'87 Sir

Thirty years of service ----USNA Class of 1987 '87 Sir

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Grouchy Historian's Favorite Non-Fiction Book of 2016.

SO many great books this year...interesting that for the first time since I can remember, almost 50% of the books I read this year were fiction.  

Strangely, this was a much tougher choice than my fiction selection. As I continue my awesome relationship with the New York Journal of Books, I have had the chance to review some really outstanding works of history this year, ranging from a history of the Great Plains Indian Wars to the current fighting in Afghanistan.

They really are a great bunch of folks to work with and I look forward to continuing this relationship into 2017.

In addition, I have had the direct opportunity to work with the great team at Rowan Technology, who are currently working on a multi-volume history of war and warfare for my old nemesis, West Point. 

Football aside, the whoops on the Hudson have always done an excellent job of teaching military history, and the complete hi-tech overhaul of their curriculum has resulted in my choice for favorite non-fiction book of 2016-- The West Point History of World War II, Vol. 2 (The West Point History of Warfare Series) .  

Appearing in both hardcover and advanced e-book forms, this wonderful volume really redefines what an undergraduate text can be, particularly the e-book, which is aimed at the current crop of cadets weaned on the internet and interactive books, with an amazing but well placed amount of animated maps, video clips, and other technology marvels to keep the attention of today's college students. 

But these whiz bangs do not come at the expense of solid scholarship and excellent writing from some of the top military historians in the world.   I was lucky to be able to review both versions and found each of them equally enthralling, even though I have a penchant for hardcover books that I can browse.

One can only hope that upcoming volumes on World War I, Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan maintain the high quality of work.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Grouchy Historian's Favorite Fiction Books of 2016

2016 was a pretty good year for fiction, at least from my point of view. Of course, I have a very selective list of fiction that I like to read, so normally it is a pretty safe bet that my favorite fiction work will be from Vince Flynn, Brad Thor, Tom Clancy, or occasionally, JD Robb AKA Nora Roberts.

And, all of these folks had great books this year that I enjoyed immensely, especially the author chosen by the late Vince Flynn's estate to continue the adventures of his indomitable character, Mitch Rapp.

But for favorite fiction, this year I chose a new and previously unknown author, at least to me, named Linda Nagata.

Coming out of nowhere, she has written a wonderful trilogy, The Red, which in my mind, really is some of the best military SF I have ever read, evoking memories of Ian Douglass, one of my favorite military SF authors, and even the great Robert Heinlein.

These books follow the adventures of a squad of infantry using enhanced exoskeletons and AI implants, both things being researched by DARPA, in pursuing a rogue AI loose on the internet. A basic plot, it seems, but done very well, with a great deal of suspense, mystery, and plot twists to make me very happy that I was able to get all three books at once--I hate waiting for sequel books to come out.

More importantly, as with all good SF, the technology and science does not overwhelm the readers and provides a good compliment to the characters and their internal and external conflicts, the basis for all good fiction. Ms. Nagata develops sympathetic and flawed characters that draw you in and make you either cheer or jeer their fate.

Sadly, these have not done as well commercially as the author hoped. Which is too bad, because they would make outstanding ORIGINAL movies, something the dopes in Hollywood are certainly lacking.

Provocative, thoughtful, and certainly timely, these books are what everything good SF should be---stories that both entertain and make you ask, "Wow, could this really happen?"

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

My Father...Rest in Peace 1931-2016.

Donald Dean Lenaburg was born November 8, 1931, in Arapaho, Oklahoma, to Julius Earnest and Alvena Ernst Lenaburg. He died Tuesday, December 27, 2016, in Tulsa, Oklahoma, at the age of 85 years. 

Don was reared and educated in Arapaho, Oklahoma, and graduated with the Arapaho High School Class of 1950. He was a veteran of the armed forces having served his country honorably with the United States Army. Don continued his education attending Southwestern Oklahoma State University in Weatherford, Oklahoma, where he earned his Bachelor’s Degree in engineering. He completed his education at Oklahoma A & M Technological School in Okmulgee, Oklahoma. 

Don was married August 19, 1955, in Clinton, Oklahoma, to Eleanor Pearl Hunter. They had made their home in Collinsville, Oklahoma, since December of 1967. He spent most of his working life with IBM as a customer engineer. Don was very active in giving back to the Collinsville community as a founding member of the Collinsville Lion’s Club, Collinsville VFW Post #5691, and also served as a Collinsville Rural Fire Protection board member. 

He was faithful member of the Lutheran church and was a volunteer for Meals on Wheels. He served as leader for both Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts and was an Eagle Scout sponsor. Don enjoyed a variety of pastimes including watching John Wayne movies and Fox News, but he especially enjoyed spending time working, or playing, in his yard.

My father was devoted to his family, spending untold weekends at football games when my brother and I were in the marching band, my sister’s basketball and volleyball games, countless band and chorus trips as an adult chaperone and finally, many, many weekends on Boy Scout campouts eating scrambled eggs lightly cooked with grass and maybe a leaf or two, which he always ate, although not always happily.

That was my father’s philosophy—there are few problems in life that couldn’t be solved with hard work. He always seemed to be doing something around the house, either working on one of the family cars, fixing something in the house, or his favorite thing—riding his tractor and digging in the dirt.

My father’s other favorite activity was working on cars, he could have given instruction to any car dealership mechanic and seemed to always have grease under his fingernails. I did not inherit his knack or desire to work on cars, sometimes I wish I did. I remember him telling my siblings and I-“Check to see if your tires are still round on the bottom.”

He served during the Korean War era and was a proud lifetime member of the local VFW, some of whose members are here to honor Dad today. He never really talked too much about his time in the Army, but I know it was important to him, and helped turn him into the husband and father he became when he left the service.

My father lived a pretty quiet simple life, but it was a faith filled life. He was life-long Lutheran, and served in many capacities at the various churches he attended. More importantly, my father lived a life of christian charity and service to others, something that I think he tried to instill in his children, and which he performed without a lot of fuss or expectation of thanks or praise. 

I think it is no coincidence that Dad died two years to the day his granddaughter, my daughter Courtney went home to heaven. It gives me great peace to know they are together again. I can just see Courtney taking her Grandpa’s hand and walking him home to God.

When I think of my father, I will always think of this passage from the Gospel of Matthew Chapter 25:23, “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’