Hello MAFIA Readers,

I just put up the new poll for July’s reading selection here. Below are the books that were nominated, with descriptions pulled from Amazon.

The Poll Ends July 1st. (Apologies for being late putting the poll up.)

POLL HAS ENDED! RESULTS BELOW!

From the most respected chronicler of the early days of the Republic—and winner of both the Pulitzer and Bancroft prizes—comes a landmark work that rescues Benjamin Franklin from a mythology that has blinded generations of Americans to the man he really was and makes sense of aspects of his life and career that would have otherwise remained mysterious. In place of the genial polymath, self-improver, and quintessential American, Gordon S. Wood reveals a figure much more ambiguous and complex—and much more interesting. Charting the passage of Franklin’s life and reputation from relative popular indifference (his death, while the occasion for mass mourning in France, was widely ignored in America) to posthumous glory, The Americanization of Benjamin Franklin sheds invaluable light on the emergence of our country’s idea of itself.

“Hunting in the Shadows” by Peter Nealen It Can Never Be Simple… It has been a year since the bloodbath of East Africa. A year since the shooters of Praetorian Security committed themselves to fighting a war the powers that be refused to acknowledge was even happening. Jeff Stone is now a Praetorian Security Team Leader. The bulk of the company is deployed to Iraqi Kurdistan, ostensibly to protect the oil facilities on some of the few functioning oil fields that are still supplying oil to the West, but also to hunt terrorists on the side. The constant, low-level insurgency that has plagued Iraq since the war has not died down, and now, at the nadir of Western power, appears to be gaining momentum. Iraq is beginning to fall apart. Tensions between the Iraqi government and the Kurds are threatening to flare up over the perpetual flashpoint of Kirkuk. Worse, the battle for supremacy between the Shia extremists of Iran and the Salafists, loosely gathered under the banner of Al Qaeda, is spreading into Iraq. The chaos is spreading like wildfire. It’s going to be a rough deployment…

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“Fearless” by Eric Blehm “As a rule, we don’t endorse books or movies or anything regarding the command where I work—and Adam Brown worked—but as the author writes in Fearless, ‘you have to know the rules, so you know when to bend or break them.’ This is one of those times.  Read this book. Period. It succeeds where all the others have failed.”  –Anonymous SEAL Team SIX Operator

When Navy SEAL Adam Brown woke up on March 17, 2010, he didn’t know he would die that night in the Hind Kush Mountains of Afghanistan—but he was ready. In a letter to his children, not meant to be seen unless the worst happened, he wrote, “I’m not afraid of anything that might happen to me on this earth, because I know no matter what, nothing can take my spirit from me.”

Fearless is the story of a man of extremes, whose courage and determination were fueled by faith, family, and the love of a woman. It’s about a man who waged a war against his own worst impulses, including drug addiction, and persevered to reach the top tier of the U.S. military. In a deeply personal and absorbing chronicle, Fearless reveals a glimpse inside the SEAL Team SIX brotherhood, and presents an indelible portrait of a highly trained warrior whose final act of bravery led to the ultimate sacrifice.

Adam Brown was a devoted man who was an unlikely hero but a true warrior, described by all who knew him as…fearless.

“Dirty Wars” by Jeremy Scahill In Dirty Wars, Jeremy Scahill, author of the New York Times best-seller Blackwater, takes us inside America’s new covert wars. The foot soldiers in these battles operate globally and inside the United States with orders from the White House to do whatever is necessary to hunt down, capture or kill individuals designated by the president as enemies.

Drawn from the ranks of the Navy SEALs, Delta Force, former Blackwater and other private security contractors, the CIA’s Special Activities Division and the Joint Special Operations Command ( JSOC), these elite soldiers operate worldwide, with thousands of secret commandos working in more than one hundred countries. Funded through “black budgets,” Special Operations Forces conduct missions in denied areas, engage in targeted killings, snatch and grab individuals and direct drone, AC-130 and cruise missile strikes. While the Bush administration deployed these ghost militias, President Barack Obama has expanded their operations and given them new scope and legitimacy.

Dirty Wars follows the consequences of the declaration that “the world is a battlefield,” as Scahill uncovers the most important foreign policy story of our time. From Afghanistan to Yemen, Somalia and beyond, Scahill reports from the frontlines in this high-stakes investigation and explores the depths of America’s global killing machine. He goes beneath the surface of these covert wars, conducted in the shadows, outside the range of the press, without effective congressional oversight or public debate. And, based on unprecedented access, Scahill tells the chilling story of an American citizen marked for assassination by his own government.

As US leaders draw the country deeper into conflicts across the globe, setting the world stage for enormous destabilization and blowback, Americans are not only at greater risk—we are changing as a nation. Scahill unmasks the shadow warriors who prosecute these secret wars and puts a human face on the casualties of unaccountable violence that is now official policy: victims of night raids, secret prisons, cruise missile attacks and drone strikes, and whole classes of people branded as “suspected militants.” Through his brave reporting, Scahill exposes the true nature of the dirty wars the United States government struggles to keep hidden.

“On Killing” by Dave Grossman The good news is that most soldiers are loath to kill. But armies have developed sophisticated ways of overcoming this instinctive aversion. And contemporary civilian society, particularly the media, replicates the army’s conditioning techniques, and, according to Lt. Col. Dave Grossman’s thesis, is responsible for our rising rate of murder among the young.

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Upon its initial publication, ON KILLING was hailed as a landmark study of the techniques the military uses to overcome the powerful reluctance to kill, of how killing affects soldiers, and of the societal implications of escalating violence. Now, Grossman has updated this classic work to include information on 21st-century military conflicts, recent trends in crime, suicide bombings, school shootings, and more. The result is a work certain to be relevant and important for decades to come.

“American Badass” by Dale Comstock American Badass is the true story of a modern day Spartan. Dale Comstock is a Delta Force Operator – a member of America’s secret army; the most enigmatic and combat tested elite counter-terrorism unit in the world.

In his action packed story we journey with him from boyhood to manhood into a world of extreme violence where he learns the values of hard work, sacrifice, and love of family. As he succeeds and fails as a Delta Force Operator, Green Beret, husband and father, he elevates the meaning of being an American to being an American Badass.

”We were Soldiers Once…and Young” by Joseph Galloway Each year, the Commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps selects one book that he believes is both relevant and timeless for reading by all Marines. The Commandant’s choice for 1993 was We Were Soldiers Once . . . and Young.
In November 1965, some 450 men of the 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry, under the command of Lt. Col. Hal Moore, were dropped by helicopter into a small clearing in the Ia Drang Valley. They were immediately surrounded by 2,000 North Vietnamese soldiers. Three days later, only two and a half miles away, a sister battalion was chopped to pieces. Together, these actions at the landing zones X-Ray and Albany constituted one of the most savage and significant battles of the Vietnam War.
How these men persevered–sacrificed themselves for their comrades and never gave up–makes a vivid portrait of war at its most inspiring and devastating. General Moore and Joseph Galloway, the only journalist on the ground throughout the fighting, have interviewed hundreds of men who fought there, including the North Vietnamese commanders. This devastating account rises above the specific ordeal it chronicles to present a picture of men facing the ultimate challenge, dealing with it in ways they would have found unimaginable only a few hours earlier. It reveals to us, as rarely before, man’s most heroic and horrendous endeavor.

“Killer Elite” by Michael Smith A top-secret U.S. Army Special Operations unit has been running covert missions all over the world, from leading death squads to the hideout of drug baron Pablo Escobar to capturing Saddam Hussein and, in one of the greatest special operations missions of all time, helping to track down al-Qa’eda leader Osama bin Laden. “The Activity,” as it became known to insiders, has achieved near-mythical status, even among the world’s Special Operations elite. Hidden from the politicians and the government bean counters, the Activity has been carrying out deniable operations, preparing the way for Delta and SEAL Team Six.

Now journalist Michael Smith gets inside this clandestine military team to expose their explosive history and secrets. Smith has spoken to many former members of the Activity and reveals the incredible truth behind the world’s most secret Special Operations organization, a unit that is at the forefront of the War on Terror.

“Back In The Fight” by Joe Kapacziewki On October 3, 2005, Kapacziewski and his soldiers were coming to the end of their tour in Northern Iraq when their convoy was attacked by enemy fighters. A grenade fell through the gunner’s hatch and exploded, shattering Kapacziewski’s right leg below the knee, damaging his right hip, and severing a nerve and artery in his right arm.

He endured more than forty surgeries, but his right leg still wasn’t healing as he had hoped, so in March 2007, Kapacziewski chose to have it amputated with one goal in mind: to return to the line and serve alongside his fellow Rangers. One year after his surgery, Kapacziewski accomplished his goal: he was put back on the line, as a squad leader of his Army Ranger Regiment.

On April 19, 2010, during his ninth combat deployment (and fifth after losing his leg), Kapacziewski’s patrol ran into an ambush outside a village in eastern Afghanistan. After a fellow Ranger fell to withering enemy fire, shot through the belly, Sergeant Kap and another soldier dragged him seventy-five yards to safety and administered first aid that saved his life while heavy machineguns tried to kill them. His actions earned him an Army Commendation Medal with “V” for Valor. He had previously been awarded a Bronze Star for Valor—and a total of three Purple Hearts for combat wounds.

Back in the Fight is an inspiring and thrilling tale readers will never forget.

***THIS MONTH’S POLL ENDED IN A TIE BETWEEN “FEARLESS” BY ERIC BLEHM AND “AMERICAN BADASS” BY DALE COMSTOCK.***

 

Cheers.