Book Review: Future Crimes by Marc Goodman

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Future Crimes: Everything Is Connected, Everyone Is Vulnerable and What We Can Do About It by Marc Goodman is one of those non-fiction books that is both scary and reassuring at the same time. I picked this up mainly because I have a slight IT background and I try to stay abreast of what is going in the world of digital insecurity; only an idiot thinks that something online is secure. I knew the connected world was unsecure and full of risk, I did not fully appreciate just how unsecure and full of risk it was until reading this book. The book itself is 392 pages of text divided into … Read more…

Book Review: 7 Deadly Scenarios: A Military Futurist Explores the Changing Face of War in the 21st Century by Andrew F. Krepinevich

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In line with my present interest in current affairs because I find world events so interesting right now what with ISIS in Syria and Libya, Russians in Ukraine, Afghanistan continuing to be a failed war, Nigeria falling apart, America’s seeming inability to restrain spending, and the Eurozone falling into infighting about sovereign debt and austerity, I picked up this book because I thought it might have some interesting insights. In that, 7 Deadly Scenarios: A Military Futurist Explores the Changing Face of War in the 21st Century by Andrew F. Krepinevich does not disappoint. The book does not presume to predict the future but it does examine seven possible and … Read more…

Book Review: Operation Enduring Unity Books Two & Three

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[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]

In March of last year I reviewed Power Games: Operation Enduring Unity I by Richard Peters, a fellow veteran.  That book was outstanding but left the tale unfinished as first books in trilogies are wont to do.  Recently he got in touch with me again and offered me the chance to read and review the last two books in the trilogy and I eagerly jumped at it because of how great book I was.

The two books are Shock and Awe: Operation Enduring Unity II and The Surge: Operation Enduring Unity III.  Both take the story of the disintegration of the United States into a second Civil War a little further.  Book two tells the tale of the middle of the war while book three tells the conclusion of the war.

Book two begins four months after the events described in the first book and the Two main sides have solidified into two competing governments the secessionist United Republic of America (URA) with a capitol in Sacramento, CA, the USA, and Texas and Oklahoma declaring armed neutrality in the conflict.  It is essentially a military stalemate as defection has caused the loyalties of many USA units to be questioned and newness has affected the combat efficiency of the URA forces.

The reader gets the idea that the USA is led by a usurper president who refuses to leave office and is lying when he claims that a new election will see him step down voluntarily while the URA is led by a principled constitutional originalist that just wants to see the constitution respected.  Three are hints in this book that that is not the case.

The main story of book two surrounds a USA attack on Denver and then a USA counterattack.  The book ends with Texas/Oklahoma neutrality on the fence but an essential stalemate after some murthering great battles on the central plains.  The events that lead to this ending are the meat and bones of this book and you will have to read the book for more details.

Book three begins almost immediately after the ending of book two.

Spoiler Alert!!!

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Book Review: SHOT DOWN: The true story of pilot Howard Snyder and the crew of the B-17 Susan Ruth by Steve Snyder

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[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] SHOT DOWN: The true story of pilot Howard Snyder and the crew of the B-17 Susan Ruthis the story of the author’s Father in World War II as a B-17 bomber pilot and his ordeals after being shot down over the Franco-Belgian border in February 1944. The book itself is 335 pages of text with an extensive sources list and index.  The text is divided into 40, mostly short, topical chapters. The narrative describes the journey of the author’s father to … Read more…

Book Review: Waterloo: Book One of the Great Battles Series by Alan Forrest

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Waterloo: Book One of the Great Battles Series by Alan Forrest is not your typical military history. Therefore it is a good thing that the author admits in the preface that he is not a military historian because it shows. If you expect a book called Great Battles to be about the itself then prepare to be disappointed because this book is not so much about Waterloo as its aftermath./ First the book itself. It is 180 pages of text divided into 9 roughly thematic chapters including an introduction and postscript. There is a list of figures, list of maps, notes, bibliography and an index. This is not a campaign … Read more…

The Battle of Berlin – 16 April – 2 May, 1945

Brandenburger Tor in einer Trümmerlandschaft am Ende des Zweiten Weltkrieges (Mai 1945).

Throughout 1944 the German armies on the Eastern Front had been pushed westward across Poland and into Germany proper.  During the winter of 1944-1945 the front had stabilized roughly along the river Oder and inside historically German territory.  In front of Berlin three Russian Fronts (1st & 2nd Byelorussian plus 21st Ukrainian) faced two greatly understrength German Army Groups (Army Group Vistula & Army Group Center).  A Russian Front and German Army Group are roughly synonymous units within the army structure although at this point in the war German Army Groups were pretty much army groups in name only often being the size of reinforced Corps or even divisions due … Read more…

Book Review: Flash Points-The Emerging Crisis in Europe by George Friedman

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Flashpoints: The Emerging Crisis in Europe by George Friedman is another insightful book by the founder of STRATFOR. This book examines contemporary Europe and details the strengths and (mostly) fragilities of the present order in Europe.  The book itself is 258 pages of text divided into 3 parts and 16 chapters. There is no bibliography or index which I found to be disappointing. The first part of the book deals with describing Europe, Europe’s rise to world domination and the way in which Europe has fragmented since the Enlightenment. Friedman essentially blames Enlightenment thought and the triple themes of secularism, mercantilism, and science as the ultimate cause of the European self-destruction … Read more…

Book Review: The Next 100 Years: A Forecast for the 21st Century by George Friedman

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The Next 100 Years: A Forecast for the 21st Century by George Friedman is a very interesting book. Not least because the author does something that very few academics or political scientists are willing to do; he attempts to predict the future. Of course he lays out several caveats about accuracy but the fact that such a distinguished thinker as Friedman is willing to go out on a limb is remarkable in itself. The book itself is 254 pages of text and unfortunately it does not include a bibliography or index. It is broken down into chronological chapters that start from the present and work the way forward to 2100. … Read more…

The Problem with Elite Units? Or is there a Problem?

I was thinking about this the other day while watching The Pacific on DVD. The Pacific is a pretty good series although I found Band of Brothers to be better based on pure entertainment value. What made me think about elite units was a short piece in one of the episodes where they show a picture of what to me looked like some Marine Raiders. That got to me to thinking about Rangers, Green Berets, SAS/SBS, Commandos, UDT, Spetznaz, and other historical elites and whether they represented a good investment for the militaries that create them. My gut reaction is that in general they are not although there is a role for such … Read more…

Book Review: The Funny Thing About War by Al Campo

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[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] The Funny Thing About War by Al Campo is part fictional War story and part autobiography. It is the story of a young, 22 year old man called to duty in the Navy and then sent to Southeast Asia as a crewman on a Destroyer conducting fire missions up and down the coast of North and South Vietnam. The book itself is 413 pages of text separated into eleven chapters. Because it is ostensibly a work of fiction there is … Read more…

Book Review: Twisted History by Howard Watson

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[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] Twisted History by Howard Watson is a very interesting if largely unoriginal book. That being said, I don’t think the authors intent was necessarily to provide original content but rather to gather together character sketches of various villains and heroes from history. In that, he has succeeded brilliantly. The book itself is coffee-table sized and at 170 pages is not terribly long.  It does have an index but no bibliography.  That being said, this is not an academic book but … Read more…

Book Review: In The Company Of Heroes by Michael Durant

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I picked up In The Company Of Heroes by Michael Durant recently  because it was something I always wanted to read but never got around to. I am glad I did. For those in the military back in the early 1990’s we all know who Michael Durant is, for those who were not or were not alive, very few do. Michael Durant was the helicopter pilot shot down on October 3rd, 1993 during what has come to be called the Battle of Mogadishu. He was severely injured when his helicopter crashed and was pulled from the wreckage by two Delta Force operators Gary Gordon and Randy Shughart, (who lost their lives … Read more…

Book Review: The Revenge of Geography by Robert D. Kaplan

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In line with my current grad program pursuing an MA in International relations I have been reading a lot of books about current or semi current events. The Revenge of Geography: What the Map Tells Us About Coming Conflicts and the Battle Against Fate by Robert Kaplan is one of these books.  The book is an examination of geopolitics.  That is, it takes a look at politics through the lens of geography.  The thesis being that while regimes may change the places people live and the terrain of those places generally does not and thus to a large extent geography has a somewhat deterministic effect on politics.  This is actually a … Read more…

Book Review: Death Dealer-The Memoirs of the SS Kommandant at Auschwitz by Rudolph Höss

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In my office at home I have one shelf on my bookshelf full of books with sticky tabs on the back indicating that I want to read them but have not yet found the time.  When I get the chance I take one down and read it.  Some are books I have had for years and some are new.  This is one of those books. I think like every aspiring historian, I went through a WWII phase in my youth where I read every book about WWII and all its aspects I could find.  Death Dealer: The Memoirs of the SS Kommandant at Auschwitz by Rudolph Höss has sat on my … Read more…

The First Battle of the Marne & the End of the Schlieffen Plan

Combatants at 1st Marne-2

The first Battle of the Marne was fought from 5-12 September, 1914.  It was the turning point of the opening campaign in what would be known as the Western Front during World War I.  First Marne represented the death of German hopes for a repeat of 1870 and ensured that Germany would have to face every German planner’s nightmare for over a century, a two front war. The Schlieffen Plan was supposed to allow Germany to defeat her two great enemies, France and Russia, one after the other in sequence.  The greatest flaw in the Schlieffen Plan was actually the plan itself.  It was an attempt to move huge masses … Read more…