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BOOK REVIEW: Red Storm on the Reich: The Soviet March on Germany 1945

Posted By Russ Lockwood, Thursday, June 13, 2019

by Christopher Duffy. Good operational overview of the Soviet attacks from the Vistula River to the Oder River in early 1945 peppered with first-hand anecdotes.

One thing wargamers rarely do, but Duffy explains well, is the pre-attack artillery bombardments. For example, Konev's 1st Ukrainian Front first prep fire used 300 medium and heavy artillery guns -- PER KILOMETER – at 0435 for about five or so minutes to cover infantry probes of the German outposts. The second prep fire at 1000 lasted 107 minutes, ranged behind German lines to depth of 10km, and destroyed 2/3 of German artillery and 1/4 of German infantry (pgs. 67-71). The main attack started at 11:30, the 2000 (two thousand) tanks went in at 1500 and by 1700 the tanks were 20km (about 12 miles) behind German lines.

Numbers intermixed with analysis and anecdotes make this a fascinating book. Enjoyed it.

Tags:  Eastern Front  WW2  WWII 

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BOOK REVIEW: Under the Guns: New York 1775-1776

Posted By Russ Lockwood, Thursday, June 13, 2019

by Bruce Bliven jr.

The narrow focus on NYC at the beginning of the Revolution provides excruciating detail on the political infighting among the various American factions. However impressive the research, this 1972 book often reads like meeting minutes. Of interesting note are the many raids by Connecticut militia on NYC civilian and military installations held by New York militia! So much for one big happy rebellion!

And that's why I kept plodding through the text: The information is compelling no matter how joyless the read.

Tags:  American Revolution 

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BOOK REVIEW: Arab-Israeli Wars

Posted By Russ Lockwood, Thursday, June 13, 2019

by A. J. Barker.

This 1981 book is a book club edition and suffers from production shortcomings -- the photos are incredibly dark and the text runs too close to the spine so you have to really crack that spine to read it. It provides an overview of the 1948, 1967, and 1973 wars and some points in between.

I'm not as familiar with post-WWII history as WWII and before, so this operational-level book, intermixed with anecdotes, offered good general information. Enjoyed it.

Tags:  Arab-Israeli Wars 

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BOOK REVIEW: B-29 Combat Missions: First-Hand Accounts of Superfortress Operations Over the Pacific and Korea

Posted By Russ Lockwood, Thursday, June 13, 2019

by Donald Nijboer and Steve Pace.

A better gift than I first thought when looking at the cover. Takes you position by position through a B-29, punctuated by first-person anecdotes -- mostly benign, some tragic, and some laugh-out-loud funny. Lots of period and contemporary photos, pages of manuals, and other period graphics.

Moral: Don't judge a discount bin book by its cover. Enjoyed it.

Tags:  Air  WW2  WWII 

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BOOK REVIEW: Frederick the Great

Posted By Russ Lockwood, Tuesday, June 4, 2019
BOOK REVIEW: Frederick the Great

by Nancy Mitford. While I've read a bit here and there about Frederick the Great, it's mostly about his battles. This biography pretty much ignores battles -- the entire Seven Years War is covered in about 16 pages.

It concentrates on his childhood and the influences that carried him through the rest of his life and then on the interactions with his family and aristocracy across Europe. It's a nice change of pace. Enjoyed it.

Tags:  Seven Years War 

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BOOK REVIEW: William Shakespeare Without the Boring Bits: A Brief Guide

Posted By Russ Lockwood, Tuesday, June 4, 2019
BOOK REVIEW: William Shakespeare Without the Boring Bits: A Brief Guide

by Peter Ackroyd.

This might have been better written by Dan Ackroyd. If you take out the 'boring bits,' you pretty much have Cliff Notes (i.e. Spark Notes for the younger folks). After a brief biography of the Bard and his times, which was interesting, each play gets the same treatment: Sources Shakespeare used for background, Main Characters, and Plot Summary. Some add excerpts from the play. Tragedies are covered in depth, but historicals not so much. Includes complete texts of all 154 sonnets. To me, those 'boring bits' of Shakespeare make for brilliant theater. This book certainly will not foster any enjoyment of classic literature.

Tags:  Historical Fiction 

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BOOK REVIEW: The German Generals Talk: Startling Revelations from Hitler's High Command

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, June 4, 2019
BOOK REVIEW: The German Generals Talk: Startling Revelations from Hitler's High Command

by B. H. Liddell Hart.

This is a 1975 trade paperback version of the 1948 classic. Provides a good overview, circa 1920s through 1945, of German generals blaming Hitler for everything WWII, but in between the finger pointing are some interesting tactical observations.

For example: General Heinrici, commander of 4th Army, in 1943: Russians usually made about three attacks per day. First at 9am after heavy artillery preparation, second between 10am and 11am, and third between 2pm and 3pm. Losses of German divisions engaged -- reckoned at the equivalent of one battalion per division per day -- were compensated by drawing battalions from divisions not in direct offensive line. I always tried to have one fresh battalion behind each division. Heinrici also noted that the 3:1 maxim of attackers to defenders for a successful attack should be increased to 6:1 or 7:1 against a well-knit defense with a reasonable frontage. [against presumably Soviet attackers]. He bragged that at times his troops held off 12:1 and even 18:1. (p.216) Enjoyed it.

Tags:  WW2  WWII 

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BOOK REVIEW: Dunkirk: A Patriotic Myth

Posted By Russ Lockwood, Tuesday, June 4, 2019
BOOK REVIEW: Dunkirk: A Patriotic Myth

by Nicholas Harman.

This may be the US version of Dunkirk: A Necessary Myth, by the same author and published in the same year (1980). It rambles a bit, recounting events out of chronological sequence (and putting parenthetical references of page numbers in the text to earlier/later events) -- sort of like the 2017 movie Dunkirk. It's almost as if it's a series of separate magazine articles about the fall of France pasted together. Operation Dynamo proper starts on page 127.

Lots of interesting anecdotes within, flashes of brilliant writing, and then the author goes off chronology and off goes my attention span.

Tags:  WW2  WWII 

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BOOK REVIEW: Das Reich: The Military Role of the 2nd SS Division

Posted By Russ Lockwood, Tuesday, June 4, 2019
BOOK REVIEW: Das Reich: The Military Role of the 2nd SS Division

by James Lukas

Written with cooperation of veterans from the Der Fuhrer Regiment of the Das Reich Division, this thin 1991 book provides an overview of the creation of the division and its military operations 1939 to 1945, from Poland to last defense of Germany in Hungary and Czechoslovakia.

It barely mentions any atrocities and at times reads like SS propaganda. Skirmish gamers might cull the text for small action scenarios. Of note, a road march from Southern France to Western Romania in 1941 took eight days (p.51). Compare that to 17 days needed to get from Toulouse to Normandy after D-Day (p.128). Overall, this overview provides a sense of ebb and flow of combat over the war years.

Tags:  Eastern Front  Normandy  WW2  WWII 

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BOOK REVIEW: Dark Mission: The Secret History of NASA

Posted By Russ Lockwood, Tuesday, May 28, 2019
BOOK REVIEW: Dark Mission: The Secret History of NASA

by Richard C Hoagland and Mike Bara.

Much of this is tin-foil hat territory, but there is enough NASA skullduggery to question when NASA allegedly holds back information, applies graphics filters to blur photos and alter colors, or outright destroys photographs and recordings. If you've seen various TV shows alleging moon bases, alien artifacts, and a giant face on Mars, this will interest you.

Notable claims: our moon has ruins of blue domes, our moon is not all gray but has multi-colored soils (as portrayed in astronaut Alan Bean's paintings), Soviet photos also show structures on the moon, NASA made photos disappear from their 'catalog,' moon landings were NOT faked but some photos were, and the first photographs from Viking 1 Mars landing showing blue-tinted skies were soon taken down and 'color-corrected' to show the orange-tinted skies of the red planet -- but forgot to undo the 'color correction' that turned NASA's blue logo into a reddish logo.

Enjoyed the speculations, even the tin hat ones.

Tags:  Space 

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