Book Review: Tai-Pan by James Clavell

Book Review: Tai-Pan by James Clavell

A friend of mine used to say, “New books are better than old ones.” After reading by Tai-Pan by James Clavell, I have to agree. It’s bold, funny, raucous…everything a novel should be. I give it five stars.

The story takes place in China during the 1700’s. We follow Dirk Straun, the English sailor. He’s become a wealthy man by trading opium with the Chinese. Simultaneously, he takes an Asian wife and starts a company called The Noble House. He lives in Hong Kong, a new city in the British Empire (we all know how that turns out, of course).

Dirk is the “Tai-Pan” – it means supreme leader in Chinese. The locals respect and fear him. He rules with an iron hand, learning how to do business in the local way: saving face, calling bluffs, and fighting when need be.

Enter Culum, the son he left behind in England. The book segues into a great father/son tale at that point. Dirk…the man who went to China to make a fortune, yet left a boy in England behind. And Culum…the son who comes looking for a father: hoping to learn from him yet full of resentment. It’s a universal conflict.

I love the story for many reasons, but perhaps most is this…

Deep inside of every man, there lives a Dirk Straun—a man that longs for a life of adventure.

So many of us lead mundane lives, trapped inside a cubicle farm in corporate America. The break room, the bathroom, the freeway…boring. Thankfully, with the help of James Clavell, we can be transported to another place and time. A world of sailors and sword fighting.

I highly recommend this novel—it belongs on the bibliophile’s bookshelf.

Book Review: Victory Secrets of Attila the Hun

Book Review: Victory Secrets of Attila the Hun

Wess Roberts wrote a book in 1993 entitled Victory Secrets of Attila the Hun. It became a best seller, mixing ancient history with business acumen. It was read by CEOs across the United States. One fan was Pat Riley, the former coach for the Los Angeles Lakers. On some level, the book is like President Trump’s Art of the Deal—designed to teach people how to succeed in the business sector.

The book is structured in the following way:

  • Provide an anecdote about Attila the Hun’s invasion of the Roman Empire
  • Use the anecdote as a teaching lesson, told from the perspective of Attila. The advice is centered on how to lead people, how to run an organization, etc.

Here are the pros and cons of the book:


There were a lot of great sayings. You can easily use the maxims in a variety of ways, from personal growth to attention whoring on Facebook. Here are just a few of the quotes:

“Warriors with high potential turn down assignments that don’t offer an opportunity for them to learn and grow.”

“A warrior with high potential is quick to leave a poorly led tribe.”

“A chieftain doesn’t waste time by trying to learn more lessons from an experience than it contains.”


Roberts was very enamored with Attila; he describes him in positive terms throughout the entire book.  But he conveniently overlooks the other side of Attila; for example, the man who skinned people alive, disemboweled them, and had their bodies torn to pieces by attaching each limb to a horse.

Simultaneously, he describes the Roman Empire in harsh ways; they were savage, brutal, prone to excess, etc. While that was true, there was another side to the Roman Empire—one that allowed them to rule the ancient world.

In short, I found him playing a bit loose with history. And I’m skeptical of people who manipulate the events of history to serve a personal aim.


Victory Secrets of Attila the Hun is a book that, on some level, has influenced the current migrant invasion of the West. A PHD academic like Wess Roberts, who condemns his own culture while simultaneously sanctifying the foreign invaders. The Roman Empire might as well be America/Europe while the Huns are Syrians, Somalians, etc. It’s very disturbing to see the seeds of our current dilemma. But for anyone that’s familiar with American academics, it should come as no surprise.

I recommend the book on the strength of the quotations. Just be aware that, ultimately, Roberts is a useful idiot that’s being dangled on the puppet strings of George Soros.

Warriors with High Potential Turn Down Assignments

Warriors with High Potential Turn Down Assignments

“Warriors with high potential turn down assignments that don’t offer an opportunity for them to learn and grow.”

These are the words from Victory Secrets of Attila the Hun, a 1989 book by Wess Roberts.

His words are apropos…

I recently took a part-time job that I despise. They work me too hard, pay me too little, and their company is lame. But the bills had to get paid. So I took the job, planning to stay there for a short time. Now – one year later – I still have the job. What the hell am I doing? Why am I still working there? I paid the bills I needed to pay.

I realize the answer…

We get hooked on a supplemental paycheck—the extra money every month. We become lazy, complacent or comfortable. We get used to settling. To living a life that’s subpar – to accepting less than 100%.

Roberts gave me a kick in the ass today…it’s time to replace that job.

Adam Smith on the Economic Difference Between Europe and Pre-Colombian America

Adam Smith on the Economic Difference Between Europe and Pre-Colombian America

Adam Smith explains why Europe was economically stronger than the Pre-Colombian peoples of America.

All the ancient arts of Mexico and Peru have never furnished one single manufacture to Europe (p. 162).

Good point. Pre-Colombian America had a wealth of architectural achievements: Machu Pichu, Tikal, etc. Yet when it came to trade, they manufactured nothing. Their wealth came from the land, via gold and tropical fruits. And they were able to expand their empires via war. Yet they never created a notable product that was bought and sold in foreign markets.

Today, we can see the wealth of nations in a similar way. What nations are manufacturing items? America, Japan, Germany…these are the wealthy countries. Conversely, most of the poor nations—like Haiti or Bolivia—manufacture nothing. Have you ever seen a Haitian or Bolivian car for sale? What about a refrigerator?  Or a stereo? You get my point.

Manufacturing requires great skill. It indicates a society that, at its base, is highly developed:

  • Intellectual skill: the ability to create a new item: car, refrigerator, etc.
  • Organizational skill: the ability to create many of the items in question via factories
  • Distribution skill: the ability to disseminate the item throughout the culture and world

Manufacture is more than a word – it shows the greatness of a people. It highlights a nation that’s dreaming bigger, that’s pushing farther. It requires the genius of the inventor and the integrity of a people. And make no mistake about it…the eyes of the world are centered on the nations that manufacture goods.

For a link to the book, see the following:  Wealth of Nations PDF

Article Review: “The Metaphysics of Love” by Arnold Schopenhauer

Article Review: “The Metaphysics of Love” by Arnold Schopenhauer

“Marriage is not regarded as a means for intellectual entertainment, but for the generation of children.”

This idea captures the Metaphysics of Love. It’s a wonderful article by Schopenhauer, containing thoughts that would be censored by the PC police of today.  Schopenhauer discusses what a man wants in a woman, as well as what a woman wants in a man; He believes that sexual preference is biological predisposition—that we’re operating on the animalistic.

In other words…

It’s not about what you want—it’s about what the species needs.

The most interesting part was about male sexual preference. As men, we’re constantly told what to like: the Warrior Princess, the Parisian runway model, Amy Shumer’s flabby thighs, etc. To the Major, these are the methods of manipulation…a social engineering project.

So let’s take a look at Schopenhauer; let’s see if he’s able to kill the pretty lies.

What are the Five Things that Men are Looking for?

1.) “The first consideration that influences out feelings and choice is age…”

True enough. Men value a woman who is younger—this should be self-evident to anybody with two eyes. Notice how men will fawn over a female singer when she’s 25, yet ignore her when she’s 45; Notice how they’ll ignore a 50-year old woman that changes her profile pic on Facebook, but they’ll like and comment when a 25-year old does it. This is the reality of the sexual marketplace. Very brutal. It’s similar to how women will treat men that are short: with apathy and ambivalence.

2.) “The second consideration is that of health: a severe illness may alarm us for the time being, but an illness of a chronic nature or even cachexy frightens us away, because it would be transmitted.”

Most young women don’t have a physical illness. However, there’s an alarming number of American women that have a mental illness—you might call it a “chronic” illness, to quote Schopenhauer; it’s a depression that never gets better. On a personal note, my first wife was mentally ill—bipolar, to be exact. Over time, I began to question my own sanity. I was gas lighted, manipulated, emotionally tortured…you name it. By the grace of God (and a skilled divorce attorney) I was saved.

Is a mental illness contagious? If you’ve lived with somebody that’s crazy, you already know the answer.

3.) The third consideration is the skeleton…nothing disgusts us so much as a deformed shape.

True enough…most men would never date a cripple. For some reason, I thought about the girl with two heads that appeared on The Learning Channel. Man, I felt sorry for those girls. They were so positive, so filled with love. What does life have in store for them? Will they find romantic love? I seriously doubt it. It’s hard enough to find a partner when you have a normal physique, but for a woman with two heads?  I don’t want to imagine…very sad.

4.) The fourth consideration is a certain plumpness, in other words, a superabundance of the vegetative function….

Schopenhauer is not talking about a Chubby Chaser. He’s not talking about the man who wanted to immobilize his wife, because he was sexually aroused by her physical mobility. He’s talking about “Mother Hips,” to put it plainly. A woman that appears capable of conception. A woman that can spend months in the “vegetative” state, waiting to conceive (such as the eighth and ninth months of pregnancy). A woman that’s poised to give birth.

See Venus of Willendorf (Note: All the chaps at the Caves of Lascaux were trying to hit that)

5.) Finally, we come to the consideration of beautiful eyes and a beautiful forehead.

Interesting. I don’t think I’ve ever looked at a woman’s eyes, specifically. And I know I’ve never looked at her forehead (unless her forehead was extra-large). But I get his point—physical symmetry is all the rage.

Schopenhauer’s analysis is proven correct by the plastic surgery industry. Women spend millions of dollars to move a cheek here, to move a nose there. I’ll never forget when I needed surgery to correct a deviated septum. I sat in the plastic surgeon’s office…just me and 50 women. The surgeon drove up to the office in his Ferrari, stepping out like James Bond.  The guy was a millionaire because he did one thing well—he gave physical symmetry to women.


Overall, I think that Schopenhauer is spot on. Humans are here to procreate…to continue the species. It’s the Serengeti. It’s kill or be killed. We’re not here to surf Netflix, order bath towels on Amazon, or stare out the window of StarCucks. The species wants to continue—for right or wrong, it wants to exist. It wants to be.

I highly recommend Metaphysics of Love. It’s an article that you will find interesting, and it still reads well for the modern audience. For access to the text, click on the following link:

Essay Review: “The Turning Point of My Life” by Mark Twain

Essay Review: “The Turning Point of My Life” by Mark Twain

What is Man? is the last book that Mark Twain wrote. In my opinion, it’s the best thing he ever composed. It’s a collection of short stories and essays. The topics are broad, covering everything from the death of his wife Jean to the virtues of tobacco. On some level, it’s a Mark Twain blog – the man in all his greatness, touching on a variety of topics.

My favorite essay from the book is “The Turning-Point of My Life.” Twain recalls his early days, reflecting on the defining moments of his childhood. He describes the “turning point” as a moment when a measles epidemic was ravaging his hometown. Everybody was living in fear, everybody petrified. The children were dying. People were locked inside their homes, frightened. The fear was palatable.

Twain stayed in the house for months. Eventually, he couldn’t take it anymore and decided to leave the house, risking death.

In short, he decided that is was better to live with bravery than die with fear.

Life on these miserable terms was not worth living…This was a turning-point of my life.

Twain catches the measles and becomes ill…but he survives. From that point forth, he learns a valuable lesson. You can’t live in fear. You can’t always worry about what might happen. You can’t go through life petrified. You need to live…and live with courage. You need to stand up to danger.

The greatest rewards come when you take chances. When you decide to chase your unconventional dreams. When you decide to go against the grain, doing something that nobody else has the courage to do. When you realize that your own path is different and that you must go against the common plan. When you decide to be you.

You can find a link to the book here. I highly recommend adding it to your reading list – you won’t regret it:


What’s the Greatest Opening Passage in American Literature?

What’s the Greatest Opening Passage in American Literature?

The greatest opening passage in American literature? So many, but I’ll go with Of Mice and Men

A few miles south of Soledad, the Salinas River drops in close to the hillside bank and runs deep and green. The water is warm too, for it has slipped twinkling over the yellow sands in the sunlight before reaching the narrow pool. On one side of the river the golden foothill slopes curve up to the strong and rocky Gabilan Mountains, but on the valley side the water is lined with trees- willows fresh and green with every spring, carrying in their lower leaf junctures the debris of the winter’s flooding; and sycamores with mottled, white, recumbent limbs and branches that arch over the pool. On the sandy bank under the trees the leaves lie deep and so crisp that a lizard makes a great skittering if he runs among them. Rabbits come out of the brush to sit on the sand in the evening, and the damp flats are covered with the night tracks of ‘coons, and with the spread pads of dogs from the ranches, and with the split-wedge tracks of deer that come to drink in the dark.

So beautiful. The setting is classic California, long before the overcrowded freeways and automobiles would choke the state. It was still an idyllic place where nature ruled. The temperate climate, laced with river, tree and animal.

Steinbeck captures it beautifully.

The Salinas River, inspiration for the novel Of Mice and Men