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…

Book Review: Castle Builders by Malcolm Baillie-Hislop

[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] Castle Builders: Approaches to Castle Design and Construction in the Middle Ages is very interesting but also a specialist book masquerading as a generalist introduction to medieval castle building.  That is not to say this is not a good book, it is, but it assumes a level of knowledge of architectural forms and techniques on the part of the reader that eliminates it from the category of general introduction as claimed on the inner flap. The book itself to begin … More after the Jump…

BOOK REVIEW: INDIAN ARMY AFTER INDEPENDENCE

INDIAN ARMY AFTER INDEPENDENCE BY MAJOR K.C. PRAVAL FRANKFORT, IL, LANCER PUBLISHERS LLC 2012 602 PAGES ISBN-10:1935501100 ISBN-13: 978-1935501107 There are very few books about the modern Indian Army. That is, the Indian Army that existed since independence. Anyone searching for books about the Indian military would find books about the British Raj or about the British Indian Army during World War II. Nevertheless, the book, Indian Army After Independence, is a good book that covers this often forgotten era of military history. Unlike other books on the subject, this was one of a few written by a former officer of the Indian Army. Major K.C. Parval wrote this book … More after the Jump…

BOOK REVIEW: KANGZHAN: GUIDE TO CHINESE GROUND FORCES 1937-1945

KANGZHAN: GUIDE TO CHINESE GROUND FORCES 1937-1945 BY LELND NESS AND BIN SHIH SOLIHULL, UK: HELION & COMPANY, 2016 576 PAGES ISBN: 978-1-910294-42-0 Kangzhan: Guide to Chinese Ground Forces 1937-1945 is a rare but excellent book on the many Chinese “armies” that have fought from the start of the Second Sino-Japanese War to the end of World War II. It offers a rare but detailed glimpse into how China’s armed forces were organized at the ground level. For the reader new to this aspect of military history, Kangzhan is the Chinese word for “War of Resistance”, that the war of resistance against Japanese aggression. It is unique amongst military history … More after the Jump…

Book Review : Packing for Mars by Mary Roach

Mary Roach is one of those authors who is simply a joy to read.  I previously read and reviewed Grunt, her book about the science of the military.  Packing for Mars is about the science behind making it possible for man to survive in the hostile environment of space. The book itself is 217 pages of text divided into 16 topical chapters.  There is an acknowledgments section, bibliography, and an index. Each chapter is topical and covers some aspect of survival in space.  All of the topics are covered thoroughly but Roach’s lively writing style takes what would otherwise be a dry and/or boring topic and makes it both entertaining … More after the Jump…

Why Does the West Seem Incapable of Winning Wars Anymore? – Part 6

A post-World Wars Western (read European or nation-states settled by Europeans) reluctance to accept casualties in the prosecution of a war (note: this does not apply to non-Western countries which often suffer very high casualties) It is obvious to any student of history that post-World War II Western military success is defined in terms of Western casualties suffered and not military/strategic objectives achieved. Think about it this way.  We can all probably agree that the perception is that the people in the West will not tolerate high casualties in military operations.  That is conventional wisdom at least since the 1970’s.  I am not convinced it is true.  I think if … More after the Jump…

A Lapse in Recent Posts

As my regular readers have no doubt noticed, and I have some, I have been quite remiss in my regular weekly posts of late.  I will not make excuses but I will apologize and promise to endeavor mightily to do better in the future.  A blog like this is not really a moneymaker, it essentially pays for itself and no more, it is a labor of love.  I read a lot and find history fascinating so I try to share my interests. I promise to keep reviewing history books but I am also going to be posting a lot more original content in the future dealing with both history and … More after the Jump…

Pearl Harbor Day

Never Forget Today is Pearl Harbor Day, 75 years ago this morning at 0755 Hawaiian time the Japanese Navy began its attack on the US Navy Fleet anchorage in Pearl Harbor Hawaii.  The attack lasted for two and a half hours and cost the lives of 2,402 Americans and 64 Japanese.  The US Navy lost 6 Ships sunk, 4 of which were Battleships and an additional 13 sips were damaged to a greater or lesser degree. Let us all take a minute today to reflect on the attack on Pearl Harbor and the war it started.  Most importantly, let us remember the men who lost their lives that day and … More after the Jump…

Book Review: Empire & Hidden Empire by Orson Scott Card

Imagine that the seemingly intractable political divide between left and right in the US were to break out into civil war.  That is the premise behind the first of these two books while the second examines what happens after.  The ironic thing is that Empire was written in 2006 while Hidden Empire came out in 2007 and the country has had 10 more years for the political atmosphere to get even more poisonous as evidenced by the lack of anything but personal attacks in this year’s presidential campaign. I have been a fan of Card’s work since I read Ender’s Game as a Freshman in High School 30 years ago.  … More after the Jump…

Book Review: The Dragon’s Teeth by Benjamin Lai

[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] If you pay attention to the goings on in the world and not just the US election news you are well aware that China is a rising power in Asia.  China is now not only a commercial power but also an increasingly assertive military power.  The Chinese military is opaque at best to most Western observers and it is difficult to gauge its military capability based on what are usually hyperbolic news reports.  Therefore, it is somewhat prescient that this … More after the Jump…

St Crispin’s Day

601 years ago today on 25 October 1415, the original band of brothers met the French army on the field of battle near Agincourt on northern France and gave them such a drubbing that the cheers of that victory have echoed down through the years.  On that day a hungry, bedraggled, cold, and wet English army met a superior French force and virtually destroyed it.  Those in England who lay a-bed did indeed come to think themselves accursed that they were not there.  The eve of the battle is remembered by the Bard himself in Act IV, Scene 3 of Henry V in what has become one of the most … More after the Jump…

Book Review: Grunt-The Curious Science of Humans at War by Mary Roach

I had previously read Gulp by Mary Roach and found it highly entertaining so when I saw this book I knew i had to read it, I was not disappointed.  Like her other works, Grunt takes a behind the scenes look at its subject.  In this case that subject os outfitting and equipping the modern American military member for war.  Given that I myself am a recently retired combat arms soldier (SCOUTS OUT!) who spent some time working weapons testing I was curious to see a civilians take on how the military does what it does. First, the book itself.  There are 285 pages of text divided into 14 chapters with … More after the Jump…