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…

St Crispin’s Day

601 years ago today on 25 October 1415, the original band of brothers met the French army on the field of battle near Agincourt on northern France and gave them such a drubbing that the cheers of that victory have echoed down through the years.  On that day a hungry, bedraggled, cold, and wet English army met a superior French force and virtually destroyed it.  Those in England who lay a-bed did indeed come to think themselves accursed that they were not there.  The eve of the battle is remembered by the Bard himself in Act IV, Scene 3 of Henry V in what has become one of the most … 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…

Decoding Civil War Telegrams

The Huntington Library in California is asking for the public’s help in decoding an archive of thousands of Civil War telegrams in the library’s possession.  According to the Library’s News Release there are over 15,000 telegrams from top members of the Lincoln Administration to include the president himself that were sent encoded during the Civil War and the library would now like to decode them. The library has set up a project on zooniverse to crowdsource the decoding project where each participant gets one page of the telegraph logbooks to transcribe and then compare their transcription with those of others to increase accuracy.  This is history in action.  If you would … More after the Jump…

Why Does the West Seem Incapable of Winning Wars Anymore? – Part 5

A reluctance to prosecute war to the extent necessary to achieve victory even when a realistic definition of victory was elucidated. This one should be a no-brainer as recent American experience has shown that stupidity very much exists at the top of American strategic thinking at least, which is compounded by clueless media talking heads who I am more and more convinced actively wish to see Western society fail.  Clausewitz says that war naturally tends to extremes but in reality never gets there. This point goes back to deciding what determines victory.  Clausewitz is undoubtedly correct in his assertion that ultimately victory is in fact using force to compel the … 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…

Why Does the West Seem Incapable of Winning Wars Anymore? – Part 4

Wars are no longer fought to achieve victory but to achieve often nebulous goals short of the actual defeat of the enemy and often were unrelated or even contrary to national strategic interests. This one is a personal bug-bear of mine.  It has been common in the post-World War II world for Western nations in particular to set nebulous and generally unattainable war goals.  The submission of an enemy state is often not an objective and when it is even when achieved international pressure limits making a total victory truly stick.  This is not helped by unrealistic expectations on the part of the public that military victory can be achieved … 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…

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…