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Subject: Military History Bookshelf - August 2015 rss

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John Robinson
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Welcome to a new Month and a new thread, let everyone know what book you are reading and what you think of it.
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Roger Hobden
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Just started reading the book on the empires of the silk road that will be discussed during the upcoming book club discussion.


Chock full of information I knew nothing about.


cool
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Rev. Mark Fischer
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Erik Larson's Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of my Lusitania. This, like every other Larson title, is simply beautiful and his research skills are second to none.
John Foley's The Boiler Plate War. Here is the authors own words, "Not that I am an historian, military or otherwise. I am simply a story teller, and here I have tried to tell the story of tanks in the first world war, and particularly of some of the people who manned them, as it has been told to me by countless people since Lance-sergeant Richards first started it..."
and finally, an old book by G. Murray Wison, Fighting Tanks, an Account of the Royal Tank Corps in Action 1916-1919. (published 1929) This is a real gem of a book with excellent photographs and drawings of WWI tanks.
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Iain K
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I've just started:



So far it's very engaging and full of details I didn't know although the author does seem prone to hyperbole. Also, he presents Napoleon as 5'3" tall and in a footnote explains why he chose to do so despite reports that Napoleon was as tall as 5'8". Well why report him as any height at all. Better to say nothing about his height then to present a number as fact with a footnote admitting it's conjecture.
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So far so good. I haven't gotten to the military parts yet, but the man's "everything-or-nothing" approach to life is quite evident early on in his political and personal life.

It's a step up from Toland's book, which I read decades ago, as it is focused more on historical record and method, and so therefore feels more accurate and fresh. It's also relatively mistake free on the Kindle edition (which Evans's "The Coming of the Third Reich" was not).

I think I'll take a break and start "The Mediterranean and Middle East: Volume I The Early Successes Against Italy," by Playfair et al. This is the British official history of the theater, which I think I owe it to myself to read finally.

I've resolved to stop buying paper books, mainly for space and reselling reasons, so that's been an added reading challenge in 2015. Attention span is another, especially in the summer.
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Andy Daglish
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Cheadle
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http://guantanamodiary.com/



Recently published. A first frightening impression is that the War on Terror is conducted by US armed service officers who are not entirely competent. The questioners tell the questioned what intel they want most, and then they get it, along with its confirmation. In return the torture stops and conditions improve.

The book contains very many redactions -- the black strikeouts -- but the odd choices made here are such that many can easily be guessed, as many footnotes point out. Also the rules the redactor follows can be discerned eg. they don't want anyone to know there are female and foreign torturers/interrogators, so early on all such prepositions are removed. Later on the redactor starts to get bored, and various words like 'her' and 'she' pop up, along with the real name of one commissioned interrogator, along with his prison nom-de-guerre.

Another worry is that here we are in classic American admin territory where someone might go down big time, for what seems to be an enormous screw-up, but no one wants to take the blame. In this instance they locked up an electrical engineer from Mauritania for 14 years, following intense torture, because his ex-wife's sister was the wife of the dissenter on Osama bin Laden's Shura religious panel, and that he briefly belonged to Al Qaeda when it was using American-supplied munitions against the Soviets in Afghanistan. That the man seems to have no useful information leads to permanent incarceration, due to the official suspicion he might be holding something back. Co-operating terrorists were released some time ago.

And so it goes...one of the two sections of total redaction, covering pages, will be Slahi's exculpatory polygraph test.

A last illogicality is that whereas terrorism kills about 100 Americans a year, they shoot 30,000 to 40,000 of themselves dead during the same period. This makes me wonder why they bother with Guantanamo, given its damaging effects, especially to America's diplomatic power.
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Dale Donovan
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Reading FORTRESS MALTA and I'm really enjoying learning about an aspect of WWII I knew nothing about.
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Tim Korchnoi
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Richmond
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My Little Man's first real wargame play: Barbarossa Solitaire
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Working my way through Robert Asprey's Rise of Napoleon Bonaparte after which I will read the companion volume The Reign of Napoleon Bonaparte
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Jason Maxwell
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Getting ready to play Empire of the Sun so this seemed appropriate.
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Paul Martz
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JasonRMax wrote:

Getting ready to play Empire of the Sun so this seemed appropriate.


Excellent book. I am am really glad I "had" to read it during college.
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Wendell
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Si non potes reperire Berolini in tabula, ludens essetis non WIF.
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Hey, get your stinking cursor off my face! I got nukes, you know.
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Just finished reading The Blood Telegram: Nixon, Kissinger and a Forgotten Genocide. It's about the 1971 bloodletting in East Pakistan (now Bangladesh), very much from a US perspective - there is a lot about what happened there, but also a lot about Nixon's and Kissinger's support for Pakistan, in part due to the Pakistan leader's role as a channel in setting up the Kissinger trip to China that set up the resumption of US-China relations. Not strictly military history, but the book also covers the actual India-Pakistan war in late 1971 which culminated in Pakistan's defeat and the independence of Bangladesh. Interesting.



I personally think Nixon and Kissinger were totally fucked in their policy about the massacres in East Pakistan etc, both from a calculating US policy perspective and from the humanitarian angle.
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BrentS
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The Tale of the Heike
(my version is a beautifully illustrated Viking hardback, not the Penguin edition pictured, but same cover art and I assume the same translation)


As much a work of literature as a history but it's nearly contemporary with the events (probably the generation after the war) and is certainly solidly grounded in genuine detail. This has been sitting in my virtual reading pile for quite a few years. A friend recently bought me a new copy (Royall Tyler translation in which he presents the text in a format reflecting its performance character….successfuly, I think) and I decided I’d put it off too long.

I’ve long been familiar with the rough outline of the Genpei War and particularly the nearly mythic legacy of the Battle of Dan-no-Ura…….the crabs on the nearby beaches that in the years after were supposed to bear the faces of the dead Taira on their backs; and the tale of Hoichi the Earless, the blind monk who played his biwa and sang excerpts from the Tale every night to a lord and his retainers, not realising his audience was actually the unquiet spirits of the Taira dead (years ago I saw a fantastically atmospheric performance of this particular story staged in the Darling Harbour Chinese Gardens in Sydney, and it’s also one of the ghost tales featured in the movie Kwaidan).

I’d only meant to sample the Tale of the Heike but couldn’t put it down, reading it all through in a week. Historically fascinating and beautifully lyrical…….the Tale of Genji with battles! One of the things that really resonated with me was that I’ve recently visited so many of the sites where the action takes place in the Tale, particularly temples and shrines (we’ve been to Kyoto twice in the last three years…..a family favourite )……..Kiyomizudera, Toji, Miidera, Mount Hiei, the great Nara temples (particularly the Great Buddha at Todaiji, the destruction of which is a critical event in the story), the Fushimi Inari shrine, Miyajima and the Itsukushima Shrine, Uji and the Byodo-in (where the opening battle of the Genpei War took place). In most cases the buildings have been reconstructed a number of times since the 12th century but the sites are the same.

I also had a pleasant surprise to read an original record of the celebrated female warrior, Tomoe Gozen (I hadn’t realised she featured in the Tale of the Heike). Her appearance as a retainer of Morimoto no Yoshinaka is only brief but she does kick ass and then ride off into the sunset of legend. One of my favourite series of fantasy novels as a kid was Jessica Amanda Salmonson’s Tomoe Gozen books.



In fact, these books were probably the start of my interest in feudal and mythical Japan. I’ve always been fascinated by the idea of the historical figure the hero was based on and here she was!

Brent.
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suPUR DUEper
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Continuing on my Vietnam journey.

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Keegan Fink
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Just a few things I picked up this weekend while visiting family in Maryland laugh

Was hoping to find a hardcover of "Army At Dawn", book one of the Liberation Trilogy, but I figured this three volume 1956 6th ED printing of Von Clausewitz's "On War" was a more than suitable substitute!
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Pete Belli
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"If everybody is thinking alike, then somebody isn't thinking."
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Omdurman, by Philip Ziegler



Planning an epic Sudan 1898 scenario for Battle Cry.
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Jeffrey D Myers
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"Always rely upon a happy mind alone." Geshe Chekhawa.
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Interesting thesis regarding a devious Eisenhower.

Decided to read it having picked it up for free at some point and due to now playing Ardennes '44 (1st ed.).
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Andrew N
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Currently reading:



Very interesting, well researched and written. Snyder's main aim is to call attention to the vast majority of Hitler and Stalin's victims, who didn't die in concentration camps or gulags (although not ignoring those, either).

and



This is a history that reads like an adventure novel. A couple of SOE operatives recruit a couple dozen too old or unfit reservists to go on a secret mission to blow up a German transmitter on a ship in neutral Goa. Great stuff!
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Eric Stubbs
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Just ordered Bloodlands from Amazon. I probably won't get to it this month, but I've read a lot about Stalin's genocides (from the horror of collectivization through the gulags) and some about the Holocaust, so a book that considers both together is of interest. Thank you for bringing it to my attention.

Not currently reading anything that would fit in this thread, but I'll probably start Bernard Cornwell's recent book on Waterloo soon.
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Carl Fung
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Needing to fulfill my Yom Kippur War fix, I'm reading Avigdor Kahalani's memoir. Surprisingly, this is the first time I've read it and I've just about read every other book on the war. Fascinating account and I keep imagining it as a movie in my head. I'm also recollecting my travel to the Golan Heights last year.



This is overlooking the Valley of Tears:


This is all in conjunction with getting back to my Yom Kippur War game design.
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CJ
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wernervoss wrote:


This is a history that reads like an adventure novel. A couple of SOE operatives recruit a couple dozen too old or unfit reservists to go on a secret mission to blow up a German transmitter on a ship in neutral Goa. Great stuff!


Decent movie starring Gregory Peck, David Niven (Niven actually served in combat during WWII) and Roger Moore:

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Sean McCormick
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This is after pounding through about 1,000 pages of Max Hastings on all the awful things that happened everywhere in 1945.

It's been sort of a depressing summer from a reading perspective.
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seanmac wrote:
This is after pounding through about 1,000 pages of Max Hastings on all the awful things that happened everywhere in 1945.


I just started "Armageddon"!
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Eric Stubbs
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As implied in my earlier post, Bernard Cornwell's book on Waterloo is what I'm reading now! Really good so far, and exactly what I need as an introduction/overview, since it's been years since I read anything on the campaign.
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Sean McCormick
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Arcology wrote:
seanmac wrote:
This is after pounding through about 1,000 pages of Max Hastings on all the awful things that happened everywhere in 1945.


I just started "Armageddon"!


It's excellent.
 
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Mike Oberly
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Currently reading Rick Atkinson's "Liberation" trilogy, more or less all three simultaneously. I can't believe I avoided these till recently, tremendous books. I know they have been compared to Ryan's great books, and they don't suffer from the comparison. Atkinson is such skilled writer, along with being a good historian.

Any of his other books anyone would particularly recommend?
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