Law Enforcement Biography / Memoir / Ethics & Morals
Publisher: Creative Texts Publishers
Pages: 250 pages
Publication Date: June 7, 2022
You know, I never saw an officer, an EMT, a fireman, or an ER crew ask anyone what their politics were and then refuse to care for them because of their answer. The color of skin pigment, the last name, the amount of money in a bank account, none of that mattered.
All that mattered was someone needed help, and they had the skills as well as the burning desire to do so.
Yes, they are only human and internally flawed and prejudiced as any other. But their true nature, their crowning glory in mortal life, is their ability to rise above those flaws and prejudices when called upon.
In a world of hungry, destructive wolves, they stand as the sheepdog who serves and protects the flock.
You run into very few outstanding storytellers over a lifetime, and Ben H. English, the author of Black and White: Tales of the Texas Highway Patrol, is undoubtedly among the best. The words flow, and the stories unfold, and with them comes truth and emotion.
Mr. English is upfront that Black and White was a book he never wanted to write. The subject matter is achingly personal, and the people involved are important not only to him but to many others (perhaps the entire state of Texas in some cases.) But he felt the stories needed telling; the subjects deserved to be known, appreciated, and honored. And so, we have them. And they are well worth the time you’ll spend sitting, reading, and absorbing.
Black and White is a collection of stories linked together by being incidents occurring during Mr. English’s career with the Texas Highway Patrol. Some of the same individuals are involved in more than one, his coworkers or family members, and you get to know them. Some tell of tragic events, while a few are more light-hearted or end in a good place. Photographs of many individuals who are the subject of these memories are included, making those people much more real.
I appreciated the author sharing these vignettes from his past; you see these men and women usually only on the interstate checking speed or writing citations, but these stories prove there’s so much more to what they handle. I particularly enjoyed the humorous recounting of the recalcitrant Christine, but I was deeply affected by others. (I had to pause and regroup after reading The Memory Thief.) And, too, there is just something about this area of the state where these incidents took place. The author had me feeling the open emptiness and almost tasting the dust. I have driven these counties (always going elsewhere), and now after reading these stories, I want to go back and see the area again with them fresh in my mind.
With its evocative storytelling and exciting action of deeply personal and actual events, I recommend BLACK AND WHITE to readers who enjoy memoirs, good law enforcement narratives, and true stories set in rural Texas.
Ben H. English is an eighth-generation Texan who grew up in the Big Bend. At seventeen, he joined the Marines, ultimately becoming a chief scout-sniper as well as an infantry platoon sergeant. Later he worked in counterintelligence and traveled to over thirty countries on four continents.
At Angelo State University, he graduated Magna Cum Laude along with other honors. Afterwards, Ben had a career in the Texas Highway Patrol, holding several instructor billets involving firearms, driving, patrol procedures, and defensive tactics.
After retirement, he decided to try his hand at writing. His first effort, Yonderings, was accepted by a university press and garnered some awards. His second, Destiny’s Way, led to a long-term multi-book contract. This was followed by Out There: Essays on the Lower Big Bend, The Uvalde Raider, and now Black and White: Tales of the Texas Highway Patrol.
His intimate knowledge of what he writes about lends credence and authenticity to his work. Ben knows how it feels to get hit and hit back, or being thirsty, cold, wet, hungry, alone, or exhausted beyond imagination. Finally, he knows of not only being the hunter but also the hunted.
Ben and his wife have two sons who both graduated from Annapolis. He still likes nothing better than grabbing a pack and some canteens and heading out to where few others venture.
Code of Silence tells the story of federal court employee Cathy McBroom, who had to flee her job as a case manager in Galveston, Texas, after enduring years of sexual harassment and assault by her boss-US District Judge Samuel Kent. Following a decade of firsthand reporting at the Houston Chronicle, investigative reporter Lise Olsen charts McBroom’s assault and the aftermath, when McBroom was thrust into the role of whistle-blower to denounce a federal judge.
What Olsen discovered by investigating McBroom’s story and other federal judicial misconduct matters nationwide was shocking. With the help of other federal judges, Kent was being protected by a secretive court system that has long tolerated or ignored complaints about corruption, sexism, and sexual misconduct-enabling him to remain in office for years. Other powerful judges accused of judicial misconduct were never investigated and remain in power or retired with full pay, such as US Circuit Judge Alex Kozinski and Kozinski’s mentee, Brett Kavanaugh
Winner of the 2022 Texas Institute of Letters’ Carr P. Collins Award for Best Book of Nonfiction.
“Another ‘true crime’ book is being published later this month. But Code of Silence by Lise Olsen is not like most books – or podcasts -of that popular genre. For starters, there is no murder. We know who dunnit from the beginning. And it is anything but insensitive toward the victims and their families, a common criticism of many true crime stories. The culprit this time wasn’t a marginal member of society. U.S. District Judge Samuel B. Kent was a federal judge, known for both his brilliance and his bullying.” —Rick Casey, San Antonio Report
“A gutting new #metoo book,” —Rose Cahalan, Texas Monthly
“A long overdue exposé on how the judicial system suppresses claims of sexual harassment against judges. In this new era of reckoning with sexual assault and harassment, Code of Silence is essential reading.” –Anita Hill
“Code of Silence is a beautifully written, disturbing as hell example of how the American experiment fails when it lets men set themselves up as kings.” –Houston Chronicle.
“Flight: Houston and Galveston, Texas, March 2007”
For nearly five years, McBroom had served US District Judge Samuel Bristow Kent. Kent was part of the powerful network of federal jurists whose lifetime appointments were guaranteed by the Constitution. Cathy McBroom was part of a vast national court bureaucracy of people who served at the pleasure of such judges. Initially, McBroom had raved about her “dream job,” which provided the financial stability she’d craved and a federal salary of more than $70,000 plus benefits. Later there had been trouble with the judge, though McBroom had explained to her mother that she, like all federal court employees, was bound by an oath to respect court confidentiality. She and other employees were subject to a strict code of conduct and generally never discussed the inner workings of the court or any judge’s behind-the-scenes behavior.
Whatever Kent had done, it had been bad, Schopp knew. Her eldest child had always been a steady, strong woman on whom Schopp herself had leaned when her first marriage fell apart and she’d divorced McBroom’s father. But this morning all of her daughter’s self-confidence and control appeared cracked, if not shattered.
McBroom kept repeating in a monotone that she couldn’t discuss anything.
“If you can’t talk about it, you’ve got to get it out,” Schopp insisted. “Go use the computer in my studio. Type down every little incident you can remember.”
Schopp wasn’t sure she should leave her anguished daughter behind, but birthday duty called. She drove off to fetch her grandson and ferried a carload of gangly adolescents with floppy hair and feet too big for the rest of their growing bodies to Clear Lake’s AMF Alpha Lanes, the bowling alley where the usual cake, Cokes, and souvenir ten-pin awaited. She invented excuses when her grandson asked about his missing mom.
Alone in the snug yellow-brick house, McBroom felt marginally safer surrounded by the comfortable clutter of her mother and stepfather’s blended lives, their cobbled-together furniture, aging housecats, and many memories of family gatherings and home-cooked meals. This was not McBroom’s childhood home, but it was a familiar place—her mother had purchased it more than twenty years before with Don, her mother’s second husband. McBroom had grown up in the industrialized Houston suburb of Channelview, where she had learned from her own dad, a tough chemical plant worker, to fight for herself as a girl, even when that meant using her fists to quiet a bully or walking away from the boyfriend who punched a hole in her parents’ garage wall. Today, though, she felt none of that strength.
McBroom shut herself up in the front bedroom that served as a combination office and a studio for her mother’s oil painting. Colorful canvases filled with hand-painted roses and chrysanthemums surrounded McBroom as she stared into the void of the computer screen, digging deep inside to find words. Beside her in frames and on the wall of the hallway just outside the small room were images from other stages of her life. McBroom as a chubby toddler with her hair pulled back in a ponytail; McBroom smiling in a crowded gathering at her grandmother’s ninetieth birthday; formal portraits of the two children, Evelyn, and Casey, whom she’d had after marrying her childhood sweetheart; and a party picture of McBroom in a glittery black dress and holding hands with her second husband, Rex, the father of her son Caleb, whose birthday party she was missing.
Mostly she’d been a good mother. Her children knew she had their backs. And she’d often acted as the fixer for her parents and her younger brother, too, providing the glue that held the family together or, when that proved impossible, providing comfort when things fell apart. Along the way, she’d built a solid career as an experienced assistant in the cutthroat legal profession in lawyers’ offices and later attained an important post in the federal district court clerk’s office, workplaces that in the 1990s and 2000s remained largely male-dominated worlds tinged with sexism. In her forties, she’d begun to run marathons and completed five races in one memorable year. She normally buzzed with energy. But she’d never faced anything as difficult as this self-appointed task.
McBroom had decided to denounce a powerful federal judge. And she would do this alone. She knew her written words, once shared, would make an enemy of a jurist who’d earned a national reputation among law professors as a bully, and who had repeatedly proved himself capable of humiliating, harassing, and harming the careers of anyone who crossed him. This man had both an extraordinarily domineering personality and the formidable power of the robe he wore.
McBroom had never known any woman personally who had taken on a federal jurist for sexual misconduct except what she’d read and seen about Anita Hill. Back in 1991, McBroom and many other American women had been outraged and inspired as they watched the University of Oklahoma law professor testify before an all-male US Senate Judicial Committee about how Clarence Thomas, then a federal judge and US Supreme Court nominee, had sexually harassed her in his years as her boss in two different federal government jobs. Hill had worked for Thomas both in the Office of Civil Rights at the US Department of Education and again when he became chair of the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the federal agency that supposedly specializes in helping people who struggle with on-the-job harassment and discrimination. The experience hadn’t turned out so well for Hill, McBroom knew. Thomas had won a seat on the Supreme Court anyway. Hill had been branded as a liar by conservative commentators and ridiculed for testifying about how Thomas asked her about pubic hair on a Coke can and described scenes in porn films featuring large-breasted women having sex with men and animals.
McBroom still felt physically sick when she recalled what had happened to her that Friday inside Kent’s wood-paneled chambers—a formal yet intimate space that smelled of the judge’s illicit cigar breaks, his collection of law books, and his bulldogs. She feared that her decision to flee meant that he would seek revenge and ruin her career.
Lise Olsen is a Texas-based investigative reporter and author who has uncovered many twisted tales, including crooked judges, an unjust execution, massive environmental disasters, myriad cases of corruption, and unsolved serial killings. Her reporting has contributed to the prosecutions of a former congressman and a federal judge, inspired laws and reforms, helped solve cold cases, restored names to unidentified murder victims, and freed dozens of wrongfully-held prisoners. Her work is featured in CNN’s “The Wrong Man” (2015) about the innocence claims of executed offender Ruben Cantu and the six-part A&E series on the victims of a 1970s serial killer, The Eleven, (2017). CODE OF SILENCE is her first book – the paperback from BEACON PRESS is out this month. She is at work on a second book: the SCIENTIST AND THE SERIAL KILLER.
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THREE WINNERS: Autographed copies of Code of Silence.
Straight-forward and wonderfully told, humble with all the warts.
The 2016 Alamo Bowl game between TCU and Oregon was one for the record books, with TCU overcoming one of the largest deficits in bowl game history to attain a victory. With a 31-0 score at halftime, the sportscasters had all but turned out the lights at the Alamodome on TCU’s chances to win that game. But the Horned Frogs team that came back on the field for the second half had decided they weren’t ready to lie down and give up. And leading the way was TCU senior quarterback Bram Kohlhausen. Relieved to find he still had the coaching staff’s confidence, he put the frustrating first half behind him and led the Frogs to an amazing comeback victory in triple overtime. Remember the Alamo Bowl is Bram’s story.
I liked that the author begins Bram’s story as the miserable first half of the game concludes. Bram is disheartened, and the Horned Frogs are devastated by their performance and are returning to the locker room. The author succeeds in placing us right there with the team and coaches. The insights from the players, including Bram, his family, and friends, were honest and heartbreaking, especially with the ever-present shadow of the disgraced Trevone Boykin hovering in the midst. It was easy to feel the excitement of the time, even all these years later, as each one recounted their thoughts and participation. You could still hear the wonder in the comments at what the Horned Frogs accomplished that night.
The story goes back to Bram Kohlhausen’s childhood and early success in high school football, and he is open and forthcoming about how he handled all the attention he received, becoming the big man on campus. I especially enjoyed his brothers’ contributions to the story and could easily relate to his mother. The loss of his father in the months leading up to the bowl game was heart-wrenching. Bram takes ownership of things that didn’t go well in his college football journey, partly due to his own decisions, actions, and choices but not all. Still, there was no finger-pointing.
The events leading up to Bram replacing Boykin in the Alamo Bowl, his first start as a quarterback for TCU, are covered from start to finish. I felt I better understood what went down in San Antonio back then. It was such an avoidable tragedy for his friend and teammate, and I could feel the brotherhood in that Horned Frog team.
I have watched this game a couple of times since the live airing, and the recounting of the plays in the book was still exciting. Reading this, I knew what would happen, and I was still caught up in the same emotions I felt during the actual game.
I highly recommend REMEMBER THE ALAMO BOWL to readers who enjoy sports books, underdog stories, and most of all, TCU fans, especially those who watched or experienced that game.
I voluntarily reviewed this after receiving an Advanced Review Copy from NetGalley.
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This love letter from a dog owner to her beloved pets, both past and present, is a wonderful recounting of partnership and healing!
A Little Dog’s Adventures in a Big Dog’s World is author Suzanne Catalano’s personal experience narrative about her introduction and participation, with her dog Winnie, in the canine sport of scent work. Not a how-to manual, but more a loving tribute to an activity in which she and her puggle (Beagle-Pug mix) have had a successful and satisfying partnership. I was not familiar with this sport, but I have dogs, and I found Catalano’s stories warm, engaging, exciting at times, and always inspirational. Many of her thoughts mirrored precisely how I felt about my relationships with my dogs. Often, I felt like she was reading my mind!
The stories she shared about the actual nose work training and trials were as engaging as they were fascinating. The descriptions of how odor works and travels were new to me and eye-opening. Who knew?!
I liked reading about the AKC events, which I’ve seen promoted in their newsletters but didn’t know what they were. But I was even more surprised to learn about how the sport originated with the National Association of Canine Scent Work.
I recommend A Little Dog’s Adventures in a Big Dog’s World to readers who love dogs, have dogs, or just like dogs. Anyone that has dogs will recognize many of the dog behaviors Catalano talks of as those of their own pups, and smile. But the pure joy of the author’s relationship with her dog, Winnie, clearly comes through in every aspect of this book and is, perhaps, the best part of the reading. Winnie and Suzanne are a delightful pair.
By the way, Peaches and Stoli, the resident basset hounds and security team here in Texas, say “Tell your dog ‘Hi!’”
I voluntarily reviewed this after receiving an Advanced Review Copy from Reedsy Discovery.
There, scribbled by a cousin she hadn’t seen for years, were the names of the masters whose works once belonged to her great-grandfather, Jules Strauss: Renoir, Monet, Degas, Tiepolo and more.
Pauline Baer de Perignon knew little to nothing about Strauss, or about his vanished, precious art collection. But the list drove her on a frenzied trail of research in the archives of the Louvre and the Dresden museums, through Gestapo records, and to consult with Nobel laureate Patrick Modiano. What happened in 1942? And what became of the collection after Nazis seized her great-grandparents’ elegant Parisian apartment?
The quest takes Pauline Baer de Perignon from the Occupation of France to the present day as she breaks the silence around the wrenching experiences her family never fully transmitted, and asks what art itself is capable of conveying over time.
The fascinating story of one woman’s search for her great-grandfather’s lost art and true-life story.
When a cousin mentioned that the Nazis might have pillaged their great-grandfather’s art collection during their occupation of Paris in World War II, author Pauline Baer de Perignon was caught entirely off-guard. At no time in her life had she ever heard a whisper of such!
Intrigued, she began to research her great-grandfather’s collection and, in the process, discovered the truth about her great-grandparents’ lives during the occupation. She’d always understood they’d come through that dark time in history pretty much unscathed, and that just wasn’t the case at all.
The Vanished Collection is a wonderful tribute to the author’s great-grandfather, renowned collector of Impressionist art, Jules Strauss. It is also a tribute to perseverance and dedication to researching the truth.
I found the author’s recounting of her experiences easy-to-read and absolutely fascinating. I was so caught up in her story that time flew by. I was immersed in her search.
The difficulties she ran into getting the museums responsible for preserving and reuniting the stolen art with their rightful owners or their heirs was eye-opening. So little concerted effort appears to have been put into the process of returning these sentimental, not to mention priceless, items to where they belong.
Also, the story is a heartbreaking, sobering reminder of the Jews who lost everything: their property, possessions, families, and lives. I hope this book spurs other descendants to question what family treasures may be locked away in some museum, safe yet forgotten. I know that I want to read more about this topic now.
I voluntarily reviewed this after receiving an Advanced Review Copy from the publisher and France Booktours.
The Vanished Collection
(nonfiction/memoir) Translated from the French by Natasha Lehrer La Collection disparue was first published in French on 9/9/2020
To be published in English on 1/11/2022 256 pages Paperback and ebook New Vessel Press
When her beloved husband, Jack, died from cancer, Cherie Magnus was set adrift. Cherie and Jack had planned their later lives as a couple. They had even invested in a second home in one of their favorite locations in France, near the Swiss border. But, instead, she found herself living alone in the family home in Los Angeles, her adult sons busy with their own lives. Cherie continued to work as a librarian, and soon the first holidays without Jack came and went. Some of their life-long “couple” friends melted away with Jack’s death. Others turned out to be snakes in the grass, not above taking terrible advantage of Cherie’s sudden widowhood.
But her passion for everything French remained, and Cherie decided to take her vacation alone in Paris, registering for a two-week intensive French language course. It is there that she first met and fell for Olivier, the class instructor and a married man. She returns to LA, but the long-distance relationship is far from over.
THE CHURCH OF TANGO is Cherie Magnus’s no-holds-barred memoir of her renewed search for life after the loss of her much-loved husband. She tells all: her loves, adventures, mistakes, and discoveries. Her story made me go through so many emotions! There she was, poised on the brink of being able to restart her life with her husband as an empty-nester when he was diagnosed with cancer. Later, she, too, received a cancer diagnosis (twice!). So she traveled to strange and exotic places to live and dance and love again.
I was so comfortable with the author’s writing style. Her words flowed, and I willingly followed. I admired her gutsy approach to following her heart to experience new things, hone her skills in the world of dance, and live life to the fullest. Several times I paused to seek out YouTube examples of the dance styles she was exploring or research more about a new-to-me term or look on a map to find the exotic location she was visiting. It was chockful of interesting tidbits and facts along with her absorbing story. The descriptions of the culture of the places she was living and especially that of the tango dance clubs were fascinating. I was delighted to see the author has additional books (just waiting for me!) about other times of her exciting life. I highly recommend THE CHURCH OF TANGO for readers that enjoy women’s memoirs (this is a must-read!), memoirs related to dance, and true stories of living life to its best advantage.
I voluntarily reviewed this after receiving an Advanced Review Copy from the author through France Book Tours.
IWhen she couldn’t do anything else, she went to Paris. This is a story of survival that cuts across death, cancer, Alzheimer’s, loss of home and homeland and cherished heirlooms and possessions, loss of shared histories, of hope for one’s children, of hope for the future, of love. But it’s also about finding love and unexpected joy. And about listening to the music and dancing.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
returned home to Los Angeles, California in 2014
after teaching tango in Buenos Aires, Argentina for eleven years.
Before her South American expat adventure,
she lived in France and Mexico.
Cherie worked as a dance research librarian at the Los Angeles Central Library
and was a dance critic for local newspapers.
She is the author of the Death Dance Destiny Memoir Trilogy,
which includes The Church of Tango.
Her articles and reviews on dance, books, travel and international culture
have been published in magazines, professional journals, and anthologies.
To find our more, please visit her website. Follow her on Facebook, and Twitter
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