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James Donaldson’s Book Review – No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, The NSA, and the U.S. Surveillance State by Glenn Greenwald

This was a fascinating look into the world of national surveillance programs, most pointedly at the NSA, in which Edward Snowden played a huge part in exposing for the American population in the world to see.

No matter what your political affiliations, or what you feel about Edward Snowden (American traitor vs American hero), this was still a very interesting read and the author, Glenn Greenwald, did a great job in keeping tabs on Edward Snowden, and having the opportunity to interview him up close and personal and tell his story.

Greenwald fit all of the pieces together, in recounting his high-intensity 10 day trip to Hong Kong (to meet with Edward Snowden) into telling this riveting account of Edward Snowden becoming a man without a country and having to live with his own conscience and personal sacrifices for doing what he did.

No matter what part of the political divide you fall on, it’s still within your rights to at least know how the American government in particular, is keeping tabs on you, your neighbors, neighborhood and community.

Very interesting!

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James Donaldson’s Book Review – Let’s Go Crazy: Prince and the Making of Purple Rain by Alan Light

Wow, can you believe this is the 30th anniversary of Purple Rain’s release?

I’ve been a Prince fan since his very first albums, “For You” and “Prince” and I’ve got all of his albums (vinyl even) in my collection. Because he was such a multi talented performer, who could play just about every musical instrument, sing with the best of them, and among the all-time great dance steps, Prince was a favorite of mine throughout his career.

Purple Rain is widely considered to be among the most important albums in music history and is often named the best soundtrack of all time. It sold over a million copies in its first week and blasted to number one on the charts, where it would remain for a full six months and eventually sell over 20 million copies worldwide. It spun off three huge hit singles, won Grammys and an Oscar, and took Prince from pop star to legend.

Of course, the world was shocked and saddened to hear of his passing last year, which even further strengthened his legacy.

The Author, Alan Light, shows in this wonderful book, impeccable research and in-depth interviews with people who witnessed Prince’s audacious vision becoming a reality.

Fantastic reading, and even though it doesn’t shed much new light on Prince’s mysterious and somewhat shy personality, it’s great to hear the interviews and the voices of so many of the people who were along for the journey. The author interviewed performers such as Wendy and Lisa, Morris Day and the Time, Sheila E, and the behind the scenes look of the filming of the movie, Purple Rain.

Enjoy this great book!

 

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James Donaldson’s Book Review – The Me Generation…. By Me: Growing Up in The 60’s by Ken Levine

This was a funny, somewhat hilarious look back to the period of American culture known as “the 60s”. Now, granted, I was a very young kid back then, so other than watching some old cultural campy TV shows like, The Munsters, the Addams Family, The Monkees, Laugh-In and a lot of Saturday morning cartoons, I don’t remember a lot about the 60s myself, especially the things that were swirling around American culture such as the civil rights movements, Vietnam, Hippie Power, etc.

But, in this book, author, Ken Levine, has fun with taking us back to “The 60s” and him reliving a lot of periodic episodes that he recalls and shares with us his readers. If you lived through “The 60s”, especially if you are a young person during that time, you have some great recollections, and it will bring a smile and chuckle to your face says he takes you back to those memories.

Enjoy the book for all it’s worth, it’s a light, humorous, uplifting look at life, the irony is that it all contains, and, asking the question I’m sure, “how in the world did we make it through?”.

Enjoy!

 

 

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James Donaldson’s Book Review – The Forever War by Dexter Filkins

The Forever War allows us a visceral understanding of today’s battlefields and of the experiences of the people on the ground, warriors and innocents alike. It is a brilliant, fearless work, not just about America’s wars after 9/11, but ultimately about the nature of war itself.

This was a fascinating book that took you read into the real dynamics of what war is all about, especially our ongoing involvement in the Middle East. Dealing with the Taliband, Al Qaeda, Saddam Hussein and the overall “Arab Spring” this was a serious undertaking, with an author, Dexter Filkins, who had a way of taking you right to the action and imagining it all around you.

I don’t typically read a lot of “war” books, unless they are more historical in nature, but this had an interesting title, and looking at our involvement with Afghanistan, it has been a “Forever War”.

Enjoy a good read, especially if you want to have an inside look at what our soldiers go through.

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James Donaldson’s Book Review – The Gunman and His Mother by Steven Beschloss

The Gunman and His Mother depicts the troubled bond between a mother and her son, revealing in detail a relationship that has deserved focused treatment for a half century but has yet to receive it: How an innocent young boy evolved into a killer despite the watching eyes of his mother, his family, and his friends.

This was a fascinating read, into the life of Lee Harvey Oswald, at this point, despite all of the conspiracy theories, the man who will go down in history as the assassin of Pres. John F. Kennedy.

I’m not one into conspiracy theories, but I do like to read differing accounts and to get different perspectives on just about all the topics that I look into. In this account, the author, Steven Beschloss, takes a different take on the life of Lee Harvey Oswald. Interviewing key people in his life, including, most notably, interviews with his mother, Marguerite.

She was a bossy, controlling, powerful influence in Lee Harvey Oswald’s life, and he was somewhat of a loner, who like to ride subways, skip school and go to the zoo. He was also a heavy reader, a homebody and somewhat introverted.

So, the clash of these two differing personalities, including a strong mother – son bond that was there throughout their lives, helps to point more so to the personality of JFK’s assassin.

No sympathy here though, he did do what he did, as with a lot of convicted criminals throughout history. No matter the situation that they grew up with, there is still some sense of accountability and responsibility for all of us.

An interesting read, for those of you who like history, and would like to take a look at a different account on a story that’s been told many times before.

 

 

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Introducing The Athletes Playbook

Here I am with Shaquille O’Neal at an NBA function.

Shaq is a great example of “life after the game” for the retired athletes. It’s great to see.

I’ll be working with quite a few former professional athletes with something new that I’m getting underway. The Athletes Playbook http://www.athletesplaybook.com/ (Launching the summer of 2017!)

We’ll be working with former athletes from all sports, and the younger generation of student athletes and their families as we set out to create a “success playbook” for the young student athletes in sports and in life.

As a board member with the National Basketball Retired Players Association, I see upclose on a regular basis the work that needs to be done to better prepare our next generation of up and coming student athletes, especially if they have plans to be a student athlete at the University level as well. The Athletes Playbook offers all the resources necessary to prepare our student athletes for a successful future. Of course, all of the retired NBA players (and WNBA) and fellow former professional athletes, were student athletes once upon a time and will be sharing their personal experiences and giving great insight.

If you’re a former professional athlete and want to be part of what we’re putting together, send me a note and we can talk. You’ll be compensated for your contributions.

If you’re a student athlete (or parent or family of) go to our site and submit your email address, and we’ll send you all kinds of great content to help you be the best student athlete you can be.

And of course, we don’t want to forget all of the coaches out there who work tirelessly with untold hours and practices with the young student athletes. We’ve got a section coming up called The Coaches Corner, and we’re looking for you to come onboard and share your insights and experiences of working with student athletes.

Email me at JamesD@TheAthletesCouncil.com for further information.

Enjoy!!!

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James Donaldson Book: Black Death: The History and Legacy of the Middle Ages Deadliest Plague by Charles River Editors

It is estimated that approximately 50% of the population in Europe died during the black plague.  The Black Plague ravaged Europe for about four years, and during that time, approximately 70% of the Mediterranean countries populations died, and about 25% of the northern European countries died.

The Late Middle Ages had seen a rise in Western Europe’s population in previous centuries, but these gains were almost entirely erased as the plague spread rapidly across all of Europe from 1346-1353. With a medieval understanding of medicine, diagnosis, and illness, nobody understood what caused Black Death or how to truly treat it. As a result, many religious people assumed it was divine retribution, while superstitious and suspicious citizens saw a nefarious human plot involved and persecuted certain minority groups among them.

I found this book to be fascinating and riveting from the start to the finish.  Very few of us pay much attention anymore to the Middle Ages of Europe, but this was a real account of a devastating disease that almost wiped out humanity.

The authors were very thorough and gave very good accounts of how the plague took place back in the 14th and 15th centuries.