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Hunga Dunga
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Hi all! It's been a while. Shall we do it again?!

Please suggest a book for us to read and discuss. Submit a title, author, and short description of the book.

The only restriction this time is that the title needs to be available in paperback.
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A few suggestions:

David Kilcullen - The Accidental Guerrilla - https://www.amazon.com/Accidental-Guerrilla-Fighting-Small-M...


Bill Hayden - The South China Sea: The Struggle for Power in Asia - https://www.amazon.com/South-China-Sea-Struggle-Power/dp/030...


Adrian Goldsworthy - In the Name of Rome: The Men Who Won the Roman Empire - https://www.amazon.com/Name-Rome-Roman-Empire-Phoenix/dp/075...


Ian Toll - The Conquering Tide: War in the Pacific Islands 1942-44 - https://www.amazon.com/Conquering-Tide-Pacific-Islands-1942-...


Kim MacQuarrie - The Last Days of the Incas - https://www.amazon.com/Last-Days-Incas-Kim-MacQuarrie/dp/074...


Hampton Sides - Blood & Thunder: The Epic Story of Kit Carson and the Conquest of the American West - https://www.amazon.com/Blood-Thunder-Carson-Conquest-America...


These are all pretty popular books so I suspect many of you will already have read some (all?) of them. They're on my "to read" list so I thought I'd put them forward!
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Eddy Sterckx
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Anyone with a list of which books have been chosen before ?
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Mark Johnson
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Here's a short, self-serving list of books I'm already getting into, plan to soon, or know to be available in audiobook.












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Brian Morris
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From Candice Millard who authored Destiny of the Republic and River of Doubt. This book covers Winston Churchill and his escape from a pow camp during the Boer War.

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James Lowry
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eddy_sterckx wrote:
Anyone with a list of which books have been chosen before ?

This geeklist doesn't just have that, but you should be able to pick them out easily:
The Military History Book Library
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Ron A
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My vote would be for the South China Sea book by Hayton. Thanks for nominating it, looks like something I really to read no matter what the club decides.
 
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James Lowry
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How Rome Fell by Adrian Goldsworthy

A very good study of the three centuries where the Western Roman Empire came apart. I think he's on to something in the post-game analysis of what went wrong, but the main value is the history of the main part of the book.

Empires and Barbarians by Peter Heather

This covers from AD 1 to 1000, but the fall of the Roman Empire is one of the foci, just covered from outside the Empire. In all, it's a very interesting look at the evolution of non-Roman peoples in Europe, using a fair amount of current theory from Migration Studies.

The Norman Conquest of Southern Italy and Sicily by Gordon S. Brown

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[Brown] covers the problems and successes of the Normans as they go from mercenaries to a power that neither the Pope, the Holy Roman Emperor or the Byzantine Emperor can entirely contain in a very readable format. He doesn’t get bogged down in minutiae, but doesn’t gloss over anything either; overall the writing is not ‘exciting’, but very well done, and this is an excellent lighter history book.


The Crusades: The Authoritative History of the War for the Holy Land by Thomas Asbridge

A very good one-volume history of the Crusades. I found it a little lacking because I'm used to a three volume history, and Asbridge couldn't compete with the details. Still, very good, and there's the beginnings of a good reassessment of the relationship between the Crusaders and Byzantium.

A Distant Mirror by Barbara Tuchman

Rindis wrote:
A Distant Mirror is indeed a history of just about the entire 14th Century, mostly focusing in France. Politics, peasant rebellions, the Black Death, knights, religious peculation, schism, it’s all there; it was a busy time. This is very good narrative history. It’s not a very ‘scholarly’ treatment of the time, but it pours out page after page of people, events, and quotes of contemporary chronicles, and fills you with a distillation of the events of a place which is revealed to be every bit as complex as today.


The Ottoman Age of Exploration by Giancarlo Casale

The Ottomans made a momentarily successful effort to gain control of the Indian Ocean during the 16th Century, and Casale does a good job presenting the history of Ottoman factional politics and their struggles against the Portuguese.

Empires of the Sea by Roger Crowley

Rindis wrote:
Roger Crowley tackles the sixteenth-century clash between East and West in the Mediterranean as a grand epic story in this book. Over fifty years of history is his canvas for a tale of peoples and cultures, which he does a wonderful job with. From start to finish, it is history, and a tale to be told, and Crowley tells it very well.

The only way I can't recommend this book is if you are already well familiar with the 16th century, and even then it can still be a fun read. Otherwise, I recommend this book as an excellently written overview of warfare in the Mediterranean. My only real concern is that it is less sympathetic to the Turks than the West, though that is also part of the nature of the tale.


Iron Kingdom: The Rise and Downfall of Prussia, 1600-1947 by Christopher Munro Clark

Rindis wrote:
Christopher Munro Clark's Iron Kingdom traces the history of Prussia from about 1600 (or, of Brandenburg, just before it acquired Prussia, later known as 'East Prussia'), though its official dissolution in 1947. Along the way, he takes a good look at the institutions as well as the events and people that shaped the Prussian state. I found the last parts of the book very interesting as he traces some very familiar events from the point of view of Prussia instead of Germany. Since the German Empire did not fully absorb its member states, but Prussia was by far the dominant member, there were some odd administrative fits.


Peter the Great: His Life and World by Robert K. Massie

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As a popular history, it does not delve into historical controversy, and presents Peter solidly in his typical role as the hero of ‘westernizing’ Russia, even while clearly showing the tyrannical side that (for instance) pursued suspicions of a conspiracy against him with relentless torture and executions, and that his reforms almost entirely relied on threats and force from Peter himself. I particularly would have liked a better look at the great families of Russia that were important in the state at this time, though I guess that Massie felt they were only important near the beginning and again at the end of his life, and it would have distracted too much from the core of his book to delve into them in any depth.
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Hunga Dunga
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eddy_sterckx wrote:
Anyone with a list of which books have been chosen before ?
BGG Wargamers Book Club Subscription List
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Roger Hobden
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Indeed, the book 1946 looks very good, but the paperback version is only coming out at the end of november.

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Eric Walters
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"...the art of manoeuvering armies...an art which none may master by the light of nature. but to which, if he is to attain success, a man must serve a long apprenticeship." -- G.F.R. Henderson
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Thoroughly debunks Charles J. Hanley's, Sang-Hun Choe's, and Martha Mendoia's Pulitzer Prize winning work in THE BRIDGE AT NO GUN RI: A HIDDEN NIGHTMARE FROM THE KOREAN WAR (2002). Fascinating historical investigation/detective work by an active duty infantry officer who initially detected inconsistencies in the widely publicized and lauded account of American atrocity in the early weeks of the Korean War.
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Eric Walters
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"...the art of manoeuvering armies...an art which none may master by the light of nature. but to which, if he is to attain success, a man must serve a long apprenticeship." -- G.F.R. Henderson
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After reading this book, it's hard to go back to the Bosworth scenario in Blood & Roses without a different map showing Jones's alternative location for the battle.

Marvelous argument to rehabilitate Richard III in the face of what the author terms as "Tudor propaganda," peddled by none other than William Shakespeare (who understood who buttered his bread!).
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Eric Walters
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"...the art of manoeuvering armies...an art which none may master by the light of nature. but to which, if he is to attain success, a man must serve a long apprenticeship." -- G.F.R. Henderson
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The last volume in Frank Dikötter's masterful Mao trilogy. When it comes to killing a leader's own indigenous population, Stalin was a piker compared to Mao!
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Roger Hobden
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Another vote for The Ottoman Age of Exploration, by Giancarlo Casale.



From the Amazon website:

" The Ottoman Age of Exploration is the first comprehensive historical account of this century-long struggle for global dominance, a struggle that raged from the shores of the Mediterranean to the Straits of Malacca, and from the interior of Africa to the steppes of Central Asia. Based on extensive research in the archives of Turkey and Portugal, as well as materials written on three continents and in a half dozen languages, it presents an unprecedented picture of the global reach of the Ottoman state during the sixteenth century. It does so through a dramatic recounting of the lives of sultans and viziers, spies, corsairs, soldiers-of-fortune, and women from the imperial harem. Challenging traditional narratives of Western dominance, it argues that the Ottomans were not only active participants in the Age of Exploration, but ultimately bested the Portuguese in the game of global politics by using sea power, dynastic prestige, and commercial savoir faire to create their own imperial dominion throughout the Indian Ocean. "
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Chris Laudermilk
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No idea if this has come up around here or not, but I saw it while poking through the Amazon offerings with the news today of more Prime member freebies.



I know nothing of this book, but it certainly sounds interesting. I have never seen a book coming from this perspective, so it ought to be an interesting read. It's gone on my to-read list.
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Florent Leguern
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claudermilk wrote:
No idea if this has come up around here or not, but I saw it while poking through the Amazon offerings with the news today of more Prime member freebies.



I know nothing of this book, but it certainly sounds interesting. I have never seen a book coming from this perspective, so it ought to be an interesting read. It's gone on my to-read list.


I've read some voices ring bells, claiming this to be more of a fraud... It's a bit late here for further invastigation, but it might be worth looking for more info before reading on this book.
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Chris Laudermilk
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Ah, good to know. Thanks.
 
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Roger Hobden
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The Deluge, by Adam Tooze.



From the Amazon website:

A century after the outbreak of fighting, Yale historian Adam Tooze takes an entirely new perspective on “the war to end all wars,” focusing on the closing years of the conflict and its aftermath up to the Great Depression. This tumultuous period saw hopes for lasting peace and liberal internationalism collide with violent upheavals and the ultimate rise of totalitarian regimes. And it saw the emergence of a new global order in which all the major powers—the war’s winners and losers alike—saw their fates bound up with those of the United States, now the world’s dominant economic force. All-embracing, powerfully argued, and deeply instructive, The Deluge is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand the roots of America’s fraught relationship with the world.
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Will Pearson
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+1 for Deluge, area of interest for me right now.
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Johnny Wilson
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I have a couple of suggestions from the Asian theater before it was considered the Asian theater. Shanghai in the '30s has always fascinated me and the book, Shanghai: 1937: Stalingrad on the Yangtze, has orders of battle which drop down to the divisional commanders.



And I don't think this other one will fly, but it's a fascinating subject to me about how war atrocities occur. And, since I talk about the Rape of Nanking, use of comfort women, and the like in my history class, I'll be reading this soon--whether the club chooses it or not. Both books are available as eBooks through Amazon. I don't know about library coverage.

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Johnny Wilson
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ericmwalters wrote:


After reading this book, it's hard to go back to the Bosworth scenario in Blood & Roses without a different map showing Jones's alternative location for the battle.

Marvelous argument to rehabilitate Richard III in the face of what the author terms as "Tudor propaganda," peddled by none other than William Shakespeare (who understood who buttered his bread!).


Yeah, I thought I was so cool when I went to visit Bosworth, only to discover some decade later that it was the wrong place.

As for the Richard III rehabilitation, that's been going on for a long time. There is the Richard III Society and when I visited Middleham Castle where he spent his boyhood, the book shop had numerous ones--including the mystery by Josephine Tey (Daughter of Time) that used real evidence in a pseudo-story about a detective who was hospitalized and trying to solve the mystery while he rehabilitated. I particularly disliked the oversimplification in Alison Weir's The Princes in the Tower in which she totally followed the Tudor line of the same Chronicles from which Shakespeare (or whomever wrote those plays--grin) cadged his historical information.
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Michael Sommers
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drjohnny wrote:
As for the Richard III rehabilitation, that's been going on for a long time. There is the Richard III Society and when I visited Middleham Castle where he spent his boyhood, the book shop had numerous ones--including the mystery by Josephine Tey (Daughter of Time) that used real evidence in a pseudo-story about a detective who was hospitalized and trying to solve the mystery while he rehabilitated. I particularly disliked the oversimplification in Alison Weir's The Two Princes in which she totally followed the Tudor line of the same Chronicles from which Shakespeare (or whomever wrote those plays--grin) cadged his historical information.

Weir didn't follow "the Tudor line", she followed the evidence, and there is no evidence that the boys survived Richard's reign. Tey, on the other hand, was writing a novel (an entertaining one, to be sure, but still a novel). Although she does use some of the evidence, she also uses lots of speculation and guesswork, starting with the silly notion that you can tell a person's character just by looking at a painted portrait from 500 years ago.
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Johnny Wilson
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If, by evidence you mean circular reasoning and ignoring what even contemporary sources indicate--that Buckingham, not Richard, was in London at the time the twins were killed--Weir definitely followed the evidence.

I actually read Weir's book when visiting Barnard Castle, Middleham Castle, and Bosworth on my Richard III pilgrimage. To be honest, I memorized that opening monologue because I wanted to play a real villain. But whether I looked at taxation during Richard's reign, the decision to create a traffic pattern (albeit opposite of the eventual Continental pattern), and, as vile as it was, protected the kingdom from his drunken lout of a brother.

I'm not English and my history may be oversimplified, but The Princes in the Tower had to be the most unconvincing history book I've ever read (and I've read some bad ones). For example, on p. 210, Weir appeals to "authentic rumours" about Richard killing his wife. On pp. 5-6, the "historian" gives credence to an Italian poet from the 16th c. who lavishly praised the legacy of Richard up till 1485 and then, apparently pleased the king (Henry VII, who had destroyed the Titulus Regius to eradicate evidence of Richard's reign in 1484) with a total shift in 1485. Suddenly, Weir accepts the view that Richard murdered his wife, as well as the two princes. Another apparently acceptable source for Weir is Sir Thomas More's biography which even More admitted was full of unsubstantiated conjectures and Weir admits suffers from "obvious flaws." (p. 9) On p. 207 she cites the Croyland Chronicles' assertion that Richard used psychological techniques to cause Anne, his wife, to waste away. She says that this is in accordance with the "other evidence" less than a page after she stated that Anne probably died of TB or cancer. Ooh, how precocious of Richard to be able to inflict those diseases on her.

Maybe we should read both Bosworth and The Princes in the Tower and let the group decide how worthy Weir's book is.

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Michael Sommers
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drjohnny wrote:
If, by evidence you mean circular reasoning ...

How about examples of circular reasoning?

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... and ignoring what even contemporary sources indicate-- ...

Odd that two paragraphs later you excoriate Weir for even mentioning what contemporaries were saying.

Quote:
... that Buckingham, not Richard, was in London at the time the twins were killed--Weir definitely followed the evidence.

Are you claiming that Richard could only have been responsible for the deaths of the princes if he had been physically present?

Quote:
... The Princes in the Tower had to be the most unconvincing history book I've ever read (and I've read some bad ones).

Without meaning to be insulting, perhaps when you read it your mind was already made up, and you were not open to being convinced.

Quote:
For example, on p. 210, Weir appeals to "authentic rumours" about Richard killing his wife.

I don't see the phrase "authentic rumours" on that page, but that is incidental. If you read the whole paragraph, you see that Weir is not citing the rumors as proof of the content of the rumors, but to counter the argument made by Richardians that no contemporaries had any ill thoughts of Richard, and that the anti-Richard sentiments were solely the result of Tudor propaganda.

Quote:
On pp. 5-6, the "historian" gives credence to an Italian poet from the 16th c. who lavishly praised the legacy of Richard up till 1485 and then, apparently pleased the king (Henry VII, who had destroyed the Titulus Regius to eradicate evidence of Richard's reign in 1484) with a total shift in 1485.

Another strawman. In her first chapter, Weir goes over literally all of the contemporary sources. Merely mentioning Carmeliano does not mean that Weir uncritically endorses everything he wrote.

Quote:
Suddenly, Weir accepts the view that Richard murdered his wife, ...

Where does she do that? On p. 210 she says it is possible. That is not the same as saying it is certain, or even probable.

Quote:
Another apparently acceptable source for Weir is Sir Thomas More's biography ...

Again, in the first chapter Weir goes over every contemporary source in existence. Omitting More's account would have been egregious.

Quote:
... Weir admits suffers from "obvious flaws." (p. 9)

Since Weir states (not 'admits') that More's account is flawed, she obviously accepts it uncritically.

Quote:
On p. 207 she cites the Croyland Chronicles' assertion that Richard used psychological techniques to cause Anne, his wife, to waste away.

Yes, Weir cites the fact that Croyland reports the same story reported by Vergil, which proves, not that the story is true, but that neither Vergil nor Croyland made it up.

Quote:
She says that this is in accordance with the "other evidence" less than a page after she stated that Anne probably died of TB or cancer.

What? Weir reports that both Vergil and Croyland report a story about Anne hearing a rumor that Richard was trying to kill her and confronting Richard over it, and so you conclude that Weir believes not only that the rumor was true, but that Richard's alleged attempts to kill her succeeded? After Weir had already said that Anne probably died of natural causes?

Quote:
Ooh, how precocious of Richard to be able to inflict those diseases on her.

Who claims that he did any such thing?

Quote:
Maybe we should read both Bosworth and The Princes in the Tower and let the group decide how worthy Weir's book is.

By all means read the books, but do so without trying to shoehorn either into any preconceived and unalterable ideas you might already have.
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Johnny Wilson
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Well, I cited specific references and you make suggestions. If you think my citations don't mean anything, by all means show me some evidence of Weir actually following the evidence. She certainly does buy into Croyland at several points in the book.

Also, I was precisely pointing out that Weir believed the rumor, not that I did.

Perhaps, YOU had the preconceived notions. My edition of the book has a dust jacket slightly different than the one pictured here and it promised that Weir would show definitive evidence that Richard murdered the princes. Even though Richard was in the North, Richard could definitely have ordered the killing of the princes. On the other hand, Buckingham may have figured he could curry favor by removing the princes and, when he discovered the hostility toward Richard for their deaths, kept silence to protect himself. I'm just saying that I'm not convinced that he gave the order, much less did himself as in the popular version.

I guess I'm simply not smart enough to be in your book club, so I'll take my leave.
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