Monday, August 20, 2012

John S. Craig Brings Historical Heroes, Rogues and Spies to Life Again!

Ian Fleming's image of James Bond; commissione...
Ian Fleming's image of James Bond; commissioned to aid the Daily Express comic strip artists. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Aristotle tutoring Alexander
Aristotle tutoring Alexander (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Heroes, Rogues, and 

By John S. Craig

What I've found during my later years when I have more time to read, is that what we may have learned in our history books way back when may have been based upon faulty or outdated information...Not intentional, but when today's historian takes the time to put things together and update it through an analysis of further writings, any reader gains a new perspective at a minimum, and so much more information than from school texts. John S. Craig in Heroes, Rogues and Spies,  has once again provided us with this type of analysis, this time centering in on individuals who have gained recognition from either their noteworthy actions in earlier times or in recent past. I met John through his first research activities presented in Peculiar Liaisons in War, Espionage, and Terrorism of the Twentieth Century. I'm republishing that review since it's been awhile and warrants another sharing...

We all recognize the name Alexander The Great and his major role in history. Here's a couple of small tidbits that you may find as interesting as I did... Alexander believed he was the son of Zeus and immortal! Of course, that belief ended as he grew older and finally died. Though he routinely visited oracles and there were others who led him to believe his immortality, what we do know is that his actions did speak louder than his words, whether or not he was immortal. Also much more interesting was his working to begin a large, major library and that he was taught by Aristotle, as requested by his father, about Homer's works, and especially, The Iliad and The Odyssey, which Alexander used as literal war manuals...while, since his time, it has been questioned whether they were merely stories written by authors and poets of that time...

Imagine if you would, our own children believing Superman, Spiderman,, were real and molded their actions based upon reading about them. Was that what really happened with Alexander--a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy?
Pope Urban II encouraged Christian Crusaders to "recapture" the Holy Land in 1095... Soon Christians were killing Jews and Muslims. I wonder what would have happened if, upon finding that they were murdering people, that the Pope would have called all the Crusaders back home... Instead, readers of Craig will find an overview of the religious murders that continued through and up to Bush's declaring a "crusade against terrorism." And it continues...on and on...

With an anthology, reviewers can't possibly cover all that is within each book, so I've honed in on some of the "trivia" I learned, in addition to Craig's comprehensive analysis of his chosen characters. For instance, did you know that one of our well-known authors, Edgar Allan Poe, died under mysterious circumstances that are still not uncovered? And that he had just proposed marriage to the woman he loved? Wow, would I like to see that "cold case" solved!

And did you know that Fatima had secrets that may have surrounded an attempt on Pope John Paul II's life?!

Everybody supports Craig's choice of James Bond as a hero...And the ultimate question is always, which actor is your favorite...I've always picked the first one, but Pierce Brosnan "feels" more real to me, besides being good-looking...Ha! Admittedly I learned that Bond did not exist as one person, but that his career was much like the author, Ian Lancaster Fleming and many others involved with British naval intelligence. Interestingly, William Stephenson, Churchill's secret U.S. envoy proclaimed that Casino Royale, the first story "would not sell because the plot was based too much on realistic intelligence work -- 'truth is always too believable.'"

Actually, I think both Sean Connery more closely matches the author's original concept shown above? 
So I had to share about at least one woman among all of these historical figures! You may have seen information on her as a member of the Baader-Meinhof Gang...part of the Twentieth Century Terror Chapter covered by the author.

Here's the first paragraph of a 2007 BBC news article that announced the release of Clare Murphy, one of the last members of this group:

As a German court orders the release of one of the last members of the Baader-Meinhof gang remaining behind bars, Clare Murphy recalls the long terror campaign waged by the country's most notorious urban guerrilla group. - BBC 2007

But I, myself, was intrigued by the woman who was dubbed the "Gloria Steinem of the German Media" although, no matter your opinion of Gloria, I don't think there is a parallel with Ulrike Meinhog, who wrote for "a Hamburg magazine devoted to sex and leftist ideology--although admittedly Gloria did have some involvement with the former...

Actually, although I've taken a lighter look at these historical figures, I must quickly point out that James. S. Craig's book is a serious review of a motley group of people--ranging over hundreds of years. Yet most will at least recognize the names... (see below for book tags covered). The book represents the work of a true historian who has done his research, providing ample references, and creating an overview that is quick to read, timely and still very informative. However, with this type of book, I tend to read it over a period of weeks, keeping it handy so that you can pick it up and read each memorable story. It helps me to remember better, so I pass this suggestion on to you...As with Craig's first book, Peculiar Liaisons in War, Espionage, and Terrorism of the Twentieth Century, which I read and reviewed a number of years ago, and which I'm sharing on my blog at this time, these are both suggested as part of your permanent home library. Historians and writers of historical fiction will find these books, including their bibliographies, valuable resources. Highly recommended for those who want to see how history is formed and changed...updated into a new history...As you can see from the few references listed below...history is often today's news!


John S. Craig was born and lives in Colorado. He has published and researched in the fields of history, communication, technology, crime, and travel. He is an instructor at the University of Colorado where he has taught writing and communication for twenty years. He is the author of Peculiar Liaisons in War, Espionage, and Terrorism in the Twentieth Century (Algora) and Heroes Rogues, and Spies. A collection of short stories, Blanket of Crickets and Other Stories, will be published in early 2013.

Book's Tags: Ancient History / The Vanishing of the Place of the Muses -- The Alexandrian Library / The Mentors of Alexander the Great / The Foundation and Legacy of the Medieval Crusades / American Wild West / The Search for General Custer -- The Kidder Massacre / The Battle of Beecher Island / The Battle of Summit Springs / Notorious / Edgar Allan Poe and His Mysterious Death / The Secrets of Fatima and the Plot to Kill Pope John Paul II / MK-Ultra and the Throw Away Assassins / Foreshadows of President Kennedy's Assassination / The Strange and Troubling Personal Life of Adolf Hitler / American Sports / The Legendary Lives of Hobey Baker and Byron “Whizzer” White / Whatever Happened to College Football's Flying Wedge? / Army's Greatest College Football Duo -- Blanchard and Davis / World War / The Legacy of the War to End All Wars / Celebrity Spies of the World Wars / Was General George S. Patton a Victim of an Assassination? / ColonelClaus Von Stauffenberg's Failed Assassination Attempt on Adolf Hitler / The Facts and Fiction of James Bond / Fiction and a Hero Based on Truth: James Bond / Ian Fleming's Black Ops of World War II/ Bond’s Villains and the Modern Terrorist / Twentieth Century Terror -- Baader-Meinhof Gang to Al Qaeda / The Playboy and the Blonde Marxist / Terrorist Training and Revolutionary Alliances / Japanese Red Army and Black September / Dead End to Terror and Promises to Keep

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