I respect the work that Randall Robinson has done over the years. As Founder of TransAfrica, he put enormous pressure on
In this blog, I endeavor to share thoughts about issues that I find timely and compelling - leadership, faith, business issues, recruiting trends, Renaissance Men and Women in the world, Service Academies and their graduates, helping military leaders transition to leadership roles in the business world, international travel, literature, theater, films, the arts and the once and future World Champion Boston Red Sox!
I respect the work that Randall Robinson has done over the years. As Founder of TransAfrica, he put enormous pressure on
It is always a special joy to discover a treasure heretofore unknown. Such a new found treasure is the writing of Arturo Perez-Reverte. His new novel, just being released in bookstores and on Amazon.com this week, is “The Painter of Battles.” This is writing worthy of a Nobel Prize! In this carefully crafted novel, Perez-Reverte paints a picture of a dance of death between Faulques - a painter and a retired war photographer – and Ivo Markovic - a former soldier whose life was changed forever by a photograph that Faulques had taken of him in Vukovar, Yugoslavia.
Before he dies, Faulques wants to finish painting his concept of war as a mural. He has taken over an abandoned tower as the site for the mural. Markovic arrives at the tower and announces that he plans to kill Faulques, but that they have many things to discuss before he does the deed. The action of the book centers on their verbal and philosophical duel.
Perez-Reverte is himself a former war photographer, and he has much to say about war and about art. This is a story that will captivate a wide audience. Anyone interested in photography, painting, composition, philosophy, the history of war and interpersonal relationships will find something of value in this story. Translated from the Spanish by Margaret Sayers Peden, the writing itself is a work of art. The author uses a rich palette of images and phrases to tell this gripping story. He lays out for the reader the geometry and the gore of battle; he sketches the calculus of conflict. In the midst of telling a troubling tale of suffering, death and love in the time of conflict, he examines the ethics of what it means to be an artist who is a participant-observer in mayhem.
This is rich, troubling and evocative writing that is worthy of a broad readership. Having sampled the writing of Perez-Reverte, I plan to go back and visit the full gallery of his previous works of art.
The most recent edition of “
The author of the main article in the magazine is Karen Halvorsen Schreck, whom I remember as a young girl. Karen’s father, Dr. Clayton Halversen, was Director of the Wheaton College Men’s Glee Club for 30 years. I was privileged to have sung under his direction from 1965-1970. Karen traveled with us to
I commend to you her articles on reading and on Dr. Batson, along with recommendation for reading from some of
As I write this review of Tony Dungy’s inspiring memoir, we are a few hours away from knowing whether or not Dungy’s Indianapolis Colts – defending Super Bowl Champions – will be playing the Patriots in Foxborough next Sunday for the AFC Championship. This book has spent 25 weeks on the New York Times Best Seller List. The accolades are well deserved – both for the book and for the man who shared his thoughts in collaboration with Nathan Whitaker.
I was prompted to read “Quiet Strength” by my friend, Daron Roberts. Daron, a graduate of
Even before opening the thin volume, I was well aware of Tony Dungy’s career and life. As a fan of the New England Patriots, I know of him as the head coach of our perennial rival – the Indianapolis Colts. As a frequent visitor to top
Reading this book offered me a full banquet of emotions. I smiled at some of the stories he shared, cringed at some of the difficulties that he had endured, and found myself moved to tears on several occasions as he shared openly and unashamedly some of the tragedies that he and his family had encountered. I do much of my reading on the Red Line on the T as I commute from my home in
The short answer to the question, “How did he find the strength to do that?” lies in Dungy’s belief system. His strong Christian faith is gently and deftly woven into the fabric of the narrative of this book – in much the same way that it is gently woven into the tapestry of his life. While the author makes uses of occasional scripture verses to illustrate lessons that he has learned, at no point does it feel to the reader that he is using the Bible as a cudgel. His humble sharing of his faith as a fact of life is inspiring, and not at all off-putting.
“Quiet Strength” is a very fitting title for the book, as well as an apt description of the man. Dungy is an intensely competitive man who never feels the need to yell in order to convey his intensity or his authority. He stands out as an anomaly in the bombastic and workaholic world of NFL coaching. He has always insisted on creative an atmosphere for his players and his coaching staff that seeks to hold a balance among commitment to excellence on the field, commitment to family off the field, and commitment to community at all times.
As a fan of the New England Patriots, I now find myself torn. I want the hometown team to win the Super Bowl again and finish a perfect season. But in order to do so they will probably have to defeat Dungy’s team next Sunday. It is a wonderful dilemma. I almost feel as if I cannot lose next weekend - no matter which team scores the most points. I can root for the Patriots – Brady and Belichick and company – with my heart and for Dungy and his troops with my spirit. Belichick may “out-coach” Dungy next week, but he will never “out-person” him. In the playbook of life, Dungy has figured out the X’s and O’s very well.
This is a book worth reading and a man worth emulating.
I knew this would be a book well worth reading when I saw the following blurb from my friend, Nate Fick, author of “One Bullet Away”:
“Paul Rieckhoff is a citizen in the classical sense. He went to war when his nation called, but is service didn’t end when he came home. Paul poured his hard-won wisdom into changing the public dialogue about
Nate’s eloquent summary of Paul Rieckhoff and his book hits the bull’s-eye. This is a book that added to my understanding – not only of what our troops are facing in
Rieckhoff is a gifted writer, so I will let him make the case in his own words:
“A scenario that happened more times than I can count: a sedan comes barreling towards us. Te headlights are out. The car is not slowing down. Maybe the driver can’t see the line of soldiers in the street. Maybe he doesn’t notice the headlights of two Humvees facing him. Maybe he’s extremely drunk. Maybe the car is filled with a hundred pounds of explosives. We wave our flashlights at the car. But he keeps coming. We scream, yell, and wave our arms. But he keeps coming. We fire warning shots in the air. But he keeps coming. The car is close enough now that I can see the outline of the three passengers inside the cabin. But he keeps coming. I think about the fact that last week, and Squad lit up a car and killed a little girl. The .50-cal rounds blew her head clear off her body. She was wearing a little blue dress. I saw the pictures. But the driver keeps fucking coming. Just a few weeks ago, four American soldiers were killed ten blocks away when a car leaded with explosives ran a checkpoint. One of the soldiers had five kids. Another was nineteen years old and had just gotten married. We fire rounds into the ground feet in front of the bumper. But he keeps coming. There are no alternatives left. The vehicle is close enough that I can see dents in the orange hood.
What would you do?” (Page 117)
Not all that the author shares involve tales of doom and gloom. He offers an uplifting story of his unit adopting an elementary school in a poor section of
“A little girl, half the size of the others, smiled shyly and took her time before bursting out with ‘How are you?’
‘I am great!’ I exclaimed, and laughed.
And I was. As we climbed back into the Humvees, Rydberg and I were as giddy as two kids who had just been sneaking bong hits behind the school. Talking to that class was without a doubt one of the most exhilarating experiences of my life. That was why I came to
And maybe to kill a few bad guys along the way.
A few hours later, Sergeant Mac was up high in a water tower near the school with his scope. I also mentioned the school’s situation to an SF [Special Forces] team leader who stopped by the auditorium to pick up an SUV. He had a sniper team with thermal sights looking for work. Three days and a few raids later, the shooting stopped.
For the children in Sector 17, we were the only protection. Bechtel and Halliburton were nowhere in sight. That school would become Third Platoon’s school. And nobody would mess with us . . . or them. The children in that school, and throughout
The disconnection between the President’s words and actions and the reality of life on the ground in
“One CNN.com story flabbergasted me. It was dated
Bring ‘em on? What the hell was he thinking? My soldiers and I were searching for car bombs in
In this tautly written account, the author documents dozens of instances of his unit being asked to perform with less than adequate equipment, lack of uo-to-date and accurate intelligence or proper support from those making decision in air-conditioned command centers far from the front lines. Upon returning from his deployment in
I urge you to read this book, “Chasing Ghosts,” and to visit the Website for IAVA. It is a rich repository of information about what is being done – and what still needs to be done – to support our men and women returning from
My friend, JR, gave me a wonderful New Year’s gift; he introduced me to the music of Jake Armerding. JR and I booked first class seats on the Red Line and traveled last evening to
Last night was no exception. The headliner was Jake Armerding, son of blue grass musician, Taylor Armerding. I had never heard Jake before last evening, but I have become an instant fan of his musicianship and his artistry. An English major from my
Here are some of the biographical basics of Armerding’s life and career, culled from his Website:
The Boston Globe calls “Walking on the World,” the newest release from singer-violinist Jake Armerding, "dizzying - it weaves together fiddle, mandolin, and guitar; stories about
At 14, after ten years of violin lessons, Armerding joined his father's bluegrass band, Northern Lights, on fiddle. He also turned his attention to songwriting, and by 1999 he had his first record in hand. _Caged Bird_ was an immediate hit with
In 2003, Compass released “Jake Armerding,” a collection of folk-pop songs written during a stint in
After more than 500 performances, from
Let me share a small sample of Jake’s poetic lyrics, the opening song from his 2003 allbum:
We were on schedule
and everything was going as I planned it
Then she deviated
for the life of me I could not understand it
And all this waiting for her
and trying not to bore her
It all came down to nothing in the end
She wants to fly
She's leaving me
She wants to try to get a better view
trying to get a better view of the sky
I should have noticed
on the day she ceased to ask me for the answers
She'd play the innocent
and I would try to play the great romancer
But over a maudlin conversation
I caught a v-formation in her eye
I know which way her wind blows
She broke my heart and she broke my windows
Darling can't you stand to tell me why
When Armerding sang that song as part of last evening’s set, the poignancy of the lyrics and the beauty of the blend of his voice with the instruments literally sent chills down my spine. That is more than entertainment; that is transcendence. I bought the album after the show, and fell asleep listening to its magic. I woke myself up before so I could hear some of the songs again before jumping back on the Red Line to head to work.
When you link to Jake’s Website, you can ask to be added to his mailing list. I just did. I encourage you to do the same.