Book Review: The Battlefields of the First World War: The Unseen Panoramas of the Western Front by Peter Barton

The Battlefields of the First World War: The Unseen Panoramas of the Western Front by Peter Barton is one of the most visually stunning books about WWI I have ever read.  This work is more than just a history of British participation on the Western Front.  It makes use of officially produced trench panoramas to illuminate conditions of trench warfare better than almost any other pictorial record of WWI I have run across. The book itself is 358 pages in length with a bibliography, picture credits, list of further reading, and index.  In addition, and one of the things that makes this book outstanding it includes two CD-ROMs that contain … More after the Jump…

Book Review: At the Edge of the World: The Heroic Century of the French Foreign Legion by Jean-Vincent Blanchard

[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] I would hazard to guess that when most people think of the French Foreign Legion they think of hard faced mercenaries doing France’s dirty work, the idealized Beau Geste bringing civilization to the North African Desert or legionnaires fighting to the last man at Camerone.  At the Edge of the World  by Jean-Vincent Blanchard tells the real story of the French Foreign Legion and it needs no embellishment. The stats: the book is 222 pages of text separated into two … More after the Jump…

Veterans Day 2017

Happy Veterans Day To all my fellow veterans!   Somebody has to be at the pointy end of the stick and you all took up the challenge,

Today is Veteran’s Day in the US and Armistice Day in Britain and France. It is a day to remember the end of the fighting in World War I on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 1918. It is also the day set aside in the US to remember all veterans, not just those of World War I but also those that served in our nation’s other wars and those that served during peacetime. It takes something special to serve your country and a little bit more to do so voluntarily. There is always the possibility of going to war and giving your life for your country while in the military. I hope that everyone takes a moment today and remembers the sacrifices of all the soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines who have served and fought for the United States. If you meet a vet today, shake his hand and thank him for his service. Remember, less than 1% of US citizens currently serve, yet they do so to protect that other 99%.

US Department of Veterans Affairs site about Veterans Day

Book Review: The Thai Way of Counterinsurgency by Jeff M. Moore PhD

[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] Anybody who has read this blog over the past few years will know that I am not a big fan of COIN doctrine as currently espoused by the US Army.  My objections to COIN are mainly that it doesn’t work, not because the US gets it wrong but because the US is the wrong vehicle to execute the COIN fight in a foreign land.  Foreigners are automatically hamstrung in implementing a successful COIN strategy by the fact that they are … More after the Jump…

Book Review: What Have We Done: The Moral Injury of Our Longest Wars by David Wood

I kind of had an idea of what to expect from this book just from reading the title and I was not wrong.  Perhaps I am not the person to critically review a work of this type as I knew from the introduction on that I would disagree with most of the premises in the book. But first as always, the stats.  What Have We Done is 272 pages of text separated into 15 chapters and a prologue. The chapters are topical and cover different aspects of the moral injury the author is claiming most, if not all, soldiers suffer in combat. Before I get into my issues with the … More after the Jump…

Book Review: A Generation of Sociopaths: How the Baby Boomers Betrayed America by Bruce Cannon Gibney

A Generation of Sociopaths is an interesting book with an interesting thesis, to say the least.  The main thesis of the book is that the Baby Boomer generation (those born between 1944 and 1964) has used its power at the voting booth to essentially bankrupt the nation and impoverish those of us in succeeding generations to ensure that the Boomers themselves enjoy the kind of life they want to have. First the details.  The book is divided into 17 topical chapters that are internally organized somewhat chronologically.  There is an afterword, appendices, a large notes section, and an index. The first chapter presents the central thesis of the book, that … More after the Jump…

Muskets at the Battle of Waterloo: Injuries of War, Then vs. Now

The Napoleonic Wars waged for twelve years with many weapons and tactics employed in the fight. This is especially true of the epic Battle of Waterloo on June 18th of 1815, a battle which finally brought the tyrannical rule of Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte to an end. Of the weapons used in the fight, perhaps the most prevalent was the musket. The muzzle-loaded, smoothbore musket was the standard equipment for heavy cavalry. Most every infantryman carried one of these muskets which fired iron balls that were three quarters of an inch in diameter. The common model of the time was the Charleville 1777 which was implemented in light infantry, cavalry and … More after the Jump…

5 Important American-Made Pistols Used During World War II

Growing up, my older brother made no bones about his fascination with the second world war. He would regularly purchase Nazi regalia from guns and knives shows, everything from SS medals and historical textbooks to reproductions of Nazi Youth helmets and banners bearing the swastika logo. At the time, I thought he had an unhealthy obsession with Nazi culture, but later in life, I’d come to find that it wasn’t the Nazis my brother was so taken with. It was, in fact, the entire war itself. One day, I went to a flea market with my brother and, as we explored a display of antique armor and armaments, I watched … More after the Jump…

Book Review: Liberal Fascism by Jonah Goldberg

Liberal Fascism is to me, a fascinating look inside the historical and philosophical roots of the modern liberal/progressive movement. It is also a scathing indictment of the totalitarian tendencies of the modern liberal/progressive movement but that is essentially the whole point of the book. The numbers first. The book contains 406 pages of text in an introduction, 10 chapters, and an afterword. There are also 50+ pages of endnotes and an index. The book was published in 2007 in the waning days of the Bush presidency but the intervening 10 years have not done anything to change the conclusions if anything, the author’s conclusions seem prescient. The book itself should … More after the Jump…

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…