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A while ago a few of us wargamers decided to start a book club. This geeklist is an archive of the books we've chosen and links to the discussions we've had about them.

Feel free to browse the conversations, and don't be shy about adding your opinions to the discussions. You don't have to be a wargamer to enjoy these books!

If you have any suggestions about what we might read next, use the comments section below, and include a link to a review of the book.



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Arnhem was a resounding defeat for the British, but in human endurance terms, the stuff of legend. Press glamorisation at the time laid the basis for a ‘legend’ upheld by Allied historians for years. Exhaustive research of the few remaining documents covering German post-operational reports corroborated by numerous contemporary eye-witness accounts revealed a new perspective. This was how the battle appeared to the ordinary German soldier, from private to battalion commander level. Kershaw interviewed numerous participants throughout Germany.

The immediate post-war view that defeat at Arnhem was caused by Allied mistakes because Germany had already lost the war persisted for a very long time. Extensive research revealed a very different picture. Much vaunted SS panzer divisions ‘waiting’ for the British were only at 30% strength and possessed virtually no tanks. A scratch-built force of German sailors, airmen and reservists fighting as infantry checked the airborne landings. Model the supreme German commander did not flee panic-stricken from the Hotel Tafelberg in Arnhem as paratroopers landed. He was a cold dedicated professional, who had already saved German fronts from defeat and retreat five times before and did so again.

It is claimed the British Airborne Division was dropped too far from the Arnhem Bridge. Kershaw’s research of German unit locations suggests defeat may have occurred sooner if they had. The German view was that the British had been skilful in their selection of the drop zone to cloak their intention and ought to have reinforced with another division in the same place. General Urquhart commanding the 1st British Airborne Division was often criticised as being too far forward in the battle, being cut off during a crucial phase. His German opposite, General Kussin, the town Commandant, was killed seeking the same fragmented information. His death resulted in a temporary paralysis of the defence of the Arnhem road bridge, enabling Lieutenant Colonel John Frost’s Second Parachute Battalion to capture it with ease.

That Arnhem was ‘A Bridge Too Far’ is the most famous myth exposed by this book. XXX Corps commanded by General Horrocks was reportedly just unable to reach it. An assessment of German troop locations following the capture of the Nijmegen Bridge reveals the remaining 14-kilometer stretch of road to Arnhem was virtually undefended and clear the following night. An opportunity to relive Frost barely holding onto the Arnhem Bridge was missed.

It Never Snows in September offers a number of revisionary perspectives to prevailing Arnhem myths. It recognizes the American contribution in keeping the ‘Airborne Corridor’ open despite the German discovery of the MARKET-GARDEN plan. The book reveals the plan was not recovered in its entirety; rather the Germans were never strong enough to exploit the windfall.

The ‘chivalric’ battle of Arnhem and Oosterbeek is reassessed in uncompromising terms. Excesses were committed by both sides. German casualties were more than twice previously claimed estimates. The British evacuation caught the Germans unawares, so impressed had they been by the ferocity of resistance, that they could not comprehend the British would abandon their bloodily won bridgehead. It took a further half-day of fruitless fighting against the remaining stragglers after the evacuation before the Germans appreciated their birds had flown the trap.

This book has necessitated a re-examination of some of the traditional views of the MARKET-GARDEN battles, which mainly project the allied view. ‘What about the Germans?’ allegedly remarked the commander of the 1st Polish Parachute Brigade when confronted with the Arnhem plan. It Never Snows in September offers just this perspective.
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The Sleepwalkers: How Europe Went to War in 1914 is historian Christopher Clark’s riveting account of the explosive beginnings of World War I.

Drawing on new scholarship, Clark offers a fresh look at World War I, focusing not on the battles and atrocities of the war itself, but on the complex events and relationships that led a group of well-meaning leaders into brutal conflict.

Clark traces the paths to war in a minute-by-minute, action-packed narrative that cuts between the key decision centers in Vienna, Berlin, St. Petersburg, Paris, London, and Belgrade, and examines the decades of history that informed the events of 1914 and details the mutual misunderstandings and unintended signals that drove the crisis forward in a few short weeks.

Meticulously researched and masterfully written, Christopher Clark’s The Sleepwalkers is a dramatic and authoritative chronicle of Europe’s descent into a war that tore the world apart.
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The epic, untold story of China’s devastating eight-year war of resistance against Japan

For decades, a major piece of World War II history has gone virtually unwritten. The war began in China, two years before Hitler invaded Poland, and China eventually became the fourth great ally, partner to the United States, the Soviet Union, and Great Britain. Yet its drama of invasion, resistance, slaughter, and political intrigue remains little known in the West.

Rana Mitter focuses his gripping narrative on three towering leaders: Chiang Kai-shek, the politically gifted but tragically flawed head of China’s Nationalist government; Mao Zedong, the Communists’ fiery ideological stalwart, seen here at the beginning of his epochal career; and the lesser-known Wang Jingwei, who collaborated with the Japanese to form a puppet state in occupied China. Drawing on Chinese archives that have only been unsealed in the past ten years, he brings to vivid new life such characters as Chiang’s American chief of staff, the unforgettable “Vinegar Joe” Stilwell, and such horrific events as the Rape of Nanking and the bombing of China’s wartime capital, Chongqing. Throughout, Forgotten Ally shows how the Chinese people played an essential role in the wider war effort, at great political and personal sacrifice.
Forgotten Ally rewrites the entire history of World War II. Yet it also offers surprising insights into contemporary China. No twentieth-century event was as crucial in shaping China’s worldview, and no one can understand China, and its relationship with America today, without this definitive work.
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Many consider the Battle of Midway to have turned the tide of the Pacific War. It is without question one of the most famous battles in history. Now, for the first time since Gordon W. Prange’s bestselling Miracle at Midway, Jonathan Parshall and Anthony Tully offer a new interpretation of this great naval engagement.

Unlike previous accounts, Shattered Sword makes extensive use of Japanese primary sources. It also corrects the many errors of Mitsuo Fuchida’s Midway: The Battle That Doomed Japan, an uncritical reliance upon which has tainted every previous Western account. It thus forces a major, potentially controversial reevaluation of the great battle. The authors examine the battle in detail and effortlessly place it within the context of the Imperial Navy’s doctrine and technology. With a foreword by leading WWII naval historian John Lundstrom, Shattered Sword will become an indispensable part of any military buff’s library. Winner of the 2005 John Lyman Book Award for the "Best Book in U.S. Naval History" and cited by Proceedings as one of its "Notable Naval Books" for 2005.
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"The Civil War battle waged on September 17, 1862, at Antietam Creek, Maryland, was one of the bloodiest in the nation's history: on this single day, the war claimed nearly 23,000 casualties. Here renowned historian Stephen Sears draws on a remarkable cache of diaries, dispatches, and letters to recreate the vivid drama of Antietam as experienced not only by its leaders but also by its soldiers, both Union and Confederate, to produce what the New York Times Book Review has called "the best account of the Battle of Antietam."
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From Amazon.com...

Once in a while you encounter an extraordinary book that truly affects the way you look at the world. J.E. Lendon's "Song of Wrath: The Peloponnesian War Begins" is such a book.

Before reading "Song of Wrath" I thought I knew a fair amount about the Peloponnesian War. Kagan's tremendous four-volume history, Hanson's "A War Like No Other", and "The Landmark Thucydides" all have permanent places on my too-crowded bookshelves. But Lendon's new volume has revolutionized my understanding of events. He argues strongly and persuasively that the war had its origins in a very Greek competition for status, the perceived ranking of city-states against one another. And that most of the campaigns of that war, particularly those of the "Archidamian War" - the first ten years of the Peloponnesian War - were primarily dictated by the desire to impact status rather than directly erode the enemy's power to wage war effectively. Suddenly, events are illuminated in an intensely revealing light, a light not without relevance to world events long after the age of the hoplites.

Moreover, Lendon presents his detailed analysis in a witty narrative, not infrequently with a wryly cocked eyebrow. And he has a gift for vivid imagery to really drive home his points. "Song of Wrath" is far from the stereotypical dry academic study one might expect from a Professor of History. Kudos both to Dr. Lendon and to his editor who understood the value of such writing.

If anyone has any interest at all in the Peloponnesian War, then "Song of Wrath" must be read. Whether or not the reader comes away wholly convinced of Lendon's arguments, understanding of what happened back in the fifth century BC cannot help being enhanced.
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By CHARLES STEPHAN, for the Lincoln Journal Star:

"Today's program looks back 50 years to 1962 when Barbara Tuchman's magnificent book "The Guns of August" was published.

And we also look back to a century ago, 1912, the year that Tuchman was born. So today we mark both anniversaries.

Tuchman, who died in 1989, was not an academic historian; indeed, her formal higher education did not go beyond an undergraduate degree from Radcliffe College.

She didn't start out at Radcliffe, but at Swarthmore. When she realized that because she was Jewish she automatically would be excluded from a sorority there, she transferred to Radcliffe.

She was born in New York City, and one of her grandfathers was Henry Morgenthau Sr., who was our ambassador to Turkey during the First World War. One of her uncles was Henry Morgenthau Jr., who was FDR's Secretary of the Treasury for more than 12 years.

In her early years she traveled widely, living in England for a year in the late 1930s and later in Japan and China. She regarded herself, in her words, "as a writer whose subject is history." She said she didn't miss not having a Ph.D. and noted, for all who might object -- and some did -- that neither did Herodotus, Gibbon, Thucydides or Parkman. She even wrote that what saved her as a writer was not having a Ph.D., that "the requirements of conventional academic life can stultify imagination, stifle enthusiasm and deaden prose style."

One need not agree, but it is clear that as a writer of history she had great enthusiasm for her subject and that her prose style was first-rate. She once said that her ultimate objective "was to make the reader turn the page." A good many readers turned the page when they first opened "The Guns of August."

Her opening paragraph, she later said, took her a whole day to write. Here it is:

So gorgeous was the spectacle on the May morning of 1910 when nine kings rode in the funeral of Edward VII of England that the crowd, waiting in hushed and black-clad awe, could not keep back gasps of admiration. In scarlet and blue-green and purple, three by three the sovereigns rode through the palace gates, with plumed helmets, gold braid, crimson sashes, and jeweled orders flashing in the sun. After them came five heirs apparent, forty more imperial or royal highnesses, seven queens -- four dowager and three regnant -- and a scattering of special ambassadors from uncrowned countries. Together they represented seventy nations in the greatest assemblage of royalty and rank ever gathered in one place, and, of its kind, the last. The muffled tongue of Big Ben tolled nine by the clock as the cortege left the palace, but on history's clock it was sunset, and the sun of the old world was setting in a dying blaze of splendor never to be seen again.

Who would not turn the page? The book told the story of the events that led to the First World War and of the first months of the war itself. It would win Tuchman the Pulitzer Prize, but not for history. The Pulitzer Committee, forbidden by the donor's will to reward a book of history on a non-American subject, decided to award her the prize for General Nonfiction.

No matter. The book was an immediate commercial and scholarly success, and I think it fair to say that every book of hers that followed -- and there were to be eight -- also were highly successful. One of them, "Stillwell and the American Experience in China" won her a second Pulitzer, this time for history.

Her writing style captures the reader as do her insights into character. Near the beginning of the book, she writes:

The Czar, neither well endowed mentally, nor very well educated, was, in the Kaiser's opinion, "only fit to live in a country house and grow turnips."

And later we find this:

Joffre looked like Santa Claus and gave an impression of benevolence and naivete -- two qualities not noticeably part of his character.

This is not so much about the war as it is a book about what led up to the war. Bismarck had seen the conflict before it began, predicting that the next war would occur "because of some damned foolish thing in the Balkans."

It is of interest that nearly half a century later, President John F. Kennedy, during the Cuban Missile Crisis, would refer to Tuchman's just-published book and tell his attorney general that, "I am not going to follow a course which will allow anyone to write a comparable book about this time and call it "The Missiles of October."

Noting this double anniversary I looked for my copy of "The Guns of August" and found a 95-cent Dell paperback with print that must have grown smaller over the years."
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"Jared Diamond’s Guns, Germs and Steel is a Aventis and Pulitzer prize winning book that tackles the issue of why some civilizations thrive, flourish and expand while others do not. Why did some civilizations develop sophisticated tools while others did not? Why were early European explorers so readily able to dominate indigenous peoples on other continents? Diamond argues that in many ways, successful civilizations were geographically lucky. He focuses on two main factors that influenced the development of human civilizations: the type and abundance of local flora and fauna, and the relative landmass size and geographic orientation.

The Eurasian continent was home to a large range of plants and animals to domesticate. Diamond argues that it was the availability of ready supplies of grains such as barley and wheat, textiles such as flax, and domesticated animals such as oxen and horses that lead early Eurasian peoples to be able to develop so rapidly. In comparison, non-Eurasian civilizations struggled with less nutritious and more difficult crops such as maize, and had no access to animals able to be domesticated. Additionally, the large size of the Eurasian continent let people expand, travel and trade in ways not possible on much smaller continents such as Australia or South America. Diamond also mentions the role of landmass orientation – continents that are more spread out east-west can support similar domestic life, whereas a north-south spread creates disparities in climate that prevent it.

Diamond’s analysis is fascinating and thorough, although his background as an evolutionary biologist clearly influenced what factors he found important in human history. He skims over or does not mention numerous other facets, most importantly cultural interactions and the roles of imperialism, post-colonialism, capitalism, rationalism, and many others. It also feels somewhat deterministic – as if according to Diamond, Eurasian dominance was inevitable. He does address these concerns to some extent but not as fully as one could hope. Still, Guns, Germs and Steel offers a interesting look at some of the factors that have influenced the course of human development."

- Amber Wu, Dallas Public Library
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From The Washington Post
Reviewed by Stanley Weintraub

No "Mission Accomplished" banner has ever been flaunted about the Korean War. The conflict that David Halberstam calls a "black hole" in history (despite shelves of books about it) achieved its original objective. At great cost, military intervention reversed the communist thrust into South Korea, now a model of prosperity; North Korea remains an impoverished, Stalinist state. But in the 1950s, Americans did not perceive the Korean War as a success, and we have even more reason to view it with misgiving now, in light of our imbroglio in Iraq.

As Halberstam recounts with mounting indignation in The Coldest Winter, some of the worst decisions in Korea were based on skewed intelligence. To be sure, it was military officers who massaged the facts they reported to civilian leaders. In Vietnam and Iraq, the pattern reversed, with civilians cherry-picking the intelligence to manipulate the military and the public. But in Halberstam's view, the Korean War set a "most dangerous" precedent: "the American government had begun to make fateful decisions based on the most limited of truths and the most deeply flawed intelligence in order to do what it wanted to do for political reasons, whether it would work or not." Half a century later, we still have thousands of U.S. troops in Korea -- not a good omen for Iraq.

Halberstam was one of the great war journalists of our time. In April, five days after delivering final revisions to this book, he was killed in a car crash in Menlo Park, Calif. Among his 19 previous books is the iconic The Best and the Brightest (1972), probing how and why some of the most able Americans of their generation entangled the United States in an unwinnable war in Vietnam.

When communist North Korea invaded the South in June 1950, Halberstam was 16, too young to take much notice. He learned about the Korean quagmire from men in Vietnam who had endured the earlier misery. Vietnam dominated his life for seven years, after which he tackled other subjects, from sports to the automobile industry. It was only in the late 1990s that he returned to the Cold War's first hot war. Now, because of his untimely death, The Coldest Winter will stand with The Best and the Brightest as the big bookends of his career -- parallel accounts, 35 years apart, of wars characterized by a disconnect between reality and authority.

Some readers may find The Coldest Winter to be something of a quagmire itself. Halberstam acknowledges in an author's note that it does not have a "linear" structure. Rather, "it takes you on its own journey, and you learn along the way. It becomes not just the story of the Chinese entering the war and what happened in those critical weeks. On the way there is a great deal of political history to be learned, all of which forms the background on both sides. And there are other battles. People kept telling me about the brutal fighting in the earlier Pusan Perimeter days, and so I had to learn about that." In the process, we reach page 395 before the weather turns cold. By then, Douglas MacArthur, for five years unanswerable to anyone as occupation boss of Japan, was running the war by remote control -- never spending, as Halberstam acidly notes, "a night in the field in Korea." He was already 70, and his willfulness was unyielding, abetted by pseudo-intelligence subserviently packaged by staff toadies in Tokyo.

In a miscalculation of his opponent's character and a display of his own hubris, MacArthur claimed that Chairman Mao would be intimidated if the United States inserted an army by sea at Inchon, above Seoul. He believed it would be too late for the Red Chinese to intervene; the hapless North Korean aggressors would be cut off and crushed. Regardless of MacArthur's arrogant incaution, who in Washington, or even in Korea, could dispute his strategy after the Inchon landing's initial success? "MacArthur has thought it all through," the X Corps intelligence chief declared, "and it's not to their advantage to come in, so they won't come in."

Yet the very existence of X Corps was a problem. To evade Washington and allow him to run the war personally, MacArthur had set up X Corps as a parallel force to the Eighth Army, which was still struggling to push north toward Seoul. By splitting his troops (to Halberstam, "the unthinkable") to give his favorite courtier, Edward Almond, a combat command and eligibility for a third star, MacArthur stalled pursuit of the enemy for a month.

Halberstam vividly describes how, after Inchon that September, MacArthur visited the awed I Corps staff, to whom he was "walking history." Confidently, he boasted: "The war is over. The Chinese are not coming . . . The Third Division will be back in Fort Benning for Christmas dinner." Then he flew back to comfortable Tokyo. No one doubted him, a colonel recalled, because "it would have been questioning an announcement from God."

Yet the facts on the ground looked different. U.S. forces were divided into two widely separated fronts as an early and lethal winter set in. After concealing themselves in the snowy hills, the Chinese -- uncowed and opportunistic -- struck hard. While the dysfunctional Eighth Army retreated in chaos, Marines of the X Corps in the east, resourcefully led by Maj. Gen. Oliver Smith, withdrew from the icy Chosin Reservoir heights late in December to evacuate by sea. MacArthur's prematurely celebrated victory turned into what his troops ruefully called "die for a tie." Even that stalemate became possible only under the tough, tireless Lt. Gen. Matthew Ridgway once MacArthur, imperious and insubordinate to the end, was sacked by Harry Truman in April 1951.

Why had the ouster taken so long? Military necessity, Halberstam suggests, finally outweighed the domestic political consequences. As MacArthur continued to stretch his mandate and openly criticize a strategy intended to contain the war to Korea, the Pentagon worried that his megalomania could have horrific consequences now that Stalin had the Bomb. But the mystique of MacArthur, who had been cosseted timidly by Washington for a decade, paralyzed the process. When his lapses had helped lose the Philippines after Pearl Harbor, he was 9,000 miles away and untouchable. In the dark months when the nation needed a hero, Gen. George C. Marshall, the army chief of staff, overcame his scorn and drafted an unearned Medal of Honor citation for the self-styled hero of Bataan, where MacArthur had spent all of two hours. The gesture was fitting for someone Halberstam characterizes as believing "that the truth was whatever he said it was at that moment."

Domestic politics made MacArthur's overdue dismissal partisanly divisive. His favorite president, the elderly Herbert Hoover, hailed him, after his "Old Soldiers Never Die" valedictory to Congress, as "the reincarnation of St. Paul into the persona of a great General of the Army who had come out of the East." And veneration of MacArthur continued, in some quarters, for decades, although the congressional hearings upon which diehards insisted after his firing only further diminished him. Halberstam's narrative closes more than a year before a hard-won truce halted the fighting in Korea. But what his formidable indictment does end is the mythologizing of Douglas MacArthur.

Copyright 2007, The Washington Post. All Rights Reserved
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Review from Goodreads...

"The definitive history of the second Boer War. this work is written in the grand tradition of narrative history - in prose that is lucid, witty, and dramatic.

The author's scholarship is deep, comprehensive, and objective. The political and economic factors that led to the war and that continued to influence both its conduct and its final settlement are fully developed. This background information is particularly essential in understanding the thinking of the Boer political and military leadership. This side of the conflict has too often been slighted in works written in English, but understanding the Boers is essential to a fully balanced account of the war. The author seems to have read everything - even learned Afrikaans just to be able to read for himself the archives of the Boer republics, the officials reports, the Afrikaans newspapers. And this research has enabled him to fully incorporate the Boer perspective here - has enabled him to fully develop the personalities of the Boer leadership, political and military.

And the author has a real talent for biography. The book is peopled by a Dickensian host of fascinating individuals: some famous (Churchill, Kitchener, Allenby, French); others that should be (De Wet, Smuts, Botha); and others whose bones are surely burning in hell (Milner, Rhodes, Chamberlain). All are deftly drawn, fully characterized, brought to life with all their idiosyncratic quirks - and all placed in a vividly recreated world, the world of London and of southern Africa as the century turned.

However, the true strength of the work is the author's ability to describe combat - to vicariously place the reader in the middle of a battle - to place him there as omniscient observer, one who completely understands the situation, the strategy, one to whom the sights and the smells and the fear real but the outcome of the struggle unknown - to place the reader alongside a 'Tommy' in a long, hot march across the Veldt or place him on the seat of a Boer oxcart or inside the Springfontein concentration camp or lying on the bare earth in a British military hospital. These passages are as vividly written, are as dramatic as fiction. To achieve this realism, the author has incorporated numerous vivid eye-witness accounts of actual participants (for some of these, he personally interviewed ancient combatants; for others, he exhaustively combed the written reports, memoirs, letters). These graphic memories,these 'war stories', make that 'long ago - long forgotten' war very real.

Although there was much that was noble in the actions of individual soldiers, the war itself was far from noble. Was basically a grab for the Transvaal gold fields by Britain, only lightly veiled as imperial expansion 'in the service of civilization'. While the Boer's fight to maintain their republics, their independence, is certainly understandable, justifiable, their treatment of the native Africans under their control lessens whatever sympathy one might otherwise feel for their cause. Still, they were the 'underdogs', facing incredible odds, two small countries battling the entire British Empire, fighting troops from Canada, India, Australia as well as those from Great Britain, and doing so successfully for years. They were fighting for their homes, their way of life, while the British leaders were fighting for gold and diamonds, their officers for 'glory', and the rank and file for 'love of country', for a misplaced patriotism that was cynically exploited.

The only possible weakness of this work is that it is a very British - with the emphasis overwhelming on the Empire and on the Boer Republics that would soon to be part of it. It slights events in the wider world. The wide spread support for the Boer cause throughout Europe is ignored - even the interference, the 'kibitzing', of the German Kaiser is only briefly mentioned. And an American reader might be surprised that the author, in recounting the final guerilla phase of the war, completely ignores the contemporaneous insurrection in the Philippines that the United States was then fighting - surprising because there were significant similarities. Both arose in opposition to imperial expansion and in both the native populations were forced into concentration camps - in the Boer republics, this was done after burning the farms, poisoning the wells, and killing all the livestock, or, in the Philippines after destroying the native villages and crops - resulting in both cases in a high death toll and a devastated countryside - with the mortality in the concentration camps, due to starvation and disease, particularly high among children. And, in both cases, the war continued long after the generals had declared it 'won', long after the public 'back home' had turned against it. But the author draws no comparisons to the American experience in the Philippines.

The photographs illustrating this book, all contemporary, are superb, evocative of both the time and the war, and are great examples of early war photography. They are worth the price of the book.
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"Empires of the Silk Road is a major scholarly achievement. This is the first book to provide a comprehensive account of the history of Central Eurasia from the Bronze Age to the present. But it is much more than a simple narrative of events in what is arguably the most important region for the development of civilization during the past four or five millennia. It is an intellectually ambitious undertaking that attempts to account for essential transformations in the cultural, economic, and political life of societies situated both within the Central Eurasian heartland and on its periphery. Beckwith achieves the radical feat of demonstrating how Central Eurasia is actually key for understanding the dynamics of human history and progress throughout antiquity, the medieval period, and the recent past. Above all, and for the first time, he convincingly shows that Central Eurasia was not a sump of poverty-stricken, unremittingly vicious subhumans, but a wellspring of vibrant, energetic, resourceful, enterprising peoples who facilitated communication and change in all directions. In other words, Beckwith turns conventional wisdom on its head and makes Central Eurasia the core of human history, rather than the embarrassing backwater which it is usually portrayed as. Perhaps his greatest contribution is in the powerful, sustained epilogue, where he shatters a whole galaxy of misconceptions about the dreaded 'barbarians.'"--Victor H. Mair, University of Pennsylvania
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"In time for the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain, we now have―thanks to Swedish historian Bergström―perhaps the most thorough, expert examination of the topic ever written. Illustrated throughout with maps and rare photos, plus a color section closely depicting the aircraft, this work lays out the battle as seldom seen before. The battle was a turning in point in military history, and arguably in the fate of the world. By late summer 1940 Nazi Germany had conquered all its opponents on the continent, including the British Army itself, which was forced to scramble back aboard small boats to its shores. With a Non-Aggression Pact with the Soviet Union in hand, Hitler had only one remaining object that season―the British Isles themselves. However, before he could invade, his Luftwaffe needed to wipe the Royal Air Force from the skies. Thus took place history’s first strategic military campaign conducted in the air alone. This book contains a large number of dramatic eyewitness accounts, even as it reveals new facts that will alter perception of the battle in the public’s eyes. For example, the twin-engined Messerschmitt Bf 110 was actually a good day fighter, and it performed at least as well in this role as the Bf 109 during the battle. The Luftwaffe’s commander, Hermann Göring, performed far better than has previously been his image. The British night bombers played a more decisive role than previously thought; meantime this book disproves that the German 109 pilots were in any way superior to their Hurricane or Spitfire counterparts. The author has made a detailed search into the loss records for both sides, and provides statistics that will raise more than one eyebrow. The “revisionist” version, according to which the courage and skill of the RAF airmen is “exaggerated” is scrutinized and completely shattered. There is no doubt that it was the unparalleled efforts of “The Few” that won the battle. The Germans, on the other hand, did not show the same stamina as they had on the continent. The following summer they would show it again when they went in to Russia. In the skies over Britain this work verifies where credit was due."
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A definitive history of the great commanders of ancient Rome, from bestselling author Adrian Goldsworthy.

“In his elegantly accessible style, Goldsworthy offers gripping and swiftly erudite accounts of Roman wars and the great captains who fought them. His heroes are never flavorless and generic, but magnificently Roman. And it is especially Goldsworthy's vision of commanders deftly surfing the giant, irresistible waves of Roman military tradition, while navigating the floating logs, reefs, and treacherous sandbanks of Roman civilian politics, that makes the book indispensable not only to those interested in Rome and her battles, but to anyone who finds it astounding that military men, at once driven and imperiled by the odd and idiosyncratic ways of their societies, can accomplish great deeds.” —J. E. Lendon, author of Soldiers and Ghosts: A History of Battle in Classical Antiquity
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