Sunday, April 19, 2015

The Great Leader and The Fighter Pilot: The True Story of the Tyrant Who Created North Korea and the Young Lieutenant Who Stole His Way to Freedom by Blaine Harden

The Great Leader and The Fighter Pilot: The True Story of the Tyrant Who Created North Korea and the Young Lieutenant Who Stole His Way to Freedom. Blaine Harden.  Penguin Group (USA). March 2015. E-Book. 304 pp. ASIN#: B00LFZ8R7C.

This is the revealing story of Kim IL Sung, the so-called Great Leader’s rise to power.  In some ways there’s nothing new here for anyone in touch with the current news stories about North Korea, and yet there’s everything new about this account.  It’s as much about Korean, Chinese, Japanese, and Russian history as it is about the Great Leader.  Having served his time in the military, Kim IL Sung is eventually elevated as the Great Leader of Northern Korea and is determined to invade the South, misguided as to whether or not the Americans will return to help the South.  Stalin pacifies him until the time is right. Mao Tse-Tung

Meanwhile a North Korean soldier, No Kum Sok, has watched his people suffer even though he carefully excels in spouting the Communist party line.  Eventually, he will escape and defect to the Americans, bringing with him a Soviet MIG-15.  He is a valuable turncoat and brings phenomenal information to the Americans. His act propels Kim’s insistence that revenge will be paid.

This account is obviously well-researched, including the cruelties inflicted on the Korean people and the propaganda lines that literally built up a fantasy story fed to the believing North Korean people. 

WWII and the behavior of North and South Koreans, as well as the American involvement under General MacArthur are vividly described.

What remains of dubious quality is how much the North Korean people were forced to acknowledge Kim IL Sung as someone slightly shorter than divine, no matter what he said or did, no matter that his people were literally starving to death.  All available money was apportioned to the military and industrial development.  What kept so many from rebelling is described carefully as well as the fact that one rebel would equal numerous deaths of family members of the accused.  Brutality is and was the norm for this megalomaniac!

The Greatest Leader and The Fighter Pilot is the true story of two opposing individuals, one who became worshipped by a subjugated people and one who refused to embrace tyranny and was willing to suffer the costs of leaving Korea.  Excellent non-fiction account of a dynamic historical period and two formidable heroes who chose different roads to fame!

The Hoard by Neil Grimmett

The Hoard.  Neil Grimmett. Grimpen Publications. August 2014. 378 pp. E-Book. ASIN#: B00MGLPNF8.

A Royal Ordinance Factory is the site of a massive explosion in 1951.  As the story unfolds in the beginning pages, the reader feels the mounting pressure as characters recognize what is about to happen but are powerless to prevent it as the countdown progresses.  No one is claiming responsibility for the massive failure and it all comes down to blaming two men for the lack of cooling down procedures to prevent the looming disaster.  Gunner Wade was sent for help at the very last minute but failed to get there before the fireball lit up the skies and surrounding area and literally shook the earth. Those remaining behind never had even the slightest chance of surviving the ensuing, devastating event. 

Twenty years later, the son of that dead man, Byron, is concentrated on becoming employed at that same facility, and the reader quickly realizes that secrets and muscling weaker employees are what enable the factory to continue to operate.  Byron initially doesn’t make much of an impression especially as his educated background is hard to hide that he really doesn’t fit in here.  Add to the fact that he looks like his father and might be recognized that some previous workers present from afar on the date of the earlier explosion might recognize him, putting him in even more formidable danger.  He quickly, however, learns how the game runs and succeeds in obtaining the confidence of those in power. 

The remainder of the story concerns his battle against those who one could call murderers and those who assist Byron, a woman whose husband was murdered and Gunner Wade. 

The writing style of Neil Grimmett is tension-ridden to the point of explosive, much like the works of the best thriller writers.  Characters are vivid and the plot is complex enough to keep the reader guessing how it will all unfold, although the foreshadowing elements are deft and increase at just the right moments.

The Hoard by Neil Grimmett is great thriller fiction with enough passion and adventure to satisfy every reader.  Great job, Neil Grimmett!