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Subject: Interesting wars (real)? rss

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Aaron Percival
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I've done a fair amount of reading on the first and second world wars, and I would consider my knowledge to be on the low to mid end of intermediate. I find these wars to be fascinating militarily, politically, and technologically.

I'd like to start reading a little on other wars, but my overall knowledge isn't good enough to definitively choose a war that might have the same overall appeal as WWI and WWII had for me.

I defer to the more learned on this board for suggestions. My feeling is to stay away from recent conflicts (Vietnam, Korea, Iraq, et cetera), but, then again, I might be ignorant.

Suggestions?
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Pete Belli
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Battle Cry of Freedom might be a good book to borrow from the library.

WARNING! The mystique of the American Civil War can be highly addictive!
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p55carroll
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It's pretty much impossible to say what's going to be interesting to someone else. I've read more about the American Civil War than any other, but I know many people consider it a boring subject. In some respects, even I find it boring--yet something about it keeps calling me back.

You might look into the Napoleonic wars, if anything about them grabs you. A lot happened in that quarter century, and some of the military forces involved had time to develop great proficiency.

I myself have never been strongly attracted to ancient or medieval wars, partly because the available information is relatively scanty. But some historians, wargamers, and amateur enthusiasts love the era and assure me that I'm missing out on a lot. There are many centuries of history to explore there.

It probably depends more on your taste, though, than on what happened historically. So I'd suggest just poking through world-history surveys or time lines and seeing what jumps out at you.
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Richard Hecker
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Let me dingle my little bell (ting! ting!) and suggest for inspiration you go here

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/71470/wargames-and-his...
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Isaac Citrom
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I think that's like asking which flavour of ice cream one might like.

I can speak for myself also as a WWII student, that I also find compelling the American Civil War, the Napoleonic era and Arab-Israeli wars.

Having said that, I just finished watching a 12 hour documentary series on the Vietnam war and my main reaction was, "aha, now I get it." I wonder if in understanding the conflict (any conflict) it makes it interesting. I don't seem drawn to, for example ancient warfare, but perhaps it is because it is so foggy in my mind as was the Vietnam war was previously.
.
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Aaron Percival
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isaacc wrote:
I think that's like asking which flavour of ice cream one might like.


Patrick Carroll wrote:
It's pretty much impossible to say what's going to be interesting to someone else.


Of course, and is probably the idea of starting the thread. I'm looking for some guidance and insight into finding another war(s) that might be as personally appealing to me, as WWI and WWII were.

As I said above, the reason why I find WWI and WWII so enthralling, is that conflict had so much more to it than only the engagement of the belligerents. The deep political story and the amazing technological developments (particularly of interest to me as a physicist) really bring a grand story to the conflicts.

What I'm looking for is a war that has the same "grand" story. For example, I'm sure the political story to Vietnam is fascinating; likewise with the American Civil War, which probably (I don't really know) also had significant impact on the technology of the day too.
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Lucius Cornelius
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My favorite war:

because it is:
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Alfred Wallace
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You could always branch out and start looking at military technology as a subject, across all wars. There's no one really good place to start, but there are many good particular histories--there's a book on the Sidewinder missile, the technology and industry behind the Am. Civil War ironclads, just to name two off the top of my head. A good history of technology book will also link it to political, social, doctrinal, etc history.

But if you want to bury yourself in a particular war, the US Civil War has a lot to recommend it--there may be no more written-about war in English. (Actually, there surely isn't, for better or worse.) I second Battle Cry of Freedom.
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Steve Arthur
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pete belli wrote:
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Battle Cry of Freedom might be a good book to borrow from the library.

WARNING! The mystique of the American Civil War can be highly addictive!


This is absolutely correct...from a previous nil level of interest a decade or so ago recent exposure to the Ken Burns doco and Shelby Foote's terrific books has sucked me in to such an extent that ACW is now one of my main areas of games purchases...
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Percy0715 wrote:
The reason why I find WWI and WWII so enthralling, is that conflict had so much more to it than only the engagement of the belligerents. The deep political story and the amazing technological developments (particularly of interest to me as a physicist) really bring a grand story to the conflicts.

What I'm looking for is a war that has the same "grand" story. For example, I'm sure the political story to Vietnam is fascinating; likewise with the American Civil War, which probably (I don't really know) also had significant impact on the technology of the day too.

A deep political story is usually there behind any major war. Sometimes it's so deep that I prefer to skim through it. Also, a lot of it happens behind closed doors or is obscured by misinformation of various kinds, serving various purposes. Sometimes a historian makes such a convincing case that everybody falls in line with it, and then anyone with a different view is dismissed as a "revisionist"--until enough evidence and support builds up for another view that it becomes worth considering. I have only so much patience for that stuff. But if you're interested in it, it's certainly there in the American Civil War, the Napoleonic Wars, and every big war I've ever read about.

As to technology, you'll probably find that it changed slowly (though sometimes very dramatically) for centuries up to AD 1600 or so. Then gunpowder altered warfare, and then the Industrial Revolution kicked in and tech advancement sped up. During and after the American Civil War, it shifted into high gear, and it continued to leap forward throughout the 20th century and into the 21st.

You might also find that tech advances show up especially in naval warfare. In the long era before internal combustion, that's the place to look (though of course railroads were also a significant transformation in the steam age).
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Carlos Cardozo
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My suggestions are threefold; The Napoleonic Wars/Wars of the French Revolution, the Seven Years' War, and the Crimean War... Maybe the 1st Carlist War too...


All of them have a fairly intricate diplomatic order in Europe, very similar to that which existed in the buildup before WWI, that tends to create a fascinating set of diplomatic and geopolitical factions, oftentimes more than just the two opposed sides. The Wars themselves are interesting, but the State of Europe, diplomatically, before each of these conflicts is equally fascinating.

I have specific book suggestions, if you're interested.
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Aaron Percival
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Emperador Carlos wrote:
I have specific book suggestions, if you're interested.


Interested.
 
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Atraxrobustus wrote:
...ACW is now one of my main areas of games purchases...


Any ACW game recommendations?
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Emperador Carlos wrote:
My suggestions are threefold; The Napoleonic Wars/Wars of the French Revolution, the Seven Years' War, and the Crimean War... Maybe the 1st Carlist War too...



Napoleonic, definitely. With all the rearrangement of
alliances from the revolution onward, there are few eras
as interesting. Seven Years War is somewhat staid - unless
you add Austrian Succession (and perhaps the Bavarian one too).
Another great period is that of the wars of Louis XIV (and the
Great Northern War). Unfortunately, I haven't seen good detailed
games on the strategic level for any of these other than Napoleonic -
though there are some decent lighter ones (No Peace Without Spain,
Soldier Kings, Clash of Monarchs - a tad heavier, but only 7YW proper).

Another topic which hasn't been well treated since way back with
Imperium Romanum II is the Roman Civil Wars; lots of backstabbing
opportunities in those.
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Percy0715 wrote:
Atraxrobustus wrote:
...ACW is now one of my main areas of games purchases...

Any ACW game recommendations?

For you, For the People or The Civil War.

(For me, A House Divided or The Ironclads.)
 
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Jesse Escobedo
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If you want deep political background and the use of cutting edge weapons, take a look at the Arab-Israeli conflicts. You get conflicts with all the major weapon system upgrades since WWII, and they are so often that you can easily game out possible wars too (see Persian Incursion which becomes more likely every day).

Jesse
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Percy0715 wrote:
Atraxrobustus wrote:
...ACW is now one of my main areas of games purchases...


Any ACW game recommendations?


I quite like the 'Glory' series of games and I recently obtained Three Days of Gettysburg (third edition) (as yet unplayed) which features what might be the best map I've seen in all my years of gaming...

I've also heard good things about MMP's Civil War, Brigade (CWB) Series of which I so far only have April's Harvest: The Battle of Shiloh, April 6 & 7, 1862 (also as yet unplayed)...
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LordJesse wrote:
If you want deep political background and the use of cutting edge weapons


When I read this, I think swords.
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pete belli wrote:
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Battle Cry of Freedom might be a good book to borrow from the library.

WARNING! The mystique of the American Civil War can be highly addictive!


Not at all. I have read 400 books on the civil war and I'm not addicted yet!
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Edward Pundyk
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Atraxrobustus wrote:
pete belli wrote:
mb

Battle Cry of Freedom might be a good book to borrow from the library.

WARNING! The mystique of the American Civil War can be highly addictive!


This is absolutely correct...from a previous nil level of interest a decade or so ago recent exposure to the Ken Burns doco and Shelby Foote's terrific books has sucked me in to such an extent that ACW is now one of my main areas of games purchases...


Although I find the history of the ACW to be one of my favourite topics to read about, I'm less enthusiatic about gaming it. Somehow, it's just not as compelling a game subject, in my opinion.

In answer to the original poster, I recommend the "real First World War" - the Seven Years War 1756-63. It's got it all - global scope, one of the great captains of history (Frederick the Great), classic naval battles, another chapter in the Anglo-French conflict, diplomatic maneuvering that led to nations switching sides, and the snazziest looking uniforms EVER.
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I find the Thirty Years War endlessly fascinating, and there are some good general histories readily available. Ben Hull's magnificent Musket and Pike series makes a nice gaming companion to the works of CV Wedgwood and Peter Wilson.
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Personal and political interest of course add a lot to this, but I find the Spanish Civil War to be one of the most interesting wars in recent history. It was the high watermark in a number of senses, it was a desperate war bitterly fought and it was fought in the fields as much as in factories, cathedrals, farms and bureaus. In many ways, it's the 20th century in a nutshell.
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HeinzGuderian wrote:
Personal and political interest of course add a lot to this, but I find the Spanish Civil War to be one of the most interesting wars in recent history. It was the high watermark in a number of senses, it was a desperate war bitterly fought and it was fought in the fields as much as in factories, cathedrals, farms and bureaus. In many ways, it's the 20th century in a nutshell.


I have to agree. This conflict is pretty fascinating in many ways. It was a prelude to WWII. It was a testing ground for tactics for both the fascists (Italy and Germany) and the Soviets. The political climate, feuding, revolution and counter-revolution is also very interesting.

The Russian Civil War is also an interesting topic as a continuation of WWI on russian soil. Here too the politics can get pretty muddied with allies turning against each other, red and white terror tactics, in a very bloody and deadly conflict that would have an impact all throughout the 20th century.

A peace to end all peace, is a very original and interesting book also on the end of the Ottoman empire and the creation of the modern Middle-East.

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sullafelix wrote:
My favorite war:


Second that. The Peloponnesian War had it all. Strategic arms race. Rising powers vs status quo powers. Appeals to the gods. Plagues. Treachery. Shifting alliances. Cease-fires. Hubris. Changes in governments that led to changes in policies. Revolution. Massacres.

There is a reason war colleges still teach this war.

Strassler's edition is also very read-able for us 21st century types.
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wifwendell wrote:
Second that. The Peloponnesian War had it all. Strategic arms race. Rising powers vs status quo powers. Appeals to the gods. Plagues. Treachery. Shifting alliances. Cease-fires. Hubris. Changes in governments that led to changes in policies. Revolution. Massacres.

There is a reason war colleges still teach this war.

Strassler's edition is also very read-able for us 21st century types.

And then, if you want to wargame it, you can even do it solo via a unique designed-for-solitaire wargame: The Peloponnesian War, 431-404 BC.
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