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Subject: The Falklands War: My Self-Education rss

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joe mcgrath
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Having recently acquired & fallen in love with this game, I've decided to educate myself on the Falklands War.
To that end, I just completed my first assignment: reading Sharkey Ward's excellent 'Sea Harrier Over the Falklands', a ripping-good tale. The author has a huge ego (Imagine! A fighter pilot with a large ego!), but also a very engaging writing style and, as Squadron Commander of the Sea Jets on Invincible, was right in the thick of things. In it he chronicles his simultaneous struggles against two foes: the Argentine Air Force, for whom he has tremendous respect, and the Royal Navy brass, who resisted development of the Sea Harrier (didn't know that!) and who, in the form of the command staff aboard Hermes, constantly meddled in accomplishing his mission. For them he has, um, less than respect.
Highly recommended! It's out of print, but reasonably priced used copies can be found on line.
Next up...the view from 'the other side', sort of: the meddeling commander Adm Sandy Woodward's 'One Hundred Days'. Wonder how he portrays Sharkey...?
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Christopher Ross
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After getting this game, I reread The Battle for the Falklands by Max Hastings and Simon Jenkins. It had been twenty years since I first read, so it was good to reacquaint myself with the conflict.

But I was a little surprised to see that it was published in 1984.

Anyone have a more current book recommendation that covers the whole war?

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Martin McCleary
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One Hundred Days: The memoirs of the Falklands Battle Group Commander by Admiral Sandy Woodward.

Very good.
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joe mcgrath
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Rallye72 wrote:
One Hundred Days: The memoirs of the Falklands Battle Group Commander by Admiral Sandy Woodward.

Very good.


I agree. Just finished Woodward's account. Though not as compelling as Sharky Ward's memoir, this book gives the 'view from the top' in a straight forward and unvarnished way. Woodward praises many and criticizes a few - not least of all himself - and gives one a sense of the almost improvised nature of this operation. He also clearly shows what a close run thing the Falklands invasion was, how a few more Exocets or the earlier arrival of winter storms could have tipped the balance in the Argentine's favor. And the catalogue of losses he narrates - two destroyers, two frigates, a large container ship and one landing ship sunk, several others damaged, ten Harriers written off - sounds like the outcome of most of my games, but these were real ships and crews, not make believe.

Next up, Amphibious Assault Falklands by Michael Clapp, the man responsible for getting the troops ashore...
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Ryan
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The only book I've read is Razor's Edge: The Unofficial History of the Falklands War by Hugh Bicheno. I posted a brief description of the book on [listitem=2058595]here[/listitem] on [geeklist=137924]I would recommend this HISTORY BOOK, if you like subject of this WARGAME[/geeklist] geeklist.

As I wrote in the geeklist, it is a very interesting book, although probably not the first book someone uninitiated in the Falkland Islands War should read. In addition to a wide cast of characters to keep track of, he jumps straight into the politics and history of the conflict from the point of view of each antagonist. A subject of which I'd had no prior exposure. I'd like to read some other material and go back to it later. The author is unsparing of incompetence and poor leadership on either side but praises those, in detail, who did their jobs honorably on both sides. The battles sequences are recreated in a very...technical manner and are incredibly detailed. They are not quick to read through, though. A familiarity with the local geography or access to a good map while reading (in addition to those provided) would make the reading experience better.

The book also focuses primarily on the land campaign. Sea and air actions are described, though in much less detail than ground actions. The ground game is the author's primary setting and focus.

Anyway, I recommend it to those who have more than rudimentary background knowledge of this topic. I did enjoy it, even though I was completely uneducated on the topic.

Although, after reading it I grew to desire a beefed up ground campaign in the game since the land invasion is so abstracted and abridged as is.
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joe mcgrath
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Welp, just finished Clapp's 'Amphibious Assault Falklands', and it wasn't easy. Clapp was the on-scene commander responsible for planning and executing the initial amphibious assault, and all subsequent ship-to-shore support of the land campaign. A lot of what he recounts has to do with logistics. They say that amateurs discuss tactics and professionals discuss logistics -- in that case, call me an amateur!

This was a difficult book to get through. One gets the impression that the author crammed 150 pages of material into a 277. Although he spends virtually no time on his personal back story or previous military career, we don't even arrive in the Falklands until after page 100. The Falklands may be devoid of trees, but in this book you can't see the forest for the trees. Clapp delves into the minutia of day-to-day logistics to the detriment of the overall narrative and to the reader's (or at least THIS reader's) attention span. The profusion of acronyms (dozens per page) and paucity of maps (ONE in the entire book) do not help.

Even so, I did learn some things. I continue to be amazed by the almost slap-dash nature of this campaign -- it could have been called 'Operation Shoe String'. The Brits had neither the equipment, nor the training, nor the doctrine, nor the communications gear, nor the contingency plans to carry out this campaign. Equipment and stores were loaded onto ships not in the order in which they would need to be offloaded, but in the order in which they arrived at dockside. Much of the time sailing south was spent sorting all this out. Some of it never was. Arguably the four most important ships in the task force - the two carriers and the two amphibious assault command ships - had to be saved from the scrap yard or the auction block - literally - before they could set sail. Embarked Army units had never exercised with their Navy counterparts. The Royal Marines had given up on opposed amphibious assaults, only practicing landings on friendly host nation's shores. Helicopters were in critically short supply throughout. Lines of authority, command, and communication were ambiguous and shifting - [perhaps the most important factor in the war's biggest debacle, the loss of the transport Sir Galahad and dozens of Welsh Guardsmen aboard her at Bluff Cove].

None of this is a knock on the British military's professionalism - in fact the contrary is true. Much of these shortcomings were budget- and politically- driven and the fact that these self-inflicted wounds were overcome and the enemy defeated is truly incredible. It was also a very close-run thing. When the shooting stopped, the RN frigates and destroyers had only 2 days worth of ammunition left for their guns.

This book was informative, but not fun. I learned a lot, but didn't enjoy it, and almost put it down more than once. I'm looking forward to my next, and final book in this exercise, Hasting's 'Battle For The Falklands'.
Nav out.
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joe mcgrath
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Wow! Just over 100 pages into Hasting's book and I'm REALLY enjoying it. The book, like the game, manages to capture the full scope of the conflict from geopolitics all the way down to tactics, yet still remain engaging. The task force is closing on the islands...can't wait to finish...
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Jon M
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Say what you like about Hastings credentials as a historian but he tells a ripping good yarn. If you liked that a number of his other historical books are also good reads (though you can hear a number of his personal axes grinding in them)
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Greg S
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navigator37 wrote:
Wow! Just over 100 pages into Hasting's book and I'm REALLY enjoying it. The book, like the game, manages to capture the full scope of the conflict from geopolitics all the way down to tactics, yet still remain engaging. The task force is closing on the islands...can't wait to finish...


I wonder how it ends?

Great book, although I read it many years ago. Perhaps I need to pull it out and read it again!
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joe mcgrath
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I finished Hastings’ book a while ago, but am just getting around to my review…
.
I simply cannot say enough good things about this book. In addition to being comprehensive, I found it to be utterly engaging, even the diplomatic stuff. Hastings has a wonderful ability to capture the spirit of the moment in little vignettes:
“On the last Sunday morning before the landing, in the middle of the (aboard ship) church service in the cinema the tannoy interrupted: ‘Air attack threat, warning yellow!’…The congregation continued with the singing of ‘For Those In Peril On The Sea’. It was impossible not to be profoundly moved…”

And to explain complex topics with a deft turn of phrase, like this on the RN’s overreliance on missile defense:
“Woodward’s ships were equipped with only a handful of…anti-aircraft guns, regarded by ship designers as mere historical leftovers, hand-pumps on the village green.”
Or this:
“Diplomacy may have been powerless to stop war once the task force had sailed. It was by no means powerless in contributing to its eventual success.”

In addition to being a terrific account of the conflict, it also serves as a cautionary tale to generals, admirals, and policy makers of today. When asked after the war why the Royal Navy was so terrifyingly vulnerable to sea-skimming antiship missiles, a senior officer said ‘because the Russians have no Exocet’. Again, Hastings:
“Britain was reminded of the cost of being overwhelmingly ‘scenario-oriented’ to the confrontation in north-west Europe…reminded that there is always an unexpected military threat which defence planning must be flexible enough to provide for…The motto of the Falklands war is: ‘You never know’”. Indeed.


I’ve enjoyed my Falklands War self-education, and appreciate WTID even more. Here’s how I’d summarize:
If you only read one book on the conflict, it has to be Hastings’.
Second, I’d recommend Sharky Ward’s compelling from-the-cockpit-of-a-Harrier memoir.
Adm Woodward’s account is worthwhile and readable.
Clapp’s Amphibious Assault only if you are obsessed/a glutton for punishment.

Cheers!
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Tuomas Takala
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Great list of books! I have to read some of them again, once/before I get my copy of the game.

I have nothing to add, really... except maybe a video.



I'm always very impressed by the shots from the San Carlos bomb alley... crazy stuff, respect to the Arg pilots as well as the British defenders. Too bad there is very little footage available from the engagements, though it's quite understandable.
 
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Dave Langdon
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Couldn't agree more about Hastings, though Sharkey does give a more honed view of the air war.

Sharkey bemoaned the loss of our harriers being mothballed recently.

Goose green by Mark Adkin is probably my second favourite Falklands book after Hastings.
 
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joe mcgrath
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Been a while since I've updated this thread/read anything on the Falklands, but I just started on Goose green by Mark Adkin and am really enjoying it -- review to follow.
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Dave Langdon
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It's still my favourite Falklands book, Adkin loves his detail.
 
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joe mcgrath
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I've just finished Goose Green by Mark Adkin, a thorough treatment, albeit from the British viewpoint, of this first land battle of the Falklands War. Goose green was merely a spot on the map and the battle fought there was of no consequence to the overall campaign, but took on enormous symbolic value; the British fought it on a shoestring and with significant disadvantages but, in the end, their superior troop quality, leadership, and will prevailed. In that way, it was a microcosm of the whole war.
Adkin delves deeply into the culture of the 2nd Batallion, The Parachute Regiment, and the fighting spirit imbued in it by its leader, Col 'H' Jones, who would perish in the battle and be awarded the Victoria Cross. He gives a detailed, almost moment-by-moment account of this close-run battle from the perspective of the Paras who fought it. I appreciated the abundance of maps which help the reader stay oriented in this often confusing battle. Despite all the detail, he manages to keep the story moving along and holds the reader's interest.
Adkin's admiration for the soldiers in this story is evident and at times, I thought, kept him from a critical analysis events. This is especially true of his treatment of Col H - how he died and how he ran the battle. Although strictly speaking outside the scope of this book, I would like to have known how the unit fared in its subsequent battle before Port Stanley.
I enjoyed this book and learned a lot. Adkin does for ground combat what Sharkey Ward does for the air war - puts you there in the fight. Recommended.
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joe mcgrath
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Has anyone read Air War South Atlantic by Jeffrey Ethell? Worth a go?
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Tim Earl
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Although Hastings' book is a good treatment of the conflict, his anti-Americanism shines through early on when he blames the war on an act of American piracy in the 19th century. Apparently, that made the Falkands just too tempting for the British to resist...
 
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Dave Langdon
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I can't knock Hastings book, he's a good writer, and in this particular book was actually present in the conflict.

Any anti-American sentiment was mild digging, I think mainly for the fact the UK was looking for more help. I can't remember which unit and what book but I do remember a British unit stopping over in an American base and getting all the help they could possibly need in preparation.

I also love the story of the US stinger demonstration in the Gulf war for the SAS and finding out they'd already successfully used it in combat (Falklands).
 
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