Books by Don Johnson

(This is a pinned post – please scroll down for recent comments)

I invite you to take a look at books I have authored. Most of them are of a historical nature and contain much of what has been important in my life. If you are wondering about my books and who I am, click on the image of my Amazon Book Store just below and read “About Donald L Johnson.” For a more detailed and intimate look at me, my autobiography is at:
A Yearning for Publius – A Look at My Life 

I think you will enjoy my work.


The Books

I Didn’t Want to Worry You Mom (but sometimes it got a little scary and dangerous out there.)
When a loved one goes off to the military, especially in time of war, those left behind often have no idea what that loved one may be going through. This book is a glimpse of some of that, with true stories and episodes of what life is often like for that young man or woman. The book is mainly about Navy life at sea, but that is only because of the author’s personal experience and service.
Click below for the companion video. 

Yearning for Liberty
Liberty is extremely rare in history and throughout the world. It is also so very precious and not to be taken for granted. This book is the author’s attempt to delve deeper into various facets of this jewel called liberty, and hopefully give the reader a greater appreciation of what’s at stake.

Budapest at War – The Story of Hungarian Freedom Fighter Adam von Dioszeghy
This book is very personal to the author. After 50+ years, Adam von Dioszeghy and Don Johnson reconnected – in Budapest. Adam and Don were shipmates on a US Navy destroyer back in the 1960s off the coast of Vietnam. The book is a narrative & pictorial walk through of the Budapest of von Dioszeghy’s youth. A World War II veteran at age 6 and a freedom fighter in the 1956 Hungarian  Revolution. The book also tells of Adam’s new life in America, including his Navy & Vietnam service, and his return to his native Hungary.

So They Can Fight Like They Train
US Combat Aircrews are the best in the world. This is a short history of the amazing system that keeps these aircrews razor sharp and ready for whatever is thrown at them. Much of my professional life was spent working to keep these aircrews well trained.

Immigration & Assimilation – A Hungarian Model
The 1956 Hungarian Revolution provided a wealth of quality new American citizens. Read the stories of some of these amazing refugees, including Intel Corporations founder Andrew Grove and my friend and shipmate Adam von Dioszeghy.

Just Thinking … The Case for Intelligent Design
A controversial topic for sure. But here’s one layman’s look at Darwinian evolution and a better idea – you decide.

Sam Jankovich – A Sports Legend.
Written by Sam Jankovich. Edited and published by Don Johnson.
The life story of a remarkable man. Beginning his career as a hard-rock miner in the depths of a mile deep copper mine in Butte Montana to national championships in collegiate football to CEO/GM of the New England Patriots. And a very fine man and dear friend.

A Yearning for Publius – A Look at My Life
My autobiography. Standing on the shoulders of giants all along the way.

The Old Man in Apartment 620: A Conversation
My first and only work of fiction. A dystopian short story. – Again, my bookstore.


Ronald Reagan’s Farewell Address

“My fellow Americans, this is the 34th time I’ll speak to you from the Oval Office, and the last. We’ve been together eight years now, and soon it’ll be time for me to go. But before I do, I wanted to share some thoughts, some of which I have been saving for a long time.
It’s been the honor of my life to be your President. So many of you have written the past few weeks to say thanks, but I could say as much to you. Nancy and I are grateful for the opportunity you gave us to serve.
One of the things about the Presidency is that you’re always somewhat apart. You spend a lot of time going by too fast in a car someone else is driving, and seeing the people through tinted glass – the parents holding up a child, and the wave you saw too late and couldn’t return. And so many times I wanted to stop, and reach out from behind the glass, and connect. Well, maybe I can do a little of that tonight.
People ask how I feel about leaving, and the fact is parting is “such sweet sorrow.” The sweet part is California, and the ranch, and freedom. The sorrow? The goodbyes, of course, and leaving this beautiful place.
You know, down the hall and up the stairs from this office is the part of the White House where the President and his family live. There are a few favorite windows I have up there that I like to stand and look out of early in the morning. The view is over the grounds here to the Washington Monument, and then the Mall, and the Jefferson Memorial. But on mornings when the humidity is low, you can see past the Jefferson to the river, the Potomac, and the Virginia shore. Someone said that’s the view Lincoln had when he saw the smoke rising from the battle of Bull Run. Well, I see more prosaic things: the grass on the banks, the morning traffic as people make their way to work, now and then a sailboat on the river. Reflections at a Window.
I’ve been thinking a bit at that window. I’ve been reflecting on what the past eight years have meant, and mean. And the image that comes to mind like a refrain is a nautical one – a small story about a big ship, and a refugee, and a sailor.
It was back in the early Eighties, at the height of the boat people, and the sailor was hard at work on the carrier Midway, which was patrolling the South China Sea. The sailor, like most American servicemen, was young, smart and fiercely observant. The crew spied on the horizon a leaky little boat – and crammed inside were refugees from Indochina hoping to get to America. The Midway sent a small launch to bring them to the ship, and safety. As the refugees made their way through the choppy seas, one spied the sailor on deck, and stood up and called out to him. He yelled, “Hello, American sailor – Hello, Freedom Man.”
A small moment with a big meaning, a moment the sailor, who wrote it in a letter, couldn’t get out of his mind. And, when I saw it, neither could I.
Because that’s what it has to – it was to be an American in the 1980’s; We stood, again, for freedom. I know we always have but in the past few years the world – again, and in a way, we ourselves – rediscovered it.
It’s been quite a journey this decade, and we held together through some stormy seas. And at the end, together, we are reaching our destination.
The fact is, from Grenada to the Washington and Moscow summits, from the recession of ’81 to ’82 to the expansion that began in late ’82 and continues to this day, we’ve made a difference. Two Great Triumphs
The way I see it, there were two great triumphs, two things that I’m proudest of. One is the economic recovery, in which the people of America created – and filled – 19 million new jobs. The other is the recovery of our morale: America is respected again in the world, and looked to for leadership.
Something that happened to me a few years ago reflects some of this. It was back in 1981, and I was attending my first big economic summit, which was held that year in Canada. The meeting place rotates among the member countries. The opening meeting was a formal dinner for the heads of government of the seven industrialized nations. Well, I sat there like the new kid in school and listened, and it was all Francois this and Helmut that. They dropped titles and spoke to one another on a first-name basis. Well, at one point I sort of leaned in and said, “My name’s Ron.”
Well, in that same year, we began the actions we felt would ignite an economic comeback: cut taxes and regulation, started to cut spending. Soon the recovery began.
Two years later, another economic summit, with pretty much the same cast. At the big opening meeting, we all got together, and all of a sudden just for a moment I saw that everyone was just sitting there looking at me. And then one of them broke the silence. “Tell us about the American miracle,” he said.
Well, back in 1980, when I was running for President, it was all so different. Some pundits said our programs would result in catastrophe. Our views on foreign affairs would cause war, our plans for the economy would cause inflation to soar and bring about economic collapse. I even remember one highly respected economist saying, back in 1982, that “The engines of economic growth have shut down here and they’re likely to stay that way for years to come.”
Well, he – and the other “opinion leaders” – were wrong. The fact is, what they called “radical” was really “right”; what they called “dangerous” was just “desperately needed.”
And in all that time I won a nickname – “The Great Communicator.” But I never thought it was my style or the words I used that made a difference – it was the content. I wasn’t a great communicator, but I communicated great things, and they didn’t spring full bloom from my brow, they came from the heart of a great nation – from our experience, our wisdom, and our belief in the principles that have guided us for two centuries.
They called it the Reagan Revolution, and I’ll accept that, but for me it always seemed more like the Great Rediscovery: a rediscovery of our values and our common sense.
Common sense told us that when you put a big tax on something, the people will produce less of it. So we cut the people’s tax rates, and the people produced more than ever before. The economy bloomed like a plant that had been cut back and could now grow quicker and stronger. Our economic program brought about the longest peacetime expansion in our history: real family income up, the poverty rate down, entrepreneurship booming and an explosion in research and new technology. We’re exporting more now than ever because American industry became more competitive, and at the same time we summoned the national will to knock down protectionist walls abroad instead of erecting them at home.
Common sense also told us that to preserve the peace we’d have to become strong again after years of weakness and confusion. So we rebuilt our defenses – and this New Year we toasted the new peacefulness around the globe. Not only have the superpowers actually begun to reduce their stockpiles of nuclear weapons – and hope for even more progress is bright – but the regional conflicts that rack the globe are also beginning to cease. The Persian Gulf is no longer a war zone, the Soviets are leaving Afghanistan, the Vietnamese are preparing to pull out of Cambodia and an American-mediated accord will soon send 50,000 Cuban troops home from Angola. ‘We Changed a World’
The lesson of all this was, of course, that because we’re a great nation, our challenges seem complex. It will always be this way. But as long as we remember our first principles and believe in ourselves, the future will always be ours.
And something else we learned: once you begin a great movement, there’s no telling where it’ll end. We meant to change a nation, and instead, we changed a world.
Countries across the globe are turning to free markets and free speech – and turning away from the ideologies of the past. For them, the Great Rediscovery of the 1980’s has been that, lo and behold, the moral way of government is the practical way of government. Democracy, the profoundly good, is also the profoundly productive.
When you’ve got to the point where you can celebrate the anniversaries of your 39th birthday you can sit back sometimes, review your life and see it flowing before you. For me, there was a fork in the river, and it was right in the middle of my life.
I never meant to go into politics: it wasn’t my intention when I was young. But I was raised to believe you had to pay your way for the blessings bestowed on you. I was happy with my career in the entertainment world, but I ultimately went into politics because I wanted to protect something precious. ‘We the People’
Ours was the first revolution in the history of mankind that truly reversed the course of government, and with three little words: “We the People.”
“We the People” tell the Government what to do, it doesn’t tell us. “We the people” are the driver – the Government is the car. And we decide where it should go, and by what route, and how fast. Almost all the world’s constitutions are documents in which governments tell the people what their privileges are. Our Constitution is a document in which “We the People” tell the Government what it is allowed to do. “We the people” are free.
This belief has been the underlying basis for everything I tried to do these past eight years.
But back in the 1960’s when I began, it seemed to me that we’d begun reversing the order of things – that through more and more rules and regulations and confiscatory taxes, the Government was taking more of our freedom. I went into politics in part to put up my hand and say, “Stop!” I was a citizen-politician, and it seemed the right thing for a citizen to do.
I think we have stopped a lot of what needed stopping. And I hope we have once again reminded people that man is not free unless government is limited. There’s a clear cause and effect here that is as neat and predictable as a law of physics: as government expands, liberty contracts. Actions Based on Deeds
Nothing is less free than pure communism, and yet we have, the past few years, forged a satisfying new closeness with the Soviet Union. I’ve been asked if this isn’t a gamble, and my answer is no, because we’re basing our actions not on words but deeds.
The detente of the 1970’s was based not on actions but promises. They’d promise to treat their own people and the people of the world better, but the gulag was still the gulag, and the state was still expansionist, and they still waged proxy wars in Africa, Asia and Latin America.
Well, this time, so far, it’s different: President Gorbachev has brought about some internal democratic reforms and begun the withdrawal from Afghanistan. He has also freed prisoners whose names I’ve given him every time we’ve met.
But life has a way of reminding you of big things through small incidents. Once, during the heady days of the Moscow Summit, Nancy and I decided to break off from the entourage one afternoon to visit the shops on Arbat Street – that’s a little street just off Moscow’s main shopping area.
Even though our visit was a surprise, every Russian there immediately recognized us, and called out our names and reached for our hands. We were just about swept away by the warmth – you could almost feel the possibilities in all that joy. But within seconds, a K.G.B. detail pushed their way toward us and began pushing and shoving the people in the crowd. It was an interesting moment. It reminded me that while the man on the street in the Soviet Union yearns for peace, the Government is Communist – and those who run it are Communists – and that means we and they view such issues as freedom and human rights very differently. ‘Keep Up Our Guard’
We must keep up our guard – but we must also continue to work together to lessen and eliminate tension and mistrust.
My view is that President Gorbachev is different from previous Soviet leaders. I think he knows some of the things wrong with his society and is trying to fix them. We wish him well. And we’ll continue to work to make sure that the Soviet Union that eventually emerges from this process is a less threatening one.
What it all boils down to is this: I want the new closeness to continue. And it will as long as we make it clear that we will continue to act in a certain way as long as they continue to act in a helpful manner. If and when they don’t – at first pull your punches. If they persist, pull the plug.
It’s still trust – but verify.
It’s still play – but cut the cards.
It’s still watch closely – and don’t be afraid to see what you see.
I’ve been asked if I have any regrets. Well, I do.
The deficit is one. I’ve been talking a great deal about that lately, but tonight isn’t for arguments, and I’m going to hold my tongue.
But an observation: I’ve had my share of victories in the Congress, but what few people noticed is that I never won anything you didn’t win for me. They never saw my troops; they never saw Reagan’s Regiments, the American people. You won every battle with every call you made and letter you wrote demanding action. Much to Be Done
Well, action is still needed. If we’re to finish the job, of Reagan’s Regiments, we’ll have to become the Bush Brigades. Soon he’ll be the chief, and he’ll need you every bit as much as I did.
Finally, there is a great tradition of warnings in Presidential farewells, and I’ve got one that’s been on my mind for some time.
But oddly enough it starts with one of the things I’m proudest of in the past eight years; the resurgence of national pride that I called “the new patriotism.” This national feeling is good, but it won’t count for much, and it won’t last unless it’s grounded in thoughtfulness and knowledge.
An informed patriotism is what we want. And are we doing a good enough job teaching our children what America is and what she represents in the long history of the world?
Those of us who are over 35 or so years of age grew up in a different America. We were taught, very directly, what it means to be an American, and we absorbed almost in the air a love of country and an appreciation of its institutions. If you didn’t get these things from your family you got them from the neighborhood, from the father down the street who fought in Korea or the family who lost someone at Anzio. Or you could get a sense of patriotism from school. And if all else failed, you could get a sense of patriotism from the popular culture. The movies celebrated democratic values and implicitly reinforced the idea that America was special. TV was like that, too, through the mid-Sixties. Ahead, to the Nineties
But now we’re about to enter the Nineties, and some things have changed. Younger parents aren’t sure that an unambivalent appreciation of America is the right thing to teach modern children. And as for those who create the popular culture, well-grounded patriotism is no longer the style.
Our spirit is back, but we haven’t reinstitutionalized it. We’ve got to do a better job of getting across that America is freedom – freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of enterprise – and freedom is special and rare. It’s fragile; it needs protection.
We’ve got to teach history based not on what’s in fashion but what’s important: Why the pilgrims came here, who Jimmy Doolittle was, and what those 30 seconds over Tokyo meant. You know, four years ago, on the 40th anniversary of D-Day. I read a letter from a young woman writing to her late father, who’d fought on Omaha Beach. Her name was Lisa Zanatta Henn, and she said, we will always remember, we will never forget what the boys of Normandy did. Well, let’s help her keep her word.
If we forget what we did, we won’t know who we are. I am warning of an eradication of that – of the American memory that could result, ultimately, in an erosion of the American spirit.
Let’s start with some basics – more attention to American history and a greater emphasis of civic ritual. And let me offer lesson No. 1 about America : All great change in America begins at the dinner table. So tomorrow night in the kitchen I hope the talking begins. And children, if your parents haven’t been teaching you what it means to be an American – let ’em know and nail ’em on it. That would be a very American thing to do.
And that’s about all I have to say tonight. Except for one thing.
The past few days when I’ve been at that window upstairs, I’ve thought a bit of the shining “city upon a hill.” The phrase comes from John Winthrop, who wrote it to describe the America he imagined. What he imagined was important, because he was an early Pilgrim – an early “Freedom Man.” He journeyed here on what today we’d call a little wooden boat, and, like the other pilgrims, he was looking for a home that would be free.
I’ve spoken of the shining city all my political life, but I don’t know if I ever quite communicated what I saw when I said it. But in my mind, it was a tall proud city built on rocks stronger than oceans, wind swept, God blessed, and teeming with people of all kinds living in harmony and peace – a city with free ports that hummed with commerce and creativity, and if there had to be city walls, the walls had doors, and the doors were open to anyone with the will and the heart to get here.
That’s how I saw it, and see it still. How Stands the City?
And how stands the city on this winter night? More prosperous, more secure and happier than it was eight years ago. But more than that: after 200 years, two centuries, she still stands strong and true on the granite ridge, and her glow has held steady no matter what storm.
And she’s still a beacon, still a magnet for all who must have freedom, for all the Pilgrims from all the lost places who are hurtling through the darkness, toward home.
We’ve done our part. And as I “walk off into the city streets,” a final word to the men and women of the Reagan Revolution – the men and women across America who for eight years did the work that brought America back:
My friends, we did it. We weren’t just marking time, we made a difference. We made the city stronger – we made the city freer – and we left her in good hands.
All in all, not bad. Not bad at all.
And so, goodbye.
God bless you. And God bless the United States of America.”

Don’s Plan For Government Shutdown

A Yearning for Publius


[edited: see below]

Given that – The National Debt is at $20 trillion US Dollars and rising.

Given that – The US Congress is primarily responsible for the finances of the Nation.

Therefore – The following plan is proposed for all government shutdowns.

  • Active duty and reserve military shall not in any way be penalized by the shutdown. All active duty and reserve military shall retain funding, as will all necessary support personnel directly involved in Operations and Maintenance (O&M) of all military units. [edit: same with Coast Guard and Border Patrol. I didn’t realize these front-line folks were to be treated differently from military.]
    In addition, since the government is “shutdown”, the US will presumably be in a more venerable position relative to national security. Therefore active duty military and reserve personnel will be eligible for an increase in pay as negotiated by the newly reconstituted US Congress…

View original post 276 more words

Service Dogs

I was at the VA today for a minor procedure. As I was having lunch in the cafeteria I took note of a fellow sitting ahead of me with a very nice veteran’s jacket having a large logo on the back. He looked to be older than me – but then at my age I see most vets as older than me.

So I went over and talked to the guy about his jacket. He stood up so I could see the rest of the logo and then sat down again. As soon as he sat down he noticed my Vietnam Vet hat and immediately reached out to shake my hand and say “Welcome home.”

I sat down with him and we talked. He was suffering from MS and PTSD and told me about the dog he was about to get. Amazing!

My friend, the vet, told me that the dog is trained for about 80 helpful things, I can’t imagine what that list contains.

We all know of seeing eye dogs and they are great. But dogs these days are filling in so much to help people like my new friend.

He has MS, and is prone to fall. The dog will help him. The harness the dog wears has a handle and the dog is able to sense the balance of the man and compensate, thus keeping my friend upright where otherwise he might fall and injure himself. The dog is able to sense when the man needs medications and somehow will tell his soldier friend. You see the dog above pushing the “open” button on the door thus helping his man into and out of rooms. My friend suffers from PTSD, but he didn’t share his experiences that caused it. But he told me one of the triggers that sets him off is a noisy crowd behind him – sensing this, the dog will get behind him and between his soldier and the noisy crowd and offer protection. And it goes without saying the comfort and companionship the dog provides in a selfless loving way.

A year or so ago, again at the VA, I met a service dog who lived with a fellow who was almost totally deaf. This was at a seminar about those Cochlear Implants and this fellow was there to give a word of testimony as to the worth of these implants. A friend of the man was there and I was able to talk with her about the dog. The man lived alone in the back woods of New Hampshire and this dog helped in so many ways, ways that not only made life more comfortable and bearable for the fellow, but might very well save his life.

So let’s hear it for the dogs and for the VA that facilitates such a valuable service for those in need.

Don Johnson – January 2019

I’m Looking For A New Church

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

A letter to the honorable Federal Appeals Court Judges of Maryland.

I’m looking for a new church, preferably one that has been established for a goodly long time.

I think I found one in Maryland that I think was established back in 1925.

Since this church, according to you, was “established” by Congress, I am seeking help from you in joining this fine church.

What I need are just a few simple things: (1) the address of the church building, (2) the names of the current leadership along with telephone numbers so I can call and talk to the pastor. (3) The names and brief bios of past leaders of the church. (4) A statement of church doctrine would be nice.


Sometime later.

What? You say there is no building and never has been – no mailing address. No pastor, now or ever, no doctrine or notes from past board meetings ever found, no statements of doctrine, no congregation, only the names of 49 local men who had died a few years earlier during World War I before this church was even established.

But you say that this cross “established religion” and must be torn down.

I’m told that a federal appeals court ruling on a challenge brought by atheists has said the Peace Cross is an unconstitutional government endorsement of religion and told a state commission that maintains the cross on public land to remove it, reshape or reassign its ownership.

But excuse me, but it seems there is a fundamental difference between the words endorsement and establishment. The US government, including Congress has, since the founding of the nation, endorsed religion, in particular the Christian religion. Established? No.

This monument – not a church – was established by the citizens of Maryland, and Congress had nothing to do with it.

Did the Media Hide Democratic Collusion with Russia in the Face of a U.S. Election?

Very interesting article on collusion and conspiring with the Soviet Union in an attempt to undercut and defeat President Ronald Reagan in the upcoming election.
Watch also the Mark Levin interview with Paul Kengor.

A Hero From My Home Town

John Stevens is 97. Despite his age, however, the steely-eyed Marine who fought in World War II and Korea is still on a mission. He refuses to slow down. He’s determined to keep alive the legacy of the brave men with whom he served and for whom he sacrificed so much.

And he’s also determined to be the lucky Marine who gets to drink the “last man” bottle of cognac at the Marines’ Memorial Club in San Francisco. “I really want that bottle,” he tells friends with a fiery look. And if his past ninety-plus years of beating the odds are any indication, he’ll get it.

John Stevens was born on April 22, 1921, in Butte, Montana. He dropped out of high school at the age of 16 and joined the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), where he worked as a baker, lumberjack, and firefighter. After being discharged from the CCC in 1939, he returned to his hometown.

Like many young men, he found it hard to find a job. When he heard the Navy was hiring, he jumped on the opportunity and went to Salt Lake City to take his enlistment physical.

Read more at:

TEMPER %*!@$$&*^

Temper is an explosive force that lives within most of us.
I know it lives in me and has for a very long time, in spite of my efforts to keep it tucked away.

Temper can be likened to artillery shells chambered for action. Shell loaded, powder in the breach, hammer pulled or at least the thumb on it.

Temper is quite often stored in the ammo magazine ready to be sent up to the turret for additional salvoes. The rounds are of many types: pride, wrongs – real or perceived, grudges, bigotry, resentment, jealousy, hatred, misunderstanding, suffering of an angry personal attack, the silent treatment, bullying, health, finances … depression … and more.

At times that magazine can be loaded to overflowing with pressure building and seeking release.

When that breach is loaded and the hammer cocked, the slightest nudge can slam the firing pin against the powder and Temper is unleashed against those in the line of fire – innocent or guilty. And it happens suddenly! There are only the slightest milli-seconds of grace where the hammer can be uncocked and temper delayed or extinguished.

But, if grace prevails, is the gun then unloaded, or does it lie in wait for the next time? Is the magazine unloaded of its deadly store? More often than not – the rounds remain to be called up later!

When Temper is unleashed, just as in gun fire, pressure waves surround that release. And, who does that pressure wave first effect before it hits the intended target? The shooter recoils and cowers against those waves and covers his ears. He ceases to hear, even perhaps a plea of “WAIT LISTEN – DON’T SHOOT!”

Moving now from this warfare scenario to the analogy of conversation — Temper never contributes to a conversation, and invariably kills the conversation. I know this from personal experience, most often as the shooter rather than the target. It helps little in knowing that this is a very common human failing of character, and that I am not alone in this failing.

The only recourse once that round is released is to: hope you haven’t delivered a mortal wound, seek reconciliation, ask forgiveness, strive in the future to keep that finger off the trigger and let those milli-seconds of grace have their say. And as best you can, avoid adding ammunition to someone else’s magazine.

Here are a few suggestions from 1 Corinthians 13 
Onload: patience, kindness, truth, protection, trust, hope, perseverance.
Offload: envy, boasting, pride, dishonoring others, self-seeking, anger, records of wrongs, evil.

What do you have chambered? What’s in your magazine?


Personal Note: I served on a US Navy destroyer in the 1960s. Among my General Quarters battle stations I was in the ammunition magazines and the gun mount handling/ready rooms. I also worked in the gun mounts where I felt and heard, up close, the artillery rounds fired.

As in my allegorical essay above, we had a variety of shell types: High Explosive (HE), Fragmentation (FG), Armor Piercing (AP), White Phosphorous (WP/Willy Peter), Star Shells for night time illumination. Nasty stuff all, just as the types of Temper.

Don Johnson — January 2019