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R.P. BenDedek

What's in the Book Basket This Week? Life's little oddities.
By R.P. BenDedek
Jul 13, 2014 - 2:12:15 AM

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"What's in the book basket this week?" brings to the attention of readers via publication of publicity material, various new book releases. The regular Sunday Book basket usually lists 15 such books, but today we only have 14. On an irregular basis we also publish a Christian Book Basket specifically listing 'Christian Books' and a 'Children's Book Basket.' These are published on a Wednesday. The publication and number of books in those baskets will vary.

We have some wonderful book reviewers at Magic City but unfortunately we can't do book reviews for every book. We do however assist authors to promote their books via a "No Charge - No Pay" self-promotions service in which we invite authors to give us 'stand alone' articles to publish at the bottom of which we can include their bios, photographs of book covers and links to purchase pages for their books.

We are extremely grateful to those authors who do provide our readers with interesting articles to read and we appreciate that those articles are sometimes exclusive to us or at least that we have been the first to be given the opportunity to publish them. A list of such articles to the end of June 2014 may be found here.

As you can see listed immediately below, we also list the articles published during the previous week which were supplied by book authors, and as well, we list whatever book reviews were published in the same period.

Articles published this week at Magic City written by various book authors include:
(Sun July 7th to Sat July 13th)

There were no Author Articles published this week.

Book Reviews Published This Week

M. Stevens-David Review: "Callaloo: A Jazz Folktale" by Marjuan Canady
Jul 11, 2014

The story is fast paced and filled with Caribbean dialect "words" that add to the charm of this "children's story. The story contains many of the elements that make for a good tale; i.e. mystery, humor and love. I think it would be fun to read to children because as "Americans" nearly all of us have come from a far off land or island at one time or another.

M. Stevens-David Review: "Foothold in the Mountain" by Constance Caruso
Jul 9, 2014

Her extremely sad tale takes us from her birth to present day and of all the books I have read, I found this story to be extremely difficult to complete. Not due to the fact that it wasn't well-written but due to the fact that it drew the reader in until one could actually visualize Connie's deep love for her family and her child and the hell she endured throughout most of her life.

M. Stevens-David Review: "Nobody Knew She Was There" by Andrew Glascoe
Jul 8, 2014

This is really a son's story about his mother that takes one from Toronto, Canada back across the Atlantic to northern Europe. It deals with the sad fact that we, as humans, often reside upon this earth a good number of years and when we are no longer here, our own close relatives, when asked who or what we stood for, they cannot find the words to truly define us or our lives.

M. Stevens-David Review: "Travels with Gannon & Wyatt GREENLAND" by Patti Wheeler & Keith Hemstreet
Jul 8, 2014

The authors should be commended for their ability to write this beautiful, totally believeable story. I'm very pleased to say, I wasn't disappointed in any way. I loved the "sharing" of the story by the brothers and I loved the pictures/drawings of life in that far off frigid land and the descriptive phrases took you by the heart and hand, to a never, never land.

M. Stevens-David Review: "GO GREEN!" A Family guide to a Sustainable Lifestyle "Disney books"
Jul 8, 2014

This book will be enjoyed by children of all ages, their parents and grandparents. There is truly a "mark of genius" in this "Disney" publication because it deals with aspects of everyday life and life's problems and gives examples on how to achieve the "GO GREEN" goals that everyone can understand.

M. Stevens-David Review: "The Last Human" by Ink Pieper
Jul 6, 2014

This short but powerful story serves as a notice to all mankind that what we think we know and can believe in, really isn't so...As I got about half way through the story, it dawned on me that even though we, Americans, have always been told that "we" are the most powerful nation on earth, that isn't always the truth.

M. Stevens-David Review: "Borderline Hero" by Kenneth Konecnik
Jul 6, 2014

The story illustrates the issues that are featured almost daily on television and in our newspapers, concerning civil rights, abortion/anti-abortion laws and the problems the United States is facing with illegal aliens coming into this country on a daily basis.

R.P. BenDedek

No. 1.

"The Truth about Racism"

by Dr. Philip Asante

"The Truth about Racism" by Dr. Philip Asante
As the son of a black African father and white English mother, Dr. Philip Asante personally knows the emotions and injustice of racism.

In his new book "The Truth about Racism," Dr. Asante provides a scientifically supported perspective into the origins of racist ideology by exploring contributions from both Christianity and the theory of Evolution.

"Whether you believe in creation or evolution, all humanity is related," Asante said. "The subject of racism is, of course, controversial and continuous in society and in the church."

Asante, who is deeply passionate about ending modern racism, explains how the Bible was deliberately misinterpreted and abused in order to justify slavery, segregation, colonialism and apartheid.

He draws on research and scripture to offer a revealing look into the development of racism.

"The Truth about Racism" provides insight into the distressing subject in a liberating and supportive approach that will leave readers seeking a sense of unity.

Dr. Asante has a doctorate in biblical studies, a master's degree in business administration and a bachelor's degree in pharmacy. He currently resides in South Wales with his wife and two grown children.

"The Truth about Racism"
by Dr. Philip Asante
Published: 2/28/2014
164 pages
ISBN: 978-1-49082-607-3
Softcover $13.95
E-Book $4.97
Hardcover $30.95

No. 2.

"Hidden Relationships of the Homicide Detective"

by Herman L. Hinton

"Hidden Relationships of the Homicide Detective" by Herman L. Hinton
MONTGOMERY, Ala. -- The nature of the career asserts that a detective can't be appreciated until he is the person under investigation.

In his new novel "Hidden Relationships of the Homicide Detective," author Herman L. Hinton, a retired deputy chief of investigations, explores how life choices can bring on disaster or honor. "Life's about making good decisions, taking responsibility for our actions and being a positive role model for others," Hinton said. "I may have witnessed the most heinous crimes known to man, but I've also seen the strength of the human character."

His novel follows the footsteps of a high-ranking homicide detective who, after a crime is committed against him, is investigated by his own son. As the protagonist delves deeper into his father's life, he learns more than he bargained for about life, loss and kinship.

A gripping narrative, "Hidden Relationships of the Homicide Detective" shares insights into the importance of family structure, victims of violent crime and the justice system. For more information, visit

Herman L. Hinton is a retired deputy chief of investigations who oversaw 130 detectives, supervisors and commanders in the Birmingham Police Department. His 30-year career in law enforcement also included supervising homicide, sex crime and domestic violence units. He wrote his first book "Life is So Simple When We Choose to Live God's Way" after a serious gunshot wound and the self-assessment of his own life. He resides in Alabama with his wife and four children.

"Hidden Relationships of the Homicide Detective"
By: Herman L. Hinton
ISBN: 978-1-4931-1205-0
Hardcover retail price: $29.99
Softcover retail price: $14.66
E-book retail price: $3.99

No. 3.

"Solider Boy"

by Allan Green

"Solider Boy" by Allan Green
Author Allan Green has written a new book, "Solider Boy," which takes place in the 1930s as America enters World War II. Green sets the scene of a love struck boy who makes the life altering decision to enlist, in an effort to protect all that he loves.

This historical fiction for young adults and older, takes on substantial themes such as love, deceit, family and humor, while displaying obstacles pertaining not only to the World War II time period but societal disputes applicable to today as well.

Tom Blaine, the son of poor coal miners, sees his life with a vision unclouded by coal dust. His intelligence is his key for a better future in his home in the Appalachian Mountains of eastern Pennsylvania. Instead of following his father and older brother down the mine shafts, he opts for a life surrounded by love. His heart belongs to Nola, the daughter of the local grocer, and his working hours are spent in her family’s grocery store. (Read More at

Allan Green taught at the college level for more than 12 years. He earned a bachelor's degree from Bucknell University, Lewisburg, Pa., and received his master's and doctorate degree from Rutgers University, New Brunswick, N.J.

""Solider Boy"
by Allan Green
Published 10/04/2013
ISBN: 978-1-49170-831-6
150 pages
Softcover $12.95
E-book $4
Hardcover $23

No. 4.

"The Rise of the Black Knight"

by Hugh Cumming

"The Adventures of Horace, George and Ingle" by Hugh Cumming
Horace, George and Ingle are three brothers, aged 15-17, growing up in a time of relative calm in a land once dominated by great battles, called Galray, - an expansive kingdom that stretches as far as the eye can see. The Kingdom has enjoyed peace and prosperity for many years under the watchfulness of the knight's council and the strong leadership of their father, King Reynold. Horace and George are the younger twins and have shown a strong affinity for becoming knights whereas Ingle spends much of his time perfecting the art of cooking and baking with the artisan chefs throughout the lands. When a fierce storm raging outside interrupts the brothers from a game of chess, they decide to venture into the watch tower in the middle of the storm and witness the enormous lightning strikes in one of the villages, causing fires that the villagers cannot seem to control.

Later at the council meeting, King Reynold makes the unusual choice to appoint his son Ingle to assist in the investigation that is being led by Roland, the son of another king from the council. Ingle and Roland set out to investigate the scene of the fire and uncover a strange substance with an unusual smell that Ingle can faintly recognize from his time in the kitchens. The next day, Roland anxiously goes out to see the Oracle of the mountains, while Ingle visits the kitchen and enlists his teacher to help him find the unidentified substance. Upon realizing that something or someone had coated the village roofs with a film that burns when wet, Ingle enlists his brothers to help find Roland and warn him that someone is working against their fathers and that the kingdom may be in danger. "There is a bond between siblings, especially brothers, that is hard to explain -- friend, competitor, greatest fan, advisor are all words that come to mind," says Cumming. "In both watching my children grow-up and in my own experiences with an older brother, I tried to capture the sense of a shared experience of growing up with a sibling. Horace and George, being the younger siblings, relied on the wisdom of their older brothers but also wanted to be trusted with the same level of responsibility -- something I could also identify with well."

Hugh Cumming is a 21st century Renaissance man -- in addition to being an author, he is a classical and jazz pianist, a college graduate with a degree in engineering from the University of Toronto, an avid outdoorsman...having skied and trekked all over world -- including both Annapurna and Mt. Kilimanjaro, and a successful business executive with more than 20 years in the information technology industry. Horace, George and Ingle were originally conceived by Cumming as bedtime stories to entertain and guide his growing children...The Adventures of Horace, George and Ingle -- The Rise of the Black Knight is Cumming's debut novel.

"The Adventures of Horace, George and Ingle"
by Hugh Cumming
144 pages
Hardcover $20
Softcover $13
E-book $10

No. 5.

"The Pop Up Kid"

by Donald Williams

"The Pop Up Kid" by Noah Jacobson/Donald Williams
Donald Williams (Noah Jacobson) was the victim of years of abuse by his father and stepmother. At a young age, after being run over by a car and having his legs severely damaged, he witnessed the attempted murder of his mother by his father -- who threw her out of a second story window after lighting their house on fire. Afterwards, his father married a sadist who abused and neglected Williams and his brothers. For years, he was abused and neglected. He and his brothers were sometimes locked in a hot attic in the summertime, never sure if their "guardians" would remember to bring them food and water.

"It was hell," recalls Williams. "People often refer to abuse as systematic and that's true... it was. But there was also something wild and unsystematic about it. You never knew what would be the thing that would earn you a punishment. You could never feel safe."

Despite his physical wreckage, witnessing the abuse-related deaths of two children and the psychological toll that abuse played on him, Williams rose above it all. With the help of his faith and the positive attitude that he miraculously kept through the ordeal, he went on to serve for many years in the U.S. Army and fell in love with music. He has been in several successful rock and soul groups in Germany, where he now lives. His book "The Pop Up Kid" is the chronicling of his bizarre and troubled life. Akin to books like "Running with Scissors" by Augusten Burroughs, Williams takes the reader through his experience of abuse and hope with frightening and uplifting detail.

"The Pop Up Kid"
by Noah Jacobson
Authorhouse publishing
Published January 2014
ISBN-10: 1491841923
ISBN-13: 978-1491841921
382 pages
Hardcover $29
Paperback $22

No. 6.

Women of Wealth - Caught in the Middle:
How Does The Sandwich Generation Woman Not Get Squeezed?

by Dennis Stearns and Sharon Allen

"Women of Wealth - Caught in the Middle" by Dennis Stearns and Sharon Allen
Greensboro, NC (June 19, 2014) -- Millions of American women are serving double duty, caring for both children and aging relatives. This group, dubbed the "Sandwich Generation," is succumbing to the pressure they feel to care for those they love... and they're paying the price. Exhaustion, loss of income, financial stress and absence of personal balance are common effects for these caregivers. To help guide this predominantly female population, the Family Wealth Advisory Council has released Caught In The Middle: How Does The Sandwich Generation Woman Not Get Squeezed? by Dennis Stearns and Sharon Allen.

According to the book, a typical Sandwich Generation woman in her 40s or 50s spends at least 20 hours a week raising children and caring for aging family members, often maintaining at least a part-time career as well. Studies have shown that the extreme stress these women are under causes premature aging and can take as much as 20 years off a family caregiver's life.

"It's a situation that is becoming more and more common, and one that requires focused proactive planning to be successful," says co-author Dennis Stearns, president of Stearns Financial Group, a wealth management firm based in Greensboro, NC. "Understanding one's options when it comes to sharing the responsibility of caring for an aging family member is the first step, but there's a lot more that goes into not losing oneself to the situation. That's why we wrote the book--to help this Sandwich Generation find balance."

Caught in the Middle: How Does The Sandwich Generation Woman Not Get Squeezed? offers proven advice that helps women navigate their individual situations with skill and confidence. Sections include information on preparing for eldercare, tips for putting finances in order, creating a support team and honoring balance.

The Kindle edition of the book is available for $3.68 at Amazon), auto-delivered wirelessly.

No. 7.

"Doomsday Marauders"

by Kilkenny

"Doomsday Marauders" by Kilkenny
Los Angeles -- A survivalist mindset is defined by the need to anticipate the worst and prepare for it.

In his new book "Doomsday Marauders," author, and former U.S. intelligence operative, Kilkenny shares his personal experiences in lawless societies with an eye toward instructing readers how to endure situations that seem hopeless.

"I'm putting everything you need to know out there and up front. My book shows you how you might survive; even thrive after the fall," Kilkenny said. "There's only one way, by being a Marauder."

Kilkenny equips readers with intellectual awareness as he increases their odds of survival during a post-apocalyptic event or fall of civilized society.

The guide is written with a humorously witty, yet helpful tone that provides insight into real and hypothetical situations.

By challenging popular prepping protocol and covering a wide variety of topics "Doomsday Marauders" is the ultimate guide to complete any modern day marauder toolkit.

For more information, visit:

Kilkenny is a former U.S. CIA operative and successful international banker who was born and raised in the Bronx. He is the father of three and currently resides in Los Angles with his wife, Sarah.

"Doomsday Marauders"
By: Kilkenny
ISBN: 978-1-49690-765-3
Softcover retail price: $16.95
Hardcover retail price: $27.99
E-book retail price: $5.99

No. 8.

"An Idiotic Savant"

by Russell Stewart

"An Idiotic Savant" by Russell Stewart
A childhood full of foster homes, juvenile delinquency and a diagnosis of Asperger's syndrome, made Russell Stewart's future look very bleak. However, after graduating from Princeton University, he set off on an adventure that would take him around the globe to meet more people than he ever thought possible.

In his autobiography "An Idiotic Savant," Stewart describes the love he never had from a family and the love he received from women in over a dozen foreign countries. Like his attitude toward life, Stewart is determined to share his message that an open mind allows adventure and good fortune to arise at any moment. Despite his adversity, he had the good fortune to meet one woman who gave him what he treasured most--grandchildren and the power to care for others.

As a young man, I thought about women most of the time. Money and power are merely ways to attract women. As a single man I was found to be attractive to most women as I was well built and dressed, all of my suites were custom make in Hong Kong, while on tour of duty with the U.S. Navy.

After a number of years traveling about the world and dating women in numerous cultures, I found that each woman made love in a unique style depending on their origin. But first, I must confess all of the women were traveling themselves and therefore free of any fear that their activities would be found out by friends or neighbors. Let me summarize some of my findings. (Excerpt from the book)

"An Idiotic Savant"
by Russell Stewart
Publisher: Xlibris
Published November 27, 2013
ISBN-10: 1493123378
ISBN-13: 978-1493123377
226 pages
Hardcover $22
Paperback $16
E-book $9

No. 9.


By Jeremy and Emily Wells

"Emily" By Jeremy and Emily Wells
MARLTON, NJ -- Society dictates what is and is not acceptable for love, but do terms change when relationships begin under the pressures of a life-threatening illness?

In Jeremy and Emily Well's new novel "Emily", a twelve-year-old girl, Emily, is diagnosed with childhood leukemia. Without a bone marrow donor, her chance of surviving her cancer is unlikely.

She has all but accepted her own death, until she meets 17-year-old Jeremy and the two develop a loving and supportive friendship. This friendship returns Emily's hope that she might live and be cured. However, when her mother learns about their relationship, she quickly tears the pair apart, removing Emily's desire to recover if she is forced to do so without Jeremy by her side.

Emily and Jeremy eventually discover a way to be together despite societies' rules that could have deprived her of an opportunity to experience a life with her soul mate.

"Everyone is entitled to love and be loved, even a twelve year old cancer patient," Wells said. "I hope that 'Emily' helps readers to re-evaluate their own biases about love, ethics and societal values.

By Jeremy and Emily Wells
Trafford Publishing
Published 04/30/2014
ISBN: 978-1-49073-463-7
178 pages
Hardcover $22
Softcover $12
E-book $4

No. 10

"The Longest Distance"

by David Scott

"The Longest Distance" by David Scott
David Scott believes we all have a greater version of ourselves waiting to come out. Having lived all over the world, Scott has a cross-cultural perspective on human nature. But no matter where he goes, one thing remains constant: there is a gift awaiting all of us, we just need the courage to look within. Scott's own journey to discover the power within himself came from meditation and the study of various teachings. Now Scott is on a new journey -- a journey to awaken others to what lies within. His new book, The Longest Distance, does just that!

Scott wants The Longest Distance, "to inspire us to go higher and deeper in pursuit of the answers to 'our questions.' When we are ready to let go, that is when the magic happens. Miracles are not really miracles at all. Just the power of the possible that resides within, coming through. The miracle is our awakening to it."

David Scott was born in the United States, and raised in the world. He currently resides in Singapore, but remains deeply connected to the passion that is Paris, the power shift that finds its new home in Asia, and the movement to co-create and cooperate that had its genesis for him in America; its inspiration both within and throughout. David has spent his career in the field of education, his life in the field of service. He is perhaps best known for his contributions as an accomplished entrepreneur, investor and leader in education, establishing and stewarding innovative school systems of size and scope in North America, the Middle East and Pacific Asia. He has played both visionary leader and humble student, with each measure of the world his teacher. David's work in education and support of the life sciences has provided hope for a more advanced, equitable and sustainable means to greater health and life for those he has been privileged in knowing. To learn more, please visit

"Longest Distance"
by David Scott
Publisher: Hesperides
Published June 13, 2014
ISBN-10: 0991301404
ISBN-13: 978-0991301409
384 Pages
Paperback $14.49
Kindle $9.52

No. 11

"Revenge and Retribution"

by Anna Belfrage

"Revenge and Retribution" by Anna Belfrage
We often play with the idea of going back in time. From things as small as the rise of vinyl record sales in recent years to more extreme examples like the paleo diet, which harkens back to cavemen's eating habits. But what if time travel was actually possible?

This is the central theme in Anna Belfrage's award-winning, time slip series The Graham Saga. In Revenge and Retribution, Belfrage gives us yet another look at life and love in 17th century Maryland. In Revenge and Retribution, Belfrage explores new topics including witch trials, vigilante justice, and the difficulties in keeping a family alive and safe at that time--all against a well-researched historical background. The resultant tale will leave you on the edge of your seat.

Anna Belfrage was raised abroad, on a mixture of South American, English and Swedish culture -- a rather exotic mixture that has left her trilingual and constantly curious about new cultures. Other than her books, she maintains a blog and contributes regularly to the English Historical Fiction Authors blog, where she delivers short pieces on various aspects of history. She is a member of HNS (Historical Novel Society) for which she also reviews, and is an aspiring New Writers member of the Romantic Novelists' Association. The Graham Series has won several awards, including a Book Readers Appreciation Group (BRAG) medallion. She currently enjoys a high-profile job as the CFO of a listed multinational Group, and resides in Malmo, Sweden. For more information about the book, please visit

'Revenge & Retribution' is the sixth book in Anna Belfrage's time slip series featuring time traveller Alexandra Lind and her seventeenth century husband, Matthew Graham. (See Overview)

"Revenge and Retribution"
by Anna Belfrage
390 pages
Paperback $18.49
Nook Book $6.64

No. 12

"The Accidental Purpose"

by Gina Quarles

"The Accidental Purpose" by Gina Quarles
Gina Quarles shares her unbelievable true story of survival in 'The Accidental Purpose.' In January 2012, Gina Quarles was in a terrible car accident. While she was lost and driving at night, her car spun out of control, and flipped into and down a 14-foot embankment off an old, dark farm road. The accident broke her neck and one of her legs; she should not have lived, but she did. In The Accidental Purpose: My Unexpected Nightmare Revealed With the Gift of Hope, Gina reckons with the question of why unexpected tragic events happen to people, and whether there is something larger at work that escapes our awareness.

In The Accidental Purpose, Gina reveals that her last memories of the accident include dropping her cell phone, her car spinning out of control, and then the car flipping over. She woke up eleven days later in the hospital, her life irrevocably changed. There were many times where Gina was near death, but, somehow, something kept her alive.

Gina bravely reveals the most private aspects of her story, relating both frightening and miraculous events with grace. She questions whether events, like her accident, are the result of fate, bad karma, or perhaps, completely random. She also struggles with her survival, wondering if she can attribute it to a higher power, or results of an equally ephemeral power: luck.

Gina hopes the reader will draw their own conclusions to the events in The Accidental Purpose. Each must decide for themselves, based on their beliefs, why she was made to endure such a tragic event and why she survived. Regardless of their beliefs, however, readers will surely be drawn into this touching story of perseverance and survival against all odds.

Gina Quarles discovered her passion for writing in the late 1990s, after the birth of her first child. She published articles online while she stayed at home raising her children, writing primarily about motherhood. She has published poetry in the Library of Congress edition, "Echoes of the Century," by Pen Publisher, as well as local Northwestern publications. She has taken a break from pursuing her Bachelor's in education to focus on her recovery, raising her children, and writing. For more information visit

"The Accidental Purpose"
by Gina Quarles
Published March 25, 2014
150 Pages
Price $16

No. 13

"Diet Enlightenment: The Real Secret to Weight Loss"

by Rachel L. Pires

"Diet Enlightenment: The Real Secret to Weight Loss" by Rachel L. Pires
We are bombarded on a daily basis by the latest diet trends, workout plans, and wonder drugs that promise to take us down to the ideal weight that we long to be at. But as quickly as we take on these new ideas, we then give them up, either because they are not working or simply aren't realistic to sustain over a long period of time. So here we are again, exasperated, frustrated, asking the question, "how do we lose the weight and keep it off for good?"

Enter: Diet Enlightenment: The Real Secret to Weight Loss by Rachel L. Pires. Like so many others, Pires was once obsessed with losing weight, yo-yo dieting, and constantly fluctuating her weight. It was when she reached the point of "diet enlightenment" that she finally realized the solution to maintaining her desired weight.

"After struggling with weight loss for over ten years, I figured out the key to easy weight loss and realized why the majority of people fail," Pires said. "I also made some insightful observations about 'naturally thin people' and realized that they were all doing something that most dieters lacked. Not only did I lose the weight easily, but keeping it off was almost effortless -- even after having a baby recently. I knew I had to share this knowledge with anyone who has ever struggled with weight loss."

What Diet Enlightenment is not is a book that offers the latest diet fad. Instead, it offers a modern approach to keeping track of the calories one intakes, equipping readers with techniques that are easily adaptable. Thus far, those who have adapted Pires' program -- including her father, a Neuropsychologist at Weill-Cornell Medical College -- have been able to lose and maintain their desired weight with ease.

"My aim is to reveal the secrets that the multibillion-dollar dieting industry doesn't want you to know, and teach you how to lose weight easily and permanently without giving up your favorite foods," adds Pires. "You will learn how to tap into your natural ability to stay thin and free yourself from the bondage of emotional eating."

Rachel L. Pires, a Boston University graduate, is a contributing writer for Weight Loss Blogs, a weight loss advisor, and a new mom. Additionally, she is a dancer, a 2nd degree black belt, and an advanced certified scuba diver.


Diet Enlightenment: The Real Secret to Weight Loss can be purchased from, and through all major booksellers

No. 14

"Tattoo Zoo"

By Paul Avallone

"Tattoo Zoo" By Paul Avallone
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- With the sudden and violent collapse of Iraq, it is inevitable to question whether or not the same fate awaits Afghanistan, ruining America's efforts in the region. "We won the Afghan invasion very quickly," says Paul Avallone, a former Special Forces soldier who spent more than three years in the war, first as a Green Beret, then as a civilian embedded journalist. "Then we proceeded to lose the war in the following dozen years of nation-building." Avallone argues that after the initial victory our political and military leaders did not pursue and destroy the routed Taliban and al-Qaeda enemy in their Pakistani sanctuaries. Instead they applied a war-fighting strategy of hearts-and-minds counterinsurgency coupled with extremely restrictive rules of engagement which, Avallone says, tasked our ground soldiers with fighting a war that thereafter could not be won.

"We refused to define the Taliban as Islamic ideologues, determined and relentless," Avallone says. "And we romanticized the native Afghan, believing that if we dug him wells and gave him schools and clinics, he would set aside his tribal and religious loyalties and welcome us as his brothers. And the ultimate strategic failure: we were giving our blood and treasure for nothing in return. For no economic gain. Not oil, not shipping lanes, not a colony, not a trading partner." Avallone lays fault first with our political leaders who, he says, could not publicly recognize that it is a religion that we are fighting against. "They ignored the primary tenet of Sun Tzu, to know your enemy." As for our allies, Avallone contends, "the Afghan will sit down to three cups of tea with you any day, but he is not going to allow you to tell him what to do or how to live, and he will fight to his death to defy you."  Avallone rejects that we should wage wars against our own interests. "Those who attacked us on 9/11 and those who had given them sanctuary needed to be punished, destroyed," he argues. "But what in the years following justifies 2,500 American deaths, 20,000 life-changing injuries and a trillion dollars blown?"

Those are the undertones of Avallone's markedly politically incorrect novel "Tattoo Zoo." In it he distills the war down to three intense days with a fictional American infantry platoon caught, Alamo-like, in a crossfire between a fiercely attacking Taliban horde and the platoon's own politically correct four-star command who is determined to prosecute the soldiers for war crimes. "Do not blame the soldier for the failure in strategy and the lost war," Avallone says. "I was one of them and then spent years with them, and by and large, a hundred to one, the American GI has fought the Afghan War bravely, honestly and honorably." He adds with regret, "The same cannot be said of our high command, both civilian and military."

Paul Avallone spent more than three years in the Afghan War, first as a Green Beret, then as a civilian embedded journalist. He wrote "Tattoo Zoo" as an old-fashioned war story along the lines of Mailer's "The Naked and the Dead" and Jones' "The Thin Red Line" using a novel to convey the experience of the war from a warrior's perspective. Avallone celebrates the soldier as far more honorable than flawed; criticizing the command as morally challenged.

"Tattoo Zoo"
A Novel of the Afghan War
By Paul Avallone
ISBN: 978-1-4917-2500-9
Available in softcover, e-book

No. 15

Touching God: A Journey, A Guide to Mysticism in Christianity and Islam

By Dr. Brad Tyndall

"Touching God: A Journey, A Guide to Mysticism in Christianity and Islam" By Dr. Brad Tyndall
NEW CASTLE, Colo. -- After the terrorist attacks in 2001, Dr. Brad Tyndall knew the Muslim and Middle Eastern students at his college campus could possibly suffer retaliation.

As a former Peace Corps volunteer who had had many life-changing experiences with kind and caring Muslims, he decided to present "The Loving Side of Islam" to provide a more educated and well-rounded picture of Islam and the Middle East to students at the college. The more Dr. Tyndall studied about Islam, the more he realized similarities between it and Christianity at their mystical core.

"At the heart of each is a human desire to connect with a loving God," Dr. Tyndall said.

Dr. Tyndall's presentation eventually became a book, Touching God. Through the exploration of new and ancient religious practices in Islam and Christianity, the book shows the author's personal journey toward an intimate relationship with God. By distilling the basic tenets and practices of the two religions, Dr. Tyndall finds they hold similar mystical treasures.

"I want to bring understanding and harmony to a world fractured by religious and cultural differences -- especially between Christian and Muslim countries," Dr. Tyndall said. For more information, visit

Dr. Brad Tyndall works at Colorado Mountain College and teaches Sustainable Economics. He speaks Arabic and has worked overseas in sustainable development in the Sudan, Northern Yemen, Kenya, and Tanzania. Dr. Tyndall has his Ph.D. from Colorado State University and was a Fulbright Fellow Economist and has worked as a Peace Corps volunteer and an economics instructor for U.S. Information Service and U.S. Agency for International Development. He currently lives in New Castle, CO with his wife Audrey, with whom he is building an international Facebook community called "Mystic Pita" for Muslims, Christians, and Jews.

"Touching God: A Journey, A Guide to Mysticism in Christianity and Islam"
By Dr. Brad Tyndall
ISBN: 978-1-4918-7254-3

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