Book Review: No End Save Victory by David Kaiser

[FULL DISCLOSURE: I received my copy of this book free from the author. I was not paid for this review and the opinion expressed is purely my own] No End Save Victory: How FDR Led the Nation into War is one of those books that at first glance looks like it is going to be one of those dry, difficult to read history books that is nothing more than a litany of dates and facts.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  It is an interesting and compelling account of the events in America during the 18 months prior to American entry into WWII.  Oddly, this period is mentioned in every … More after the Jump…

WWII Animated Day-by-Day

Below is an animated map of the progress of WWII day by day from 1 September, 1939 to October, 1945 when the last major units of the Japanese military surrendered.  It provides a fascinating view of the way in which the fortunes of the went back and forth.

The Crete Campaign: 20-29 May, 1941

Last Spring I did a presentation to my local Military History group about the Crete Campaign of 1941 and figured that since I now have the time I would put something up here about it as well because I find the whole campaign to be a comedy of errors by both sides in this misguided, ill-conceived, and poorly executed excuse for a battle. First, we should examine the strategic situation in May of 1941.
In May 1941 England had been run out of Greece with its tail between its legs and was using Crete as both a staging ground for evacuation and they were hoping like hell they could hold it and stop the Mediterranean, or at least the eastern part from turning into a German Lake. For their part, Germany did not know what to do. They were in the last stages of planning the attack on Stalin’s Russia set to commence in June but in the meantime they had all these troops hanging out in Greece with nothing to do. The possession of Crete would have conferred no strategic or even operational advantage to the Germans as the British still controlled Malta and the British navy still controlled the waters of the Mediterranean Sea.

More after the Jump…The Crete Campaign: 20-29 May, 1941

Book Review: World War II: Cause and Effect by Bill Brady

[FULL DISCLOSURE: I received my copy of this book free from the author. I was not paid for this review and the opinion expressed is purely my own] World War Two: Cause and Effect by Bill Brady is not so much a narrative history as a topical anthology of the war.  It is a collection of papers Mr Brady has presented over the years collected and published in one volume.  According to the jacket Mr. Brady is a lifelong history buff and is a member and President of the South African Military History Society of Kwa Zulu Natal in Durban, South Africa. The book itself is 341 pages in length.  The … More after the Jump…

Book Review: Battle Tactics of the Western Front by Paddy Griffith

Battle Tactics of the Western Front: The British Army`s Art of Attack, 1916-18 by Paddy Griffith is a very interesting book. The premise is that despite what many historians have said about the inertia of the British Army in WWI and it’s resistance to tactical change, that is not true and the British were committed to innovation throughout the war in an effort to break the deadlock of the trenches. The book itself is not long, 219 pages of text including appendices. There are extensive endnotes and the bibliography is fairly extensive as well. The book is organized topically and though it purports to only deal with the developments of the … More after the Jump…

D-Day 69th 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: July 1914: Countdown to War by Sean McMeekin

I have probably read 30-40 books exploring the origins of World War I in the past 5-6 years and I thought that just about everything relevant there was to be known about the events of the month leading up to the war were known and historians have just been stirring the ashes and finding trivia in trying to determine a more accurate chain of causation. July 1914: Countdown to War by Sean McMeekin disabused me of that notion.  This work has made me aware of several things about the critical month between the Assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and the outbreak of World War I that I am amazed have not … More after the Jump…

Margaret Thatcher Passes away

Margaret Thatcher  the famous Iron Lady of 1980’s Britain and only female Prime Minister in English History has passed away in London from an apparent stroke.  She will be remembered as one of the most effective Prime Ministers in British history.  Not least among her accomplishments was her steadfast opposition to the Soviets in partnership with Ronald Reagan and most notably to me her refusal to bow to Argentina and the way in which she prosecuted the 1982-1983 Falklands War to regain the islands after the Argentine’s invaded and seized them. I hope the British realize what a treasure they have lost and remember her fondly. May she Rest in Peace

How to Build and Fire a Medieval Trebuchet

Who would not want to build their own Trebuchet and rain down destruction on various targets in their backyard? I know I did. Luckily, I got a Trebuchet kit from my wife for Christmas. The below video is the result of that and one I put together for a class I am currently taking on Desktop Video Production. The assignment was to make a five minute video on a topic of our choice. It had to have x-number of transitions, background music, narration and video effects. That is why there are so many crazy transitions in the video. Believe me, shooting it is way more fun that watching me shoot it. That doesn’t bother me because … More after the Jump…

War and the Modern Mind

I have been pondering why modern Westernized man has such a problem successfully waging war for a few days and had a breakthrough recently.  Before we can really get to that, a few brief thoughts are in order. First, what is war?  Most people would probably agree that war is armed conflict between states, at least that is the classical definition.  I would add the modern caveat of armed conflict with what are euphemistically called non-state actors (IRA, AL-Qaeda, FARC, etc.).  These two definitions are good enough for my current purposes although I don’t think they really cover everything that we should or could call war. Second, what constitutes victory?  … More after the Jump…

Book Review: Holy Wars: 3000 Years of Battles in the Holy Land by Gary Rashba

HOLY WARS: 3000 Years of Battles in the Holy Land is one of the better primers about conflict in the Holy Land to appear within the last few years.   It consists of 17 chapters covering the initial Israelite conquest of Canaan in 1400 B.C. to the Israeli offensive against Hezbollah in southern Lebanon in 1982.   The more recent Israeli-Palestinian conflict is covered in the epilogue.   The work is 288 pages and includes extensive notes at the end of each chapter as well as a well sourced bibliography and index.   The Kindle edition, which is what I have, was mostly free of editing errors and the only … More after the Jump…

The Reality of War – Violent Death

Today I was reading a selection of articles from Foreign Affairs magazine dealing with modern Counterinsurgency and its perceived success or failure.   One of the things that struck me about the articles and that Bing West brings out in his rebuttal to two critiques of a piece he wrote is the modern predilection for forgetting, either purposefully or not, that war is in essence about man killing man.   What should be the enduring image of war is that of a battlefield strewn with bodies after the armies have moved on such as those below. That is not the image that the modern West has of warfare though.   … More after the Jump…

D-Day 68th 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…