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Subject: Military History Bookshelf, April 2012 rss

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Cezary Domalski
Poland
Szczecin
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I think that is the right place to ask.
Playing Axis Empires: Totaler Krieg! I was inspired to find a best book (books) about Pre-WWII history, which describes last years before WWII begins - Spanish Civil War, Hitler's demands and annexations of Austria and Czechoslovakia, appeasment politics of Western Allied, Soviets and its demands, mobilization and rearmaments, evolution of warfare doctrines etc.
Could somebody recommend some books about this topic? Thanks in advance.
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Jon
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Cezary, I was recommended The Battle for Spain by Antony Beevor. I have not had a chance to read it yet, but I have a feeling it is a pretty good look at the SCW.
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Jur dj
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Ok here's a couple of the general ones, spanning several countries rather than one

Richard Overy, The Road to War (2009, now 3rd edition) Incl US and Japan

Joe Maiolo, Cry Havoc (2010). Arms race. Incl US and Japan

Paul Hehn, A Low Dishonest Decade (2005). Mostly economic and Eastern Europe

Haven't read them (yet), so can't comment
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Lucius Cornelius
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Vindolanda
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Written by an exceptionally lucky U-Boat Commander and a page-turner!
From merely reading it, I can sense his luck rub off on me!
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Cezary Domalski
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Thanks again gentlemen! Cry Havoc looks interresting, and Overy's book (I read his book about Soviet Union in WWII and I enjoy it).
I have a Beevor's book about Spanish Civil War - it's very good.
 
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M Evan Brooks
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Completed:



For a book entitled Three Armies on the Somme, I found it covered mainly the Allies and sought to justify the tactics of attrition. Also interesting was the author's very favorable views of Kitchener as War Secretary as well as Haig. While I do not entirely agree with Lloyd George's characterization of Haig ("brilliant to the top of his army boots"), I must admit that I am more in the donkey camp.

Am now beginning:



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Thomas DeFranco
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Illinois
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I've been reading The Last Confederate Northern Offensive about Early's 1864 Valley Campaign.
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Marco Arnaudo
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not having time to read books anymore, these days I only listen to their CD version...

anyway, first, a classic:



I had read it many years ago and felt the need to brush it up again.


Next:



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Rich Payne
United Kingdom
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I'm currently working through Trudeau's Bloody Roads South. I'm a big fan of his work and this doesn't disappoint in conveying the desperate and violent nature of the Wilderness Campaign.



I've also ordered these three from Amazon:







I'd like to enhance my playing by using some historical tactics, rather than just wading in, as I have a habit of doing. The first will hopefully help with MPBS, while the other two are for ASLSK/LnL/Panzer Grenadier. There are several more WW2 tactics titles in the Opsprey Elite series covering things like combat recon, infantry AT and infantry assault tactics which I would like to pick up once I have the squad/company/battalion level basics down
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Jur dj
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Colditz by Michael McNally with illustrations from Peter Dennis.



Putting Colditz book in Osprey's Fortress series is an interesting ploy. It therefor focusses on the castle as much as on the stories of the allied POWs who inhabited it in WWII.

The book is a pleasant read and the escape stories from WWII are interesting and concise, so enough for me. I liked the added history of the castle, which makes it something to bring along on a holiday visit.

Two minor complaints which are probably mostly personal: I still have no idea how many prisoners were interred in the castle at any time, nor do I have an idea of how the German POW system was organised, and eg why there were only officers in this camp.

The pictures and some of the illustrations were mostly very useful, like the cut out of the castle and the trajectry of the French mining efforts, but some illustrations only added to the flavour of the escape stories

A more extensive review on goodreads
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Jur dj
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Reading through several books on the Waterloo campaign as a friend of mine is doing a biography of Dutch king William II, who fought in the Peninsula and at Quatre Bras and Waterloo. Friend's given me the Waterloo chapter in manuscript for a military history check.

William, then known as Prince of Orange, has a bad reputation in the English press, as many cock ups in the field are blamed on him. This new book (based on new research of primary resources from all participant nations) puts all that into a different perspective. AT some point (2014/5) the parts on the Napoleonic wars are hoped to be published in English as well.

Looked at Geoff Wootten's Waterloo from the Osprey Campaign series, Haythornthwaite's introduction to Uniforms of Waterloo, Chandler's Campaigns of Napoleon and HofSchoers 1815 Waterloo Campaign, plus George Blonde's La Grande Armee.

Chandler's book is still the standard work in English on Napoleonic warfare, even though published more than 45 years ago. You can easily trace his influence through other English accounts of the battle. However, the absense of German and Dutch sources (even those published in French) is a considerable limitation. Chandler can be a bit critical of Wellington when it comes to his deployments on 15th and 16th of June. The Prince of Orange only features in his narrative of Quatre Bras, not veery condemning, butthe negative attitude displayed by Haythornthwaite and Wootten must come from another source. I guess Siborne. It wouldn't be surprising if British officers after the war tried to put all problems at the door of a foreigner.

Haythornthwaite's book, first published in 1974, is of course more about uniforms and I considering the references don't think the author did a lot of research on his account of the campaign and battle. No foreign language sources. The Brits are great, the Dutch-Belgians doubtful and William plain rubbish. Wellington of course can do no wrong.

Wootten (Edit: the original publication is from 1992, I have a 2005 edition) still writes for a primary English audience but with more tactfull treatment of the allies. Book list not much improved on Haythornthwaite's. The Brits are still great, the Dutch-Belgians remain doubtful but William is now just inexperienced and doesn't seem to have so many battallions run down by French cavalry. He also notes that the Dutch held on to Quatre Bras in direct violation of Wellington's orders.

Blonde's Grande Armee (published in French in 1979 and translated in 1995) hardly notices there being others than British at Quatre Bras and Waterloo, so wasn't much use.

Hofschroer (1998) is a different beast. It includes German, but also English and even a few Dutch sources. The Hof notes that William spend 2,5 years on Wellington's staff in the Peninsula and is therefor not totally inexperienced. Hofschroer mentions him generally in a positive light: leading the troops at Quatre Bras from the front, and doesn't point at his presumed mistakes. But as Hofschroer's objective is not a close description of the military events of the Anglo-Dutch army, William mostly appears as a conduit of Wellington's misinformation to the Prussians. Since the book is mostly a revision of English dominated historiography of the campaign, Hofschroer is critical of Wellington's conduct of the campaign and his dealings with the Prussians.

Tomorrow, I'll be looking at the manuscript in detail.
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武士に二言無し
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Probably, his 23 years and his command of the I Corps, required by his father King of the Netherlands for political reasons, put him in a "bad" light from the english view, so every mistakes, real or fake, become "fatal".
The light must be for Wellington and only for him, the rest is superflous ...
Waiting for some good books coming from different study,

Good reading

F.
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John Iverson
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A quick read covering the early campaigns in western Virginia presented chiefly through the diary entries of a future Confederate spy. Journal entries entertaining and a couple nice battle maps with good topo, so probably worth the $1 I spent at the library book sale. Else, not much there - over half the book's page space is paintings and artifact photos 'loosely' related to the specific subject. Title might make one think it would cover his spying days - but no. Okay, but it will go back to the library book store donation box.



Another quick read. Some nice photos/sketches. Obviously not much 'action', but enough included as well as the description/disposition of some ships of the U.S./Union and Russian Pacific fleets during the period to make me feel satisfied with the cheap Hamilton books pickup.
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Wendell
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Twin Cities
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Have started Barry Strauss' The Battle of Salamis, the big naval victory for the Athenians and allies against Xerxes' multi-national Persian invasion. About 20% of the way thru, very interesting.

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James Lowry
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Sunnyvale
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Finally finished A History of Venice off on Friday:


It's good, and it's thorough, but I found it a bit disappointing. I spent most of the book wondering why though. Partly, I think, is because there are very few personalities in the book. Norwich himself actually complains of this on two occasions—there's just very few places in Venetian history where you can say anything about the personality of someone.

However, I think the main problem is I was hoping for a history of the Venetian state, and the book is really a history of the city, though restricted to that period where it was a state. Which is to say that except for those occasions where outside action impinges directly on one of Venice's holdings, those holdings don't show in the book. It is a stage play with one set—Venice—and news from abroad is sung by the Greek Chorus. There's no sense of how the overseas empire really worked.

But, Norwich loves the city of Venice, and that love shows through on every page. One thing that is tracked lovingly through the pages are the buildings and monuments of Venice. When a new building goes up, there is a footnote telling what part of it is still visible today. When a Doge dies and is put in a tomb, there is a footnote giving where it was, and where it was moved to if anything happened to it. Visiting Venice with this book in hand would be a real treat.

Next up:
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Kanalja
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'In Russia all roads lead to Moscow. One chooses the road one wishes. Charles XII chose the road through Poltava.'
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I’m currently reading Robert Kirchubel’s book Barbarossa: Army Group South. I chose the book as I want to know more about the army group and the restistance it faced as I’m now in the process of learning GMT East Front Series (KtR and Crimea).

Another book I’m reading this month, and really-really enjoying, is Peter Englund’s Ofredsår (“Years of War”). It’s a fantastic book about Sweden and it’s role in The Thirty Years War. Englund’s detailed descriptions of the battles and personages of The Thirty Years War are not only interesting but also funny and exciting.

I order some Musket & Pike related books from Osprey’s few days ago: Pike & Shot Tactics 1590-1660; The Army of Gustavus Adolphus: Infantry; The Army of Gustavus Adolphus; Cavalry. I plan to play some scenarios from the Musket & Pike series this summer.
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I bought a handful or two of history books second hand etc a few weeks ago, quite a few of which involve a significant proportion of military history, so my backlog has gone up again -- I'll probably never learn.

I've just finished Lambert's Admirals, which seemed like a pretty good and useful read; about a dozen British admirals from Tudor times to WWII are discussed, so obviously not a huge amount about any of them. Nelson is omitted, apparently because "no other commander has attained Nelson's perfection" and is, presumably, very well known to some extent anyway. I'm left with a strong impression of the author's dislike (at least) for Churchill.

Next up is Cowper-Coles' Cables from Kabul: C-C was involved diplomatically with Afghanistan from 2007 to 2010 (some of the time as Brit ambassador), and this looks like providing some good background.
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Jur dj
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Filippo Chiari wrote:
Probably, his 23 years and his command of the I Corps, required by his father King of the Netherlands for political reasons, put him in a "bad" light from the english view, so every mistakes, real or fake, become "fatal".
The light must be for Wellington and only for him, the rest is superflous ...
Waiting for some good books coming from different study,

Good reading

F.


Not sure hs father was instrumental in him getting command of 1st Corps. He was put in charge of the allied army by the Prince Regent until Wellington arrived from Vienna. William served in this rank as a British officer. So while undoubtely there was a political element to his appointment, there was also a military side.

Wellington knew William well and trusted him, probably the only Dutch soldier he could blindly trust (and Constant the Rebecque, who was with William in Spain). Wellington tried very hard to get his old Spanish team in important positions, and William fits in there very well.

Partially, his bad press is also the result of being a foreigner. He was not so much in a position to defend himself. Like Ney, who's gotten most of the crap on the French side. Ney conveniently met his death a few weeks after Waterloo in front of a firing squad.

Hofschroer points out that Wellington's behaviour from the 15th to 18th led quite a few Prussians to conclude that he had deliberately set them up for a losing fight around Ligny, or at least lied to them about coming to their aid on the 16th.

Something you don't often read in English books. They all record him admitting he had been humbugged (which he was), but he didn't admit to the Prussians that he was hopelessly out of position to support them.
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Morten Lund
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Århus
Denmark
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I'm just getting started on 'Shattered Sword'
So far it's very interesting and brings up entire aspects to the battle (its origin and background, really) I had no knowledge of, so I like it!
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James Lowry
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Ossessione wrote:
Another book I’m reading this month, and really-really enjoying, is Peter Englund’s Ofredsår (“Years of War”). It’s a fantastic book about Sweden and it’s role in The Thirty Years War. Englund’s detailed descriptions of the battles and personages of The Thirty Years War are not only interesting but also funny and exciting.

Not available in English. soblue
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Steve Herron
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Johnson City
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The Last Stand: Custer, Sitting Bull, and the Battle of the Little Big Horn Excellent read
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Bill Lawson
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Rutland
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Operation Barbarossa and Germany's Defeat in the East Stahel
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Kanalja
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'In Russia all roads lead to Moscow. One chooses the road one wishes. Charles XII chose the road through Poltava.'
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Rindis wrote:
Not available in English. soblue


Unfortunately that seems to be the case. Englund’s books on the First World War and Poltava have been translated, though. Ofredsår is a thick book. I guess foreign publishers don’t expect their targeted audiences to be that interested in Swedish history.
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Jur dj
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billyboy wrote:
Operation Barbarossa and Germany's Defeat in the East Stahel


I picked up and am reading Stahel's new one: Kiev 1941. He continually skips stuff he's written in Op Barbarossa, so I'll eventually have to get to that one as well, I guess.
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Bill Lawson
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jurdj wrote:
billyboy wrote:
Operation Barbarossa and Germany's Defeat in the East Stahel


I picked up and am reading Stahel's new one: Kiev 1941. He continually skips stuff he's written in Op Barbarossa, so I'll eventually have to get to that one as well, I guess.


I have the Kiev book on order.
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