When I’m sitting on a plane and they tell me to "turn off anything with an on/off power button"…it hurts. So then I pull out a book and read. As much as I fly, I read a lot. Often I’m catching up on one the many, many trade magazines to which I subscribe (CSO Magazine, Security Management, Security Magazine, Information Security Magazine, ISSA journal, etc.) but I also enjoy reading books. As many of you know, I’m currently in graduate school pursing an MBA in Information Assurance. That alone provided me the chance to read plenty!
But this month’s selection are a few books that I found to pass the time and allow me to "get away" from the world of computer security and business school for awhile. Here are the FOUR books that I knocked out in the last 3 weeks, along with a corresponding link if you’re interested in checking them out on your own.
This is all I can say about this book. This may possibly be the best true story I’ve read in my life. If you want to read a book that will make you understand the amazing work that God does in people’s lives….you need to read this book. It’s about two men….with two completely different backgrounds…one a high profile art dealer in Ft. Worth , the other a Louisiana sharecropper and how their lives are inexplicably and forever linked together. I won’t ruin this for you, but let me say I know it’s been getting a lot of buzz lately. I heard about it from 4 guys in the same week and then I saw it in People magazine’s book list recently. It’s a powerful and amazing read. Some chapters are only a few pages long, so it goes quickly. I kid you not…I read it in one sitting…staying up til 2:00AM to finish. It really is THAT good.
"Meet Denver, a man raised under plantation-style slavery in Louisiana in the 1960s; a man who escaped, hopping a train to wander, homeless, for eighteen years on the streets of Dallas, Texas. No longer a slave, Denver’s life was still hopeless-until God moved. First came a godly woman who prayed, listened, and obeyed. And then came her husband, Ron, an international arts dealer at home in a world of Armani-suited millionaires. And then they all came together.
But slavery takes many forms. Deborah discovers that she has cancer. In the face of possible death, she charges her husband to rescue Denver. Who will be saved, and who will be lost? What is the future for these unlikely three? What is God doing?
Same Kind of Different As Me is the emotional tale of their story: a telling of pain and laughter, doubt and tears, dug out between the bondages of this earth and the free possibility of heaven. No reader or listener will ever forget it."
Okay…..I’m a former U.S. Army Ranger, and not just a tab wearer, but a scroll bearer (check out the video for a good example of what I did before coming to Microsoft). There has always been a friendly inter-service rivalry amongst those within the Special Operations community. The Navy SEALS tease us about our haircuts, and we ask them if the ever do anything but fish off those SEAL Delivery Vehicles (SDV). All that aside, this book by Marcus Luttrell, is a instant classic. It’s a great story about a four man SEAL squad in the mountains of Afghanistan protecting our freedoms during the War on Terror. Thank you Marcus Luttrell. This country owes you a gratitude of thanks. I hear it may even be a movie soon.
"Four US Navy SEALS departed one clear night in early July, 2005 for the mountainous Afghanistan-Pakistan border for a reconnaissance mission. Their task was to document the activity of an al Qaeda leader rumored to have a small army in a Taliban stronghold. Five days later, only one of those Navy SEALS made it out alive.
This is the story of the only survivor of Operation Redwing, fire team leader Marcus Luttrell, and the extraordinary firefight that led to the largest loss of life in American Navy SEAL history. His teammates fought valiantly beside him until he was the only one left alive, blasted by an RPG into a place where his pursuers could not find him. Over the next four days, terribly injured and presumed dead, Luttrell crawled for miles through the mountains and was taken in by sympathetic villagers who risked their lives to keep him safe from surrounding Taliban warriors.
A born and raised Texan, Marcus Luttrell takes us from the rigors of SEAL training, where he and his fellow SEALs discovered what it took to join the most elite of the American special forces, to a fight in the desolate hills of Afghanistan for which they never could have been prepared. His account of his squadmates’ heroism and mutual support renders an experience for which two of his squadmates were posthumously awarded the Navy Cross for combat heroism that is both heartrending and life-affirming. In this rich chronicle of courage and sacrifice, honor and patriotism, Marcus Luttrell delivers a powerful narrative of modern war."
Another good book about Special Operations. This one is a good discussion of an organization known as the Intelligence Support Activity (ISA) also referred to as "The Activity". It’s always a good time to read about operations you were involved in, and to hear about the planning that went into it. These guys are good and I’m really happy to have them on our side. For those of you who are interested in the intelligence community, this is a good example of what to expect.
"A top-secret U.S. Army Special Operations unit has been running covert missions all over the world, from leading death squads to the hideout of drug baron Pablo Escobar to assassinating key al Qaeda members, including Iraqi leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, and, in one of their greatest missions, capturing Saddam Hussein. ‘The Activity," as it became known to insiders, has achieved near-mythical status, even among the world’s Special Operations elite. Now journalist Michael Smith gets inside this clandestine military team to expose their explosive history and secrets.
The Activity’s story begins with the abortive attempt to rescue the American hostages from Iran in 1980. One of the main reasons Operation Eagle Claw failed was a chronic lack of intel on the ground, so in January 1981, U.S. military chiefs set up the “Intelligence Support Activity,” a cover name for a secret army surveillance team that could operate undercover anywhere in the world. Hidden from the politicians and the government bean counters, it would carry out deniable operations preparing the way for Delta and SEAL Team Six.
Michael Smith has spoken to many former members of the Activity, and we follow them on operations from the war on the drug barons that led Colombian "death squads" to the hideouts of Pablo Escobar and his men. We learn of more recent missions, including snatching war criminals from their safe houses in the Balkans (at one time disguising themselves as French soldiers to lull a Serb warlord into a false sense of security), and operations in Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Horn of Africa. Killer Elite reveals the incredible truth behind the world’s most secret Special Operations organization, a unit that is at the forefront of the War on Terror."
I’m a huge fan of Jeff Shaara. Jeff is the son of Michael Shaara, who wrote the book Killer Angels, which was the basis for the 1993 movie "Gettysburg". Jeff has written several great books in the same historical fiction vein as his father. Like this series, he did an earlier trilogy on the American Revolution (greatness), and has done a book on WWI as well. He’s best known for completing the trilogy his dad started on the Civil War, adding "Gods and Generals" and "The Last Full Measure". It’s extremely interesting to read the dialogues between the characters, as if you were looking into their very meetings and war councils. I can’t wait until the last book in this WWII series is complete!!
"General Dwight Eisenhower once again commands a diverse army that must find its single purpose in the destruction of Hitler’s European fortress. His primary subordinates, Omar Bradley and Bernard Montgomery, must prove that this unique blend of Allied armies can successfully confront the might of Adolf Hitler’s forces, who have already conquered Western Europe. On the coast of France, German commander Erwin Rommel fortifies and prepares for the coming invasion, acutely aware that he must bring all his skills to bear on a fight his side must win. But Rommel’s greatest challenge is to strike the Allies on his front, while struggling behind the lines with the growing insanity of Adolf Hitler, who thwarts the strategies Rommel knows will succeed.
Meanwhile, Sergeant Jesse Adams, a no-nonsense veteran of the 82nd Airborne, parachutes with his men behind German lines into a chaotic and desperate struggle. And as the invasion force surges toward the beaches of Normandy, Private Tom Thorne of the 29th Infantry Division faces the horrifying prospects of fighting his way ashore on a stretch of coast more heavily defended than the Allied commanders anticipate–Omaha Beach.
From G.I. to general, this story carries the reader through the war’s most crucial juncture, the invasion that altered the flow of the war, and, ultimately, changed history."