Forgiving the Unforgivable

Last week, my wife and I watched the movie, Philomena, for the first time. Based on a true story, the film tells about an Irish woman’s years-long search for the illegitimate son who was taken from her as a baby and sold for adoption by a Catholic nunnery. Near the end of the movie, Philomena and the journalist who had been helping her confront the old nun primarily responsible for keeping the mother and son apart. Astonishingly, Philomena turns to the nun and says, “I want

Use It or Lose It

IWhen a younger performer suggested that country music legend George Jones and other older singers should step aside and leave the scene to the next generation, Jones responded with a new popular song called, I Don’t Need No Rocking Chair!” The song is a vigorous defense of the contributions that older people still have to make to society. I have subscribed whole heartedly to this position since I adopted Alfred Lord Tennyson’s Ulysses as my philosophy as a teenager. Tennyson

The “Where Were You When…” Events of My Life

I have experienced three momentous “where were you when…” events in my life. The first occurred on December 7, 1941. I was only five-and-a-half at the time, but the moment when we learned that Japan had attacked Pearl Harbor is one of the most vivid memories of my childhood. The second came on November 22, 1963. What I was doing when I heard that John F. Kennedy had been assassinated is burned indelibly into my consciousness. We have just observed the thirteenth anniversary o

Gender-Based Book Classifications: Still Relevant?

When I was working with an agent on my first book, Fall Eagle One, the agent called my action/adventure novel, “a boy book.” After publication, one of my biggest surprises was the large number of women readers who really like the book. I never envisioned that a World War 2 story about German aviators flying to the U.S. to kill President Roosevelt would find a following among women. I should have known better. With stereotypes about the respective roles of men and women rapidl

We Take So Much for Granted

Today, we live in a world of technological marvels. We take most of them for granted. Yet so many of the innovations we enjoy did not exist within the lifetimes of many people alive right now. A few years ago, a woman who had reached the age of 100 was asked what was the greatest improvement she had seen in her life. Her answer was simple” “Central heating.” She might have added, “And air conditioning.” Even in the mid-Twentieth Century, central heating and air conditioning

Keeping Focused While Wrapping Up a Book

I am a lifelong fan of newspaper comic strips. When I was a young man, the comic strip characters with whom I identified were Steve Canyon and Buzz Sawyer. For those too young to remember, Steve was an Air Force aviator, while Buzz was a Navy test pilot. Today, however, I have more in common with Earl Pickles, a retiree who lives with his longtime wife, Opal. They are creations of the artist, Brian Crane, and the strip is entitled, Pickles. One recent strip which I found ente

The Nature of War

I write historical novels about war. My first book, Fall Eagle One, is about World War II in Europe. My second novel, Hold Back the Sun, is set in the opening months of the Pacific War in the Western Pacific. Asphalt and Blood, which is at the copy edit phase, tells the story of U.S. Navy Seabees in the Vietnam Battle for Hue City. In order to write about war, one must understand it. I spent over 29 years in the U.S. Navy, of which seventeen months were in Vietnam. I hold the

The Realities of Our Interconnected World

The world in which I grew up was relatively simple. Most people lived and died in the areain which they were born. Transportation was still mainly by train, with automobiles slowly gaining ascendance. Communication between cities consisted mostly of what is now called, “snail mail.” Radio and land-line telephones provided our only electronic links with the rest of the world, supplemented by newsreels between double features at the local movie houses on weekends. Television ha

My Electronic Window on the World

Few computers existed when my generation came of age. My first Navy duty station, the Naval Research Laboratory, had one of them for use in scientific calculations. That computer occupied an entire floor of a large laboratory building. It consisted of hundreds of interconnected aluminum chasses filled with vacuum tubes. The machine hardly ever ran more than half an hour without at least one tube burning out and shutting it down. Yet it made the computations for the first sp