Monday, May 31, 2010

All in the Family - F.J. Chase Offers "Bargain with the Devil"

When I saw that another writer named "Chase" had written an espionage novel, I had to read it. I am glad that I did. I learned that F.J. Chase is a nom de plume of a former military officer and national security commentator. If my instincts are correct, I would surmise that the author may also be a West Point graduate who did some time as a field officer for one or more of our intelligence agencies. He writes with the kind of gritty and intimate knowledge of procedures and place that can be explained only by personal experience or very thorough research.

Set largely in Africa, this story is one that explores the role that security consultant, Peter Avakian, plays in thwarting an attempted coup against the government of Benin. The complex relationships among Avakian, a Nigerian reporter, the CIA, the oil companies and a motley crew of mercenaries and arms traffickers make for a fascinating and riveting tale. I burned through the pages of this novel with great enjoyment and eager anticipation. It did not hurt my level of interest when an arms dealer by the name of Dmitry Volkov was introduced into the mix. I actually know someone in Moscow with that exact name, so I had fun envisioning my friend "Mitya" consorting with Nigerian warlords and agents provocateur.

I enjoyed Chase's writing so much that I now plan to go back and read his prior novel about Avakian, "Darkness Under Heaven."



Remember - Always!

Here are three ways to remember those who deserve to be remembered always - not just on this Memorial Day holiday.

The first reminder that I offer is a view through the eyes of 1LT Rajiv Srinivasan, who writes about a memorial service for a fallen soldier from Attack Company at FOB Ramrod in Afghanistan.

Rajiv's Blog

The second reminder is seen through my eyes as I attended the burial of Chief Warrant Officer Dennis Hay at Arlington National Cemetery.

The Resting Place of the Dead

The third reminder, again seen through my eyes, was the moving experience of family and friends sharing memories of 1st LT Rob "Sly" Seidel at the wedding of Socrates and Emily Rosenfeld.

In Memory of Robert "Sly" Seidel

I am not sure how you and your loved ones and friends are spending your time on this holiday Monday. If you are reading this Blog, then you have an opportunity to pause and remember and offer prayers for those who gave their all - and for the families and comrades who live with the consequences of those sacrifices.

The image at the top of this article is of a very moving scene that I saw yesterday on Boston Common. Over 20,000 flags have been placed in memory of the men and women from Massachusetts who have died in service to our nation. If you are in Boston today, stop by to pay your respects.

Remember - always.

God bless.


Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Point - Counterpoint Regarding the Efficacy of Our Service Academies: Fleming vs. Srinivasan

In a recent New York Times Op-Ed Piece, Bruce Fleming accuses the nation's service academies of marching towards mediocrity

Fleming Piece

Writing from his deployment in Afghanistan, 1st LT Rajiv Srinivasan, a West Point graduate, takes issue with Fleming's premise and arguments.

Srinivasan Blog Rebuttal

The two pieces have sparked an interesting debate. I suggest you read both pieces and add your perspective to the ongoing dialogue.

Make note of the fact that in the comments at the end of Rajiv's piece, Fleming himself responds.


Monday, May 24, 2010

"Johnny Baseball" at the American Repertory Theater - A Heads-Up About A Work-In-Progress

There is a world premiere being staged at the American Repertory Theater in Cambridge of a new musical - "Johnny Baseball." If ever there were a perfect conjunction of two important parts of my world, this musical represents that ideal intersection of my love for the Red Sox and for musical theater.

This Blog piece is not a formal review of the show, which is still in previews and still being "tweaked" prior to the formal opening on June 2. I will write a more formal review after I have seen the show again the evening of June 3. But I want to give readers of The White Rhino Report an advance look at this wonderful new work.

Here is how the A.R.T. website describes the show's concept:

"It traces the origin of the Curse to a collision of three orphaned souls: Johnny O’Brien, a hard-luck right-hander on the 1919 Sox; his idol, Babe Ruth; and Daisy Wyatt, a dazzling African-American blues singer and the love of Johnny’s life. These three lives contain both the reason for the Curse and the secret to its end off the bat of Big Papi in 2004. Johnny Baseball packs a thoughtful commentary on American social history into a fun and spirited musical that will bring cheers and tears to baseball fans everywhere."

I saw the show on Saturday with two friends who share my love for theater, music and baseball. They were just as enchanted and thrilled by this new musical as was I. The casting of the show is perfect. Burke Moses looks just like a young Babe Ruth, and when he runs around the bases, he channels the Babe's mincing steps with uncanny precision. Colin Donnell, as Johnny "Baseball" O'Brien is an Irish Tenor who could have walked right out of central casting or off the sands of the L Street Beach in South Boston. Stephanie Umoh as Daisy Wyatt is a delight - iridescent in beauty and incandescent in talent. This show is at its core an ensemble piece, with fans in the stands functioning as a Greek Chorus with the most pitch-perfect Boston accents ever to grace a stage.

The structure of the show and the action toggles back and forth between the Red Sox of 1919 and Game 4 of the American League Championship Series of 2004 between the Red Sox and the Yankees. Without giving away too much of the plot, I will share that the writers have taken a bold and very insightful approach to handling the mythology of "The Curse." There is a curse - quite literally as portrayed on this staged - but it is not the traditional "Curse of the Bambino." The curse, as dramatized in "Johnny Baseball" is portrayed as the twin banes of mismanagement by Red Sox ownership over several decades and the persistent racism by the last team to hire a black player in 1959 - 12 years after Jackie Robinson had broken baseball's color line.

The play will run through the month of June in Cambridge. Stay tuned to this space for more discussion about the show, but do not wait for the formal review to secure your tickets. This show should not be missed.

I have talked with several former Red Sox players about this show, and they plan to attend. So, when you come to the theater, look around you for some familiar faces. At Saturday's performance, there was an older gentleman in the audience (he appeared ever older than The White Rhino!) in full Red Sox uniform. In the Q&A session with the writer, composer and director that followed the performance, they expressed delight that audience members had chosen to come to the theater dressed as they might be for a trip to Fenway Park.

I encourage you to visit the A.R.T. website for more information about the show and its development.

A.R.T. "Johnny Baseball" link

Enjoy. I hope to see you there.


Friday, May 21, 2010

Hoosiers on the Hudson - The Inspiring Story of Army Lacrosse

I learned a few days ago in a Facebook message from Lt. Sean Snook in Afghanistan that the West Point lacrosse team had pulled off a stunning upset of two-time defending champion Syracuse.

The New York Times, in a wonderful article by Peter Applebome, tells the story and puts it in the context of this week's graduation and commissioning as officers of many of the Army athletes.

NY Times article


Go Army - Beat Cornell!


Sebastian Junger's "War" - a "Must Read" About the Real Struggle in Afghanistan

Sebastian Junger, best known as the author of "The Perfect Storm," has written once of the best books on war penned by a non-combatant that I have ever read. Based on a fifteen month-long engagement with a unit in Afghanistan, spread among five different trips to that mountainous country, Junger unflinchingly tells about the men of Battle Company in whose unit he was embedded. He recounts their doubts, fears, frustrations, successes, failures and losses. He does not hesitate to turn his unblinking reporter's eye on himself - describing in detail his own responses to stress, deprivation and fear.

Over the past year, I have had more opportunities than most civilians to begin to develop a mental picture of what conditions must be like in Afghanistan - for our troops and for those who call that country home. Lt. Rajiv Srinivasan - in his Blogs, e-mails and face-to-face conversations - has given me part of the story. Lt. Sean Snook - through his videos, e-mails and conversations - has given me a slightly different perspective. And now, with this story told so clearly by Junger, I am better able to triangulate these multiple images and develop more of a three-dimensional appreciation of what conditions are like in that alien and remote world.

Battle Company spent their deployment from June 2007 until June 2008 in the Korengal Valley in the eastern portion of Afghanistan, close to the border with Pakistan. The unit with which Junger was embedded experienced more combat than any other unit since the Vietnam War.

The structure of the book is divided, appropriately enough, into three sections labeled "Fear," "Killing" and "Love." I am tempted to quote extensively from the book, but I will limit myself to only a handful of excerpts. The quotations I have selected are a representative sampling of the lives that the men of Battle Company lived, their very human reactions to the horrors and the boredom of war and Junger's own interpretations of what he observed and felt during his times of living with Battle Company.

In this first excerpt, Specialist Sal Giunta had just exhibited extraordinary bravery in saving the lives of several of his colleagues in the midst of an intense firefight:

"The Army has a certain interest in understanding what was going through Giunta's mind during all this, because whatever was going through his mind helped save the entire unit from getting killed. A year or so later, several squads of American soldiers conducted an identical L-shaped ambush at night on the Abas Ghar and wiped out a column of Taliban fighters - nearly twenty men. The reason First Platoon did not get wiped out had nothing to do with the Apaches flying overhead or the 155s at Blessing; it was because the men reacted not as individuals but as a unit. Stripped to its essence, combat is a series of quick decisions and rather precise actions carried out in concert with ten or twelve other men. In that sense, it's much more like football than say, like a gang fight. The unit that choreographs their actions best usually wins. They might take casualties, but they win. That choreography - you lay down fire while I run forward, then I cover you while you move your team up - is so powerful that it can overcome enormous tactical deficits. There is choreography for storming Omaha Beach, for taking out a pillbox bunker, and for surviving an L-shaped ambush at night on the Gatigal. The choreography always requires that each man make decisions based not on what's best for him, but on what's best for the group. If everyone does that, most of the group survives. If no one does, most of the group dies. That, in essence, is combat." (Page 120)

Junger does a very effective job of showing and helping the reader to feel the psychological impact of the enemy adding the capability of planting IED's in the roads that the unit needed to use in patrolling this remote corner of Afghanistan:

"The enemy now had a weapon that unnerved the Americans more than small-arms fire ever could: random luck. Every time you drove down the road you were engaged in a twisted existential exercise where each moment was the only proof you'd ever have that you hadn't been blown up the moment before. And if you were blown up, you'd probably never know it and certainly wouldn't be able to affect the outcome. Good soldiers died just as easily as sloppy ones, which is pretty much how soldiers define unfair tactics in war. Halfway through the deployment, Battle Company took over Destiny's trucks and ran mounted patrols out of the KOP in support of their own men. It was a sensible way to do it, but it put men who were used to foot patrols into cramped steel boxes where there wasn't much to do during firefights except scream at the turret gunner and pray. The trucks reduced war to a kind of grim dice game that was impossible to learn from or get good at; you just had to hope your luck lasted until it was time to go home." (Page 142)

Following the bombing of one of the unit's Humvee's by a buried IED, Junger engages in some philosophical musing about the nature of combat and his reactions to it:

"I've been on some kind of a high-amplitude ride all day since the bomb went off, peaks where I can't sit still and valleys that make me want to catch the next resupply out of here. Not because I'm scared but because I'm used to war being exciting and suddenly it's not. Suddenly it seems weak and sad, a collective moral failure that has tricked me - tricked us all - into falling for the sheer drama of it. Young men in their terrible new roles with their terrible new machinery arrayed against equally strong young men on the other side of the valley, all dedicated to a kind of canceling out of each other until replacements arrive. Then it starts all over again. There's so much human energy involved - so much courage, so much honor, so much blood - you could easily go a year without questioning whether any of this needs to be happening in the first place. Nothing could convince this many people to work this hard at something that wasn't necessary - right? - you'd catch yourself thinking. That night I rewind the videotape of the explosion and try to watch it. My pulse gets so weird in the moments before we get hit that I almost have to look away. I can't stop thinking about the ten feet or so that put that bomb beneath the engine block rather than beneath us. That night I have a dream. I'm watching a titanic battle between my older brother and the monsters of the underworld, and my brother is killing one after another with a huge shotgun. The monsters are cartoonlike and murderous and it doesn't matter how many he kills because there's an endless supply of them. Eventually he'll just run out of ammo, I realize. Eventually the monsters will win."
(Pages 146-7)

O'Byrne, one of the men in the unit, begins to consider whether he should re-enlist when his present tour or duty has run its course. Most warriors face that dilemma somewhere along the way in their careers, and it is often a gut-wrenching decision.

"'Combat is such an adrenaline rush,' he says. 'I'm worried I'll be looking for that when I get home and if I can't find it, I'll just start drinking and getting into trouble. People back home think we drink because of the bad stuff, but that's not true . . . we drink because we miss the good stuff.'

O'Byrne is also worried about being alone. He hasn't been out of earshot of his platoonmates for two years and has no idea how he'll react to solitude. He's never had to get a job, find an apartment, or arrange a doctor's appointment because the Army has always done those things for him. All he's had to do is fight. And he's good at it, so leading a patrol up [Hill] 1705 causes him less anxiety than, say, moving to Boston and finding an apartment and a job. He has little capacity for what civilians refer to as 'life skills'; for him, life skills literally keep you alive. Those are far simpler and more compelling than the skills required at home. 'In the Korengal, almost every problem could get settled by getting violent faster than the other guy,' O'Byrne told me. 'Do that at home and it's not going to go so well.'" (Pages 232-3)

Almost every book that I have read in the past five years that treats the topic of combat and the dynamics of war has included the conclusion that the unique pressure of warfare forges bonds of love among the combatants that are life-long and inimitable. Junger's book is no exception. He devotes the entire last third of his memoir to this topic.

"Combat fog obscures your fate - obscures when and where you might die - and from that unknown is born a desperate bond between the men. That bond is the core experience of combat and the only thing you can absolutely count on. The Army might screw you and your girl-friend might dump you and the enemy might kill you, but the shared commitment to safeguard one another's lives is unnegotiable and only deepens with time. The willingness to die for another person is a form of love that even religions fail to inspire, and the experience of it changes a person profoundly. What the Army sociologists, with their clipboards and their questions and their endless meta-analyses, slowly came to understand was that courage was love. In war, neither could exist without the other, and that in a sense they were just different ways of saying the same thing." (Page 239)

This book makes an important contribution and addition to the mounting stack of chronicles that thoughtfully examine the human cost of combat on the combatants themselves. For those of us who care about the health and well-being of America's sons and daughters who put themselves in harms way in Afghanistan and Iraq, this is a "must read." The men of Battle Company are a microcosm of the young soldiers, Marines, sailors and airmen who choose to face down the beast of danger and combat. The better we understand what they are facing, the better we will be able to support them with our prayers and correspondence while they are deployed, and with our love and gratitude when they return.


Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Military Officers Who Succeed in the Business World - Profile of Bob Goodman

Most readers of the White Rhino Report are aware that as an executive recruiter and an executive coach, one of my areas of specialization is senior executives who have honed their leadership skills in the military. I have come to realize that in this age in which only a small minority of Americans have direct connection to the military, many stereotypes persist about men and women who have served in the military. These stereotypes can hamper them as they transition to life in the civilian world. It has happened to me so often that it has become a cliche when an HR professional or a company's hiring manger will look at the resume of someone who served with distinction in the military and will then say to me something like: "You'd better explain to your candidate that here in the real world he can't just say 'Jump!' and expect people to obey."

This outmoded image of the rigid, militaristic, command-and-control automaton still persists in the minds of many civilians - even though the most effective military leaders today can only succeed by being collegial and by using persuasion and diplomacy in motivating their troops and in winning hearts and minds of the residents in places where they are deployed. I have come to realize that it is my responsibility to help to eradicate those stereotypes. One of the ways to do so is to present as many stories as possible of men and women who have made successful transitions to leadership in the business world. I am pleased to offer one such story today. Meet my friend, Bob Goodman. Bob graduated from West Point, served in the U.S. Army and retired from the Army as a Major. He has had a successful career in the private sector in consulting and project management.

I asked Bob to tell me a few stories of the ways in which he has been able to apply the leadership lessons he learned in the military to his roles in the business world. Here in Bob's words are some of those stories:

The case studies that follow describe in some detail how I have added significant value to initiatives with my unique blend of problem-solving skills, innovation, leadership, team-building, and hands-on operations improvement experience.

Case Study #1

Problem: Honeywell was experiencing an issue-plagued track and trace system that had been designed and installed to combat counterfeiting, illegal importation, and diversion of its automotive products.

Approach: My role at Honeywell was technical project lead. First, to understand the process and clearly identify the problems, an assessment of the situation was performed. I investigated the solution from end-to-end by walking the production line and distribution center and talking to systems, manufacturing, marketing stakeholders, as well as reviewing available data. One of the key areas discovered was the lack of an integrated view of the system across the various nodes. I then assembled a cross-functional team consisting of software suppliers, hardware suppliers, manufacturing plant electrical and process engineers, IT, supply chain, product marketing leaders from Honeywell. We established a performance baseline of data integrity at only 20%. Using key Six Sigma tools that included a Failure Mode Effects Analysis (FMEA), I lead the team to attack root causes of failure. Integral to this process was a focus on people. I personally communicated the value and purpose of the tracking system and why each associates’ role was important to its success. And most importantly, I sincerely listened to and acted on the shop floor associate voice of the customer (VOC). In just over 60 days, failure modes were remediated and the system became stabilized, reaching over 90% data integrity. We then designed and deployed a successful end-to-end system test, and placed the system back into production.

Result: An over three-fold increase in data integrity and the identification of $1.55 million in lost revenue. Unethical customer business practices of diverting product that were uncovered lead to legal and administrative actions by Honeywell.

Case Study #2

Problem: The US Army and Marines in Iraq and Afghanistan had the need for a durable, energy efficient material to insulate temporary structures and to provide increased force protection. Honeywell owned a spray foam technology that had not yet been productized or focused on the Department of Defense market.

Approach: My role at Honeywell Specialty Materials was project lead. During a visit to Fort Belvoir, I observed a large Army tent that had been insulated to provide some relief from harsh desert environmental conditions. I returned to Honeywell and investigated what insulating capabilities existed in-house, and learned of a Honeywell patented durable spray foam technology. I assembled a cross-functional team of business development, marketing and distribution leaders to determine how Honeywell could leverage this technology. I lead the team in developing several innovative spray foam use cases (problem statements, use descriptions, environmental / mechanical specs, and deployment requirements) for climate control, insulation of supplies, improving fighting positions, and counter-IED support. This lead to the design and demonstration of prototyped insulation of temporary structures and counter-IED tactics techniques and procedures.

Result: Honeywell commercialized the spray foam technology as TERRAStrong® and delivered on contracts to Department of Defense for over $66 million of business. This initiative was recognized for its innovation as the recipient of the 2007 Honeywell Chairman’s Award. Our fighting forces have a more energy efficient and safer environment with the deployment of TERRAStrong®.

Case Study #3

Problem: A large global computer chip manufacturer was experiencing counterfeiting of one of its key processor components with an estimated annual revenue loss of $30M as well as potential consumer confidence issues due to faulty counterfeit Ethernet chips.

Approach: My role at while at GenuOne, Inc. was lead project engineer and project manager to its key customer. I deployed to Malaysia to investigate the counterfeiting problem. I assessed key areas of supply chain vulnerability to counterfeiting activity at the customer’s contract manufacturer and in its own Malaysian distribution center. Upon return to the US, I developed and presented a conceptual design of an anti-counterfeiting solution focused securing the existing chip bar code label with covert ink. Upon approval to move forward by the customer, I defined solution technical specifications and formed a partnership with a label manufacturer and with a covert material supplier. Working with manufacturing operations, the solution components were added to the bill of material and were placed into production within 90 days of the trip to Malaysia.

Results: Over 1 million security labels have since been sold annually. An effective business partnership is currently in-place with the label manufacturer. There is an undisclosed amount of savings in reduction of counterfeit activity directed at the customer.

Case Study #4

Problem: Aventis Pharmaceuticals wanted to understand what RFID could mean to their business and to conduct a detailed business case for RFID deployment.

Approach: My role at while at GenuOne, Inc. was RFID Assessment project manager for its customer Aventis. I designed a 10-step business case process which became the project road map. I assembled a team from the client consisting of IT, finance, distribution, manufacturing, security, trade, and marketing global leaders along with key technical advisors from GenuOne. I initiated weekly team and sub-team meetings and status reporting that enabled the client leadership to have visibility of progress and an ability to be proactive on issues and risks. I leveraged a proven process for Alignment of RFID Drivers, Strategies, and Enablers with the client to gain consensus on potential RFID use. I lead the cross-functional team in quantifying the expected process improvements and in identifying the economic benefits for the expected process improvements. On the cost side, I lead the team in develop the hardware, software, implementation, integration, training, and support investments required. The business case was presented to executive management.

Results: Aventis received a quantifiable business case that included several “what-if” scenarios for deployment. The global project team received education / awareness of RFID. The footprint of a global cross-functional deployment team was established. Note: This business case formed the basis of the RFID for Dummies Business Case chapter that I authored for Wiley Publications.

* * * * * * * *

Bob Goodman is a great example of the kind of innovative leaders that are coming out of today's military. HE lives in the Boston area, and is now available for consulting work or a full-time opportunity that would utilize the skills he enumerated in the stories above. He can be contacted through me at:


"Validation" - An Amazing and Uplifting Short Film

My friend, John Griffith, just posted a link on his Facebook page to this amazing short film, "Validation."

"Validation" is a fable about the magic of free parking. Starring TJ Thyne & Vicki Davis. Writer/Director/Composer - Kurt Kuenne. Winner - Best Narrative Short, Cleveland Int'l Film Festival, Winner - Jury Award, Gen Art Chicago Film Festival, Winner - Audience Award, Hawaii Int'l Film Festival, Winner - Best Short Comedy, Breckenridge Festival of Film, Winner - Crystal Heart Award, Best Short Film & Audience Award, Heartland Film Festival, Winner - Christopher & Dana Reeve Audience Award, Williamstown Film Festival, Winner - Best Comedy, Dam Short Film Festival, Winner - Best Short Film, Sedona Int'l Film Festival.

I guarantee that if you take 15 minutes to watch this film, it will impact the rest of your day.

YouTube Link to "Validation"

John Griffith, you are awesome and amazing! Thanks.


Monday, May 17, 2010

Talent Search: Experienced Warehouse Manager Needed in Eastern North Carolina

Experienced Warehouse Manager Needed

My client is a fast growing and successful wholesale distribution company that is seeking a warehouse manager in eastern North Carolina, in the Tidewater area near Greenville.

Military warehousing experience will be considered a plus.

If you know of interested and qualified candidates, have them contact me at:



Saturday, May 15, 2010

Faith and Prosperity Nexus - Andreas Widmer's Blog

I am pleased to make readers of The White Rhino Report aware of a wonderful Blog offered by my good friend, Andreas Widmer.

" provides commentary on enterprise solutions to poverty that are faith-based and faith-inspired. This blog explores topics that touch on the intersection of entrepreneurship and faith.

I invite you to share with me FEBSP projects and your thoughts on the matter so this can become an interactive space. Although my blog is non-denominational and I am searching for examples of enterprise solutions to poverty from all religious traditions, keep in mind that my own perspective is from within the Catholic faith.

About Andreas Widmer

Andreas Widmer is the co-founder of the SEVEN Fund, a non-profit run by entrepreneurs whose strategy is to markedly increase the rate of innovation and diffusion of enterprise-based solutions to poverty

Widmer is a seasoned business executive in high-tech and, more recently, in international business strategy consulting and economic development. He was an executive in residence at Highland Capital Partners, a venture capital firm. Prior to that, he helped lead OTF Group (formerly part of the Monitor Group), Eprise Corporation, Dragon Systems and FTP Software. Widmer has worked extensively in the United States, Europe, Asia, Africa and Latin Americas, and has brought more than 100 leading-edge technology products to market.

During his career, Widmer has participated in the early stage of several successful startup companies. His current projects include advising high technology and medical device startup companies on strategy, venture capital and angel fund-raising efforts.

Widmer is an author who recently contributed two chapters to the book In the River They Swim: Essays from Around the World on Enterprise Solutions to Poverty. He regularly writes on issues of entrepreneurship, economic development and spirituality. Widmer has authored articles and been featured in various business and general interest media including the Financial Times, Bloomberg News, Sky TV, Kigali Times, FastCompany, and Catholic Digest. He is frequently interviewed or featured in media outlets such as Catholic TV, Ave Maria Radio, National Catholic Register, Legatus Magazine, Christian Family Today, The Boston Pilot, EWTN, and others.

Widmer served as a Pontifical Swiss Guard from 1986-1988, protecting Pope John Paul II. He has lectured widely on the lessons he learned from his personal experiences with JPII and from his own in-depth reading and study of the pope’s large body of writings. He holds two business degrees from Switzerland, a B.S in International Business from Merrimack College and an MA in Ministry from St. John’s Seminary in Boston. As a result of his studies and work experience, Widmer is multilingual, speaking English, German, Italian and French.

Widmer serves on a number of international and local charitable boards. In his spare time, Widmer loves to spend time with his family and enjoys fly-fishing, skiing, and reading.

Revisiting a Classic - Review of "The Tears of Autumn" by Charles McCarry

Last week when I was in Seattle, I was introduced to a new friend, James Nolan, father of Elliott Nolan. He and his wife graciously hosted me on two occasions at their home on Mercer Island. During the many hours of fascinating conversation, we spent some time talking about favorite books and favorite authors. James lent me his treasured and well-worn copy of Charles McCarry's classic espionage novel, "The Tears of Autumn." James raved about the quality of McCarry's writing, and I would have to agree that this is almost a perfect book. The plot line is taut and crisp, shocking and plausible. The author convincingly ties together the assassination of Vietnam's President Diem and that of JFK a few weeks later.

The action of the novel ricochets among Saigon, Paris, Rome, Zurich, the Congo and D.C. Career spy Paul Christopher resigns and goes out on his own to discover why Kennedy was killed. His shocking discoveries cause seismic upheaval at the highest levels of several governments.

The quality of the writing is superb, akin to the best of LeCarre, Ludlum and Furst. He are a couple of brief excerpts to whet your appetite:

"They were in front of a bar, and Patchen started toward its door. 'Let's stop outside a minute,' Christopher said. 'You know what's involved here, David. If these politicians never know what happened, they'll do it again.'

'Yes, they will.'

'You don't think that's worth preventing?'

'I don't think it's possible to prevent it, Paul. You have a flaw - you think the truth will make men free. But it only makes them angry. They believe what suits them, they do what they want to do, just like the slobs we're going to find lined up at the bar in there. Human beings are a defective species, my friend. Accept it.'" (Pages 73-74)

* * * * * * * * *

"Christopher slept on the train, protected by three nuns and a schoolboy who shared his compartment. In Bologna he leaned from a window and bought a sandwich and a bottle of beer from a platform vendor. One of the nuns peeled an orange and handed it to him, with the skin arranged around the fruit like the pointed leaves of a lily. She was young, with a sensual face from which prayer had scrubbed all traces of desire. However, the pretty orange, handed across the compartment as if she were feeding a horse and was wary of its teeth, was as much a gift of flirtation as of charity." (Page 199)

This is a book, although its action is embedded in the events of 1963, that is timeless in its insights into the nature of human beings and their governments.

For a first time reader, this novel will be a treat. For those who already know the work of McCarry, I invite you to
take another bite of the orange.



Tuesday, May 11, 2010

My Friend, Daron Roberts - ESPN Article: "Six Easy Steps to Being An NFL Coach"

I first met Daron Roberts a little over five years ago as I was heading to Phoenix to attend the wedding of a friend, a West Point grad. To be more precise, Daron and I met as we prepared to board a flight to Dallas. I was heading to a connecting flight and Daron was bound for a Friday Night Lights high school football game to watch his nephew play. In the gate area prior to boarding the American Airlines flight to DFW, I had noticed a well-dressed and very focused young man carrying a briefcase in one hand and a huge tome in the other. As he sat down across from me in the waiting area, I caught his eye, leaned forward and said: "Let me guess; Harvard Law School." The astonished Mr. Roberts replied: "Do I know you, sir?" Our brief conversation prior to boarding the flight was so interesting to both of us that we asked to be seated together on the three-hour flight to Texas. Thus began a wonderful and unusual friendship.

The West Point connection continues. As you will see when you read the wonderful ESPN Magazine article below, Daron is now a coach in the NFL with the Detroit Lions. In a few weeks, he and I will meet in New York so that I can introduce him - and by extension, the Detroit Lions organization - to the pioneering work being done by West Point's Center for Enhanced Performance under the direction of Dr. Nate Zinsser.

Enjoy the story, written with great insight by Vivian Chum, of how Daron Roberts has made the pilgrimage from Harvard Law School to the NFL.

Thursday, May 6, 2010
Updated: May 8, 1:48 PM ET
Six easy steps to being an NFL coach

This man has a degree from Harvard Law School -- and now coaches for the Detroit Lions.

This article appears in the May 17 issue of ESPN The Magazine.

On the eve of the 2010 NFL draft, Daron Roberts bows his head in prayer inside his small Detroit home. As the assistant secondary coach for the Lions, a team whose defensive backs have struggled mightily over the past few seasons, he spends a lot of time beseeching God. Kneeling on the floor in his all-black Detroit Lions sweats, in his pristine but sparsely furnished living room, the 31-year-old Roberts has the look of a hyperorganized preacher -- fitting for the son of an East Texas Baptist minister and a retired elementary school principal. "Lord," he says, almost joyfully, "I pray our draft picks are as committed as we are to reviving the Detroit Lions."

Roberts' optimism, even about the Lions, should come as little surprise. His MO is to target seemingly impossible goals, then reach them in nothing flat. Less than four years ago, in 2006, Roberts decided he wanted to become a pro football coach. It was an unremarkable choice, to be sure, in all ways but one: At the time, he was a clerk at a large law firm, rounding the corner on a Harvard law degree, and he had no NFL connections or any kind of football résumé, except for the fact that he played in high school. (He earned his undergraduate degree in liberal arts and government at Texas before getting a master's in public policy at the Harvard Kennedy School.)

Roberts got the bug when he tagged along with a friend who was working as a counselor at Steve Spurrier's prep camp in South Carolina. He had long been a gridiron fanatic; in high school, he spent twice as many hours at football practice as he did studying. But working at Spurrier's camp, he began to entertain thoughts of becoming the next Jon Gruden (whose book, Do You Love Football?!, was a big hit with Roberts). Something inside the law student changed during those three days. "The best part was sitting with the campers at night," Roberts says. "Our talks would switch from zone technique to girlfriends. That's when I realized football is the most powerful conduit for reaching young men in America, and that I had to be a coach."

And that's when he resolved to trade one grueling career track for another. Instead of grinding away to make partner at a big firm, he would start from scratch with the clipboard brigade. "He is still young," says Lions head coach Jim Schwartz. "But he has the intelligence, talent and work ethic to make it to the top of anything that he tries."

Here's how Roberts went from aspiring lawyer to NFL assistant in little more than a year.

Step 1: Work For Free, Go For Broke

Roberts sent letters to every NFL team and 50 colleges in the hopes of landing an unpaid summer coaching internship after he finished law school in May 2007. "I thought I'd give the top teams the opportunity to tell me no," he says. And that's exactly what they all did -- with one notable exception.

Like most organizations, the Kansas City Chiefs received a truckload's worth of applications for their internship program. But Roberts' entry, and his utter lack of football experience, caught the eye of Herm Edwards, then the head coach. Edwards offered Roberts one of two internships available. "He was a guy who had the opportunity to advance his professional career in law," Edwards says, "and he was willing to go backward in football. That says passion to me."

Typically, NFL interns start right before training camp begins in July and slog through until it ends in August. By the time the preseason gets going, they have two options: beg to stay on with the team as an unpaid volunteer or head home. On the last day of training camp, Roberts worked up the courage to tell Edwards he was willing to do whatever it took to stick around. "He stood in front of me with all that schooling, saying he wanted to be a football coach," Edwards says. "I thought, Either there's something wrong with him, or he really does want to coach."

Edwards allowed him to stay, on the condition that he gain coaching experience by working with a local high school team at the same time. But the go-ahead from Edwards wasn't enough. Even though Roberts had walked away from a law career to handle menial tasks like stocking the team kitchen and ordering food for the players (never underestimate how much a 300-pound lineman loves his Cap'n Crunch), he still had to prove his intentions to the KC brass, who wouldn't let him travel with the team. When the Chiefs headed to Houston for their first game, Roberts flew on his own dime, then rented a car, met the team at its downtown hotel, attended Saturday night meetings and drove 15 miles to the cheapest motel he could find. (He had some savings from his summer jobs in law school and was also teaching two online courses, in government and economics, for Northeast Texas Community College. Even so, many of his meals consisted of peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches finagled from the team kitchen at Arrowhead Stadium.) On game day, Roberts helped out on the sideline, then hopped a flight back to Kansas City. His bosses took notice. "For every game after that," Roberts says, "I flew with the team."

Step 2: Keep Your Resume To Yourself

As a student at Mount Pleasant (Texas) High School, the 5'10" Roberts worked tirelessly to bulk up from 145 to 165 pounds and made first-team all-district as a strong safety his senior year. "He was a little bitty kid," says Randy McFarlin, one of Roberts' prep coaches. "By all accounts, he shouldn't have even been out on the field."

In Kansas City, Roberts rarely talked about his background. "I had some insecurities about having not played or coached before," he says. "That was a glaring omission on my résumé." Players who took the time to ask about his personal life usually ended up focusing on one thing: "Everybody was always surprised about his law background," says Chiefs linebacker Derrick Johnson. "They'd say, 'Are you serious? How'd you get into this?'"

Step 3: Find The Biggest Skeptic -- And Make Him Your Mentor

Ultimately, Roberts' biggest hurdle wasn't winning over the players; it was convincing other coaches he could handle a gig in the pros. After Edwards took him on as a volunteer for the secondary coaches, Roberts knew he had to get veteran defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham on his side. "I don't believe there's any coach in the league who knows more about defensive strategy than Gun," Roberts says. "It was a no-brainer." But admitting his lack of experience to Cunningham, who had spent 39 years as a coach at the college and pro levels, was almost a nonstarter. "I told him to get the bleep out of my office," says Cunningham, who didn't even know Roberts' name until that point. "I said, 'Daron, I have enough problems without getting myself into deeper trouble by hiring you to coach and ruining your life.' "

Roberts prowls Jim Schwartz's sideline in Detroit.

Roberts was undeterred (shocker). "It was the best welcome to the league I could ever receive," he says. In a business that attracts overachievers, winning over a notorious workaholic would prove tough, so Roberts vowed to himself that he would always beat Cunningham to the office and never leave before the coach went home. And since Cunningham arrived at work around 5 a.m., that meant Roberts had to be at the stadium with coffee brewing and the copy machine warmed up by 4:30. "I was always afraid that my alarm clock wouldn't go off, and I'd get there at 6 instead of 4:30," Roberts says. "So I just lived at the stadium." That first season, he spent most nights sleeping on an inflatable twin-size mattress in a closet. Once again, his bosses took notice. On Jan. 14, 2008, the Chiefs offered Roberts a full-time job as a defensive quality control assistant responsible for breaking down game tape and drawing up playbooks. And when Cunningham left the Chiefs to become defensive coordinator for the Lions last season, he took Roberts with him. "When we hired him in KC, I thought he was crazy," Cunningham says. "But Daron knew my idiosyncrasies and still wanted to work with me. That made a big impact on me."

Step 4: Fake It Until You Make It

As a volunteer with the Chiefs, Roberts was tasked with clocking the hang times of opponents' kicks during pregame warmups. KC's special-teams coach would then use those times, factoring in wind direction, to determine the return lineup for the day. "I thought I was performing a covert operation," Roberts says. "I would have my timer hidden inside my coat pocket, and I would record on a little sheet what the time was."

One day, as Roberts was busy making top-secret notes on the Raiders' hang times, an Oakland special-teams assistant walked over to him. "He said, 'I don't know why you're trying to hide what you're doing, because everybody does it,' " Roberts recalls with a laugh. "I was like, 'Oh, okay.' "

Of course, most lessons in coaching don't come so easily. In Kansas City, Roberts also charted opponents' special-teams units. (It's standard practice for a staff to break down film of the next opponent's previous four games.) But as the budding young assistant soon found out, trying to read jersey numbers while players are running all over the screen can quickly make you cross-eyed. "I would stay up all night watching the same play over and over, trying to figure out if the guy I was looking at was No. 21 or 31," he says. "It's insane, but you can't be wrong about that stuff."

Then Roberts remembered how he learned about the game when he was a regular Joe sports fan without a potential job on the line: by reading the play-by-plays released on the NFL's website. He also discovered that the angles shot for television could sometimes be more useful than the footage filmed by the league. "Many coaches come from backgrounds in which they have been trained in all those techniques and shortcuts," Roberts says. "I had to figure everything out on my own."

Step 5: Embrace Your Inner Nerd

Football is a geek's game. "I've always believed that football players are a lot smarter than the general public gives them credit for," Roberts says with a slight edge to his voice. "The game of football is complex, and when I talk to players, I'm talking to experts."

In truth, Roberts' approach to football is a lot like that of a law student preparing for finals. When Detroit's defensive coaches meet, Roberts usually sits to the right of his guru, Cunningham, constantly drawing plays on unlined sheets of notebook paper with a black Pilot Precise V5 pen. He twists and turns in his leather chair, sometimes sitting up straight, other times slouching, always running his hand over his head in deep thought.

Gunther Cunningham, seen here with Roberts in KC, has been a mentor in this switch.

Alfonso Longoria, Roberts' best friend from childhood and a former high school coach in Texas, remembers the way Roberts drilled him during their time at Spurrier's camp.

At one point, after hours of going over plays together in a film room, Longoria handed Roberts off to Dave Wommack, then a member of Spurrier's staff (and most recently the defensive coordinator at Georgia Tech, where he was fired in January). Wommack responded to Roberts' enthusiasm by drawing up plays on a chalkboard and delving into the minutiae of the game. "Some of the schematics were too high-level for where Daron was at," Longoria says. "But in his eagerness to learn, he asked questions anyway."

Edwards praises Roberts for being "a stickler for detail." With the Chiefs, the young assistant carefully recorded observations from his day in order to decipher patterns that might affect player performances. "The same story lines come up," Roberts says. "Someone gets hurt. Someone else's mother passes away in the middle of the season. The important thing is to have a record of all of my impressions when things happen."

And, yes, he takes his share of ribbing. "We tease him daily," says Lions safety Louis Delmas. "We'll be in meetings, and every time we ask a question, we look back at him like we know he has the answer. No matter what type of question, he always has an answer. He's just that smart."

Step 6: Crack A Book, Or Two -- Or 100

Roberts insists he never read a book to teach himself how to coach. But when he wasn't poring over cases in law school, he read the football canon -- everything from Vince Lombardi biographies to books on the development of the pro game. "It was more of a history lesson than a self-help project," Roberts says. "I wanted to learn the challenges I'd face as a coach."

On the morning of the draft, his day begins well before dawn, just as it has since he started his new career. His wife, Hilary, pregnant with a son due in August, is still living in Kansas City with all their furniture. (The couple met in late 2008; she's a teacher and will finish out the school year before moving.) Three years after he started doing grunt work as a volunteer, Roberts wakes up alone every morning on an air mattress and still gets to the office early. "The race is not given to the swift or the strong but to he who endures to the end," Roberts says, quoting Scripture. He insists that the words are as much about Detroit's destiny as his own.

That's good news for Lions fans, because once Roberts sets his mind to something, it's as good as done.

Vivian Chum is an occasional contributor to ESPN The Magazine.

Monday, May 10, 2010

A New Level of Respect for The Air Force's Medivac and Airlift Capabilities - My Flight Aboard a C-17

Thursday was a remarkable day for me and several dozen others who were scheduled to participate in the "Hire America's Heroes" Symposium that I wrote about in an earlier Blog posting. We started the day at Joint Base Lewis-McChord as guests of the Air Force Reserve 446th Airlift Wing. We were invited to ride along on a training flight aboard the remarkable Boeing-built C-17. Multiple levels of training would be taking place on this two hour flight, including Aeromedical Evacuation, Combat Offload and Humvee Upload.

We were briefed on the mission by Col. Lisa Tank, and taken by bus to the flight line where we boarded the impressive bird. After all of the guests had been seated and secured within the cargo bay, the 446th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron simulated the loading of wounded soldiers from a combat zone, securing them within the aircraft, and treating them during the flight to a distant medical facility. Even though I knew that this was a drill, when the stretcher passed in front of me with an airman playing the role of a wounded combatant, it felt very real and it was a deeply moving moment.

Once we were airborne and had leveled off, we were allowed to leave our seats and move about the huge cargo bay, observing the medical squadron at work. One of the Air Force Reserve nurses, a veteran of many years of combat medicine, was a gentleman whose name tag read "Rhino"! Seriously! How could I make this up? Two rhinos on the same flight!

The pilot then took us on a scenic tour that would be hard to surpass. We circled the summits of Mt. Hood and Mt. Rainier at what felt like only a few hundred feet above the snow-covered peaks. The crew did several circumnavigations of these two majestic mountains - long enough to give everyone aboard the plane a chance to take a good look.

During our early morning briefing, one of the briefers had asked for a couple of volunteers - without telling us what we were volunteering for. My hand shot up and I was chosen. I soon learned that I had volunteered to join the pilots on the flight deck for the landing back to Runway 34 at McChord AFB. What a thrill. Sitting behind the pilot, I was even able to look through his heads-up digital display of the instrument readings. We made what the pilot described as an "assault landing," coming in fast and steep as they would if they were flying into a potentially hostile environment.

Upon landing, we were shown how, in a "hot" war zone, they can quickly unload cargo onto the tarmac, and take on Humvees and other vehicles

The Air Force and Air Force Reserve do a remarkable job in supporting our troops through medivac and airlift capabilities around the globe. They deserve our respect and our thanks.


Seattle Strives to "Hire America's Heroes" - Reporting on a Remarkable Symposium

Last week, I had an extraordinary opportunity to learn in depth about the work of a remarkable organization in Seattle entitled “Hire America’s Heroes.”

Hire America's Heroes Website

“Hire America's Heroes is dedicated to sharing and promoting sponsor corporations' best practices and success strategies by which America's military service members, upon transition from active duty, are welcomed into the corporate workforce.

These best practices cover: transition from military to corporate culture, corporate recruiting topics, hiring and on-boarding practices, and strategies for retaining military hires in the corporate workforce.

Hire America's Heroes reaches out to the entire military family which includes spouses and Wounded Warrior care-givers.”

I had been introduced to the organization’s founder, Marjorie James, by a mutual friend, Elliott Nolan. After Marjorie and I became acquainted on the phone and she learned about my involvement with helping veterans transition from the military to jobs in the private sector, she invited me to attend the one day Symposium held at Joint Base Lewis-McChord (formerly McChord Air Force Base) south of Tacoma, Washington.

For me, one of the highlights to the day (in addition to the flight aboard an Air Force C-17 which I will write about in a separate posting) was hearing how some of the Seattle-based employers are trying out innovative ways to increase their focus on recruiting and hiring veterans, especially those returning from deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan. For example, Sean Kelley and R.J. Naugle of Microsoft Corporation’s Veteran Program talked about they fact that Microsoft has recently allocated $2,000,000 to a program called “Elevate America Veterans."

“Through a competitive funding process, Microsoft will award $2 million in cash and $6 million software over the next two years to eligible nonprofit organizations or partnerships of organizations, including veterans service organizations (VSO's), workforce agencies, community colleges and other nonprofit agencies that demonstrate proven, successful performance in serving veterans and their spouses in job training and job placement. These organizations must be able to provide the support services these individuals and families need to be successful in their career transition, including things like childcare and transportation assistance. Additionally, organizations and companies from every industry are invited to join in the coalition by contributing financial and in-kind support and expertise to the initiative.”

Elevate America Veterans Website

In addition, Microsoft has an active veteran’s organization within the corporation called “We Still Serve.”

Tay Yoshitani, President and CEO of the Port of Seattle, and a West Point graduate and Army veteran, shared news of an initiative that the Port of Seattle has pioneered. Each year for the past four years, the Port has selected three veterans to serve internships in a rotational leadership development program. All of the graduates have moved into permanent full-time jobs – either with the Port itself or with related companies.

Also reporting to the gathered representatives about initiatives that they have undertaken to broaden the recruitment of veterans to their companies were representatives from Boeing, State Farm Insurance, Comcast and Volt Technical Resources.

I was inspired to take the knowledge of what is being done in Seattle and use that knowledge to inspire others in the Boston area and beyond to replicate these programs and initiatives.

If you and your firm want more information on how to be more proactive in reaching out to recruit and to hire veterans, let me know. We have a group that has formed in Boston called “Leveraging the Vet Effect,” operating in cooperation with MyVetwork, to help returning veterans to ease their transition from the military to civilian life.

MyVetwork Website


Sunday, May 09, 2010

Diana Gabaldon Keeps Cranking Out Classics - Mini-Review of "Voyager"

Ever since I was was first introduced to the writing of Diana Gabaldon through her novel, "Outlander," I have been systematically working my way through all seven books of the series. During my reading of the second book, I began to wonder how the author would be able to keep things fresh and intriguing using basically the same set of characters and the same plot line. I need not have worried. The time travel adventures of Claire Randall and her Scottish warrior husband, Jamie Fraser, are nothing less than - well, timeless.

In this third installment, entitled "Voyager," Gabaldon has the adventurers set sail in search of Fraser's nephew, Ian, who has been Shanghaied by pirates and impressed into service for them on the high seas and then sold into slavery in the West Indies. In inimitable Gabaldon style, there is plenty of sensational swashbuckling and seductive snuggling.

Galbaldon's voice is unique and her literary style is elegant and gorgeous. I will continue to sail the Outlander seas as long as I can.



Saturday, May 08, 2010

Mini-Review: "After You Lose Someone You Love" as told by Amy, Allie & David Dennison

When my friend, David, was four years old and his twin sisters were eight, their father died in his sleep. The Dennison's dad was a successful young physician who succumbed to a previously undiagnosed arrhythmia. As the three siblings dealt with the range of emotions that accompany such a sudden and tragic loss, they were encouraged to write down their thoughts and feelings. David, not yet able to read and write, did his sharing verbally and his mother transcribed what he had shared. David, Amy and Allie continued to chronicle their journeys through grieving and healing for the next five years.

When the terrorist attacks of 9/11 left scores of youngsters in New York and Washington in a similar situation of having had a parent die suddenly, the Dennison children decided to make copies of their grief journal and make them available to New York area families who had lost parents at the World Trade Center. The journal was subsequently published in several forms, including the present volume that I read, entitled: "After You Lose Someone You Love - Advice and Insights from the Diaries of Three Kids Who've Been There" as told by Amy, Allie & David Dennison. this edition includes a foreword from Rabbi Harold S. Kushner.

The thoughts and feelings of the three children are disarmingly moving - simple and straightforward, revealing in unapologetic language times of deep sorrow, anger, confusion, fear as well as moments of joy and celebration. The book is structured so that after each set of diary entries, there is an update section called "Looking Back" in which the children - a few years removed from their loss - comment on what they wish they could have done differently or wish others might have done differently at each stage of the grieving process.

Here is an example in a section in which the children talk about how difficult it was for them when their mother had to increase her work hours in order to pay family bills:

"When a family goes from having two parents to having one parent, there's a lot more stress on the parent who's still around. They have to work harder and earn more money, they have to make all the plans and do all the driving, and they have to be responsible all the time for the kids. So we try to remember that Mom is having a tough time, too, and help her out.

If you still have one parent and if you can just do one little thing for your parent each day, it would be a huge help. Of if you can do one thing for whoever you live with now, it would make them feel really great that you're being considerate and thinking of them. And you'll feel good, too." (Page 76)

This book is a wonderful tool to be shared with any family that has suffered a loss. I encourage you to acquaint yourself with it. The book is an inspiration, as are the three children who have grown into young adults that have contributed in several ways to making the world a better place. In addition to penning this book, the children initiated a campaign to improve the environment by discouraging people from disposing of cigarette butts carelessly. The campaign, "No Butts About It," has been replicated in other places beyond their home in Connecticut, and earned the family a Presidential Environmental Youth Award.


Tuesday, May 04, 2010

A Furst-Class Novel: "Spies of the Balkans" by Alan Furst

I have become a huge fan of the writings of Alan Furst. Over the past several years, I have read most of his novels. So, I was thrilled to learn that he has a new work coming out in a few weeks. I was even more thrilled to have a chance to get an advanced peek at "Spies of the Balkans." If you are already a fan of Furst, you will know what to expect - with one exception. This latest novel has more romance than any of his prior works, which may increase Furst's female readership. The addition of romantic interests and interludes in no way diminishes Furst's classic style of WWII era espionage intrigue.

The action is set in the Balkans, as the Greeks mount resistance to the Axis' advance into the Balkans, and in the process, take significant risks to help save as many Jewish refugees as possible heading from Germany to Turkey and points beyond. Emilia Krebs, from her position as the Jewish wife of an SS officer in Berlin, runs a clandestine operation ferrying small groups of refuges through Greece with the aid of the protagonist, an uber-detective in Salonika. As Krebs' cover has been blown and she flees for her life, she reflects on her limited success in a musing reminiscent of Oskar Schindler's lament near the end of "Schindler's List":

"Emilia Krebs and her grandfather watched the towns go by and, even though the glass partition assured them privacy, only conversed now and then.

`How many did you save, Emmi?' the elder Adler asked.

`I believe it was forty, at least that. We lost one man who was arrested at the Hungarian border, we never learned why, and a pair of sisters, the Rosenblum sisters, who simply vanished. They were librarians, older women; God only knows what happened to them. But that was in the early days, we managed better later on.'

`I am proud of you, Emmi, do you know that? Forty people.'

`We did our best,' she said.

And then for a time, they did not speak, lost in their own thoughts. Emilia didn't cry, mostly she didn't, she held it in, and kept a handkerchief in her hand for the occasional laps. Her grandfather was, in his way, also brokenhearted. Seven hundred years of family history in Germany, gone. Finally, he said, some minutes later, `It was the honorable thing to do.'

She nodded, in effect thanking him for kind words. But we pay a price for honor, she thought. So now she paid, so did her husband, so did her grandfather, and, for that matter, so would the Yugoslavs, and the Greeks. Such a cruel price. Was it always thus? Perhaps, it was something she couldn't calculate, life had somehow grown darker, at times it did. Perhaps that was what people meant by the phrase the world is coming apart. But mostly you couldn't question what they meant, because mostly they said it to themselves." (Pages 240-241)