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 : 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…

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…

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…

Book Review: Black Tide Rising edited by John Ringo and Gary Poole

Black Tide Rising is an anthology of twelve short stories set in the world created by John Ringo in the series of the same name. The stories are uniformly good but as I am not a huge fan of short stories I wish most of them had been expanded.  As with most short stories these all left me wanting more information about the protagonists, information that is not forthcoming because of the nature of short stories themselves. That being said, all the stories in the book are good and worth reading.  One of the best things about them is that they concern what happened on the mainland as the outbreak … More after the Jump…

Book Review: The Only Game in Town: Central Banks, Instability, and Avoiding the Next Collapse by Mohamed A. El-Arian

In The Only Game in Town Dr. El-Arian writes a prescient and provocative book that takes a long hard look at modern central banking and the global economy in an effort to describe where the world can go from where it is right now. The book itself is divided into six topical parts with 35 chapters.  There are 264 pages of text with notes and an index. The central premise of the book is that since the outbreak of the Great recession in 2008 the only economic institutions that have acted responsibly in response to the crash have been the Central Banks and that have been forced to step into … More after the Jump…

Book Review: Imperative by Steve White & Charles Gannon

Imperative is the seventh installment of the Starfire series that started with the publication of Insurrection in 1990. It details events in the universe from the Starfire games which were initially released as board games in 1979 but have continued into the computer era. Imperative occurs several years after the war with the Arduans chronicled in Book 6. In this new war later Arduan dispersates attack the races of the Pan-Sentient Union, Rim Federation, and Terran Republic. The old enemies, the Arachnids, reappear and it is not clear if the new threat can be contained and defeated. As usual the characters and races are portrayed realistically and the element of … More after the Jump…

Book Review: Pandemic by Sonia Shah

Given the sensationalism about several different diseases over the past few years this was a topical choice of book for me to read. Sonia Shah’s book Pandemic is not so much a litany of what the world is doing wrong in regards to disease so much as a cautionary tale about how the world can get it right to avoid the outbreak of a deadly disease that is eminently preventable. The book itself is 218 pages of text divided into 10 chapters with a glossary, extensive (over 30 pages) notes, and an index. The chapters are very logically organized with the topic of one chapter logically leading to the next. … More after the Jump…

Book Review: Into the Black by Rowland White

[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 am a space enthusiast and have been since I was a kid and saw the Apollo-Soyuz missions on the TV news. I was thrilled when the Shuttle first flew in 1981 and followed the program through to it’s final mission in 2011. I was thrilled when given the opportunity to review Into the Black and the quality of the story is amazing. The book is the story of the development and first flight of the Space Shuttle Columbia from the … More after the Jump…

Book Review: The New Case for Gold by James Rickards

I have previously reviewed James Rickards other books The Death of Money and Currency Wars and found them both well written and compelling reads. His newest book, The New Case for Gold is no different. This is not a huge book but it covers its topic very well. The book is not hugeat 172 pages of text with an acknowledgements section and index. It is organized into 6 topical chapters and a conclusion. The first five chapters essentially explain at length why gold is worth owning even though central bankers say it is not. The essential argument, and one that I happen to agree with is that gold is money. … More after the Jump…

Book Review: Lights Out: A Cyberattack, A Nation Unprepared, Surviving the Aftermath by Ted Koppel

Lights Out: A Cyberattack, A Nation Unprepared, Surviving the Aftermath is not what I would call a typical prepper book, if there is such a thing, instead it is a serious look at a very plausible scenario and the ways in which it is and is not being addressed by both government and the private sector. The scenario is a cyberattack on the computers that control the US electric grid. Given the nature of cybercrime this is an extremely plausible scenario. The book itself is not huge at 249 pages of text and includes notes and an index but no bibliography. Ted Koppel is a respected journalist who has not … 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: Brink of Extinction by Nicholas Ryan

[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 the author of this book contacted me about doing a review I was hesitant at first as I am starting to think the zombie book genre is about played out. I mean, how many variations on brain eating zombies in a post-apocalyptic world can there be. After exchanging a few emails with Mr. Ryan I agreed to read it and I am certainly glad I did. This volume is the fifth zombie book by Nicholas Ryan and it is … More after the Jump…