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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.

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James Donaldson’s Book Review – Son by Jack Olsen

This is one of the most fascinating and intriguing books that I’ve ever read! I actually listen to it, in audiobook format, and it was about 21 hours long, but it was so jampacked with intriguing, riveting narration about the characters involved with the South Hill Rapist case that captivated the city of Spokane Washington from the late 1970s until the trial in 1982.

The story centered around Fred Coe, and some fascinating court transcripts, but also, the author, Jack Olsen, did a fantastic job of weaving all of the characters in and out throughout the story, and also, getting us to readers, to really get a feel for who they are and who they were.

Ultimately, Coe was convicted for a series of rapes, but it wasn’t so much to rapes, as it was the odd, almost demonic, psychopathic and schizophrenic behaviors that he exhibited throughout, as told by the author, Jack Olsen.

Another intriguing character, was Fred Coe’s mother, Ruth, who could best be described as eccentric, somewhat delusional, and probably psychopathic as well. She got arrested at the end of the trial for Fred Coe, for meeting with an undercover agent, and arranging to have the judge and one of the prosecutors murdered, and a murder for hire scenario.

I read a lot of true crime books, and books about serial killers especially, but is probably the first time, that I became so involved with one of the books, mainly because I had heard of the South Hill Rapist throughout the years, but I didn’t really know a lot of the details.

As I mentioned, this all took place in the late 1970s in Spokane Washington, just 75 miles up the road from where I went to school at Washington State University, even though I wasn’t aware so much what was going on up the road in Spokane, there seem to be so many close connections with Fred Coe, even enrolling as a student at Washington State University at some point.

The book is very straightforward, not filled with a lot of guts and gore, and bloodshed, (no doubt, there is plenty, but not an overabundance), but the riveting part about the book, was the trial, the examinations and cross examinations, and Fred Coe’s strange behavior throughout.

 

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James Donaldson’s Book Review – Articulate While Black: Barack Obama, Language, and Race in the U.S by H. Samy Alim

articulate-while-black

This was an interesting book, to say the least.

The authors, throughout the book, are trying to connect a “professional speaker” like former President Barack Obama, who, because he is an African-American, that white America actually enjoyed listening to, the authors spend the majority of the book making the comparisons between Barack Obama, and others who utilize the African-American lingo.

Being an African-American myself, I’ve long since known that if us African-Americans, speak the “King’s English” we are much more readily accepted amongst white America than if we “ghettoize or ebonic-zise” are language, and then we wonder why we find yourself on the outside looking in.

The authors do have some good points throughout, such as the dominant majority groups in any country, tend to have a “bar” which the lesser dominant groups have to rise to, in order to earn some type of acceptance. I guess this is normal in a way, and it plays out in various ways throughout the animal kingdom itself.

But, language is not the only thing that gets us acceptance into the white culture. Also looks (you’ll notice that Barack Obama is not a very dark skin African-American, so that a pick him up some points right there), he’s also clean-cut without any tattoos that I know of, closely cropped hair without the braids and the dreads, smiles readily and looks to straight into the eyes when he is talking with you. So he has learned to master all of those traits, that enhance the opportunity for African-Americans to enjoy greater acceptance into the white dominated culture in America.

I’m very much the same way. I’ve learned a long time ago to speak properly, carry myself in a professional manner, smile and look people in the eye, talk clearly and enunciate when I speak, closely cropped hair (in my case, a bald pate), light complexion, professional fitting clothing, etc.

I think a lot of it comes from your overall background that you grew up in in the neighborhood that you are from. But if you going to find success at greater levels in the white dominant society of America, you have to leave a lot of those ethnic tendencies behind, and be able to fit in as best you can. Of course, there are exceptions to the rule once in a while, but even that depends on what that individual is “bringing to the table”.

This is a book that probably people of color will readily understand much more easily than Caucasians. That’s because it’s our reality, and we have to live it every day.

Overall, it’s an interesting read, it does tend to ramble all over the place with a very wide scope it’s trying to capture, and also, I don’t think it takes into account, that former Pres. Barack Obama is a polished politician, (as are all the politicians) with speechwriters, a staff that understands the demographics that he’ll be speaking to, and hours of practice every time he goes out into public. So, it’s not quite like comparing “apples to apples”, and if you take those things into consideration, former Pres. Barack Obama knew exactly what he was doing, when he was speaking to the various groups he was speaking to throughout his presidency. Remember how Hillary Clinton went to the black church, and started speaking in a “urbanized, religious tone” that seemed totally out of character for her? Of course she practice that as well.

Good book, enjoy it for what it’s worth.