Books I read in Visa Jail 2

Is being in the clink simply a version of a poor mans University?  It can be if you have cohorts bringing you books by the bushel.  I’ll admit I have no need to learn such “trade skills” as sharpening toothbrushes into deadly weapons or the all important don’t drop your soap in the shower and the ever useful how not to lose all your coffee money in a game of 21 with Phillipino gangsters.

However, if there is a silver lining to every situation, and I think there almost always is, one from my most recent “vacation” would be the books.  That having been said, there can be no light without dark, no pleasure without pain and no fine literature without some sad, moronic bit of brain fart. Not everyone gets to be Hemingway, sadly some people have to be Molly Jong-fast.  Or the worse case scenario: Channing Tatum.


To the books!

The Dante Club

Generally, these days, I stay away from conventional fiction. I would rather read Chomsky, or sit down with my pipe and go with some old school Papa Hemingway.  But if my only other choice is watching some puppet with a pulse eat old, stale bean cakes and moan with gustatory adulation, I’ll take some dumpy fiction any day of the week.

The Dante Club surprised me.  Matthew Pearl is an academic and he pulled all the strings he had at his disposal to make this a fun, quick and unique read; devoid of overly pretentious maneuvers and full of entertaining if not slightly corny characterizations.  The story takes place in 1865 though and I think we can all agree, that was a fairly corny era, and happily so.

"Ah, History, you corny bastard."

The story takes place in Boston in 1865.  A group of academics including Henry Wadsworth Longfellow,  James Russel Lowell, Oliver Wendell Holmes and J.T. Fields make up The Dante Club.  It’s a group of brilliant men that meet weekly to assist Longfellow in the first ever English translation of Dante’s “Inferno“. Well, some zany maniac starts killing people, mimicking scenes found in the book and with the police baffled (a rarity, I know) it falls to these professional library men to stop the killer.

"Teachers: The Original Behavioral Science Unit."

Pearl is a genius.  Very little in this book is original, in fact much of it is historical fact, simply accented with enough fiction to keep things sharp and interesting.  Utilizing these “dusty old poets” as the main characters immediately activates a kind of romanticism that lingers within almost any American that has been educated to some degree in the last fifty years and this combined with the focus of the group being Dante, and in fact his Inferno builds a clear connection between a lingering longing for a more romantic America with the fascination and allure of the bloody middle ages in Europe.

The sub plots are intriguing and meaningful without being over bearing: The controversy surrounding the publication of Inferno, the educational prejudice given to an Italian work and the first black police officer in Boston who takes on the case despite being ordered to let it go.  All wonderful accouterments to a hearty and visceral murder mystery.

The real magic is in the after-effects;  you feel as though you have been reading up on culture while at the same time getting both your “who dunnit” fix and your shameful, yet desirable, “gothic horror fantasy” fix all at once.  You have your cake and get to eat it all too like the greedy little piggy you are, and somehow Pearl doesn’t make you feel one bit guilty.  The finish is long and lingers warmly days after the book is done.

A very worthwhile effort.

Executive Power

The main character of “Executive Power” is “Mitch Rapp”, though you might know him by his T.V. Alias “Jack Bauer”.  These two characters are so alike it’s almost embarrassing.  The only real differences being that I would say “Bauer” is more of a Sociopath where as “Rapp” is pretty clearly a psychopath.  In addition to that, Rapp is a brutal Metro-Sexual; a Lacrosse player from Syracuse for god’s sake, and Bauer is more like a romantically dysfunctional plumber from Philly.

The two things both of them do well: Kill people and not give a shit.

The plot of “Executive Power” really doesn’t matter.  It’s equal parts every season of “24” you’ve ever seen and equal parts every other book Vince Flynn has ever written, or ever will write.

If Steven Seagal was a character in literature, those books would be written by Vince Flynn.  Except, instead of his skills from the Lacrosse days helping him kill literally everyone, he would save America with arm breaking and fake accents.  It’s also not out of the question that blues music might be involved somehow.

"It's a little thing called -Save America-. I invented it in Japan. Aikido."

At least  Bauer is a mere Sociopathic killing machine and it’s just TV.  It’s infinitely more testing reading a book about a “hero”, who is actually a raging psycho, when he spends large portions of his page time dreaming about torturing foreign Nationals that he hates.  Wantonly killing whoever gets in your way has worked for Imperial powers so far right?  I mean Rome’s still…oh wait…

“Executive Power” like all of Vince Flynn’s novels is very easy to read and is totally ridiculous.  Yosomono put it well once when he described them as also “completely socially irresponsible.”

Pass on this. Read “The Dante Club” instead.

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Books I read in Visa Jail-1

Visa Jail

Big 21st  century question: Do people still read books?

The Big 21st century answer:  They do in Jail.

I read a lot of books in Visa Jail.

It’s either that, or gambling away what little money I had or watching J-TV and slowly dying out due to the ocular bleeding induced by watching idiots look enraptured because a bowl of soup is warm.

So I read some books.  Off and on for the next month or so I’ll tell you about these books two at a time.  I have  a habit of being sadly long winded, so two at a time is the rule on the book reviews.

Let me make it clearly: one of these books is good, the other is the physical personification of a brain fart.

Black Virgin Mountain

“Black Virgin Mountain:A Return to Vietnam” is a Larry Heineman joint and is a very good book. As someone who has read a fair amount of literature from Vietnam, and other wars since, I almost without exception trust the word of an enlisted man over that of the officers.

This isn’t because officers are “bad guys” or something equally ridiculous, but because in my experience, they seem to have more invested in protecting the system they are a component in.  Enlisted men, particularly those doing only one enlistment generally don’t give a shit about the reputation of the organization they are leaving behind, and although this can result in unnecessary trash talking, it can also be the window into what things are/were actually like “on the ground” or “in the trenches”.

Heineman was just that: an enlisted man with mechanized infantry in the 25th Infantry Division from 1967-1968. This is the same division both Ice-T and Oliver Stone were also in.  Stone actually was in Vietnam with the 25th at the same time as Heineman and in case you live under a rock, or in France, he made a little movie loosely based on those events called Platoon .

Don’t know, maybe you’ve heard of it? (Yosomono has heard of it I’m sure; he still has my collectors edition DVD. I’m scowling; watch me scowl.)

Heinenman pulls no punches what-so-ever in this, his first non-fiction, work.  It’s his reflections on Vietnam from an enlisted mans point of view, tied in with his trip back to that place in 1992 are intense and raw.  His politics are scathing and his condemnation of the U.S. command at the time of the war total.

He is a very entertaining author to read. Slightly unorthodox and highly visceral.

The blessings of your life sought; discovered;stumbled upon; given to you as if pushed into your hand. Beginning with the simple fact of your life; any soldier will tell you that. (pg 243)

That was the Good. Now…for the bad and ugly.

The Mephisto Club

This book is a sloppy, embarrassing pile of shit.

Tess Gerritsen is apparently an internationally well-known author, and that makes me want to jump out of a fucking window. I would have to WORK HARD to write something as formulaic, dull, totally lacking in genuine character or original plot devices as “The Mephisto Club”. I’d have to work really hard, and forget anything I’ve ever learned about what constitutes a good book,  or writing that isn’t fueled by ones utter contempt and hatred for your own audience.

Every character is a horrid cliché. “Jane” is a stupid, boring, judgmental cop. She is married to what has become the new template: a handsome, quietly confident husband who can cook, helps with the kids and confidently subordinates his career to his dominant pig wife. Absolute tedium. Her parents are portrayed as complete degenerates, relics from an era the author herself clearly has no respect for and are themselves pathetic distractions and sad attempts to develop some character in a landscape of expansive cardboard cut outs holding signs with slogans like “But Samantha, I AM your father!“.

Oh and her dad is having an affair. DRAMA! PLOT TWIST! With a younger woman! DRAMA! PLOT TWIST!

“Maura” is pathetic and again: dull. A female forensic examiner, she is nothing more than an over the hill drama queen polishing her boring crown of sexually deprived self imprisonment. Dull. Oh and who does she seduce? None other than a priest. DRAMA! PLOT TWIST! She rails against god, the church, Del Taco! DRAMA! PLOT TWIST!

The larger story indicates that Gerritsen has been watching too much Harry Potter back to back with old CSI:Miami re-runs. It’s beyond moronic and insanely confusing. Are the murders super natural or is it a complex plan executed by a mastermind? Actually you never really know because the final conclusions are so purposefully mush-mouthed, you finish the book with far more questions and much less over all happiness than when you started it.

Oh and… an ancient order descended from a corrupt part of the church or a hardened Homicide detective; who will crack the case?! DRAMA! PLOT TWIST!

It’s all just shallow, clichéd puppets being halfheartedly dragged around a hollow stage until someone seems to have gotten tired of it all and finally had the cop shoot some people. Something that was painfully easy to see coming. Just a stupid book.

I felt embarrassed to read it, but it was either that or gamble away my coffee money with the Filipino mafia next door.

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Family Tradition: War Junkies

There is no escape for any of us. Peace and age kill just as surely as war. But in war exists the fantasy of a surprise, sudden and instantly fatal bullet one day – nothing too protracted. One shot to clear the tray marked ‘pending pain’. The thought is a powerful tranquilizer, anesthetizing the reality of so many concerns, preserving my suspension in a place between worlds. No more goodbyes.- Anthony Loyd

Anthony William Vivian Loyd was born in 1966, and grew up in Churt, England.  He attended various private schools or public schools depending on which side of the ocean one resides, and seemingly had every advantage afforded him to ensure a slow, dull, money crusted slide into oblivion.

Two things went very wrong.

First, he came to hate his Father.

Second, he was related to, in fact the great-grandson of Lieutenant-General Sir Adrian Carton de Wiart VC, KBE, CB, CMG, DSO (5 May 1880 – 5 June 1963)

Hating ones father has been proven (by science!) to be the core motivation behind many a famous mans over achievement.  Conversely, it has also been proven (by science!) to mean nothing.  In this case, the first scenario prevailed.

Now if it’s been proven that having a crappy father can cause a man to desire a kind of success not found on the well-worn path, it’s also been proven (by science!) that being a relative,  of the  man who invented both “self amputation by biting ones own hand to get back into battle” and “generalized face punching” gives you not only the balls to want to be scared to death for a living but also the keen ability to do this without actually fucking dying.

Anthony Loyd joined the British army in order to see war.  It was a theme amongst men in his family and both his grandfathers and great-grandfather had been decorated military men, if not for very different reasons, at some point in their lives.

Loyd, like many others, since the end of Vietnam until somewhere around 2001, saw little of what he had been in search of.  Although having served in both Northern Ireland and the first Gulf war, he left the army after nearly five years feeling disappointed and without any of the answers he had hope to find.

Enter Bosnia and Herzegovina- In 1992 all of Europe was watching, yet pretending not to watch, as the former Yugoslavia fell into shambles.  Realizing that “this was it” Loyd, who had just finished a “post graduate photo journalism course” despite not having been a graduate, loaded some things into a friend’s car and off he went.

Starting out as a “lost in the sauce” photographer, Loyd began, simply by luck, selling photos he snapped for 50 Deutsch marks a piece and then later, subbing for another wounded reported, he began his writing career.

In his first memoir, Loyd successfully addressed both his addiction to war and his addiction to heroin.  My War gone by I miss it So, put Anthony Loyd on the map in fantastic fashion.  And it secured him a position as one of the premier war reporters in the world.  In it, Loyd covers conflicts from Sarajevo all the way to Chechnya and the fall of Grozny.  He addresses his addiction to gear “War was for work, Heroin was for holidays.” and he give us a voyeuristic hit off it all in shockingly good form.

Some men, might have stopped there.  He had escaped the clutches of death many times.  He had witnessed the deaths of others and he had even aided in the saving of a young girls life.  He had possibly answered some questions and had certainly found what it was he was looking for….

…but when you’re the great-grandson of the man who invented not giving a fuck, you don’t get to feel satisfied.

Another Bloody Love Letter was published in 2007.  In this Loyd goes on to chronicle not only his war with addiction while at home in London, but he also explains in detail the death of his best friend- war correspondent great and former Reuters reporter Kurt Schork.

Schork and Loyd became fast friends while working together in Bosnia, but during a period of separation in May of 2000, Schork was killed on a road during an ambush in Sierre Lionne.  Much of Another bloody Love Letter is Loyd dealing with this loss, a year later, while reporting from the same dangerous jungle that stole his friend from him.

Both books are telling and intense.  They teach us much, but if read with care, one walks away with more answers than before.  A theme that seems to permeate Anthony Loyd’s life.

Both Great-Grandfather and Great- Grandson, although never having met, turned their backs on landed aristocracy, and sought their answers elsewhere.

It seems to be a bit of a Family Tradition.

“I couldn’t not give a fuck any harder. Ever. It’s in my DNA.”

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7 Must Read Books for Warriors

If you are going through hell, keep going. Winston Churchhill

The Veteran Samurai thinks not of victory or defeat but merely fights insanely to the death…. Hagakure

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The Warrior code.
It is a concept that time and again has permeated my thoughts and sent me plunging into the depths of a seemingly never-ending introspection. I come from what one could, without cynicism, refer to as a “Warrior Family” and despite my chosen lifestyle as something of a scoundrel and a ruffian, the ideology of purity and cleansing found in immediate white-hot action in the form of combat is worth a discussion. It has brought me brief moments of soul silence over the years and it warrants a focused gaze.

I present to you now 7 books that I have read, each several times over, and right or wrong I have found them motivating and delicious in their abandonment of ideals someplace far away from the only one that matters: Action.

I invite you to take the ride and read about a path that our society has tried so hard to make us all forget….The way of the Warrior.

7. Lone Survivor

Buy Lone Survivor; On Sale!

“we train for war and fight to win.”
— Marcus Luttrell

Brief synopsis:
Four US Navy SEALS departed one clear night in early July 2005 for the mountainous Afghanistan-Pakistan border for a reconnaissance mission. Their task was to document the activity of an al Qaeda leader rumored to be very close to Bin Laden with a small army in a Taliban stronghold. Five days later, only one of those Navy SEALS made it out alive.

The Warrior-ness

The name of the mission was “Operation Red Wings” and the mission was to kill or capture the Taliban leader of the “Mountain Tigers” insurgent group Ahmad Shah, west of Asadabad. The mission failed. All but one member died. The Book is Marcus Luttrell’s account of the Ambush and the subsequently outrageous fire fight.
Based on Lone Survivor and it’s tale of the hell they were caught in, it was 4 Navy SEALS versus 150-200 Taliban militia armed with AK47s and RPGs. (According to Luttrell anyway)

The other three members of Luttrell’s team all die but not peacefully. Everyone is given the hard goodbye. At one point, after a team member, Danny Ditz, had been killed and another, Matt Axelson, mortally wounded the Team Leader Michael Murphy made a decision…

And he groped in his pocket for his mobile phone, the one we had dared not use because it would betray our position. And then Lieutenant Murphy walked out into the open ground. He walked until he was more or less in the center, gunfire all around him, and he sat on a small rock and began punching in the numbers to HQ.

I could hear him talking. “My men are taking heavy fire … we’re getting picked apart. My guys are dying out here … we need help.”

And right then Mikey took a bullet straight in the back. I saw the blood spurt from his chest. He slumped forward, dropping his phone and his rifle. But then he braced himself, grabbed them both, sat upright again, and once more put the phone to his ear.

I heard him speak again. “Roger that, sir. Thank you.” Then he stood up and staggered out to our bad position, the one guarding our left, and Mikey just started fighting again, firing at the enemy.

He was hitting them too, having made that one last desperate call to base, the one that might yet save us if they could send help in time, before we were overwhelmed.

Gaijinass’s two cents

Tactically a wise decision? Nope. In fact the book is full of both strategic and tactical holes that make very little sense. Basically, the entire book is pretty full of crap.

The other thing it is full of is BALLS . It is a guilty pleasure low motivation pick me up, particularly the bits about BUD/S (Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL training) which Luttrell details and explains well.

Get a copy of Lone Survivor

READ more about Navy SEAL Hell Week

6.The Iron Circle: The True Life

Story of Dominique Vandenberg

Click here for info

Brief Synopsis
Leaving home at 16 to train at a Japanese fighting school. When an injury sidelined his career, he found another outlet for his impulses in the French Foreign Legion, which brutalized him during training, then sent him to various African hellholes, after which he returned to Thailand to resume beating other men in the ring.

The Warrior-ness
Well, the above sums it up quite well. Describing himself as an adolescent with a “lethal gift” of aggressive rage, Vandenberg recounts how he grew dissatisfied with regulated martial arts competitions in his native Belgium and sought out increasingly violent forms of combat. With 45 bare knuckle matches to his name, Vandenberg knows what he is talking about.

I am the best. There is no other like me. I have won glory. I have earned honor. I am remorseless. These things are mine and I will defend them to the death, for I am a warrior and this is my way. If you wish to travel with me on this path then read on. I will tell you honestly and plainly how it is that I came to be what it is I am. This then, is the start.

Gaijinass’s two cents
Another guilty pleasure because Hemingway, this is not.
This book abounds with two things: Action and inconsistency so if you want the former and don’t mind the latter get a copy. It’s clear that Vandenberg has trained and fought in Thailand and has been around the block a few times. That having been said, fighting nobodies out in the middle of nowhere does not make you the best. Lumpini stadium in Bangkok is where that title might be found.

However, this is a motivating book and a breath of fresh air for people who are tired of the new age peace and love message being abused in conventional martial arts.

Get your own copy Here


5. Samurai!

Click here for info

Brief Synopsis
Written by Martin Caidin from Saburo Sakai’s own memoirs and journalist Fred Saito’s extensive interviews with the World War II fighter pilot, Samurai! vividly documents the chivalry and valor of the combat aviator who time after time fought American fighter pilots and, with 64 kills, would survive the war as Japan’s greatest living ace. Here are the harrowing experiences of one of Japan’s greatest aces: from fighter pilot school — where the harsh training expelled over half of his class — to the thrilling early Japanese victories; from his incredible six hundred mile fight for life from Guadalcanal to his base in Rabaul, to the poignant story of the now-handicapped veteran’s return to the air during the final desperate months of World War II.

The Warrior-ness
His body was punished, badly torn up by enemy fire and he had lost one of his eyes yet, he managed to get back to friendly territory and later flew more combat missions, crippled and with only one good eye.
Come on. Warrior.

‘A fighter pilot must be aggressive and tenacious. Always.’
He lost no time in showing us his ideas of how we were to become indoctrinated with constant aggressiveness! The instructor at random selected two students from the group and ordered them to wrestle. The victor of this clash was then allowed to leave the wrestling mat.
His opponent was not so lucky. He remained on the mat, prepared to take on another pilot trainee.
So long as he continued to lose, he remained on that met, tiring with every bout, slammed about heavily and often sustaining injuries. If necessary, he was forced to wrestle every one of the other sixty-nine students in his class. If, at the end of sixty-nine consecutive wrestling bouts he was still able to resume standing, he was considered fit, but only for one more day. The following day he again took on the first wrestling opponent and continued until he either emerged a victor or was expelled from the school.

Gaijinass’s two cents
I grew up watching movies and going to museums all over the world that had to do with world war 2. This book is fascinating because one is given the opportunity to see things from the perspective of the Japanese.
I also find Sakai’s admiration for the Allied pilots he flew against…well, admirable. A clear respect for a very skilled and formidable opponent is present. Also, his take on the use of “Kamikaze” attacks is interesting and unique. This book deals with the reality that for warriors, the politics don’t matter.

Good article and interview With Saburo Sakai.

Get a copy of SAMURAI! here.

4.The One That Got Away.

Click here for info

Brief Synopsis
A member of “Bravo two Zero” fame and the brutally failed SAS mission led by Andy McNabb. Only one, Chris Ryan, escaped capture—by walking nearly 180 miles through the desert for a week.

The Warrior-ness
If 180 miles E&E through the desert, alone, doesn’t impress you, perhaps nothing will.
Ryan discussing his friends and his plans for Mt. Everest early in the book…

The plan was that I should meet the other two at the North Col; we would then climb to the summit together, jump off and paraglide down to basecamp. Everything was geared to breaking records: if I could reach the summit without oxygen, it would be a personal record for me; if the others came up via the Northeast Ridge, they too would establish a first- as would we all by parachuting from the top. I was quite well qualified for the role, having done plenty of parachute jumps, and because I had spent 18 months in the Alps on a German Mountain army guide course, during which time I had become proficient at climbing in snow and ice.

Gaijinass’s two cents
Although Ryan lacks the writing flare that his SAS compatriot McNabb wields so well, I like this book much more than Bravo two zero. I like Ryan’s dry, straight forward approach and I think the fact that he DIDN’T get captured is far more impressive than McNabb who did and essentially wrote about his torture. No matter what, this book is a slap in the face when you think that getting up and jogging 5 miles tomorrow morning is too much trouble.
Get your own copy Here


3. The Rogue Warrior of the SAS

Click here for info

Brief Synopsis
He was the most decorated British soldier of the Second World War, receiving four DSOs, the Croix de Guerre, and the Legion d’honneur, and he pioneered tactics used today by the SAS and other special operations units worldwide. Rogue Warrior of the SAS tells the remarkable life story of “Colonel Paddy,” whose exceptional physical strength and uniquely swift reflexes made him a fearsome opponent. But his unorthodox rules of war and his resentment of authority would deny him the ultimate accolade of the Victoria Cross.

The Warrior-ness
Mayne was wild and according to his brother “a man made for War”. He frightened those around him especially when he had been drinking.
Fully 6ft 4ins, he could not be controlled when he was going full tilt, except on one occasion when one of his Irish comrades held a pistol on him and simply said, “I’ll shoot you, Blair, I swear to god.” throughout the evening. Mayne just continued drinking yet managed not to lose his temper.

…Only then did Calvert intervene and in challenging Mayne, was almost killed.
…As for drunkenness, that again did not fully get to the heart of the events of the Calvert episode. Blair was indeed drinking but his speed of reaction and his ability to get off the floor, lift Calvert above his head and fling him across the room were not the reactions of a drunken man. Calvert was a tough veteran and, like Blair, a boxing champion. He was not someone an inebriated individual could handle with such swift physical precision.

Gaijinass’s two cents
This book is so insanely English I started observing proper tea time hours. Mayne was an absolute monster of a man, extraordinarily gifted at soldiering and a dark, brooding and compartmentalized individual. It is a great read about what it took to start one of the most formidable units the world has ever known. A must read for the Military history or Spec Ops aficionado. It’s basically just a good book about a bunch of insanely tough, hard-drinking killers who made life hell for the Nazis wherever they went.

Get your own copy here.

2. Black Hawk Down

Click here for info

Brief Synopsis
Journalist Mark Bowden delivers a strikingly detailed account of the 1993 nightmare operation in Mogadishu that left 18 American soldiers dead and many more wounded. This early foreign-policy disaster for the Clinton administration led to the resignation of Secretary of Defense Les Aspin and a total troop withdrawal from Somalia. Bowden does not spend much time considering the context; instead he provides a moment-by-moment chronicle of what happened in the air and on the ground.
Their high-tech MH-60 Black Hawk helicopters had been shot down and a number of other miscues left them trapped through the night. Bowden describes Mogadishu as a place of Mad Max-like anarchy–implying strongly that there was never any peace for the supposed peacekeepers to keep.

The Warrior-ness
The Entire book is a testament to the training and the ability of the Army Rangers, Delta and the SEALs in a 15 hour all out battle against literally thousands of armed enemy on foreign turf.

“Don’t shoot,” Spalding shouted at him. “She’s got a kid!”

At that moment the woman turned. Holding a baby on one arm, she raised a pistol with her free hand. Spalding shot her where she stood. He shot four more rounds into her before she fell. He hoped he hadn’t hit the baby. They were moving fast, and he didn’t get to see whether he had. He thought he probably had hit the baby. She had been carrying the infant on her arm, right in front. Why would a mother do something like that with a kid on her arm? What was she thinking?

Gaijinass’s two cents

Absolutely nothing negative or snarky to say here. This book is incredibly well written and very well researched. All the parts are in the correct position. In fact it is so well written it is often assigned as required reading for military personnel in elite units.
It is full of motivation and a sense of professionalism and reality.

Get your copy here.

Good History channel Documentary about this.

1. Hagakure: The Book of the


Click here for info

Brief Synopsis
Hagakure (“In the Shadow of Leaves”‘) is a manual for the samurai classes consisting of a series of short anecdotes and reflections that give both insight and instruction–in the philosophy and code of behavior that foster the true spirit of Bushido–the Way of the Warrior. It is not a book of philosophy as most would understand the word: it is a collection of thoughts and sayings recorded over a period of seven years, and as such covers a wide variety of subjects, often in no particular sequence.
The book was widely distributed before and during Word War 2, yet was completely taken out of circulation after the war. It was then considered dissident literature and uncondusive to the rank and file pacifism that was being nurtured amongst the new generation of Japanese.

The Warrior-ness
The primary point made in this book is as applicable now as it was then: We are all going to die; how you will live and then die can be your choice.
This is also a wonderful look at the difference between how the Japanese see suicide and death and how different the western idea of it is.
HIGHLY motivating. Not only to push yourself in some sort of physical or militaristic endeavour but Hagakure drills home the point that warriorism is not a profession but a LIFESTYLE that must be practiced and maintained day in and day out.

I have discovered that the way of the Samurai is death. In a fifty-fifty life or death crisis, simply settle it by deciding on death. There is nothing complicated about it. Just brace yourself and proceed.

The way of the Samurai is a mania for death. Sometimes ten men cannot topple a man with such conviction.

Gaijinass’s two cents
This book is a guide (a damn good one) on how to keep yourself hard day in and day out.
It is also a great look into the old warrior sole of the Samurai (particularly one who was denied the permission to kill himself= survivors guilt) and even into a glimpse of Japanese culture today. For example Suicide. In Japan it is called hara-kiri and it is not viewed the same way it is in the West, as an expression of defeat. But rather it is the ultimate expression of freedom and self-control in order to preserve ones honor.
Powerful reading and appropriate for anyone that is concerned with the life of Warriors and considerations such as death.

Get your copy here



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Hopes and Prospects

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All over the place, from the popular culture to the propaganda system, there is constant pressure to make people feel that they are helpless, that the only role they can have is to ratify decisions and to consume.
Noam Chomsky

If you are the type of person that tries to think critically and wants to know the facts regarding any issue then it seems like the two of us have a lot in common.  As I have gotten older I have come to enjoy talking to people who have the increasingly rare ability to put their egos aside and simply discuss facts. Seemingly, this should be a fairly simple thing to accomplish however, give it a try and you will find that the last thing most people really want to discuss are facts. Everything we are bombarded with day in and day out are opinions from “experts” that start off their critique weak and end even weaker. Nothing is sourced and even less is explained. The disgust and arrogance that the  mainstream media and the political machine must have for the average person locked into this system must be enormous. Why else would they treat us with such contempt? Again, buried under these mounds of misinformation and allegation we often succumb to the almost inescapable feeling of helplessness and lacking. Our emotions take over and inevitably we begin to shut down and instead of taking in fresh new concepts and thinking critically we allow the wave of malaise and numbness induced by continuous daily injections of media opiates and consumer sedatives to perform their  function. Watch this, Read this, Buy this, Buy This, Buy This. We are drugged down and switched off by a system purposefully designed to nullify and sideline us in life.

Enter Noam Chomsky and his laser like direction of logical thought and actual long last facts.

This book is incredibly timely and incredibly thorough, reserving safe haven for no-one and exploring the challenges and problems facing us in today’s rapidly evolving/devolving world.
Hopes and Prospects is essentially a collection of essays that Chomsky has adapted and/or expanded to discuss the current situation. As the title might suggest, Chomsky is intent on providing a dividing line between the “hope” offered by traditional politicians like Barack Obama and George W. Bush and the actual “prospects” for that process of hope. With copious examples from U.S. and Western foreign policy, the author proves once again that there’s a lot of space between stated intentions and realized facts.

The book begins with three essays taken from a series of lectures in Chile in 2006. The essays have been “updated to 2010 and considerably expanded” to include a great deal of new information and perspective. Chomsky thoroughly outlines how American foreign policy interacts with and obstructs Latin American policy, for instance, and inserts examples from history to back his points clearly and with the matter of fact-ness he exudes so profusely.

“The strong do as they wish, while the poor suffer as they must.”

This seems to be the world we are living in, this sort of Amazon jungle in which it is OK if we do it but not if they do it. But Chomsky says it doesn’t have to be this way. This is a book woven through with hope and awe at all the people who slip beyond imperial control and establish real democracy. Chomsky’s strongest model – and the world’s – is Bolivia’s experiment with radical democracy. After 30 years of having neoliberalism forced on them by the West, including the cost of water pushed beyond their grasp, the Bolivian people elected the first indigenous leader since the European conquests. Since then, it has had the fastest fall in poverty and the most rapid growth in Latin America.  Informed and concerned people should read this book.

In his cool blizzard of facts and sources, the hot air of Chomsky’s critics seems to melt away. To pluck one example, the leftist-turned-neocon supporter Nick Cohen has accused Chomsky of being soft on jihadism (as well as of “not being bothered” by “the crimes of Adolf Hitler”). Yet Chomsky points out that an analysis of official data for the government-supported RAND corporation found that the invasion of Iraq caused a “seven-fold increase in jihadism.” If you really hate jihadism, you have to figure out what reduces it, rather than engage in bluster. Chomsky supported the path that produces fewer jihadis, while Cohen supports the path that produces more.

As always Chomsky lays down the FACTS smoothly and clearly. He dispels the idea that these are simply the opinions of a self hating holocaust denier but in reality are the cold, hard facts being put forth by a patriot that is attempting to hold his nation up to a much higher standard than the people destroying it in office.

If you find yourself drowning in the black ocean of 24/7 pop culture based media then get this book. It is much-needed ray of refreshing and informative light that cuts through the heavy shadows eclipsing reason and gives anyone who is interested some intellectual weapons to defend themselves.

Are you looking for answers? Being a real patriot and really loving your country means being well informed.  Changes are coming, in fact they are happening as we speak. Arm yourself with knowledge and protect yourself, your family and the country you love. Read “Hopes and Prospects”.

Get “Hopes and Prospects” at a drastically discounted price here

Think Big: Make It Happen in Business and Life

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“Was there ever a time when you didn’t think big enough?”

“I don’t think so. I always had big plans, even when I was very young. I would build skyscrapers with my building blocks.”

Very few things in America and even in the world are more synonymous with wealth, extravagance and success than the name Donald Trump. Not only is this the name of a man who has not once, but twice risen from the recesses of the unknown to become a cultural and financial icon, but it is also a world renowned brand name. The Trump title attached to anything, be it a building, a golf course or a fashion line carries one clear inescapable meaning: Money.

Donal Trump was born in 1946 and attended the Wharton school at the University of Pennsylvania graduating in 1968. He subsequently went to work from his father, Fred Christ Trump and the Trump Organization, “learning the ropes”, so to speak, of real estate all over Brooklyn, Queens and Staten island.
In 1971 Trump moved to Manhattan and rightly saw opportunity surrounding him. He took advantage of the times and circumstances and succeeded in the remodeling of the old Commodore hotel reopening it as the Grand Hyatt.  This was his first big, successful real estate venture.
His fame, success and legacy grew exponentially all through the 1980’s.

In the 1990’s “The Donald” was plagued by personal and financial strife. He filed for corporate bankruptcy and nearly became personally bankrupt as well. He had extra-marital affairs and as a result he and his first wife, Ivana Trump, were divorced.

By the end of the 1990’s and into the new millenia Trump has crawled out of the hole in which he found himself and largely rebuilt his empire and his image. In fact, he is more famous today than ever before with the success of his Reality Television show The Apprentice in which Trump is the Host and Executive producer. He reportedly is paid 3 million dollars per episode, making him one of the highest paid television personalities in the world.

Think Big: Make It Happen in Business and Life is Donald Trumps answer to The Secret. This book is not so much about money, but rather it is about the attitude, lifestyle and mind-set one needs in order to succeed. Some of the things addressed in the book by Trump and his co-author Bill Zanker are:

  • BIG MO! Momentum and how to get it and keep it.

Whether you like Donald Trump or not, there is no arguing with the mans success. He is absolutely a success. So, when he decides to be candid and talk, it would behoove you to listen. It is also interesting to read Trumps take on himself and the hype that constantly surrounds him. He is largely in touch with his own weakness and is surprisingly self aware. Personally, although the book itself is not the most intellectually engaging piece of literature I have picked up in sometime, it has real merit. It is written in a very straight forward no frills style which is refreshing within the often ludicrous category of “Self Help”. Trump largely keeps it real and uses examples from his own life to illustrate points.
What I will take away from the book more than anything else is the chapter regarding Momentum and his attitude about studying and becoming an absolute expert in your field of interest. He makes it clear that once you have momentum, after the hours and days and weeks, months, years you spent developing that forward motion, it is CRITICAL that you never lose it. It’s twice as hard to get momentum back once you have lost it. Always keep the pressure on.

Aside from that, the concept of “THINKING BIG” rings true with me. An oversimplification yes, but still weighty are the following words:

Its better to aim for the Stars and hit a Stump, than to aim for a stump and hit nothing.

Correct. Trump seems to agree. In addition, although not clearly stated in the book, what I sensed is that according to Trump and Zanker, because most people do not think big, there are openings for anyone to get through if you have the intestinal fortitude to take the big chances and make the big decisions.

My conclusion is that, if you are looking for a book that will help motivate you to work hard and stay focused on your Goals and perhaps even propel you to make your Goals more grandiose this is the book for you. No nonsense. No mystical universal truths. Just common sense advice from a guy who knows what he is talking about.

4 out of 5 stars.

Think Big: Make it happen in Business and Life,
by Donald Trump and Bill Zanker.

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I hate, and by that I mean completely DESPISE “Sex and the City”, and the entire niche it panders to. The niche I am referring to would be the over privileged, consumer-obsessed, fantastically selfish-self-absorbed and insanely trite portions of western society that think that a broken heel on a pair of shoes that cost far too much or perhaps a lost digital music player are genuinely REAL problems.

This group and all its “values” are frankly a waste of space and falling into that abyss remains an ever-present and particularly terrifying nightmare for me.

As a book lover and writer (I was once referred to as a fighting scholar, really) I find it somewhat difficult to truly hate a book, however, Normal Girl
by Ms. Molly Jong-Fast has been nominated for the Gaijinass “Shitty shitty book” award.

The book was published in 2000 when Jong-Fast was 20 years old and it reads like it. The prose are witty in the shallow, boring and plastic way that so many people communicate in certain circles and the entire MTV franchise has been built on. Structurally it is lacking in every sense and although the one liners are set up and shot home effectively, come on…..this is a book, not “Commando“. It is actually quiet possible to write something, particularly a novel, without filling it to the brim with nothing but snarking comments and quasi-pithy analogies.

The Heroine of the novel is, unsurprisingly, addicted to Heroin and coke and Valium and blah blah. I know: Ground breaking stuff. Wait, it gets worse.

The character “Miranda Woke” is a snotty, spoiled daughter of a couple rich people in New York City. Thats it. Read about this book any place else and hear how she is the daughter of “Socialites”. Give me a break. Shes a spoiled rich brat coke slut who has a Rich Jew father and an equally spoiled mother.

Her BF dies do to a drug overdose, and along the way some of her zany misadventures include trashing her mommies beach house, sharing a bottle of Wild Turkey with a Bum and doing lots of drugs. She eventually goes to Rehab and everything is sunshine and kittens and fluffy white clouds made of cotton candy.

This book is so often compared to BEE’s Less than Zero you would have thought it was a sequel or something. However, upon actually READING the two books one would immediately ascertain that in fact, Jong-Fast simply wrote a comic book sans illustrations and she doesn’t seem to have even a modicum of actual talent.  Someones “novel” got published because Mommy and Daddy are writers….and only because of that.

If you enjoy “Sluts in the City” and you really feel excited when you think about reading a novel describing a whiny, coke snorting, Prada wearing imbecile, then by all means follow the links above and order this “Book”.

After reading the “novel” please make an appointment with me, so that I can punch you in the face. You deserve it.

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