BOOK REVIEW – DENG XIAOPING – A REVOLUTIONARY LIFE

Deng Xiaoping: A Revolutionary Life.By Alexander Pantsov and Steven Levine.Oxford University Press; 610 pages. One of the hardest things about biographies of leaders like Deng Xiaoping is that it feels like nothing more than a collage of newspaper or magazine articles strung together by a touch commentary or a dash of boring analysis.  However, this biography, written by Alexander Pantsov and Steven Levine, has given this world leader a distinctive new look.  Based on newly available archives from the former Soviet Union, Pantsov and Levine has offered a clearer picture as to what motivated him, the most important, why Deng Xiaoping did what he did.  Before going into the main … More after the Jump…

Brief History of the Iconic AR-15 Rifle

Many rifle enthusiasts will be able to pick this semi-automatic rifle out of a line-up. Known for its distinctive features, the AR-15 rifle has a long history of use stemming back to its inception in 1964 as the Colt AR-15. Although it is undoubtedly one of the most popular rifles ever constructed, the chances are that there are a lot of aspects of the AR-15’s history that you were not aware of. Let’s dig in and find out what kind of events lurk in the history of the AR-15 and how it came to be one of the most sought-after semi-automatics. The Founding of ArmaLite in 1954 Ever wonder what … More after the Jump…

The Limes – Relics of an Empire

Many people have heard of Hadrian’s Wall in the UK and same have even heard of the Antonine Wall a little farther north.  What many people have never heard of or if they have heard of do not know where they are located are the Roman Limes(pronounced leem-ez) that stretched around the entire periphery of the ancient Roman Empire.  In many places the Limes ran along rivers or inaccessible mountains but in places where this was not possible the Romans built and garrisoned physical fortifications to mark the extent of their territory and prevent outside invaders from getting in an attacking or raiding within Roman territory. Because my wife and … More after the Jump…

Book Review: The Hooligans of Kandahar by Joseph Kassabian

Every war that America has been in has seen its share of post-war soldier memoirs, The Hooligans of Kandahar is one of the better ones to come out of America’s most recent war. Specifically, this semi-fictionalized account chronicles one infantry squad’s (typically 8-12 men) deployment to Kandahar in Afghanistan in 2011-2012. The author, in an effort to secure the anonymity of his comrades has chosen to make the book semi-fictional and use nicknames instead of given names for the characters throughout. This was probably a smart idea as any current or former combat arms soldier can tell you that some serious crazy stuff goes on in any tight unit whether … More after the Jump…

Book Review: To the Gates of Stalingrad by David Glantz

David Glantz’s To the Gates of Stalingrad is the first of a three book trilogy that catalogs the intense German-Soviet battle for Stalingrad in 1942-43. The book details the failed Soviet offensive toward Kharkov in spring 1942, the German spring offensive (Fall Blau, or Case Blue), and the German 6th Army advance to Stalingrad. The book is in line with Glantz’s other works that attempt to prove his common thesis: that the Eastern Front was the decisive theater of the World War II. The book represents Glantz’s unmatched ability to chronicle the battles for the Eastern Front from strategic, all the way to the tactical level. One paragraph might detail … More after the Jump…

D-Day 73rd Anniversary

This is an annual tradition at Battles and Book Reviews.  This year is the 73rd anniversary of the Allied Landings at Normandy in France during WWII. Just a reminder for everyone to stop today and take a moment to reflect on the events that happened 68 years ago today on the shores of Normandy in France.  This year, the text of General Dwight Eisenhower’s message to the troops of the Allied invasion force the morning of the invasion. Soldiers, Sailors, and Airmen of the Allied Expeditionary Force: You are about to embark upon the Great Crusade, toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are … More after the Jump…

1,000 Years and It Still Resonates, The Origins of a Phrase

Most everybody today has heard some variation on the phrase “Kill them all, let God sort them out’” This phrase gained modern fame during the Vietnam War but it is actually a modern updating of a quote that is over 1,000 years old and was first uttered in Southern France during what are known as the Albigensian Crusades at the Siege of Béziers in July, 1209 by the Papa; Legate and Cistercian monk Arnauld Amalric. The Albigensian Crusades were a series of campaigns waged in France between 1209 and 1226 to stamp out what is known as the Cathar Heresy. The Cathars were a Gnostic group or sub-faith within the … More after the Jump…

Book Review: Enhanced Interrogation: Inside the Minds and Motives of the Islamic Terrorists Trying To Destroy America by James E. Mitchell Ph.D.

Enhanced Interrogation is the book that should have been written 10 years ago when the hype about America torturing captured terrorists was at its height.  Unfortunately, it has only appeared now when false “facts” and attitudes towards the interrogation of terrorists have settled into the collective psyche of the left and attained a life of their own. The book itself is 300 pages of text divided into twelve mostly chronological chapters detailing the establishment, working, and closing down of the CIA’s enhanced interrogation program during the Bush administration in the months and years immediately following the 9/11 attacks on the United States. Dr. Mitchell was a psychologist who worked at … More after the Jump…

Book Review: Knights of Jerusalem: The Crusading Order of Hospitallers 1100–1565 (World of the Warrior) by David Nicolle

Knights of Jerusalem is not the book you would expect to read about one of the Crusading orders, it is not a list and description of battles the order fought, with blow by blow accounts of the most famous of these battles such as the Horns of Hattin or the Great Siege of Malta.  This is a history of how the order came into existence and how it operated and even continues to operate almost 1,000 years later when so many of its fellow orders in the Church Militant have disappeared.  The book focuses on the history of the order from its founding until the end of the Crusading era … More after the Jump…

Book Review: Pussycats: Why the Rest Keeps Beating the West by Martin van Creveld

After reading this latest work from Dr. van Creveld, it is no wonder that Pussycats: Why the Rest Keeps Beating the West had to be self-published as I cannot imagine a mainstream publisher would touch a manuscript that like this that so eloquently gores just about all of the sacred cows of the modern liberal movements but especially that of feminism and the infantilism of Western society. The book itself consists of five chapters with subparts, a conclusion, 29 pages of notes, and an index.  The chapters are arranged topically with the conclusion tieing the different strands together into a coherent whole. As usual, Dr. van Creveld is insightful and devastating when … More after the Jump…

Book Review: The Roman Empire and the Silk Routes by Raoul McLaughlin

[FULL DISCLOSURE: I received my copy of this book free from the author and/or publisher. I was not paid for this review and the opinion expressed is purely my own] Many people think that global trade is a relatively new development in the world.  That is not the case and The Roman Empire and the Silk Routes by Raoul McLaughlin describes the ways in which ancient Rome and China traded goods over the ancient Silk Routes. First, the specs.  There are 225 pages of text divided into 14 topical chapters and 5 appendices.  There are also extensive notes, a bibliography and an index. While many histories of both Rome and … More after the Jump…

Book Review: An Iron Wind-Europe Under Hitler by Peter Fritzsche

[FULL DISCLOSURE: I received my copy of this book free from the author and/or publisher. I was not paid for this review and the opinion expressed is purely my own] Peter Fritzsche’s book An Iron Wind-Europe Under Hitler is “new history” of the best sort.  Instead of being a war book about battles and campaigns it tries to capture the experience of World War II of the people of Europe.  How did the average civilian who the fighting swirled past and who lived under German occupation experience the war?  That is the question this book tries to answer and does a good job of doing so. First, the numbers.  There … More after the Jump…

Why Does the West Seem Incapable of Winning Wars Anymore? – Part 7

A reluctance to follow traditional, pre-world wars law of war. This point harks back to point #1 and is both a result of and reaction to the high cost of the two 20th century world wars.  In the contemporary world the traditional laws of war, that is the agreed upon rules that predate Geneva are considered too harsh.  It has apparently never occurred to an academic that the laws of war are harsh for a reason, as though war is supposed to be some collegial contest like a sporting event.  They substituted ideals for a realistic appraisal of effectiveness. Let’s use an example. Traditionally, when a city or other fortified … More after the Jump…

Book Review: The Devil’s General: The Life of Hyazinth Graf von Strachwitz, “The Panzer Graf” by Raymond Bagdonas

[FULL DISCLOSURE: I received my copy of this book free from the author and/or publisher. I was not paid for this review and the opinion expressed is purely my own] There are numerous biographies of German officers and soldiers from World War II and The Devil’s General: The Life of Hyazinth Graf von Strachwitz, “The Panzer Graf” by Raymond Bagdonas is yet another. I cannot quite make up my mind if this is a good book or not. I lean towards yes but something is lacking to make this a truly great biography. The numbers; there are 338 pages of text making up an introduction, 23 chronological chapters and 6 appendices. … More after the Jump…