Published Articles

Monday, July 8, 2013

Fortune's Favorites is the third installment of the fascinating Masters of Rome series of historical novels by famed Australian novelist Colleen McCullough. The 878-page book opens in 83 B.C., as the triumphant general, Lucius Cornelius Sulla, returns from the East after his successful campaign against King Mithridates VI of Pontus. The book ends with events taking place at approximately 69 B.C. surrounding the rivalry and rise of Pompey the Great and Marcus Licinius Crassus, while young Julius Caesar is biding his time and foreshadows a political and military career superior to them both, a worthy descendant of Venus and Aeneas!

In this novel McCullough continues to enhance her work with magnificent maps, a useful glossary, and realistic, hand-drawn sketch portraits of many of the main characters. Her well-researched novel, written in crisp and eloquent prose continues to enchant and makes us marvel at the ancient Roman world, which draws so many parallels with our own. Outright mistakes or errors of fact are few and usually minor. For example,  she claims that after the first century of the Republic most consuls were plebeian, when in fact most consuls in the...

Thursday, June 6, 2013

The magnificent "Masters of Rome" series of historic fiction by novelist Colleen McCullough continues down the annals of the Roman Republic with the notable careers of Gaius Marius, Lucius Cornelius Sulla, Aemeilius Scaurus, Metellus Numidicus, Metellus Pius, and Marcus Livius Drusus. This second tome at 894 pages also contains magnificent maps, improved glossary, and sketch portraits of many of the main characters. The scholarship still astonishes as does the crisp writing and exhilarating reading in this historic drama. The informative and elegant correspondence to and from Rutilius Rufus, now expanded to Scaurus and Sulla, continues in The Grass Crown.

Nevertheless, we are still obliged to point out deficiencies in this second historic novel as we did with the first one for the same reasons. The apotheosis of her main protagonist, Gaius Marius, continues to the detriment of other historic figures, despite the author's claim to historic veracity and her outstanding scholarship. Her politics and her prejudicial bias for the Populares faction at the expense of the Optimates distorts the personalities, motives, and true attitudes of the historic figures and detracts...

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

This is a wonderful introduction to the "Masters of Rome" series of historic novels by famed author Colleen McCullough. The first tome in this series, The First Man in Rome, at 896 pages, including magnificent maps, glossary, even sketch portraits of many of the main characters, is incredibly well-researched. Crisp writing, eloquent prose, exhilarating reading, spellbinding plots and intrigue — are all parts and parcel of this literary, unfolding, historic drama. The historic novel would have been a complete masterpiece had not the author fallen head over heels for the main protagonist, Gaius Marius, to the detriment of other historic figures who deserved better, particularly when the author boasted of historic veracity. Indeed, McCullough's scholarship is outstanding, and her literary abilities certain; the problem lies elsewhere, apparently her politics and her prejudicial bias for the Populares faction at the expense of the Optimates and the historical veracity she claimed.

Thus, to cover her political leanings, the author does not use those terms at all in her novel, as she "does not want to give the impression that there were formal political parties." The reality...

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Abstract — Knowledge of neuroscience flourished during and in the wake of the era of frontal lobotomy, as a byproduct of psychosurgery in the late 1930s and 1940s, revealing fascinating neural pathways and neurophysiologic mechanisms of the limbic system for the formulation of emotions, memory, and human behavior. The creation of the Klüver‑Bucy syndrome in monkeys opened new horizons in the pursuit of knowledge in human behavior and neuropathology. In the 1950s specialized functional neurosurgery was developed in association with stereotactic neurosurgery; deep brain electrodes were implanted for more precise recording of brain electrical activity in the evaluation and treatment of intractable mental disorders, including schizophrenia, “pathologic aggression,” and psychomotor seizures in temporal lobe epilepsy. Psychosurgical procedures involved deep brain stimulation of the limbic system, as well as ablative procedures, such as cingulotomy and thalamotomy. The history of these developments up to the 21st century will continue in this three‑part essay‑editorial, exclusively researched and written for the readers of Surgical Neurology International (SNI).


Tuesday, April 9, 2013

The disintegration of the USSR is inextricably entwined and intimately related to the life and times, failures and accomplishments, paradoxes and contradictions of the courageous Russian who is the subject of this book — a man with tenacious clarity of purpose and the steely determination to carry on through and accomplish his goal at any price. We are speaking of KGB officer and Russian patriot, Lieutenant Colonel Vladimir Ippolitovich Vetrov (1932-1985; code name: Farewell). Vetrov crossed over to the West as a defector-in-place and spied against the KGB and his former Soviet comrades. Why? Because he was sickened by the nepotism of the apparatchiks, the abuses, corruption, and injustice plaguing the KGB specifically, and the lack of individual freedom, hypocrisy of the nomenklatura, inequalities and abuses sustained by the citizens in the entire Soviet system where family connections were more important than merit and hard work. What was his goal? To break the machinery of repression of the corrupt KGB and bring down the Soviet system, even if this task would ultimately lead to his personal destruction and death.

To comprehend the dimensions of Vetrov's accomplishment...

Friday, April 5, 2013

Abstract — Psychosurgery was developed early in human prehistory (trephination) as a need perhaps to alter aberrant behavior and treat mental illness. The “American Crowbar Case" provided an impetus to study the brain and human behavior. The frontal lobe syndrome was avidly studied. Frontal lobotomy was developed in the 1930s for the treatment of mental illness and to solve the pressing problem of overcrowding in mental institutions in an era when no other forms of effective treatment were available. Lobotomy popularized by Dr. Walter Freeman reached a zenith in the 1940s, only to come into disrepute in the late 1950s. Other forms of therapy were needed and psychosurgery evolved into stereotactic functional neurosurgery. A history of these developments up to the 21st century will be related in this three-part historical review article, exclusively researched and written for the readers of Surgical Neurology International (SNI).


Trephination (or trepanation) of the human skull is the oldest documented surgical procedure performed by man. Trephined skulls have been found from the Old World of Europe and Asia to the New...

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

B. F. Skinner (1909-1990) was a prominent professor of psychology at Harvard (1958-1974) and a founder of Operant and Behavioral Psychology. I revisited his work while researching my paper,  “Violence, mental illness and the brain — A brief history of psychosurgery” for Surgical Neurology International (SNI).  Although more than 40 years have elapsed since publication of his book and my study of the subject in college, it deserves a reappraisal since history seems to repeat itself because man forgets, insisting on reinventing the wheel for his fellowman’s edification or his own vanity.

Besides, Skinner’s 1957 book, Verbal Behavior, was reprinted in 1992 and in the last decade has been resurgent in psychological research and applications. And even more revealing, in a 2002 survey Skinner was listed as the most influential psychologist of the 20th century.

In his book, Beyond Freedom and Dignity (1971), B.F. Skinner (photo, right) waged war against the cherished Western concept of individual freedom and the dignity of man. Again and again, he assailed and derided “the literature of freedom and dignity” and the concept of “autonomous man,” as enemies of...

Thursday, March 7, 2013

In his book, After Fidel — The Inside Story of Castro's Regime and Cuba's Next Leader, author Brian Latell, a National Intelligence Officer (1990-1994) and the top analyst for Cuba and Latin America for all the U.S intelligence agencies, describes in persuasive detail the personal relationship between Fidel and Raúl Castro. At the time this book was written, Raúl Castro was the anointed successor to the Maximum Leader. (He would assume power in 2006.) After Fidel contains dramatic revelations about the Castro brothers, even for those familiar with the history of the Cuban Revolution and the many biographies of Fidel Castro. I suspect that many authorities, who thought they knew the brothers intimately, will still find pearls of wisdom and psychological insights in this book explaining the various aspects in the lives and times of the brothers, even motives, which, heretofore, had been unexplainable. This insightful information comes from interviews with many former comrade-in-arms, who were personally close to the Castro brothers, also friends and family members, as well as previously published material, which the author has weaved together in a masterful interconnected...

Friday, March 1, 2013

Recently I read the book Tiger Trap (2012) by espionage writer David Wise. It is a scary but at the same time an astounding and critically needed book, as Americans know very little about the espionage activities of China in the United States. The book is 292 pages, contains a good index, and is fully annotated and illustrated with an insert of glossy photographs identifying most of the villains, a few innocent bystanders, and even a few heroes.

Espionage writer David Wise asserts the Chinese continue to follow the advise contained in the 6th century B.C. book, "The Art of War," by military sage Sun Tzu, who advises the commission of espionage by "a thousand grains of sand"; that means obtaining small but innumerable pieces of information by vast numbers of people acting as armies of spies sent against the enemy. Moreover, the communist Chinese in the 21st century, asserts Wise, unlike the Soviets, are not interested in recruiting agents with vulnerabilities or people motivated by revenge or misfits, but "good" people, who are naively convinced of the humanitarian nature of their actions. So spies recruited by the Chinese spymasters do genuinely want to assist China and...

Thursday, February 28, 2013

The Encyclopedia of Cold War Espionage, Spies, and Secret Operations by Richard C. S. Trahair was published by Greenwood Press, (Westport, Connecticut) in 2004. It is 473 pages. It consists of nearly 300 A to Z entries of both spies and secret operations as the main text in 350 pages. There are the usual introductions, as well as a useful Chronology (1917-2003), Glossary, and Index, contained in pages 351 to 473.

This tome is a useful addition to the literature. It is based on published material and secondary sources only, and as a conventional, encyclopedia format, it is a sensible decision by the author not to use unconfirmed primary sources. Nevertheless, it is a suspenseful narrative of the espionage contest between the American eagle and its allies, on the one hand, and the Russian bear and its satellites, on the other. Necessarily the tome extends beyond the limits of the cold war, well before World War II and after the collapse of the Soviet Empire in 1991.

Given the passage of time and the publication of espionage material since the crumbling of the USSR, there are two welcomed threads of information stemming from this tome. This information goes beyond...

Images from Cuba before Fidel Castro's 1959 revolution.