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Charles Branch has commented on (22) products.

Elephant Company: The Inspiring Story of an Unlikely Hero and the Animals Who Helped Him Save Lives in World War II by Vicki Croke
Elephant Company: The Inspiring Story of an Unlikely Hero and the Animals Who Helped Him Save Lives in World War II

Charles Branch, December 23, 2014

This is the amazing story of James Howard Williams, a World War I veteran who survived the fighting, traveling to Burma in 1920 to become a "forest man" with the teak company. He found his calling as an "elephant wallah", establishing a humane training academy for company elephants. As World War II approached Burma, he considered returning to Royal Army service in England, but reconsidered, as his Burma knowledge could be more useful. It was, as "Elephant Billy" joined the Royal Army, working behind enemy lines with the Special Operations Executive to form Elephant Company No. 1, which may have numbered more than one thousand at times, and played a critical role in the outcome of the war in Burma. Amazing animals!
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Boy on Ice: The Life and Death of Derek Boogaard by John Branch

Charles Branch, October 3, 2014

A worthy read probing the depths of the impacts on players of professional sports, and the competition driven by dollars in marketing to an industry of television, radio, stadiums, arenas, newspapers, internet and other exposures. This profile of the life of one player is illustrative of the impact of "contact" sport on the life and body. Perhaps we should add a new category to sports: "Impact" and "Non-Impact" to that of "contact" and "non-contact" sports. Are we on the road to "Cannonball Run"?
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The Ultimate Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
The Ultimate Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

Charles Branch, August 19, 2014

An amazing and wondrous parallel theology to the Gospel. With "'Don't Panic' written in large, friendly letters on the cover," The Guide parallels the Bible as God removes our fear. Strange and bizarre things happen, and often do, and sometimes there are witnesses, but often with a different view of events so fiction is often less strange than truth. As one person told me last week, "I have a million answers, but I just need to be asked the questions," the same goes for "the ultimate answer to the question of life, the universe and everything." Such an entertaining romp through the galaxy as the characters search for the question to fit with the answer. Forget the TV series and the film; the book and the BBC radio play allow your imagination to build the picture.
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Cascadia's Fault: The Coming Earthquake and Tsunami That Could Devastate North America by Jerry Thompson
Cascadia's Fault: The Coming Earthquake and Tsunami That Could Devastate North America

Charles Branch, March 22, 2014

Yes, be ready. As a resident of coastal Alaska, I had occasion to speak with a number of scientists and technicians, including those of NOAA's Pacific Tides unit who pointed me to the site recording changes in sea level elevation along the coastline of North America. The observatory in Palmer, Alaska notes that frequent small tremors that are recorded along Alaska's faults (of which there are many) mean that the crustal plate surfaces are moving more smoothly than areas where sea level has been rising more as the coast is pressed downward by the subducting ocean crust. The coastal edges of the surface plate see stress relief sooner or later... Cascadia's Fault has been dragging downward for years, while the megavolcano to the east, the Yellowstone Caldera, has been rising...
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Harold's Voyage: Based on the WWII Diaries of Harold Kiel
Harold's Voyage: Based on the WWII Diaries of Harold Kiel

Charles Branch, March 19, 2014

Harold Kiel's wartime diary is the basis for this book, but the addition of the kamikaze pilot's letters home and the pre-mission checklist provided a book that Harold told me he "picked up at 3:30 and couldn't put down until 9:30," when he finished the read. High praise from the guy who kept his diary for seventy years!

As we lose our World War II veterans (at a rate of ~1500 per day), it is worthwhile putting these stories to paper, so that we can remember the sacrifices and struggles of our elders at home and abroad. I continually feel that I am standing "on the shoulders of giants"; who will tell you that they simply stepped in and did what they could under the circumstances.

The second printing will correct errors in historical background information. One example refers to the "Enola Gay" dropping the atomic bomb on Nagasaki, while the target is correct at the end of the book as Hiroshima. Harold's diary and the letters home from the kamikaze pilot had my rapt attention. I also took note of the treatment of those exposed to combat for long periods of time, particularly those dealing with casualties, being given a medical discharge. Not all injuries are visible...
4+ stars, 5 stars with corrections to historical background.
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