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Here you will find book reviews written by Durham County Library adults!

Black Caesar: The Rise and Disappearance of Frank Matthews, Kingpin.

Ron Chepesiuk’s Black Caesar: The Rise and Disappearance of Frank Matthews, Kingpin (June 1, 2013) is about Frank ‘Black Caesar’ Matthews, (born February 13, 1944) “is a major heroin and cocaine trafficker who operated throughout the eastern seaboard during the late 1960s and early 1970s” (Wikipedia). Frank Matthews is originally from Durham, North Carolina. There are still many living people, around Durham, North Carolina and elsewhere, from various walks of life, who know Frank Matthews. They know him as a classmate, a neighbor, a co-worker, a peer, etcetera… Some still refer to Frank Matthews by his nickname, “PeeWee.”

Frank Matthews, a fugitive from justice from 1973 charges, has been called, “the biggest drug kingpin and gangster ever” (Youtube.com, Uploaded by Al Profit, June 3, 2012). Frank Matthews has no convictions but fled while under indictment for drug trafficking.
Frank Matthews’ criminal entrepreneurship tilted toward what may be termed a variety of African American chauvinism.

“Matthews would also become known for hosting a major African-American drug dealers ‘summit’ in Atlanta in 1971. The attendee list, gathered by DEA surveillance, was a who’s who of most major African-American and Hispanic dealers throughout the country; they were all there to discuss how to break the Italian Mafia’s control of heroin importation so that blacks could not have to rely on them for survival in the future” (Wikipedia).

The Frank Matthews drug trafficking network grew throughout the United States. By the early 1970s, the Matthews organization was handling multimillion-dollar loads of heroin in over 21 states. According to the DEA, “Matthews controlled the cutting, packaging, and sale of heroin in every major East Coast city” (Wikipedia).
“In 1973, the DEA was set to arrest Matthews. Nothing is known of his disappearance, however, he was arrested in Durham, NC – paid bail then disappeared and others say he fled the scene before the arrest. At the time, Matthews allegedly took 15–20 million dollars with him and fled the country, and was never seen again” (Ibid.).
What happened to Frank “Black Caesar” Matthews? I argue that Frank Matthews was whacked by the Union Corse, i.e. the Corsican Mafia, his major drug connection. What is Corsica?
“Corsica (/ˈkɔrsɪkə/; French: Corse [kɔʁs]; Corsican and Italian: Corsica) is an island in the Mediterranean Sea belonging to France…Although the island is separated from the continental mainland by the Ligurian Sea and is closer to Italy than to the French mainland, politically Corsica is part of Metropolitan France” (Wikipedia).
“It was the same Corsicans with whom Matthews would collaborate, making him an important broker between the Corsicans who manufactured the heroin and the Cubans who were making Miami the major port of entry for French Connection heroin and cocaine from South America” (Black Caesar, p. 37).

Here are the reasons that lead me to this conclusion.
Frank Matthews was valued by the Corsican Mafia as a person who could make it possible for them to distribute heroin and cocaine to blacks and to the greater U.S. society, from the black community. When Frank Matthews was indicted for conspiracy to traffic controlled substances, his value to the Corsican Mafia sharply declined to its lowest ebb. As a fugitive from justice, Frank Matthews could no longer serve that purpose.
The upper echelon of the Corsican Mafia considered the differences between Frank Matthews and the Mafia’s rank and file to be too great to ignore. Frank Matthews could not be trusted. But, Frank Matthews apparently under estimated the extent to which the Corsican Mafia would weigh those differences.
Frank Matthews was flamboyant. Corsican Mafia policy makers did not like flamboyance. They felt it tended to draw unnecessary and unwanted attention. It draws attention to Corsican Mafia criminal enterprise. In short, flamboyant operatives put everyone and everything at risk. Frank Matthews already stood out enough from the rank and file mean without his flamboyant tendency!
The policy makers of the Corsican Mafia saw that, without their help, sooner or later, the FBI was likely to apprehend Frank Matthews. The policy makers of the Corsican Mafia saw that, without their help, sooner or later, Frank Matthews would be victimized by rogue underworld bandits. Even with the help of the Corsican Mafia, Frank Matthews’ future was dismal. He was more valuable to the underworld dead than alive.

Frank Matthews was not inducted into the Corsican Mafia.

“Corsica is one of the few regions of France that retains its own language in everyday usage: Corsican, which is more closely related to Italian than to French. However, since its takeover by France in the 18th century, French has dominated the media and commerce, and today it is estimated that only 10% of Corsica’s population speak Corsican natively, with only 50% having some sort of proficiency in Corsican. Some linguists classify the Corsican language as belonging to the Italo-Dalmatian language group, while others classify it as a Southern Romance group language separate from the Italo-Dalmatian group” (Wikipedia).
In order to be inducted into the Union Corse, one must be Corsican.
Frank Matthews belonged to a distinctly different race/ethnicity. Frank Matthews did not speak French, he did not speak Italian. Neither did he speak Corsican. Culturally speaking, Frank Matthews fit in with the Corsicans with the grace of an arthritic knee.
Therefore, after his eventual apprehension, Frank Matthews was likely to turn state’s evidence.
Here is my scenario as to what happened to Frank Matthews.
When the federal government indicted Frank Matthews for conspiracy to sell controlled substances, Frank Matthews had three paramount enemies: the FBI, outlaw competitors and opportunists, the Corsican Mafia. The Corsican Mafia provided an escape plan for Frank Matthews. They provided a Plan “A” as well as a Plan “B.” Frank Matthews was urged to use one of these plans in the event he had to run.
Matthews apparently did not realize that the Corsicans were his biggest enemies. Instead of running from them, Frank Matthews ran to them. He fled the FBI, his potential allies, into the waiting arms of his biggest enemy. If Frank Matthews could do it all over again, he would run to the feds.
When Frank Matthews showed up at their door, the first thing the delighted Corsicans said was, “You’ve done a very good job Frank.” Frank Matthews took a bow. “Were you able to salvage any of the money we made?” “Yes,” was the reply.
The Corsican policy makers were sure to find out where the money was, maybe $15-$20 million. They were certain to assess its accessibility to them. Then the Corsicans expropriated money. They whacked Frank Matthews and disposed of his body in a place that only they can identify…a place better hidden than the money they just took from Matthews while he was still alive.
After Frank Matthews was dead, the 15-20 million dollars he allegedly had with him was redistributed among the made men and associates of the Corsican Mafia who had been confederates.

With no body, no corpus delecti, there is no homicide investigation. Some people can muse to their hearts content that Frank Matthews “beat the U.S. criminal justice system.” Moreover, he is living today as a very wealthy, free man, somewhere in the world under an assumed name. The Corsican Mafia can rest assured that Frank Matthews will never cooperate to their detriment with the U.S. criminal justice system. Finally, the U.S. criminal justice system can close the case, Frank Matthews vs. U.S. Government.

Natural Solutions for Digestive Health

I really enjoyed this book. These two ladies combined together gave great advice for digestive health issues.I think this will be an effective and easy to apply plan for anyone with digestive health issues.There is also a meal plan included. I really enjoyed this book I have acid reflux and I’m always looking for ways to keep things under control.

Negotiations

This is a must read for all job seekers. It takes you through every steps of negotiation, emphasizes practice. For me, I’m glad I read it now and not later.
It is important to know your worth and values and believe in your potential contributions. Most often we focus on our need for income and undermine our value to the employer.

Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter

One day Seth Grahame-Smith (March 2, 2010), author of Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter, will be asked to write an autobiography. I propose the title of that future work to, “Seth Grahame-Smith: Genesis of an American Myth Maker.” In Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter, Seth Grahame-Smith (March 2, 2010) engages in myth making American style.
Paul Bunyan, unlike the “Abraham Lincoln” who is the protagonist of Seth Grahame-Smith’s (March 2, 2010) Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter; evolved from American folklore. Paul Bunyan originated in the oral tradition of North American loggers. His exploits revolve around the tall tales of his superhuman labor.

But Seth Grahame-Smith’s (March 2, 2010) “Abraham Lincoln” is also a tall tale. Long before they open a copy of Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter (March 2, 2010) most readers know Abraham Lincoln (February 12, 1809 – April 15, 1865) as an American icon. But, they soon learn something else, i.e., the real reason for Abraham Lincoln’s revered status. Readers will learn why Abraham Lincoln is deserving of more accolades than he already receives.

The incumbent President of the United States during our civil war, Abraham Lincoln was incumbent during the reunification of our nation. But, Seth Grahame-Smith’s (March 2, 2010) “Abraham Lincoln” was also instrumental in a largely still undisclosed war, i.e. the war to preserve the human race. How’s that for a tall tale? The American civil war was a battle against human subjugation and enslavement by vampires.

Here is a new concept of the American hero: one who hunts down and kills vampires to the American advantage. Moreover, we discover why abolitionists were so interested in killing vampires. Indeed, Lincoln played a significant and unprecedented role in saving America—as always.
While Paul Bunyon is typically accompanied in his travails by Babe the Blue Ox, Seth Grahame-Smith’s (March 2, 2010) “Abraham Lincoln” works alone. Both Abraham Lincoln and Paul Bunyon have been the subject of various literary compositions, musical pieces, commercial works, and theatrical productions. The likenesses of both are displayed in several oversized statues across North America.

In his effort to create and enhance myths while telling tall tales about Abraham Lincoln, Seth Grahame-Smith (March 2, 2010) had to debunk some prominent American myths. For example, the myth that Abraham Lincoln was a simple country lawyer.

What “simple country lawyer” moonlights as a vampire exterminator and keeps a diary of his degree of progress toward his goal? Such a document could make it author liable by corroborating controversial thoughts, perceptions and behaviors.

Telltale signs the young Abraham Lincoln looked for whenever he suspected he was in the presence of a vampire or whenever he went hunting for vampires: pale skin, avoidance of sunlight, fear of crosses.
The relationship between vampires and human beings is a predatory, not a symbiotic, one. Vampires prey, and, therefore, are dependent, upon human beings for their own survival. Vampires see human beings, first and foremost, as a source of food.

But, there are good vampires and there are bad vampires! In Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter (March 2, 2010), Henry Sturges is a “good” vampire. Thanks to Henry Sturgis, Abraham Lincoln himself is destined to become a “good” vampire.

All vampires are serial killers. Like Henry Sturgis, they are apt to perform murder for hundreds of years. It is conceivable that some vampires never stop killing.

Included among the myths he dispels, are several myths about vampires. Henry Sturgis reveals to Abraham Lincoln several facts which debunk myths pertaining to the extra-physical and extra-sensory powers and limitations of vampires.

While they do possess extraordinary leaping ability (vampires have been observed leaping over fences 20 feet high), vampires cannot fly.
Seth Grahame-Smith (March 2, 2010) engages in myth making on the subject of Edgar Allan Poe (January 19, 1809 – October 7, 1849) as well. Despite the fact that Poe is remembered as a celebrated author, his excesses have also foisted for him a very bad reputation. Grahame-Smith’s (March 2, 2010) myth making can help reconstruct Edgar Allan Poe’s reputation from “bad” to better.

According to Grahame-Smith (March 2, 2010), Poe was aware that vampires are real and; he was killed by a vampire attack.
Grahame-Smith (March 2, 2010), also has William Henry Seward (May 16, 1801 – October 10, 1872) the American politician from the state of New York, engaging in vampire extermination.

Actor John Wilkes Booth, Abraham Lincoln’s assassin, was in league with Confederate vampires. Moreover, he was a vampire himself (Grahame-Smith, March 2, 2010).

The reader of Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter (March 2, 2010) learns something about the importance of social forces in the etiology, the demography, the epidemiology and the demonology of vampires in America.

Research is necessary about the prevalence of the vampire syndrome and its social indicators. It would be interesting to discover if black slaves ever were anything other than vampire food. Were there black slave vampires? Seth Grahame-Smith (March 2, 2010) doesn’t tell us.

The Crossover

This book came highly recommended, but I was a little wary at first. Basketball and free verse just didn’t seem like my thing. Once I got into though, wow! – I was hooked.

The story is told from the perspective of Josh, a 14 yr old star basketball player and twin brother to the other star player JB. The first few poems capture the friendly banter between the two and highlight their differences. They’ve had a ball in their hands since they were 3, thanks to their supportive father, a former NBA star.

Life is good. They come from a great family and have so much potential. When JB meets “Miss Sweet Tea” though things start to change. Josh feels abandoned and maybe a little bit jealous. Then they discover a secret about their father. He’s coughing up blood at games, but insists that everything’s fine. So many emotions are swirling, as Josh tries to keep up with the rules of basketball and life.

The rhythm of Alexander’s free verse is perfect. As he narrates the basketball plays, you can feel the ball bouncing and feet moving across the court. The basketball rules are simple yet profound, and it anstonished me how well they could be applied to real life – “You only get so many free throws”. I read this book in one sitting, and it’s a great pick for reluctant male readers (middle grade to early high school)

Catch-22

Catch-22, Joseph Heller (April 05, 2011), Simon & Schuster, 50th Anniversary Edition.
Joseph Heller’s (April 05, 2011) Catch-22 is a novel about rational man in an irrational world. “Catch-22,” as a phrase, is a metaphor for that irrational world. John Yossarian is a 28-year-old Captain and B-25 bombardier in the 256th Bombardment Squadron of the Army Air Corps. He is stationed on the small island of Pianosa off the Italian mainland during World War II. John Yossarian is both the novel’s protagonist and antihero. Yossarian is the “rational man” and his story forms the core of Catch-22.
It is the second half of World War II and John Yossarian is with his Air Force squadron on the island of Pianosa. Pianosa is in the Mediterranean Sea near the Italian coast. Yossarian and his friends endure an existence that is absurd. By “absurd” I mean the way the word is used by the French atheistic existentialists, e.g. Jean-Paul Sartre, Albert Camus. Their existence is also similar to the existence of the characters of the “Theatre of the Absurd.” The Absurd in these plays takes the form of man’s reaction to a world apparently without meaning, and/or man as a puppet controlled or menaced by invisible outside forces.
In French atheistic existentialist writing, one makes ones’ own meaning out of life.
In the Theatre of the Absurd we find the belief, “…that human existence has no meaning or purpose and therefore all communication breaks down. Logical construction and argument gives way to irrational and illogical speech and to its ultimate conclusion, silence” (Wikipedia).
According to the Wikipedia,
“Playwrights commonly associated with the Theatre of the Absurd include Samuel Beckett, Eugène Ionesco, Jean Genet, Harold Pinter, Tom Stoppard, Friedrich Dürrenmatt, Alejandro Jodorowsky, Fernando Arrabal, Václav Havel and Edward Albee.”
Conscious that he is being defined by bureaucracy and violence, that he has become reduced to a mere “number” in a larger, nightmarish equation; John Yossarian is not crazy. By the end of Catch-22, it becomes clear to him and to the reader that the “insanity” exhibited by rational men in an irrational world is a defense mechanism.
His blindly ambitious superior officers see Yossarian only as an inhuman resource. John Yossarian knows this and is intensely aware that millions of people are trying to kill him. This perception makes John Yossarian furious. He is angry that, through no fault of his own, his life is in constant peril.
Yossarian has a strong desire to live and is determined to be immortal or to die trying. As a result, he spends a great deal of his time in the hospital, faking various illnesses in order to avoid the war. By the end of Catch-22, it becomes clear to the reader that for Yossarian, for the rational man, the ultimate victory is not “insanity,” but survival.
Snowden is a member of Yossarian’s crew. When their aircraft is hit by anti-aircraft fire, Snowden is mortally wounded. Yossarian attempts to help Snowden by treating his wounds with bandages and sulfanilamide powder. But, Snowden dies. Snowden’s death acts as the catalyst for the change in Yossarian’s mentality.
It is on Snowden’s last mission that Yossarian loses all desire to participate in the on going war. Placed in ridiculous, absurd, desperate, and tragic circumstances, Yossarian sees friends die and disappear, his squadron get bombed by its own mess officer, and colonels and generals volunteer their men for the most perilous battle in order to enhance their own reputations.
Snowden is the perfect foil for Yossarian. Snowden is dead. Yossarian, after all, is still alive.
By the end of Catch-22, it becomes clear to the reader that the ultimate victory for Yossarian is not “insanity,” but survival.

Hide Yourself Away

This story centers around a 14 year old murder mystery. I was completely fascinated until the end. It was an easy read all the way through. It kept me guessing as to who the murderer was. I wanted to read the end after the middle of the book because I could not guess who did it. I am usually good at guessing who dunit! Not this time!!

kiss me again

This book is about a girl who is in love with this guy and when they first kissed, it was love at first sight.  They decided to take things really slow and she does not know what to do anymore.  So she is still in love with him.

Mom & Me and Mom

This was a great book I read this with my boyfriend. Maya Angelou is a very inspiring person and it was interesting to learn about her life. It was an easy read and I would read it again.

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