Old guy here reads more history than anything else, and likes to share the best. That, of late, would include “Ghosts of Honolulu: A Japanese Spy, a Japanese American Spy Hunter, and the untold story of Pearl Harbor” by Mark Harmon and Leon Carroll, Jr.

The book centers on Douglas Wada, the Office of Naval Intelligence’s only Japanese-American investigator assigned to Pearl Harbor in the run-up to December 7, 1941. Like so many other books on the Pearl Harbor attack, it leaves you maddeningly frustrated at what was known beforehand yet protective action was not taken.

An aside for gun people: Wada was a distinguished, retired Navy Commander when, in 1980, he was attacked by burglars and stabbed multiple times. Fortunately, he survived. His career would have included qualifying with a handgun, but Hawaiian law didn’t allow him to carry one, and he was unarmed and helpless to stop the attack. He passed away in 2007.

“The Last Outlaws: the Desperate Final Days of the Dalton Gang” by Tom Clavin is a fascinating read for those interested in the legends of the Old West.  More than any other figure, Clavin focuses on Bill Doolin.  Doolin was a skilled gunman, a cop-killer, and an escape artist. His primary turf was Oklahoma, and he was hunted by a trio of famous lawmen who would be called “supercops” today who became known as The Three Guardsmen of Oklahoma.  He interacted with all three at some point. In the course of a horseback pursuit Chris Madsen shot and permanently crippled Doolin, but the fugitive escaped. Sometime later, Bill Tilghman hunted him down and captured him in a dramatic one-on-one arrest…and not long thereafter, Doolin escaped custody again. Finally cornered by a posse and ordered to surrender, Doolin replied with gunfire, and was shot and killed; it is generally believed that Heck Thomas fired the 8-gauge shotgun blast that brought Doolin to justice. The outlaw should have been proud: it would have been the equivalent of a Dillinger contemporary getting wounded by Eliot Ness, arrested by Melvin Purvis, and finally killed by Frank Hamer.

In a more humorous vein, I offer something from a genre that might be called “kids’ books for adults.” The first of these I ran into was a collection of bedtime stories titled “Go the f*** to Sleep!” that was so hilarious I bought a copy for each of my own kids, who were parents themselves by then. Most recently, the Evil Princess bought a copy of “Hookers and Blow Save Christmas” by Munty Pepin. Now, in the tradition of “Thomas the Train,”  “Hookers” is a tow truck, “Blow” is a snow plow, and they rescue a snowbound delivery truck to bring children’s Christmas presents to the village in time for Christmas Eve. I think the double entendres will be subtle enough to go over the heads of little ones, but just to be safe, I’ll recommend it only for adults whose sense of humor is tolerant of ribaldry, simply because I thought it was funny as hell.  


  1. I’ve put “Ghosts” on my list, Mas. Thanks.

    “Like so many other books on the Pearl Harbor attack, it leaves you maddeningly frustrated at what was known beforehand yet protective action was not taken.”

    Not surprised at the complacency that came all the way from FDR. There are several historical events pre Pearl Harbor that showed that FDR tried to goad the Japanese into attacking US assets so FDR could break the isolationists grip on America at that time. Another example of how the boys in DC will gladly sacrifice our boys in the military to trigger some item in their policy agenda. Ukraine is the latest attempt by the Neocons to draw the US into a war based on their agenda. YMMV.

    • TW,

      About the politicians sending young American men all over the world to fight. General Smedley Butler said, “War is a Racket,” except for defensive wars. WWII ended well for everyone except the Russian people, and the people of Eastern Europe. All the young Allied men who fought paid an enormous price, and this was only 21 years after WWI.

      I wish America’s foreign policy was like that of Switzerland’s.

    • TW, no doubt that FDR was goading the Japanese into attacking us, in order to enable a more active role by us against Hitler. The attack on Pearl was facilitated by purposeful official ignorance of many now-recognized warnings from throughout the Pacific of Japanese Navy attack preparations. Also, gross underestimation by our Naval Intelligence of the Japanese ability to dupe us regarding the strategic use, and non-use, of radio communications, apparently resulted in our three main aircraft carriers being surprisingly poorly positioned for defense of Pearl before December 7. IMHO, the destructive capacity of hundreds of Japanese bombers had been grossly underestimated, and we had thought any attack would not be so overwhelmingly destructive.

      We experienced a kind of strategic event similar to Pearl Harbor in the “January 6” exploitation of a political protest, in which some gullible protesters were openly invited, allowed, and facetiously exhorted to enter a Capitol Building that was deliberately and irresponsibly underdefended. The event was quickly blown our of proportion, and the reviews of mail-in voter fraud in the election, as well as a possible subversion of the electoral process, were swept under the rug. A kingpin in the coming election this year is the too-likely control of the minds of young voters by entities such as TikTok, which is widely held to be a strategic Chinese mind-control operation. If we don’t want something like a horde of armed fifth columnists to occupy us, while being disarmed ourselves, might we not thoroughly address and correct the thought-control issues? A wannabe “Fearless Leader” Humpty Dumpty is capable of doing anything that his puppeteers want, being without a reasonable mind of his own. Maybe “Hookers and Blow” will help clear the way through all kinds of blowing snow to help us arrive at a sensible Election Day, as well as Christmas. Please remember, more ways than one under the Constitution obtain to skin a cat in order to decide an election favorable to the fought-for freedom that we have enjoyed, a freedom that we may now be taking too much for granted.

  2. History totally fascinates me. The history of inventions like air conditioning and computers holds my attention. Even though I am low-tech and not into science, I was enthralled with the life of Nikola Tesla. As soon as I finished reading a biography about him, I immediately read a second biography about him.

  3. “Day of Deceit,” written by a Robert Stinnett (a WWII Navy vet who became a journalist), clearly laid out that Pearl Harbor was preplanned and orchestrated roughly a year in advance.

    • JBW,

      Research “Fleet Problem #13.” This was a naval drill in 1932, conducted by Rear Admiral Harry Yarnell. The purpose was to test the vulnerability of Pearl Harbor to an air attack. The Japanese learned a lot from that drill.

    • You might want to read “A Cryptologic Veteran’s Analysis of Day of Deceit” by Philip H. Jacobsen, LCDR USN (Ret).

      Jacobsen is thoroughly familiar with the source material, including the SRN series of decrypted IJN messages, the operational reports of OP-20-G, and testimony collected by the Congressional investigation. He completely demolishes Stinnett’s claims, noting many “gross misinterpretations” of historical documents and “glaring omissions” of important facts.

  4. Just finished “His Majesty’s Airship” by S.C. Gwynne. In case anyone thought that the military/industrial complex and deluded politicians waisting enormous sums of taxpayer’s money on doomed projects was a new phenomenon.

  5. Unrelated, but will Massad do a story on the newly released report on the Robb school shooting? A LOT to learn in those 610 pages!!!!!!!

  6. Robb school shooting:
    Wikipedia as always is good.
    Though of course would be interesting to hear Mr Ayoob’s views from a shooters prospective.



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