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Subject: Military History Bookshelf - September 2016 rss

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John Robinson
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Barrow in Furness
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Hello everyone,

The start of another month. Let everyone know what you are currently reading or if you have just finished then tell us what you thought of it.
Military fiction is also welcome here too,

My current book;



Inspired by a true story, this is the fictional reimagining of 'Able Seacat' Simon's adventures and heroics in dangerous wartime seas.

Simon is discovered in the Hong Kong docks in 1948 and smuggled on board the H.M.S Amethyst by a British sailor who takes pity on the malnourished kitten. The young cat quickly acclimates to his new water-borne home, establishing himself as the chief rat-catcher in residence while also winning the hearts of the entire crew.

Simon’s ‘Life of Riley’ changed suddenly one day when the ship became embroiled in the Yangtze incident. On their way to Nanjing along the river to relieve the HMS Consort, Chinese Communist’s opened fire on the Amethyst and in the battle men were injured and even died of their wounds. Simon himself was grievously injured in the captain’s cabin when the initial attack tore through the captain’s cabin. But Simon had his duty to do and would not give in to his injuries. He battled back to health and continued to bring giant rats to their death.

Able Sea Cat Simon is the only cat to be awarded the PDSA’s Dickin Medal (the animal equivalent of the Victoria Cross)
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Giving this a second read, mainly because it's first rate and covers a lot of aspects that Glantz doesn't in his Stalingrad series.

I know this is hyperbolizing a bit, but the Stalingrad airlift has always struck me as one of those climactic moments of the war -- perhaps the one on the Eastern Front. It's certainly dramatic.
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Riva
Maryland
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Bringing the Thunder by Robertson. Quite a good book about B-29 operations.
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Andrew N
United States
Rochester
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Currently working on...







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Andreas Johansson
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Linköping
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I spent 200 GG and all I got was this lousy overtext!
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If I'm alllowed to stretch the definition of military history a bit, I'm halfways through this:


Heather is of the opinion that the basic cause of the fall of the western empire was the barbarians' increased military potential combined with the shock of the Huns sending them in search of imperial soil, so the book concentrates on military developments, but you'd find it in the general history section of a library.
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Ground Pounder
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Recently finished this audiobook:



Groom covers the battle in depth, but his placement of the event in the context of the first year of the Civil War in the West made the book particularly informative. Groom paints vivid portraits of the main leaders on each side, as well as more junior officers and several enlisted men and civilians. The book is a good way to get a basic understanding of Grant, Sherman, A.S. Johnston, and PGT Beauregard, and he seems to treat them all even-handedly, offering criticism and praise for each.

Groom also does a fine job pointing out how many families from southern Illinois, Kentucky, and Tennessee were divided by the war, and the suffering of many civilians.

A very worthwhile read, even if you're not a Civil War buff.
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I'm about to finish:



Which deals with the Battle of Sagrajas and tries to determine the location of the battle and the composition of the armies. Very informative.
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Andy Daglish
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Cheadle
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Its a reasonable account, with nothing new. In short its bit like the author's WW2 output, where one Amazon commentator said he wouldn't replace the book if he lost it. A touchstone of quality of understanding the battle is combat usage of stakes: you hammer in the sharp end [obviously], and then sharpen the blunt end you've been hammering. None of the well-known writers mention this, but now you know it.
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Wendell
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Just finished reading Nathanial Philbrick's The Last Stand: Custer, Sitting Bull, and the Battle of the Little Bighorn. About, well you can tell what it's about from the title.

I thought it was really good - well-researched and a good writing style. I didn't know much about this, beyond the broadest pop culture stuff, and the "it was Reno's and Benteen's fault" stuff. Philbrick doesn't really choose sides. It's clear that to put it mildly, June 25, 1876 was not the finest day for Custer, Reno, or Benteen. And the Seventh Cavalry's commanding officer, General Alfred Terry, gets some blame, too. Philbrick used a lot of sources and though more of the book is about the Seventh Cavalry, there is a lot about Sitting Bull and the native forces, too.

Something of a melancholy read in a way. And a reminder that you can win a battle in a crushing fashion, and still lose the war.



BTW, I read Philbrick's Mayflower last year, it is also very good (about the English Pilgrims in New England).
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Michael Carter
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North Liberty
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Yesterday I continued my reading of the Roman Civil Wars with Goldsworthy's "Antony and Cleopatra."

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Andrew N
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I recently stumbled on this find at Half Price Books:



It's about Grant's collection and use of military intelligence in his campaigns in Missouri and Virginia. Very interesting stuff! Most books I've seen on intelligence in the American Civil War deal with individual spies, or the South, or McClellan/Pinkerton, so it's nice to see something different and that takes a more academic approach.
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Jon
Canada
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wifwendell wrote:
Just finished reading Nathanial Philbrick's The Last Stand: Custer, Sitting Bull, and the Battle of the Little Bighorn. About, well you can tell what it's about from the title.

I thought it was really good - well-researched and a good writing style. I didn't know much about this, beyond the broadest pop culture stuff, and the "it was Reno's and Benteen's fault" stuff. Philbrick doesn't really choose sides. It's clear that to put it mildly, June 25, 1876 was not the finest day for Custer, Reno, or Benteen. And the Seventh Cavalry's commanding officer, General Alfred Terry, gets some blame, too. Philbrick used a lot of sources and though more of the book is about the Seventh Cavalry, there is a lot about Sitting Bull and the native forces, too.

Something of a melancholy read in a way. And a reminder that you can win a battle in a crushing fashion, and still lose the war.



BTW, I read Philbrick's Mayflower last year, it is also very good (about the English Pilgrims in New England).



Years ago I read Evan S. Connell's Son of the Morningstar and really enjoyed it. Tuchman-esque quality in his approach and style.

I still think about aspects of the book to this day.

Plenty of melancholia to be had in that history ...
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Iain K
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Arvada
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Capt_S wrote:
Plenty of melancholia to be had in that history ...


Fixed that for you Cappy ;-)


I've just finished :



Having already read the third and then first books of the trilogy.

My thoughts:



Another excellent book by Atkinson. I found myself appreciating his unflinching coverage of the oft tragic mistakes of the Allied leadership.

As with the other members of the trilogy, he often uses unnecessarily complex words. On the upside, I can now say I've read a book that uses the term "cyclopean" three times and _isn't_ by H.P. Lovecraft.

It's also unfortunate that he ends his coverage of the war in Italy after D-day in France as so many newspapers did at the time. Leaving the forgotten backwater, forgotten.
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Jim P.
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wernervoss wrote:
Currently working on...



[ ... ]



Do you happen to know if the author Jack Greene is the same person who designs naval wargames such as Iron Bottom Sound and Tsushima? He has written a couple of books on WWII Pacific Theatre and other conflicts.
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Lucius Cornelius
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Vindolanda
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InvisibleRobots wrote:
Do you happen to know if the author Jack Greene is the same person who designs naval wargames such as Iron Bottom Sound and Tsushima? He has written a couple of books on WWII Pacific Theatre and other conflicts.
He is. He talks about it in C3i 27 interview among other things.
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Jim P.
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Champaign
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Thanks sullafelix! Heading for the C3i storage bin...
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Andrew N
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InvisibleRobots wrote:
wernervoss wrote:
Currently working on...



[ ... ]



Do you happen to know if the author Jack Greene is the same person who designs naval wargames such as Iron Bottom Sound and Tsushima? He has written a couple of books on WWII Pacific Theatre and other conflicts.


I do! I'm actually playtesting a non-naval wargame for him. It's a card-assisted, point-to-point wargame about the US conquest of California during the Mexican War, called Bear Flag Republic.
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Michael Sommers
United States
Clinton
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wernervoss wrote:
I recently stumbled on this find at Half Price Books:



It's about Grant's collection and use of military intelligence in his campaigns in Missouri and Virginia. Very interesting stuff! Most books I've seen on intelligence in the American Civil War deal with individual spies, or the South, or McClellan/Pinkerton, so it's nice to see something different and that takes a more academic approach.

You might be interested in this book, The Secret War for the Union, by Fishel, about Hooker's intelligence service:

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Ilias Litsios
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Florent Leguern
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Hi

I'm looking for a book treating about the Spartan way of life, that probably lead them to their own downfall. I thought I'd seen this book presented here, but I couldn't find it... (and maybe are there multiple book on the subject ?). Does it ring any bell ?

Thanks !
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Michael Sommers
United States
Clinton
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Eawyne wrote:
Hi

I'm looking for a book treating about the Spartan way of life, that probably lead them to their own downfall. I thought I'd seen this book presented here, but I couldn't find it... (and maybe are there multiple book on the subject ?). Does it ring any bell ?

Thanks !

Try The Spartans by Paul Cartledge.

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Count Ringworm
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About halfway through this:


Pretty good read. Eye-opening for me in just how futile it seemed for the Germans. Almost turned me off wargaming the normandy campaign- seems like no point.
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Wendell
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Not STRICTLY military history, but it includes a detailed look at parts of the First Afghan War...

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Nicola S
Italy
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wernervoss wrote:
InvisibleRobots wrote:


Do you happen to know if the author Jack Greene is the same person who designs naval wargames such as Iron Bottom Sound and Tsushima? He has written a couple of books on WWII Pacific Theatre and other conflicts.


I do! I'm actually playtesting a non-naval wargame for him. It's a card-assisted, point-to-point wargame about the US conquest of California during the Mexican War, called Bear Flag Republic.


If I remember correctly there is also Dana Lombardy's name somewhere in the book.
It has been a while since I read it.

Obviously, there are a lot of good books in Italian on the topic.
Well, better said: on the X Mas combat operations up to the armistice (the rest does not really interest me much, i.e. Borghese's doings in the Social Republic and up to the attempted coup d'etat in Italy).
But I must say that this one does a pretty good job of recapitulating the history, though I remember some minor details were not really in accordance with my other sources.

If interested in the topic, you should also take a look at the books by Paul Kemp:


They widen the scope to also the other countries' effort in special operations from the sea, and so cover Germany, UK, and Japan.

Then, if you can read Italian, plese send me a PM.
The list is quite long!
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ian morris
United Kingdom
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wifwendell wrote:


Not STRICTLY military history, but it includes a detailed look at parts of the First Afghan War...



Excellent series of books, I'm currently rereading them myself : just finished Flashman At The Charge, and about to move on to The Great Game. Would have loved to have seen how he managed to fight on both sides in the ACW...

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