Book Review: Rome’s Revolution by Richard Alston

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The end of the Roman Republic and founding of the Empire is one of those events in history that has been recounted so often in histories and also in stage and theater that everyone thinks they know what, why, and how it happened. Rome’s Revolution by Richard Alston will show you that you don’t necessarily know what you think you know and that most accounts of the fall of the Roman Republic are simplistic accounts at best.  The author is a professor of Roman History and brings an expert’s perspective to the story that is missing from many popular accounts. The book itself is 337 pages of text with extensive notes, … Read more…

Book Review: War Made New by Max Boot

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The hot topic in military history and military doctrine development circles since the early 1990’s has been the concept of the Revolution in Military Affairs (RMA).  An RMA is defined as a development, generally technology, which alters the conduct of war so thoroughly that warfare becomes unlike what it was before.  In science this is called a paradigm shift.  The most common examples of RMA’s that are bandied about are gunpowder, steam ships, breech loading rifles, tanks, aircraft carriers, the modern staff system, and information technology.  There are others but those are the most common.  As a military historian, I am skeptical of the whole notion though plenty of folks … Read more…

Book Review: A Long Time Until Now by Michael Z Williamson

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I have read all of Michael Z Williamson’s previous books and found them to be excellent combat sci-fi with a little politics and social commentary thrown in.  A Long Time Until Now is not excellent.  In fact, it was a total disappointment.  I pre-ordered this book on Amazon in February and eagerly awaited its release in May given the dearth of my kind of sci-fi recently.  Unfortunately, with the release of this book my wait continues. Williamson’s Freehold books are nothing more than political commentary dressed up as sci-fi but if you can ignore the politics they are rollicking good adventures on their own. A Long Time Until Now is none of those … Read more…

Book Review: How the West Won by Rodney Stark

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How the West Won: The Neglected Story of the Triumph of Modernity by Rodney Stark is a refreshing look at history. What I found most refreshing is that the book looks at the rise of Christianity as a good thing, even a necessary thing, instead of the calamity it is presented in much history. What I also found both new and intriguing is the idea that the disunity of the West has been one of the vital factors that contributed to the West achieving modernity where other cultural groups did not and that empires are in and of themselves bad things. Stark takes special care to demonstrate how the rise of Rome … Read more…

Book Review: Currency Wars by James Rickards

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Currency Wars: The Making of the Next Global Crisis by James Rickards  is an older book, written in 2012 but it maintains it’s relevance because not only does the book go far to explain current global economic conditions, it explains how we got to where we are today and the macroeconomic logic behind why nothing will likely change absent significant political will among the world’s economic cognoscenti in large private banks, central banks, and international financial organizations. The book itself is 258 pages of text divided into three topical parts with notes, selected sources, and an index. The first part describes what financial war is and how they start.  Interestingly, it … Read more…

Book Review: The Martian by Andy Weir

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One of the best books I have read in a long time. Weir’s “The Martian” is classic hard science fiction and that makes it that much better. Everything in the book is realistic and could be happening within a few years if NASA were given the resources. The best thing I can compare this book to are the early Allen Steele such as “Orbital Decay” and “Rude Astronauts” Essentially the book is the story of an astronaut whop gets stranded on Mars due to an accident when his initial mission gets aborted due to Martian weather.  It is that simple but the wealth of detail provided in the book about … Read more…

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: Imaginary Things by Andrea Lochen

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Imaginary Things is the story of Anna Jennings and her son, Davey. She got pregnant while still in high school and the father turned out to be unstable and he is not in their lives. Now, at 22, she has just lost her job and she’s forced to move in with her grandparents in a small town near Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Strange things begin to happen as soon as they start settling in to their new life. Davey has an imaginary dinosaur friend, but Anna can see it. She had an imaginary friend for many years, but has forgotten much of her childhood. A friend from her past moves back into town to … 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…

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…

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…