D-Day 72nd Anniversary

capa beach of normandy D-Day

This is an annual tradition at Battles and Book Reviews.  This year is the 72nd 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 is the day that the Allies opened up the long-awaited Second Front against Hitler’s Germany.   The invasion took place along almost 50 miles of French coast using five named invasion beaches.   From south to north the beaches were named Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno and Sword.   The first days objectives … More after the Jump…

BOOK REVIEW – A HISTORY OF THE MODERN CHINESE ARMY BY XIAOBING LI

Much has been written about China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA). Much of these works has focused on either uniforms, equipment, or a brief history of its involvement in the Korean War. However, anyone really interested in a first rate history of the PLA should seriously look at Xiaobing Li’s “A History of the Modern Chinese Army”. Xiaobing Li is currently a professor of history at the University of Central Oklahoma, and has once served in the ranks of the PLA. His work is wroth reading because it fill many of the “gaps” usually found in other works on the subject. These gaps are those aspects about the PLA that were … More after the Jump…

Book Review: War Stories: by Stephen Macdonald

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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] War Stories chronicles one Marine’s into the Marine Corps, to Vietnam, and back to the US. This is not a huge book at 240 pages but is well worth the read. This is not a book like Robert Mason’s Chickenhawk but that does not take away from the matter of fact and realist story told. The book is a straight matter of fact account of one man’s journey into the Marine Corps and to Vietnam in 1967. The author was … More after the Jump…

Book Review: Pearl Harbor: The Missing Motive by Kevin O’Connell

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I will admit that when I first got the request to review Pearl Harbor: The Missing Motive I was skeptical. After finishing it I remain skeptical but will admit that the author makes a well-written, if not necessarily compelling case for his premise. First about the book. The book is 300 pages of text divided into 7 parts/chapters. It has 46 pages of notes and a 14 page bibliography. Also included is an index. One thing about the notes; the notes are endnotes of a sort except that they are not annotated within the text. That is, they do not follow a recognized standard citation system such as MLA, APA, … More after the Jump…

Book Review: Storming the City: U.S. Military Performance in Urban Warfare from World War II to Vietnam by Alec Wahlman

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Storming the City: U.S. Military Performance in Urban Warfare from World War II to Vietnam by Alec Wahlman is a study of the 20th Century United States experience in urban warfare. It examines four urban battles fought by US forces from World War II to Vietnam. The focus of the study are the operational effectiveness of US forces and how well US troops faced urban combat given the relative dearth of US doctrine on city fighting. The book itself is 261 pages of text divided into 6 topical chapters plus an introduction and conclusion. There are 63 pages of endnotes, a short glossary, and a 35 page bibliography. There is … More after the Jump…

Book Review: Hidden Warships by Nicholas A. Veronico

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While not strictly military history, Hidden Warships is a very interesting book nonetheless.  It details how and where to visit many shipwrecks and sunken ships from World War II all over the world. The book is 237 pages of text with many images in both color and B/W.  It is organized into five topical parts with an epilogue, appendices, bibliography, and an index.  The bibliography is especially noteworthy as it lists an extensive series of websites where you can go to learn more not just about wreck-diving but the course of the naval war in World War II.  Each chapter includes a brief historical note about the ship or ships that are … More after the Jump…

Book Review: McNamara’s Folly: The Use of Low-IQ Troops in the Vietnam War by Hamilton Gregory

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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] McNamara’s Folly is a book about a topic that needed a separate treatment.  The book itself is not large at 212 pages of text. The book is separated into six topical parts with endnotes called “sources”, an index, and appendices. I wish the book had a bibliography but the endnotes are fairly extensive if you do have to search through them to find the first citation for a full record. The first two parts of the book are the author’s … More after the Jump…

CSA PRL Book Review: The Philippine War by Brian McCallister Linn

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The 2014 US Army Chief of Staff Professional Reading List (PRL) was released in the Summer of 2014 and I was relieved in the extreme to see that there was only one novel on the list, Once an Eagle by Anton Myrer.  The list is different than earlier lists because it is organized topically instead of by position as earlier lists were.  I have read many of the books on the list already and decided to read the ones I have not and post my thoughts on the books on the list.  This review is the next in that series. Most people that have heard of the Spanish-American War at the turn of … More after the Jump…

Book Review: OinK! by David Osterhout

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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] When most folks think of Military History they naturally think of war. Oink! Only In Korea! by DavidOsterhout breaks that mold.  It is military history but only peripherally is war involved because it takes place in 1980 in Korea where north and south are technically still at war.  I will admit I was skeptical when first approached about reviewing this title but as I remembered some of the crazy stuff that happened to and around me during my military career I agreed to … More after the Jump…

Book Review: The German War: A Nation Under Arms, 1939–-1945 by Nicholas Stargardt

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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] There have been thousands if not hundreds of thousands of books written about World War II and Germany since 1945. There have even been social histories written in the seemingly never ending attempts to fathom how a nation like Germany supported Hitler and his murderous regime. The German War: A Nation Under Arms, 1939–-1945 seeks to explain not the how, but the what. As in what was it like under the Nazis and what did the average German see and feel. … More after the Jump…

The Battle of the River Plate

Graf Spee

The Battle of the River Plate was the first naval battle of World War II and the only battle of World War II to take place in South America or its waters.  The Graf Spee was one of three Deutschland Class “pocket battleships” built by the Germans in the interwar period to get around treaty restrictions imposed after World War I.  The three ships were the Deutschland, Admiral Scheer, and Admiral Graf Spee.  All three ships were to be destroyed during the course of the war. The ship was designate to act as a commerce raider and was at sea when the war began.  After getting new orders she began … More after the Jump…

D-Day 71st Anniversary

capa beach of normandy D-Day

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 is the day that the Allies opened up the long-awaited Second Front against Hitler’s Germany.   The invasion took place along almost 50 miles of French coast using five named invasion beaches.   From south to north the beaches were named Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno and Sword.   The first days objectives were not reached over most of the front and in many places it would take weeks to reach objectives that were supposed to have been taken … More after the Jump…

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 … More after the Jump…

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 … More after the Jump…

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 … More after the Jump…