Monday, June 20, 2011

Books Read Just Lately

I've fallen behind posting what I've been reading (more coming up soon, but not today-just so they aren't all plastered here this week) in part because I've been rereading favorites in addition to new stuff.

The Centurion Principles, by Colonel Jeff O'Leary
the sub header is Battlefield Lessons for Front line Leaders

I had never heard of this book before, though it does seem to be my bag, and was pleased that I found it in the discount pile. It is a guide of sorts for leadership and tactics-maybe to a similar degree to other business type readings of the Book of Five Rings or even Leadership Secrets of Attila the Hun (both of which I greatly enjoyed) even if one was meant as a business guide and the other was not.
The difference with this book is that it is not a dirty tricks Sun Tzu type work, O'Leary makes it plain that moral accountability is foundation for your leadership legacy, that leadership empowers when motivated by a pure heart, commitment and sacrifice to your cause etc etc.
There is a strong current of a correct moral compass in all your dealings here-to me this was vital as I'm gearing up for some rewrites and editing to help me capture a certain commanding character-that would have these attributes-not to mention just life in general.
Following the examples of ten great leaders from Hannibal to Abraham Lincoln (few if any actual Centurions unfortunately-Scipio Africanus=almost) O'Leary shows their indomitable will, moral fortitude and tactical flexibilty in order to conquer/overcome obstacles. Overall a pretty good book.

"Study the defeated as well as the Victorious."

"It is not a weakness to admit your limitations, it is a weakness not to improve them."

B.P.R.D. vol.3 Plague of Frogs, by Mike Mignola & Guy Davis

I think I liked the first two collections of the further adventures of the BPRD better than this one-BUT this was still very strong. Davis's art captures that shadowy starkness we are used to with Mignola's work and the reveal of the monsters that killed Prof. Bruttenholm (Hellboy: Seed of Destruction) is a nice touch to circle the series back around again despite the absence of Hellboy. I am still eagerly following Mignola's universe...more to come.

Conan: Free Companions, by Tim Truman, Joe Kubert, Tomas Giorello, & Jose Villarrubia

I'll put the negatives forefront first. I like Villarrubia's art a lot more than Tim Truman's-and while I respect Joe Kuberts career I'm not a huge fan either-I dig his sons Andy and Adam's work much more than him. Now besides preferring someone else to Truman's art-this particular volume has the absolute weakest stories thus far in the Dark Horse relaunch of the Conan title (If we aren't counting Michael Fleischer's Marvel tales)
In part that's because every other graphic in the collection had some fragment of Howard himself driving them (even Cimmeria vol. 7 at least had the poem Cimmeria)
I am not a fan of Truman's added in monsters, the Skrae, they do nothing for me and don't feel like they belong in the Hyborian Age.
Now, I'm not an immoveable REH purist (you know who you are) and I don't expect every single issue of a fairly linear series to have to be REH based-there have been some decent brand new interludes-most everything with the first five collections. And while Cimmeria did go off on its own new tangents, it seemed to stay close enough to cannon for me. Free Companions however had too many flashbacks, too many cutaways and I suppose I wanted a straight forward action story not a lament.
Granted, I am still looking forward to the just released Iron Shadows in the Moonlight collection vol. 10 so I have not written off Truman by a long shot.

Hellboy: The Crooked Man and Others vol. 10, by Mike Mignola & Richard Corben

I was delighted and disappointed with this collection-BECAUSE all the things the Hellboy titles have been leading up to-this magnificent epic confrontation is still delayed and not told here.
That said...this is a magnificent book. The Manly Wade Wellman inspired piece The Crooked Man is the first great American Hellboy tale, utilizing Americana mythos=wonderfully creepy. The next tale They that God Down to the Sea in Ships is equally awesome-whats not to love about a Blackbeard ghost story? The other two tales are alright, but this book is made by the first two. Now I hunger all the more for Hellboy 11- whenever that comes out?

Leadership Secrets of the Rogue Warrior, by Richard Marcinko

I love this book, I've read it numerous times and inspired by The Centurion Principles I reread this again real quick for Fathers Day. Marcinko is the most entertaining 'living' ex-military man writing (that I've come across) right now. I've enjoyed quite a few of his books.

This one in particular is along the lines of business strategy-something I personally have little use/interest for...though I am coming around in regards to self-promotion of my own writing career etc.
But Marcinko always has great anecdotes and food for thought to use for my favorite type of characters (see above) a sampling of The Rogue Warriors Ten Commandments of Spec War

1. "I am the War Lord and the wrathful God of Combat and I will always lead you from the front, not the rear."

& a sample of The Leadership Code

"I will be totally committed to what I believe, and I will risk all that I have for these beliefs."

"Popularity is not leadership."


Paul R. McNamee said...

These reads of yours have taught me a lesson - if I ever write a sweeping battlefield scene, I need to remember the smaller aspects of leadership.

I template on historical events often enough but that only give the plot - not the characters and emotions.

David J. West said...

Thanks Paul, I try to have my bases covered-but it takes practice and remembering everything we can all forget.

Charles Gramlich said...

I recently read the "Incredible screw on Head' by Mignola and didn't like it at all. I should have started with the Hellboy's I guess.

David J. West said...

They are different Charles-I think I liked the overall gag/nonsense/absurdism of Screw On Head-and while there are some stylistic similarities Hellboy is a different animal.

Kessee said...

I love Marcinko. I picture him as the old grizzled King riding his warcharger at the head of the battle with his elite gathered about him laying out carnage and devastation. The opposing forces with most companies and 'managers' (very few leaders now), are tucked away in their ivory tower offices believing they are the leaders by giving lip service commands, as opposed to being real leaders by serving and sacrificing. (my 2 cents)

David J. West said...

Right on Kessee-great imagery.