Interesting Twist on the Traditional Photo Travelogue

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Rajasthan – India’s ‘Land of Kings’ A Photographic Journey by Mike and Jo Coad

4 star

4 Stars

This short but fascinating photo travelogue by the husband-and-wife team of Mike and Jo Coad is one of many they’ve produced. The book is an entertaining, visual look at Rajasthan (literally “Land of Kings”), India’s largest state not far from New Delhi. It offers commentary and stunning photos of Rajasthan’s best tourist destinations, including Jaipur.

I’ve visited many places around the world but have yet to visit Rajasthan. This photographic journey gave me ample taste of what to expect. I suspect that the authors’ other travelogues offer similar adventures off the beaten path. Though short, their travel journal features beautiful color photos and enlightening personal commentary to help would-be visitors prepare for their own trips.

Publishing a short book with material often featured on blogs offers an interesting take on travel writing. While a novel concept, it faces the same challenges that all travelogues do; that is, a lot of travel information and photos are available online for free. It’s a crowded market. The Coad’s book offers some great information for the would-be traveler or armchair tourist, but it does not cover enough new ground to merit a substantial investment. Virtually everything in this travelogue can be found elsewhere for a pittance. Their travelogue may be worth a pretty penny for those planning a trip to one of their featured destinations, want to know what to visit, see, and do there, and/or want to live vicariously through the Coads. Their photography is also worth a look.

This photographic journal – and perhaps all of the Coad’s travelogues – merit four (4) stars for excellent photos and content. This rating is tempered by the reality that free information about places like Rajasthan is readily available online. Their travelogues may be ideal for those planning trips who want to read more personal accounts of their destinations.

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Lessons for Life in Small, Tasty Bites

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Small Bites 4.0 by Jim Yarbrough

5 star

5 Stars

Small Bites 19058879Many of life’s lessons are packed into this powerful book. Filled with stories, anecdotes and quotes, Small Bites invites the reader to enjoy – no, savor – the author’s wisdom in “small bites.” Broken into discreet chapters and themes, it offers a series of short stories with lessons learned, acronyms, and structured outlines to help the reader remember salient points, and page breaks to give them time to jot down their own thoughts.

At its heart, this is a management book for life. But it’s more than that. It’s a guide intended to help the discerning reader find an easier path on the road of life. Light on spirituality but heavy on profundity, the book weaves the strands of wisdom from many ancient and modern philosophies into a beautiful tapestry of poetry and prose. Few books quote Gandhi, Michael Josephson, Mark Twain, John Wooden, and others with such eloquence.

I enjoyed the personal stories that the author shared showing his humanity and his quest to rise above the challenges that made him a better person. Not many writers are so willing to share some of the most difficult – and compromising – moments of their lives with an unknown audience, but Yarbrough did. And he did it with class, using his own lessons learned to demonstrate a better way the reader can follow.

The author wrote this book for his three children. It’s a labor of love they can cherish forever. He could have kept this treasure to himself or in the family, but he chose instead to share it with all of us. I appreciate his sincerity and learned at least one take-away in each chapter applicable to my own life. This is the kind of book you don’t read once; you read it over and over again to glean new insights. If I have any quibble about this wonderful book, it is this – I hope that the author’s next book will expound more on his own great quotes.

I give Small Bites five (5) stars and highly recommend it to anyone with an open mind, a willingness to learn, and who enjoys wisdom in small, succinct bites.

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Personal Accounts of the Vietnam War Hit Close to Home

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The Conflict that was a War: In Vietnam and at Home by Jim B. Money and 19 Vietnam Veterans

5 star

5 Stars

Vietnam conflictTo say that this book has heart is an understatement. Nineteen veterans who served in Vietnam between 1965 and 1972 poured their personal stories on the page to tell those of us who never experienced the Vietnam War what it’s been like to fight it for more than 40 years – first in ‘Nam and then at home. One cannot read this book without being touched by the veterans’ unforgettable tales of devastation and facing unspeakable horrors that few ever experience. Their thoughts, emotions, and insights are laid bare for all of us to read.

Because of the bitter divisiveness and controversy of the war (not a conflict) and the trauma inflicted on those who survived Vietnam and returned home to a frigid reception, their stories too long were untold. No longer. These authors’ unvarnished and frank narratives pull no punches in the faces of the faint of heart, the easily offended, or those who treated the Vietnam veterans with contempt.

Regardless of one’s view of the Vietnam War, these accounts are critical to understanding what really happened and how those involved were affected. One must remember and learn from a war that many wanted to forget so that the past is never repeated. These soldiers’ stories help preserve the legacy of the war, from the Band of Brothers to the Agent Orange and anti-war protests. Whether one agrees with what has been written is not as important as reading the book to understand the fall out of a conflict in Vietnam and at home that, in some ways, is still being fought by those who remain.

The book is written from the unique perspectives of veterans who served in different branches of the U.S. Military across South Vietnam at the height of the war. If you’re the child or descendant of a Vietnam veteran and want to know but are afraid to ask why they won’t or can’t talk about the war, read this book. It may be the closest you’ll get to talking about Vietnam with your own parent or grandparent.

As the son of a Vietnam veteran, I am proud of these veterans for having the courage to share stories that they have held inside for decades. I give this book five (5) stars and highly recommend it to active military, veterans, their families, and anyone interested in the learning more about the Vietnam War.

The Conflict that was a War is now available at:

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