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Stalingrad
Stalingrad
DVD ~ Stalingrad
Price: $10.99
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5.0 out of 5 stars Humanity in a hellish place, July 13, 2014
This review is from: Stalingrad (DVD)
Stalingrad, this latest movie with that name, takes place in October/November 1942--before the Soviet counter-offensive began on 19 Nov 42.

While there are a few historical inaccuracies, they are trivial ones:

1. During one of his soliloquies, the German Captain refers to Paulus (the Sixth Army's commanding General) as Field Marshal. In fact, Paulus was not promoted to Field Marshal until 31 Jan 1943;

2. The cross-strap on the German Colonel's uniform was out of place, and was more appropriate to certain Red Army officers, or the old Nazi SA.

I may be incorrect about item two above, which reinforces my point about the triviality of historical detail lapses.

The savagery and mercilessness of the fighting at Stalingrad, along with the setting, is well-conveyed in its realism to the point of our imagining its place as somewhere in an unnamed area of Dante's Inferno.

As prisoners of this netherworld, it's all the more remarkable, that both German and Soviet antagonists in this movie--and in the actual events on the Eastern Front--could discover or allow to re-emerge, any sense of humanity. This film is an artistic tribute to the power and beauty of our humanity.


America: Imagine a World without Her
America: Imagine a World without Her
Price: $17.98

20 of 37 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Flawed but brilliant, July 5, 2014
The power of the film medium--for good and evil--is well recognized and demonstrated. The medium's politically tinged offerings usually bypass the intellect and appeal directly to the emotions.

Mr. D'Souza's new movie combines natural emotional appeals with demands on our reason. His aim is to confute the hate-filled claims of the political left which attack America and her people. Mr. D'Souza's task is daunting because it is a complex story examining history and political theory.

Happily, Mr. D'Souza succeeds in providing all Americans with a film which not only entertains while it educates; the film also has an edifying effect.

However, there are two flaws which render his message less effective than it could be:

1. His narrative should have included a couple more sentences in each of the sections relating to the war with Mexico, and the discussion of Capitalism;

2. Far more serious is his failure to offer any sort of solution to the present depraved political state. D'Souza's parting words to us merely assert that we Americans will not allow our rights to be taken.

Understandably, Mr. D'Souza (or, any writer who actively resists the criminality in the existing Federal government) must be circumspect in his political expression. But, his filmic epilogue should have at least included the milestone years 1776 and 1860 as relevant to our present circumstances. He did precisely that in his book, America.

Perhaps the obvious drawable inference was deemed too explosive for a movie.
Comment Comments (6) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 22, 2014 6:39 PM PDT


America: Imagine a World without Her
America: Imagine a World without Her
by Dinesh D'Souza
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $18.25
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17 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Implied: A just war for national liberation, June 25, 2014
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Whether from past acquaintance with Mr. D'Souza, or by way of this book, one can clearly tell that the author has a deep love for his adopted America--and a love for the idea of America.

Despite seeing the near future of the United States as very dark indeed, the author proceeds to refute the familiarly vicious attacks on America's past and present, joyfully made by the political left. Without irony, Mr. D'Souza insists on using the word `progressive' to describe these leftists.

The author brings his formidable intellect and insight to bear on selected topics relating to the very legitimacy of the United States: Settlement of North America and the settlers' dealings with its aboriginals; slavery; the Constitution; Capitalism; and our thriving surveillance state.

Mr. D'Souza has a knack for making seemingly difficult subjects comprehensible; his command of fact and logic is irresistible, and a joy for the mind. To be clear: the author admirably succeeds in decisively countering the anti-American attacks having to do with the list of topics above.

Even more striking about this book is the author's refusal to avoid hard truths. Specifically, he does not sugarcoat conclusions which logically follow from his analyses. His candor, though unexpected, is a refreshing address to his readers as adults, and is found in the final two chapters of his book. For example, indirectly, the author indicts the rampant criminality and misconduct within the modern federal government. As such, the author's character and courage are severely tested. The stress points on the author's courage take two forms:

1. The very fact of this book and his newest film could very well provoke an agency of the federal government to again selectively prosecute him on a trumped-up charge;

2. His analysis of our country's present (and trending future) state, and perils to it, lead him to note the obvious: We are at a figurative crossroads, according to the author, similar to past ones which he locates in 1776 and 1860. Of course, these are war years. The latter was filled with actual violence (especially on the frontier, e.g., Kansas/Missouri) and violent words, eventually leading to the following year's war of secession outbreak. It is rare for an American author to acknowledge such a horrific truth. The implied necessity for direct action against the criminal tyranny occupying Washington D.C. is clear.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 1, 2014 2:48 PM PDT


America's First Crisis: The War of 1812
America's First Crisis: The War of 1812
by Robert P. Watson
Edition: Paperback
Price: $19.05
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Important American history for the citizen, March 7, 2014
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Seeing Mr. Watson speak about his book makes it clear that he is on fire about his subject—the War of 1812. Reading his book confirms his passion and excites the reader.

Remarkably, Mr. Watson skillfully conveys explanations and clues to American history in only a few hundred pages. He does it so well, that the reader feels a kind of melancholy when the book comes to its end.

The author is refreshingly direct in his evaluation of individuals and events in the War of 1812—and makes sense of it.

The only irritant encountered while reading was the occasional lapse into malapropism. Again, a rarity.

Mr. Watson has written a wonderfully enlightening work of history.


Lone Survivor (Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD with UltraViolet)
Lone Survivor (Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD with UltraViolet)
DVD ~ Mark Wahlberg
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33 of 252 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Conduct unbecoming, January 8, 2014
Lone Survivor, the movie, is based on a (supposedly) true story. The source of that story is the book with the same title by Marcus Luttrell, who was indeed the sole survivor of a four-man SEAL team in the mountains of Afghanistan. Endorsing this movie requires ignoring basic military protocols, suspending the laws of physics, and disregarding the capabilities of the human body. The Devil, as always, is in the details.

Love of country and reverence for its armed forces runs deep in the United States. This is as it should be, and is unsurprising. We want to believe in the honor, strength and heroism of our men in battle. It is, therefore, relatively easy for a film maker to successfully appeal to our emotions. For example, in the case of this movie, the Director Peter Berg makes it very painful for the viewer to watch as our men are cut down and fighting till the end; the viewer is also inspired. The emotions squeezed from the audience makes almost irrelevant the actor's craft. Instead, we are preoccupied with the images of our bloodied countrymen fighting for their lives.

This movie further muddies the water about the catastrophe that the SEALs brought down on themselves. Now we have to contend with the movie, the book, and military reality. Most of us will have a grossly distorted view of that reality by way of Schwartzenegger-like movies, or this one, Lone Survivor.

**POSSIBLE SPOILERS**

In some ways, this movie improves on realism when compared to Mr. Luttrell's book of fantasies. The Director seems to have found Mr. Luttrell's imaginings too hard to accept. For example:

1. MOVIE: When the Afghan goatherders are taken prisoner, the commanding officer (Lt. Murphy) decisively orders that the prisoners not be killed in cold blood, and sets them free.

Mr. Luttrell says in his book that there was a vote taken on whether to kill the prisoners, and the author plays a starring role--as he does throughout his book--in the final vote to release them.

2. MOVIE: The Lt. Murphy character recognizes that their mission has been compromised and so orders his team to move to higher ground and seek extraction ASAP.

Mr. Luttrell says in his book that his team merely moved a few hundred meters, and continued the mission.

3. MOVIE: Jumping over cliffs was kept to a minimum--two, I think.

Mr. Luttrell describes, in his book, jumping over cliffs and down slopes 6, 7, 8, 9 times or more, with nary a broken bone, and an unsecured weapon close at hand.

Unfortunately, the Director chose to accept Mr. Luttrell's wild (and unsupported) claim of 200 enemy soldiers poised to engage the SEALs. In the movie, the SEAL team actually see 200 armed enemy in the village. Mr. Luttrell, in his book, sees 80-100 enemy directly above his position--and notes each enemy soldier's armament; he later just assumes the estimate of 200 in all. Mr. Luttrell has remarkable observational abilities.

The number of enemy is vastly reduced in the SEALs' own commendations. Furthermore, other very respected sources give the number of enemy as 8-10. The SEALs placed themselves in a textbook, tactically worst-case position. A single enemy rifleman could have been fatal to one or more members of that SEAL team.

The Afghans in this movie are shown as ambulatory targets, without a hint of soldierly virtue. They know nothing of cover, or how to aim a weapon. Yet, they discovered the precise location of the SEALs, maneuvered on them, and caught them flat-footed.

In both the sanitized version (the movie), and much more so, in Mr. Luttrell's book, the SEALs' incompetence and disregard for basic military principles is manifest. War is unforgiving, and the SEALs paid the logical price. We should not forget, too, that their failures cost the lives of 16 other American servicemen. Had Lt. Murphy survived, rather than Mr. Luttrell, he should have been court-martialed.
Comment Comments (73) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 9, 2014 6:21 PM PDT


Lone Survivor: The Eyewitness Account of Operation Redwing and the Lost Heroes of SEAL Team 10
Lone Survivor: The Eyewitness Account of Operation Redwing and the Lost Heroes of SEAL Team 10
by Marcus Luttrell
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
57 used & new from $1.12

62 of 120 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Disgrace: Heroism and SEALs debased, December 9, 2013
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Endorsing this book requires ignoring basic military protocols, suspending the laws of physics, and disregarding the capabilities of the human body. This review of Mr. Luttrell's supposed non-fiction work will be confined to his last operation in Afghanistan, and based on his words. While reading, I made five pages of notes, but I'll not include ALL of that here. What follows is the abbreviated version. Had this book been billed as fiction, I would never have read it. It may be asking too much, but the author's story is best evaluated through a soldier's eyes and experience--but, common sense should be sufficient.

What do we know about this operation for certain? Mr. Luttrell and three other SEALs were inserted into the mountains of Afghanistan, made contact with the enemy, and only Mr. Luttrell was not KIA. Much of the author's account presents difficulties for two reasons:

1. His words make clear a lack of professionalism and simple soldierly common sense;
2. His account of the running firefight is too demanding of the reader's credulity.

His team had a "bad feeling" about the mission, and so took an additional three magazines (Why not more?) apiece for their main personal weapon. The author noted that they were traveling light (carrying 45 lbs.). Yet, they decline to take along an M-60 machine gun because of the weight (Additionally, though not mentioned, all of the team members would have had to carry extra ammo for the machine gun). That excuse is laughable; it is a non-reason and an illegitimate one in the military. While these issues reveal an oddly unprofessional attitude, they are minor compared to what follows in Mr. Luttrell's account. It appears to me that they did not respect their enemy. Mr. Luttrell is very clear that he considers the enemy as ill-trained, crazed, fanatical and murderous cutthroats.

The author makes a point that this operation would require stealth more than at any time in his career. Yet, hours after being inserted, they were still wandering around, now, in the daylight. What about a small thing such as noise discipline? He and his team members were laughing and cursing, throwing berries and distracting the guy on guard. Basic trainees are more disciplined.

Taking the SEALs completely by surprise, a couple of Afghani goatherds actually penetrate the SEALs' position. So, what to do with them? Surely, the mission has been compromised, has it not? The SEALs crudely debate the idea of killing the Afghani civilians in cold blood. Because the officer in command is incapable of making a decision on his own, they try to communicate with HQ for guidance. That effort fails so they vote: Kill them or let them go? (The civilians could not be tied up because as Mr. Luttrell lamely explains, they did not have rope. My God, the equipment of four men could have provided ties.) To put it mildly, all of this does not reflect well on the OIC, or his team. A wise officer seeks opinions from his experienced subordinates, but voting? This officer should have known immediately that killing unarmed civilians is out of the question and done his duty. In any case, the SEALs released their prisoners and moved a few hundred meters away--mission continues.

When the SEAL team starts taking enemy fire, they respond as any disciplined unit would: they get down and return fire. Mr. Luttrell is the main character in this firefight. It is he who initiates the firefight, it is he who sees his comrades get hit, it is he alone who witnesses the act which wins his commander the CMH, it is he who while dragging a wounded SEAL to safety (after dropping his weapon, thereby reducing his unit's defensive fire to 50%), is confronted by a smiling enemy soldier a few meters distant and about to kill them both, when in the nick of time, another SEAL drills the smiling Afghan between the eyes--perfect.

All this time, according to Mr. Luttrell, the SEALs are taking uninterrupted heavy fire (AK, grenade, RPG) from a larger enemy force. But how much larger? The numbers are wildly inconsistent. Mr. Luttrell strongly suggests about 200 Taliban soldiers were engaged. Other sources, including the commendation he received, indicate far fewer. (One important authority puts the number of enemy at 8-10 men. Mr. Luttrell's four-man unit placed themselves in a textbook, tactically worst-case, position; a single enemy firing on their position could have been fatal to one or more of the SEALs.) Is it likely that Mr. Luttrell could have been so acutely aware of the details among the SEALs? Or, is it more likely that he was pouring fire on targets to his front, and only vaguely aware of what was going on to his left and right? In a small-unit firefight, even a squad leader barely knows what is going on except to yell out very basic commands. Memory is another casuality when adrenalin, action and excitement have taken over a soldier's being. Mr. Luttrell does not seem to have any memory loss.

The SEALs had to fall back to avoid being overrun. Unfortunately, they had to truly take a leap of faith because their first fallback position was at the end of an unknown steep slope. They threw themselves down the first slope and continued the fight. Eventually, three of the SEALs are killed. Finally, Mr. Luttrell is alone, and for the moment safe enough to take a breather. To get to this point Mr. Luttrell threw himself down 6 - 9 (I actually stopped counting) different steep slopes/cliffs--All without a broken bone or the loss of his weapon. After a number of these lucky falls, he addresses the reader and accepts that he might not be believed--which is a reasonable expectation. What is the probability that falling down a steep hill, multiple times, with an unsecured weapon will result in no injuries and a weapon close at hand? The author tells us that God literally intervened to save him--again, multiple times!

Given the picture painted by Mr. Luttrell, his four-man team made serious tactical mistakes. Furthermore, they did not understand their enemy, and worse, they did not respect that enemy.

There is much more to say about Mr. Luttrell's story, but I am so disgusted by it that I'll not continue examining it. Mr. Luttrell's false narrative, reveals a man with the judgement and temperament of a benighted ten-year-old. Bravado, necessary during training, is quickly discarded in the field when facing a real enemy. But, the author has an incapacity in this regard, and so constructs a fantasy. In addition to his stunted character, his conduct, too, may be questionable. In this connection, I am reminded of another Marcus--Major Marcus Reno of Custer's regiment in 1876; He did not acquit himself well as a soldier during the Little Bighorn fight. He survived, but his life forever after was ugly and ended badly.

Finally, I would like to ask the reader where is the heroism of this small unit of SEALs? If you accept the word of Mr. Luttrell about the sacrifice of his commanding officer, what was heroic about the actions of the remaining three SEALs? After exhibiting unforgivable incompetence, they simply did their duty. They did their job--they fought--too late. Sadly, for our side, they paid the logical and predictable price for their failures. Let us not forget, too, that this team's failures caused the deaths of close to twenty other American servicemen. Despite our not knowing how Mr. Luttrell avoided paying that price in full, the dead deserve our respect, affection, admiration and a Purple Heart.
Comment Comments (38) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 3, 2014 12:37 AM PDT


Into the Cannibal's Pot: Lessons for America from Post-Apartheid South Africa
Into the Cannibal's Pot: Lessons for America from Post-Apartheid South Africa
by Ilana Mercer
Edition: Paperback
Price: $14.35
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Unrelenting black race hatred, November 13, 2013
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I took up Ilana Mercer's book with dread because of the horrific suffering I knew it would detail. Dante would be at a creative loss, to properly assign to the netherworld, an area mirroring the circumstances of South Africa's white population. Their plight (one struggles for the right word) is well described by the author.

In contrast to the horror, the author possesses both physical and intellectual beauty. Her command of language and subject are impressive. Other reviewers, have adequately outlined the virtues of her work. As a type of historical artifact, this work is generally excellent. Still, I have a few criticisms.

Barely addressed at the end of the book is how to rescue the white population--the first priority. She does mention some of the difficulties of emigration--relating to the prospective host countries--but, without the expected urgency.

South Africa's whites should not hesitate to make their exit while they still have breath. A mass air- and sea-lift would be ideal, though it is unlikely to happen. Giving up everything to escape the African hell would be a hard thing to do for many. Also, a huge organizational infrastructure would probably have to be in place. In such an enterprise too, as the white population decreased they would be even more vulnerable to the savages who hate them. During these terrible times, South Africa's whites must be less law abiding. Enter a foreign country illegally, if they must, but leave no matter what the cost. They know what the future holds for them if they remain.

In Chapter 2, the author makes what seems a very odd statement on pages 67-68: "The nineteenth century found him [the Boer] still resisting majority rule, by which time Americans had thoroughly submitted to it." Bear in mind that there is a context that I have not quoted, but, Americans never submitted to majority rule in the nineteenth century. Majority rule, otherwise known as Democracy, was held as repugnantly dangerous, permitting of mob rule. That is why the United States was formed as a republic in the eighteenth century.

The author succeeds and overwhelms in making her case about the injustice of murder, rape, land confiscations, robbery, and other atrocities. To what end? Redress? These are wasted words. Appeals to honor, justice, history and humanity will have virtually no positive effect. The world abandoned the South African whites long ago.

Finally, giving this reader a glimpse into the world of a once great South Africa--her people's bravery and accomplishment--almost compensates for the sadness felt by reading this fine book.


The Liberty Amendments: Restoring the American Republic
The Liberty Amendments: Restoring the American Republic
by Mark R. Levin
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $18.59
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25 of 152 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Akin to gun-free zones, August 25, 2013
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In The Liberty Amendments, Mr. Levin has given his countrymen another beautifully written and well reasoned book. As a work of constitutional and social history, his book shines; but, as a call to effective action, his book fails miserably.

Mr. Levin seeks a constitutional remedy (specifically, Article V) for the Federal Government's crimes against the people, yet uses much of his book's space in detailing how that very same government and entrenched elites, have undermined, ignored, and disregarded the U. S. Constitution.

Levin has a problem in common with many otherwise excellent books published in the last few years: he refuses to accept that short of civil war, or other national trauma, nothing substantial will change for the better.

The likelihood that his ideas will take with fiery political life is nil. Half of the country's population supports, or is dependent on, our criminal government. Also arrayed against his ideas are the political class, the propaganda organs of the media, and all of the Federal machinery itself.

Except to note that our task (to implement his ideas) is daunting, he can only muster a sentence or two to point us in the right direction. The most pathetic is his last one of the book: Let us get started today!

Given Mr. Levin's elevated intellect, I would not be surprised if, in his private moments, he recognizes that the game is lost.
Comment Comments (23) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 10, 2013 6:45 PM PDT


A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State
A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State
by John W. Whitehead
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $13.72
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60 of 110 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Unfulfilled promise, June 7, 2013
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On its face, John Whitehead's new book would appear to be topically interesting to American citizens in light of the ongoing criminal enterprise which is the Obama Administration (and to a much lesser extent, previous administrations). Indeed, Mr. Whitehead does convey important information relating to the subject declared in his book's title. Unfortunately, to find that information, the reader must pay a price in addition to the dollar cost of the book.

Specifically, the reader must contend with two overridingly serious problems:

1. Lack of focus;
2. Having to wade through infantile ideological Leftist ooze.

The author is unable to resolve his focus, notwithstanding the book's title statement. Instead, the reader might fairly wonder about such misplaced topics as police brutality, advances in technology and weaponry, and a survey of science fiction films with emphasis given to *V for Vendetta*. Including these topics is likely not a result of an incoherent mind, but to provide filler when facts are beyond reach.

Mr. Whitehead is a man of the hard Left. However, in reporting factual data, an author's political views should not, of necessity, intrude on the reader. Not so for this author; His leftist discontent is unabated and foisted on the reader in the form of unending and unwarranted assertions combined with assumptions. For example, blacks are in prison because of racism; Capitalism equates to Crony Capitalism; Consumerism is a societal bane; Arizona is a police state because of SB 1070 (in this case Mr. Whitehead grossly misrepresents the bill, which is strongly suggestive of dishonesty). There is no critical examination or subtlety brought to bear on these leftist religious views. Most to the point is that neither the author nor I should even be discussing these irrelevancies.

There also appears to be a problem with sources included in Mr. Whitehead's book. For example, he claims that there are at least 70,000 no-knock assaults on the homes of American citizens, carried out by SWAT teams. Frustratingly, two references (web URIs) provided by the author in support of this claim yielded a NOT FOUND result. Interestingly too (in the first half of the book), when giving examples of certain errant conduct by local police forces he gives few examples, and those are fairly distant in years past.

The author fails to consistently tell us what the government is doing to American citizens and what other Fascist perils await us.

Nevertheless, what this reader found of unusually high import was the author's discussion about the militarization of police forces throughout the country made possible by the involvement of the Department of Defense. The seriousness of this accelerating trend should not be underestimated.

The author concludes with advice to the reader about how best to combat the encroaching Police State: Get involved by working within the system. At least, that is what I distill from his lengthier text. An engaged citizenry may or may not be a likely, or even possible, solution to our country's ailments, but in any case, his advice seems to conflict with the violent words of historical actors (e.g., the well-known ones by Jefferson;) whom he quotes, and the violent actions within the movie (V for Vendetta) which he esteems.
Comment Comments (33) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 29, 2014 2:05 AM PDT


Skyfall
Skyfall
DVD ~ Daniel Craig
Offered by actcdc
Price: $11.30
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31 of 146 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Pitfall, December 1, 2012
This review is from: Skyfall (DVD)
Until Skyfall, Daniel Craig, as James Bond, was an inspired characterization. In the earlier two Craig/Bond movies we had a glimpse of the inner Bond, along with a manly grittiness which lent a degree of realism to the character.

In Skyfall, Bond is barely recognizable as our hero. Indeed, his appearance is that of an aged alcoholic. He reeks of weakness and his incompetence is manifest. He undergoes testing to confirm his mastery of the tools of his trade--and fails utterly. He cannot even hit a man-size target with a handgun at 20-30 feet.

The best that can be said of Skyfall is that the first half of the movie was reasonably interesting. The remainder was boring and unforgivably predictable.

My girlfriend observed that it was as if the director loathed the James Bond character. Consistently, Craig/Bond was shown in the worst possible light: His clothes were ill-fitting and from a bygone age; he was weepy, unsure of himself, and a physical wreck. His visage was of one who had recently spent long masturbatory hours at a peep show.

Finally, even in a Bond movie, it is an unacceptable assault on our credulity for our hero to be wounded by one round to the shoulder, another round to the body from a high velocity rifle, take an uncontrolled fall for a couple of hundred meters into water--and survive.
Comment Comments (15) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 2, 2013 8:43 AM PST


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