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Thursday, June 26, 2008

Judicial Tyranny Averted

Upholding the Second Amendment should not even be news--and yet we nearly lost one of the most fundamental rights of our freedom this morning with a razor-thin 5-4 decision today in District of Columbia v. Heller, 07-290.

The Second Amendment is THE pillar of the entire Bill of Rights. And yet, it survived judicial tyranny by a single vote? The right for you to keep and bear arms sits in the hands of a single, unelected elite snob in a robe in Washington, D.C.?

The fools running our lives locally and/or nationally have the right to tell me I can't own a pistol in my home to protect my family? As someone recently said, "Citizens are armed; subjects are not."

I am a citizen and a free man. I will remain armed.

Another 5-4 vote. We are dancing on the slippery edge of the blade.

Read the majority slip opinion here.

SCOTUS blog is here.

(I am taking my son to the firing range this weekend to celebrate.)


Sunday, June 22, 2008

Savas Beatie Author Launches Radio Show

"Drum Corps Lunch," the radio show, goes live Sunday, June 22, at 1 p.m. Pacific.. Join Colt Foutz, the author of our recent release BUILDING THE GREEN MACHINE: Don Warren and Sixty Years with the World Champion Cavaliers Drum & Bugle Corps, as he chats with Cavaliers booster and high school bass drum alum Tom Montgomery, editor of the Cass City (Mich.) Chronicle; and Santa Clara Vanguard alum Jeremy Van Wert, author of the drum corps memoir Not for the Faint of Heart.

Here is the link for the show: Drum Corps Lunch

Colt is our second author with a radio show. Sgt. Mike Volkin, author of The Ultimate Basic Training Guidebook, and The Ultimate Basic Training Workbook, has a wildly successful radio show you can access by clicking here.

See you online.


Friday, June 20, 2008

Iron Maiden--Inspires Young to Read History?

The core of our publishing program is military (and general) history.

People who know me well know I played classical piano for many years (well into college), toured the Midwest with rock bands (bass, keyboards), and love music. People who know me really well know I love Mozart, Chopin . . . and Iron Maiden.

I love good hard rock, and Iron Maiden is not your typical rock act. After 30 years, they are better than ever, and their cerebral approach to music is, for those who take the time to study it, breathtaking. The hooks are memorable, the music complex and based on classical training, and the harmonies wonderful.

Many of their songs are based upon historical events (or famous pieces of literature). For example, their opening song on their 2008 tour is Aces High, about the Battle of Britain against the Nazis in 1940. Others include Paschendale (WWI battle), Flight of Icarus, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner (one of my personal favorites, a 13-minute epic based upon a long poem by English poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge, written at the end of the 18th century), Tailgunner (B-17 gunner, WWII), Mother Russia (about the Tzars)--the list is long indeed.

(Stay with me; the payoff is worthwhile, I think).

I took my 12-year old son to his first concert last month: Iron Maiden at the Concord Pavilion. It was the best I have ever seen (I have seen them before). My son Demetri (DT) has never been a big fan of history, though he loves to read. Recently, I caught him reading Coleridge's poem Rime (see above). Then, yesterday, I found him reading on-line about D-Day--Operation Overlord. When I asked him why, he brought up Iron Maiden's song on their latest album called "The Longest Day."

"Pop, did you know this was about D-Day?"

I played dumb. "Really? How do you know?"

DT promptly brought up the lyrics, and then produced an on-line history of D-Day, and began comparing and discussing them. He also discussed the opening scene from Saving Private Ryan.

"This is so cool. And their long song--Rime of the Ancient Mariner--you know, the one you sing all day long, it really follows the actual poem pretty close!"

He was excited. About H-I-S-T-O-R-Y.

Now he is reading about Icarus and Alexander the Great.

Here are some lyrics from The Longest Day. Bring up the studio version on Youtube.com and see if the music and words move you as much as they do us. You will feel the build up, the landing craft approaching, the fear, the determination, the machine guns spitting death, the confusion, chaos, etc.

It may take you a time or two, but when you get it, beware . . . the virus is contagious!

In the gloom the gathering storm abates
In the ships gimlet eyes await
The call to arms to hammer at the gates
To blow them wide throw evil to its fate

All summers long the drill to build the machine
To turn men from flesh and blood to steel
From paper soldiers to bodies on the beach
From summer sands to Armageddon's reach

Overlord, your master not your god
The enemy coast dawning grey with scud
These wretched souls puking, shaking fear
To take a bullet for those who sent them here

The world's alight, the cliffs erupt in flame
No escape, remorseless shrapnel rains
Drowning men no chance for a warriors fate
A choking death, enter hell's gates

Sliding we go, only fear on our side
To the edge of the wire
And we rush with the tide
All the water is red
With the blood of the dead
Although I'm still alive, pray to God I survive

How long on this longest day
'Til we finally make it through

So Iron Maiden is encouraging my son to read history? It doesn't hurt that the lead singer is a commercial airline pilot and semi-pro fencer--i.e, a quality guy. So I am encouraging this excitement in my son.

I hope it continues.

(I bet Bob Younger and Jerry Russell, wherever they are today, are shaking their heads. LOL)

Friday, June 6, 2008

What's Wrong with Today's Publishing?

Despite Jane Friedman's comments last weekend at BEA about how much she loved being CEO of HarperCollins, the ax fell and her ten-year reign of looking at the world from the pinnacle of publishing came to an end. Read more about it here. Stepped down "to pursue other interests?" Umm . . . doubtful.

Looking up (way up) at the pinnacle of publishing from my small mole hill of the book world convinces me that, while I would love to earn a Pinnacle salary, what we do is more worthwhile and important. Permit me to step up on my soap box a moment.

Large houses are so tied to the bottom line and dinosaur-like thinking that they have lost their publishing souls. The idea of producing quality, both in production and concept, is largely foreign to much of the New York establishment. Sure, there are many good people in the City and within its publishing network who see the problem, talk about the problem, and a few who actually try to DO something about the problem. But where has it gotten them?

Publishing, to me at least, is about ideals, culture, education, elevating the literary soul. We have selected a core niche (military history) and do our best to produce high quality, original concepts. The "bottom line" is important, of course, but I often accept titles I know will not make us a dime. But they scream to be published, and published well. We are human, we make mistakes, and sometimes we succeed and sometimes we do not. But we know why we exist, and it is not all about dollars.

Someone asked me at BEA why I left my successful law practice to start a company at the bottom of the publishing world in a small niche, on my own.

The answer rolls of my tongue as easily today as it did ten years ago:

Who will care how many bankruptcy, or tort, or criminal, or business-related cases I handled when they lower my box into the ground? My files will be shredded, and another drone will take my place. And what, exactly, will I have contributed to the betterment of the world? Now, someday, somewhere, in a format not yet invented, a person not yet born will read one of our books and learn something useful. The words will create excitement, stir his senses, stimulate his soul! Perhaps he will look at the spine and wonder who Savas Beatie was, or read the acknowledgments and ponder our contributions, large and small, to the uplifting of mankind.

Somehow, I doubt you will get an answer remotely similar to mine if you asked Ms. Friedman or others in similar Pinnacle positions this same question.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Back From Book Expo

Sarah, Alex, and I just returned from our annual pilgrimage to Book Expo. It is expensive, time-consuming, heavy on caloric (and alcohol) intake--and indispensable.

We spent nearly two full days with Gunny Sergeant Nick Popaditch (The Cigar Marine), his wife April, and co-author Mike Steere. Nick and Mike signed nearly 200 advance galley copies of Once a Marine: An Iraq War Tank Commander's Inspirational Memoir of Combat, Courage, and Recovery (September 2008), met many members of the media, taped a podcast (which will be listed in a few days on our website and at the new Once A Marine site), and answered scores of questions from interested readers.

What I found especially interesting was how Nick was treated by anti-war attendees. Alex handed out postcards announcing his signing events. Most people were very respectful, even if they did not have an interest in his book. A few grumbled, sneered, and came close to yelling at her (she is 16 and my daughter), called Nick a "baby killer" and one said "he would not walk across the street to p*** on him." Very sad.

Some, however, were against the war (and even the existence of the military), but they wandered over and cautiously lifted a galley. After studying it, they moved closer to Nick (his is a very imposing presence that radiates well beyond his personal space) and struck up a conversation with him. As usual, Nick brought his moto-Marine A-Game with him. He was not what they expected him to be. According to what many told me, they expected to really dislike him and get into an argument. Instead, they came away with a completely different perspective of the Marine Corps, the war, and what we did (and are doing) there.

One lady picked up the book Saturday, read it in her booth, at a restaurant that evening, keep reading later in her hotel room, and finished it the following morning. She stopped back to talk with Nick, but he was not in-booth when she returned Sunday. She told me she found the book "riveting," and although she does not support the current war, she "understands people like Nick now better" and wanted to tell him so. She was especially interested in his wounding, treatment, and recovery, and how he was treated. She also told me she is going to recommend it to her friends who feel the same way as she does. (A couple people gave her a hard time for even picking it up.) As a publisher, I found the entire exchange very interesting.

Standing next to a big smiling guy with a glass Marine Corps emblem eye (top right photo, home page), 8% vision in the other (yes, EIGHT PERCENT), who needs to put his face three inches from the page to sign the book, is a rather amazing and unnerving experience. This is so especially since Nick is the ultimate gentleman. The former physics high school honor student who loved Shakespeare, spent four years as a Drill Instructor, has eight tank kills to his credit, a Silver Star, and terrible wounds (a 4-pound RPG hit him in the head traveling a couple hundred miles an hour during the Second Battle of Fallujah) tells everyone he has had a BLESSED life. His words, deeds, and actions can make one feel small without intending to do so. That would not be Nick.

In all the years I have been in the book business, I can honestly state without reservation that Once a Marine is the most amazing firsthand account I have ever read. The book moves at lightening speed, putting the reader right next to Nick as you enlist, ride, fight, suffer, think, emote, and recover with he and his family. One advance reader thought it reminiscent in style and feel to Dalton Trumbo's masterpiece Johnny Got His Gun. Of course, there is an obvious irony in that comparison. Nick's book, however, is not pro-war screed; rather, it is his story and experience in the USMC, serving our country when duty calls. And it is not a combat memoir, per se. You have to read it to understand why that is so.

Nick is an incredible man, father, husband, and Marine, and we are all looking forward to sharing his story with you.