Books make any trip shorter

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Traveling is fantastic.  You can get aboard an airliner knowing that when it touches down, you’ll be some place far from home and perhaps with a far different language and culture.  But what do you do to pass the long hours from takeoff to landing?  If you are smart, you will be reading.

Flying, especially transcontinental or transatlantic is the perfect opportunity to catch up on that book you’ve been putting off reading because there was always something else to do.  But here at 32,000 feet there is little to do except watch a movie you’ve already seen, stare into space or…read.

Electronic readers have made life a lot simpler in that you no longer have to carry a hard copy of a book; you can load a number of books into the device and turn pages by simple a flick of the finger.

But sometimes there is no substitute for an actual book and many people still prefer that method.  We often choose both.

On a recent flight to Madrid we picked up a book with a theme that was truly intriguing.  We all know who, or rather what, Lee Harvey Oswald was.  But few of us know much about the man himself.  He was somewhat of a cipher.

A new book seems to open a rather interesting and mysterious page into his persona and asks some critical questions:

Was Oswald the killer he was made out to be?

Did he kill John F. Kennedy?

Was he actually working with the government as has been claimed by some?

Was there a conspiracy?

Was Oswald pro-Cuban or was he working to assassinate Fidel Castro?

Judyth Vary Baker, a young woman who aspired to be a scientist who would find a cure for cancer, knew Oswald.  In fact, after associating with him for some time, they became lovers.

She was involved in cancer research, and attended the University of Florida, where she was involved in advanced research involving radiation in the early days and advanced melanoma.

An offer from Dr. Alton Ochsner brought her to New Orleans to continue her anti-cancer research.  Ochsner was then president of the American Cancer Society and had been impressed by her experiments.

She didn’t find the cure, but she did meet and become friendly with Lee Harvey Oswald.

In a very detailed retelling of her story with considerable documentation, Vary-Baker describes Oswald and her contention that he became the fall-guy in the murder of President Kennedy.  She contends that towards the end Oswald became convinced that he would be framed for the killing and was attempting to stop it when the assassination took place and he was subsequently shot by Jack Ruby.

Ms. Vary-Baker brings in many of the names that have become familiar to any conspiracy theorist working on the killing: Guy Bannister, Carlos Marcello, David Ferrie, Ruby and others.

Whatever your opinion might be, the book makes for fascinating reading and, perhaps, opens some questions about an American tragedy.

The book, published by TrineDay Publishers ( is 559 pages followed by a comprehensive “Afterword” section and appendix.

Believe it or don’t believe it…whatever your opinion, the book makes absolutely fascinating reading.


With the release of the movie “42” this month, there has been a tremendous increase into the story of Hall of Fame baseball player Jackie Robinson.

We all know that he was the first non-white to be given a chance in Major League Baseball by Branch Rickey of the then-Brooklyn Dodgers.  His tribulations at the hands of fellow players who were out-and-out racists hurling slurs at him during games, fans who threw garbage onto the field at him and being forced to stay in a separate hotel from his teammates while on the road are fully documented.

But who was he as a person?

A new book aimed at children by Tania Grossinger (of the famed hotel family) presents a personal view into who Jackie Robinson was.  Beautifully illustrated by Charles George Esperanza, the book is an easy read for youngsters.

Grossinger, who lived at the family owned resort in upstate New York, was a Cinderella to her family.  Her cousins, who owned the place, treated her like a stepchild rather than family.  She built a shell and stayed inside…until she met Jackie Robinson.

The ballplayer joined her in a ping pong game, at which she excelled, and developed a close relationship with her until his death in 1957.

Perhaps because of her own feelings of being an outcast, she and Robinson bonded.  He knew what it was like to be shunned and so did she.  His friendship and kindness slowly brought young Tania out of her shell.

Jackie Robinson paved the way for integration of baseball by being a man and withstanding everything that was hurled at him.  He showed Tania by example how you can grow in spite of those around you.

The book should be an inspiration and a wonderful teaching project for today’s children.

That Tania Grossinger treasures the memory and her relationship with Robinson is quite evident in the love she has woven into the book.

That Major League Baseball treasures his memory is evident every April 15–the day he entered MLB–when every player wears his number 42.  The number was retired throughout baseball and the only active player permitted to wear it regularly is famed Yankee relief pitcher Mariano Rivera.  When he retires at the end of this season no one else will ever be issued 42.

The book is published by Sky Pony Press (, the children’s division of Skyhorse Publishing.

Enjoy your long flight to wherever you might be going.