Monday, June 27, 2016

The Missionaries: a Marine's review

The Dark Herald reviews Owen Stanley's debut novel, The Missionaries:
This is a book that touched me more then I thought it would.  For most of my career in the Marine Corps, I was fighting nasty little low level insurgencies.  Honestly most of these had been going on before we showed up and continued after we left.  They were just run of the mill tribal conflicts that flared up and died down again of their accord when the world wasn’t looking.

But when the world was looking it was time to send in the Marines “Hoo-Rah!”  I didn’t mind overmuch.  It was a life of adventure and I was young enough and dumb enough to enjoy it.  It was why I joined the Corps in the first place.  And I am reasonably certain we did more good than harm.  The people we were dealing with understood, respected and even honored a warrior ethic.  We were comprehensible to them, even if the motives for our arrival looked pretty hazy to them

We made some effort to get to the know locals and listen to their problems and grievances.  Occasionally we would dig wells for them, which was usually appreciated.  Although they always wondered what it would cost them in the end.

Sadly what it would usually cost them was becoming a UN protectorate. 

The UN assessment teams that would follow on our heels...after we had settled things down naturally...were an inexplicable plague, the likes of which the poor bastards had never known. 

The best of the UN Poo-bahs had but one purpose and that was to make sure the UN got the credit for what we were doing.  The average ones would try to put us in UN Baby Blues, constantly lecture us on how to do our jobs and saddle us with insane Rules of Engagement, (bottom line don’t do anything gross like shoot back).  The worst of them would have had the colonial government of Leopold II reeling in horror.

The infuriating thing was sitting helplessly by and watching the UN get away with doing these things.  I have no idea why the United Nations still enjoys the kind of prestige that it does at that point.  It ranks as equal members first world democracies and third world kleptocrats.  It’s Human Rights Council is a by word for farce.  It’s a dumping ground for diplomats that couldn’t make it in their own countries diplomatic corps.  This is an oligarchy of bureaucrats with no one to answer to and yet, it pretends it’s the best that humanity has to offer.

As you may have guessed a book about United Nations high commissioners getting what they deserve is little short of porn to me.... I highly recommend it.
This is a particularly interesting review, because both the reviewer and the author definitely know very well whereof they write. And while it may strike those who have not yet read The Missionaries that I am perhaps overreacting to it or praising it too highly, all I can say is that you will simply have to read the book before reaching any such conclusion.

To put it plainly, no one writes books like this anymore. They don't because they simply can't; virtually none of today's authors possess the necessary inside experience of the NGO world combined with an intrinsically skeptical outsider's perspective on it. This is a unique snapshot of a specific point in time; just as Catch-22 could not have been written without Joseph Heller's experience of war and all the madness of the military bureaucracy that goes with it, there is no one, besides Owen Stanley, who could have written this satirical take on the UN's quixotic attempt to bring the modern world to the natives of Elephant Island.

UPDATE: Thank you all again, for making The Missionaries #1 in Satire. Not bad, considering that we are reliably informed that the editor doesn't even know what it is. It is also #1 in Humor, and, I suspect those who have read it will agree, deservedly so.

 Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #509 Paid in Kindle Store
    #1 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Humor & Entertainment > Humor > Satire
    #1 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Literature & Fiction > Genre Fiction > Satire
    #1 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Literature & Fiction > Literary Fiction > Satire

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Blogger Eric Wilson June 27, 2016 1:10 PM  

I'm not sure any praise is too high. I'm thinking about reading it again tonight.

Anonymous 5343 June 27, 2016 1:19 PM  

Just finished it. Absolutely fantastic. Absurdly ahead of its time.

And this:

Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #882 Paid in Kindle Store
#1 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Literature & Fiction > Literary Fiction > Satire
#2 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Humor & Entertainment > Humor > Satire
#2 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Literature & Fiction > Genre Fiction > Satire

Blogger Happy Housewife June 27, 2016 1:38 PM  

"To put it plainly, no one writes books like this anymore."

I'll buy any book that fits this description. Keep 'em coming.

Blogger Dire Badger June 27, 2016 1:50 PM  

Leo Frankwski, Tom Kratman, John Ringo, I could name several others that write books with well researched similar themes.

Blogger VD June 27, 2016 2:03 PM  

Leo Frankwski, Tom Kratman, John Ringo, I could name several others that write books with well researched similar themes.

Read the book. Just... read the book. Comparing Ringo to Stanley is really not fair.

Anonymous Coal fired brisket June 27, 2016 2:56 PM  

Damnit Vox, days like this make me wish you could just buy a Castilia Season Pass each year.

Blogger Jack Ward June 27, 2016 2:56 PM  

Just purchased it. Castalia has not led me astray yet and probably won't here.

Anonymous fred June 27, 2016 3:08 PM  

Sounds great. Any chance you'll bring it out in print?

Also, have you ever read Redmond O'Hanlon's crazy, erudite, hilarious Third World travel memoirs "Into the Heart of Borneo" and "In Trouble Again"? Sounds like you might enjoy them, if this book impressed you so much.

Anonymous Brick Hardslab June 27, 2016 3:11 PM  

Keith Laumer knew his subject pretty well. Retief remains one of my favorites.

Anonymous 0007 June 27, 2016 4:09 PM  

If someone HAD written it, until the recent advent of Castalia House, for damn sure no current publisher would touch it.

Anonymous Athor Pel June 27, 2016 4:14 PM  

"4. Blogger Dire Badger June 27, 2016 1:50 PM
Leo Frankwski, Tom Kratman, John Ringo, I could name several others that write books with well researched similar themes

Frankowski died a few years ago. Bummed me out. I really enjoyed the Conrad Starguard novels.

Blogger VD June 27, 2016 4:22 PM  

It's #1 in Literary Satire, up to 670 overall, less than 100 behind Slaughterhouse Five at #1 in Satire.

Blogger Matthew June 27, 2016 5:25 PM  

Castalia House will be publishing all of its books in (extremely well produced) print editions. We're trying to interleave the back catalogue with the exciting new books.

Blogger Steffen June 27, 2016 5:35 PM  

Frankowski had the "red pill" down in The Fata Morgana back in the mid-90's as well.

He had a definite knack for following ideas all the way down the rabbit hole...

Anonymous Rolf June 27, 2016 6:56 PM  

*Scratches head*....

Damned if I didn't think you were trying to add the adjective "eclectic" to the Castalia House description.

Blogger Dave June 27, 2016 7:04 PM  

Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #509 Paid in Kindle Store

Congratulations to CH and Mr. Stanley. That is very impressive. It is evident one of the few methods to crack the Top 100 would be to have Harry Potter in the title and/or a bare-chested male model on the cover. Maybe next time.

Blogger Were-Puppy June 27, 2016 7:26 PM  

I'm going to get it, probably next weekend.
It sounds the kind of book I like to read.

Anonymous cheddarman June 27, 2016 7:27 PM  

I am off today, bought it and read it. Well worth the purchase. A very funny story that happens to be a good satire of cultural Marxism.

Anonymous Nathan June 27, 2016 7:33 PM  

Rank 462. Nice and congrats. Looking forward to reading it tonight.

Anonymous VFM #6306 June 27, 2016 8:06 PM  

There is just a touch of irony that the two satires The Missionaries is beating out are classic science fiction novels.

Evidence that satire was not just a lost art, but the victim of attempted and premeditated murder.

PNH and Hartwell boasted of such a plot in 1991.

It appears to have failed, but just barely. Since Headcrash or the death of Douglas Adams, satire has had a damn big sleep.

Blogger Tom Kratman June 27, 2016 8:43 PM  

Ahem: I can think of at least one with _vast_ experience of dealing with the UN and the never sufficiently to be damned tranzi filth of the International Community of the Ever So Caring and Sensitive. Ahem.

Blogger Aeoli Pera June 27, 2016 8:54 PM  

This is the best book :-).

Blogger weka June 27, 2016 10:17 PM  

Tom I already own all your books, most in two formats.

Blogger The Other Robot June 27, 2016 10:31 PM  

@21: I own most of your books, including State of Disobedience ... and would be pleased to own more ...

Blogger The Other Robot June 27, 2016 10:31 PM  

Rank 411 ... maybe slowing down.

Blogger The Other Robot June 27, 2016 11:03 PM  

Vox is correct. I am laughing already on page 2.

Blogger Tom Kratman June 27, 2016 11:18 PM  

Working on it.

Anonymous Anonymous June 27, 2016 11:38 PM  

Going to purchase. It sounds like a great original read.

Blogger The Other Robot June 27, 2016 11:43 PM  

"The fascist connotations of table linen in developing countries."

I kid you not!

Anonymous Jack Amok June 28, 2016 2:09 AM  

So far I've only read the "Look inside" segment, but that was enough to click the Buy Now button. Alas, the remainder is 4th in line ( behind finishing Antifragile by Nassim Taleb, Grit by Angela Duckworth, and Brings the Lightening by Peter Grant).

It's not quite He-Evelyn in pure literary quality, but I like what I've seen of it.

Blogger Samuel Nock June 28, 2016 4:10 AM  

I saw it get as high as 388 for all Kindle books. It has since fallen to 409.

Blogger Cataline Sergius June 28, 2016 6:03 AM  

The amazing thing for me was the characters in this book. I've known real life Roger Fletchers. I'd only set out to write a blurb for Amazon and stopped at 1200 words a bit later. This book brought back a ton of memories for me.

Again, buy the damn book. It's a steal at $4.99

Anonymous Longtime Lurker June 28, 2016 8:07 AM  

If there is a fourth rule to SJWAL, it's gotta be "SJWs always leave money on the table."

Blogger Tom June 28, 2016 8:27 AM  

Two chapters in, and I think the editor screwed up. Chapter 2 should be first. It is much, much stronger. Although, I guess I am thinking a little about what the UN guy will think of these characters when he gets there, but the islanders are so vivid, I don't need the anticipation of the clash of worlds to keep my interest. If it hadn't been for all the recommendations and advanced horn tooting, I doubt I would have stuck it out through the slow first chapter. Or maybe the advanced horn tooting made the first chapter seem slow. Hmmm...

Blogger JaimeInTexas June 28, 2016 10:27 AM  

I bought it last night and read the first three chapters.
I know I am going for a fun ride. This book introduces a history that climaxes with some poor bloke's calamity, in a shit happens sort of way. The first chapter is what it should be. It sets a tone.

Anonymous SciVo June 28, 2016 12:38 PM  

Samuel Nock wrote:I saw it get as high as 388 for all Kindle books. It has since fallen to 409.

It's at #462 now, but it just got mentioned on Instapundit about an hour and a half ago.

Anonymous Randomatos June 28, 2016 6:03 PM  

Read it cover to cover last night - still laughing randomly today. Owen Stanley has powerful medicine and a robust literary codpiece!

Blogger lowell houser June 28, 2016 7:31 PM  

Hey, go publish this via CreateSpace so that those of us that like real books can actually get a copy.

Blogger Raziel Walker June 29, 2016 3:26 AM  

How good are those free kindle to epub converters?
Just bought A History of Strategy from the Castalia house website but what I really wanted to buy was both Missionaries and SJW Always Lie.

So I can either wait until those books are available on the Castalia site or I can cave in and finally buy something on amazon. (And then convert to epub so I can read it on my kobo).

Blogger JaimeInTexas June 29, 2016 9:36 AM  

Read a few more chapters last night. I am reading for enjoyment so I am going slow. Lots of chuckles. I kept thinking of Jonathan Swift (Gulliver's Travels) and Shakespeare (Much Ado About Nothing).

The Missionaries would make a great movie. If Peter O'Toole was physically like Fletcher, O'Toole would be perfect for the part. I still remember O'Toole in My Favorite Year. Funny movie.

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