Book Review: “Red Metal”

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(See all of my Book Reviews) – “Red Metal” eBook was published in 2019 and was written by Mark Greaney (https://markgreaneybooks.com/). Mr. Greaney has published 10 novels.

I received an ARC of this novel through https://www.netgalley.com in return for a fair and honest review. I categorize this novel as ‘R’ because it contains scenes Violence and Mature Language. The story is set in contemporary times. A small contingent of the Russian military conspire with the Russian president to invade the west and recapture a mine of Rare Earth metals.

Tensions are high between the US and China. With the threat of an invasion of Taiwan, military forces are redeployed to support the island. The Russians have been unhappy since they were forced to abandon the Rare Earth mine in East Africa. Now that the attention of the US is focused on Asia, the Russians implement a high stakes plan to recapture the mine and gain control for decades of high tech.

The story is told from the viewpoints of several characters, though a few stand out. On the Russian side the two generals leading the major military efforts are the main characters. On the side of the ‘Allies’ are a Marine Lt. Colonel fresh from a desk in the Pentagon, a French Special Forces Captain, a young Polish reservist, an American A-10 pilot, an American armor maintenance officer who is thrust into command of a combat unit, and the commander of a submarine.

The action flows back and forth between Allies and Russian forces. A strike is made from deep in Russia into Western Europe, following a well prepared plan. Simultaneously another force is secretly deployed to Africa to capture and hold the mine.

With the bulk of US forces already deployed to Asia, the Russians meet little resistance at first in their surprise attack. Slowly though, the Allies begin to pull together and resist the Russian onslaught.

I thoroughly enjoyed the 19 hours I spent reading this 652-page thriller.  I thought that this novel had a very enjoyable and elaborate plot. Not all of the characters that are touched upon survive the many confrontations. I do like the selected cover art. I give this novel a 5 out of 5.

My book reviews are also published on Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/31181778-john-purvis).

Preview has many hidden capabilities for PDF files

(See my other macOS related posts) – I have posted about MacMost before. Today I watched this video “12 Things you may not know you can do with Preview”. I had been familiar with some of the abilities of Preview, but I learned a few new things from this video.

For me, I particularly like the ability to merge PDF files and annotate them with highlights and notes. As I write various articles, this is very handy.

Preview has so many abilities that few people are aware of. Instead of buying Apps, Preview often will give you what you need directly from Apple. You just have to take some time to familiarize yourself with the App. MacMost does a good job of that in this video.


See my new macOS Software Directory and find what software is available for the Mac!

Book Review: “Children Against Hitler: The Young Resistance Heroes of the Second World War”

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(See all of my Book Reviews) – “Children Against Hitler: The Young Resistance Heroes of the Second World War” will be published in 2020 (July) and was written by Monica Porter (https://monicaporter.co.uk). Ms. Porter has published six books. 

I received an ARC of this novel through https://www.netgalley.com in return for a fair and honest review. I categorize this novel as ‘PG’ because it contains Violence. The book tells the stories of children across occupied Europe who lived through WWII. 

The children depicted in the book grew up across  a range of social classes. Their ages stretch from 6 to 18 and they come from France, Belgium, Germany, Denmark, Belorussia, Poland, and Holland. The book is a collection of short stories about these children. All of these stories tell of work with the Resistance against the Nazis. 

I thoroughly enjoyed the 4.5 hours I spent reading this 184-page history.  I have read much about WWII, but this is the first book I have read that deals with it just from the viewpoint of the children. The book provides a very different view of the war. Many of these brave kids found themselves alone, yet they took it upon themselves to carry on and to risk their lives as part of the Resistance. I like the selected cover art. I give this novel a 4.4 (rounded down to a 4) out of 5.

My book reviews are also published on Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/31181778-john-purvis).


If you are interested in the WWII era of history, you may find these three pages of interest. 

  • The “World War II Sources” page is a constantly growing collection of more than 360 links to museums, memorials, websites, Facebook pages, Twitter feeds and other sources with information on the World War II-era in history.
  • The “World War II Timeline” page expands almost daily and shows events leading up to WWII, as well as during the war. Events are broken down into the Pacific and European Theaters by date.
  • The About WWII page is a collection of links to posts that I have made over the years that are relevant to WWII.

Storming the Beaches at Normandy ’44 – Lego Stop Motion

I came across this 04:26 video today and wanted to share it. Lego figures and stop motion software are used to ‘recreate’ the landing at Normandy June 6, 1944. The video “Lego D-Day – The Battle for Omaha Beach” was uploaded to YouTube in February of 2020 by JD Brick Productions. There are several other (though not WWII) short stop motion films at their YouTube site.


If you are interested in the WWII era of history, you may find these three pages of interest. 

  • The “World War II Sources” page is a constantly growing collection of more than 360 links to museums, memorials, websites, Facebook pages, Twitter feeds and other sources with information on the World War II-era in history.
  • The “World War II Timeline” page expands almost daily and shows events leading up to WWII, as well as during the war. Events are broken down into the Pacific and European Theaters by date.
  • The About WWII page is a collection of links to posts that I have made over the years that are relevant to WWII.

Book Review: “The Last Astronaut”

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(See all of my Book Reviews) – “The Last Astronaut” eBook was published in 2019 and was written by David Wellington  (https://davidwellington.net). Mr. Wellington has published more than two dozen novels. 

I received an ARC of this novel through https://www.netgalley.com in return for a fair and honest review. I categorize this novel as ‘R’ because it contains scenes of Violence and Mature Language. The story is set in the near future. The US space program has abandoned manned flight after a fatal accident on their Mars mission. 

Now years later an object has been sighted moving through the Solar System that has altered its course to head towards Earth. The object is huge and clearly is not of natural origin. Even though there have been repeated attempts to communicated, there has been no reply. 

A mission must be quickly put together and sent out to investigate. With no time to truly train new astronauts, the commander of the failed Mars mission, Sally Jansen, is drafted to lead the NASA team. The commercial company KSpace is also sending a crew out to meet the object. 

The KSpace crew beats Jansen’s to the object and they find the KSpace craft abandoned. Quickly Jansen leads part of her crew into the alien craft to find the KSpace crew. What they find is totally alien to anything they had expected. Before long the rescue mission turns into a struggle for survival. 

Not only must Jansen try to hold the mission together, but she must also face many personal demons from the disastrous Mars mission. 

I thought that the 9.5+ hours I spent reading this 401-page science fiction novel were interesting. This was a dark story. While the plot was OK, I did not enjoy the story as much as I had thought I would. The cover art is OK but could have reflected more of the story. I give this novel a 3.3 (rounded down to a 3) out of 5.

My book reviews are also published on Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/31181778-john-purvis).

Book Review: “Hitler’s Housewives: German Women on the Home Front

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(See all of my Book Reviews) – “Hitler’s Housewives: German Women on the Home Front” was published in 2020 (May) and was written by Tim Heath. Mr. Heath has published nearly a dozen books and novels. 

I received an ARC of this novel through https://www.netgalley.com in return for a fair and honest review. I categorize this novel as ‘R’ because it contains scenes of Violence, Mature Situations, and Mature Language. This book tells the story of several young German women. It follows them from Hitler’s rise to power until Germany is defeated in May 1945.

Hitler was welcomed as he rose to power. Changes the Nazi party put into place benefited the common worker and Germany was prospering. Women were a large portion of his voter base that put him into power. They saw the Nazis as stabilizing the country. Soon though their outlook began to change, but by then it was too late. The strict control of the Nazis prevented any from speaking out or asking questions without punishment. 

The book describes the hardships the women experienced. All of the women are in their twenties or younger. Some were wealthy at the beginning of the war, others were barely making ends meet. The first year or so of the war caused them little discomfort, but as the war progressed there were shortages, the loss of loved ones, and the Allied bombing to contend with. Their lives were drastically altered by the war. 

I enjoyed the 6.5 hours I spent reading this 232-page history. This was a different look at WWII. Not many books I have read have dealt with the war from the Axis civilian point of view. The story is a combination of author narrative, interviews, and letters. Not only are the memories of the “housewives” presented, but often memories from their children are included. If you are interested in the human impact of WWII, you will find this book of interest. I like the selected cover art. I give this novel a 4 out of 5.

My book reviews are also published on Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/31181778-john-purvis).


If you are interested in the WWII era of history, you may find these three pages of interest. 

  • The “World War II Sources” page is a constantly growing collection of more than 360 links to museums, memorials, websites, Facebook pages, Twitter feeds and other sources with information on the World War II-era in history.
  • The “World War II Timeline” page expands almost daily and shows events leading up to WWII, as well as during the war. Events are broken down into the Pacific and European Theaters by date.
  • The About WWII page is a collection of links to posts that I have made over the years that are relevant to WWII.

A Piece of the Cold War in Austin

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When WWII ended in Europe in May of 1945, Easter Europe, including part of Germany, was occupied by Soviet forces. Germany was divided into four occupation zones at the Potsdam Conference in the late summer of 1945. Each zone was under the control of one of the Allied powers: the United States, the United Kingdom, France, and the Soviet Union. With Berlin being well within the Soviet zone, it too was divided into four sectors. 

The Soviet Union worked to create communist governments in those countries they had occupied. In their zone in Eastern Germany, they worked with German socialists to create the German Democratic Republic (GDR). In addition to the GDR, they set up similar governments in Poland, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria, and Romania. Along with Albania, these countries and the Soviet Union formed the Warsaw Pact to oppose NATO. These two became the opposing sides during the Cold War. The other three Allies joined their western zones into the Federal Republic of Germany in 1949. 

The oppressive GDR drove many Germans to escape into the West. It is estimated that as many as 3.5 million East Germans (20% of the East German population) had fled to the west by 1961. The GDR began closing the border at midnight on August 31, 1961. The border was manned by troop, roads were torn up, and barbed wire was installed (156 km or 97 miles) around the three western sectors of Berlin. The first concrete segments of a wall were erected on August 17. In addition, chain link fences, minefields, and other obstacles were put in place along the border between East and West German. 

For the GDR the wall solved some economic problems that stemmed from two German currencies and an active Black Market for western goods. It also stopped the flow of people to the west, particularly many of the more educated East Germans. This enabled the GDR government to assert tighter control over its citizens. On the downside the wall became a public relations problem. It was a symbol of the Communist East and border guards shooting those trying to escape did little to enhance this point of view. It is thought that nearly 200 people were killed trying to escape over the wall. 

The final Berlin Wall was some 140 km (87 miles) in length. The initial wall was repeatedly improved over the years. The  “fourth generation” wall was the most sophisticated and was completed in 1980. This version of the wall was constructed of 45,000 reinforced concrete panels, each 3.6 m (12 ft) high and 1.2 m (3.9 ft) wide. In the fall of 1989 there was growing unrest in East Berlin. The GDR government finally announced on November 9, 1989, that they would begin allowing citizens to visit the West. Demolition of the Berlin Wall officially began on June 13, 1990, and it was completed in November of that year. Removal of the wall opened up Germany for reunification, which was completed on October 3, 1990. 

In the aftermath of WWII, six new National Guard divisions were created. One of those was the 49th Armored Division and it was assigned to the Texas National Guard. It officially came into being on February 27, 1947, and was nicknamed the “Lone Star Division”. The 49th initially was equipped with WWII vintage equipment, but over the years as the Regular Army received updated armor, the 49th was updated with newer “hand-me-down” equipment. In 1961 when East Germany began building the Berlin Wall the 49th was one of the National Guard Divisions President Kennedy ordered to be mobilized. 

The members of the 49th were called to active duty on October 15, 1961. It moved to Fort Polk, Louisiana to train in preparation for deployment to Germany. The unit spent nearly a year in preparation and was eventually designated as a division in the Strategic Army Corps (STRAC). STRAC was created as a flexible strike force capable of worldwide deployment on short notice. Fortunately, the tension created by the construction of the Berlin Wall had diminished by the late summer of 1962 and the 49th was demobilized in August of that year. 

When the Berlin Wall came down in 1990 a section of it was presented to the Texas National Guard in recognition for their readiness for deployment to Germany. The segment of the wall is on display in the Texas Military Forces Museum in Austin, TX. It can be found in the Cold War/War on Terror room in the West Gallery. The plaque reads:

Dedicated to the soldiers of the Texas Army National Guard whose service during the Cold War helped bring the Berlin Wall down

Book Review: “The Devil and the Deep Blue Spy”

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(See all of my Book Reviews) – “The Devil and the Deep Blue Spy” eBook was published in 2019 and was written by Tom Savage (http://tomsavagebooks.com). Mr. Savage has published 12 novels. This is the fourth in his “Nora Baron thriller” series.

I received an ARC of this novel through https://www.netgalley.com in return for a fair and honest review. I categorize this novel as ‘R’ because it contains scenes of Violence. This continues the story of Nora Baron who has joined her husband at the CIA.

This story is about their first mission together. A person of interest, Frenchman Claude Lamont, is taking a Caribbean cruise with his second wife. Nora and her husband are asked to join the cruise and keep an eye on Lamont. Lamont is thought to be funneling large sums of money to terrorists. The CIA thinks he will be making contact with someone on the cruise and the Barons are there to find out who.

I thoroughly enjoyed the 5.5 hours I spent reading this 203-page mystery/thriller. This is not an action-filled thriller, but more of a mystery. The plot takes a few twists and turns to end up in a different place than you first might expect. I have now read three of the four (“The Woman Who Knew Too Much” & “The Spy Who Never Was” earlier) Nora Baron novels and have enjoyed them all. If you like a good mystery/thriller without a lot of violence, then you will enjoy these novels. I give this novel a 4.4 (rounded down to a 4) out of 5.

My book reviews are also published on Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/31181778-john-purvis).

Book Review: “The Devil and the Deep Blue Spy”

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(See all of my Book Reviews) – “The Devil and the Deep Blue Spy” eBook was published in 2019 and was written by Tom Savage (http://tomsavagebooks.com). Mr. Savage has published 12 novels. This is the fourth in his “Nora Baron thriller” series. 

I received an ARC of this novel through https://www.netgalley.com in return for a fair and honest review. I categorize this novel as ‘R’ because it contains scenes of Violence. This continues the story of Nora Baron who has joined her husband at the CIA. 

This story is about their first mission together. A person of interest, Frenchman Claude Lamont, is taking a Caribbean cruise with his second wife. Nora and her husband are asked to join the cruise and keep an eye on Lamont. Lamont is thought to be funneling large sums of money to terrorists. The CIA thinks he will be making contact with someone on the cruise and the Barons are there to find out who. 

I thoroughly enjoyed the 5.5 hours I spent reading this 203-page mystery/thriller. This is not an action-filled thriller, but more of a mystery. The plot takes a few twists and turns to end up in a different place than you first might expect. I have now read three of the four (“The Woman Who Knew Too Much” & “The Spy Who Never Was” earlier) Nora Baron novels and have enjoyed them all. If you like a good mystery/thriller without a lot of violence, then you will enjoy these novels. I give this novel a 4.4 (rounded down to a 4) out of 5.

My book reviews are also published on Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/31181778-john-purvis).