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Gary J. Sampson "Sammy" RSS Feed (Okinawa, Japan)

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Philips PD9012/37 9-Inch LCD Dual Screen Portable DVD Player, Black
Philips PD9012/37 9-Inch LCD Dual Screen Portable DVD Player, Black
Offered by EverythingDeals
Price: $114.97
55 used & new from $50.00

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Mom, November 25, 2011
A previous review mentioned Phillips coming out with a portable DVD player w/ dual screens that can play two movies or you can watch one movie on both screens. That model is Philips 9" Dual Screen Portable DVD Players with 2 DVD players Model#: PD9016/17. Amazon, Walmart, Sam's Club and Best Buy carry it.

Ultramarathon Man: Confessions of an All-Night Runner
Ultramarathon Man: Confessions of an All-Night Runner
by Dean Karnazes
Edition: Hardcover
182 used & new from $0.01

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fast read that will leave time for you to go out and run!, August 3, 2006
I read this book after having it recommended to me by a good friend. I could have demolished it in a day (it's a "small-format" book with good-sized type and less than 300 pages), but since I was a little busy when I read it, it took me a couple days to finish it. You will find it hard to put down. Simply put, this guy is a machine! To go from not running at all in 15 years (he took a LONG break from running from age 15 until he turned 30) and then, at a snap, to run all night for 30 miles, is not something a "normal" person would do! Sometimes it's good to not be "normal," though, as it is in this case.

Karnazes went from a non-runner to an ultra-runner soon after he took up the sport. Now, his routine training runs are often 50+ miles. What this says to me is that anything is possible with a lot of hard work an dedication. I liked his comment about how the ultra-endurance sport world "self-selects" only the most dedicated people. Anyone who is not completely dialed in to the training demands will not last. As it should be, in my mind. Probably the most amazing aspect of it all is that he does it while still working a normal job and maintaining a family life. His wife and children are fixtures at all of his races, as are his parents. That's a good thing. It is unlikely that he would enjoy success in the sport without his family's blessing (or he would have to make the choice between his training/racing and his family, a tough place to be).

In summary, this is a motivating tale told by a guy who is getting ready to tackle his biggest challenge yet this fall - 50 marathons in 50 days! I'd like to get one marathon in this fall, something that I think that I should be able to do, based on what Karnazes is able to do with the same 24 hours per day that I get. Read this book, get fired up, and then go run all night!

No Room for Error: The Covert Operations of America's Special Tactics Units from Iran to Afghanistan
No Room for Error: The Covert Operations of America's Special Tactics Units from Iran to Afghanistan
by John T. Carney
Edition: Audio CD
Price: $27.95
14 used & new from $3.98

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Listening to/reading this book is not an error!, July 17, 2006
I listened to the abridged version of this book over the course of a few days and found it to be quite entertaining and informative. Those who are intrigued by the special mission units of the US military should look no further than here for an insider's account behind the scenes as many of the heavy hitters were just getting started in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Carney is at his best telling the tale of small unit leadership in action as he fought tooth-and-nail to gain respect and a mission for his "Brand-X" airmen.

Another strength of the book is in showing how hard it was for US special operations forces (SOF) to really get their act together. His account of Desert One in Iran, which has been written about elsewhere, is still not easy to stomach. Grenada was not much better. It was not until Panama in 1989 that things were truly clicking on all cylinders. Special Mission Units didn't have much of a role in Desert Storm/Shield, at least, not at first, but later in Somalia and of course in Afghanistan they were much more than bit players. Carney calls Afghanistan the first "special operations war." But will it be the last? The book was published before Iraq kicked off, but I wonder what he would think about attempting to extrapolate the successes of SOF to that war?

The narrative loses a bit of its strength towards the end after the author retires from active duty and can only watch from the sidelines. In all, No Room For Error is a fast read/listen and quite interesting.

Enter the Dragon: China's Undeclared War Against the U.S. in Korea, 1950-1951
Enter the Dragon: China's Undeclared War Against the U.S. in Korea, 1950-1951
by Russell Spurr
Edition: Paperback
39 used & new from $0.01

18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fast-reading narrative on the US and China fighting in Korea, 1950-51, July 4, 2006
The majority of Western literature on the Korean War (1950-53) deals primarily with the Western experience; either that of the Americans, or, if you dig a little deeper, perhaps something on the British or another Commonwealth nation. Little attention is paid to the Koreans hailing from either side of the 38th Parallel, and even less to the hordes of Chinese, at least beyond a "faceless enemy conducting human wave attacks" standpoint. Russell Spurr breaks from that tradition in Enter the Dragon: China's Undeclared War Against the U.S. in Korea, 1950-51, bringing us an in-depth point-of-view from the Chinese and North Korean side of the fight at last.

Spurr does not make the mistake of limiting his coverage to one side of the fight, however. The Americans are (of course) also prominent players in the drama, supplemented by cameos of the supporting cast of UN forces, occasionally the South Koreans, and even some vignettes including the Soviets. What we end up with is a fairly comprehensive portrait of the battles as they raged (both on and off the battlefield; military maneuvers are supplemented by political developments and diplomatic intrigue) from August 1950 through January 1951. These are the key months, according to Spurr, that "changed the course of history." (p. 5) It's hard to argue with him: after those fateful months came the long period of competition and suspicion between the US and China in Asia and the Pacific that lasted well into the 1970's and beyond (albeit in a more limited fashion now).

The author states that the Chinese intervention need not have happened if only UN forces had been better aware of the goings-on in Peking; for those not in the business, this means intelligence! US intelligence evaluations of Chinese intentions should have included analysis of high-level political intelligence provided by the CIA, but they did not, largely because the Truman administration had been "blinkered" by General Douglas MacArthur's intelligence monopoly in Asia. By MacArthur's decree, the Central Intelligence Agency was not even allowed to operate in Japan (from where they would have been running source operations in Korea and elsewhere) until 1952! As if the lack of independent intelligence collection was not bad enough, MacArthur's G-2 (chief intelligence officer), Major General Charles A. Willoughby, was seemingly incapable of rendering an independent assessment of the intelligence picture; instead he "matched his master's judgment." (p. 161)

Throughout the book Spurr shows us how poor American intelligence was and how easy it was for the enemy to collect on us. At the strategic level, US Far East Command (FECOM) was negligently dismissive of the North Korean troop and materiel build-up along the 38th Parallel before hostilities commenced. The entire American war effort in Korea was continually hampered by a "failure to gather or evaluate intelligence." (p. 27) US commanders suffered from "an almost complete lack of reliable intelligence about enemy movements and intentions." (p. 31) These are not laudatory remarks, by any means.

Further, instead of gathering intelligence by conducting reconnaissance patrols, as the Chinese did (producing detailed intelligence reports on US defensive schemes and lazy, lackadaisical troops), the Americans instead relied heavily on aerial reconnaissance assets (perhaps a dangerous foreshadowing of what in the US intelligence community today seems to be a "love affair" with high-tech collection assets). Full faith and confidence was placed in the "reconnaissance power of the U.S. Far East Air Force." (p. 158) If Chinese troops entered the conflict, the Americans thought, there was no way that the planes would miss them. More recently, Americans have certainly got the gathering part of the intelligence equation down, but some would argue that we still haven't learned the lesson about analysis. Even now, it is likely that much of the intelligence history of the Korean War remains classified, some 50-plus years on.

While the Americans floundered, the North Koreans used open-source intelligence (OSINT) to track troop movements from the US mainland, "reading all about it" in newspapers and magazines. Chinese signals intelligence (SIGINT) teams monitored American radio traffic and discovered that US forces mistakenly believed that the unexpected resistance they were meeting close to the Yalu River was from NKPA units, testimony to the effectiveness of Chinese deception measures, such as moving only at night and extensive use of camouflage. The Chinese easily determined the customary times of day when American recon flights passed above (in the mornings); they simply made sure to be in a covered position obscured from observation when that happened.

After the intelligence "backdrop" to the situation, the book starts out set in a North Korean command post outside the Pusan Perimeter. The Korean People's Army (KPA) is trying to close the deal on unifying the Korean peninsula after running roughshod over the hapless Republic of Korea (ROK) forces arrayed across from it on the 38th Parallel. Despite starting off with the North Koreans, most of the book is spent looking in on either the Americans or the Chinese. Indeed, when Koreans make an appearance in the book they are either inept (ROK Army forces) or only marginally important (like the North Koreans looking on from the sidelines as the Chinese do the vast majority of the heavy fighting). As the caricature goes, the South Koreans are American "puppets" and the North Koreans are propaganda-addicted Comrades.

It goes on to cover all the major events of the war from August 1950 to January 1951, the "meatiest" portion of the war in terms of fighting. MacArthur's risky Inchon amphibious assault by the 1st Marine Division and the 7th Infantry Division enables the breakout of UN forces from Pusan. As "victory disease" infects UN forces and "home by Christmas" becomes the de-facto motto of American troops, one American regimental commander is determined to urinate in the Yalu River. He did so on November 21, 1950.

As US troops begin to encounter sterner resistance closer to Manchuria, more and more Chinese troops were turning up as prisoners of war. Elements of the Chinese People's Volunteer Force (CPVF) were making their way into North Korea to fight the Americans as early as October, but US intelligence knew nothing of it. Soon, there was no way they could not know. Lead elements of the UN advance were crushed by enemy units of unimaginable strength. Before long the retreat south is on as the Chinese enter the fight en masse and push UN forces back well past Seoul before outrunning their supply lines and stalling their advance. This was the longest and most humiliating retreat in US military history. The US Marines appear again, too: their orderly withdrawal under fire from the frozen Changjin Reservoir in northeastern Korea is clearly contrasted with the haphazard, every-man-for-himself circus of a retreat that took place in the west.

The book ends as General Matthew Ridgway assumes command following MacArthur's relief by President Truman. UN forces are just starting to get back in the fight, applying Ridgway's "meatgrinder" combined-arms approach, trying to move beyond the road-bound, vehicle-borne myopia that passed for tactics to that point. "A line in the snow" is drawn south of Seoul and UN forces stiffen their resistance on the frozen terrain, at last beginning to push the Chinese back to the north.

The book reads very fast, like a Tom Clancy novel. It is written in a comfortable narrative style, taking you right into the action, be it on the battlefield alongside a Chinese commando squad infiltrating US defensive positions, inside the fantasy-land UN command center at Dai Ichi in Tokyo, or sitting in on the deliberations of the Chinese Revolutionary Council in Peking. In fact, the front matter of the book includes a list of "major narrative characters," which seemed a bit odd for a purported book of history. This approach to telling the story of history may not be entirely run-of-the-mill, but it works. Spurr is able to weave the tale, derived from interviews with survivors, in a convincing fashion. It is certainly an interesting way to present both sides of the conflict. The author, a Brit who served in the Royal Indian Navy and was a journalist (he died in 2002) also wrote several other books, one of which, A Glorious Way to Die: The Kamikaze Mission of the Battleship Yamato, April 1945, was also written in the same narrative style as this book.

The book includes maps (absent is a scale to relate distances to the ground), a chronology of events from 1945 - 1953 (but it is only detailed during August 1950 - January 1951, the focus of the book), a bibliography, and an index, but no footnotes or endnotes, which is its biggest weakness as a work of historical value. The lack of citations has led to some criticism of the book, assessed to be valid by this reviewer, that it is largely based on hearsay. Absent documentation, there is little way to tell.

In the end, the book is worth reading if for no other reason than to put the reader in Korea, China, or Japan in 1950-51 as the events of the Korean War unfold, something that this work is able to do in a way that the majority of non-narrative history books are far less capable of. At least for this reviewer, it whets the appetite to learn more about this "forgotten war" and especially about the people who lost the most from it, namely the Koreans. After certain points in 1950 (June 25 for the South Koreans; October 14 for the North Koreans), the locals became only bit players in the whole tragic sequence of events. Once the Americans and the Chinese got involved, conduct of the war was largely out of the Koreans' hands. Koreans on both sides of the 38th Parallel were driven from their homes and saw their lands ravaged as ground changed hands again and again. Certainly, the Chinese and the Americans suffered mightily as they fought up and down the Korean peninsula, but in the end were able to go back to their respective countries and lick their wounds. For the Koreans who were fortunate enough to survive the conflict, many had nothing to return to.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 3, 2008 11:37 AM PDT

Unholy War: Terror in the Name of Islam
Unholy War: Terror in the Name of Islam
by John L. Esposito
Edition: Paperback
Price: $16.87
150 used & new from $0.01

7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An excellent primer, April 3, 2004
Esposito, certainly one of the foremost scholars today who deals knowledgeably with the interrelationship of Islam and Christianity, has produced this short but extremely readable and relevant book detailing in succint form what he believes to be the issues that are the basis for the struggle between radical Islam and America. I highly recommend this book for people who come to the issue with little prior knowledge about the issues shaping the problem, or anyone who wants to have a better understanding of the topic, regardless of the amount of knowledge they bring to the table. This book just may whet your appetite for more reading on the subject!

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