Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT Kings, Conquerors, Psychopaths: From Alexander To Hitler To The Corporation by Joseph Abraham MD

Today’s team review is from Jenni. She blogs here https://jenniferdebie.com/

Rosie's #Bookreview Team #RBRT

Jenni has been reading Kings, Conquerors, Psychopaths: From Alexander to Hitler to the Corporation By Joseph Abraham MD

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A couple of years ago, blogger and artist Matthew Inman (theoatmeal.com) drew a comic titled “You’re Not Going to Believe What I’m About to Tell You”, essentially explaining the “backfire effect” and our almost instinctive resistance to new information when that new information contradicts prior, long-held beliefs- i.e., George Washington owned a set of dentures made from the teeth of his slaves. 

We don’t like hearing these kinds of facts. They contradict the mental space we inhabit, showing the world in an honest, ugly light, and most people have an intrinsic revulsion to that kind of ugly honesty.

I would encourage readers to take a few minutes to read and digest Inman’s comic before starting Dr. Joseph Abraham’s Kings, Conquerors, Psychopaths, because it is harrowing from the first page and the “backfire effect” is very real.

Across the course of his tome (and at over 300 pages tome is the right word here), Abraham systematically breaks down what he calls the “fairy tale” of history. Childish fantasies that we hold into adulthood about good kings or noble conquerors are torn away and these historical figures are revealed as they were: murderers, sadists, and worse on a grand scale, a continental or even global scale.

Therein lies the thesis of Kings, Conquerors, Psychopaths— from this bloody foundation all civilization as we know it was formed. There is not a country today that was not created through bloodshed or conquest in some form or another and those stains still stick. It’s a bleak outlook, but then when a book starts with the My Lai Massacre of 1968, bleakness is to be expected.

Written by an American, Kings, Conquerors, Psychopaths has an obvious American cast to it. I would be curious to see this same book written by someone from a different kind of democracy, one without the same history. What is a New Zealander’s take on the Vietnam War and American atrocities committed therein? How would a Greenlander or a Canadian describe Queen Victoria? Abraham convincingly describes her in the light of Genghis Khan, would someone from a different culture do the same? Hitler and Nazis play a heavy role across the book as some of the best documented perpetrators of atrocities in the 20th century, how would a German fit WWII into the scope of history?

Going back to Inman and the “backfire effect”, there is an instinctive desire to see Nazism as an aberration. That Hitler was a particularly bad man who did bad things whose badness we’ve learned from and will never repeat again. Personal hopes for atrocities left unrepeated aside, Abraham argues that Hitler was just one conqueror in a line as long as history itself, stretching through King David of the Bible, Alexander the Great, British colonialism, Genghis Khan, Shaka Zulu, Napoleon and beyond.

And yet Abraham’s book ends on an oddly hopeful note. For all the red on humanity’s collective ledger, Abraham sees us on the upswing. The slowest of rising arcs still curves persistently skyward—few developed countries are ruled by the man who murdered his way to the throne and murderers all challengers still, and an engaged public has the ability to hold leaders and corporations accountable (to an extent).

The hope is faint, the softest voice at the bottom of Pandora’s deep box, but it is there. As the closing lines says, “We are the last feedback in the system.” Essentially, We the People must be the final check and balance to the scale.

 5/5, but be ready for what you’re getting into.

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Xenophobia.  Racism.  Fascism.  Intolerance.  Inhumanity.  Coercion. 

Right wing populists increasingly draw attention around the globe, but the attention is misdirected.  The real problem is not the the authoritarian, but the authoritarian personalities who follow him.  If people do not blindly follow and obey the despot, he is irrelevant.

Why do we attach ourselves to demagogues and mountebanks?  Why do we defend even their most obvious hypocrisies and lies?

The answer is found in the history of civilization.  For the past 10,000 years, those who disagreed with the king or his nobles risked ruin and death. 

But that is only part of the answer.  The other part is that, despite our romantic traditions, kings and conquerors were vicious criminals.  They represent the most evil psychopaths, narcissists, and sadists in the history of humanity.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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WORLD OF BRITANNIA by Richard Denham & MJ Trow @britanniaseries #NonFiction

World of Britannia: Historical Companion to the BRITANNIA SeriesWorld of Britannia: Historical Companion to the BRITANNIA Series by Richard Denham
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

World Of Britannia is a non-fiction companion book to the Roman Britain historical fiction series called Britannia. I would recommend having this along side as you read the Books in the Britannia series, in order, as this will provide details like maps, place names and character information to secure the plot lines firmly in the readers mind.

This book takes you through timelines, locations, Roman buildings, Gods and more about how the Roman Britain interacted with the local people and shaped the future.

I was particularly interested in the parts which were local to where I live. I’ve been to the Roman remains at Silchester several times and once during Reading University’s summer archaeological dig, and I accompanied a school on a trip to Fishbourne Roman Palace which I think I found more interesting than the children.

Find a copy here from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com available free on Kindle Unlimited

View all my reviews on Goodreads

Rosie’s Book Review Team #RBRT Karen reviews Kings and Queens by Terry Tyler

Today’s book review is from Karen, she blogs at http://mytrainofthoughtson.wordpress.com/

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Karen chose to read and review Kings and Queens by Terry Tyler

Kings and Queens - Terry Tyler

Kings and Queens – Terry Tyler

The book introduces you to Harry Lanchester, second born of a property development dynasty. When his older brother Alex comes to hazard, he is destined to become the future leader of the company.

With Kings and Queens, Terry Tyler has created a rather intriguing story of a family with interesting parallels to Henry VIII and his wives. Kings and Queens is an entertaining and gripping read with all too real characters. Terry Tyler carefully lets her characters evolve – a true art. I was drawn into the story right away, feeling like a close observer. I didn’t really like Harry – and I feel good about it: He is masterly portrayed as a despicable person – at least from my point of view. All other characters equally real with all their virtues and/or flaws. Kings and Queens is a great read for family saga and drama fans, readers who like parallels to history.

This is definitely not my usual genre. Despite that, I consider this a book to read again.

Recommended!

Find a copy here from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

Alone In Berlin by Hans Fallada

Alone in BerlinAlone in Berlin by Hans Fallada

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

1940 Berlin. Amongst the fear and conditions that the people of Berlin are living in, Otto and Anna Quangel get news that there son had been killed in the war. Spies are everywhere, few people can be trusted. Otto didn’t want to join the “party”, it was expensive and it made you different. Yet defeatist talk and being awkward could get you put in a concentration camp.

This book is about people on the inside, some thought it was disastrous for the German people to follow The Fuhrer, but it was very dangerous to voice your opinion. There was heroic resistance to the Nazi regime at all levels of German society and Hans Fallada has drawn on the true story of Elise and Otto Hampel. He shows the tensions between the people’s struggle to survive and the world around them.

Otto and Elise, represented in the book as Otto and Anna, were a couple who started a three year campaign against Nazi Germany. In that time they wrote and dropped hundreds of postcards calling for civil disobedience and workplace sabotage.

This book was written in just twenty four days by an author with a shocking history who himself barely survived time in a Nazi insane asylum. It is an emotional book and one to leave the reader thinking about the past and where we are today. This is one of Penguin’s Modern Classics.

Find a copy here from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

View all my reviews on Goodreads

I thought I’d throw you a question about individual people….

Fear drives people to extremes, many of the characters in this book acted on fear, yet others were very brave. From your own knowledge and what you’ve read and seen about the war, does it surprise you that a resistance  was working in the heart of Germany?

Me and Billy The Kid by Briana Vedsted

Me and Billy the KidMe and Billy the Kid by Briana Vedsted

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What do people know about Billy the Kid? The name alone is famous in history and from the silver screen. But what was he really like? Briana has written a book around the stories and tales which abound about this historical character. She has tried to provide possible answers to such questions as; “Why was Sheriff Pat Garrett so bent on catching Billy?”, “Why did Pete Maxwell betray Billy?” and “Was Billy really murdered in 1881?”

Briana introduces Angel Garther to the scene, a women could well had been associated with Billy and his gang. This book is Angel’s tale, the story from her possible eyes. Eyes that saw the reality behind some of famous shootouts, like The Lincoln County War and Gunfight at Blazer’s Mill. Angel is portrayed as a strong women and one who would go to lengths to stay with Billy because she knew that William H Bonney (Billy the Kid) was not a monster, just a kid who’s been hurt a long time ago.

I liked the story, as a kid I loved watching Westerns on a Saturday afternoon. The scenery, the gunfights, the heroes, the goodies and the baddies. It was good to think about what life was more likely to have been, how raw life was, full of hot emotions, where nearly everyone had a gun and men shot first and asked questions second. It certainly was a part of history which shouldn’t be forgotten.

Find a copy here from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

View all my reviews on Goodreads.

The Black Hours by Alison Williams

The Black HoursThe Black Hours by Alison Williams

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Black Hours is a book that thinks about the actual lives of ordinary people who are mixed up in a period of history that is well publicised. Set in England around 1647, a time of Civil War and strong religious times. This book looks at the famous Witch Trials.

The author has interpreted some of the documented names and facts into a thoughtful story about the horrors of the period. We meet Alice Pendle and her Grandmother Maggie, wise women of Coggeshall who have used herbs and ointments to help and heal the villagers for years. When their midwifery skills result in the unfortunate death of a mother and child, people start to whisper.

Religious fears have been stirred up in the country and Matthew Hopkins believes he has a duty to God. He must rid the earth of evil in the form of Witches. With the law behind him Matthew arrives in Coggeshall and finds a supportive Minister and Lord of the Manor. Villagers are encouraged to sign witness statements condemning Alice and Maggie.

What follows is a horrific tale of their trials and suffering at the hands of Matthew and his supporters. This tale depicts the suffering of just 2 lives. During the actual period of history in question it is believed that between 200 and 300 women were similarly accused and tried. It was a terrible time and an example of how people are easily led and manipulated by their fears.

This is a well written glimpse in to the window of history.

Find a copy here on Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

View all my reviews on Goodreads.

Alison will be our guest author on the blog tomorrow, do come back and read more about her.

Guest Author S.K. Nicholls

Today our guest is S.K. Nicholls, author of yesterday’s book “Red Clay and Roses”. You can check out my review of the book here. http://wp.me/p2Eu3u-4Ge

S. K. Nicholls

Let’s find out more about Susan and her writing.

1)  Where is your home town?

I was born in LaGrange, Georgia, USA, and lived in the surrounding area while bringing up my own children.

2)  How long have you been writing?

I first had a short story published when I was seventeen and in high school. I put writing aside while focused on my nursing career. Upon retirement in 2011, I picked it up again. A visit to my father in 2012 stirred up an old story from my youth that I still wanted to tell. So I set myself to writing it down.

3)  What key element inspired this book?

Based on a true story, it was finding the ledger in 1992 that truly propelled the development of the story, but there is something more. So many have this image of the Deep South as one of little old white ladies sitting on the front porch swing sipping mint juleps. Life and reality was more harsh than that for most people, especially the African Americans. I have mixed race grandchildren. I presented the world historically as it truly was for many. There was hardship, dilemma, and many secrets kept. We are more open and accepting now. I don’t want to see us go back there. We learn from history how to move forward.

4)  Did you have to do a lot of research or did you interview people too?

The octogenarians were interviewed, and my father who is seventy five. An enormous amount of research went into the book to assure its historical accuracy. All of the events and setting locations are very real, and had to be researched.

5)  I’m not sure what “Jim Crow Law” was, can you tell us more?

The Jim Crow laws were racial segregation laws enacted between 1876 and 1965 in the United States at the state and local level. They mandated de jure racial segregation in all public facilities in Southern states of the former Confederacy, with, starting in 1890, a separate but equal status for African Americans. The separation in practice led to conditions for African Americans that tended to be inferior to those provided for white Americans systematizing a number of economic, educational and social disadvantages, and leading to prejudice and severe racism. Even though these laws were declared unconstitutional in 1965, many communities continued the segregation long into the seventies.

South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama Georgia, Louisiana, Texas, Virginia, Arkansas, Tennessee, and North Carolina were the Confederate states, and Kentucky was provisional.

Some examples of Jim Crow laws were; the segregation of public schools, public places (swimming pools, doctors and dentists offices), and public transportation, and the segregation of restrooms, clothing stores, restaurants, and drinking fountains for whites and blacks. The U.S. military was also segregated.

“Jump Jim Crow” was a song-and-dance caricature of blacks performed by white actors painted in blackface. That is believed to be where the name Jim Crow law for this collection of state laws came from.

6) Nathan took part in several campaigns for Civil Rights, can you tell the readers about some of them.

The Freedom Rides were a campaign for blacks to assert themselves in avoiding discrimination practices. The black men would ride in the whites only passenger cars on trains. Other black men would ride in the black cars in case there was trouble, which there often was, as the white passengers rebelled and fought. Many blacks were arrested and beaten for their actions.

The Sit-Ins were started by black university students who would sit down in whites only dining establishments for the same reasons and with the same outcomes.

There were many protests, marches and demonstrations, like Bloody Sunday, some peaceful and some not so, where blacks were joined by liberal minded whites who championed the causes of Civil Right.

7) Sybil faced her own demons when she became pregnant, but she dealt with the situation as best she could. Do you think she made the right decision?

For her, it was right, but I did feel she should have been honest with Nathan, to at least let him know about the pregnancy, yet I can understand why she didn’t. Althea, Bonnie Jean and Sybil all found different ways to deal with an unplanned pregnancy. Who am I to decide what was best or right for any of them?

8) When Trent was sent to prison, Sybil faced several hardships, which was worst do you think?

I think the difficulties she ran into with trying to manage her business were the hardest for her, because she had put so much of herself into its success.

9) Which part of the book was your favourite and why?

I don’t know if I have a favourite part. I liked different parts for different reasons. I liked how Ms. Bea’s character developed. I liked Moses’ stories and his character…but then, these were real people I had met in my own life. The entire story demonstrated the sacrifices that real people made in order to attempt to achieve social progress. These were common ordinary people, who were deeply affected by politics on a micro-level. The very end, in the conclusion, has special meaning to me personally as it conveys a hope for future generations. Sybil and her family are my family.

10) I would describe your book as a window in history for readers to enjoy rather than a book with a massively pleasing commercial content, am I correct?

I did not write Red Clay and Roses with marketing in mind. I wrote the story passionately from my heart based on real life events. I did not deviate from what actually occurred in order to make a more sellable story. It is a fictionalized true story. Outside the realm of genre fiction, it is a niche read.

Red Clay and Roses

Find a copy on Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

Thank you Susan for being our guest today.

Summer’s Passing by Randy Mixter (Nov 7th)

Summer's PassingSummer’s Passing by Randy Mixter

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A young man spends his summer in a beach hut so that he can write a book, but soon his life changes when he rescues a girl from a car crash. A second story is told about a girl from the past and both stories follow similarities and coincidences. A sinister evil trails both girls and the author weaves a great storyline between the two. I loved the idea of a youthful summer spent on the beach and a romance to follow. The mysterious second story had so many unanswered questions, it was a lovely temptation. I’m undecided if I wanted to know more or if the story ending was conclusive, it ended as summer ended, I think there is room for a sequel.
Find a copy here from Amazon.

View all my reviews on Goodreads.

Mexico: The Country, It’s History and The Maya World by Swarupa N Ovalekar

Mexico - The Country, Its History & the Maya WorldThis is a beautiful book written by an author who is passionate about Mexico. The book contains lots of photographs that depict Mexico, it’s people, their culture, history and their landscape. Mexico has 24 UNESCO World Heritage sites so there is much to see. Swarupa’s book covers the geography, people, religion, economy, education and tourism in the first chapters. it then moves on to Ancient Mexico and the Maya people coming forward through invasion and independence to the modern day.

You can get a copy of this book direct from Swarupa;

Mexico: The Country, Its History & The Maya World: https://thegr8wall.wordpress.com/mexico-the-country-its-history-the-maya-world/

https://facebook.com/TheEpicBookMEXICO

To find out more about Swarupa follow this link to a recent author interview here on the blog. http://wp.me/p2Eu3u-2pe

Saving Jackie K by L.D.C. Fitzgerald

Saving Jackie KSaving Jackie K by L.D.C. Fitzgerald I recently hosted a book boost for this book during my AtoZ Challenge, so when I saw it as a free download on kindle I jumped at the chance to read a genre which challenges me.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book was a difficult read for me because my English history education didn’t cover any of the Kennedy era of America. I recognised some of the names of the main players, but knew little about them. I got a bit bogged down with the science too, but once I’d got my head around the fact that the story involved true facts and characters with the fiction I let it flow over me and focused on the well written story line. There is lots of action as scientists travel back 50 years to change to past and thus the future. Sci-fi and fast paced action packed fans will probably love this.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Saving-Jackie-K-ebook/dp/B005EA4UXO/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1368646882&sr=8-1&keywords=saving+jackie+k

View all my reviews