As a writer, even a small-time one, every now and then such a surprising and encouraging "gift" flies in over email or the Internet that is lightens up my day. Here is an example; a review on Amazon.com for my book, Contact Sport. The writer is unknown to me personally, but we have corresponded via email and even with contacts in Morse code over the air. He's a fellow West Virginia native, went to the University of Cincinnati's College of Engineering (a little known fact to many is that U.C. is world class in many fields, including music and engineering, and was a pioneer with their co-op program, which requires rotating back and forth between a job and the classroom) and had a very successful career as a retired sound system design consultant, specializing in systems for public places -- theaters, churches, stadiums, arenas, etc. He now is retired and lives in the glorious tall-tree country of Northern California near Santa Cruz. Here is his review:
I thoroughly enjoyed this very well researched and well written story of an unusual competition. The competition is in the form of a ham radio contest by nearly 120 of the best ham operators in the world, operating nearly identical ham stations spread over much of Massachusetts. This could have been told as a "techie" story, but it's not. Rather, it's a story of very human competitors prepared for almost anything, and dealing with things that go wrong. We learn of their backgrounds -- where they're from, how they got into ham radio, their professions (some techie, but many not), and their history in prior runnings of this event that's repeated at four year intervals. Prior events have been held in Russia, Brazil, Finland, Slovenia, and the west coast of the US.
Jim George got his first license as a teenager, and with his Electrical Engineering degree enjoyed a long career with a major electronics company. A skilled contester, Jim had competed in earlier runnings of the event. He knew many of the competitors, the referees, and the organizers (all volunteers) who made the event happen. His perspective, his decision to make this a human story, and his ability to tell it make "Contact Sport" a great read. His story of growing up in a small town in the mountains of SE West Virginia parallels mine in another West Virginia town 100 miles away. We both used our EE degrees for a happy and successful techie career, and we're both active contesters. This is Jim's second book; his first is fiction about a guy much like himself growing up in that same small town. I liked it a lot, because its story was of a guy who loved music, loved ham radio, and was dealing in a very positive way with the social upheaval of school integration.
As a ham and active contester, I know many of the US hams that George writes about, and have contacted nearly all of them over the years. I found Jim's observations quite perceptive for those I knew fairly well, and I gained good insights into those I didn't know or knew only casually. My wife of 25 years is not into ham radio, but I'm giving this book to her to read. I think she'll enjoy it.
Please feel free to post a comment here on the blog, or email me directly at <email@example.com> with any comments. Also, I'll very much appreciate your recommendation of "Contact Sport" and/or "Reunion" to friends. In addition, I'd be pleased to appear at book clubs and/or radio clubs within a two-hour drive of Austin to discuss either book.