Category Archives: Social Policy

Mutiny On The Spanish Main – Review

Litercurious Book Review

Mutiny on the Spanish Main by angus Konstam book review on Maritime History & Piracy and 18th Century World History
Mutiny on the Spanish Main by Angus Konstam
TitleMutiny on the Spanish Main: HMS Hermione and the Royal Navy’s revenge
AuthorAngus Konstam 
PublisherOsprey Publishing (October 27, 2020)
FormatKindle, Audiobook, Hardcover
Pages320
GenreMaritime History & Piracy, 18th Century World History, Maritime History & Piracy
LanguageEnglish
ASIN/ISBN-10/13B0877CYJ72 /  1472833791 / 978-1472833792

AUTHOR

Angus Konstam 

SYNOPSIS

Mutiny on the Spanish Main is the bloody story of the HMS Hermione; the mutiny, murder, her transfer to the Spanish and subsequent recapture, and the Royal Navy’s never ending search and punishment for the mutineers.

In 1797 the crew of the HMS Hermione mutinied against its officers. They murdered the officers in a cruel and horrific manner. Then the crew stole the ship and fleeing for their lives and turned it over to the Spanish.

Mutiny on the Spanish Main is an in depth study of the causes and ramifications of the mutiny. Angus Konstam provides a look into the Royal Navy’s operating procedures, the lives of the seamen, and the hardships of the times. Life aboard ship was hard and trying. Punishment was severe and sometimes dished out without remorse. Seamen were “conscripted” into service and were basically no more than slaves. Men were stolen from all over and pressed into service. They were guarded at all times on shore to ensure they didn’t escape. Punishment ranged from beatings, to being keel-holed or even hung.

Captain Hugh Pigot, the commander of HMS Hermione, was a cruel and sadistic leader. He routinely dished out severe and arbitrary punishment to his crew. The crew was so distressed by the thought of being punished by the smallest infraction, that when Captain Pigot threatened to lash the last man down from the mast, three of them fell to their death.

The constant beatings, poor treatment, and lack of respect for human dignity finally forced the crew to takes matters into their own hands. What followed was the bloodiest and cruelest mutiny in the British Royal Navy. The Admiralty doggedly pursued the mutineers around the globe to bring them to justice.

CONCLUSION

Mutiny on the Spanish Main is a detailed account of the life and times of British sailors in the Royal Navy in the late 1700’s to early 1800’s. Angus Konstam details the methodology of seamanship, naval battles, politics, and discipline of the times. He provides an in depth look into the Royal Navy, the different types of ships and their primary purpose, the crew compliment, their different missions around the world, and how discipline was enforced aboard ship.

The research into this book is very good. The author provides an accurate look into the history of Naval Warfare and the British Royal Navy. He covers world politics, daily life, class structure, Naval Battles, supplies, disease, different ports, and the running and maintaining of the ships.

Overall, I found this book interesting and informative. I would recommend this read to anyone who has an interest in seamanship, maritime history, or the Royal Navy.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I would like to thank Angus KonstamNetGalley, and Osprey Publishing for affording me the opportunity to review Mutiny on the Spanish Main: HMS Hermione and the Royal Navy’s Revenge.

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The Moth and the Mountain – Review

Litercurious Book Review

TitleThe Moth and the Mountain: A True Story of
Love, War, and Everest
AuthorEd Caesar
PublisherAvid Reader Press / Simon & Schuster
(November 17, 2020)
FormatKindle, Audiobook, Hardcover, MP3 CD
Pages / File288 / 17784 KB
LanguageEnglish
GenreThriller, Suspense, Drama
ISBN 10/131501143379/ 978-1501143373

AUTHOR

Find out about Ed Ceaser here.

SYNOPSIS

The Moth and the Mountain: A True Story of Love, War, and Everest is the story of a troubled WWI veteran and his trek to find solace and meaning in his life. Maurice Wilson survived the war to end all wars, but not un-scathed. He was wounded in a horrific battle in France. Even though his physical wounds healed, his mental injuries could not be healed as easily. Maurice went through marriages, and traveled, looked for solace in different religions and beliefs.

Somewhere along the way he got the idea of climbing Mt Everest…alone. A man of determination, he learned how to fly, trained himself relentlessly, and started to procure supplies needed for his adventure. His plan was to fly to Everest, land on the lower slopes and climb to the summit. The authorities had other plans for him and worked tirelessly to prevent his trip. Maurice, however, sidestepped their attempts and just as doggedly continued his trek clandestinely.   

Maurice did make it to Everest, but to learn how and what happened, you will need to read the book.

CONCLUSION

The Moth and the Mountain: A True Story of Love, War, and Everest is a very good book. The author does a fantastic job describing the times, politics, and environment of the day. His descriptions of the horrendous battles leave little doubt as to the mental strain those young men endured, and later suffered from.

The author obviously researched his subject well and it is evident in the script how much he admires Maurice.

Overall, I found the book entertaining, thought provoking, and intriguing. The struggles that Maurice went through in life and his pursuit of Everest are inspiring. To overcome his post traumatic disorder, challenge himself, and embark on such a dramatic enterprise is awe inspiring.

I would definitely recommend this book to anyone interested in history, aviation, soldiers, or who will appreciate the inspiration that this man brings.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I would like to thank Ed Ceaser, NetGalley, and Avid Reader Press / Simon & Schuster for affording me the opportunity to review The Moth and the Mountain: A True Story of Love, War, and Everest.

THE BYZANTINE WORLD WAR – Review

A LITERCURIOUS BOOK REVIEW

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Title The Byzantine World War
Author Nick Holmes
Publisher Matador (May 23, 2019)
Format Kindle, Paperback
Pages 233
Language English
ISBN # 1789017580 (ASIN: B07S7DGSGH)

AUTHOR

Nick Holmes is a graduate of Cambridge University with degree
in history. He was entranced by the ancient walls that circle Istanbul, Turkey and became intrigued with Byzantium following a trip to the region. The juxtaposition of the modern and the ancient engaged him and surprised him. The massive escarpments over a thousand years old decorate the city with imposing battlements. Hagia Sophia, a key location in the events that transpire in his book still stands in testament to the events of the past that still color our world today. Holmes finds the important role of Constantinople and the fulcrum around which Europe and the Near East pivot to be a wonderful backdrop of the events that took place so long ago. Nick posits the importance of the period beginning in 1068 that leads to the first, of several, Crusades and its effect on modern history.

AUDIENCE

If you are the kind of person that loves to read history books that are not dry and stuffy, but engaging and conversational, then look no further. The Author, Nick Holmes, shares a style of writing not so different from Simon Winchester or Erik Larson. Well-constructed, and set in an important time in world history, Holmes posits his opinion on the what, when, and how of the now distant history. The Byzantine World War, is a perfect fit for teenagers or adults bookshelf, and is a must read for anyone who enjoys intelligently constructed concepts set against the context of tumultuous times.

SYNOPSIS

The Byzantium World War is set at a time when the power of Rome was beginning to ebb and the Ottoman Empire (Turkey) was beginning. Some of the Key locations of historic importance include; Anatolia, Byzantium, The Middle East, The Balkans, The Caucuses, and North Africa. The timeline is 1068-1097 and this book is written almost as a thriller in its style. The range of characters is extensive, and Holmes does a masterful job in recreating them and their foibles for the modern audience. It is  a must read for all those who want to extend their knowledge of pivotal historic events, and for those who enjoy their history made three-dimensional and easily consumed.

CONCLUSION

This book is a great primer for those who are looking to increase their knowledge of the rise of Turkey in the form of the Pax Ottomana, and the fall of Pax Romana. The book is written in an easily accessible style, in a clear, chronological order, and illustrated with images, maps and detailed timelines. It is an engaging look at past events that still have influence over our period of history. I would like to see a more extensive referencing and bibliography, as well as the addition of some footnotes. That said, I did enjoy the fact that the key players in the book are listed at the rear for examination. I really enjoyed reading this book and I have no hesitation in recommending it highly. It is a rare treat in the world of dusty, dry history books that such a pleasantly written, brief but comprehensive volume comes along. Although I received this book for review; I loved it so much, I bought a copy for my library.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

My thanks go out to the following: NetGalley, Matador
Publishers
,
and Amazon Digital Services LLC, for affording me the
opportunity to read this rare gem.

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STOLEN – Review

LITERCURIOUS BOOK REVIEW

Title Stolen: Five Free Boys Kidnapped Into Slavery
and Their Astonishing Odyssey Home
Author Richard Bell
Publisher 37 Ink (October 15, 2019)
Format Kindle, Hardcover         
Page 247     
Language English     
ISBN # 1501169432     

AUTHOR

Richard Bell is the author of Stolen. He currently teaches Early American History at the University of Maryland.

TARGET AUDIENCE

In a word; humanity.

SYNOPSIS

The time is 1825, the place Philadelphia, North America, and a small group of free black boys are about to be kidnapped. They are about to be transported as slaves to serve the needs and wants of a slave hungry South and its human Grissom for the Cotton Kingdom Mill. The real story, however, relates to the titanic strengths and fortitude exhibited by the 5 boys placed in the untenable excruciating predicament of having lived free and taken as slaves under the threat of violence. Despite the seemingly overwhelming odds, the boys seek ways to escape their bondage and return home. To discover if they manage to escape and the consequences of the events affecting their lives you will have to read it yourself. At its worst, this is one example of mans’ inhumanity to man. At its best, this is a call to the resilience of spirit and the power of unity in the face of extremes of privation and enormous adversity.

CONCLUSION

Masterfully written, flawlessly researched, and a tale of 5 free men abducted and taken on a journey of epic proportions. This is a work for our times; lest we forget. I cannot recommend this book enough.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

My sincere thanks go to: NetGalley, and 37 Ink for affording me the opportunity to review “Stolen.”

THE DEVIL’S TRAP – Review

A LITERCURIOUS BOOK REVIEW

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Title The Devil’s Trap
Author James W. Bancroft
Publisher Frontline Books (February 19, 2020)
Format Hardcover
Pages 248
Language English
ISBN 10/13 1526718014 / 978-1526718013)
WARNING – This book is not suitable for children.

AUTHOR

James W Bancroft has almost 23 years of writing experience with more than a hundred publications and articles in a variety of subjects. Most of his works are based in Victorian Military History and non-fiction. He edits and publishes as well as writes. Other books by this author include Rorke’s Drift, Published by Spellmount Ltd., (1988) and is still in print today. As well as The Rorke’s Drift Men, Published by The History Press Ltd., (1 May 2010). James W Bancroft is known primarily for History of Southern Africa, African Historical Biographies, Civil War Biographies.

TARGET AUDIENCE

If you are an avid reader of Adult historic non-fiction and/or you enjoy thrillers, then this book is most certainly for you. Those who want to understand the context of The British Empire, are educators, students of history, or academics will find this book enlightening and disturbing in equal measure.

SYNOPSIS

The events described in The Devil’s Trap surround the preamble to the First Indian Mutiny of 1857-58, specifically the Cawnpore Massacre, and the subsequent remedial actions taken by the British to re-establish control over the canton. Whilst this may not be common knowledge to many people, the Indian *(see 1 below) massacre that took place against a British encampment created a tidal wave of brutal and violent retribution. The subsequent retribution in response to the attack stains the present-day relationship between Great Britain and India. Some of the changes wrought following the rebellion were set in stone until 1947. Arguably the single greatest change was the promise made to the Indian people in a Royal Declaration (see below for a link) issued by Queen Victoria immediately following the mutiny. The author contends that some Indian citizens still believe that this event was the beginning of the end of the British Empires Rule of India.

The central theme and focus of The Devil’s Trap take’s place at Cawnpore, off the beaten track near an area called The Grand Trunk Road near Sati Chaura Ghat situated on the banks of the River Ganges. It was a British Garrison with three Native Infantry Regiments all led by British Officers accompanied by their families and servants. In July 1857 an insurrection was started by the Indian soldiers, elements of the general Indian population, and the servants who were either stationed at, or near the British encampment. British men, women, and children were subject to violence so gruesome I feel unable to detail it here.

Once the enormity of massacre was discovered, the British violently reestablished the status quo however, the Empress of India chose a more diplomatic method to quell the natives. Whilst politics and time have forgotten the victims of the Cawnpore Massacre, James W Bancroft has attempted to bring them back to life through his skillful use of original source material, and by cross referencing the facts still available in the archives.

FURTHER INFORMATION

Some experts speculate that the Raj was shaken by the mutiny but their corrective actions saved the rule by addressing the mutineer’s issues and the Empress’s Declaration. Native Regiments that took part in the insurrection were disbanded. Loyal Native troops were formed into new regiments which remained in effect from 1858 until 1947. Those local Warlords who remained loyal to the British during the rebellion were rewarded. The disloyal peasantry was prevented from obtaining access to land for 90 years. Finally, the British authorities recognized the error of imposing British cultural norms and beliefs upon the native population. This promise came through Royal channels when Queen Victoria gave a proclamation that stated “We disclaim alike our Right and Desire to impose Our Convictions on any of Our Subjects..” * (See 2 below)

CONCLUSION

The Devil’s Trap is exceedingly well written, researched, and is easy to follow for those previously unfamiliar with these ground breaking historic events. The Massacre was as shaking to the British Empire as 9/11 was to the USA. It was devastating in terms of the loss of human life, and changed forever the relationship previously enjoyed by the protagonists. Despite the loss of life, the British Raj continued beyond 1858 until 1947 pretty much without radical change.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I would like to thank James W. Bancroft, NetGalley, and Frontline Books for affording me the opportunity to review The Devil’s Trap

*1. The term Indian is used a general reference to the Pashtu, Sikh, and Hindu people as a whole.
*2. You can find a copy of the proclamation here: http://www.csas.ed.ac.uk/mutiny/confpapers/Queen%27sProclamation.pdf

INSANE – REVIEW

Litercurious Book Review

TitleInsane: America’s Criminal Treatment of
Mental Illness 
AuthorAlisa Roth
PublisherBasic Books; 1 edition (April 3, 2018)
FormatKindle, Paperback, Hardback, Audiobook
Page287
LanguageEnglish
ASIN / ISBN B074M6FZXQ / 9780465094196

AUTHOR

Alisa Roth, a long-time radio and print journalist, has reported on refugees and asylum seekers in the Middle East, Europe and the United States. Her work has appeared on MarketplaceNPRThe World, as well as in The New York TimesThe New York Review of Books and Gastronomica. If you would like to see a C-SPAN interview with the author, you can see it here.

SYNOPSIS

Roth’s expose’ reveals the confluence of factors that combined to create a living nightmare for those suffering from mental illness in the United States of America. She posits that the current system is fundamentally failing. She carefully and sensitively examines the personal experiences of sufferers who as a direct, or indirect result of their illness became involved with law enforcement, and how law enforcement responded. That said, having mental illness should never be a death sentence as is reported on at least one occasion by Roth in Insane.

Roth visits a number of jails and prisons in an attempt to clarify the situation on the ground, and what she discovers reads like something out of a Dickensian novel.

Rather than lambasting those on the front lines. Alisa Roth acknowledges those prison guards and police officers who, with virtually no training, are forced to deal with mental health issues. She documents how ill equipped the penal institutions and personnel are in dealing with the veritable tidal wave of clients who are psychologically disturbed. She examines the effects of underfunding as it relates to the welfare, care and medical treatment of those incarcerated in correctional institutions.

CONCLUSION

Although the subject matter is dire at times Roth has created a well paced, critical analysis of an often ignored emergency in our society. She does so with respect and dignity for those on both sides of the agenda. Rather than decrying the system, she acknowledges the painful decisions made on a daily basis by the people forced to work and live within that system.

Some years ago, the closure of mental hospitals or insane asylums was heralded as a positive move to empower the sick and free them into society. Sadly, society did not care enough to ensure that there were sufficient resources to adequately support those with psychological illnesses in the community. Many fell through the cracks, and some ended up homeless, confused, lost and desperate. They inevitably ending up within Criminal Justice System.

Insane is a powerful work, well researched by an exceptional journalist and writer. Written with a compassion and sensitivity that is difficult to describe. Insane is one of those books that you just have to read for yourself to fully appreciate the depth and nature of the subject. Clearly written, masterfully researched, and exceptional in every way. I can’t wait to read Alisa Roth’s next offering.

Insane:America’s Criminal Treatment of Mental Illness by Alisa Roth is by far, the best debut offering I have read this year. I would not be surprised to find it on the Pulitzer nomination list.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I would like to thank Alisa Roth, NetGalley and Basic Books for affording me the opportunity to review Insane: America’s Criminal Treatment of Mental Illness.

READERS WHO LIKE INSANE ALSO ENJOYED THESE AUTHORS

RON POWERS is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and New York Times bestselling author. He is the co-author of Flags of our Fathers and True Compass-both #1 New York Times Hardcover Nonfiction bestsellers. His biography of Mark Twain-Mark Twain: A Life-was also a New York Times bestseller. He lives with his wife Honoree Fleming, Ph.D., in Castleton, Vermont.

Dj Jaffe
DJ Jaffe is Executive Director of the independent, non-partisan Mental Illness Policy Org., and author of Insane Consequences: How the Mental Health Industry Fails the Mentally Ill. For over 30 years, he has been advocating to reduce homelessness, arrest, incarceration and needless hospitalization of the most severely mentally ill, a group he believes has been ignored by CMHS, SAMHSA, many mental health advocates and systems, and offloaded to criminal justice.