Monday, July 31, 2006

Hungry Again Only An Hour Later – A Review of “Feeding The Monster” by Seth Mnookin

It was with much anticipation that I picked up my copy of “Feeding The Monster – How Money, Smarts, and Nerve Took a Team to the Top” by Seth Mnookin. After all, this award-winning author had been given unlimited access to behind-the-scenes goings-on at Fenway Park during the entire 2005 season. Early excerpts from the book held the promise of several hundred pages of juicy revelations of what really goes on behind the Wizard’s Curtain on Yawkey Way.

So, I made my way expectantly through over 400 pages of Red Sox related material, and came to the last page feeling as if I should cue up on my stereo an early rendition of Peggy Lee’s classic hit, “Is That All There Is?” And I was not sure why I was so disappointed. There were tidbits that were fun to read. Mnookin makes it clear in this book that he does not have much respect for Dan Shaughnessy and the whole “Curse of the Bambino” boondoggle. Nor does he harbor much admiration for Dr. Charles Steinberg, whose over-eager passion for ensuring the Red Sox ubiquitous and ever-expanding press coverage ultimately pushed Theo over the edge and played a large part in the contretemps that led to Theo’s decision to resign.

Listening to Bill Simmons of ESPN last Friday helped me to begin to put a finger on my disappointment with Mnookin and his writing. Simmons made the observation, while talking on WEEI, that in reading this book, he could not figure out what audience Mnookin was trying to address. If he were targeting diehard Sox fans, then why spend over 100 pages rehashing well-known Red Sox history and the "Curse of the Bambino" nonsense? Add, why feel the need to explain in a footnote what “OPS” is all about!

As I thought about my disappointment with this book, I came up with a gastronomic metaphor. Assume that I had learned that a great chef, with unlimited access to live lobsters of enormous size and to the finest ingredients in the world, after a year of working on a secret recipe, was going to be selling lobster rolls to the public. I would line up to have a chance to sink my teeth into one of those lobster rolls – anticipating the subtle spices, huge chunks of fresh lobster meat from the tail and claws – served on a freshly baked bun with some unexpected special twist thrown in. Then, imagine my disappointment when the lobster roll is actually served on a stale hotdog bun, and the bun is stuffed mostly with filler – limp chopped celery, gobs of Hellmann’s mayonnaise – and the meat has clearly been previously frozen and consists of small, stringy pieces from the body of the lobster. It does not taste bad, but it is a far cry from what I expected the gourmet chef to serve up. The anticipatory "licking of my chops" had been in vain!

Having laid out my sense of disappointment at the paucity of “claw meat,” let me hasten to add that the book offers some insights that make it a worthwhile read for those who love the game of baseball. Mnookin offers a fascinating peak into the tortuous behind-the-scenes process by which the John Henry group was ultimately awarded the right to purchase the Boston Red Sox from the Yawkey Trust and a bevy of limited partners.

He offers a wonderful paean to the glories of Fenway Park – worth sharing here:

“Fenway Park was, inarguably, a gorgeous monument to American baseball. It still used a manual scoreboard, and scoreboard operators could sometimes be glimpsed peeking out from behind the numbers to catch the action on the field. The very same steel beams that blocked some patrons’ views allowed the second deck to be built almost directly on top of the infield grandstand, creating an intensely intimate setting. Unlike most stadiums, Fenway didn’t have an upper deck, and first-time visitors could not help but be struck by how Fenway allowed fans to gaze out onto the Boston skyline, with the Prudential and the John Hancock buildings rising behind right-center field and the famous Citgo sign blinking over the Wall in left. The odd triangle of grass that was delineated by the end of the Red Sox bullpen and Fenway’s centerfield wall was as inexplicable a patch of outfield territory as exists in baseball, and a point of stubborn pride. The Green Monster rose majestically over the outfield grass, where it turned screaming line drive shots into harmless singles and transformed breezy pop flies into home runs. It was here that Carlton Fisk had willed his walk-off home run in the sixth game of the 1975 World Series. It was this field Babe Ruth and Ted Williams once roamed. ‘The ballpark is the star,’ Globe columnist Marty Nolan wrote in 1999, trying to explain the Red Sox’s – and Fenway’s – sway over New England. ‘A crazy-quilt violation of city planning principles, an irregular pile of architecture, a menace to marketing consultants, Fenway Park works. It works as a symbol of New England’s pride, as a repository of evergreen hopes, as a tabernacle of lost innocence.’ Baseball commissioner Bart Giamatti compared Fenway to ‘Mount Olympus, the Pyramid at Giza, the nation’s Capital, the czar’s Winter Palace, and the Louvre – except, of course, that it was better than all those inconsequential places.’ Pitching great Tom Seaver said simply, ‘Fenway is the essence of baseball.’” (Page 67)

So, read the book and enjoy it, but don’t expect Mnookin, graduate of Newton North High School and Harvard University, to be Todd English or Ming Tsai! The fare he offers up is more pedestrian and mundane, but it still contains some tasty chunks of meat - some fresh and some previously frozen!


Friday, July 28, 2006

The Artist Responds

Within minutes of my posting comments about last night's performance of "Monsieur Chopin," Hershey Felder was kind enough to respond by e-mail. I thought you might appreciate reading his words:

"What a lovely, thoughtful (and spot on) analysis of the production. In fact, you captured all the inherent ideas - even the skewed proscenium... perhaps best to begin writing theatre reviews? Rarely do I encounter 'professional' reviewers with your capacity of observation. Thank you for attending! Hope to see you next time around!


* * * *

I just learned that Felder will be doing his one man Gershwin show in Hartford on the heels of the production of "Monsieur Chopin" at The Hartford Stage. The Hartford schedule is as follows:

A Melodrama

Music by Fryderyk Chopin
Text by Hershey Felder
Directed by Joel Zwick

August 4–13, 2006


Written and Performed by Hershey Felder
Directed by Joel Zwick

August 15–20, 2006

I plan to make the trek to Hartford. Care to join me?


Chopin Is Alive And Well . . . And Concertizing In Cambridge!

It was an impromptu evening. The Red Sox were back in town, but enjoying a well-deserved day off. So, the stage at the theater known as Fenway Park was dark, and I was free to follow other footlights. I remembered that at the Loeb Experimental Theater (“The X”) at the American Repertory Theater in Harvard Square, the Harvard-Radcliffe players were presenting “The Maids” by Jean Genet, so I headed to Brattle Street and the theater of the absurd that is the game of finding a parking space on a summer evening in Cambridge!

Upon arriving at the ART, I headed for the box office, and noticed that “Monsieur Chopin” with Hershey Felder was playing on the main stage. I assumed it was sold out, as had been the case with the Cambridge run of his 2005 hit, “George Gershwin Alone,” but the woman at the ticket window “improvised,” and managed to find me a single seat for the evening’s performance. As I entered the theater I was instantly transported to Frederic Chopin’s Paris salon, March 4, 1848. The show’s conceit is that the audience members represent piano students who have come to Monsieur Chopin’s salon for a piano lesson. Around this premise, Felder as Chopin talks about his life as an artist as he plays compositions from key stages of his life.

The set designer, the gifted Yael Pardess, has created a fascinating setting for this transmogrification of Felder into Chopin. The gorgeous tableau of Chopin’s Paris salon is set within a proscenium – a sumptuous gilded frame that was built slightly off plumb. It is as if Chopin the artist and his oeuvre are slightly off kilter and are being displayed as such in the “Salon” – the official Paris art establishment that rejected the Impressionist painters who did with their brushes on canvas what Chopin accomplished with his fingers on the keyboard – both kinds of artist using a light touch and subtle impressions to create poetic imagery.

Throughout the magical evening, Felder “the pianist” plays Chopin – that is, he plays the music of Chopin – Polonaises, Mazurkas, Nocturnes, Preludes, Valses. But Felder “the actor” does not play Chopin the artist – as much as he becomes Chopin, almost channeling the Polish ex-patriot. Many years ago, as a budding piano student, I learned to play Chopin’s Nocturne in E Flat, Opus 9 No. 2, so I am quite familiar with the composer’s music. Felder brought my appreciation of the musician and the man to a new level with his loving portrayal of the genius haunted by “melancholia,” - in today’s parlance, “bi-polar disorder.”

Chopin’s stormy relationship with the writer, George Sand, suffused his life and his music, and hovers over the evening’s piano lesson. At one point, her image is projected onto the scrim that doubles as the back wall of Chopin’s salon. She has been described as “the most famous woman in her country.” In a delicious and ironic “theme and variation” of art imitating life imitating art, the actor Felder is married to Kim Campbell, former Prime Minister of Canada, and arguably, “the most famous woman in her country.”

Felder has a passion for taking classical music out of the museum and making it once again part of everyday life – accessible and fun. In that regard, he stands on the shoulders of Victor Borge. As a child, I had a chance to see Borge perform live. Like Felder, The Danish pianist used the keyboard as a dais and as a stage from which to communicate life and truth through music. Borge did it as a comedian and clown, a “court jester of the keyboard,” if you will. Felder does it as a dramatic actor and mimic. I have no idea how to evaluate Borge as a musician; I was too young to know how to rate his musical technique. But he was a gifted communicator and he made music fun for me. Felder does the same thing with flawless musicianship and stunning technique.

If you live within driving distance of Cambridge, you have this weekend only to catch “Monsieur Chopin” at the ART. This engagement ends on Sunday, July 30. The show moves to The Hartford Stage from August 4-13, and then onto Ravinia in September.

“Monsieur Chopin” is part of a three movement “Sonata” that Felder is developing around the lives and music of Chopin, Gershwin and Beethoven. He will premier the Beethoven show early in 2007. I plan to be among the first in line for tickets!


Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Applying The Military Chaplaincy Model To The Business World

I love discovering new things and being exposed to new ideas!

I was recently introduced to U.S. Army Chaplain, Dr. Lee Vermont, who is serving on active duty at Ft. Meade, Maryland. He will be retiring from the Army in a few months, and settling in the Boston area. Chaplain Vermont and I have been exploring his post-military employment options. One of the options he mentioned to me that he was considering was to find a role as an “industrial chaplain.” He stopped me in my tracks. I had never heard that term before, and was not aware that there are chaplains serving in industrial settings. So, I asked him to explain the concept. I was impressed, and felt that there might be several readers of The White Rhino Report who would be as intrigued as I was by the notion of visionary companies working to improve employee morale and retention by providing chaplaincy services. Here are some excerpts from the conversations that Chaplain Vermont and I have had about the role of an “industrial chaplain”:

Al Chase: “You can tell that I am a bit surprised to learn of the existence of chaplains in private industry. Can you tell me something of the history of industrial chaplains?"

Chaplain Vermont: “Progressive American corporations since the 1940’s have effectively used chaplains to establish a caring and increasing professional degree of holistic ministry to employees. Hiring a corporate chaplain makes good business sense. If employees are skillfully and compassionately cared for, they and their companies become more productive.

Corporate Chaplains of America is a company that provides trained and certified chaplains to a variety of companies. They have this to say about the development of chaplaincies in the private sector:
'It was not, however, until the mid-1980’s to early 1990’s that the industry truly began to take shape. Prior to this time most workplace chaplains served mainly as sole proprietors or employees at specific businesses. Liability concerns on the part of business owners brought an end to the widespread use of company employee chaplains and ushered in the era of more highly trained professional chaplains serving as independent contractors.'”

Al Chase: “What kind of special training do corporate chaplains or industrial chaplains bring to the table?”

Chaplain Vermont: “In addition to the usual training in pastoral ministry, chaplains serving in industry must be certified in CPE – Clinical Pastoral Education, a very intensive and highly specialized regimen that exposes a pastor to counseling skills in a clinical setting.”

Al Chase: “Most of the readers of The White Rhino Report are familiar with the model of chaplaincy in the military. How is industrial chaplaincy similar to what you and your colleagues do in the military when you serve as chaplains?”

Chaplain Vermont: “Army Chaplains must learn to operate in a religious and culturally pluralistic environment. Skilled chaplains adapt to various leadership styles and navigate through specified chains of command in order to deliver relevant and timely ministry. Chaplains in the military traditionally provide leadership in change and process management, critical incident debriefings, crisis intervention including suicide prevention, life-skill training and traditional pastoral care, individual and marital counseling. The experience of serving as a military chaplain perfectly equips someone to offer genuine caring in the workplace.”

Al Chase: “Can you give me an idea of some of the specific services and specific benefits that a chaplain can provide in the work setting?”

Chaplain Vermont: “Let me refer you once again to Corporate Chaplains of America. They have a whole section on their Website of testimonials from companies that have employed chaplains. Here is one that I found particularly impressive:

'The decision to engage Corporate Chaplains of America has provided a tremendous benefit to our employees, both spiritually and emotionally. Our chaplain has provided services for funerals and weddings as well as helping employees dealing with depression, marital problems, and a myriad of other matters. He is a true friend to our employees. Many of the things he does for our team I could never do myself as the president of the company. CCA definitely provides eternal benefits to our employees that we will not see this side of heaven.'

Ted Null, PresidentControl Corporation of America

Al Chase: “If some of the readers of The White Rhino Report wanted to explore the possibility of introducing a chaplaincy program to their company, how should they proceed?”

Chaplain Vermont: “Well, I would love to help them to go through such a process, or I can put them in touch with National Institute of Business and Industrial Chaplains, of which I am a member. Anyone with an interest in learning more should contact me through your e-mail address:

What a fascinating idea! Who knew?


Monday, July 24, 2006

Snappy Comebacks – A Review of “Viva La Repartee” by Dr. Mardy Grothe

A few weeks ago, I reviewed the book, “Oxymoronica,” by Dr. Mardy Grothe.

Review of "Oxymoronica"

After reading my review, Dr. Grothe wrote to me and said, in essence: “If you liked “Oxymoronica,” you will really like my latest book, “Viva La Repartee – Clever Comebacks & Witty Retorts from History’s Greatest Wits & Wordsmiths.” He was right! I loved this book.

I would have finished the book a few weeks ago, but I inadvertently shared the literary wealth before I had a chance to finish reading the book. On a recent trip to Connecticut, I was regaling my friends, Sean and Marla Cross, by reading to them some of my favorites quotations and quips from “Viva La Repartee.” They decided that they would have to purchase their own copy of the book. I laid the book down, and forgot to retrieve it when I left the house to catch a train into New York City. So, Marla had a chance to share some of the best excerpts from the book with some of her friends before I returned last week to reclaim the slim volume.

There are clever quotes on every page. I have chosen to share only a small sampling of those that struck me as particularly clever and worthy remembering. The Yogi Berra quotation at the end of my review of “Paul’s Place” can be found on page 235!

Here are some of my favorites:

“Perhaps the classic example in the history of wit is the story of a famous exchange between two eighteenth-century political rivals, John Montagu, also known as the Fourth Earl of Sandwich, and the reformist politician, John Wilkes. During a heated argument, Montagu scowled at Wilkes and said derisively, ‘Upon my soul, Wilkes, I don’t know whether you shall die upon the gallows, or of syphilis.’ Unfazed, Wilkes came back with what many people regard as the greatest retort of all time:

‘That will depend, my Lord, on whether
I embrace your principles, or your mistress’” (Pages 3-4)

* * * *

I love puns, and when I find someone punning in Latin, I am impressed!

“In 1842, British commander Charles James Napier led vastly outnumbered British forces to victory over Indian troops, allowing England to annex the Province of Sindh (in modern-day Pakistan) and make an important advance in their colonization efforts. In one of the most popular stories in the annals of military history, Napier immediately sent a dispatch to Lord Ellenborough, the British governor of India at the time. He sent a simple one-word message:


‘Peccavi’ is Latin for ‘I have sinned,’ making Napier’s message also one of history’s most famous puns.” (Pages 60-61)

* * * *

Dr. Grothe offers several pages worth of repartee that originated from various members of The Algonquin Roundtable. This group of New York literati included Dorothy Parker, Robert Benchley, Robert E. Sherwood, Alexander Woolcott and Heywood Broun. This is one of my favorites:

“During a surprise thunderstorm, Broun and a colleague were forced to take shelter in a Manhattan dive that was not up to their usual standard. When the wine came, it was not of the highest quality, provoking Broun to sigh:

‘Oh well, any port in a storm.’ (Page 152)

* * * *

“In 1924, [Alexander] Woolcott bought a little island in Lake Bomoseen in the mountains of Vermont. It soon became ‘the’ summer place to go for numerous New York celebrities. . . One day, Harpo Marx decided to spend a weekend at Woolcott’s cottage. When Marx arrived in a rickety Model T Ford, Woolcott exclaimed, ‘What in the hell are you driving?’ Marx answered, ‘This is my town car.’ Woolcott replied:

‘What was the town? Pompeii?’ (Page 158)

* * * *

This next selection earns its place in this review because it relates to a distant relative of mine, whose portrait once adorned the $10,000 bill!

“After serving as secretary of the treasury in Abraham Lincoln’s wartime cabinet, Salmon P. Chase was elevated to the Supreme Court in 1864, where he served as the sixth chief justice of the United states until his death in 1873. Shortly after the Civil War, Chase, a fervent abolitionist, was introduced to a beautiful Southern belle at a Washington dinner party. In a pronounced Southern drawl, the young beauty said provocatively, ‘I must warn you, Mr. Chief Justice, that I’m an unreconstructed rebel.’ Chase may have been approaching sixty, but he proved he could still be quite the charmer, replying:

‘In your case, madam,
reconstruction – even in the slightest –
would be nothing short of sacrilege.’ (Page 166)

* * * *

I include the next quotation for two reasons. I currently live just a few blocks from the ancestral home of Presidents John Adams and John Quincy Adams, so I find writings about them to be of particular interest. The second reason is that this quotation represents a particularly poignant and poetic metaphor that is worth remarking.

“John Quincy Adams was the first son of a president to also be elected to the nation’s highest office, becoming the sixth U.S. president in 1825. After his defeat in the 1828 presidential election, he took some time off before returning to political life as a Massachusetts congressman from 1831 until his death in 1848. Two years before his death, a serious stroke limited him enormously, but he continued to serve in Congress. Shortly before his death, Adams was visited by a friend who asked him how he was doing. The declining Adams offered a memorable metaphorical reply:

‘I inhabit a weak, frail, decayed tenement;
battered by winds and broken in upon by the storms,
and from all I can learn,
the landlord does not intend to repair.’ (Pages 182-183)

* * * *

In light of the recently completed World Cup competition, this next excerpt seems timely and apropos.

"In 1990, Germany beat England in a World Cup semifinal soccer game. The defeat upset the entire nation, including many in the intellectual and political worlds. After the defeat, Kenneth Clark, the noted English man of letters, attended a meeting at 10 Downing Street and said in passing to Margaret Thatcher, ‘Isn’t it terrible about losing to the Germans at our national sport?’ The prime minister put it all into perspective when she replied:

‘I shouldn’t worry too much;
we’ve beaten them twice this century at theirs.’ (Page 210)

* * * *

Have Dr. Grothe and I whetted your appetite for more? This little book is a tiny treasure trove. I encourage you to explore its wonders.

Dr. Grothe also publishes a wonderful weekly newsletter with timely quotations, “Dr. Mardy’s Quotes of the Week: A WEEKLY CELEBRATION OF GREAT QUOTES IN HISTORY (AND THE HISTORY BEHIND THE QUOTES)"

To subscribe, send a blank message to



A Big Surprise in Manhattan – An Amazing Burger!

My friend, Rick Mavrovich, has been CEO of several start-up companies in and around New York City. He is also involved in some fascinating humanitarian work around the globe, but that is a story for another time.

Last week, knowing I was going to be in Manhattan for a couple of days, Rick and I decided to catch up with each other over lunch in the East Village. He had recently read reviews of “The best burger joint in NYC,” and was eager to explore Paul’s Place, on the corner of 2nd Avenue and St. Mark’s Place (131 2nd Ave.) So, we decided to meet at Paul’s. We actually bumped into each other on the subway – having chosen the same car of the same train.

Paul’s is not a fancy restaurant, but one that bills itself as “Da Burger Joint.” The employees have the kind of New York attitude that you would expect in a burger joint, and that we Bostonians find charming and irresistible.

I ordered a burger with sautéed mushrooms and Rick ordered something similar. When the platters were brought to our table, it looked like the waiter was delivering dishes roughly the size of two small principalities! I have never seen a bigger burger! I have a pretty healthy (OK – unhealthy!) appetite, and can usually put away large portions without batting an eye, but this was a challenge. But the burger was so delicious that it seemed sinful to leave any on the plate, so Rick and I made the sacrifice and finished our burgers – with smiles on our faces and precious little empty space left in our stomachs. Each burger had been prepared precisely the way that we had asked for it.

By New York standards, the prices are very reasonable.

As we were settling our bill at the cash register up front, we talked with a person I assume was Paul. He was clearly in charge. We asked him if they had a Website. His answer was something like: “Are you kidding? We are strictly low-tech here, and that’s the way I like it. Why would I want a Website? We already have enough people coming here. We do a good business. Nah, no Websites for me!”

So, the next time you plan to be in the East Village, and have a hearty appetite, pay a visit to Paul’s Place. Let’s hope that Paul’s does not suffer the fate of the popular restaurant that Yogi Berra had in mind when he spoke these memorable words: “Nobody goes there any more; it’s too crowded!”



Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Mini-Review: “Militant Islam in Southeast Asia – Crucible of Terror” by Zachary Abuza

I acquired this book, "Militant Islam in Southeast Asia," in order to do some background research for a novel I am writing. My book is a long-term project with no projected publication date as yet. It is a rather ambitious undertaking – a retelling of "The Odyssey" set as an Al Qaeda terrorist story that takes place partly in Indonesia! So, in preparation for an eventual fact finding trip to Indonesia, I have been doing some reading about terrorism and Southeast Asia.

Zachary Abuza is on the faculty in the Political Science and International Relations Department at Simmons College in Boston. He has traveled extensively in researching this book, which has received enthusiastic praise from many quarters.

W. Scott Thompson of Tuft’s University’s legendary Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy had this to say about Abuza’s work:

“Showing an astonishing persistence in tying together the threads of the terrorist threat, Abuza has come up with a dazzling display of Al-Qaida at work. It is rare that a book comes out with so deep and thoughtful analysis of a contemporary subject – this may well become the standard reference on everything happening in the Southeast Asian theater of the world terror crisis.”

Barnett, in “The Pentagon’s New Map,” and in his recent “Blueprint for Action,” makes it clear that Southeast Asia, especially Indonesia, will play a pivotal role over the next several decades in impacting the balance of power among the leaders of what Barnett calls “the Core” and the “New Core.” Indonesia is the largest Muslim nation in the world, and will play a significant part in determining the relationship between the United States and the Muslim world. Therefore, Abuza’s seminal work becomes a very helpful tool in understanding how terrorism in general - and Al-Qaeda in particular – may serve as a crucial factor in determining how the relationship between the West and the worldwide Muslim may evolve.

Using painstakingly well-documented and footnoted research, Abuza traces the growing influence of Al-Qaeda in Southeast Asia - from Afghanistan and the jihad against the Soviets to the bombing in Bali and beyond. His basic premise follows a logical chain of events. Following the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan, many zealous Southeast Asians who had fought as mujahadin returned to Asia to use their skills and battlefield experiences to bring the passion of jihad to several local struggles to establish autonomous Muslim states through Southeast Asia. These struggles included the secessionist movements in Mindanao, East Timor, Sulawesi and the Malukus and Aceh – among others. Once the U.S. attacked Afghanistan to topple the Taliban and neutralize the command and control of Bin-Laden’s team, Al-Qaeda was forced to flee from its lair in Afghanistan and scatter among a handful of safe havens – many in Southeast Asia. At first, these safe havens – Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand – were used as a convenient “back offices” for Al-Qaeda to conduct training, money-laundering, weapons acquisition and coalition building. Al-Qaeda also funded and co-opted many local insurgents and gave them a vision of taking part in a global jihad against the “savage intervention of the American Crusade Armed Forces and their allies [who are involved] in the Muslim cleansing scheme. . . as a ‘harsh reprimand’ to Jews and Christians led by American heathens in oppressing and tainting the Islamic holy land, where the Revelation of the Prophets descended.” (Pages 166-167).

Eventually, the terrorists took advantage of lax security and political dissent in these nations to launch terrorist attacks on soft targets within these host nations – the bombing in Bali being the most spectacular and deadly among these incidents.

For anyone who wants to develop a more comprehensive understanding of where Al-Qaeda is heading in its long-term strategy and short-term tactics, this book as a valuable resource.


Monday, July 17, 2006

Some Interesting Fenway Park - Persian Gulf Connections

Given how badly the Red Sox have been playing since the All Star break, I need to focus on something other than the box scores of the recent losses to the Oakland A’s in order to keep a smile on my face. Over the weekend, I found just such a distraction in two conversations I had with soldiers who are serving in the Persian Gulf.

On Friday, I had an e-mail conversation with Kyle Kalkwarf, who is currently deployed in Kuwait. Kyle is a 2002 graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, where he starred as an outfielder on the Army baseball team. Among his achievements on the baseball diamond at West Point was a school record 21-game hitting streak. Kyle played his high school baseball at Winston Churchill High School in San Antonio. Knowing that I was heading to Fenway Park later that day to watch Josh Beckett face off against the A’s, Kyle wanted to remind me that he had two hits off of Beckett when they faced each other in Texas!

On Sunday, I received a call from Mike Cooper, a West Point classmate of Kyle and the shortstop on the Army teams that Kalkwarf played for. Mike is home in Texas for a few days of much-deserved R&R in the midst of his second deployment to Iraq. Among the many things we discussed on the phone yesterday was the fact that when he was playing baseball in his native Jacksonville, Florida, Cooper played against both Jonathan Papelbon, the Red Sox phenom rookie closer, and Philadelphia Phillies pitcher and bete noire, Brett Myers. White Rhino Report readers will recall Myers’ recent brush with the law in Boston a few weeks ago.

My conversations with Kyle and Coop served as a reminder that in this present war, just as in WWII and the Korean Conflict in the past, many of our gifted athletes have hung up their spikes in order to serve in the armed forces. May their sacrifice not be in vain.


Mini-Review – “The Bormann Testament” by Jack Higgins

Regular readers of The White Rhino Report will recognize the fact that I have become a big fan of Jack Higgins’s page-turners of spy craft and adventure. In the past few months, I have offered brief reviews of several of his books, including “Dark Justice,” “The Wrath of God” and “Without Mercy.”

“The Borman Testament” offers an interesting backstory. During the Cold War, Higgins served in Berlin as a member of the Royal Horse Guards. In addition, an uncle of his had been held by the Nazis as a prisoner of war. Higgins developed a fascination with the Third Reich, and particularly with Hitler’s right-hand man, Martin Bormann. Out of that fascination, “The Bormann Testament” was created in 1962. At that politically charged time, Higgins' publisher was reluctant to publish a fictional work about Bormann, so the character of Bormann was changed to an entirely made-up Nazi leader by the name of Schultz, and the novel was published under the title, “The Testament of Caspar Schultz.”

Times have changed, the Berlin wall has fallen and Higgins felt it was time to republish this work in its original form. The action and plot of the book center around the premise and rumor that Bormann escaped from Hitler’s bunker during the final days of the war, and has been living in hiding ever since. Word comes to a British publisher that Bormann has written his “Testament,” naming names of Nazi collaborators, and is looking for someone to buy the manuscript through an intermediary by the name of Muller. Special agent Paul Chavasse is sent to Germany to find the manuscript, and to bring Bormann to justice – if the ex-Nazi is indeed still alive. Along the way, double agents, Israeli Nazi hunters, German police and neo-Nazi terrorists lead Chavasse and his colleagues on a merry chase. The stakes are high, since many influential business and government leaders fear that they may be named in the book as Nazi collaborators.

In his inimitable and straightforward way, Higgins dishes out death and double dealing at a double-time pace. After reading a Jack Higgins novel, I always feel as if I have completed a mad dash through the pages of the story, since I find it hard to put the book down until the last loose end in the plot has been tied up.

“The Bormann Testament” is not only a good novel; it is also a helpful reminder of the forces of human nature that made the Third Reich and the Cold War such perilous times. It is a quick and worthwhile read.



Friday, July 14, 2006

Another Local Gem Added to The White Rhino's Favorite Links From A-Z: "L" = The Linden Store

I often drive a couple of miles from my office into downtown Wellesely to grab a quick sandwich for lunch. More often than not, my car finds its way to the small parking lot on Linden Street where denizens of the town and surrounding areas jockey for a parking space and a chance to order their favorite item off of the menu board that hangs above the deli counter at The Linden Store.

I would have written about this place long ago, but I must admit I just learned today that The Linden Store has a Website. I thank Nick Paine, a regular reader of The White Rhino Report, and a part-time employee at the Linden Store, for pointing out to me this egregious omission from The White Rhino’s Favorite Links From A-Z.

I found a review on Boston City Search that tells the Linden story very well:

Best Sub Ever!

Posted by
ptdubs on 11/20/2005

The LeBrun's have been serving up the goodness at this hidden little gem located in a small Wellesley strip mall for god knows how long and never compromise quality for anything. Meat is sliced individually for each sandwich, and bread as soft as a cloud is delivered daily from an amazing local bakery. My favorites are the Turkey, stuffing, and cranberry sauce and the Hot Italian. They never disappoint.

Pros: Family, Quality, Consistency
Overall user rating: Highly Recommended

* * * *

My favorite item is the Tuesday special – the hot pastrami sandwich. The service is lighting fast and friendly – not an easy combination to pull off. The multinational staff that supports the LeBrun family in operating this goldmine is competent and convivial – chatting up a customer about the World Cup while whipping up a world-class sandwich. This is a special place where warm and exemplary customer service and the highest quality ingredients are both always on the menu.

The Linden Store has earned its rightful place among The White Rhino’s Favorite Links From A-Z.

“Location, location, location” is a well-known mantra when it comes to real estate prices. The presence of The Linden Store in the neighborhood may very well account, in part, for the astronomical price of houses in Wellesley! OK, maybe not, but the place is a valuable asset to the town and to its hungry inhabitants and habitués.



Thursday, July 13, 2006

The White Rhino's Favorite Links From A-Z: "S" = Sweet Basil Restaurant - A Golden Nugget in Needham!

I love to discover new places to eat, especially when I learn about them from friends. So, I am pleased to share the wealth and spread the word about Sweet Basil, a tiny treasure of a bistro in Needham. This cozy spot – 20 seats, but with plans to increase capacity in a matter of a few weeks – is located at 942 Great Plain Avenue in Needham. I don’t often find a need to travel to downtown Needham, but I’ll be heading there with greater frequency now that I have tasted the offerings of Chef/Proprietor, David Becker.

David Becker’s story is a wonderful Horatio Alger tale of starting at the bottom and climbing towards the top. As fate would have it, I learned in talking with David that when he was born, his family lived across the street from where I grew up in the Joppa neighborhood in the South End of Newburyport. He started out washing dishes at Joseph’s, a gourmet restaurant near the Merrimac River waterfront. He would later work at Scandia, another Newburyport restaurant of renown. He obviously absorbed a great deal from the chefs at these stellar restaurants, and it was clear to me in sampling his cuisine at Sweet Basil, that he has incorporated some very sophisticated training into creating the menu and cuisine at his own restaurant in Needham.

I was fortunate to have been given a gift certificate to Sweet Basil by one of my client companies, so I as able to order without thinking much about price, but the prices on the menu are very reasonable for the kind of fare that is offered. As an appetizer, I ordered steamed mussels, and they were the best I have ever tasted. The combination of spices was perfect – served swimming in garlic and wine broth and garnished with Roma tomatoes, Extra Virgin Olive Oil and crostini. When I finished the mussels, I spied lying tantalizingly at the bottom of the bowl a generous slice of bread that had absorbed all of the flavors and that served as a wonderful exclamation point to the this first course! For the entree, the waitress recommended the Skillet Seared Steak that was served on a bed of polenta, which is basically sweet potato grits! Seriously! It was heavenly!

The secret sauce in all of this is David himself. I sat near the door, and was able to observe and hear him greet each diner, many of whom he greeted by name with his signature line: “How can I help you tonight?” David’s unassuming and folksy bonhomie leaves a good taste in your mouth, and is a wonderful complement to the innovative and scrumptious food offerings.

I was so impressed by my Sweet Basil experience, that I am adding this restaurant to “The White Rhino’s Favorite Links From A-Z.”

Enjoy, and when you visit Sweet Basil, tell David that The White Rhino sent you!


Now, For Something Completely Different – Ian Blair’s World Travels: Seeking Shangri-La

I received an e-mail yesterday from my friend, Ian Blair, who was writing from Sucre, Bolivia. Ian and I met last fall when we gathered for food in Harvard Square with our mutual friend, Daron Roberts of Harvard Law School. At the time, Ian was putting together plans to take a year or two off from his corporate life to travel the world. Ian was writing yesterday to report in on the progress of his journey, and to make me aware of a Website he is updating frequently that recounts his adventures along the way.

I am sharing the link to Ian’s Website for two primary purposes. The first reason is fairly obvious. I love world travel, and suspect that many of the readers of The White Rhino Report share my passion for visiting exotic places and experiencing the chance to meet people from different cultures.

My second reason for sharing this link is more convoluted. In my role as an Executive Recruiter, I end up doing a lot of de facto career counseling with individuals who find themselves at every possible stage of their professional careers – from entry level to post-retirement and second career. I am observing a growing trend of individuals who want to address issues of lifestyle balance at an ever-earlier stage of their lives. It used to be that most of those who became concerned with and focused on lifestyle balance were doing so reactively after having experienced the trauma of burnout, divorce, serious illness or the ravages of addiction. I see the pendulum swinging more towards the proactive side – with more and more people seeing the need to balance their life at work with adequate time devoted to family, hobbies, church and civic involvement, as well as taking time to “small the roses” while still young enough to have full olfactory capabilities intact!

I see Ian Blair, and his choice to take a hiatus from climbing the corporate ladder in order to scale the Andes, as emblematic of this growing cadre of those who are opting off of the treadmill of workaholism. I offer Ian as a potential role model for some, and for others, as a source of vicarious fulfillment as you monitor his peregrinations through his Website – Seeking Shangri-La.



Wednesday, July 12, 2006

A Quick Update On Barnett And "Blueprint For Action"

It is my policy whenever possible to make authors aware of reviews that I have written about their books. I often hear back from them, and as a result, have ongoing dialogue and relationships with a wide array of published authors. After posting yesterday's review of "Blueprint for Action," in The White Rhino Report, I also posted the review on, and sent the review to Dr. Barnett. I was pleased this morning to learn that he has published my review in his Blog, along with some kind words about my Executive Search practice.

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White Rhino Review of BFA

Al Chase of White Rhino Report sends in his review of BFA.

Al's an 'Executive Recruiter in Boston, with a specialization of placing senior executives who are former military officers and who have earned MBA from top-tier schools'. So, if you're looking for that kind of service, drop him a line.

The Book That Started It All – Mini Review of “The Miernik Dossier” by Charles McCarry

If you are a regular reader of the White Rhino Report, you are already aware that I have become a big fan of the espionage novels of Charles McCarry. In recent months, I have reviewed “Tears of Autumn” and “Old Boys.”

I finally have gotten around to reading McCarry’s first novel, “The Miernik Dossier.” First published in 1973, it has recently been reprinted and re-released. John Leonard of the New York Times Book Review called this book, “Arguably the finest modern American spy story.”

McCarry’s approach in crafting this book is unique and brilliant. Much like Akira Kurosawa’s groundbreaking film, “Rashomon”, events are described through the eyes of five different characters. In the case of “The Miernik Dossier,” the tale is told through a series of reports, notes and transcripts that make up the agency’s dossier on one Tadeusz Miernik, a mysterious Polish scientist who may or may not be a Soviet agent at the height of the Cold War. An unlikely quintet of characters undertakes a trip in a custom-built Cadillac – from Switzerland to the desert of the Sudan. Along the way, McCarry takes the reader on a wild ride of intrigue, deception, kidnapping, murder and romance. Each of the Cadillac’s passengers is an intriguing individual in his or her own right. Taken together, they are a crazy quilt of story, backstory, convoluted relationships and colliding agendas.

Here are the dramatis personae:

Tadeusz Miernik, the awkward misfit Pole who may be headed to Sudan to serve as leader of a terror network operating in the desert;

Paul Christopher, an American spy operating under deep cover;

Ilona Bentley, part-English and part-Hungarian femme fatale;

Kalash el Khatar, the statuesque Sudanese prince who is delivering the Cadillac to his enigmanitc father;

Nigel Collins, a British agent tasked with figuring out what the other players may be up to as they make their way from Geneva to Dar es Salaam and beyond.

McCarry’s weaving together of the action as the reader makes his way through the various reports in the dossier is masterful. “The Miernik Dossier” is a masterpiece that has stood the test of time – surviving long after the Cold War has grown tepid and the Berlin Wall has been razed.



Tuesday, July 11, 2006

”Blueprint For Action” by Thomas P.M. Barnett, Ph. D. – Common Sense on Every Page!

A few months ago, I offered a review of Barnett’s landmark book, “The Pentagon’s New Map.”

In his latest offering, Barnett takes the logical next step in offering scenarios and a roadmap for how we might go about fashioning what he calls “a future worth creating.” What I like best about Barnett’s writing is the fact that he communicates complex ideas clearly and succinctly – without “dumbing down” his arguments and chain of reasoning.

I found this book fascinating and very encouraging in terms of how the U.S. as a nation can lead the way in fashioning a 21st century world that shrinks the gap between the “haves and have nots” – and more to the point – between the “connected and the disconnected.”

Given the fact that I do not have a military background, I do not always trust or rely on my own judgment in assessing issues of military or global strategy. Fortunately, I have a number of friends who have had long and distinguished military careers, and I often use them as sounding boards to provide me with reality checks. As I was finishing up reading, “Blueprint for Action,” I had breakfast with Stan Genega, a West Point graduate who retired as a Major General in the U.S. Army. As I was seeking Stan’s reaction to some of Barnett’s groundbreaking and often iconoclastic ideas, I said: “From my vantage point as a lay person, I can find no flaw in Barnett’s reasoning, logic, interpretation of the facts or prescriptive recommendations.” Gen. Genega responded, in essence, by saying: “I agree; I cannot find any flaws in his logic or analysis.”

Halfway through this book, I discovered a passage that clearly expresses Barnett’s rationale for writing this book, and explains the bridge between “The Pentagon’s New Map,” and this sequel. The context of the following quotation is that Barnett is describing the overwhelming response he received when C-Span broadcast a PowerPoint briefing that is the essence of “The Pentagon’s New Map”:

“At first, you are kind of embarrassed with gratitude expressed on that level. I mean, you feel as though you found someone’s wallet and nothing more. But over time, as I got more familiar with the emotions being expressed, I began to realize why it was so crucial to move beyond the first book’s broad diagnostic approach to this volume’s far greater focus on prescriptions – a plan of action. Eventually, that buzz wears off . . . Well, you can’t just leave people hanging like that. You just can’t get them all jacked up with no place to go. When people say they’re a ‘convert’ or ‘sold,’ you’d better have a better comeback than just ‘That’s nice to hear.’ Moreover, your vision of the future can’t just be some splendid description of a world they’ve got little hope of actually visiting. No, it needs to seem familiar enough that they can imagine themselves not just living there but also actually making the journey. The tale should be heroic, all right, because that imparts meaning to sacrifice, but it can’t be fantastic, meaning no ‘flying cars’ or any other imagined technologies that save the day all on their own. People don’t want their future handed to them on a silver platter; they want to build it on their own. What they need from you, the futurist, is just enough information – just enough vision – to give them the confidence to start hammering some stakes into the ground. They want to get rolling, because in the end, they’re not interested in following you. They just want you to point the direction and then get out of the way.” (Page 204)

The timing of my sharing this review is interesting. Just this morning, my friend, Tony Lorizio, sent me a link to a column in last Sunday’s New York Daily News. The column was entitled: “It's WWIII, and U.S. is out of ideas”

New York Daily News -
Sunday, July 9th, 2006

The author of the piece, who may have been Chicken Little, cites a string of recent events and concludes pessimistically that World War III is upon us, and we are fresh out of ideas to know how to begin to win the war.

In stark contradistinction to this gloomy forecast – one that seems to be shared by many “average citizens” - Barnett offers a more informed and reasoned interpretation and analysis of current events and trends. And that is the genius and the hope of his “Blueprint for Action.”

“al Qaeda, far from enjoying a winning streak, has instead sustained its movement largely by accepting defeat time and time again and shifting its center of gravity to some new locale . . . But the larger point is this: al Qaeda and the Salafi jihadist movement have won no battles over the years. Instead, they have lived as parasites within ongoing civil wars or easily corrupted failed states. Their history has been one long series of evacuations under duress. Like cockroaches in an apartment building, they are forced to flee to the next unit over every time the exterminator steps in to spray the current nesting place.” (Page 119)

The gist of Barnett’s thesis is that in the ongoing struggle to shrink the chasm that exists between the connected “Core” countries of the world and the disconnected “Gap” countries, the U.S. military and its allies must develop a two-part approach to solving problems. The warfare end will be conducted by what Barnett terms “the Leviathan” – the traditional might of the U.S. war machine. But when it comes to “wining the peace” – the kind of nation building that is proving to be such a bloody challenge in Iraq – a new kind of force, a System Administration force, must be stood up and take over when the Leviathan has accomplished its work.

Barnett also argues convincingly that part of the process of moving a society into a globally connected condition involves a migration of much of its population from rural isolation to urban connectivity.

“Terrorists have historically arisen from well-educated middle-class urban segments of society, not form the backward, disconnected rural segments, even as they often enlisted as the foot soldiers of these revolutionary movements. So it is managing that individual journey from the country to the city that lies at the heart of the Core’s historic task of shrinking the Gap. If the Gap’s populations cannot successfully make that trip, finding genuine economic and social connectivity, then there is little hope of making globalization truly global, for all that will happen with this migration is the concentration of disgruntled masses – the perfect source material for unrest, as noted by revolutionaries throughout history.” (Page 279)

Barnett gives a reasonable and generationally based spin to his optimistic argument that the Echo Boomer generation – those born between 1980 and 1995 – represent a great source of hope:

“Natural multitaskers because they grew up in conditions of universal connectivity (the oldest came of age as the Internet blossomed into a global phenomenon), the Echo Boomers are, in the words of one demographic study, ‘totally plugged-in citizens of a worldwide community.’ As such, they know multiculturalism not as something to be accepted, but as simply a fact of life, since over a third of this generation is nonwhite. Probably the least ‘churched’ generation in U.S. history, they are nonetheless deeply interested in making the world a better place. As historian Neil Howe describes Echo Boomers, they are far closer in outlook to the ‘greatest generation’ from World War II than their egocentric Baby Boomer parents. In short, they’re ‘more interested in building things up than tearing them down.’” (Pages 322-323)

For this reason, Barnett is targeting his arguments at the emerging generation of military and political leaders who are Echo Boomers. The current generation of leadership, with rare exception, is too tied into the status quo, too committed to protecting their fiefdoms and too entrenched in the “military-industrial complex” to be able to listen with objective ears to the ideas being put forward by Barnett and his coreligionists who worship at the altar of “a future worth creating.”

This book is a must read. You may not agree with all of Barnett’s analysis and interpretation of history and current events, but to choose to ignore what he is saying would be a “sin of omission” that no thinking person should commit.


Putting A Human Face To War - A Remarkable Photo Montage

My friend, Stan Genega, a retired U.S. Army Major General, just made me aware of a remarkable slide show of our fighting men and women at work and at play. I found the site very moving. It appears to be a personal Website of a Marine or former Marine.

My first reaction after watching the slide show was to shoot off a few e-mails to friends who are serving, and to their families - thanking them for their service and for their sacrifice. I encourage you to do the same. If you do not have a personal relationship with someone serving overseas, e-mail me and I'll be glad to provide the name of someone who would appreciate a word of thanks and support.


Monday, July 10, 2006

Back Home – A Brief Report

I am overwhelmed and gratified by the many people who have sent messages indicating that they have been keeping my family in their thoughts and prayers. I have just returned from my week in Florida and Virginia, and wanted to give a brief update. For the sake of respecting the privacy of family members, I won’t share many details, but I can report that my mother continues to be in declining health, confined to a rehab hospital and facing the prospect of being moved to a nursing home in the near future.

Family members gathered last week in Lynchburg, Virginia from New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Florida, Arizona and Poland. My mother was strong enough to be lifted out of bed and taken in a wheelchair to the activity room where 16 family members were waiting to greet her. Her favorite piece of music has always been Claude Debussy’s “Clair de Lune.” One of the highlights of the week was my son, Tim, surprising her by playing the piece on the spinet piano in the activity room. Tim is a gifted jazz and rock keyboard player, so it was a real challenge and a labor of love for him to learn a classical piece of music. It was a special gift. I must add a note about how proud I am of all four of my sons, whose gentle caring for their grandmother during the visits they paid to her last week will be a lasting memory for all of us.

Thank you for your continued prayers for my mother and the entire family.

While I was traveling, I managed to do quite a bit of reading, so I promise several book reviews in the next several days. Stay tuned.


Mountains for Miracles Update - SportsClub LA Climbs Aboard As A Sponsor!

My friend, John Serafini, Executive Director of Mountains for Miracles, just shared with me some exciting news that I want to pass along to readers of The White Rhino Report.

Here are the details of the exciting news in John’s words:

On behalf of the MFM organization, I am pleased to introduce our newest team member: Sports Club LA, a training sponsor of the MFM Seven Summits Expedition!

With state-of-the-art facilities in all major US cities from Boston to NYC to San Francisco, Sports Club LA is widely recognized as one of the finest sports and fitness complexes in the world. Offering forty different sports and fitness options under each club roof, Sports Club LA provides its members with a total fitness environment to include such varying activities as swimming, boxing, basketball, and racket sports.

Please click here for more information on Sports Club LA:
<> .

We hope that the Friends of Mountains for Miracles will share in our excitement of this great partnership. We look forward to working with SportsClub LA throughout the Seven Summits Expedition.

Climbing for the Cure,

John <>

Click here to make a tax deductible donation to Mountains for Miracles:

John Serafini
Executive Director
Mountains for Miracles, Inc

Seven Summits * Seven Continents * Seven Months
. . . to support childhood cancer research

Sunday, July 02, 2006

A Bitter-Sweet 4th of July

After posting this brief note, I will take a hiatus for a week from publishing The White Rhino Report. Early tomorrow morning, I will fly to Tampa to spend a few days with my sister, Diane - making the supreme sacrifice of accompanying her to two games at Tropicana Field between the Devil Rays and some team from Boston! Then on Wednesday, we will fly together to Virginia for a family reunion at the home of my brother, Dave, in Lynchburg. All four of my sons and my two grandchildren will make the trip, and it will be the first time we will have all been together in several years.

The precipitating event for the timing of our reunion is my mother's rapidly deteriorating health. Her hospitalizations for a variety of serious illnesses have become more and more frequent, and she seems to be running out of steam. A few days ago, I wrote to one of the family members about what I am expecting as we convene as the Chase clan in Virginia:

"My sense is that it will be a very trying time, mixed in with celebration over all of us being together - lots of laughing, crying, talking, story telling, cards, Whiffle Ball and food!"

Please keep our family in your thoughts and prayers this week as we gather together.

Have a blessed 4th of July celebration with your family and friends.


Mini-Review: "The Foreign Correspondent" by Alan Furst

My friend, Terry Cowman, has excellent tastes in literature, so when he told me a few years ago that he was surprised that I had not already become a fan of Alan Furst, I was intrigued, and eager to find out what I had been missing. So, I quickly read a couple of his novels, and was hooked! I was thrilled to learn that he has just publish a new work entitled: "The Foreign Correspondent.”

Not that Terry Cowman’s opinion needed any ratification, but I have been interested in the reaction of people when they notice me reading a Furst novel. Boston is a peculiar city in terms of literary tastes and practices. I observe more people reading in public in Boston than in most American cities – equivalent to what I have observed in London and Moscow. It is not uncommon, in my experience, to have someone on the T or in a coffee shop, look to see what work I am reading, and then either to smile knowingly, offer a “thumbs up “of approval, or make a verbal comment about the book or the author. Just yesterday at Copley Place Mall, a woman saw that I was reading Furst, stopped in her tracks and said with a grin: “He’s a great writer, isn’t he!”

The New York Times calls Furst “America’s preeminent spy novelist,” and in my view, he comfortably takes his place in the pantheon occupied by Jean Le Carre, Charles McCarry and precious few others. He transcends the genre of “spy novelist” by touching on romance, history and mystery. This novel is a celebration of the WWII literary resistance fighters – émigrés from Italy who used Paris as a base of operations to chip away at the power of Mussolini and Hitler. The action centers on the attempts by a motley crew of Italians, led by Reuter’s correspondent, Carlo Weisz, to publish an underground newspaper, Liberazione. The paper is sporadically written in Paris and smuggled to Genoa for printing and sub rosa distribution in dribs and drabs throughout Italy.

Each page evoked for me what must have been the sights, smells, sounds and survival tactics in a Paris that awaited the inevitable first volleys of WWII as the leaders of Europe danced their deadly dance of diplomacy, deception, double-dealing and duplicity.

The following passage both captures the life that Weisz led in Paris and also reflects all of the characteristics that I like and admire in Furst’s writing style:

“He shed his clothes, down to his shorts and undershirt, hunted through his jacket until he found his glasses, and sat down at the Olivetti. The opening volley sounded loud to Weisz, but he ignored it – the other tenants never seemed to mind the late-night tapping of a typewriter. Of, if they did, they never said anything about it. Typing late at night had near saintly status in the city of Paris – who knew what wondrous flights of imagination might be in progress – and people liked the idea of an inspired soul, pounding away after a midnight visit from the muse.” (Page 126)

After finishing this latest work by Furst, I am inspired to fill in the gaps of his previous offerings I have not yet read – works like “The World At Night,” “Blood of Victory,” Dark Voyage,” and “Dark Star.” Stay tuned for more reviews to come!