I left my Faulkner book, I Lay Dying, at the doctor's office in Abilene Monday and couldn't pick it up until Wednesday. So when I returned to Breckenridge, I stopped by the Breckenridge Library and picked up, Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War by Robert M. Gates and began reading it that night. The beginning of the book confirmed my earlier assessment that when Gates took over from Rumsfield in 2006, in the Bush II administration, things were a real mess in Iraq and Afghanistan, worse than the American people were led to believe at the time. According to Gates, there had been poor planning concerning purpose of mission and an exit strategy that should have had us out quickly but due to mismanagement by the Bush/Cheney administration and Rumsfield at the Defense Department, there was not adequate equipment and logistics in place to support the military. Interesting that there aren't any quotes about that by the media.
Gates took over at a critical time and had to make immediate decisions about a surge and how many military would be sent. Also, problems of how the National Guard was not trained for combat roles and were unprepared to be assigned multiple tours to war zones, which was so unfair to them and their families. Incompetent mismanagement at all levels of the administration and many military leaders who should have been removed.
By Wednesday, I had rescued the Faulkner book and continued to read it. Happy to put the Gates book aside for now after a having read the first couple of chapters.
Then Thursday, the Breckenridge Library called to say my Language of Flowers book by Vanessa Diffenbaugh was in and I quickly went by and picked it up. I began reading it that very evening and finally put it aside for some sleep after 135 pages. Hated to put it down but returned to it Friday evening and finished it off Saturday. Truly one of the best books I have read in recent years and I highly recommend it to all. I will never look at a flower again without looking it up to see the meaning. An excellent book, with a tender story along the way and a real education about English gardens and what flowers reinforced different character traits. Poignant story that keeps you thoroughly engaged. I returned it to the library first thing Monday so someone else could check it out, after copying the flower guide in the back of the book, that is.
Back to the Faulkner book Saturday evening but it was difficult reading. Maybe it will make more sense after some sleep. The dialect is a challenge until you get into a rhythm.
Another reader said she had read a Robert Daly book, Prince of the City, which is a true story about a cop who knew too much about the New York City Criminal Justice System in the 1970s. The Federal government set about to investigate the corruption that penetrated the entire Criminal Justice System in that city, especially the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) of the Narcotics Division of the NYPD. This book doesn't cover the total story about all that he went through.
Young and enthusiastic Detective Robert Leuci was selected by Federal Prosecutors at the time, Rudolf Giuliani, Maurice Nadjari and Tom Puccio, to probe the world of corruption as an undercover agent. This book was similar to Serpico in the 1960s, with the so-called Blue Code of Silence in the NYPD.
Another book about the exploits of the undercover cop was, All the Centurions: A New York City Cop Remembers, which told a much more complete story of the work done by Robert Leuci as he helped assemble corruption cases against lawyers, judges, bail bondsmen, mob figures and regular policemen on the beat and other detectives. It was a chronicle of his devoted duty and courage. This book goes into much more detail about what the young Neuci went through and how much his life was in jeopardy for what he was asked to do.
Another book that was read was West Texas Kill by Johnny D. Boggs, which included a complex plot, both mystery and gritty western, pitting Dave Chance, a Texas Ranger, against Captain Sec Savage. His plan was to set up a ‘Kingdom' in West Texas, which led to bloody deaths and terror.
Boggs is a six-time Spur Award winner who dishes up the dirt, sweat, gore and incredibly realistic details and characters who just want to survive. The books that won him the Spur Awards included Camp Ford, Doubtful Canon, Hard Winter, Legacy of a Lawman, West Texas Kill and a short story, A Piano at Dead Man's Crossing.
He also is the author of The Killing Shot, Northfield and South by Southwest and was a recipient of the Western Heritage Wrangler Award in 2004 for his novel, Spark on the Prairie.
Horns by George McCathern was added to the list of books enjoyed. Jim Cole is a one-armed, ex-Confederate Colonel and his side-kick, Ned Armstrong, battle the weather, Indians, buffalo hunters and the army to carve out a cattle empire in the high grass country of the Llano Estacado, during the years of 1865 to 1875. At a time when no other white man would enter this Comanche stronghold, Cole and Armstrong made friends with the great Comanche chief, Quanah Parker, and trailed 5,000 head of Texas Longhorns from central Texas to the headwaters of the Red River and established the Ceebara Ranch.
By all means, everyone keep on reading and let me know what is on your current reading list and would you recommend it to others or not.
In order for this column to be successful and a help to other readers, I need to hear from you by Friday of each week in order to get it in the column for Wednesday.
Send information to Jean Hayworth at the Breckenridge American at: firstname.lastname@example.org or call 254-559-5412.