Friday, April 02, 2010

Books, Buzzards and Beaches

Received word yesterday that my book, Hellstorm--The Death of Nazi Germany, 1944-1947, will be out soon. Here is the dust-jacket description:

It was the most deadly and destructive war in human history. Millions were killed, billions in property was destroyed, ancient cultures were reduced to rubble--World War II was truly man's greatest cataclysm. Thousands of books, movies and documentary films have been devoted to the war. There has never been such a terrible retelling of the story, however, as one will find in Hellstorm.

In a chilling "you-are-there" style, the author places the reader at the scene, in the moment. Throughout this book readers will see what Allied airman saw as they rained down death on German cities; or the reader will experience what those below experienced as they sat trembling in their bomb shelters awaiting that very same death from above. The reader will view up close the horrors of the Eastern Front during the last months of fighting and through the mud, blood and madness of combat they may come to understand how the same German soldiers, who only moments before had destroyed an enemy tank, could now risk their own lives to rescue the trapped Soviet crew inside. Readers will witness for themselves the fate of German women as the rampaging Red Army raped and murdered its way across Europe--all females, from "eight to eighty" feared the dreaded words, "Frau Komm." The worst nautical disasters in history which claimed thousands of lives, the greatest mass migration known to man in which millions perished, the fate of those wretched victims in post-war death camps and torture chambers, these and many other dark secrets of World War II now come to light in Hellstorm.

Hitler . . .Stalin . . . Churchill . . . Eisenhower . . . Patton . . . Montgomery--these famous men and more, in their own words, step forward to describe their roles in the war. And the common people, those caught in the center of the storm--the soldiers, sailors and airmen . . . the terrified civilians . . . the fleeing refugees . . . the mothers and children . . . the old, the young, the helpless . . . the victims and the victimizers--these too tell their harrowing tales of survival and death. What is revealed in Hellstorm is nothing less than the untold story of man's greatest disaster, World War II, told in terms both terrifying . . . and utterly unforgettable.


An excerpt from Hellstorm:

Suddenly three Russian soldiers came around the corner. They pointed their
guns at us and forced us into the house. . . . [W]e knew what they had in store
for us. We were separated. They put their guns to our heads. Any attempt to
defend ourselves meant certain death. The only thing you could do was to pretend
you were a rock or dead. . . . When the three men left the house, I opened the door of the room I was in. Another door opened down the hall and the nurse came out. We just looked at one another. . . . We were nauseated and felt miserable. Thank God there
was still running water in the house.


A mile or less down the road from here is a fresh deer kill. On my bike ride yesterday I noticed that the road ahead was black with gorging buzzards. Now, wherever there is a major feast like a deer, goat or wild hog, then this is where vultureville sets up its supermarket. But there are no orderly lines at the checkout here; nope, 'tis every ugly vulture for himself. As I neared, many of the gluttons did not want to move off the road so I gave them some incentive by waving my arms like some enormous bird swooping in on them for a kill. THAT got their attention and all cleared way, all fifty to sixty of them. Could not help but notice that on the periphery of this food frenzy stood many others waiting their chance at the spoils. Mostly, these skulkers seemed smaller and sparer, for sure. Given the mad mania to bolt down the carrion by dozens of plunging beaks, I imagine those on the outside fear they may be mistaken for the meal if they venture too far into the mess. Also, like chickens I'm sure, there is a pecking order among vultures. And woe to that young uppity buzzard who intrudes on the prerogative of his biggers and his betters. A sound cuff on his naked noggin by an angry beak will no doubt improve his table manners. I fully expect to find only bones this morning of the deer from yesterday.

UPDATE: Passing by the banquet table today I discovered not even the smallest of bones where the deer lay yesterday. I factor that either 1) some sanitary samaritan carted it off in his truck or 2) some large beast(s) dragged it away during the night. Doubt seriously if buzzards tote bones off.


In a month or less, Michelle and I are moving from the mainland to Manasota Island. Manasota is a barrier island, or "Key" as they are called here. These narrow, natural strips of sand and sea oats lay a mile or so off-shore and they stretch irregularly like a thin white line from Padre Island (Texas) to Cape Cod. We're hoping, of course, that the Gulf breeze will moderate the furious Florida heat this summer. If not, if we get flash fried and crisped in June, July and August, then we will eat plenty of cold watermelon and just creep, crawl or stagger across the sand five to ten times a day, jump in and take our chances with the sharks. Two draw bridges are the only way on and off Manasota Key. Our abode is relatively large, airy and we will have a screened porch, or lanai, as Floridians call them (pr. la-nigh) to protect us from sundown skeeters. Lemon Bay is on the leeward side of the key where deep-sea fishing boats tie up in safety. We have a small dock which is shared with several other islanders. That said, the time looks as apt as any for this sunflower swab to follow his dream of owning a small sailboat. Next task: Learning how to sail it. Life is good . . . and getting gooder


Scary Clown of the Day