Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Damian Garcia: PhD Drug Smuggler by Chris Mosquera – Book Review

Publisher’s write-up:

‘This is the story of Damian Garcia, and the international drug trade in opium and hashish, by PhD graduate students in New York City, circa 1972. It is about love, friendship, family, loyalty, and an extremely discreet and very lucrative international drug smuggling business plan, with the financial returns totalling in the many millions of dollars.

The business plan was a new combination of opium and hashish product, the family branded as O/H. The targeted demographics were graduate students, nurses, doctors, accountants and attorneys. O/H became the professionals’ drug of choice worldwide.

O/H grew to become the largest and most profitable international drug smuggling enterprise unknown to all but a few. Those that knew would never tell; that was the family code.

The book is through the eyes of Damian Garcia, looking back in another day, when life was more trusting, the social and political climates were more interconnected, and personal relationships truly mattered.’

Damian Garcia: PhD Drug Smuggler by Chris Mosquera features five PhD students in the year 1972 – Damian Garcia, Vash Gupta, Roger Rajiv, Howard Pavel, Maurgerite Nguyen and Lori Wilson, living together as a family in a dilapidated apartment desperately lacking funds. Suddenly, an idea strikes them – mixing opium and hashish into a single product and make quick money. This story is mainly about how they develop this business model which has the potential of dealing in millions and unlike traditional drug dealers, these five friends are intelligent students specialising in a particular field who don’t want to have anything to with ‘gangster stuff’.

What I liked about this book was the fact that highly educated people were in this business with each of them knowing what exactly they were talking about. The pace is also something to be appreciated as it got into the crux of the story within the first five pages. The characters were built well – bringing out how each of them value friendship and relationship and are willing to do anything to preserve that. I liked the diverse nature of characters in the book – with characters from India, Tunisia, Italy, Soviet Union, Canada and Puerto Rico and how Damian intelligently exploits for his drug business. The book is also well researched, considering that it involves facts about various countries, their culture, etc. People who enjoy reading about business models would like this book and since I fall under this category, doubtless, I had a good experience, and managed to finish the book fairly early, with respect to my standards (of being a slow reader). 

On the other side, I also felt that the group of friends had a very weak opposition, just the law and thus, managed to get on with what they wanted to do. Moreover, despite the name of the novel, till around page 150, it seemed as though, Vash Gupta was the most important character which is for more than half the novel. And Damian’s repeated use of ’360 degree view’ in nearly every sentence of his could be annoying for some readers. Historical fiction being one of my favourite genres, I’d have liked it better if the time of the novel (1972) had a greater relevance.

On the whole, I’d say that this is a good read – could satisfy many readers as it involves multiple elements: family, friendship, relationship, love, travel and business. I believe the author is planning a sequel which justifies the rather abrupt end of this novel and that is something I’d look forward to read. Weighing the pros and cons, to conclude, I’d award this book a rating of seven. 

Rating: 7/10

Have a nice day,

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Before Terror Strikes by William Michael Seddon Sr. – Book Review

Publisher’s write-up:

‘What would you do if you found yourself taking sniper fire in a parking lot? Or shopping in a crowded mall when someone begins spraying automatic weapons fire? What if you were picking up your luggage at the airport, and someone started throwing hand grenades… ? What would you do?

There’s no denying it – we live in an era of terror, but we can prepare ourselves for life-threatening scenarios. BEFORE TERROR STRIKES: Learn The Tactical Mindsets and Skillsets Necessary To Survive A Terrorist Event Before It Occurs is simply a necessity for this day and age. Written by a certified anti-terrorism specialist, this book is a concise but precise and incredibly educational guide that teaches anyone from an average citizen to an elite trained professional how terrorists think and how not to be their passive victim, frozen by fear. By learning how to act and react in life-threatening situations – whether you travel within or outside the country or are simply going about your daily business – you can help protect yourself from getting seriously hurt or even killed. This is a book that could save your life.’

‘Evil prevails when good people sit down and do nothing’
– Edmund Burke, Irish philosopher

We live in an era of terror – the publisher putting it up in an absolutely straighforward fashion but nevertheless, is the reality. The danger with terrorists is that they have no rules and there is no guarantee that you may not be the victim as they strike anywhere – airports, shopping malls, et cetera. Former US Marine, William Michael Seddon Sr. has written a guide on tactical mindsets and skillsets that we all need to learn in order to prevent ourselves from being victims of terrorist attacks, or once you are in it – what to do to protect yourself during one. Author goes over the mindset of a terrorist, of a victim, and extensively covers the antiterrorism preventive measures and countermeasures.

The author exhausts nearly all the common possibilities by giving practical ‘what if’ situations which you and I come across everyday. Useful illustrations were also given regarding avoiding shrapnel injuries, gunfire and safety in subways. The book provides the insight on how terrorists think, it teaches not just to avoid terrorist attacks, but to think tactically, which is useful anywhere. Author mentions some very interesting facts about the human mind and some enlightening quotes from famous people across centuries. This book is a must read before any travel, as it provides sufficient details regarding identifying a terrorist and measures to take in order to prevent yourself from getting into a life-threatening situation, and if you are in the middle of it – measures to take to protect yourself from terrorists. It is even more useful for US citizens as the author has given some specific US related tips such as the services provided by the embassy.

The best part about the whole book is that it is concise – 165 pages within which most common situations are exhausted. A good reader might need less than an hour to go through the entire book and it would provide her / him a basic idea on how to protect themselves. I think this book could also be a useful guide if someone has some project to do on terror attacks and safety during a terrorist attack.

This is one of those books where it doesn’t end with reading it. After reading it, you have to take it into real life situations and act accordingly. Only then you can claim that you have understood the contents of the book.

I don’t think it is all that appropriate to rate non-fiction, especially something of this nature, but I have this to say – it is an excellent guide and is a must read in the era that we live in because, counterterrorism is a life or death matter.

Have a nice day,
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