I’ve Been Called Worse

Nice shout out from ChadtheElder over at Fraters Libertas for my new World War I blog. 

BTW, Chad: I do WW II, as well. 

Back to the Front

noun, plural rac·on·teurs  
a person who is skilled in relating stories and anecdotes interestingly.

Tyne Cot Cemetery.

Tyne Cot Cemetery.

There are many words that one could use to describe writer Mark Yost (some of them actually not obscene), but raconteur is probably the one that comes to mind first. From his work on the business of sports to his Nick Mattera series of thrillers to the new Rick Crane noir, Mark covers the base and does so with style and flair. 

His latest effort is to serve as a virtual tour guide for World War One’s Western Front at a blog called The Western Front in a Week:

As many of you know, I am an avid World War I historian.

I lived in Brussels for three years, writing for The Wall Street Journal. I have visited most of the battlefields, monuments, cemeteries and museums related to what most Europeans still call “The Great War.” Along the way, I’ve written numerous articles over the years for The Wall Street Journal and other publications.

August 2014 marks the 100th anniversary of what many consider the major events that actually began the 20th century. Over the next four years, more people than ever before (hopefully) will be visiting the Menin Gate in Ypres, the British memorial at Thiepval on The Somme, and the Ossuary at Verdun.

Given all the renewed interest in World War I, I am offering my expertise. I can guide your tour across France and Belgium. I can help you plan your self-guided tour to make sure you visit the most informative museums, most moving monuments, and most haunting cemeteries. And, I am available to speak to your book club, luncheon group, or professional meeting.

World War I is an oft-forgot piece of history, overshadowed by World War II and other events. I hope that changes with the advent of the 100th anniversary.

In short, I’m here to increase your knowledge of World War I and make your trip to the Western Front enjoyable and informative, in whatever way I can.

Over the course of the next four years, I will be commenting here on the anniversary of important battles, republishing my articles past, present and future from The Wall Street Journal, and curating what I hope you will find to be a lively and engaging discussion on World War I.

Our boys will be studying World War One next year as part of their home school curriculum. At this point, requests to have Mark swing by for personal tutoring have not been responded to.  Check out Mark’s new blog anyway and his other writing. It’s all good stuff. 



Could Not Put It Down

That’s what one reader wrote in the latest 5-star review of “Cooper’s Daughter,” my new noir murder mystery out from Stay Thirsty Publishing

In fact, it’s the 16th 5-Star review for the book, which features Upstate New York private eye Rick Crane. 

Here’s what the review said: 

Great book! Once I started reading I could not put it down! I hope there will be more to come!

“Jimmy’s Nephew,” the next installment in the Rick Crane Noir series, will be out this fall. 

Stay tuned. 

Good, Fast & Cheap

Yeah, I know, sounds like Rick Crane’s taste in booze and women. 

But it’s actually the latest review of “Cooper’s Daughter: A Rick Crane Noir,” from one of Amazon’s top reviewers. 

Here’s what he had to say: 

Rick Crane has serious personal problems and an “Iffy” moral code that allows him to move through the underworld on his way to morning Mass with little concern. I look forward to his future exploits.

He gave it four stars. 

Which, of course, leaves you asking yourself: Why haven’t I read this book yet?

Why, indeed?

More Love for Cooper’s Daughter

Spent a half hour on the HWX podcast with lawyer extraordinaire John Hinderacker and Briant “St. Paul” Ward, the left half of the brain (or is it the right?) over at  Fraters Libertas.

HWXLogoWe talked about everyone’s favorite subject these days, “Cooper’s Daughter: A Rick Crane Noir.” In fact, I may have found a new client for Dusty Sang and the crew over at Stay Thirsty Publishing in the form of Hinderacker, who likes the idea of making up cool stuff while sipping wine next to a Tuscan vineyard. 

Maybe some day, I’ll get to do that. 

In the meantime, here’s the podcast: http://ricochet.com/podcasts/love-law-edition/

Madison on Tyrrany

From the Federalist:

“The accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands, whether of one, a few, or many, and whether hereditary, selfappointed, or elective, may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny.”

– James Madison

Mr. Yost Is Onto Something

Another 5-star review — the 15th out of 18 — for “Cooper’s Daughter: A Rick Crane Noir.”

This person liked the short format (formally known as a novella). But I can’t take all the credit. It was an idea that originated with Dusty Sang and the gang over at Stay Thirsty Media. The idea that people don’t have the time to read War & Peace anymore, and that these books would be perfect for a two-hour plane ride.

So it was Dusty’s idea; I just happened to agree with it. So much so, that “Jimmy’s Nephew: A Rick Crane Noir” is already in the works and should be out by later summer or early fall.

Stay tuned.

Meanwhile, here’s the rest of the review:

Cooper’s Daughter is a fun quick read. I couldn’t put it down and read it all in one sitting. Impressive writing to get the story all told with interesting characters (complete with their own back stories), solid plot and compelling details — all in this compact format. I think Mr. Yost is onto something with this short-form genre. Great idea – and hoping he’s at work on the next!

He Writes Sports Books, Too???

Just checking into the Mark Yost author page over at Amazon.

Seems there are only 5 copies left of “Varsity Green,” my behind the scenes look at the culture and corruption of college athletics that truly made “Yost” a four-letter word at the NCAA and D-I campuses (or is it campii??) across the country.

So Amazon has marked down “Varsity Green” from $25 to $18.

“A bargain at twice the price,” as my mother used to say.

While there, you can also pick up a copy of “Cooper’s Daughter: A Rick Crane Noir,” my newest murder mystery, available for just $2.99.

(See previous quote from my mother)

Here’s what people are saying about Cooper’s Daughter, which has garnered no less than 14 5-star reviews:

“Great characters, good plot, and well written.”

“Today, I picked it up again and I found myself so intrigued that I read it through in one sitting.”

“Incredibly engaging and powerfully worded. I love how the author leave things to our imagination sometimes but spells out what we need to know for the flavor of the scenes.”

Good Job, Mr. Yost

That’s the word from the latest review of “Cooper’s Daughter: A Rick Crane Noir,” now available on Amazon.

It’s the 14th 5-Star Review the book has received. Here’s what the reviewer had to say:

Cooper’s Daughter (A Rick Crane Noir) was an interesting read for me. I grew up in this region of Upstate New York, so I can vividly picture many of the places that are described in this story. I read a few pages about a week ago and had to stop due to a project for work. Today, I picked it up again and I found myself so intrigued that I read it through in one sitting. I particularly liked the characters of Rick Crane, Mary Walsh Rooney and Gene Sobeleski. This is a relatively short book and it is a good choice for when you have limited time to read. I look forward to reading more installments from Rick Crane. Good job, Mr. Yost.

Wheels of Dreams

Here’s my latest from the WSJ, my review of the Dream Cars exhibit at Atlanta’s High Museum of Art.

Cool stuff.

The Wheels of a Dream

By Mark Yost

The Wall Street Journal

Concept cars, those futuristic models that auto makers unveil at auto shows to demonstrate how cutting-edge they are, almost never get made. I can remember going to an exclusive viewing of the Ford Forty-Nine, created by designer J. Mays as an homage to the revolutionary 1949 Ford. Another Detroit beat reporter and I walked out of there saying to each other, “That thing will never get made.” And it didn’t.

But that’s really not the point of concept cars. Beyond the media buzz they create, such automobiles are exercises in “What if . . . ?” And often they predict the future.

That’s certainly the case with the 17 exquisite cars in the High Museum of Art’s new “Dream Cars” exhibit. Not only are these vehicles gorgeous, but visitors can clearly see how a concept car introduced in the 1940s had styling and engineering cues that appeared on the production line a decade or more later.


The curators of this show, which fills three large galleries and several smaller rooms, hit you right away with what is arguably the best-looking car in this collection, the 1947 Norman Timbs Special. The car was a 2½-year vanity project that cost the designer and engineer about $10,000 (about $100,000 today)—and landed this beauty on the cover of the second issue of Motor Trend in October 1949. Timbs’s experiment in aerodynamic design featured skirted fadeaway fenders, a split windshield and no doors. Underneath was a Buick straight-eight and a tubular frame capped with a compressor providing air for stiffness and to operate the air horn.

Also in the opening gallery is the 1936 Stout Scarab, a living room on wheels that was more like a small recreational vehicle, but which many consider a precursor to the minivans that became so ubiquitous in the 1980s. Inspired by the ovoid shape of the scarab beetle, it featured an aluminum body, tubular frame and lace-wood interior walls. Later in the exhibit, in one of the smaller galleries, we see a 1981 work by artist Chuck Byrne, who took Buckminster Fuller’s patent drawing for the 1933 Dynaxion car, similar in size, shape and function to Stout’s Scarab, and overlaid it on a screen print of the actual vehicle.

There’s a 1934 Edsel Ford Model 40 Special Speedster here as well, the scion’s take (with the help of Ford designer Bob Gregorie) on the “continental cars” he saw while traveling in Europe on his father’s Model T money. It features an elongated alligator hood, louvered side panels, low headlamps and molded fenders. Perhaps on his deathbed the Ford most famously linked to one of the auto maker’s biggest flops thought to himself, “Why didn’t I build the Model 40 instead of the Edsel?”

While these were all one-offs for men with money and ideas, Gordon Buehrig’s 1948 Tasco (The American Sports Car Company) had the most long-term impact on the mass market. The famed designer of the Cord 810 and the Duesenberg Model J created a beautiful, one-of-a-kind car. But perhaps the designer’s most lasting legacy was his use of a new vacuum-form process to create 3-D models that eventually became industry standard and shaved valuable time off the design process. The Tasco’s T-top roof with removable panels was later incorporated into the 1968 Corvette. An informative plaque nearby tells us that because the car was never produced, Buehrig considered it a failure.

A 1940 airbrush-and-pastel work on colored paper by Arthur Ross ties all these themes together, showing a car much like the cutting-edge models on display being followed closely by a fighter plane reminiscent of the P-38 Lightning, with a modern obelisk in the background. As a panel nearby tells visitors, it “illustrates the strong influence aeronautics had on car design.”

That’s a running theme through the rest of the exhibit, which moves quickly. Anyone who has followed cars since, say, the 1960s, can look at these prototypes and see familiar styling cues. No other U.S. designer—then or now—has been as good as General Motors’ Harley J. Earl was in getting people comfortable with change through concept cars and then introducing the most important functional and design aspects a few years later on production models. Earl is rightfully given much attention in the second and largest gallery.

His 1951 GM Le Sabre XP-8 gave consumers a glimpse into the future of wraparound windshields, aircraft instrumentation and heated seats. His 1956 Buick Centurion XP-301 had the long, lean body design, sweeping fenders and distinctive tailfins that influenced a generation of Chevrolets and Buicks. GM briefly produced a Centurion model in the early 1970s, but the body style is perhaps best seen in the 1971 Buick Riviera, perhaps the last gasp of an industry still hooked on big-block V-8s and elongated, sculpted tails.

But even the great Earl sometimes went too far. His 1959 Cadillac Cyclone XP-74 paced the first-ever Daytona 500 and featured a fully enclosed cockpit, complete with a plastic bubble over the driver and passenger that retracted when the doors opened and an intercom for communicating with people outside the car, two things that never went into mass production.

In the late-1960s the focus of concept cars changed markedly to create what the exhibit calls “the ultimate wedge,” small cars with pointed noses and a gradually expanding slope that were much smaller than what was on American roads at the time. While not as exciting as the designs of the ’40s and ’50s, the contest to create the smallest, most aerodynamic car was essentially won by Italian car maker Ferrari (with help from longtime partner Pininfarina) in the form of the 1970 Ferrari 512S Modulo. Debuting at the Geneva International Auto Show, it was a two-seater that was just 37 inches tall.

The exhibit closes with a tribute to GM’s Motorama, a traveling circus of sorts that toured the country from 1949 to 1961, taking what had been exclusive previews for industry executives to the masses. It was at the 1953 Motorama that Earl introduced one of his most famous concepts, the Firebird I XP-21, dubbed by the press at the time as “a jet fighter on four wheels.” The first gas-turbine car ever built in the U.S., it was, of course, never made. Partly because it was too loud and the tailpipe temperature was about 1,000 degrees Farenheit. But that doesn’t mean it wasn’t important—like most of the cars on display here—in giving consumers a glimpse of what was to come.

Mr. Yost, a former Dow Jones Newswires reporter in Detroit, now lives and writes in Houston.


Two More Five-Star Reviews for Cooper’s Daughter

“Good story that requires full attention,” is how Publican described “Cooper’s Daughter: A Rick Crane Noir,” my new murder mystery from Stay Thirsty Publishing. Giving it a five-star review, the review went on to say, “Reader is quickly involved with the characters and must keep the faith until the end.”

Another reviewer, posting this weekend, said: “A quick read, but packed with great characters,and an intriguing plot. This mystery will keep you on the edge of your chair until the end.”

Here’s the jacket copy:

When his daughter is found dead in a Binghamton rail yard and the police treat it like a cold case, Bill Cooper hires the one man who can figure out what happened – Rick Crane. But as the Upstate New York private eye digs into the case, everyone tells him to “let it go.” Crane doesn’t, and soon discovers that the death of COOPER’S DAUGHTER was about much more than the murder of one wild young woman.