Month: <span>February 2016</span>

FLDS When Warren Steed Jeffs was arrested on a deserted strip of Interstate 15 in Clark County, Nevada on August 28, 2006, authorities, former members of the FLDS and victims of Jeffs’ reign of terror breathed a sign of relief.  The self-proclaimed prophet ruled the FLDS with an iron fist following the death of his father and former prophet Rulon Jeffs.  Known to be merciless and far more cunning than any of his predecessors, Jeffs went on a marriage spree, marrying girls as young as 13 and even taking several of his father’s former wives as his own.  While in prison, Jeffs admitted on a recording that he was not the prophet. However, many of his followers have refused to give up believing in him and even from a prison cell, he still wields considerable power over.

For many years, the FLDS and its inner workings were unknown to the majority of Americans.  But with the release of several important books by Rebecca Musser, Carolyn Jessup, and Elissa Wall, the veil of secrecy has gradually been lifted.  And what has been revealed has proven to be eye-opening, shocking and in same cases enraging.  The effort to bring Jeffs to justice is an interesting story but one that has been largely forgotten now that he’s behind bars.  The investigation was a concerted effort among law enforcement and child protection agencies across several states supplemented by the testimony of young women who suffered at the hands of the leaders of the FLDS and its system of child exploitation.  Saw Brower, a private investigator who played a key role in the investigation and downfall of Jeffs, recounts his own actions and the events that transpired.  His story is engaging from start to finish and shows the difficulty involved in cracking the outer foundation of the FLDS in order to bring Jeffs and the other leaders to justice.   But without the help of many courageous young women, Jeffs would still be free today.  The few that have spoken out, have given a voice to the hundreds that continue to remain secluded and oppressed.

ISBN-10: 1608193241
ISBN-13: 978-1608193240



Eva PeronOn July 26, 1952, Evita “Eva” Peron died at the age of 33 from the effects of uterine cancer, leaving behind a grieving husband and a country in mourning.  The former actress and radio personality had risen from the streets of Los Toldos to become the First Lady of Argentina and the creator of the Eva Peron Foundation.  The organization had served the poorest residents of the country giving financial support and developing areas in need of structural improvement.   Her policies and actions sometimes drew controversy and faced resistance from different sectors of society including the military, who tried more than once to stage a coup before Juan Peron finally fled into exile in 1955. Her life has been depicted in Broadway and in films but the true story is often subject to speculation, misinformation and mystery. This is the real story as told by Nicholas Fraser and Marysa Navarro of a young woman, born in adversarial circumstances but destined for a life of fame and purpose but destined to a tragic fate.  Carefully researching her early life, their account also serves as a historical record of the social climate of Argentina in the early 20th century.  Her spiritual and political evolution into a leader who at times garnered more attention than that of her husband, displays remarkable commitment, drive and patriotism.  But like all famous historical figures, controversy follows her throughout her life and her tragic decline is a reminder of our own mortality.  Her death and the actions surrounding the embalming and theft of her body are both shocking and disturbing.

Well over 50 years have passed since her death and even to this day there are many loyal Peronist and Peronistas that remain committed to an era that has long since passed.  Since the time when Eva was the name heard around the world, there have been many figures in Argentine politics that have come and gone.   The  recent administration of Cristina de Kirchner was plagued by accusations of corruption and even murder after the untimely death of Alberto Nissan who threatened to reveal what he believed to be the government’s complicity in a horrific crime that had been covered up and ignored by the government. In 2015, she was succeeded by Mauricio Macri and many hope that change is in the air.  And with the recent visit of President Barack Obama, the people of both Argentina and the United States have renewed optimism that the two nations can repair relations and continue to build a better relationship.   While Peron is no longer with us, she remains a mythical figure in the history of Argentina and for some she will always be the unrelenting crusader for equality. But for others, she will always represent the many things that were considered to be wrong with Argentine politics.  Nonetheless, her legacy continues and for an eternity, Eva will always be remembered.

ISBN-10: 0393315754
ISBN-13: 978-0393315752



JaganMarch 6, 1997- Cheddi Jagan, the former Premier of British Guyana and President of Guyana, dies in Washington, D.C., after suffering a severe heart attack nearly a month earlier.  Jagan, born in Port Mourant, had risen to become a leading voice in the Guyanese movement for independence from Great Britain.  This is his story about his life in Guyana and abroad and the long struggle faced by the Guyanese people in their quest for freedom.  As a son of Indian immigrants who never owned a pair of shoes until the age of 12,  his transformation into the future leader of Guyana reminds us that with focus, passion and dedication, life can be a most unexpected journey full of unimaginable surprises.

This phenomenal account of Guyana, reveals the dark and complex cycle of exploitation resulting in the formation of racial tensions that divided the country and nearly caused its destruction.   Further divided along sharp political lines,  the battle to control the course of Guyana’s future unveiled the hidden motives of the British and U.S. governments.  And these motives, helped promoted a civil war that is the most violent in the country’s history.  The United States, caught in a grip of paranoia about  the possible Communist influence in Central and South America, purposely meddled in the affairs of British Guiana.  The actions and non-actions of the United States are an example of the misguided and nefarious foreign policy advocated as a result of the Cold War against the Soviet Union and the developing conflict in Southeast Asia.  Guyana’s independence in 1966, was the first step in a long road the country faced in social, economic and political reformation.  Guyana, is just in a long list of countries, that had been subject to foreign influence for far too many years.  Jagan was ahead of his time and his vision and efforts for independence for Guyana remain a lesson to other nations also in the fight for their own political, economic and social freedom.

ISBN-10: 9768163089
ISBN-13: 978-9768163080

World History

51vyww6savl-_sy344_bo1204203200_Last week, Trinidad & Tobago had its annual carnival celebration, the world renown party that pays tribute to Trinidadian heritage.  Attended by travelers from all over the globe, the carnival celebration is the most popular in the world and second to none.   Last September I visited the famed country to see for myself the history and culture that makes up Trinidad & Tobago.   The country is a surreal blend of several cultures and elements of Spanish, British, Chinese, French and Indian cultures permeate the island giving the visitor a sense of enchantment unique to Trinidad.  The food is something to be had and I indulged in as much as I could during my brief stay.  I certainly will return to Trinidad one day and hope to see carnival in person  and experience first hand the biggest and best carnival celebration.

Eric Williams, the first prime minister of Trinidad & Tobago from 1962 to 1981, brings to us this investigative account of the history of the mythical and unique nation.  Tracing its origins back to the voyages of Christopher Columbus, the reader can see first had how the foundation for the modern-day nation was laid through occupation, invasion, colonization and finally independence on August 31, 1962.   As someone who has close friends from the small Caribbean nation and a late relative born in Port of Spain,  the information in this book combined with my visit to the island, proved to be an invaluable experience in understanding its deep and sometimes violent history.

Recently, Trinidad has seen a rise in violent crimes as the police force struggles to maintain composure and control in the face of corruption and escalating drug wars between rival factions across the island.   Still a major tourist destination, especially during carnival,  the government faces a growing problem without a clear solution.   It is hoped that change will occur and heal the island from the afflictions that currently plague the country.  For anyone interested in the history of Trinidad & Tobago or those who are of Trinidadian heritage looking to learn more about the country they call home, this book is a good place to start.

ISBN-10: 161759010X
ISBN-13: 978-1617590108


World History

BrothersThe administration of John F. Kennedy continues to draw fascination and examination more than 50 years after his assassination.  The young president and his brother had  envisioned a new America full of social change, changes in foreign policy and economic reformation.  The murders of John and Robert Kennedy permanently changed the course of American history.  Following their deaths, the Vietnam War, Watergate, Iraq and many other regrettable events would damage America’s reputation abroad.  David Talbot, author of ‘The Devil’s Chessboard’, brings to us this New York Times Bestseller about the relationship between Jack and Robert Kennedy, the obstacles the new administration faced and the aftermath of that fateful trip to Dallas.

Camelot is the word most often used to describe the Kennedy administration, and its usage only grew after Kennedy’s death.  His administration is still subject to fierce criticism and debate often dividing people between either for or against its actions from 1961-1963.  But from all accounts, it was an eccentric mix of young intellectuals, fanatical military advisers, intelligence agents and law enforcement agencies, some of whom proved to be deadly enemies.  Talbot’s masterpiece reveals an administration at war with itself in which the new young president was forced to fight battles on several fronts, each one testing his patience, wisdom and foresight.

The election of John F. Kennedy sparked hope in the minds of thousands of Americans.  Social upheaval and the resolution of conflict without weapons at war were attractive to many voters.   Racial conflict marred with segregation, horrific violence, communist paranoia, religious division and memories of World War II helped fuel a decade that is one of the most violent in the history of this country.   Talbot takes us on a journey investigating what really happened during those times and how dangerously close Kennedy came to losing control of his own government and being provoked into launching nuclear weapons at the Soviet Union.  He also faced the threat of losing control of the Senate, at the time filled with conservative Republicans determined to protect supremacist views and the power hold of the conservative right.   In this torrid environment, two brothers bonded together walking a tight line in the process.

I’ve heard more than one person that things were never the same after Dallas.  The official story to this day is the conclusion reached by the Warren Commission.  However, over the past 50 years, pubic faith in the report has decreased exponentially.   An increase in assassination books and documentaries has caused many to take another look at what is often called the crime of the century.   Following JFK’s murder, Talbot continues along the trail following the life of the night watchman himself, Bobby.  His descent into depression, resurgence to public service and entry in the presidential race is one of the most fascinating political stories in the history of this nation.  But his assassination in 1968,  served as a sense of complete loss to those still mourning JFK and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s deaths while clinging to a shred of faith in state of the country.   There are many dark moments in the book and through Talbot we painfully relive each one. But what results in the end, is an invaluable account of an era that helped defined the modern day United States of America.

ISBN-10: 0743269195
ISBN-13: 978-0743269193


American History

phoenix 1On the night of October 31, 1993, paramedics received a call of a man lying unconscious outside the club known as the Viper Room. The club was party owned by actor Johnny Depp who was in attendance that night. Paramedics arrive and recognize the victim as River Phoenix. He later dies at the age of 23 from an overdose of cocaine and heroin known on the streets as a speedball.  He leaves behind his parents and four siblings.  His untimely death shocks the film industry and millions of fans across the globe.  The events of that night also shed light on a widespread drug culture in Hollywood and the ease of access in which many child stars have in obtaining them.   Phoenix’s fatal last dose was eerily similar of the death of comedian and actor John Belushi nine years earlier.  At the time of his death, Phoenix had been filming  “Dark Blood” and had returned to Los Angeles on a break from filming in the deserts in Utah.

I vividly recall the news reports of Phoenix’s death and his role in Rob Reiner’s “Stand By Me” is my personal favorite.  I’ve often heard that if he had lived and stayed clean, there was a high probability that he would taken many of the rolses that went to another rising child star, Leonardo DiCaprio.  The biggest tragedy in his death besides his age and the love ones he left behind, is the list of possible directions his career could have taken.  We can only speculate as to where he would be in life now and what he would think of the Hollywood we currently see.  In the short time that he did spend on earth, he left a permanent mark on the film industry and American cinema.

Gavin Edwards takes us back in time to revisit Phoenix’s life from his birth, nomadic life with his parents and his entry in Hollywood and the demons that he developed that would later claim his life.  The book is an interesting look at Phoenix and the dark side of the film industry.   Hollywood can be a mysterious and strange place to outsiders but books such as these provide us with a window of normalcy familiar to the average person.  It is often said that artists live in a completely different world not out of preference but out of circumstance.   His transformation from child star, animal rights activist to a film star with a crippling addition is similar to the lives of other stars such as Corey Feldman, Corey Haim and Kiefer Sutherland to name a few.  Great stars whether they’re actors, musicians, artist or writers, are far and few in between.  And tragically, the greatest stars are sometimes those that do not live for very long.  But in their careers they help to create entertainment that lives forever.

ISBN-10: 0062273175
ISBN-13: 978-0062273178


51s5cy-xt5l-_sy344_bo1204203200_In the United States, the month of February is dedicated to showcasing the achievements and centuries long plight of African-Americans.  Stories and images from the slave trade, emancipation, Jim Crow era and Civil Rights Movement flash across television screens, social media and the Internet.  My parents can still vividly recall their memories of the movement and the mistreatment of minorities of all backgrounds before the passing of the Civil Rights Bill of 1964 by then President Lyndon Baines Johnson.  Following the passage of the bill, many more years would pass before American society began to make bigger strides in social equality. And even today in 2016, there is still much work to be done.  The faces may have changed, but the actions and unfortunate consequences that come with discrimination are still an issue which America finds itself being confronted with regularly.   It’s nearly impossible for the generation of today to even imagine what life was like during Jim Crow.  To most it seems like an ancient period in American history.  But let us not forget that this era was less than 100 years ago and many of those alive today from that era still carry mental and physical scars that may never heal.

William Henry Chafe, Raymond Gavis and Robert Korstad have compiled this incredible book which features a collection of memories from people who lived in the south during Jim Crow and what they remembering growing up among a violent and fiercely oppressive climate of racial discrimination.   In most elementary schools, children are taught about the slave trade, emancipation and the civil rights movement, but books such as these are typically nowhere to be found.  I firmly believe that every American should read this book. It is often brutal at times, but it serves as reminder of a not too distant past that continues to rear its ugly head today.  One of things that make the past so valuable is that we can continue to use it as a tool by which to learn.  America has come a long way, and as Robert F. Kennedy accurately predicted more than 50 years ago, we did have our first president with African-American ancestry.   This nation still has a long way to go, but the commitment to change and improvement is what makes this country the great nation that it is.


Civil Rights Movement

51dhdvrotvl-_sx331_bo1204203200_For more than fifty-two year following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, opinion over the Warren Commission report continues to be divided.   Researchers continue the effort to find the truth about Dallas and as more time passes,  documents once restricted from public view on the ground of national security are being released to the public offering hope that one day maybe America will find out what really happened in Dealey Plaza.  One of the biggest problems with the Commission’s report is that the index was poorly written and almost non-existent.  But all of that change with the publication of this masterpiece by Sylvia Meagher (1921-1989) and  her critique of the Warren Commission report in which she exposes the endless amount of contradictions and flaws and the ineptitude of the Commission, FBI and Dallas Police Department.  And the index she compiled is still used by researchers to this day.

Performing with the precision of a seasoned surgeon, Meagher carefully dissects each section of the report, raising pertinent questions, some of which remain unanswered to this day.  She does not make any assumptions as to who did shoot Kennedy and J.D. Tippitt nor does she attempt to provide a “smoking gun” about the crimes that day.  However, Meagher did call for the release of more documents and a  new investigation to reveal the truth about that day in our lifetime.   We shall hope that day does come, but if it does it will far too late for Meagher, who died on January 14, 1989 at the age of 67 at St. Vincent’s Hospital in New York City from complications of the flu.  Had she lived, I believe she would have been thrilled to see Oliver Stone’s ‘JFK’, the film which renewed public interest, resulted in the JFK Assassination Records  Collection Act of 1992 and vindicated Jim Garrison in his belief that elements of the United States intelligence apparatus played a significant role in murder.   The book is a magnificent piece of work which should be read by anyone interested in the truth about the murder of John F. Kennedy.

ISBN-10: 1620879972
ISBN-13: 978-1620879979