The (before and) Afterlife

I have posted previously about some of my favorite books dealing with spirituality.  I’ve mean meaning to write this for awhile, and I just read another book that has prompted me to write this post.

I grew up Catholic, but I am now nonpracticing.  I don’t go to any church, actually.  I have a difficult time conforming to the ideals espoused by some (read most) segments of organized religion.  I have firm, set views on things, and they aren’t too popular with the clergy.

For one, I believe strongly in reincarnation.  I believe in a spiritual dimension, and that our loved ones who have passed continue to watch over us.  I believe in “ghosts” and all of that stuff.  I believe in near-death experiences.

I have the unique experience of being a nurse.  I have worked in healthcare for the past ten years, and my first hand experiences with people who are gravely ill and dying feed into my beliefs.  I have countless personal accounts about patients “seeing dead people”, talking to family members who are not of this dimension, and specifically with the hospice population, people who are lucid enough near the end to tell others about it.

I have also been to Gettysburg several times and I have had vivid experiences on the battlefield.

Devil's Den at Gettysburg © Rkudasik | Stock Free Images & Dreamstime Stock Photos

Devil’s Den at Gettysburg © Rkudasik | Stock Free Images & Dreamstime Stock Photos

No, I have never “seen” a ghost, but I have felt them, smelled them and heard them.

I also have the experience of watching my own family members die.  My grandpa was on hospice for six weeks and the experiences I have with him further cement my beliefs.

I guess my mom is responsible for forming my beliefs.  I may not agree with her politics, but we do agree on the fact that we have been here before, and we were probably related.  My mom is the one who told me about John Edward; Many Lives, Many Masters (Brian Weiss M.D.); and Journey of Souls (Michael Newton Ph.d).  Additionally, I have this core feeling of just “knowing” that I was here before.

Believe what you want to believe about John Edward, but I’m a big fan.  I have read most of his books too.  I have seen him in person, and I do believe in mediums and their ability to communicate with another dimension.  There are those that are frauds, but I genuinely believe that the majority of mediums are trying to help.

On to the books.  Many Lives, Many Masters by Brian Weiss M.D. is the one I would start with for someone new to this genre.  It features the personal experience of the author who used hypnotism to assist his patients with severe psychological issues.  As a technique, he would have his patients “go back in time” in their memories to find the source of a particular phobia.  One of his patients went back a little “too far” and began reporting memories from previous lives.  The book fascinated me and I moved on to read more of his books.  The one that stays with me the most is Only Love is Real.  It is basically the story of two of his patients who reincarnated in several different places all over the world and finally were together in this most recent incarnation.

I feel strongly that this is the case with myself and my husband.  I won’t get into details, but we found each other by chance when we were teenagers.  Many things got in the way (other marriages, kids) but we finally got together four years ago.  I know in my heart that I have been with him in the past.  I have had vivid dreams about him (even before we officially became a couple) complete with visions of places I have never been before.

The most recent book I have read on the subject is Life after Life: Children’s Memories of Previous Lives by Jim Tucker and Ian Stevenson.  I was particularly drawn to this book because my child (Sunshine) experienced the same phenomena.  When she was 2 1/2 year old, she began talking about being “big before”.  She told me she lived in Africa and took care of “big animals”.  She has also said time and time again that “I was big when you were little”.  Just knowing her and her personality, I truly feel that this is possible.  I have to remind her from time to time that I’m the mommy this time around.  Now, at age six, she has no memories of what she told me when she was younger.  She still professes a desire to be a “peternarian” and take care of animals.  I wish I would have specifically written down exactly what she said, but I never did.

The book Life after Life is a scientific study of sorts into the claims made by children all over the world that they have “been her before”.  The author spends a great deal of time presenting the evidence he and Ian Stevenson have compiled over years of research.  He comes at it from a “science” point of view, with a hypothesis, and systematically looks at the cases they have studied, taking into account the possible causes (i.e. a child’s imagination, fraud, etc).  Many of the cases presented feature children who have actually found the previous personality through research by family or a third party.

Many of the cases are from southern Asia where a belief in reincarnation is a part of the culture.  It is not taboo.  The children are encouraged to talk about their memories and often know information that no one could know about the previous personality.

The only thing I do not agree with is the discounting of past life memories that arise out of hypnosis.  I have never been hypnotized, but I do know the power of the human mind to block and retrieve memories.  In this life, I have experienced PTSD and the intense memories that come with it.  Current literature proves that when trauma is experienced (i.e. rape, warfare, natural disaster), the brain “records” these events in a faulty manner.  These faulty memories can later result in flashbacks, nightmares and depression/anxiety.  It does not make sense to me that these memories just die when the vehicle of our spirit dies.  And for some, these memories are so intense that the process of self-preservation prevents ready access of these memories in order to protect the psyche.

I will leave with some anecdotal evidence.  My husband is a pretty strong person.  He grew up in the asphalt jungle of a major northeastern city.  He has never been camping in his life, unless you count pitching a tent at music festivals, which I do not.  This man has never had an experience with bears, but he is terrified of them.  Polar bears, grizzly bears, the sad looking bear at the zoo.  He has this intense irrational fear.  Perhaps he was killed by one in a previous life?

My recommendations for starting this spiritual journey is to start with Many Lives, Many Masters and then progress to the Journey of Souls/Destiny of Souls books.  John Edward is fantastic for a perspective of being a medium and conveying the images and feelings he gets to those on this plane.

Please don’t attempt to post anything skeptical, I have my own, firm beliefs on this subject from my own personal experiences.

I look forward to reading more about this subject, and I do have several books by Raymond Moody that I just haven’t got to yet.

If your thoughts on this is respectful, I’d like to hear about them.

Giving Thanks

I am extremely thankful for the printed (or electronic) word.

I have been losing myself in books since I was 7 or 8 years old.  Good novels have taken me away to far away places, taught me about other people, other cultures, other time periods.  Because of books, I kill at Trivial Pursuit.

I am thankful for good authors, those who pour their dreams into print and  share them with the world.  They produce characters that stay with readers for a lifetime.  They spin intricate tales, paint vivid settings, they use the simple word to convey emotions and report on the human condition.  Regardless of genre, it isn’t easy to sit down and start writing something from nothing, and then to make it capture the imagination of readers.  I am truly thankful that they do.

I am thankful to the good people at for inventing the kindle.  The e-reader has revolutionized the institution of publishing and writing and has enabled authors who might not have been able to have their voice heard in a traditional setting to share their work with the world.  Through the kindle, I can store hundreds of books in a slim device, which is paramount for someone with health issues and can no longer hold up huge, lumbering tomes.  I can access a library of works, many of them for free, without leaving my bed.

I am thankful for Dr. Seuss.  He started me on this journey, and I am eternally grateful.

I am thankful to the historical authors, Stephen Ambrose, James McPherson, David McCullough, who have found away to sift through tons of musty historical records and found a way to make history interesting.  They found a way to appeal to the masses and make battles and military campaigns read like movie scripts.  Because of them, and authors like them, Americans have more respect and reverence for their veterans.  They know what was sacrificed for their freedoms.

I am thankful for the voodoo culture and to George Romero, who have brought on the current zombie craze and have provided me with hours and hours of entertainment reading about the apocalypse and impending zombie uprising.

I am thankful for sites such as that allow me to read amazing books for free in exchange for a review.  I am extremely low on funds, can barely pay for my bills, yet I can keep up my reading habit by doing something I was probably going to do anyway.

I am thankful to those of you who read this blog.  I obviously love reading, and I love being able to share it with the world.  In a perfect existence, I would get paid to do this, but I haven’t found that perfection.  Yet.

Happy Thanksgiving y’all!!


Weeding the book collection

My dismantled library

In order to accommodate new (to us) furnishings, I was forced to part with my bookshelf. It was rickety and apparently IKEA furniture isn’t made to travel halfway across the continental United States.

Alas, I had to dismantle my toned down library (I have about 100+ more books in the closet), and I am conflicted as to what to do with them. As I was removing them from the shelves, several categories popped up.

My history books: namely U.S. Civil War, WWII, some Revolutionary War. Would I ever read them again? Possibly. Some I am definitely never parting with, i.e. Battle Cry of Freedom by James McPhereson, The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara, all of my Stephen Ambrose. Could I at least part with some? The ones with intriguing titles like “The Things your History Teacher Never Taught You About the Civil War”? Maybe. Holocaust books? Never.

My spirituality books: there are some I actually haven’t read yet. Some my mom or friends have passed on to me that I haven’t had the chance or the interest to read recently. I have a ton of John Edward books, that I’m keeping (despite the fact that my husband hates him), plenty of books on reincarnation, dreams, etc. I could get rid of the more wackier ones.  Ones that are staying?  Journey of Souls/Destiny of Souls by Michael Newton, Many Lives, Many Masters by Michael Weiss and anything by those two men.

The classics: between my husband and myself, we have a nice collection of truly classic books. Some of them are in very nice hardback editions. I have saved some of the books I loved from my childhood. I have a beautiful copy of “Anne of Green Gables” by Lucy Maud Montgomery, “Little Women” by Louisa May Alcott, “The Secret Garden” by Frances Hodgson Burnett. My husband has “The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald, “Dracula” by Bram Stoker, and an absolutely incredible, gold gilded copy of “The Inferno” by Dante Aleghieri (with illustrations). These are staying put.

However, I can’t find my copy of “Now We Are Six” by A. A. Milne. He is the wonderful man behind “Winnie the Pooh”. I received it as a gift from a friend on my sixth birthday, and as my daughter is rapidly approaching that magical age, I wanted to give her my copy. I have moved several times in the past few years and I hope that I can find my copy. Or I hope I can order a new one.

Crime/thriller: a lot of James Patterson, some books we picked up here and there over the years. I am not parting with some of my books by Cyril Wecht M.D. I know its morbid, but he has a series of books about the cases he has consulted on over the years. He used to be the corner of Pittsburgh, PA, and he is just amazing with explaining pathology. That stays. The others I can part with.

Stephen King: I can never part with these. But I will make sure they are out of reach of my daughter so she doesn’t start reading “the master” at a young age like I did. I am permanently afraid of clowns. FOREVER.

Self-help:  I have a small collection of these types of books, “Toxic Parents” and “Toxic In-Laws” by Susan Forward among them.  I will keep those.  I think I am writing a post on these types of books soon.  I have some uncategorizable books that are in this vein that I could part with, but they are wonderful all the same “Why Do I Love These People?” by Po Bronson, and “Are You Wearing That?” by Deborah Tannen.  “Reviving Ophelia” by Mary Pipher I will keep, as I will have an adolescent girl in 7 years.

I guess this is self help, I bought “The Gift of Fear” by Gavin DeBecker when I was really young.  I should have listened to every word printed in that book.  It has taken me until a few years ago to start using those cues and rely on my own intuition.  I will never part with that book, in fact I reread it from time to time so I can remind myself that I’m not paranoid, there is legitimate reasons that I was creeped out by that guy in the parking lot.

Political:  Wow.  I do have a copy of Ayn Rand “Atlas Shrugged” and “The Fountainhead” but they are still in plastic.  I live in Texas, this state is painted red and I received some of my books as gifts.  My ideals have changed a bit politically in the last five years or so, since the right became so nutty and angry and more radical.  I do have some right wing books such as Glenn Beck(signed too) and Ann Coulter.  Those can go.  I’ll keep Stephen Colbert.  He’s dreamy 🙂

Comics/humor:  I found such gems as 3 different editions of Calvin and Hobbs.  Yay!! Definitely a keeper.  I found some Far Side collections. Came across the “Tasteless Jokes” book again.  This one will  be hiding on top of the fridge until my child is 18.  Why not just get rid of it?  It’s an integral part of my husband’s childhood, see my post here.

Professional:  I am a nurse, my husband has a degree in chemistry.  We have textbooks, manuals, dictionaries, books with titles such as “How We Die”. Kind of freaks people out.  But our friends who call with medical questions or to tutor their children in chemistry (or physics or math) are grateful for the information.  I think the medical and chem stuff with stay.  That shit is expensive!

Oddities:  I found my second grade yearbook.  I only posted the cover on FB and have already had pleas to not post the pics.  I will comply as I look like a chipmunk who was recently electrocuted and dressed  by the wardrobe department of “Little House on the Prairie”.

I found my husband’s freshman and sophomore yearbooks.  He went to an all boys Catholic school.  He looked like a bobble-head until his body caught up with the rest of him, sometime in college.

I found my daughter’s baby book.  I hate having to answer questions to her like “who is that strange man holding me?” “Honey, that is your biological father”.

And, finally, my awesome collection of the Babysitter’s Club books.  To keep or not to keep.  I loved them.  I can’t be sure my daughter would be so enthralled about a group of 13 year old girls who babysit in Connecticut in the 80s.

I’ll spend the next week sifting.  And just imagine.  I have 200+ books on the kindle.  If they were in print form, I’d be swimming in books!

Any thoughts on what to keep or take to the half priced book store?  What have you done with ever growing book collections?


Rewriting History (historical fiction)

I didn’t think I would like this genre too much, but I do.  I used to be a “snob” about it, a purist if you will, thinking that “if it didn’t really happen to these exact people, its not worth my time”.  But I have found out that I can enjoy a good story set in a historically significant time period.

My first historical fiction novel I read was “The Killer Angels” by Michael Shaara.  Then immediately absorbed “Gods and Generals” and then “The Last Full Measure” ( both by Jeff Shaara).  Then I started in on Jeff Shaara’s WWII books, “The Rising Tide“, and one of his Revolutionary War books, “Rise to Rebellion“.  Reading the historical fiction made me want to read more about the actual engagements and people featured within the books.  I didn’t even know “Ultra” existed until I read about it in Shaara’s books about WWII.  The historical fiction helped to weave a personal story through the dry dates and facts of the history.  From Shaara’s books, I started to seek out the actual history of WWII, a time period I was never really interested in.  I started devouring my dad’s library of Stephen Ambrose.  And my WWII post is for another day.

Since the Shaara experience, I no longer rule out historical fiction.  “1776” by David McCullough was awesome.  It is not my preferred time period in history, but “1776” it was extremely well researched and well written and I feel it should be required reading for all high school students.  It revived some of the patriotic spirit within me. I read  “Texas: A novel” by James Michener before I moved back to the area.  It had me completely captivated by my birthplace and extremely proud to be a Texan (like Texans need any more reasons to proclaim pride for their state).

I most recently have had a brush with the genre of “historical fiction romance”.  Apparently these are extremely popular.  The two I read took place in Victorian England, as many of them are.  I guess they are appealing because of the clothing (corsets, stockings, dresses), the entire idea of what is socially acceptable during that time and the taboo of crossing those lines.  Honestly, I was thinking of the lack of hygiene and STDs that no one knew about.  I guess that’s  just me, the curse of being a nurse.

One recent historical fiction book I really liked was “War Brides” by Helen Bryan.  It is the story of five women living in England during WWII and their relationships to each other.  Extremely engrossing with wonderful characters.  Gives another perspective of the war through the eyes of civilians.  I just finished “Nobel Cause: A Novel of Love and War” by Jessica James.  The U.S. Civil War is the background and it features a young woman who is a courier for the Union (dressed as a boy) and her actions behind enemy lines. Truly emotional and literally had me in tears.

Alternate history.  I only have two books in this category, and they both are about the U.S. Civil War.  As a disclaimer, before attempting these type of books, the reader should know a fair amount of knowledge about the actual engagements that the authors are re-imagining before attempting to read it.  I first attempted “Dixie Victorious” edited by Peter Tsouras.  That didn’t go so well as there were engagements, mainly in the western theater, that I was not as familiar with as I should have been.  After I read a few more books and gained that knowledge, I could go back and read the alternate history book and appreciate it.  The book consists of several essays looking at different engagements and the “what ifs” of a crucial event or battle.

The other one that I have read is “Grant Comes East” by Newt Gingrich, William Forstchen and Albert Hanser.  Regardless of politics, ol’ Newt can write history books.  Alternate history, at least.  I find this particular niche of historical fiction completely fascinating, kind of like going down the rabbit hole as there are endless possibilities when just one event or outcome of a battle is changed.  I plan on reading more.

I love history.  I love learning about history.  But you can only absorb so much facts and figures.  There are few writers that can make it truly interesting.  I love this genre because it introduces history but as the background of the main story.  With characters that actually existed, or with fabricated characters based on actual historical characters, either way, I find historical fiction a way to feed my need for history but also feeding the need for entertainment.

If you have made it this far in another “nerdy” post, any recommendations on other historical fiction I should check out??

From Fort Sumter to Appamatox

Ok.  More nerdy stuff.

At last count, I had over 25 “real” books and 15 “ebooks” on the U.S. Civil War.  I have all the standards, “Battle Cry of Freedom” by James McPhereson, I do have Shelby Foote, I even have a book or two by Bruce Cattone.  I have the fiction, “The Killer Angels” by Shaara.  I have ones with interesting titles “Confederates in the Attic” by Tony Horwitz.  I have the “Ghosts of Gettysburg” series up to #10 I think (by Mark Nesbitt).

The point being, I know a lot about the American Civil War.

I was drawn into this part of history by an awesome A.P. history teacher as a freshman in high school.  This teacher had a way of explaining events in history that would stick in your brain.  He drilled it in so successfully, that to this day I can recite some of his mantras:  “The emancipation proclamation freed no one” — due to the fact that it freed slaves in Confederate territory and not in the slave holding states of the Union, and held so many exceptions that only a small number of slaves of the millions were actually freed at the time it was issued.

I received the highest grade possible at the time on an A.P. U.S. History exam when I sat for it as a sophomore.

I have been to Gettysburg many times.  I feel drawn to the area for some reason.  I know some people say that they feel they were there in a past life.  I will leave that discussion for another post.  All I know is that I absolutely love being in Gettysburg and one of my regrets about moving south is that I can’t just pack it in and go to Gettysburg for the weekend.  Or Antietam.  Or make a longer trip of it and go to the battlefields in Virginia.

You can read about an area in a book all you want.  Even look at pictures in a book or online.  But until you are actually on the battlefield (if it hasn’t changed much in the last century and a half) you have no idea about lines of sight, the way the land offers concealment, how important the high ground was in an age without aviation (they were experimenting with balloons at the time).

My other fascination with the time period is linked directly to my profession.  Modern nursing in America is directly linked to this event in history.  Prior to the U.S. Civil War, nurses were usually male.  It was considered improper for women to bathe strange men and to care for them.  I read extensively on the subject and would love love love to go to the National Museum of Civil War Medicine in Fredrick, Maryland.

** going off on a tangent here ** I have this ongoing fantasy that we will magically hit the lottery or come into some money and I can plan this grand trip to the northeast, see my relatives, his relatives and hit civil war sites and D.C in between.  Sigh.  ** end of looney fantasy**

In another life, I did visit the National U.S. Civil War Museum in Harrisburg, PA, and they had an exhibit on nursing.  Wow.  They had no knowledge of germs at the time or contagion.  No sterile technique.  No idea of infection.  Pus was considered a good thing.  Treatments usually consisted of diet and nutrition.  Anesthesia was next to nonexistent.  The nurses worked nearly day and night and some actually died with their patients.  The nurse to patient ratio would make your eyes bulge out of your skull.  And yet Dorthea Dix felt it necessary in the beginning to put appearance and age restrictions on nurses because she didn’t want anything to seem “improper” between the patients and the nurses. Nurse candidates were preferably over thirty, married, and looked plain or homely.  These were the “officially sanctioned” nurses.  Many of the ones that didn’t fit this mold took it upon themselves to gather supplies and go on their own way toward the battlefield.  I could write an entire post on Civil War Nursing.  I think I might.

Back to the books.  “Battle Cry of Freedom” by James McPhereson is listed as one of my favorites for a reason. I feel it plainly discusses the U.S. Civil War without confusing the reader.  You don’t have to have a history degree to read this book.  “Confederates in the Attic” by Tony Horwitz looks at the phenomenon of the South, what I have recently experienced by living here in Texas.  The war is still being fought.  I know, right?  If you haven’t been here, then you just don’t know.  If you go up North (“North meaning above the Mason-Dixon line, if you know where that is), most people haven’t given a thought to the Civil War except about learning about it once in school, unless they have an active interest in it like I do.  Come down south, it is a different story.

** Another tangent, but this one is actually related to the topic** I was born in Texas, raised in Pittsburgh, and moved back to the South awhile ago.  If this were 150 years ago, I’d be screwed.  My husband is from the North as well.  My brother still lives up North.  I would be majorly, majorly screwed.  But families like mine existed back then.  People were seeking out their fortune  “out west” and the Civil War tore them apart.  They don’t call it a war of “brother against brother” if there wasn’t a reason.  My take on it?  I see both sides.  I truly understand that it wasn’t a war only FOR slavery.  Trust me, there wasn’t a white man in either army that was fighting for the future of a black man.  For the idea of their own destiny?  The right to live their life as they see fit?  Sure.  To fight to preserve their country intact?  Sure.  It was affecting the future of the North as well.  To let the Confederacy secede would mean economic ruin for the North.  And just imagine the millions of acts of unofficial warfare along the borders that would probably be continuing to this day.  Point is, I can see the arguments of both sides.  I actively read about both sides.  ** End tangent**

Back to the topic at hand.  Down here in the South, people proudly display the Confederate flag.  I’m neutral on the subject, although I know that the intent usually is racially motivated.  People claim that they fly it for historical reasons.  Well, I haven’t seen anyone fly any of the other Confederate flags that were tied to that period of time.  Fly the “Bonnie Blue Flag” and then I’ll accept your argument.

If you are flying it up North, then you are just an asshole.  Up in Pittsburgh, there was one of those who had a souped up monster truck and would fly a huge Confederate flag from the back of his truck and drive through black neighborhoods.  He wasn’t celebrating his history.  He was being a dick.  I wouldn’t be surprised if he took a few bullets for that one.

Now Texas isn’t considered “the deep South”, thank God.  We are a little west of that designation.  But Texas did have a role in the Civil War.  Fort Hood is named after a general in the Civil War who lost a limb at Gettysburg.  His unit fought at Devil’s Den.  Google it.  People in the South are damn proud of their ancestors who fought in that war.  I have a friend (from Kentucky) who still has the saddle his great great something or other wore when he rode with Nathan Bedford Forrest.  I’m not sure I would be proud of that one.

And people still hate the North and talk bad about Yankees.  I’m serious.  I’m ok because I was born here.  I tell them that I escaped as soon as I could and brought my husband with me.  But I feel bad for my husband.  People still give him a hard time because he talks funny and it is evident that he isn’t Southern.  People here are still pissed at a war they lost 150 years ago.

I love this time in history.  It just fascinates me because there is so much to it.  The birth of my profession, further constitutional issues (we should have stopped paying income tax a LONG time ago), cultural issues that continue to this day.  I just came across another news article about the naming of another monument in the honor of a Confederate spy in Arkansas who was hanged at the age of 17.  The public is questioning the naming of yet another public item in the name of this person as he was working to preserve slavery.

I promise more on all these issues.

End of nerdy post.

Spy vs. Spy

Ah…now we get into the really nerdy stuff.  I am a history buff and proud of it.  I am of the opinion that you have to know where you have been in order to know where you are going.  It is absolutely appalling that so many teenagers (and here I sound really old) and young adults have no clue what the older generations have sacrificed in order to provide them with the freedoms that they enjoy today.  Good Lord I sound like I just had dinner at Denny’s at 4 in the afternoon.

I do come from military people, both my grandfathers have served, one in WWII in the Navy in the Pacific, although he saw no action (it was in the very end of the war) and another in Korea and Vietnam.  That grandfather was career military.  More on that in another post.

This post is about espionage.  I am a huge fan of the true spy books by Ben Macintyre.  I started with Agent Zigzag. moved on to Operation Mincemeat and recently finished Double Cross.  These books, if written as fiction, would sound too dramatic or unbelievable.  But these books are extensively researched and are based upon recently declassified materials from the British wartime spy services (think MI:5, MI:6 as in James Bond).  Its fascinating to note the Ian Fleming, the author of the James Bond books, was a young officer during WWII and actually worked on Operation Mincemeat.

I love these books because of their authenticity.  I can actually point to a historical event, like the invasion of Sicily, and read about Operation Mincemeat and learn all about the minute details that went in to pulling off a deception plan of that magnitude.

The way they are written is extremely helpful as well.  Macintyre does an amazing job of keeping the reader’s attention and writing as though it is a novel, not a nonfiction book of spying and deception.  He could have spewed dry facts paragraph after paragraph.  Instead, he weaves an intricate story, builds tension and suspense page after page so that it does read like a good spy book.  The fact that it is all true makes it even that much better.

I also enjoy my U.S. Civil War history as well.  Before I had my Kindle, I read huge paperback books.  The Secret War for the Union:  The Untold Story of Military Intelligence in the Civil War by Edwin C. Fishel is one of those books (760 pages). Its worth it though.  This book provides an overview of how both sides  developed intelligence systems and put them to use throughout the Civil War.  The author himself worked in the NSA and applied his intelligence minded brain to sort through previously unknown documents found in the National Archives.  These documents  illustrate that the Union had far superior intelligence gathering and processing capabilities, but the South utilized their intelligence information in a more effective manner.  Ultimately worth the read to anyone who is a true Civil War buff or who is interested in the history of espionage in the U.S.

I have yet to visit the Spy Museum in D.C.  It is on my bucket list.  I have yet to get in to any kind of spy books per se.  Maybe that is the next genre I tackle.

Does reading a romance novel featuring a James Bond like character count?

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