Book Review: Spaceport Earth: The Reinvention of Spaceflight by Joe Pappalardo

There is no doubt that private space companies have reinvigorating American efforts to return to space on US systems since the unceremonious lapse of American manned launch capabilities with the retirement of the Space Shuttle in 2011.  Spaceport Earth is more about that reinvigoration in the US than about global launch capability although it does touch on that. First the facts.  The book is 218 pages of text divided into 10 topical chapters and an epilogue.  A source list, acknowledgements, and an index. The book essentially covers developments in private space since the first flight of Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipOne in 2003 through to the book’s publication last year.  Many things … More after the Jump…

Book Review: Intervention in Russia: 1918-1920, A Cautionary Tale

Intervention in Russia: 1918-1920, A Cautionary Tale, is a very well written account of a little known part of the First World War.   Mr. Hudson writes in the style that I find to be the most readable and enjoyable.   Perhaps it is because he is British.   I have always found that British historians have a more lyrical and artistic writing style as compared to American historians.   Most of my favorite historians are British, whereas Americans tend to make history books dry and boring; the British, and Australians for that matter, can make the most boring subject interesting simply by the style with which they write. The … More after the Jump…

Book Review – The Last Battle: Victory, Defeat, and the End of World War I by Peter Hart

The Last Battle is the latest of the excellent histories of World War I that Peter Hart has produced.  This book is an account of the last year of World War I on the Western Front with an emphasis on the final Allied campaign known now as The 100 Days. My copy is a pre-publication review copy so some of this can change.  The facts: there are 395 pages of text divided into 12 chronological chapters. Like his earlier work this is an excellently written history that does not indulge in the blame games so many histories of World War I engage in.  Peter Hart presents a narrative account of … More after the Jump…

Book Review: D-Day Through German Eyes edited by Holger Eckhertz

An often overlooked aspect of World War II is the war as seen from the enemy side.  There have been a plethora of books published about the snail’s eye view of the war from the Allied side from intimate unit histories like “Band of Brothers” to collections of oral histories. There is an absolute dearth of such works on the side of the Axis powers in English but also in their native tongue at least as far as German goes to my knowledge. The facts: the book is 320 pages of text split between two books and 13 chapters with an introduction and postscript for each book. D-Day Through German … More after the Jump…

Book Review: Goodbye To All That by Robert Graves

In the interwar years of the 1920s and 1930s several books about World War I came out that have become seminal works in their own right.  Among these is Goodbye To All That by Robert Graves, his autobiography written and published in 1929 that mainly covers his time as a British officer in the Royal Welch Fusiliers on the Western Front during the war. As opposed to other memoirs or semi-autobiographical accounts of the war such as Storm of Steel or All Quiet on the Western Front, Goodbye To All That is essentially an unvarnished account of what the war was like for an unconventional English gentleman.  Graves was from … More after the Jump…

Book Review – The Great War: A Combat History of the First World War by Peter Hart

Since 2014 there have been a whole slew of books released dealing with World War I in conjunction with the 100th anniversary of the war.  This volume is one of them.  In The Great War Peter Hart has produced a book that should have been written half a century ago at a minimum. The stats: the book is 476 pages of text separated into 16 chronologically arranged thematic chapters with maps, notes, and a preface. This book does what few other books I have read about manage.  That is, it examines World War I combat from the perspective of what was achievable at the time instead of criticizing commanders for … More after the Jump…

Book Review: Hannibal’s Road: The Second Punic War in Italy 213-203 B.C. by Mike Roberts

[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] Hannibal’s Road covers a period in history that is often only briefly described, if not glossed over entirely.  That period is the 10 years between 213-203 B.C. after his stunning victories at Trebia, Trasimene, and Cannae until his evacuation of the Italian peninsula. The stats.  There are 249 pages of text divided into an introduction, 11 chapters, and an epilogue.  There are also several maps, notes, a bibliography, and an index. The period between the Roman defeats at Trebia, Trasimene, … More after the Jump…

Book Review: Sea Power: The History and Geopolitics of the World’s Oceans by ADM James Stavridis

Sea Power is a book that takes a fresh twenty-first century look at the world’s oceans and the geopolitical challenges facing the United States in the century ahead. As always, the stats.  There are 343 pages of texts divided into 9 topical chapters with an index and recommended reading/sources list.  The chapters cover an introduction to ocean geography and a detailed treatment of each ocean and the history and current challenges associated with it for the United States.  The final chapter is a look and a recommendation for what America’s maritime strategy should be going forward. The book is well written and while ADM Stavridis is no Robert Kagan in … More after the Jump…

Book Review: Mortal Wounds: The Human Skeleton as Evidence for Conflict in the Past by Martin Smith

[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] As interesting books go Mortal Wounds is way up there. I will admit that when I first saw the title on a list of potential books for review I was skeptical but then the title and description made it somewhat intriguing. I am pleased to say that I am happy I decided to review this work as it is infinitely more interesting than the title implies. First the facts. The book is 248 pages of text divided into an introduction, … More after the Jump…

Terror and Counterinsurgency

I thought that the victory laps the press and others are doing about the supposed defeat of ISIS in Iraq was a good time to post this. Apparently the leaders of the West and most of the Western population has decided that several hundred dead and wounded every year due to terrorism is acceptable as the West collectively is unwilling to exert the effort to effectively defeat terrorism. It can be defeated if we are willing to be realistic and understand that you can only defeat terror by out-terroring the terrorists. Now three questions about insurgency and counterinsurgency please reply in the comments: How many people have heard of the … More after the Jump…

Book Review: The Battlefields of the First World War: The Unseen Panoramas of the Western Front by Peter Barton

The Battlefields of the First World War: The Unseen Panoramas of the Western Front by Peter Barton is one of the most visually stunning books about WWI I have ever read.  This work is more than just a history of British participation on the Western Front.  It makes use of officially produced trench panoramas to illuminate conditions of trench warfare better than almost any other pictorial record of WWI I have run across. The book itself is 358 pages in length with a bibliography, picture credits, list of further reading, and index.  In addition, and one of the things that makes this book outstanding it includes two CD-ROMs that contain … More after the Jump…

Book Review: At the Edge of the World: The Heroic Century of the French Foreign Legion by Jean-Vincent Blanchard

[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 would hazard to guess that when most people think of the French Foreign Legion they think of hard faced mercenaries doing France’s dirty work, the idealized Beau Geste bringing civilization to the North African Desert or legionnaires fighting to the last man at Camerone.  At the Edge of the World  by Jean-Vincent Blanchard tells the real story of the French Foreign Legion and it needs no embellishment. The stats: the book is 222 pages of text separated into two … More after the Jump…

Veterans Day 2017

Happy Veterans Day To all my fellow veterans!   Somebody has to be at the pointy end of the stick and you all took up the challenge,

Today is Veteran’s Day in the US and Armistice Day in Britain and France. It is a day to remember the end of the fighting in World War I on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 1918. It is also the day set aside in the US to remember all veterans, not just those of World War I but also those that served in our nation’s other wars and those that served during peacetime. It takes something special to serve your country and a little bit more to do so voluntarily. There is always the possibility of going to war and giving your life for your country while in the military. I hope that everyone takes a moment today and remembers the sacrifices of all the soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines who have served and fought for the United States. If you meet a vet today, shake his hand and thank him for his service. Remember, less than 1% of US citizens currently serve, yet they do so to protect that other 99%.

US Department of Veterans Affairs site about Veterans Day

Book Review: The Thai Way of Counterinsurgency by Jeff M. Moore PhD

[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] Anybody who has read this blog over the past few years will know that I am not a big fan of COIN doctrine as currently espoused by the US Army.  My objections to COIN are mainly that it doesn’t work, not because the US gets it wrong but because the US is the wrong vehicle to execute the COIN fight in a foreign land.  Foreigners are automatically hamstrung in implementing a successful COIN strategy by the fact that they are … More after the Jump…

Book Review: What Have We Done: The Moral Injury of Our Longest Wars by David Wood

I kind of had an idea of what to expect from this book just from reading the title and I was not wrong.  Perhaps I am not the person to critically review a work of this type as I knew from the introduction on that I would disagree with most of the premises in the book. But first as always, the stats.  What Have We Done is 272 pages of text separated into 15 chapters and a prologue. The chapters are topical and cover different aspects of the moral injury the author is claiming most, if not all, soldiers suffer in combat. Before I get into my issues with the … More after the Jump…