secret police, or a victim of the Khmer Rouge or the Nazis, or . . . even the Americans. 
Ask the victims of American torture.  It has an awful ring to it, doesn’t it? 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Jerusalem Inception by Avraham Azrieli

Genre: Historical Fiction
Published by:  Creative Space
Pages:  Paper Back
Rating:  8 JAGS

The Jerusalem Inception is a one punch knock-out. The year is 1967 and tension is boiling over, not only between the sovereign Jewish state and its neighboring  Arab countries, but within Israel’s borders as well, as the Six Day War is about to ignite.  
Elie Weiss, Ultra Orthodox Rabbi Abraham Gester and Mossad Agent Tanya Galinski are survivors of the Holocaust and Israel’s only hope at defeating its enemies and halt the infighting between the Jewish populace and their governing body. The memories of 6 million Jews perishing by the hands of Nazi Germany is still fresh in their mind, even after all these years, as the three of them vow to stop at nothing to ensure a Jewish victory.
The Jerusalem Inception rocks the fiction thrill ride genre with a fresh perspective on the Jewish plight years after World War II, and gives a page by page account of love, betrayal and the manipulation used with detailed characters that bare their pain and turn it into purpose. This is must read for any action junkie looking for a book that will satisfy. Buy! Buy! Buy! I cannot stress this enough. Avraham Azrieli rival Ludlum and Le Carre in this action pack series.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Social Media Marketing for Dummies by Shiv Singh/Stephanie Diamond

Genre:  Non-Fiction
Published by:  John Wiley & Sons Inc.
Pages:  Paper Back
Rating:  4 JAGS

Social Media Marketing for Dummies helps you to navigate the importance of social media for businesses, brands, and websites to your customer. This introduction assists you better understand the importance of why more consumers are turning to social media to get product and service reviews. Social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Linkedln and even Youtube are opening up the potential for more leads to your business, while engaging the customer in real time. Marketers are realizing the valuable tools these sites have to offer to push out their name.
Social Media Marketing for Dummies breaks down all the jargon so that you can find your business voice and appeal to a larger audience; all while giving direction on how to examine what marketing strategy works best. Most importantly, little to no budget is needed to start your online campaign. What are required are time, patience and a lot of resolve. Social Media Marketing offers tips and testimonials on what has worked for major brands, and how you can apply them to your business.
WAIT! Do not purchase new, or used. While Social Media Marketing for Dummies compiles and simplifies what social media marketing is, you’re better off dedicating a set time and researching everything yourself without paying the cover price of $25.00. The consistent theme is trial and error, so instead of visiting your local bookstore, power up your computer and spend an afternoon and google your questions to find what answers best suit your needs.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Internal Security by David Darracott

Genre:  Fiction
Published by:  Lighting Rod Books
Pages:  Paper Back
Rating:  7 JAGS

In Internal Security, a terrorist explosion on Daytona’s sandy beach kills hundreds of students and the race for control for the strength of the most powerful nation on the planet begins in this exciting thrill ride. Tom Darden is a second rate reporter working for a third rate news organization who investigates the attack on American soil. What he uncovers is the story of a life time, but to get the truth out to the American public, he has become target number 1 by a shadowy secret organization working to take control of the U.S. Government. There is no one Tom can trust as he looks for clues from the east coast, all the way to the battle fields of the Iraqi war.

Tom must put country first, above all else, which could ultimately destroy the fabric of America. The evil forces that he is up against will stop at nothing to turn the country into a police state and worse, a forced dictatorship to keep any opposition at bay.
With Internal Security, David Darracott hit it out of the park. He has taken the headlines from today’s news and turned it into a page turning work of fiction that rings a certain truth that could fuel conspiracy theorists for decades. This roller coaster thrill ride will not only leave you wanting more, but will raise the bar for suspense fiction from this point forward. Watch out Brad Thor and Brad Meltzer, because David Darracott is a contender.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Paris Metro by Carl D. Malmgren

Genre:  Historical Fiction

Published by:  Omega Publications

Pages:  Paper Back

Rating:  1 JAGS

Paris Metro introduces us to Nick Edwards, aspiring writer who pens an essay that wins him the opportunity to study aboard in the glamorous cosmopolitan city of 1925 Paris. Here, he meets Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Stein, as well as a cast of characters from American fiction. Nick decides to start his own novel under the tutelage of Hemingway, but interest weans as Nick and his new friends explore the Paris night life.

With decadence and the spirit of a forgotten age, murder ensues and the violent air of reality comes crashing down on Nick and his entourage, as they come face to face with the truth of Paris, love and betrayal. Nick’s plan of documenting the revival of American Literature in the city of Paris has taken a backseat to investigate the murders that marked his time in the city of love.

This book was confusing at best. It felt as if it was all over the place, blurring the lines of fiction and literary heroes. Paris Metro was slow moving at first, while finishing up with a dialogue to drawn out to gain any merit. I would not purchase new, or ask to receive as a gift. In part, it was so descriptive; it left no imagination for the reader. Sadly, I would pass this book entirely. The one highlight of this book was the historical fiction that Malmgren has chosen to write about.

The Edge Of Whiteness by Joe Montaperto

Genre:  Memoir
Published by:  Self-Published
Pages:  Paper Back
Rating:  6 JAGS

The 70’s are alive and well in this laugh out loud memoir; “The Edge of Whiteness” by Joe Montaperto. Picture this, New Jersey 1970’s. Public Schools are now integrated, and the culture shock for most white students is mind-boggling.  Joe Montaperto is one of many who are captivated at the difference between white and black youth as he walks down the hall of his high school. One part intimidating, two parts intriguing, Joe sets out to embrace black culture by any means possible.  
What starts out as dated, blossoms into a memoir that transcends 70’s slang and flared checkered pants, to remind the reader of what it was once was like to be in high school trying desperately to fit in. The Edge of Whiteness is a perfect coming of age story set during a time where the civil rights movement was still emerging and the need to fit in was as important then, as it is now.  Joe Montaperto’s story is a perfect blend of white fright, stereotypes and a common thread that links us all together, as he tries to find acceptance at an awkward time in adolescence.
This memoir was a great read. I enjoyed every minute of it. This is a perfect purchase that will have you reliving your high school years with a smile. Joe Montaperto shows where The Edge of Whiteness ends and the abyss of acceptance begin.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Summerland by Elin Hilderband

Genre:  Fiction
Published by:  Little Brown & Company
Pages:  Paper Back
Rating:  3 JAGS

In Summerland by Elin Hilderband, it’s June 15th and in the sleepy town of Nantucket, MA, students gather on the beach for the traditional graduation celebration bonfire. Penny Alistair, the home-town celebrity who is revered for her singing voice, is involved in a tragic car accident that leaves Penny dead and her brother in a coma.
Penny’s boyfriend Jake and friend Demeter, walk away from the accident unharmed, but are left to deal with the emotional turmoil that wrecks not only them, but the community at large.  Questions arise as to what happened before Penny took the wheel that ended her life, as Jake and Demeter each take different paths to deal with their pain.  
Overall, the story was slow moving, predictable and most importantly, forgettable. Elin Hilderband's Summerland explores how a tragic accident can bring closure to a community and how the people most affected by the death of Penny, deal with survivors guilt and a surprising love that seems to flourish from the pain. I would personally wait to purchase this book. Check your local resale shop for a discounted copy.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

We are Anonymous Inside the Hacker World of LulzSec, Anonymous, and the Global Cyber Insurgency by Parmy Olson

Genre:  Non-Fiction
Published by:  Little Brown & Company
Pages:  Hard Cover
Rating:  8 JAGS
Parmy Olson pulls the back the curtain to show us a thriving hacker culture in We are Anonymous. Started in chat rooms of 4chan to initiate pranks called lutz on unsuspecting people and businesses, Anonymous has evolved into a force of cyber warfare and has taken the charge to champion a free internet while exposing corporations and governments.  Amassing a digital following of hackers all across the world, Anonymous has brought down and defaced such sites for The Church of Scientology, Westboro Baptist Church, The Vatican, PayPal, Master Card and Visa and even the FBI, before infighting and betrayal exposed the small collective who orchestrated this movement.
Who are they? What do they want? Are they friends or foes? Are they helping or hurting freedoms on the internet? Parmy Olson tries to answer these questions among countless others, as she goes behind the scenes in interviews with the core group that call themselves Anonymous. What she uncovers in not only a digital war being played out online, but paranoia, manipulation and shocking betrayals.
We are Anonymous
We are Legion
We do not forgive
We do not forget
Expect us

This is a definite buy new. Parmy Olson has given us a glimpse at a world where there are no secrets that cannot be revealed. Whoever holds the key, is king, and the fight to stay on top is a currency that everyone should be made aware of. This book was bone chilling and scary at what is capable with just a few keystrokes. This book will keep you up at night. In the end, Anonymous has the potential as a movement that could change the world for the better, but only time will tell.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Ghost Dances proving up on the great plains by Josh Garrett-Davis

Genre:  Fiction

Published by:  Little,Brown and Company

Pages:  Hard Cover

Rating:  7 JAGS

Ghost Dances proving up on the Great Plains speak volumes from the narrative of a young man coming of age in the richness of history and vast emptiness of the prairie. Josh Garrett-Davis takes the reader on an exploration of the rise and fall of the Great Plains from the eyes of a child-looking for an identity through stories of bison, Native American Ghost Dances and the lure of heavy metal rock bands. His quest to find answers in the plains marks a journey that will defend his character.

This was an interesting read. Josh Garrett-Davis put out a story of incredible detail and heart. You could not help but imagine sitting right next to him as he rode down long stretches of highway through a vast emptiness. I would recommend this book for a new purchase. The story is relaxing and thought out in a way to make you feel like you are part of the conversation.  Perfect pick up and purchase. Really enjoyed.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Where’d you go, Bernadette by Maria Semple

Genre:  Fiction

Published by:  Little, Brown and Company

Pages:  Hard Cover

Rating:  8 JAGS

Meet Bernadette Fox, one part architectural genius and one part social recluse. Living with her Microsoft husband and gifted fifteen-year old daughter Bee in a large home overlooking Seattle’s upper crust moms from her daughter’s school, Bernadette’s life quickly unravels because of a vacation.

After dodging mothers from the PTA on a daily basis and shopping through a virtual assistant online, Bernadette Fox simply disappears. What started as a promise to travel to Antarctica because of Bee’s excellent grades, leads to everything from a mudslide to the FBI.

Where’d you go, Bernadette is a hilarious read with a perfect combination of cheeky humor and sharp intelligence. This book is a definite keeper. It’s interestingly told from faxes and emails that keep you guessing as to who Bernadette Fox really is-and how did she just disappear. I really enjoyed this book. I cannot emphases it enough. I purposely kept the blog post short so as I wouldn’t ruin it for anyone interested in reading it. This is a definite great purchase or a gift.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

What in God's Name by Simon Rich

Genre:  Fiction

Published by:  LittleBrown & Company

Pages:  Hard Cover

Rating:  2 JAGS

What in God’s Name by Simon Rich is not your typical biblical story. Craig and Eliza are angels working on the 17th floor of the Miracles Department of Heaven Inc, charged with the task of simple everyday miracles. God is busy playing golf games and watching Indie 500 races while tuning into his prophet Raoul on the flat screen TV in his office for quick positive feedback-all while taking in the occasional cigar and planning his Asian infusion restaurant on Heaven’s Inc campus.

One day, God decides he is bored with Earth and the human race and figures it’s long overdue for rapture. Craig and Eliza on the other hand feel completely different and challenge God to a bet that they can answer one prayer and make two social inept people fall in love, as long as God doesn’t bring Armageddon onto his people.  The race is on for Craig and Eliza to bring the humans Sam and Laura together to not only save the humans, earth, but their positions in Heaven’s Inc.

What in God’s Name is perfect in title, because What inGod’s Name was the publisher thinking when he decided to sign on to this book. It was horrendous. It wasn’t funny, intellectual, nor either cheeky. The only thing remotely funny about this book, was been dumb enough to read it. I wouldn’t pawn this off to anyone, let alone keep in the bathroom for toilet reading. Pass this book completely when you see it on the shelf of your local bookstore, unless there is a divine intervention. Even then, go the route of Jonah and run like hell before YOU get swallowed up by a whale.