Cimmerian: A Novel of the Holocaust — In the final months of World War Two, a young German finds himself serving as a guard at a Nazis concentration camp. Having escaped the horror of the Eastern Front he now descends into a new kind of Hell. The Holocaust told through the eyes of the oppressor. Powerful and relentless. A must read. Published 2011, 152 pp.
Kirkus Reviews, February, 2012
The rotting soul of an SS guard lies bare in this harrowing odyssey through a concentration camp.
In the waning days of World War II, Peter, a 19-year-old German soldier of the Eastern Front, is relieved when his uncle wangles him a safer berth as a guard at a small “labor camp” inccupied Poland. He’s seen and caused plenty of carnage fighting Russians, but nothing prepares him for the camp, where trainloads of Jews, Poles and Gypsies–“material” to the Nazis–are shipped in ostensibly to quarry granite,but really for extermination. Through his eyes, Watkins sees a panorama of barbarism… Watkin’s meticulously researched depiction of these horrors is matter-of-fact but grimly evocative.”There was a shrieking inside the shower that sounded like wind in a tunnel,”he writes. Unbearable scenes of cruelty, mothers mourning or abandoning their children, prisoners killing each other over scraps of food or a last gasp of air:…Over the camp, like crematorium smoke, hangs the despair in knowing that every kindly human impulse amounts to nothing. As Peter struggles to retain a shred of decency, he becomes a revealing study in moral corruption. Although he considers himself better than his sadistic comrades–he beats and kills prisoners only when ordered–Peter flounders in ghastly ironies: …With chilling realism and shrewd psychological insight, Watkins captures the hellish glow of inhumanity willingly kept aflame by normalized evil.
A shocking, disturbingly believable portrait of the Final Solution and the depravity that enabled it.
Amazon Reader Review
Let me begin by saying this is a powerful, must read novel.
Peter is a seriously wounded German solidier recalled to duy on the Eastern front. His uncle, an SS Lt. Col., has managed to get him into the SS. His job will be a death camp guard; thus, he’ll be able to avoid combat.
Peter accepts his SS training, which was designed to generate hate for the Jews and others, and to be harsh and cruel. This is the story of Peter, but it is also the story of the death camp itself; it is the story of depravity; it is the story of Peter’s not so gradual descent into total barbarism and his loss of whatever conscience he had.
Peter is on a train carrying Jewish prisoners to the concentration camp. He sees these men, women, and children crowded mercilessly into box cars. He tells himself it is not his concern. (He is so like everyman, unconcerned because it does not personally affect him.) His uncle tells him the old lie: you are not responsible for your actions, you’re just obeying orders.
The author’s descriptive prose effectively describes the darkest side of human nature, how the state can manipulate humans to its own end. It is riviting, compelling prose. The characters — both major and minor — are believable and intricately drawn. Peter is a complex, naive individual, not all evil, certainly not good. The reader clearly sees the downward evolution of his spirit. He is a not so unusual human (my belief) who falls into a pit of darkness. This is a first-rate, importatnt novel that deserves your reading. Length-wise it is just right. …
Against Her Will: The Senseless Murder of Kelly Ann Tinyes — Lovely 13 year old Kelly received a telephone call then left her home to visit a neighbor. What followed was one of the most horrifying murders ever experience on Long Island. Pinnacle Books 1995, 288 pp.
Amazon Reader Review
This is one of the better True Crime books I have read. The characters are well depicted so as to remember them throughout the story. Editing is fairly good–a few slight errors. The story itself is compelling. The forensics and court proceedings are easy enough to follow, and, I enjoyed those parts, as well as learned some new things. This story is absolutely over the top with unbelievable acts of humanity–not only by the perpetrator, but, the families and community, as well. I will definitely keep the author in mind for new reading material. His style reminds me of the late Ann Rule, R.I.P. –
Evil Intentions: How an Act of Kindness Led to Senseless Murder — One evening in Phoenix, an accident of time and place brought Suzanne Rossetti, a charming, trusting young woman, together with two drifters, Michael Logan and Jesse James Gillies. She had locked herself out of her car and the two men offered help. What followed was a kidnapping, rape and one of the most savage acts of murder ever recorded. William Morrow & Co 1992, 296 pp.
Amazon Reader Review
I love true crime books. While all the cases are tragic and fascinating, the way an author tells the story can make or break the reader’s enjoyment. I like to know the victim, who were they, what were they like, what was their life situation. That is the way to feel the impact of the crime that has occurred. This author hits the nail on the head in that regard. A good part of the book is dedicated to getting to know the victim and also the perpetrators of the crime and their experiences that led to their actions. The narration of the trial is also interesting, not too bogged down in legalese. If you like a good Ann Rule, you’ll like the way this is written.
The Naked Streets: The Shocking True Story of the Phoenix Sniper Murders and the Baseline Killer: Enter the depraved minds of serial killers. From May, 2005 until August, 2006, Phoenix, Arizona, the fifth largest in America, was gripped in terror. A series of random sniper attacks, sexual assaults and murders continued at a relentless pace with no end in sight. The victims were both men and women, young and old, of all races and ethnicity. Most disturbingly, they had done nothing to place themselves in harm’s way. They were gunned down walking along a street, kidnapped, raped and murdered from the neighborhood car ash while talking on a cell phone. Throughout two long, hot summers the public also had no assurance the killers would ever be caught. Despite leads, despite increased vigilance, the crimes continued unabated. And when they at last mercifully ended, when the story of what had actually taken place become common knowledge, the public was shocked by the magnitude of the truth. Published 2014, 167 pps.
Amazon Reader Reviews
-This was a great true crime book! Couldn’t put it down! Very fast paced and will keep you wondering if the criminals will ever get caught! I will be adding the author Ronald Watkins to my true crime collection and will be looking forward to more books from him!
-An account of murder and mayhem more powerful and disturbing than any fictional story could possibly be. I don’t normally read true crime books, but this one caught my eye since it concerned crimes committed in the Phoenix area where I live. I vaguely remember talk of these crimes at the time, but the author was correct in saying that the news coverage was not very thorough. The details of the multitude of crimes committed by the two depraved and disgusting killers was gripping and nearly unbelievable. I read the entire story in one sitting, since it was a fast read, very interesting, and impossible to put down once I started.
Unknown Seas: The Portuguese Captains and the Passage to India — In the fifteenth century, the world beyond Europe began to emerge from myth and legend, and it was the Portuguese who led the way. They founded an empire that stretched from China to Brazil, and the peak of their achievement was Vasco da Gama’s discovery of a sea route to India. Still today, landmarks, coastlines and currents around the world bear Portuguese names, and the oceans of the world are one vast watery grave for Portuguese seamen. For those who sailed beyond the known world life was harsh beyond measure. Yet the discoverers were not lured only by gold, precious stones and spices — they were driven to colonise, to enslave, to bring their religion to the unconverted. Reconstructing journeys from contemporary logs and papers, this absorbing and wonderfully vivid account brings to life the captains driving their small ships, the ordinary seamen and the far-off, not always friendly traders they met. Published 2011, 370pps.
–The Scotsman Eclipsed for us by Columbus’s westward voyages on the one hand and post-colonial proprietary feelings toward Africa and India on the other, the explorations of 15th-century Portuguese navigators have not had the recognition they’ve deserved in Britain. But the opening up of the ocean route round the Cape by Dias, Vasco Da Gama and others redrew the map every bit as radically as the discovery of the New World. A gripping adventure narrative, this book makes a persuasive case for the reassessment of a crucial episode in history… The text flows well, and the accounts of Gama’s dealings with various groups who were none too co-operative are stirring stuff; he seems to have had a happy knack of being very amenable when it was advantageous to do so, but always fully prepared to back up his opinions with force if necessary. It is a fine read… H L Foxworthy, Commander RN
– The Guardian The Portuguese sea captain Vasco da Gama was the first to sail around the Cape of Good Hope to India – a feat equivalent in its time, says Watkins, to a mission to Mars. Watkins’s account of the volatile cultural melange of India in the 15th century is fascinating and he is also good on the limitations of the Christian mindset: Gama mistook Hindus for corrupted Christians (mishearing “Khrishna” as “Christ”), and most Europeans assumed it was far better for black Africans (those “sons of Cain”) to live in Christian bondage than to remain in Africa and burn in hell eternally. Gama left India in something of a hurry, but returned in triumph to Lisbon with spices and precious gems, and eventually became a wealthy man. Watkins takes us on every step of Da Gama’s voyage, but his real mission is to talk up Portugal’s massive contribution to world exploration.
Amazon Reader Reviews
-Excellent Writing, Well Paced. Lovely book. Excellent writing, well paced. A true adventure story, and was at the edge of my seat whether Vasco da Gama was going to make it or not. I hope Mr. Watkins provides us with another book.
-Life on the High Seas and More. Step into the past. Imagine yourself as the main character or merely as a passenger on the ship. Imagine making an epic voyage, taking weeks, months even on the high seas, hoping and praying you’ll make it to your destination. Well this book will take you there and more. Yes the majority of book written about events as they happened hundreds of years ago can be taken with a grain of salt, but this book is written as if the author was there.