Monday, July 25, 2016



Robert F. Dorr with a HELL HAWKS fan in 2010EDITOR’S NOTE: I first met author Robert F. Dorr, via email, in 2009. Between then and his death on June 12, 2016 I talked to him many times by phone about the military aviation history books and articles he is best known for and the men’s adventure magazine stories he wrote in the 1960s and 1970s. Last year, I had the honor of collaborating with Bob on a book that collects some of best of those stories, A HANDFUL OF HELL.

The blog post below is an updated version of a post I wrote in 2010, after one of the phone calls I had with Bob. I’ve written quite few posts about him here over the years. Now that he’s gone, I’m updating and reposting them for the benefit of his old and new fans who may have missed them. I sure miss Bob.

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Originally posted July 13, 2010

I’ve written about author Robert F. Dorr in previous entries here and posted reprints of several of his classic men’s adventure magazine stories (most recently the ripping yarn “I FOUGHT CASTRO’S CUTTHROAT GUERRILLA SQUAD”).

Bob is one of our country’s top military and aviation historians. He’s written more than 70 history books and hundreds of non-fiction articles over the past few decades.

His latest book, co-written with former U.S. astronaut Thomas D. Jones, is HELL HAWKS! The Untold Story of the American Fliers Who Savaged Hitler’s Wehrmacht.

It has been aptly described as an aerial “Band of Brothers” story about the 365th Fighter Group — the heroic P-47 Thunderbolt pilots and crews who played a vital role on the European front during World War II.

I’m a big fan of HELL HAWKS! and Bob Dorr’s other history books.

I’m also a big fan of the stories he wrote earlier in his writing career, in the 1960s and 1970s, for men’s pulp adventure magazines.

BLUEBOOK, Sept 1970, cover art by Mel Crair WMHe wrote hundreds of them and is widely viewed by knowledgeable fans as one of the best of the many great writers who once wrote for the genre.

Overall, the majority of the short stories Bob Dorr wrote for men’s adventure mags were war stories.

In part, that reflects his lifelong interest in military aviation, the history of World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War, as well as his deep respect for men and women who served in the military.

But Bob also became adept at writing many other types of stories found in men’s pulp mags.

He wrote dozens of exotic adventure yarns and cold war spy stories.

He wrote his own often uniquely pro-animal variations of the “killer creature” animal attack yarns that were common in men’s adventure magazines. [One of them, the “GHOST BEAR THAT TERRORIZED A TOWN” from MALE, February 1975, is included in our WEASELS RIPPED MY FLESH! anthology.]

He also wrote sex exposés, another type of story that is common in men’s adventure magazines. I call them “sexposés” for short.

Men’s adventure mags published sexposés about nearly all conceivable sex-related topic: semi-anthropological stories about the sex customs of native tribes; “sin city” stories about the seamy side of large and small towns throughout the country; pseudo-sociological articles about the sex lives of every possible subgroup from teenagers, homosexuals, crossdressers and transsexuals to stewardesses, swingers, Beatniks and Hippies; and, “shocking but true” stories about every other sex-related topic the editors and writers could dream up.

Sexposés were something of a specialty for several notable authors who wrote for men’s pulp mags, including Robert Silverberg, now best known for his science fiction stories, and Lawrence Block, now best known for his crime and mystery novels. [See my series of posts about “Lesbians in Men’s Adventure Magazines” for some examples.]

Bob Dorr starting writing sexposés in the late 1960s, when the relative number of war and adventure stories in issues of many men’s pulp adventure mags began to decline and the number of sex-related stories increased.

Some of the sexposés Bob wrote had a connection to the military, such as “THE SEX LIFE OF OUR GIs IN GERMANY,” published in the June 1965 issue of MAN’S MAGAZINE. [That one is included as a bonus story in the special hardcover edition of our collection of Robert F. Dorr stories A HANDFUL OF HELL.]

Bob even managed to write some sexposés that reflected his love of airplanes, such as “THE EROTIC STEWARDESS TAPES,” in the May 1973 issue of MALE. [Featured in another post on this blog.]

Robert F Dorr Budapest sex revolt story WM2Given that Bob’s day job was being a globe-hopping senior diplomat for the U.S. State Department from 1964 to 1989, it’s not surprising that some of his sexposés are sex-oriented foreign travelogues.

One of my favorites is “BEHIND THE SCENES OF BUDAPEST’S SEX REVOLT,” in the September 1970 issue of BLUEBOOK magazine.

It suggests that after the Soviet Union squashed the Hungarian uprising in 1956, Hungarian men and women rebelled by pursuing greater sexual freedom.

In one of the phone interviews I did with Bob, I had a chance to ask him some questions about those types of risqué stories and he reached back into his memory for some answers…

BOB DEIS:  Bob, first off I want to tell you how much I enjoyed HELL HAWKS! And, based on the reviews I’ve seen it looks like it’s going to be one of your most popular history books.

BOB DORR: HELL HAWKS! has, indeed, had a positive reception. It has been praised by critics and by many readers in reviews on Amazon. It’s primarily a book about Americans at war and my co-author Thomas Jones and I were delighted when one reviewer called it the best book ever about the P-47. I’m also especially pleased that a lot of people have come to our book signing events.

 You wrote hundreds of action, adventure and war stories for men's adventure magazines. From what I’ve seen in my collection, you wrote at least twenty “sex exposé” stories. Were they your ideas or were they suggested by editors?

DORR:  I wrote dozens of sex exposé stories and I did it all without having sex with anybody. With the exception of one article, no editor ever suggested a topic to me. I simply looked at what the magazines were publishing and tried to copy it. The men’s adventure magazines started changing in the late 1960s. As they evolved to compete with magazines like PLAYBOY and HUSTLER, they had covers with photos showing fully exposed female nipples instead of painted covers and the types of stories changed, too. So then I also began writing sex stories. Most were sex exposé stories.

Your sexposé stories are titillatiRobert F Dorr Budapest sex revolt - pic 2ng but pretty tame by today’s standards. How do you view them in retrospect?

I think people often do too much over-analyzing of such stories. I wrote many for the men’s pulp magazines and it would involve too much analyzing for me to say a great deal about them.  But I can tell you there was no first hand research involved.

The Budapest story has references to true history and a lot of details about the city. How much was based on personal knowledge versus imagination?

DORR:  I’ve traveled to many places around the world but I’ve never been to Budapest. I don’t remember how I came to write that story. I knew a lot about what was going on during the Cold War because of my work for the State Department. And, I had some knowledge about the situation in Hungary after World War II. But pure imagination was a big factor. Remember that any place with a faraway name was deemed exotic back in 1970 and not very many other Americans had ever been to Budapest, either.

In 1970, about how much would you be paid for a story like that one?

DORR:  The Magazine Management Company magazines, like STAG and MALE, and Pyramid’s MAN’S MAGAZINE almost always paid $300 to $350. BLUEBOOK paid less, so I may have received $200 for “Budapest.”

Even two-hundred in 1970 dollars is not bad. That would be over a thousand in today’s dollars. About how many stories did you write each month?

DORR:  I finished about one story every couple of weeks during my heyday as a writer for the men’s adventure magazines.

That was from the early 1960s to the mid-1970s?

DORR:  Yes. I got out of the Air Force in 1960. I then spent several years doing various things, but my goal was to become a writer. The first example of my work in men’s pulp adventure magazines was published in the August 1962 issue of REAL magazine. It was a story about a B-26 crew in the Korean War called “THE NIGHT INTRUDERS.” [Another bonus story included in the hardcover edition of A HANDFUL OF HELL.] That was a fictional story. Early on, I also wrote some fact-based articles about well-known American heroes, like Medal of Honor recipients. I mostly wrote war and adventure fiction stories that had some factual background. I eventually wrote all kinds of stories for men’s adventure magazines, up until they all disappeared in the late ‘70s.

Robert F Dorr Budapest sex revolt - pic 3 & 4In 1970, when your Budapest sexposé was in BLUEBOOK, the publisher was B.R. “Bud” Ampolsk. He published of some of the wilder men’s adventure magazines through his Reese and EmTee companies. Do you have any recollection of dealing with him?

DORR:  I never had any personal communication with Ampolsk or anyone else at BLUEBOOK. I simply mailed stuff to them. Remember, a long-distance phone call was a big deal in those days. I never spoke to anyone at BLUEBOOK on the phone and never went to their offices. In fact, I had virtually no real communication with the editors at any of the men’s adventure magazines. Basically, I typed up a story, I sent it to one of the editors, and either they used it or they didn’t. If they used it they sent me a check. If they didn’t they sent me a rejection note, then I’d often send it to another editor. I did eventually have some telephone communications and one personal meeting with Pyramid editor Phil Hirsch, the editor of MAN’S MAGAZINE. My fifteen years of communication Noah Sarlat, who edited STAG, MALE and other magazines for Magazine Management, consisted of little notes that contained three or four words. 

The sexual content in men’s adventure stories in the 1960s and early 1970s, including sexposés like your Budapest story, is very mild by today's standards. Barely R-rated. Did the editors give you any guidelines about how to write about sex topics or do much editing of what you wrote?

DORR:  No. But I guessed that they had guidelines and composed my stuff based on the level of explicitness in other stories they were publishing. The editors made very few changes and discussed none of them with me.

Were sex exposé stories like “Budapest” fun to write?

DORR:  It wasn’t half as much fun as you might suspect. I’m picturing me then with a manual typewriter, carbon paper, white-out ink, cigarettes, and booze. I think I recall being fairly humorless about it at the time because I was serious about making money as a writer. In retrospect, it’s easier for me to appreciate that stories like “Budapest” were, to a large degree, farce. 

If you’re curious about Robert F. Dorr’s story “BEHIND THE SCENES OF BUDAPEST’S SEX REVOLT,” you can download and read a PDF copy by clicking this link.

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Comments? Questions? Corrections? Post them on the Men’s Adventure Magazines Facebook Group.

Related and recommended reading…

Sunday, July 10, 2016

“Charge of the Mad Machine Gunner” – one of Robert F. Dorr’s classic war stories…

Robert F. Dorr with some of his books pic 2013EDITOR’S NOTE: This is an updated version of a post I wrote in 2009, shortly after I had my first of many phone calls with writer Robert F. Dorr. In the years between then and Bob’s death in June 2016, I talked with him fairly often. He became a long distance friend and mentor who encouraged and helped support my efforts to publish the Men’s Adventure Library book series. In 2015, I had the honor of collaborating with Bob on the book A HANDFUL OF HELL, a collection of his classic men’s adventure magazine war and adventure stories. Over the years, I wrote quite few posts about Bob, his stories and books for this blog. Now that he’s gone, I’m updating and reposting them for the benefit of his old and new fans who may have missed them. It’s also therapeutic for me. I miss Bob. He was one of a kind.
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From the late 1940s to the mid-1970s, men’s adventure magazines published stories by many writers who later became famous novelists, such as Mario Puzo, Bruce Jay Friedman, Lawrence Block, Robert Silberberg, Harlan Ellison, Walter Wager, Donald Westlake and Martin Cruz-Smith.

One writer who regularly penned stories for men’s adventure magazines went on to become famous for his non-fiction books: Robert F. Dorr.

Bob is now best known as one of our country’s top military aviation historians. He’s the author of nearly 80 history books and a regular contributor of articles and columns to history and military magazines.

Relatively few of Bob Dorr’s current fans know that he learned and honed his skills as a writer by writing stories for men’s adventure magazines in the 1960s and 1970s. In fact, he wrote hundreds of them for a long list of men’s adventure magazines, including ACTION FOR MEN, BLUEBOOK, ESCAPE TO ADVENTURE, FOR MEN ONLY, MAN TO MAN, MALE, MAN’S MAGAZINE, REAL and STAG.

Most of them are war stories. Some are clearly direct forerunners of his history books.

His latest book is HELL HAWKS! THE UNTOLD STORY OF THE AMERICAN FLIERS WHO SAVAGED HITLER’S WEHRMACHT — which he co-wrote with former U.S. astronaut Thomas D. Jones.

It tells the story of the 365th Fighter Group, a legendary group of American pilots who flew P-47 Thunderbolts on missions that played a crucial role in winning World War II. One reviewer has aptly described it as “‘Band of Brothers’ with planes.”

Last week, I had the pleasure of talking with Bob Dorr by phone. He had stumbled on this blog and sent me an email saying that he used to write stories for men’s adventure magazines. I wrote back asking if I could talk to him about those days to learn more. 

Now that’s I’ve hooked up with Bob, I plan to do a number of posts about him, his men’s adventure magazine stories and his books.

I’ll start with a look at his Korean War story “Charge of the Mad Machine Gunner,” the featured cover story from the January 1967 issue of MAN’S MAGAZINE.

MAN'S MAGAZINE. Jan 1967. Cover by Mel Crair WMMAN'S MAGAZINE, Jan 1967. Robert F Dorr, Mel Crair BW WM

It’s a gripping story about an American soldier who became a hero during a bloody fight with North Koreans troops near Seoul in 1950.

The illustration used for it on the cover and two-page interior spread was done by artist Mel Crair. Crair was a versatile artist who created thousands of top-notch illustrations for men’s adventure magazines, other magazine genres and paperback books.

Dozens of his men’s adventure magazine paintings were done for stories written by Bob Dorr.

Like almost every story Bob wrote, “Charge of the Mad Machine Gunner” includes so many realistic details that I couldn’t tell if it was true or not, especially since some of the war stories he wrote for men’s adventure mags were based on real people and events.

The task of separating fact and fiction is especially complicated in men’s adventure magazines, since the editors wanted readers to believe most stories were true. To create this illusion, they often illustrated stories with photographs that the captions said were photos of the characters, places and scenes involved.

For example, on page three of “Charge of the Mad Machine Gunner” there’s a headshot photo that’s purported to be the central character in the story, Corporal Ray McIver. Another photo supposedly shows GIs in McIver’s squad pinned down by North Korean gunfire.

MAN'S MAGAZINE, Jan 1967. Robert F Dorr Mad Machine Gunner p3WMMAN'S MAGAZINE, Jan 1967. Robert F Dorr Mad Machine Gunner p3cu1 WMMAN'S MAGAZINE, Jan 1967. Robert F Dorr Mad Machine Gunner p3b

But in the phone call I had with Bob, he told me “Charge of the Mad Machine Gunner” is a fiction yarn. He didn’t know who the man in the photo was. He did know it wasn’t Corporal MvIver, since Bob made him up.

Bob also told me this interesting anecdote:

“For my first five to ten years writing for men’s adventure magazines, I submitted my stories and the editors didn’t ask if they were true. Eventually, there was one occasion when an article was concocted over the telephone, to fit a piece of art. That happened in a conversation I had with Mel Shestack, editor of MEN magazine at Magazine Management, who seemed blithely unconcerned I had been making up most of my stories all along.”

Bob’s writing is so vivid and convincing that I wouldn’t have been surprised if he’d told me “Charge of the Mad Machine Gunner” was true. And, as he explained, some of his other men’s adventure magazine stories actually were about real life war heroes. He later featured some of the same men in his history books and articles for history magazines.

If you’re curious, you can read “Charge of the Mad Machine Gunner” for yourself. With Bob’s permission, I’ve made a free PDF copy available to readers of this blog. You can download it by clicking this link.

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Comments? Corrections? Post them on the Men’s Adventure Magazines Facebook Group.

Related reading…

Saturday, July 2, 2016

The art of torture and execution using honey-crazed hummingbirds, killer anteaters and big ass snakes!

MAN TO MAN, June 1960, torture by birds & honey
In a previous post here, I showed a set of men’s pulp adventure magazine covers and interior illustrations with scenes depicting the use of various types of animals as instruments of torture.

Just for the record, I’ll reiterate that I am not into bondage and torture of any kind in the real world.

Nor do I think most MAM readers were when those mags were originally published in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s.

I’m just an aficionado of gonzo men’s pulp yarns and artwork. And many of those involving torture by critter are among the most gonzo.

There are real historical examples of animals being used for torture both by so-called “civilized” people, like the ancient Romans and witch-hunting Christians, and by “primitive” tribes of North America, South America, Africa and elsewhere.

And in fiction, torture-by-critter scenes show up in many novels, movies, TV shows, comic books and other media.

But few real or fictional examples are as wild and crazy as the those dreamed up by the writers and artists who worked for men’s adventure mags.

They took torture-by-critter to another level.

For one thing, men’s adventure magazines seem to have used it as a plot trope more often than other genres.

They also expanded the range of the animals used into more branches of the animal kingdom than any other genre that I know of.

In fact, many of the creatures in MAM stories that involve torture-by-critter scenes are not really maneaters. Sometimes, they are not even meat eaters.

Indeed, it would be nearly or totally impossible to get most of them to do the things shown in many MAM illustrations.

Of course, imagination stretching scenarios are a hallmark of men’s pulp adventure mags.

That’s one of the reasons why you either love them — or not.

Obviously, their torture-by-critter stories and artwork are politically incorrect in multiple ways (as are many other types of stories in vintage men’s adventure magazines).

MAN TO MAN, June 1960, artist uncreditedIf you’re someone who can’t get over zoological absurdities, outdated racial stereotypes, sexploitation and other unPC or squirm-inducing aspects of those stories, you’ll never understand their appeal.

If you can, you’ll understand why illustrations like the first one shown here, from MAN TO MAN, June 1960, is one of my all time favorites.

It was done by an uncredited artist for the story “JUNGLE JUNKET TO BLOOD, SEX AND GOLD.”

In it, a hapless white treasure hunter is being pecked to death by birds – including a hummingbird.

The birds are supposedly doing so because members of a Guatemalan Indian tribe poured honey over his head, which supposedly drives local jungle birds into a fructose-lusting pecking frenzy.

I guess examples like that might better be called torture-and-execution-by-critter, since the victim is not intended to survive.

Another classic torture/execution-by-bird illustration is the cover of TRUE ADVENTURES, March 1957, done by the great Mort Kunstler. The original painting, featuring vultures and a stray eagle, was sold in 2008 by Heritage Auctions for nearly $10,000.

Torture and death are not the only potential threats posed by animals in MAM artwork when scantily-clad damsels are present.

Some illustrations suggest that the creatures involved may be used for, uh, X-rated purposes. Since men’s adventure magazines were not sexually explicit, that possibility is usually just implied.

For example, check out the cover of EXOTIC ADVENTURES, Vol. 1, No. 2 (1958), shown below. It was done by artist Hugh Hirtle, who appears to have modeled the nearly-nude victim on Bettie Page.

It’s not entirely clear what the native witch doctor wants the huge snake to do with her. And, the cover painting doesn’t actually go with any of the stories inside the magazine. So we’ll never know. But somehow I think that when you’ve got a combo that includes a topless babe with big boobs, a big snake, and a big native guy, Dr. Freud might have some ideas about it.

Hugh Hirtle is far less known than Mort Kunstler, but he was a talented illustration artist who did hundreds of illustrations for men’s adventure magazines. I think the EXOTIC ADVENTURES snake cover is one of his best.

TRUE ADVENTURES, March 1957, Cover by Mort Kunstler WMTRUE ADVENTURES, March 1957, Painting by Mort KunstlerEXOTIC ADVENTURES, Vol. 1, No. 2 (1958), cover by Hugh Hirtle

Men’s adventure mags frequently capitalized on and helped stoke ophidiophobia, the fear of snakes. So it’s natural that they were among the go-to creatures for torture/execution-by-critter stories and artwork.

The example on the cover of MAN'S ADVENTURE, March 1958 was done by Clarence Doore, a great and prolific illustration artist who did hundreds of illos for early pulp magazines, men’s pulps and paperbacks. It goes with the the story inside titled “CRAWLING DEATH.”

Doore also did the snake cover painting used for the July 1959 issue of MAN'S ADVENTURE, which goes with the story “BRIDE OF THE ANACONDA.”

The cover artist for ESCAPE TO ADVENTURE, November 1960 is uncredited. I wish I knew the artist because that cover goes with one of my favorite men’s adventure yarns: “ANN DAWES: LOVE QUEEN OF THE PYGMIES.”

That story is over-the-top in multiple ways. It’s racist, misogynistic, offensive to Africans and little people, and it’s spiced with sex, voyeurism, bondage, hallucinogenic drugs and torture using ants and scorpions. (If you dig such things, you can download a PDF copy of it in my Payloadz store. It’s on the bottom “shelf.”)

MAN'S ADVENTURE, March 1958, cover by Clarence DooreMAN'S ADVENTURE, July 1959, cover by Clarence DooreEscape To Adventure, November 1960

Like the honey-crazed birds, the creature in the next illustration is an unlikely killer in an unlikely scenario.

It’s a giant anteater, also known as an “ant bear,” since it survives by eating ants and other insects. The illustration, by an uncredited artist, goes with the story “THE THING IN THE PIT.” Giant anteaters are big and they do have sharp claws. But they use them to dig into ant hills and termite mounds.

Would an “ant bear” be interested in or effective at killing humans thrown into a pit with them? Well, in the weird world of men’s adventure magazines, they would.

The cover of PERIL, December 1960, also uncredited, depicts another damsel-tormenting snake. It goes with the story “BLOOD LUST OF THE JUNGLE GODDESS.”

ESCAPE TO ADVENTURE, Oct 1960. Artist uncredited WMPERIL, Dec 1960, artist uncredited

The snake torture painting on the cover of ESCAPE TO ADVENTURE, January 1961 is another classic by Clarence Doore.

I don’t think the snake is a phallic symbol in that one since the story it goes with is “I WAS A CAPTIVE STUD OF THE HUAHAPOS.” If it was supposed to be phallic, it was ahead of its time.

The fan favorite MAM artist Norm Eastman did the snake torture cover for MAN'S ADVENTURE, May 1961. It doesn’t go with any story inside. You’ll have to make up your own.

The torture-by-snake cover for WILDCAT ADVENTURES, August 1961 was done by Basil Gogos another favorite of both men’s adventure and horror magazine fans (including me on both counts). In case you missed it, here’s a link to an interview I did with Basil recently for this blog.

ESCAPE TO ADVENTURE, Jan 1961. Cover by Clarence Doore WMMAN'S ADVENTURE, May 1961, cover by Norm EastmanWILDCAT ADVENTURES, August 1961, cover by Basil Gogos

On the cover of WILDCAT ADVENTURES, July 1962, the scary creatures being used to torment a distressed damsel are wild boars. The painting is by another grandmaster in the realm of pulp and paperback illustration, Walter Popp.

The cover of MAN'S EXPLOITS, June 1963 shows two unfortunate ladies being dunked in a tank with a presumably poisonous snake.

The thing is, it’s supposed to go with the story “WE SAVED THE BLONDE BEAUTIES FROM THE PIRANHA HORROR.” As you can see, there are no piranhas in the cover painting.

It’s one of many MAM illustrations which show creatures that are different than the creatures in the story. What’s the reason for those of out-of-sync illos? Here’s my theory...

Many men’s adventure mags were low budget productions. To save costs, the editors often used artwork like stock photos. The artwork they had on hand was often recycled for two, three or even more stories over time.

In a month when money was tight and deadlines loomed, if the editors didn’t have a previously-used illustration showing the critter involved in a story, they used an illo with some other killer critter, to avoid the cost of commissioning a new one. They probably figured — probably correctly — that most readers wouldn’t notice and wouldn’t care if they did notice.

WILDCAT ADVENTURES, July 1962, Cover by Walter PoppMAN'S EXPLOITS, June 1963, artist uncreditedMAN'S EXPLOITS, Sept. 1963, Norm Eastman cover

The final cover in this post, MAN’S EXPLOITS, September 1963, shows what looks like Frederick’s of Hollywood models being menaced by a maddened bull, while some pervy bad guys look on. The artist is uncredited, but my friend Rich Oberg IDed it for me as a Norm Eastman cover.

Rich should know. He owns the world’s largest collection of men’s adventure magazine artwork in general and original Eastman paintings in particular. He also owns a lot of wild fumetti artwork.

Some of the MAM paintings Rich owns are featured in the must-have books IT’S A MAN’S WORLD and MEN’S ADVENTURE MAGAZINES. His fumetti originals are featured in SEX AND HORROR: THE ART OF EMANUELE TAGLIETTI and the forthcoming volume SEX AND HORROR: THE ART OF ALESSANDRO BIFFIGNANDI. I highly recommend all of those lushly illustrated books.

Coming up: more farfetched torture (and/or execution) by critter artwork.

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Comments? Corrections? Post them on the Men’s Adventure Magazines Facebook Group.

Related and recommended reading…