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Destiny of the Republic


I will be the first to admit that I knew next to nothing about the 20th President of the US: James A Garfield. But that’s probably the case for many of us.

Garfield was only in office for a mere 3 months. But did you know that Garfield never – not even once – campaigned for the role of the Republican nomination nor for the office of president? He was elected the Republican candidate against his will.

A civil war hero, he was beloved by his party and by his country. He was petitioning civil rights back during the war, and helped to create and pass laws that gave blacks more freedoms. Garfield truly was an amazing man, yet many people today probably don’t even know his name, despite his having held the highest office in the land.

We can make all the excuses we want, but there is no good excuse as to why this man’s name is probably never mentioned in the history classroom, aside from maybe in a list of assassinated presidents. But Destiny of the Republic gives us an inside view of the man. Born in Ohio, Garfield was one of the perfect examples of a man coming from absolute poverty, yet making it to the White House. He worked hard, studied hard, and served his country to the best of his ability.

Then, Garfield was gunned down by and shot twice, once in the arm and once in the back. Yet, surprisingly, Garfield should have survived the assault. The bullet in his back had missed all vital organs and was resting comfortably, where it could do no further damage. So, in fact, Garfield’s death was not the cause of an assassin, but of foolish doctors, who continuously poked and prodded him with unsterilized instruments – and without even washing their hands!

In fact, Destiny of the Republic goes into great detail about the medical beliefs, reasoning, discoveries, and foolishness of the era, giving readers a very clear idea of how Garfield’s life could have been spared if the attending doctors had just followed the advice of their colleagues.

But that’s not the least of it, Destiny of the Republic follows not just Garfield and then his doctors, but follows two other vital characters in the story: Charles J. Guiteau, the assassin; and Alexander Graham Bell, the man who would invent a primitive metal detector to help locate the bullet in Garfield’s back.

The story shifts between these three characters, building up the suspense without any actual explanations at the start as to why Charles J. Guiteau and Alexander Graham Bell are important to the story of James A. Garfield. But, then as the story continues to unfold, all becomes clear. And with it the importance of just why we needed background to all three men in order to understand the full story.

Along the way, we also meet Chester K. Arthur, a man whose life was changed by Garfield’s death. Arthur had the Vice Presidency thrust upon him and he in no way wanted the office of President for himself. And he had a lot of personal hurdles to overcome in order to fill Garfield’s shoes.

Destiny of the Republic is an incredible story about an amazing man whose life could have been spared. I recommend this book to anyone who wants to know more about American Presidents and especially to those who want to know more about our lesser known presidents.

Genre: History

Era: 1880’s

Goodreads: Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine, and the Murder of a President.


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Ike’s Bluff

Many people believed that despite his time serving as Supreme Allied Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Troops in Europe and later as the 1st to NATO, that President Eisenhower wasn’t actually fit to serve the highest office in the land. That he was something of a bumbling fool that was going to foolishly land us in the hands of Khrushchev. But Evan Thomas uses Ike’s Bluff to prove that this was precisely what Eisenhower wanted us to believe.

The great commander knew exactly what he was doing. After all, he was very experienced in the art of war. He knew war like no one else; he’d been there, he’d directed it, he’d sent 100’s of thousands of men to their deaths. So, if Eisenhower knew how to plan war, it’s safe to assume he also knew how to avoid war. And if that meant playing the bumbling the fool, then so be it.

Eisenhower was a superb poker player, and it was these very skills that got him out of a lot of tight situations: with Korea, the Soviet Union, China, just to name a few. But he was also a master at handing out jobs, letting those around him do the hard work and get the credit for it. After all, that’s how a good Commander-in-Chief should roll, right?

Throughout 8 years in office, Eisenhower managed to delicately straddle the fine line between defense build up and peaceful overtones. This would assure that should the Soviet Union threaten war, we were prepared, yet assured that we were not the threat itself.

Ike’s Bluff shows us that while serving as Supreme Allied Commander, Ike may have been the loneliest man on earth, but that now as he served as Commander-in-Chief of the greatest country in the world, he really was. It shows his greatest victories while in office and his darkest moments. And it reminds us that the Presidency is just maybe the hardest job on the planet; it is not a job for the faint of heart. But Dwight D. Eisenhower was as prepared as they come.

Genre: History

Era: 1950’s

Goodreads: Ike’s Bluff’s President Eisenhower’s Secret Battle to Save the World



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In My Hands

Set in Poland during WWII, In My Hands is the memoir of Irene Gut Opdyke, who helped rescue Jews during German occupation of Poland.

Summary: Irena Gut is a normal Polish girl in 1939. She loves her family and four sisters. And she’s pretty sure she wants to be a sister – or maybe a nurse. In fact, she’s studying to be a nurse when the Nazi bombing of Poland begins. She barely escapes with her life. But, in fact, the next 6 years of her young life, are a constant of trying to avoid brutality from both the Germans and the Russians. After being brutally abused by the Soviets, she’s locked in a Soviet hospital as a prisoner. With the help a friendly Polish doctor, she manages to escape and hide out with his aunt. Eventually, she receives the blesséd news that the Soviets are kindly letting those Polish who were separated from their families when the country was divided to be reunited. But it seems to Irena that this is just another scheme to capture and torture her again. But she manages to escape their clutches once again, only to land in the hands of the Germans. Her time working for Nazis doesn’t seem quite as bad. She works for a rather friendly German cook and, it’s during this time, that she starts hiding away Jews from the nearby ghetto. When the Nazi, Major Rügemer, asks her to keep house for him, she finds the blessing of a basement with hidden rooms. Rügemer has just provided her with the perfect place to hide away Jews. And right under the Nazis’s noses. Of course, this is hardly the end of Irena’s problems. She finds herself again and again fighting for her life and for the lives of the Jews she has promised to protect. But, she has decided, she has been called on by God to protect these people and to fight both the Germans and the Soviets for the sake of her beloved Poland.


In My Hands is truly an amazing account of a real young women – only in her early 20’s – who was actually willing to sacrifice everything for someone else. And Irena experienced it from both ends. Remember that the invasion of Poland by Germany started WWII. But a mere 17 days later, the Soviet Union also invaded Poland; this beautiful country was divided in half. And Irena was one of the poor souls who was stuck on the Soviet side, working as a slave in a hospital. Because what else do you call someone who is forced to work with no pay?

Yes, Irena got lucky time and time again. A Polish doctor helped her escape from the hospital and she stayed with his aunt for a year. And the German cook she worked for, Herr Shultz, protected her. I guess we’ll never really know whether or not he knew what she was doing. If he did, he looked the other way. Not every German would have done that. And then Major Rügemer, without realizing it, provided her with the perfect hiding place for so many Jews. Even when he [spoilers!] found out himself, he saved her.

So, yes, she got lucky time and again. But she was also captured by the Soviets on several occasions and only managed to survive because she was able to escape. But the point to focus on is that she was willing to sacrifice everything for someone else – and for her country. How many people today are willing to do the same?

So, do you want a real-life story about self-sacrifice? About someone who hid the Jews from the Germans – right under their noses? Then this is definitely a book worth checking out.

Genre: History

Classification: Adult


Featured in: Polish Resistance

Goodreads: In My Hands: Memoirs of a Holocaust Rescuer

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To Move the World

Summary (official):

The last great campaign of John F. Kennedy’s life was not the battle for reelection he did not live to wage, but the struggle for a sustainable peace with the Soviet Union. To Move the Worldrecalls the extraordinary days from October 1962 to September 1963, when JFK marshaled the power of oratory and his remarkable political skills to establish more peaceful relations with the Soviet Union and a dramatic slowdown in the proliferation of nuclear arms. 
Kennedy and his Soviet counterpart, Nikita Khrushchev, led their nations during the Cuban Missile Crisis, when the two superpowers came eyeball to eyeball at the nuclear abyss. This near-death experience shook both leaders deeply. Jeffrey D. Sachs shows how Kennedy emerged from the Missile crisis with the determination and prodigious skills to forge a new and less threatening direction for the world. Together, he and Khrushchev would pull the world away from the nuclear precipice, charting a path for future peacemakers to follow.
During his final year in office, Kennedy gave a series of speeches in which he pushed back against the momentum of the Cold War to persuade the world that peace with the Soviets was possible. The oratorical high point came on June 10, 1963, when Kennedy delivered the most important foreign policy speech of the modern presidency.  He argued against the prevailing pessimism that viewed humanity as doomed by forces beyond its control. Mankind, argued Kennedy, could bring a new peace into reality through a bold vision combined with concrete and practical measures. 
Achieving the first of those measures in the summer of 1963, the Partial Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, required more than just speechmaking, however. Kennedy had to use his great gifts of persuasion on multiple fronts—with fractious allies, hawkish Republican congressmen, dubious members of his own administration, and the American and world public—to persuade a skeptical world that cooperation between the superpowers was realistic and necessary. Sachs shows how Kennedy campaigned for his vision and opened the eyes of the American people and the world to the possibilities of peace.  
Featuring the full text of JFK’s speeches from this period, as well as striking photographs, To Move the World gives us a startlingly fresh perspective on Kennedy’s presidency and a model for strong leadership and problem solving in our time.

To Move the World: JFK’s Quest for Peace (2014) discusses President Kennedy’s crusade for world peace. Sachs covers Kennedy’s distrust of the Soviet Union and Cuba that led to his early blunders – such as the Bay of Pigs and the Cuban Missile Crisis. But it was these very events that forced him to see the Cold War from a different perspective: What would happen if he really had crossed that line? If he had blinked instead of Khrushchev? The world had been on the brink of a nuclear holocaust, and instead of preventing it, he could have just as easily caused it.

But Kennedy’s influences didn’t start with the Cuban Missile Crisis. It didn’t even start with Germany’s invasion of Poland (he was living in England at the time and went to hear Churchill speak in Parliament). In started when he was 15 and first read Churchill’s memoirs of WWI. From there on out, Churchill was his biggest hero – and the man after whom he would fashion his ideologies and his rhetoric.

Because of his heavy influence, Sachs spends a great amount of time studying Kennedy’s rhetoric on peace. And by extension, Churchill’s rhetoric on peace. And what may come as shocking, on Eisenhower’s rhetoric on peace. After all, Eisenhower gave one of the top three Presidential Farewell Warnings just a mere three days before Kennedy gave the most famous inaugural address of all time. And they followed similar themes. Moreover, when planning out his first General Assembly speech in 1961 as well as his ‘Peace Speech’ in 1963, Kennedy studied Churchill’s greatest speeches including his ‘Sinews of Peace’ speech from 1946 (aka Iron Curtain speech) as well as Eisenhower’s ‘Atoms for Peace’ speech (1953) and ‘Chance for Peace’ speech (1953). These speeches not only influenced Kennedy’s rhetoric, but also paved the way of his speeches.

To Move the World covers Kennedy’s quest for peace – not to appease Khrushchev and his policy’s, but to understand the other side, to negotiate, and to find a way to peace. To move away from the dangerous arms race and the treat of nuclear holocaust. It follows Kennedy’s plea for a nuclear test ban treaty, which was he able to successfully pass and sign before his death.

To be perfectly honest, while the book does a good job of balancing Kennedy’s concern for peace and his insistence on staying militarily strong, not backing down to the Soviets. He spoke strongly against Communism, yet sought ways to get along with the Soviets. (Yet Sachs could have been a bit more fair to Eisenhower), and I certainly could have done without the last two chapters, which had very little to do with Kennedy’s quest for peace. That being said, like said earlier, the book did a fair job of presenting Kennedy’s quest for peace. I gave it 3 stars.

Genre: History

Era: 1960’s

Goodreads: To Move the World: JFK’s Quest for Peace

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PT 109

For the last official USA eVote Reads post of 2018 (expect a special post on the 31st) we feature a History Series featured book – or at least the story! This will be a relatively short post, since we tell the story in our WWII section and there’s no need to repeat it here.

Our last post featured a story from 75 years ago – this story, too, took place 75 years ago. Both stories were miracles.

Summary (official):

A thrilling, moment-by-moment account of one of the most famous events of World War II–the sinking of PT-109 and John F. Kennedy’s heroic actions that saved his crew–and a fascinating examination of how that extraordinary episode shaped the future president’s life.

At 2:00 a.m. on the moonless night of August 2, 1943, U.S. Patrol Torpedo boat PT-109, captained by Lieutenant John F. Kennedy, was struck by the Japanese destroyer Amagiri near the Solomon Islands. The American ship was cleaved in two and rocked by an explosion; two crew members died instantly; the remaining eleven survivors clung to the sinking wreckage, adrift in enemy waters. Despite injuring his back, Lt. Kennedy–towing a severely burned sailor by the strap of a life jacket–led his battered and exhausted men on a harrowing three-and-a-half mile swim to a tiny uninhabited island. Desperate for food and water, Kennedy set off on a solo reconnaissance mission, scouting two larger islands two-and-a-half miles away. Discovering water and coconuts, he returned for his men. For six days they lived off coconuts and kept out of sight of passing Japanese patrols until they were rescued.

Drawing on new information from the American rescuers and recently released archives in both Japan and the U.S., PT-109 recounts this event in breathtaking detail and explores the incident’s remarkable aftermath on JFK’s life and legend. William Doyle reveals that, while the incident transformed JFK into a “war hero” and helped propel him to the U.S. Senate and the White House, the wounds he suffered during that harrowing week continued to haunt him, physically and psychologically.

The story of the PT 109 tells JFK’s harrowing ordeal in the South Pacific in 1943. It tells about the Japanese destroyer that cut his boat in half. And it tells the story of his rescuers. PT 109 gives a moment-by-moment, detailed account of the whole adventure.

Kennedy was already in naval officers training before Pearl Harbor – he and his older brother Joe enlisted for the navy. And while Joe flew planes for the navy, Jack was desperate to drive PT boats. Or really anything that would allow him to see action instead of being stuck behind a desk for the duration of the war.

After training, Kennedy was posted in the Solomon Islands, under the command of General MacArthur – who would later advise him in such matters as the Bay of Pigs and Vietnam. One night, while out on patrol, thanks to the darkness and the confusion, the PT 109 was separated from the rest of the fleet. Suddenly, out of nowhere, a Japanese destroyer loomed ahead of them. Before Kennedy could react, the destroyer and sliced his little boat in half!

From there on out, Kennedy was tasked with making sure that his crew was safe and rescued.

PT 109 tells that story – and an incredible story it is!

Like Charlie Brown, over Germany in December 1943, in August of 1943, John Kennedy was saved from the gripes of death. Both were miracles. And both stories are worth reading.

If you are looking for another incredible WWII story – and one that happened to a president at that – than this is the book for you! Or, if you’re just looking for another good Kennedy read, this is also the book for you! PT 109 tells the story of Kennedy before he became president – before he was destined to become president. Brother Joe was still alive and JFK was just fighting for his country, like every other young man his age.

Genre: History

Era: 1940s

Featured in PT 109: The Story of a Miracle

Goodreads: PT 109: JFK’s Night of  Destiny


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A Higher Call

75 years ago today, one of the greatest Christmas stories took place. In the skies over Germany, a young American fighter pilot Charlie Brown (yes, that was really his name) flew his first mission.

And that mission could have ended in catastrophe – one that might have claimed the lives of very man on board. Brown’s B-17 was hit and badly damaged. The crew, too, was badly damaged. Of Brown’s men, one could not walk, one that could not use his hands, and on had gotten his leg blown off, and one was dead. To be sure, Brown’s crew didn’t stand a chance.

They would have gone down.

But a miracle happened.

A miracle in the form of a German Ace pilot!

For all of a sudden, out of nowhere, it seemed, a German fighter plane pulled up on the tail of the B-17. The pilot, Franz Stigler, instead of shooting down the plane, adding to his hit list, did the incredible.

He escorted the crew of the B-17 to safety in neutral territory. Then, with a salute to the American pilot, Stigler flew off.

One might think that this incredible story ends there. Charlie Brown and his crew mates were safe.

But it gets even more incredible.

Years later, Stigler moved to America with his wife. There, he took part in several get togethers with American WWII veterans. Stigler, the German Ace pilot.

But then, out of curiosity, Stigler decided to look up the young American pilot he had saved. He had no idea that Brown was trying to look him up, as well.

 40 years later, Stigler and Brown met again. They both said it was like meeting a long-lost brother! Their reunion was tearful. These men – who fought on opposite sides in the war – loved each other.

Charlie Brown says that he owes Franz Stigler his life.

If you want a real miracle story, this is the book for you. A real-life war story miracle. A Higher Call covers the life of Franz Stigler, showing that the German Luftwaffe were not the Nazis we usually think of. In fact, most members of the Luftwaffe were not Nazis, just Germans fighting to protect their country from the Russians. Franz Stigler was one of those men.

A Higher Call is a remarkable story, perfect to get you into the Christmas spirit. It reminds us that – even in war – we are all humans.


Image result for a higher call


Genre: History


Goodreads: A Higher Call: An Incredible True Story of Combat and Chivalry in the War-Torn Skies of World War II

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The Age of Eisenhower

2018 Collection: The Age of Eisenhower chronicles the rise and, well, never really fall of Supreme Allied Commander turned cold War Era President Dwight D. Eisenhower. The Age of Eisenhower argues that the age would rightfully encompass post-WWII America as our soldiers were coming home victorious to grand parades, up to (and some may find this surprising) that fateful day in Dallas. Yes, November 22, 1963.

Summary (official):

An original and penetrating assessment of President Dwight D. Eisenhower, showing Ike’s enormous influence on modern America, the Cold War, and on the presidency itself.

In a 2017 survey, presidential historians ranked Dwight D. Eisenhower fifth on the list of great presidents, behind the perennial top four: Lincoln, Washington, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Teddy Roosevelt. Historian William Hitchcock shows that this high ranking is justified. Eisenhower’s accomplishments were enormous, and loom ever larger from the vantage point of our own tumultuous times. A former general, Ike kept the peace: he ended the Korean War, avoided a war in Vietnam, adroitly managed a potential confrontation with China, and soothed relations with the Soviet Union after Stalin’s death. He guided the Republican Party to embrace central aspects of the New Deal like Social Security. He thwarted the demagoguery of McCarthy and he advanced the agenda of civil rights for African Americans. As part of his strategy to wage, and win, the Cold War, Eisenhower expanded American military power, built a fearsome nuclear arsenal and launched the space race. In his famous Farewell Address, he acknowledged that Americans needed such weapons in order to keep global peace—but he also admonished his citizens to remain alert to the potentially harmful influence of the “military-industrial complex.” 

From 1953 to 1961 no one dominated the world stage as did President Dwight D. Eisenhower. The Age of Eisenhower is the definitive account of this presidency, drawing extensively on declassified material from the Eisenhower Library, the CIA and Defense Department, and troves of unpublished documents. In his masterful account, Hitchcock shows how Ike shaped modern America, and he astutely assesses Eisenhower’s close confidants, from Attorney General Brownell to Secretary of State Dulles. The result is an eye-opening reevaluation that explains why this “do-nothing” president is rightly regarded as one of the best leaders our country has ever had. 

Like all good biographies, the story starts when Eisenhower’s story starts – in 1890 with birth of the third child of David and Ida. But we won’t spend much time on that, since a whole post will be devoted to that later, in the Biographies section. But, suffice to say, Hitchcock does spend some time discussing Eisenhower’s childhood, his time at West Point – where he graduated in 1915 with Omar Bradley – and his time serving in our great army.

But the focus on this particular biography is the Age of Eisenhower. See, although Ike graduated in 1915 while the Great War was going full scale over in Europe, he did not earn a coveted spot over seas as his first assignment. Instead, when President Wilson declared war in April 1917, Ike was stationed at Fort Oglethorpe in Georgia. He would not see war yet, despite his recent graduation from West Point.

So, his story cannot really pick up until June 24, 1942 – and this is all in the first chapter! For it was on this date that Eisenhower arrived in London, assuming the commanded of the Allied war in Europe.

Now the story can begin.

The next 18 chapters covers Ike’s time in Europe and his time in the White House, followed by a closing chapter that explains why the Age of Eisenhower did not end on January 20, 1961, but actually on November 22, 1963. See, if one looks closely, the two ran the country in similar fashions. They both spoke about the “Rights of man” being derived not from the state, but from “the hand of God.” The tackled the Civil Rights issues in similar fashions (and at similar speeds), “In his management of the cold war, Kennedy picked up right where Eisenhower left off” (510). Even issues like Laos and Vietnam were tackled in a Eisenhower-esque fashion. Kennedy even consulted Eisenhower on any number of critical issues – from the Bay of Pigs on down through the next three (almost) years.

These points are important because we should remember that Kennedy accomplished what he did because of Ike’s time in office – because Ike paved the road. Eisenhower’s “peace through strength” stance, his hardline with Khrushchev and Castro were not just important to the following administration, but to this country. Eisenhower was the president to pass Brown vs. Board of Education. Eisenhower desegregated the schools. Eisenhower had to send in troops when schools and governors refused to cooperate with his mandates. Eisenhower rebuilt up our military and our arms.

And most importantly, it was Eisenhower who rededicated this country back to God. It was his Back to God program his outwardly display of faith that made the 1950’s the decade we look back so fondly on.

Sure, there were recessions – there always will be. But Americans had, for the first time, extra money for houses, cars, and these new fangled things called televisions. It was Eisenhower’s post-WWII America that saw the boom of economy and the boom of Christianity. It was during the Eisenhower administration that we saw “In God we trust” on our money.

Eisenhower, faulted like any human being, was – and should be today – a 20th century American legend. A hero who served his country from 20 to 70 – and as an advisor until his own death. He was Supreme Allied Commander, a 5-Star General, President of the United States.

Yet, Eisenhower seems to have been forgotten in the realms of history. We pull him out to discuss D-Day, but his name doesn’t often come up afterwards. Yet, this is the man who stood strong during the Cold War, made steps in the Civil Rights movement, and reminded this country why we were great.

So, if you need to be reminded of why Eisenhower was important. If you need to be reminded of the stamp he left on history, then The Age of Eisenhower is the book for you.

Genre: History

Era: 1940’s & 50’s (predominately)

Goodreads: The Age of Eisenhower: America and the World in the 1950’s

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The Unknowns

A special WWI Centennial post. Honoring that fact that this year (well, today, precisely) is the year of anniversary (50 years, 55 years, & 100 years, just to name a few). This book looks at the heroes of WWI – the very heroes that would carry the Unknown hero to his burial in Arlington Cemetery.


Summary (Official):

The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is sacred ground at Arlington National Cemetery. Originally constructed in 1921 to hold one of the thousands of unidentified American soldiers lost in World War I, it now also contains unknowns from World War II and the Korean and Vietnam Wars, and receives millions of visitors each year who pay silent tribute.

When the first Unknown Soldier was laid to rest in Arlington, General John Pershing, commander of the American Expeditionary Force in WWI, seleted eight of America’s most decorated, battle-hardened veterans to serve as Body Bearers. For the first time O’Donnell portrays their heroics on the battlefield one hundred years ago, thereby animating the Tomb by giving voice to all who have served. The Body Bearers appropriately spanned America’s service branches and specialties. Their ranks include a cowboy who relived the charge of the light brigade, an American Indian who heroically breached mountains of German barbed wire, a salty New Englander who dueled a U-boat for hours in a fierce gunfight, a tough New Yorker who sacrificed his body to save his ship, and an indomitable gunner who, though blinded by gas, nonetheless overcame five machine-gun nests. Their stories slip easily into the larger narrative of America’s involvement in the conflict, transporting readers into the midst of dramatic battles during 1917-1918 that ultimately decided the Great War.

Celebrated military historian and bestselling author Patrick O’Donnell illuminates the saga behind the creation of the Tomb itself and recreates the moving ceremony during which it was consecrated and the eight Body Bearers, and the sergeant who had chosen the one body to be interred, solemnly united. Brilliantly researched, vividly told, The Unknowns is a timeless tale of heeding the calls of duty and brotherhood, and humanizes the most consequential event of the twentieth century, which still casts a shadow a century later.


The Unknowns is the incredible story of the eight body bearers of the unknown soldier:

  • Chief Gunners mate James Delaney; member of SS 
  • Gunnery Sergeant Ernest A. Janson; 1stBattalion 5thRegiment Marines,
  • Color Sergeant James W. Dell; U.S. Army Field Artillery
  • Corporal Thomas D. Saunders; 2ndRegiment engineer
  • Chief Water Tender Charles Leo O’Connor; member of USS Mount Vernon,
  • First Sergeant Harry Taylor; master sergeant with U.S. Army headquarters
  • Sergeant Samuel Woodfill; a U.S. Army
  • First Sergeant Louis Razga; Coast Artillery Corps

So, this is eight separate stories about real heroes. Men who were willing to sacrifice everything; men who were willing to put their lives on the line for those they fought with. And not just once, but time and again.

These men went above and beyond the call of duty.

That’s why they were chosen to be the body bearers.

Because after eight incredible stories, there’s one more tale to tell.

See, after the war, the government decided that it wanted to honor the brave men who fought in the War to End All Wars. More precisely, they wanted to honor all of those unknown soldiers.

So, a huge celebration was planned, and during this celebration, they were going to bury, with honor one unknown solider, who would represent all of the unknown soldiers who had died in the war. Then, the eight body bearers would partake in the ceremony, honoring all the men who had died, especially those who would forever go unknown.

So, if you want a story about real, true heroes. Men who were willing to sacrifice everything, this is the book for you. Eight body bearers and an unknown solider.

Better yet, even though today is the 100th anniversary, we still have another seven weeks left of the year. Perfect timing to read up on WWI!

Genre: History

Era: WWI

Goodreads: The Unknowns


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Three Days in Moscow

The first USA-eVote Reads post not to be featured in a history series post. But, it is also the debut of the 2018 Collection: History books (and Historical Fiction, of course) released in 2018, in case anyone cares to peruse 2018 releases in this last 8 weeks of the year.


Summary: (Official)

On May 31, 1988, Reagan stood on Russian soil and addressed a packed audience at Moscow State University, delivering a remarkable—yet now largely forgotten—speech that capped his first visit to the Soviet capital. This fourth in a series of summits between Reagan and Soviet General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev, was a dramatic coda to their tireless efforts to reduce the nuclear threat. More than that, Reagan viewed it as “a grand historical moment”: an opportunity to light a path for the Soviet people—toward freedom, human rights, and a future he told them they could embrace if they chose. It was the first time an American president had given an address about human rights on Russian soil. Reagan had once called the Soviet Union an “evil empire.” Now, saying that depiction was from “another time,” he beckoned the Soviets to join him in a new vision of the future. The importance of Reagan’s Moscow speech was largely overlooked at the time, but the new world he spoke of was fast approaching; the following year, in November 1989, the Berlin Wall fell and the Soviet Union began to disintegrate, leaving the United States the sole superpower on the world stage.

Today, the end of the Cold War is perhaps the defining historical moment of the past half century, and must be understood if we are to make sense of America’s current place in the world, amid the re-emergence of US-Russian tensions during Vladimir Putin’s tenure. Using Reagan’s three days in Moscow to tell the larger story of the president’s critical and often misunderstood role in orchestrating a successful, peaceful ending to the Cold War, Baier illuminates the character of one of our nation’s most venerated leaders—and reveals the unique qualities that allowed him to succeed in forming an alliance for peace with the Soviet Union, when his predecessors had fallen short.

Three Days in Moscow, by Bret Baier (from Fox), can sort of be seen as a companion to 2017’s Three Days in January, about the 1961 administration shift from President and 5-Star General Eisenhower to war-hero Kennedy. Three Days in Moscow, covers President Reagan’s summit in Moscow with Premier Gorbachev. It released just in time for President Trump’s historic summit meeting in Singapore with Kim Jung Un. Actually, I think I was reading it at the time . . . or had just finished it, maybe.

Three Days in Moscow doesn’t just cover the historic summit, but Reagan’s role in bringing down communism. And, in an age were both communism and socialism seem to be trying to make a comeback, it’s important to read about how our country strode to keep it in check the first time around.

But it’s not just communism, like all good histories, Three days in Moscow starts with Reagan’s childhood, follows him through WWII, his time as an actor, his time a Screen Actor’s Guild president and touring for General Electric, his time as California Governor, and all through his time as President. Though don’t worry, by chapter 4, Reagan is already in the White House, so it’s not one of the books that spends so much time setting the stage that by the time you get to the subject of the book, it’s already half over. The bulk of the book follows Regan’s attempt to get a grip on communism and on a succession of Soviet dictators, who all seem crazier than the last (which is a fair assessment of a dictator).

But see, you don’t just follow Reagan as he attempts to get a summit, as he attempts to deal with nuclear weapons and communism, you get a feeling of why it was all so important. Because, just imagine, had the wall not come down in ’89 . . . well, could we still be dealing with it? Thankfully, we don’t have to know.

So, if you’re at all interested in the downfall of communism, in the cold war, in the Reagan Administration, or just in American History, itself, Three Days in Moscow is a good read (and maybe Three Days in January, as well, if you feel so inclined). It’s refreshing to get a positive account of a conservative president. Those are certainly few and far between these days.

Genre: History

Era: 1980’s (predominately)

Goodreads: Three Days in Moscow


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