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…

D-Day 72nd Anniversary

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

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

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

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

[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

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

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

[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

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…

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 … More after the Jump…

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

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 … More after the Jump…

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

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 … More after the Jump…

Book Review: House of War by James Carroll

House of War: The Pentagon and the Disastrous Rise of American Power is one of those books that when you are done reading it you cannot quite decide if it was worth reading or not. If you want to know what history looks like, particularly American history, from the perspective of someone who sees evil and nefarious dealings in just about every single action taken by the United States then this is the book for you. I never thought I would see the day when the Marshall Plan would be described as economic warfare but it is in this book and that is just one example. I found it difficult to … More after the Jump…