Another busy week here at Nimble Books as I continue to reinvent myself at age 59 1/2. This week combined classic publishing activities--acquisition, copy editing, and marketing--with algorithmic ones--sales modeling using Python's pandas module.

The power of myth

I received the manuscript for PIECES OF HISTORY: ARTIFACTS OF THE PT BOAT NAVY by Frank J Andruss Sr. It looks terrific so far. A lot of time has passed since the heyday of the PT boat in World War II, so it's important to explain the appeal to new generations of readers.

Simply put, there has never been a braver or more dashing collection of US navy sailors, ever. SEALS, naval aviators, submariners, yes, to be sure, they're all very dashing and very brave--but PT boat crews stood in shirtsleeves on the decks of wooden speedboats and sprinted under heavy fire toward enemy warships a hundred times their size. They didn't have Kevlar vests, they didn't have air superiority, and they didn't have stealth (PT engines were notoriously noisy). They took these risks, in person, at the height of WWII, at the times and in the theaters where the risk of defeat was at its highest.

For quite a long time, they were incredibly famous. Kids grew up with PT boat posters in their rooms. A PT boat captain, John Bulkeley, was awarded the Medal of Honor. Arguably the most handsome and charismatic US President ever, John F. Kennedy, was a PT boat captain and hero. His boat, PT-109, and crew were prominently featured in his 1960 election campaign. Had he survived to serve out two terms and live the full life he deserved, we would still be reading about PT-109. Such is the power and fickleness of myth.

The artifacts that Frank will share with readers do a wonderful job of conveying the feeling of time and place. Myths can and should rise again.

the myth of asymmetry

To help grow the ecosystem of readership and knowledge around the advent of Space Force, I am keeping my eyes open for significant public domain titles related to space power. I came across this one yesterday, mentioned in an article by Aaron Bateman on the role of the intelligence community in space policy during the Cold War.

Soviet Dependence on Space Systems is a professionally printed reproduction of an originally classified report, prepared in 1975 by an interagency team headed by CIA's Directorate of Science & Technology at request of National Intelligence Officer for Strategic Programs and now declassified, that illustrates how heavily the former Soviet Union relied on space systems for military and intelligence purposes. While the regime has changed, Russian strategic interests have not, and over the last fifty years dependence on space technology has only become more embedded in national power. The report contains detailed analysis of all then known Soviet space systems, their role in Soviet operations, their assessed vulnerability, and the likely impact of degradation or destruction of those systems. The discussion is interwoven with the related issue of the US ability to deter Soviet attacks on our systems and the prospects of noninterference agreements during this era of strategic arms limitation. There were hopes that dependence and vulnerability were symmetric.

The myth of peace

Nicolas J.S. Davies, author of BLOOD ON OUR HANDS (Nimble, 2011) has a nice essay (with Medea Benjamin) on "Ten Foreign Policy Fiascos Joe Biden Can Fix on Day One". Items on the wish list include rolling back sanctions, normalizing relations with "rogue" nations, and freezing defense spending. If the history of the Obama administration's high hopes for peace is any guide, I fear my pessimism will be justified.

The power of Pandas

I dove down a rabbit hole this week and taught myself Pandas, the powerful Python data analysis package. More on this next week, but the big accomplishment was that I took 17 years of Ingram distribution records and read them into a single Pandas dataframe that I can filter by ISBN and other criteria, then use to create reports, plots, and predictions. I'll be putting a version of the script in the registered members area.

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