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Free eBook: Deadly Skies, the Story of WWII Air Combat

Posted on May 24, 2024 at 7:28 am

The Deadly Skies is free May 24-28 for Memorial Day. This ebook tells the history of air combat in Europe during WWII is grippingly described by a man who was there and who has had decades of experience and research to put his experiences in perspective. Focusing on the Royal Air Force, the U.S. Army Eighth Air Force and the Luftwaffe, the book covers how the WW II air campaign in Western Europe unfolded, how it ended, and its cost in terms of human life – not only for the aircrews in those unfriendly skies, but the innumerable innocents who suffered through the carnage in European cities caused by bombing. 

The aircraft and equipment, the battles, the strategy, and the people are all described by Bernard Nolan with the insight of an insider and the expertise of a scholar, and with detailed illustrations from aviation artist Matt Holness. From Dunkirk and the Battle of Britain to D-Day, B-17s, B-24s, P-47s, P-51s, and Spitfires, this book takes the reader inside the air battles that played a decisive role in WWII. 

Chapters sections include:

The Bomber Will Always Get Through,

The Schneider Trophy,

Aluminum Cages

The Messerschmitt Bf 109,


London Bound

Unternehmen Seeloeven (Operation Sea Lion),

Adlerangriff (Eagle Offensive), Chain Home Radar System,

Adlertag (Eagle Day), Bombs Fall On London,

Goering Blinks,

The Hardest Day, 


Hitler “Postpones” The Invasion
The Battle Of Britain Ends,

RAF Bomber Command,

The Butt Study,

The Casablanca Conference,

Happy Valley,

The Dam Busters, 

The Battle Of Berlin,


The Norden Bombsight,


The B-24,

The Fw 190,


Free This Weekend: The Only Oral History of Black Soldiers in Korea

Posted on May 24, 2024 at 7:19 am

To honor our veterans this weekend, John Holway’s oral history ebook, Bloody Ground: Black Rifles in Korea, is available at no cost May 24-28, 2024.

Copyright 2014 Miniver Press

Korea is “the forgotten war.” But to those who fought in it, it was the “unforgettable war.” If the names of all those killed were put on a wall, it would be larger than the Vietnam Wall. And Korea lasted only three years, Vietnam about ten. The agony of the winter of 1950-51 is an epic to compare with Valley Forge and the Bulge. Holway writes:

Korea was also our last segregated war. This is the story of the black 24th Infantry Regiment, told in the words of the men themselves. Like all black troops since the Civil War, they were reviled by whites and their own commander for “bugging out” – running before the enemy. The charge can still be read in the Army’s own official histories. Yet the 24th left more blood on the field than their white comrades – if they did bug out, they must have been running the wrong way.

It’s a good thing we weren’t with Custer,” one black GI muttered – “they’d have blamed the whole thing on us.”

The 24th won the first battle of the war, won its division’s first Medal of Honor, and guarded the shortest and most vulnerable road to Pusan. If the port had fallen, the war would have been lost, leaving a red dagger pointed at Japan. It did not fall.

That winter, after the Chinese attacked, the entire American army bugged out in perhaps the worst military disaster in American history. “That,” said another black veteran, “was when I learned that whites could run as fast as blacks.”

This is the story of those unsung heroes, who helped turn the Communist tide for the first time. The men bring that forgotten war and their own unsung bravery to life in their own sometimes funny, often heart-breaking, and always exciting words.

Memorial Day 2024: Movies to Pay Tribute to Our Troops

Posted on May 23, 2024 at 7:14 am

Copyright 1987 Tristar

Memorial Day is more than the beginning of summer; it is a day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. I hope you can take some time over the weekend to think of those we have lost. Some movies to pay your respects:

The Outpost was on my top ten list for 2020, a movie that was sadly overlooked because it came out in the early weeks of the pandemic shutdown. It is based on the book by Jake Tapper. There are war stories that are about strategy and courage and triumph over evil that let us channel the heroism of the characters on screen. And then there are war stories that are all of that but also engage in the most visceral terms with questions of purpose and meaning that touch us all. “The Outpost” is that rare film in the second category, an intimate, immersive drama from director Rod Lurie, a West Point graduate and Army veteran who knows this world inside out and brings us from the outside in.

The Blue Angels Glen Powell, who played a pilot in “Top Gun: Maverick” and “Devotion” is also a real-life pilot who has flown with “the best of the best,” the Navy’s Blue Angels. He produced this documentary that takes us behind the scenes and into the sky, even “inverted” (upside down!) with the Blues.

Gardens of Stone James Caan and James Earl Jones star in a film about the 1st Battalion 3d Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) at Fort Myer, Virginia, the U.S. Army’s Honor Guard. They conduct the funerals of fallen soldiers and guard the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery. Francis Ford Coppola directed this touching, elegiac story.

Taking Chance An officer (Kevin Bacon) escorts the body of a young Marine killed in Iraq. Each stop along the way is meaningful.

Mr. Roberts is a WWII story about a Navy cargo ship, based on the experiences of author Thomas Heggen. Henry Fonda stars in the title role or an executive officer who tries to protect the men from a tyrannical captain. Broadway, and the outstanding cast includes William Powell, James Cagney, and Oscar-winner Jack Lemmon.

Band of Brothers is the extraordinary series from Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks about ordinary men who came together to do extraordinary things as soldiers in Easy Company in WWII.

Red Tails is the story of the Tuskegee Airmen, the legendary heroes who risked their lives for a country that did its best to hold them back.

Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga

Posted on May 22, 2024 at 5:51 pm

B +
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating: Rated R for sequences of strong violence, and grisly images
Profanity: Strong language
Nudity/ Sex: Sexual predators
Alcohol/ Drugs: Some substance use
Violence/ Scariness: Constant peril and violence, torture, guns, knives, fire, characters injured and killed, disturbing, graphic, and grisly images
Diversity Issues: None
Date Released to Theaters: May 24, 2024

It is always a thrill to enter George Miller’s dystopian vision, now approaching the half century mark of eye-popping design and heart-in-the-throat action. The first “Mad Max” film premiered in 1979, and it was like nothing we had seen before. Mel Gibson had the title role as a cop turned warrior in a post-apocalyptic world of brutal savagery, humans almost feral, with survival the only goal. The films borrow themes from classic genres, myths, knights and chivalry, wasterns, even sci-fi, but they build on those themes like the characters build massive machines out of junk piles. This series creates something new, enthralling, terrifying, dark and disturbing cautionary tales but with a glimmer of humanity.

The fifth in the series is both sequel and prequel. “Fury Road” is a transition from the original Mad Max character, Tom Hardy taking over for Gibson, to a new character, Furiosa, played by Charlize Theron. Furiosa, with a mechanical prosthetic arm, is a warrior as fierce as her name. In “Fury Road” she is trying to rescue young women from a harem/breeding farm under the control of Immortan Joe (originally played by the late Hugh Keays-Byrne, in this chapter played by Lachy Hulme).

While the last film spanned just three days, this one tells us the story of Furiosa from childhood to what appears to be her mid-20s. We first see the young Furiosa (played by a very compelling Alyla Browne), reaching up to pick fruit from a tree and about to pick a second one for another girl, perhaps her sister. This is more than a Biblical metaphor. The tree is in a small, Edenic green space in the midst of the devastated, parched desert world we know from the earlier films. That means it must be kept secret.

Though she is very young, Furiosa knows what to do when intruders approach. She tells her companion to be invisible and she races off to cut the fuel lines of their motorbikes. The intruders grab Furiosa. Her mother chases them, on horseback the first of a series of catch-your-breath chase scenes. Eventually, Furiosa is adopted by Dementus (Chris Hemsworth), the leader of the gang that snatched her.

Dementus is a charismatic but volatile leader. He wears a billowy white parachute and has a small stuffed bear, a relic of his ruined life. He calls her his daughter and lets her hold the stuffed bear that belonged to his children. He tells Furiosa she does not have to look as he tortures her mother. But her gaze is steady.

For a movie that is always hurtling between three major outposts, with different factions battling each other for the scarce resources, gas, water, and ammunition, it takes its time getting us to Anya Taylor-Johnson as the adult Furiosa. She is an ever scarcer resource; she is healthy, and there is a moment when she is placed with the harem, with the thought that she might be able to produce a healthy baby. She escapes and finds a way to work as a mechanic and later riding shotgun on the gas tanker, driven by Praetorian Jack (Tom Burke).

This edition is more of an origin story than the others, which centered on characters who were already fully formed. There is less focus on the way that the scarcity of the resources that give weight to the stakes. But these are relatively minor points when the screen is all but exploding with intense action and mesmerizing visuals. Every detail of Miller’s world (with the help of Production Designer Colin Gibson) is intricate and meaningful. Jenny Beaven’s costumes define the characters and show us the defects and disabilities that are the result of their deprivations and depraved sensibility. The details also show us how parched the world is, not just the aridity of the desert landscape but the absence of any capacity for progress, any thought beyond what can be obtained and who can be vanquished as quickly as possible.

That means many chases, and no one is better at making us lean forward to watch than Miller. Those scenes are a lesson in timing, camera placement, and editing (by Margaret Sixel, married to Miller, and Eliot Knapman). They crackle with energy and excitement. And a scene near the end with Furiosa and Dementus is almost Shakespearean in its scope, is beautifully performed by Hemsworth and Taylor-Joy. Miller is an extraordinary film and this series continues to be powerful and provocative.

Parents should know that this is an extremely violent movie with many characters injured, tortured, and killed and many grisly and disturbing images. A child sees her mother murdered. Characters use strong language.

Family discussion: What makes Furiosa different? Do you think the story Furiosa told about what happened at the end is true?

If you like this, try; the other Mad Max movies

Summer Movies 2024! Inside Out 2, Furiosa, Stars, Comic Books, Sequels and Surprising Indies

Posted on May 17, 2024 at 5:15 pm

Big stars, big budgets, big crashes and explosions, and big sequels! Summer movies 2024 are going to make audiences very happy. And, as always, what I look forward to most is the ones we don’t even know about yet, the ones that will surprise us, the stars we don’t know about yet.

Here are some I am especially looking forward to (note: release dates may shift):

Sequels, Prequels, and Remakes!


Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga (May 24)

As its title makes clear, this is part of George Miller’s post-apocalyptic “Mad Max” series that began with 1979’s “Mad Max.” In 2015, “Mad Max: Fury Road” starred Charlize Theron as Furiosa, who rescued a group of captive women from a warlord. This chapter gives us Anya Taylor-Joy as the young Furiosa, so we can see how she became such a warrior.

Bad Boys: Ride or Die (June 7)

Will Smith and Martin Lawrence are back for another action-comedy about the popular buddy cops. Expect quips combined with chases and shoot-outs.

A Quiet Place: Day One (June 28)

Writer/director John Kraskinski has scared us twice with his films about a post-apocalyptic time when blind creatures with extremely sensitive hearing are killing humans. In between covering your eyes and stifling your screams, did you ever wonder how this who thing began? Here’s your answer.

Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F (July 3)

Get ready for Chapter 4 in the saga of the irrepressible cop from Detroit who shakes things up in LA. Eddie Murphy has owned that role since the 1984 original, and we’re looking forward to seeing him reunited with his friends played by Judge Reinhold and John Ashton and Bronson Pinchot as Serge. We’re also looking forward to the always-great Taylour Paige as Foley’s daughter. And as the bad guy: Kevin Bacon!

Twisters (July 19)

If you remember anything about the 1996 film about storm chasers, it’s probably the flying cow. This updated version is expected to factor in climate change as one aspect being studied by the scientists. The cast includes fast-rising star Glen Powell along with Daisy Edgar-Jones and Anthony Ramos, and we expect they will try to get an updated “Dorothy” mechanism inside the twister to provide new data.

Alien: Romulus (August 16)

Both a prequel and a sequel — this one is set between the 1979 original and the first sequel. “Priscilla’s” Cailee Spaeny and Isabela Merced star.

Family Fun

IF (May 17)

IF stands for Imaginary Friend. What happens to these creatures when the children who imagine them outgrow them? Writer/director John Krasinski’s second film this summer looks like a family charmer with the starriest cast of the year, including Ryan Reynolds, Steve Carrell, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Louis Gossett Jr., Emily Blunt, Matt Damon, Maya Rudolph, Jon Stewart, Sam Rockwell, Christopher Meloni, Richard Jenkins, Bobby Moynihan, and everyone’s favorite utility infielder for voice talent, Awkwafina.

Inside Out 2 (June 14)

The first “Inside Out” was one of those most insightful films about growing up and about emotions of any film, for any age. It helped us understand the necessity of embracing sadness, while so many movies seem to suggest that we should strive only to feel happiness. Well, buckle up, because central character Riley is getting older and will have to find a way to integrate some more uncomfortable emotions, including anxiety.

Despicable Me 4 (July 3)

It’s been a long time since Gru was despicable, but, hey, Nick Charles wasn’t really a thin man. Gru is now happily married with a new baby in addition to the three girls he adopted in the first film. But did the new baby inherit his despicability? And what about a new villain, voiced by Will Ferrell?

More family movies this summer: “My Spy 2” with Dave Bautista, “Johnny Puff: Secret Mission” with Johnny Depp as a puffin superhero, and “The Garfield Movie” with Chris Pratt as the lasagna-loving feline.

Johnny Puff

For Grown-Ups

Hit Man (May 24)

Rocketing-to-stardom Glen Powell (“Top Gun: Maverick,” “Anyone But You”) continues his ascent in this romance from Richard Linklater (“Boyhood,” “Everybody Wants Some!!, also with Powell).

Summer Camp (May 31)

I’m not much of a fan of these “let’s get a bunch of Oscar-winners from the 70s to play some adorable old people” movies. But I’m still hoping this one, about a summer camp reunion, starring Kathy Bates, Diane Keaton, Alfre Woodard, and Eugene Levy, will be as much fun as s’mores around a campfire.

Thelma (June 26)

The delightful June Squibb plays the title character, an older woman who has been scammed and is determined to get revenge.

The Space Cadet (July 4)

Emma Roberts plays a young woman who “embellishes” her resume to get into the astronaut program. Co-stars including the always great Gabrielle Union and the adorable Poppy Liu.

Space Cadets with Emma Roberts
Copyright 2024 Amazon Prime

Murder Company (July 5)

In the midst of the D-Day invasion, a group of US soldiers are given orders to smuggle a member of the French resistance behind enemy lines to assassinate a high-value Nazi target.

Copyright Maverick Film & Complex Corp

Fly Me to the Moon (July 12)

A romance set in the early days of the space race stars Scarlett Johansson as a marketing specialist hired by NASA to get the American people more excited about rockets. Channing Tatum plays the man in charge of the mission.

Sing Sing (July 12)

Colman Domingo stars in the fact-based story of a group of men in prison who put on a show. Many of the other members of the cast are men who have been in those programs, along with Paul Raci, who won an Oscar for “Coda.”

Deadpool & Wolverine (July 26)

The title says it all. Ryan Reynolds’ Deadpool’s two movies have essentially been dis tracks for trashing fellow Marvel superhero Wolverine. And probably only Reynolds could persuade Hugh Jackman to suit up with the adamantine claws again. Expect this one to be outrageous, meta, and a lot of fun.

It Ends With Us (August 9)

Colleen Hoover’s monumental best-seller comes to the screen with Blake Lively as a young florist who falls for a handsome doctor.

Trap (August 9)

There are guaranteed twists in the latest from M. Night Shyamalan, featuring his daughter Saleka as a hugely successful pop star. Josh Hartnett plays a dad thrilled to be bringing his daughter to hear her favorite performer. But…well watch the trailer.

The Union (August 16)

Mark Wahlberg and Halle Berry star as a one-time couple who find themselves on the same side when she asks him to help her with a spy mission.