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BOOK REVIEW: Rommel: Battles and Campaigns

Posted By Russ Lockwood, Tuesday, May 28, 2019
BOOK REVIEW: Rommel: Battles and Campaigns

by Kenneth Macksey.

Biography from 1979 focuses on his WWI and WWII service and makes case that the Desert Fox was less fox than baying hound chasing at anything that moved. Asserts Rommel excelled at self-promotion and that credit for desert victories should go to subordinates, particularly Cruwell, who patched together plans when Rommel was out of touch haring after the British.

Acknowledges Rommel did have an excellent tactical feel in the area around him, but was in over his head as Corp and Army commander. Enjoyed the different perspective.

Tags:  North Africa  WW2  WWII 

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BOOK REVIEW: Dirty Little Secrets of World War II

Posted By Russ Lockwood, Tuesday, May 28, 2019
BOOK REVIEW: Dirty Little Secrets of World War II

Subtitled: Military Information No One Told You About the Greatest, Most Terrible War in History.

by James F Dunnigan and Albert A Nofi.

Originally released in 1994, my copy is dog-eared and threatens to fall apart -- and thanks to HMGS Historicon 2018, now signed by Al Nofi. It's still a great compilation of all sorts of WWII factoids.

For example, "heavy artillery fire" over three hours is 90 105mm artillery shells (one per three minutes) or 35 155mm artillery shells (one per five minutes) striking one acre of ground -- about 48 yards by 100 yards (roughly a football field). That's 1.5 tons of shells. But a German battalion would spread out over 500 or more acres, requiring 700 tons of ammunition to achieve "heavy artillery fire." (p.105).

Enjoyed it.

Tags:  WW2  WWII 

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BOOK REVIEW: Ardennes 1944: The Battle of the Bulge

Posted By Russ Lockwood, Tuesday, May 28, 2019
BOOK REVIEW: Ardennes 1944: The Battle of the Bulge

by Anthony Beevor.

An easy-to-read book that travels over well-trodden history. He starts in the Hurtgen Forest and continues following units from there. No real surprises in facts, figures, or narrative, but you always get nuggets of new information.

For example, the 20th Luftwaffe Festbatallion of the 275th Division had no infantry experience and included one company conscripted from the Luftwaffe Interpreter School. After a month against the US 9th Division, almost the entire company surrendered. (pg.38).

And...why do you roll for mortar fire scatter? The cold, wet weather played havoc on propellant of US 4.2-inch chemical mortars, leading to wide dispersions instead of concentrations. (p.94)

Beevor offers taut descriptions interspersed with individual anecdotes and reminiscences. Enjoyed it.

Tags:  WW2  WWII 

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Book Review: The Defeat of Rome: Crassus, Carrhae & the Invasion of the East

Posted By Russ Lockwood, Tuesday, May 21, 2019
by Gareth C. Sampson.

With historical records relatively scanty, especially on the Parthian viewpoint, this covers a far longer time than the actual battle, which is Chapter 6 pages 114-147 of the 181 pages of text (book is 224 pages, including excellent discussion of sources, as well as bibliography, index, etc.). The description of the battle covers the same details as before and the same general series of events as before, but if you are new to the battle and general time period, this is a fine book. Enjoyed it.

Tags:  Ancient  Roman Empire 

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Book Review: 1945: What If Japan Hadn't Surrendered in World War II?

Posted By Russ Lockwood, Tuesday, May 21, 2019
by Robert Conroy.

This novel posits US, USSR, and Japanese moves if Japanese plotters kidnapped Hirohito and prevented him from making his radio broadcast calling on Japan to surrender. Reads fine and most events and responses seem reasonable except for the American POW escapee turned commando, but it is a novel. Enjoyed it.

Tags:  Asia-Pacific  Historical Fiction  WW2  WWII 

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Book Review: A History of Asia - Volume I: Formation of Civilizations from Antiquity to 1600

Posted By Russ Lockwood, Tuesday, May 21, 2019
by Woodbridge Bingham, Hilary Conroy, and Frank W Ikle.

This 1964 book is rather dull in style, but contains a good overview of areas and empires within Asia within the time period. I only got about halfway through, so I can't say I enjoyed it, but if you needed a quick hit of information by the three professors, you can't go wrong.

Tags:  Ancient  Asia-Pacific  Dark Ages  Medieval  Renaissance 

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Book Review: The March on Paris: The Memoirs of Alexander von Kluck 1914,

Posted By Russ Lockwood, Tuesday, May 21, 2019
by Alexander von Kluck.

Reprint of 1923 English translation. Based on the Memorandum of the First Army, compiled by Kluck's chief of staff during WWI and then amended by Kluck in 1920, this is a fairly dry recitation of army movements during the 1914-early 1915 period on the western front, interspersed with some defensiveness as to Imperial Staff motives. For example, Kluck was actually subordinated to 2nd Army commander von Bulow at times, although he claimed he ignored the orders as much as followed them.

The maps are useless -- too tiny to make out place names. Still, some nuggets within and a good resource for army commander considerations. Enjoyed it.

Tags:  WWI 

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Book Review: Maximinus Thrax: From Common Soldier to Emperor of Rome,

Posted By Russ Lockwood, Tuesday, May 21, 2019
by Paul N. Pearson.

Biography of a Roman Emperor traced his rise from just another soldier -- admittedly one that stood about 7 feet tall -- to officer to general to Emperor (allegedly at the insistence of the legion, including officers who drew swords on him to take the purple or else). He campaigned in Dacia and then eastwards in the 230sAD, and then battled against counter-coups before his demise. His details were nicely interspersed with events in and around the Empire. Enjoyed it.

 

Tags:  Ancient  Roman Empire 

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Book Review: Spying for Wellington: British Military Intelligence in the Peninsula War

Posted By Russ Lockwood, Monday, May 13, 2019

by Huw J. Davies.

Dry prose conveys a wealth of research about British intelligence operations during the Napoleonic Wars in Spain and Portugal. Wellington drew from a variety of sources, including guerrillas, battlefield observations, actual spies (the guy in Bayonne, France, counting troops marching by to Spain), and surprisingly, about 25 or 30 staff officers who took a detachment of cavalry and ranged beyond enemy lines poking their noses in all sorts of places. Enjoyed it.

Tags:  Espionage  Napoleonic 

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Book Review: The Origins of War: From the Stone Age to Alexander the Great

Posted By Russ Lockwood, Monday, May 13, 2019

by Arther Ferrill.

Well-written overview of battles and campaigns across the ancient age of Alexander the Great. Analyzes weaponry, generalship, and strategy of civilizations of Middle East, Persia, and Greece. Classic text. Enjoyed it.

Tags:  Ancient 

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