Book reviews

Book reviews



Update: Hear our interview with Kathryn Cloward: The author of Father Joe: Life Stories of a Hustler Priest"  provided an interview aired in June on the East County Magazine Show on KNSJ:

Father Joe: Life Stories of a Hustler Priest, as shared with and written by Kathryn Cloward (Kandon  Unlimited, Inc., San Diego, 2021, 277 pages).

Book Review by Dennis Moore

April 21, 2021 (San Diego) - I consider it a privilege and an honor to write this review of Father Joe: Life Stories of a Hustler Priest, Father Joe Carroll’s Memoir, as shared with and written by Kathryn Cloward, for some very profound reasons. This book is replete with humorous anecdotes that will lift your spirits, as well as being motivational and inspirational.

The story of this man, Father Joe Carroll, needs to be told and shared with everyone, for it borders on Sainthood. His story told by the author reveals a man who has possibly done more for San Diego than anyone that I could imagine, and I actually had a bird’s eye view of his accomplishments as I once lived in the St. Vincent de Paul Villages homeless shelter for a short period of time after coming here to San Diego from Chicago about 15 years ago – not knowing a soul and with 2 bags of possessions in my hands!




Experience Nature Unplugged: A Guide To Wellness In The Digital Age, by Sebastian Slovin & Sonya Mohamed (Nature Unplugged, Encinitas, California, 2021, 240 pages).

Book Review by Dennis Moore

March 30, 2021 (San Diego) - Sebastian Slovin and Sonya Mohamed has written a thought provoking book that resonates with me, and may very well change the trajectory of my life going forward, Experience Nature Unplugged: A Guide To Wellness In The Digital Age.

Sebastian Slovin and Sonya Mohamed  founded Nature Unplugged in 2012 with the mission of inspiring wellness in the digital age.  Basically, this book is about nature and improving on mental health. As a matter of fact, throughout this well written book the central theme seems to be about mental health, and how to optimize it. It should be noted that the authors are actually husband and wife.



UNCOMFORTABLE CONVERSATIONS WITH A BLACK MAN, by Emmanuel Acho (Flatiron Books, New York, NY, 2020, 244 pages).

Book Review by Dennis Moore

February 28, 2021 (San Diego) - Emmanuel Acho believes the only way to cure our nation’s oldest disease – racism – starts with a profound, revolutionary idea: actually talking to one another. No, seriously. Until it gets uncomfortable … and then some!

In Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man, “An Oprah Book”, Acho connects his own experience with race and racism – including his majority – white prep school education juxtaposed with his time in majority – black NFL locker rooms – with the lessons of history, culture, and the wisdom of other voices. The result is an essential guide to the conversations we should all be having to increase our understanding and join the anti-racist fight.



AMERICAN KOMPROMAT: How the KGB Cultivated Donald Trump, and Related Tales of Sex, Greed, Power, and Treachery, by Craig Unger (Dutton, New York, NY, 2021, 345 pages).

Book Review by Dennis Moore

February 25, 2021 (San Diego) - Craig Unger, author of the New York Times bestselling book, House of Trump, House of Putin, has written an explosive and provocative book that is destined to be another bestseller; American Kompromat. Unger asks; “Was Donald Trump a Russian asset? Just how compromised was he?” There are certain aspects of this book that reminds me of Robert Ludlum’s The Matarese Circle, which was also published by Unger’s publisher.

Listen to our exclusive interview with the author on our "East County Magazine Live!" radio show by clicking here.

This is a story of dirty secrets, and the most powerful people in the world. It has been quoted as stating: “Damning in its accumulation of detail, terrifying  in its depiction of the pure evil of those Trump chose to do business with.” I couldn’t put the book down!


Hear our interview with Roger Showly on East County Magazine Radio Show's Bookshelf:

San Diego Memories III: A Time Of Change – The 1960s and 1970s, by The San Diego Union-Tribune (Pediment Publishing, 2020, 176 pages).

Book Review by Dennis Moore

January 21, 2021 (San Diego) - Roger Showley, who provided the chapter introductions and captions, as well as the foreword to this fantastic book, San Diego Memories III: A Time of Change – The 1960s and 1970s, puts this book in perspective by stating: “This pictorial history of San Diego in the tumultuous 1960s and 70s is coming out at an extraordinary time of a pandemic, when life seems just as uncertain and unpredictable as it was 50 years earlier. A generation that came of age back then thought it would change the world, that no one over 30 could be trusted. They reveled in sex, drugs, and rock and roll, led civil rights marches, demonstrated against the Vietnam War, and were drafted to fight in it. In many ways the now – aging Baby Boomers in their 60s and 70s are seeing another social upheaval led by their children and grandchildren who are ready to throw out the norms and follow a different path.”



From Howe Street To Accra: My Adventures Working On The Groundbreaking Film Coming To Africa, by Frank James IV (AuthorHouse, Bloomington, Indiana, 2020, 62 pages).

Book Review by Dennis Moore

January 14, 2021 (San Diego) - Coming at a time of the sequel to the iconic movie Coming to America starring Eddie Murphy and Arsenio Hall, scheduled for release in December of 2021, Frank James IV has written a memoir, From Howe Street to Accra: My Adventures Working on the Groundbreaking Film Coming To Africa. I actually envy the author for having the opportunity to go to Africa, and then, to film a movie!

Perhaps hoping to capitalize on the upcoming remake of the Eddie Murphy film coming out in December of 2021, the author writes of his experiences in Accra, Ghana. There are many anecdotes throughout this intuitive and thought provoking book that has one feeling as if they were actually there.



The Twins Say…Always Always Keep Your Promises, by Dr. Keesha Karriem (Christian Faith Publishing, Inc., Meadville, PA, 2020, 26 pages).

Book Review by Dennis Moore

  • Ephesians 4:25 – Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbor: for we are members one of another.

January 6, 2021 (San Diego) - Dr. Keesha Karriem, executive director of a family-owned business that provides quality residential care to persons with intellectual disabilities, as well as having an MBA from Roosevelt University in Chicago, has written a thought provoking children’s book that every parent should have and read to their young children; The Twins Say…Always Always Keep Your Promises.The Twins Say…Always, Always Keep Your Promises was actually inspired by the author’s two beautifultwin nieces pictured on the back book cover, Kyanna and Kylila. If it is true that “a picture is worth a thousand words”, surely the picture of Dr. Karriem and her nieces says it all for this heartwarming book.



Sometimes God is a Homeless Man: A True Story of Heaven & Healing, by Kymm Civetta (Kymm Civetta, San Diego, 2020, 193 pages).

Book Review by Dennis Moore

December 28, 2020 (San Diego) - Kymm Civetta, a resident of San Diego (Jamul), has written a thought provoking book that may very well challenge your beliefs and Christian faith; Sometimes God is a Homeless Man: A True Story of Heaven & Healing. Civetta, an ordained minister (Universal Life Church), singer and self-professed Christian “Clairvoyant,” chronicles her upbringing and transformation in this book.

Sometimes God is a Homeless Man, is a book about soul searching, as the author specifically states:  “Until finding Kevin’s book, I found myself in an ‘in between space’ as a ‘Clairvoyant’ but also a ‘Christian.’ Was there such a thing?” I find myself asking the same thing, and perhaps those reading this book may do so as well.


By Dr. Michael Mantell, San Diego Jewish World, a member of the San Diego Online News Association

December 8, 2020 (San Diego) - One of the many benefits of being a long-time weekly writer for this publication/website, is the opportunity to review books that hold special meaning for me. So when Don Harrison, our beloved editor, inquires if I’d like to review a new book, the title, the content, or the author will interest me, or not. When it came to our friend Ben Dishman, Pharm.D., BCPP and his new book, "I Can Treat That...Well Maybe?” there was no question but that I wanted to read and review this book.



By Darryl Littleton

March 30, 2020 (San Diego) -- Stand Up Comedy is dead!   Official cause of death – Coronavirus with Trump complications.  After a lengthy illness due to the politically correct sanctions, and despite recent signs of resurgence (thanks to Netflix), Stand Up finally succumbed this month from the prescription of no public gatherings over 10 people.  That dose was barely enough for a club staff, much less a show.   Not a Stand Up show, anyway.   Not a real one.



The Sounds Of Silence Are The Loudest, by Cortina Jackson (CoLAB Creative Group, LLC, 2018, 207 pages).

Book Review by Dennis Moore

March 4, 2020 (San Diego) - Cortina Jackson, with a background in criminal justice and law enforcement, follows up her initial publication; On Earth As It Is In Hell, with her latest fiction novel of a similar genre; The Sounds Of Silence Are The Loudest. As a matter of fact, this latest book borders on the macabre. It is thought provoking and has elements that can have the reader on the edge of their seat.

The Sounds Of Silence Are The Loudest, admittedly by the author, has stories within it that are not scary, but this writer begs to differ! Jackson states that the reality of it is. Jackson says she decided to call the book The Sounds of Silence are the Loudest, because people’s silence about abductions, trafficking, mind-control, and organ-harvesting is deafening. She further states that it is time to make some actual noise, for these issues are no longer a secret for this fiction writer.



Moving On: Redesigning Your Emotional, Financial, and Social Life After Divorce, by David J. Glass, JD, PhD (Lioncrest Publishing, San Bernardino, CA, 2018, 186 pages).

Book Review by Dennis Moore

“David served as the mediator for my own divorce. He provided creative problem-solving that resulted in reasonable alternatives for myself and my ex-husband. In the simplest terms: he made things easy for us. Moving On offers more of the same. The book is a practical, self-help guide to charting what works in your life, what doesn’t, and how to change the latter. Your “second chance” can start now, and this book will help you maximize it.”

  • MARIEL HEMINGWAY, Actress, producer, and author of Healthy Living from the Inside Out

February 8, 2020 (San Diego) - Where was Dr. David J. Glass, the author of Moving On: Redesigning Your Emotional, Financial, and Social Life After Divorce, when it seemed that I needed him the most, going through my own divorce and child custody issues? In reading this insightful book by Dr. Glass, it is like he is preaching to the choir, for I have experienced a lot of what he has written in this book. He gives sage advice to anyone faced with the difficult prospect of divorce.



Just Mercy: A Story Of Justice And Redemption, by Bryan Stevenson (Spiegel & Grau, New York, NY, 2014, 349 pages).

Book Review by Dennis Moore

“Bryan Stevenson is one of my personal heroes, perhaps the most inspiring and influential crusader for justice alive today, and Just Mercy is extraordinary. The stories told within these pages hold the potential to transform what we think we mean when we talk about justice.”

  • MICHELLE ALEXANDER, author of The New Jim Crow

January 24, 2020 (San Diego) - It is ironic that the aforementioned Michelle Alexander would give praise for this book by Bryan Stevenson, as both authors and their books are winners of the NAACP Image Award for their similar takes on justice and redemption. Actually, Michelle Alexander won the NAACP Image Award in Literature shortly after this writer interviewed her in San Diego for my review of her book The New Jim Crow.

Another author giving praise to Bryan Stevenson and Just Mercy is Susan Neiman, author of Learning From the Germans: Race and the Memory of Evil, who was recently interviewed on our “East County Magazine Live!” radio show and references Stevenson in the interview here.



Only in America: An Immigrant’s Success Story, by Wadie P. Deddeh, as told to Linda E. Sheridan (AuthorHouse, Bloomington, IN, 2019, 138 pages).

Book Review by Dennis Moore

January 11, 2020 (San Diego) - The late Wadie P. Deddeh, as told to Linda E. Sheridan, has written an insightful book that speaks to what America is all about; Only in America: An Immigrant’s Success Story.

Every book and story has to have a beginning and ending, and in the words of the author(s) of this book it states: “As I talk about being born and growing up in Iraq, I think it is important to describe and distinguish who the Chaldean people are and what challenges they have encountered. Chaldeans are an ethnic minority of Iraqi Catholics and one of the oldest Christian communities in the Middle East. Their native language is Aramaic. Throughout the centuries, Chaldeans faced varying levels of discrimination and persecution, and were compelled to travel to other parts of the world, where they established new communities.”



This Day In Comedy: The Ethnic Encyclopedia Of Laughter, by Darryl Littleton and Frank Holder (Trineday, Walterville. Oregon, 2019, 491 pages).

Book Review by Dennis Moore

“The elixir of life is a bubbling stream of laughter.”

  • Richelle E. Goodrich, Slaying Dragons

December 7, 2019 (San Diego)-Darryl Littleton and Frank Holder, two aficionados of humor and comedy, has written the quintessential book on comedy; This Day in Comedy: The Ethnic Encyclopedia of Laughter. They actually set the framework for this groundbreaking and insightful book in the preface, as they state: “I’ve always wanted to see comedy argued in a barber shop the same as sports is discussed.” After reading this informative and iconic book, they just may get their wish.



The Spirit of a Winner: Guided Journal, by Marilyn D. Fitzgerald (M.D.F. Communications Inc., Matteson, Illinois, 2007, 201 pages.)

Book Review by Dennis Moore

“The life which is not examined is not worth living.” – Plato   

November 24, 2019 (San Diego) - Having known Marilyn D. Fitzgerald, the author of this insightful book and spiritual guide, I feel honored to write the review of this book. Knowing her and spending time with her over the many years actually gives me the requisite vision and insight to share with others.



My Watergate Scandal Tell-All: How I Unwittingly Caused This Historic Event, by Bruce Givner (ExecuProv Press, Santa Ana, California, 2019, 258 pages.)

Book Review by Dennis Moore

“This is a story I’ll tell to my students many times. Internships can make history!”

  • Larry J. Sabato, Director, UVA Center for Politics

November 8, 2019 (San Diego) - The Watergate story never dies. It has become more and more intriguing (and popular) as time goes by. It has evoked comment many a time when a Washington D.C. official becomes entangled in a self-styled web of deception. Watergate is no longer the name of a hotel and office complex. It is more than a proper noun that branded a piece of property and cemented its “title” in numerous pages of history books. It is now the go-to reference to identify any scandal, though its origin was first reserved for the most sordid political scandal our nation has ever witnessed – at least up until the writing of this book. In that respect, it ranks right up there in significance with Teapot Dome, Wounded Knee and Gettysburg.


By Mimi Pollack
October 25, 2019 (San Diego's East County) - Whether you are new to San Diego are or an old-timer, I think it is always interesting to learn about local places and people.  “Schlepping and Schmoozing through San Diego County, Volume One” is a new book by Donald H. Harrison.  It is filled with stories about people and places in San Diego County with a Jewish twist.  This is a bonus for San Diego, a place more known for its military presence, not its “Jewishness” unlike New York City. 



Dandy Daddy Long Legs, by Anat Tour (Anat Tour, San Diego, 2019).

Book Review by Dennis Moore

October 14, 2019 (San Diego’s East County) - Anat Tour, East County (San Diego) resident and high school math teacher, has written another of her many children’s book which is inspired and sparked by her kids, friends, and animals she meets; Dandy Daddy Long Legs. As a matter of fact, one of the characters in this fanciful book, “Jeanne on a Bike”, is actually inspired by one of her friends; Jeanne (her daughter named her that).



Learning From The Germans: Race and the Memory of Evil, by Susan Neiman (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, New York, 2019, 415 pages).

Book Review by Dennis Moore

Update Nov. 14, 2019: Hear our interview with Susan Neiman during her recent visit to San Diego. Click here to listen.

September 22, 2019 (San Diego) - As an increasingly polarized America fights over the legacy of racism, Susan Neiman, author of the contemporary philosophical classic Evil in Modern Thought, asks what we can learn from the Germans about confronting the evils of the past.

Susan Neiman is the director of the Einstein Forum. Her previous books, include Why Grow Up? Subversive Thoughts for an Infantile Age; Moral Clarity: A Guide for Grown-Up Idealists; Evil in Modern Thought: An Alternative History of Philosophy; The Unity of Reason: Rereading Kant; and Slow Fire: Jewish Notes from Berlin. She studied philosophy at Harvard and the Free University of Berlin, and was a professor of philosophy at Yale and Tel Aviv Universities. She is the mother of three grown children and lives in Berlin. This background, perhaps, says a lot about the impetus behind her writing this thought provoking book; Learning from the Germans: Race and the Memory of Evil.


Interview with Susan Neiman on East County Magazine Show on KNSJ



Ancient Romans and their Neighbors: An Activity Guide, by Simonetta Carr (Chicago Review Press, Chicago, Illinois, 2019, 150 pages).

Book Review by Dennis Moore

August 28, 2019 (San Diego) - Simonetta Carr, an East County (Santee, California) resident, award-winning author of Michelangelo for Kids, Cleopatra and Ancient Egypt for Kids and Christian Biographies for Young Readers, has written another educational book geared towards whetting the instructional and educational appetite of young readers; Ancient Romans and their Neighbors: An Activity Guide.


Del Mar resident and Holocaust survivor Rose Schindler speaks out on her experiences
By Donald H. Harrison
August 15, 2019 (San Diego) - There is a romantic notion in popular Judaism that everyone has a bashert – a special person intended to become a lifelong spouse.  Sometimes, he or she may live just down the street; other times, you may meet unexpectedly at some place far from home.  But, according to this romantic notion, God brings you two together.



ATONEMENT AND FORGIVENESS: A NEW MODEL FOR BLACK REPARATIONS, by Roy L. Brooks (University of California Press, Berkeley and Los Angeles, California, 2004, 325 pages).

Book Review by Dennis Moore

“In my Case for Black Reparations, published in 1973, I called for a national debate on this painful subject. Professor Brooks has responded magnificently to this appeal, with a comprehensive and painstakingly thoughtful analysis of all aspects of this area. His book, in my opinion, will certainly become the standard examination of the issue. I recommend it with unqualified enthusiasm.”

  • Boris I. Bittker, Professor Emeritus of Law, Yale University

August 15, 2019 (San Diego) - Roy L. Brooks, Warren Distinguished Professor of Law at the University of San Diego, and author of over a dozen books, including When Sorry Isn’t Enough: The Controversy over Apologies and Reparations for Human Injustice (1996), has written this thoughtful and provocative book, Atonement and Forgiveness: A New Model for Black Reparations, that has renewed a long simmering debate.



Finding My Voice: My Journey to the West Wing and the Path Forward, by Valerie Jarrett (Viking, New York, NY, 2019, 305 pages).

Book Review by Dennis Moore

As a woman who went from being a quiet girl in Chicago to one of the most visible and influential African-American women of the 21st century, Jarrett’s stories will inspire readers to overcome adversity and find their own voices. “FINDING MY VOICE” is an intimate view of Jarrett’s extraordinary life culminating in a hopeful message that is needed as much today as ever before.

July 5, 2019 (San Diego) - More than 30 years ago both I and Valerie Jarrett worked at City Hall in Chicago, one floor apart, me in the Purchasing Department on the 4th floor and Valerie in the Law Department on the 5th floor. Never in my wildest of imaginations would I have thought that I would be here in California writing a review of her insightful and thought provoking book; Finding my Voice: My Journey to the West Wing and the Path Forward. Perhaps Valerie could say the same about her journey.


By Alan Renga and Katrina Pescador (bottom right), (America Though Time, Arcadia Publishing, 2019, 96 pages)


Book review by Jeff Thurman


June 13, 2019 (San Diego’s East County) - In the interest of full disclosure, I have a confession to make.  I am that guy in the museum who reads every one of the placards and captions on all of the exhibits. This led to a traumatic incident at the Omaha Beach Museum when the tour guide informed us that we had 30 whole minutes to explore the entire museum.  I am still haunted by that dark episode. When I get a new nonfiction book with a photo section, my first action is to turn to the pictures and happily read each and every caption. Twice.

I am also an aviation nerd.  Since grade school, I’ve been in love with anything that flies.  I have a particular passion: all things World War II and firmly believe the Republic P-47 Thunderbolt is the most underappreciated warbird of the last 100 years.   This all resulted in my becoming a helicopter pilot in the Army, where I fell in love with a beautiful girl named “Huey.” It was here I learned that life is best experienced at 90 knots, preferably below treetop level.

In other words, I am the target demographic for this book.



For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Politics, by Donna Brazile, Yolanda Caraway, Leah Daughtry, Minyon Moore, with Veronica Chambers (St. Martin’s Press, New York, NY, 2018, 316 pages).

Book Review by Dennis Moore

somebody/anybody sing a black girl’s song, bring her out to know herself, to know you, but sing her rhythms … sing her sighs, sing the song of her possibilities, sing a righteous gospel, the makin of a melody, let her be born, let her be born & handled warmly.


May 8, 2019 (San Diego) - Ironically, in my earlier review of Donna Brazile’s book Hacks in the East County Magazine in San Diego, she makes the profound statement; “I am not Patsey the Slave.” This was in reference to her involvement in the Clinton campaign and her being chairman of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), and despite that fact, Brazile being marginalized by Clinton’s brain trust in New York, with Brazile specifically stating: “Y’all keep whipping me and you never give me any money or any way to do my damn job. I am not going to be your whipping girl!”

This book is rich in history and politics, which includes the personal insight from four fabulous and acclaimed black women!



Saving Lou, by Linda Loegel, (Linda Loegel, Columbia, SC, 2017, 242 pages).

Book Review by Dennis Moore

May 27, 2019 (San Diego) - Linda Loegel, a born New Englander, and former East County resident of San Diego (El Cajon), now living in Garner, North Carolina, has written a poignant and heartwarming story; Saving Lou.

Having written two earlier reviews of Loegel’s books, Bumps Along the Way and If you Don’t Like Worms, Keep Your Mouth Shut, I can attest to the author being a master story teller. Saving Lou follows suit. She tells this story from beginning to end in her own inimitable and folksy manner, which is characteristic and expected of her from readers such as myself and others that have read her book(s).



End Medical Debt: Curing America’s $1 Trillion Unpayable Healthcare Debt, by Jerry Ashton, Robert Goff, Craig Antico (Hoku House, Kauai, Hawaii, 2018, 181 pages).

Book Review by Dennis Moore

Of all the forms of equality,

Injustice in health is the most

  shocking and inhumane.

  • Martin Luther King, Jr.

April 6, 2019 (San Diego) - The authors have written a timely and thought-provoking book about healthcare and debt, coming at a time when the Trump Administration is proposing doing away with the Affordable Care Act (ACA), or better known as Obamacare.

Jerry Ashton, Robert Goff and Craig Antico, founders of the national charity RIP Medical Debt, a 501 (c)(3) not-for-profit company based in New York, incorporated in 2014, locates, buys and forgives unpayable medical debt for those burdened by financial hardship. In a phone interview with one of the authors, Craig Antico, he stated to me: “People don’t realize the hardships that medical debt brings.”



The Threat: How the FBI Protects America in the Age of Terror and Trump, by Andrew G. McCabe (St. Martin’s Press, New York, NY, 2019, 274 pages).

Book Review by Dennis Moore

March 18, 2019 (San Diego) - Andrew G. McCabe, former Deputy Director of the FBI, has written an incisive and titillating story of America at the crossroads of history, an America that seems to be under siege by the President himself. To put this book in historical perspective, McCabe states: “The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s official mission is ‘to protect the American people and support the Constitution of the United States.”’

To read this book, it does not seem as if the mission statement of the FBI is being allowed. The author lays that at the feet of the President of the United States, Donald Trump.



Michelle Obama: A Life, by Peter Slevin (Alfred A. Knopf, New York, NY, 2015, 418 pages).

Book Review by Dennis Moore

“A deeply informed portrait of the first lady and her native Chicago…. Her larger story, told so powerfully in Slevin’s biography, which suggests she will forever be a force with which to be reckoned.” – Chicago Tribune

March 11, 2019 (San Diego) - Peter Slevin, who has written extensively about Barack and Michelle Obama, from his vantage point of being on the staff of The Washington Post, before joining Northwestern University’s School of Journalism, where he is currently an associate professor, has written a uniquely American story of a woman from the Southside of Chicago that changed the course of prior inhabitants of the White House; Michelle Obama: A Life.