Wednesday, February 11, 2015

From the Tsar's Railway to the Red Army

From the Tsar's Railway to the Red Army: Penguin SpecialsFrom the Tsar's Railway to the Red Army: Penguin Specials by O'Neill Mark
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

If you want to read non-fiction about hell on earth, and being in the wrong place at the wrong time don't pass this one up.

There are a few little nagging editing errors, but otherwise it kept bugging my eyes out. Unbelievable all the bad, and life-changing events the Chinese went through who wound up working in Russia during World War I. I am really glad I was not one of them.

It is also quite revealing how some of these workers became much more than that in the very changed Russia when the Bolsheviks took over. In a few cases.

Too many cases were tragic and inhumane. It was a nasty event -- both on the front and behind the lines. If job hunting, read this, and try and stay out of countries that might be in revolution, war, or suffering from epic plagues. You will know why in these pages.

It is a quick read of less than 100 pages, but action-packed, and then some. Most of these details are not common knowledge in many countries.

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Monday, February 09, 2015

The Chinese Labour Corps

The Chinese Labour CorpsThe Chinese Labour Corps by Mark O'Neill
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Current colleague Mark O'Neill's The Chinese Labour Corps does a lot for my imagination.

The various facts in here beg to be a great motion picture, stirring all sorts of emotions, pushing buttons, and wondering what else could stem from this. I wish I knew how to write a screenplay.

My four stars out of five is a very strong four, and itching to be five. It is a five in thought provocation.

So many times over the decades of our lives we have read an seen action-packed accounts of those brave men in uniform. Behind the scenes there is a lot going on, too. There certainly was in World War I in France.

The lives differed considerably between those hired to work for the French and those with the British. The French Chinese workers had much more freedom, and a little more money. Some 3,000 remained in France after the war married to local women. But, it was different in the English camps. Some were shot down in riots.

Some of the lasting effects of the Chinese-French connection can still be seen today if you know where to look. Mark O'Neill's very well-researched book will point the way.

I noticed a seemingly strange interest in France and French things when I first came to Asia in 2010. I thought this book might have indicated that that WWI employment story was the root of it. It didn't say directly that it was, but maybe that is for another book?

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Saturday, February 07, 2015

Quiet Strength

Quiet Strength: The Principles, Practices & Priorities of a Winning LifeQuiet Strength: The Principles, Practices & Priorities of a Winning Life by Tony Dungy
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Another one read over a period of time. My step-father gave me this one some 4 1/2 years ago when I left to go overseas to teach, and I have finally finished it.
Student papers and things get in the way, too.
Super Bowl-winning coach Tony Dungy and Nathan Whitaker weave the football and Dungy's strong religious belief together very nicely. It takes a pro to be able to do that effectively.
The content flows better than a fine-tuned offense in its finest game. I got various things out of it, and did sign up for Dungy's online All Pro Dads Internet feed. A few extra words of knowledge and experience can never hurt.
Dungy's coaching strikes me as similar to some of the best coaches I have covered in my sports writing days. Just do correctly what you are supposed to do.
A lot like "simplify, execute, and win."
I think it is inescapable to miss the part from 2005 when Dungy lost his oldest son to suicide. It is a very deep section, and one that might help others deal with close personal loss. This book supersedes football there, and might be worth keeping on the bookshelf for a long time for whenever such events happen.
I am glad I read it, and with it had not taken me so long.
The last lines are thought-provoking.
"We are all role models to someone in the world, and we can all have an impact -- for good."

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