Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Lucky Thirteen by Ken Wiley


A book review by Jim “Gymbeaux” Brown, May 22, 2019
Reader Note:  Words appearing in BLUE mean they are links to web sites

Disclaimer:  I retired from the U. S. Coast Guard so my opinion of this book may be a bit biased but even having said that, I do not believe for a second my Coast Guard career influenced my review of this book.

There are two titles for the same book.  The first one is Lucky Thirteen.  If you search for it on Amazon it will appear as a very expensive book but you can purchase a good used one for less than $6.00.  The second title is D-Days in the Pacific with the US Coast Guard and it is available as a book or a Kindle Read.  For the record I purchased both the book and the Kindle version.

Also, before I provide you with a review of the book, I did a little research to discover Coast Guard involvement during World War II.  The numbers surprised me.  From the Internet:

241,093 personnel served in World War 2, including 12,846 women. There were 574 deaths in action including 1 POW,  wounded not known, and 1,343 deaths from other causes, e.g. crashes, accidents, disease or drowning etc., and 4 POW of whom 1 died

Links to the books on Amazon:

Lucky Thirteen, U. S. Coast Guard LSTs in the Pacific

D-Days in the Pacific with the US Coast Guard; the Story of Lucky Thirteen

This book reads like a Hollywood fictional thriller.  It is NOT Hollywood but it IS a thriller and it reads like a thriller.  This is one very exciting book to read.  I rarely spend so much time dedicated to reading a book as I did Lucky Thirteen.  I could not put it down and I didn’t.

As I read the book I could not help but examine my own convictions when I was a boy of just 17 had I been thrust into a World War.  How would I have reacted?  How would I have been able to handle the rigors of war?  How would I have been able to handle the death of war?

This book reads like a history book thriller.  Any one of the stories author Ken Wiley describes unto itself would be a great read.  But when you realize how many “close encounters” Wiley and his boat crew were involved in is just beyond belief. By war’s end Wiley was still only 20 years old and most of his stories occurred when he was just 17 to 19 years old.

I cannot do this book justice by trying to explain how overwhelmed I was reading it and proud to have served in the same branch of the military as Ken Wiley.  Suffice it to say I think it is very well written.  It puts you right in the middle of the action.  Why it has never been made into a movie is beyond me; it should be a movie and it would be a big hit at the box office once the word got out about its content.

Who should read this book?  Anyone interested in World War II, especially the War in the Pacific.  Anyone interested in reading about courage and determination literally “under fire!”  Anyone who enjoys reading about growing up and doing so under tremendous stress.  EVERYONE IN THE COAST GUARD!
Would I give this book as a gift?  Probably not because the subject may not be of interest to everyone.  It would nonetheless still make a great gift IF they would read it.
Would I read the book again?  Probably not but only because it was so compelling the first read I don’t think I could possibly gain any further insight into what Wiley and he crew experienced.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Be Good To Yourself

A Book Review by Jim “Gymbeaux” Brown, May 15, 2019
Reader Note:  Words appearing in BLUE mean they are links to web sites

Disclaimer:  I have read most if not all of Marden’s books.  They were all written in the late 1890s and 1900s.  The most surprising feature of all of his books involves when they were written.  The reader if unaware as to when they were written would or could think they were written about America in 2019.  The lessons throughout all of his books are probably more applicable today than when he wrote them.  The overall lesson, at least for me, is that in the past 100 plus years we as a country have learned nothing during that time.  The clues have already been spelled out for our success if only we would take advantage of them.  Apparently “history does repeat itself” otherwise how can you explain that we have accomplished so little in the field of personal development and improvement when the clues have been known for over 100 years?

I have a difficult time reading any of Marden’s books.  Not because of a writing style but because like the author most likely intended, his words cause you to pause and think about how those words apply to you or in my case me.  I oftentimes feel as if he were talking directly to me, other times talking about me but most of the time he is talking with me.

This book identifies the ideal self; the ideal man or the ideal woman.  With that thought in mind you must remember as you read it, it was written in the 1900s and as such Marden did not differentiate that much between man and woman and referred to “man” as meaning both men and women.

What do I mean when I say his words cause me to stop reading and just sit and think about what he wrote?  Here is an excerpt from the book that exemplifies what I mean:

“One reason why the majority of people have such poor judgment, especially employees, is because they do not depend upon it.  Unused faculties never develop any more than do unused muscles.  The habit of using good judgment in everything, no matter how trifling, will multiply efficiency a thousandfold.”

How could you read that and NOT think about how it may or may not apply to you?  Remember he started by saying “the majority of people” and in most cases that WOULD mean you or me.  The question then becomes do I exhibit good judgment or do I exhibit poor judgment. A better question would be what am I doing to improve my judgment?  This is why it takes me so long to read any of Marden’s books.  I stop to take a personal inventory of what he has written, something most authors can only dream about doing.

Marden writes about what has taken place within his environment in the 1890s through the early 1900s.  What makes his books so sad is that the basic principles he writes about in his time sill apply today if not more so.  We have learned so little as a society in those 100 plus years and people, certainly not you, continue to reinvent the wheel when the instructions for the wheel were given to those who would just listen or in this case just read what was written so long ago.

I can only imagine what a world would look like if Marden’s teachings were taught to the youngest people cable of understanding and more importantly what happens when they apply those lessons to improving their life and their chance at success.

If you can’t tell, I think this book, like all of his books, is OUTSTANDING!  If you happen to be one of the millions of people who already believe they know it all, then there is no sense or value in you reading this or any of Marden’s books.  But if you are a learning based person it would be impossible to read his books, especially this one, and NOT come away with a lot of Ahas as you read it.  Hopefully you can check off some of what he writes about as already having applied them in your life.  Then making a list of items that need more or specific attention in your life.

Who should read the book?  Everyone!  Difficult for me to imagine people NOT taking away valuable life lessons by reading not only this book but all of Marden’s writings.
Would I read it again?  Sections of the book, absolutely!
Would I refer the books to my friends and family?  Absolutely, already have
Would I buy the book as a gift?  This book would make for a great gift especially for high school and college graduates but ONLY if they read it.  If you want to give the student the best opportunity for success, start them reading anything written by Marden.  The best part is that some of his books are actually FREE on and the rest are typically only 99 cents.  What a bargain!