Author Topic: What are we reading?  (Read 514287 times)

0 Members and 3 Guests are viewing this topic.

Offline besilarius

  • Landsknecht
  • *******
  • Posts: 5377
  • ringmaster at circus amateur night
Re: What are we reading?
« Reply #4800 on: August 30, 2019, 05:11:04 AM »

Revolutionary France's War of Conquest in the Rhineland: Conquering the Natural Frontier, 1792-1797


by Jordan R. Hayworth

Cambridge & New York: Cambridge University Press, 2019. Pp. xviii, 346. Map, table, notes, biblio., index. $120.00. ISBN: 1108497454

The Rhineland Campaigns of Revolutionary France

The author of several works on French military history, Prof. Hayworth (Air Command and Staff College), has written an impressive account of why and how, within a few years of renouncing wars of conquest, Republican France undertook and carried out a successful war to secure the Rhineland.

Hayworth begins by noting that, contrary to nineteenth century nationalist scholarship, expansion to the Rhine (France’s “natural frontier”), had not been a policy of the ancien regime, despite frequent campaigns into the region, but an idea that arose out of the fierce politics of revolutionary factionalism.

Hayworth then gives us a very detailed account of military operations during the war within framework of France’s internal politics. So we get a look not only at battles and sieges, some quite impressive, but also at the logistical problems of the revolutionary armies. He also demonstrated that the vaunted “fervor” of the conscripts of 1793 – another myth of the French historiography – waned as the war became one of conquest, rather than the defense of the Republic. In the process, Hayworth also gives us looks at a lot of generals and politicians, many of considerable ability – Hoche, Moreau, Mirabeau, Luckner, Pichegru – now mostly forgotten, as well as others still well-known, due largely to their role in the Napoleonic era.

Revolutionary France's War of Conquest in the Rhineland, a volume in the Cambridge Military Histories series, is an excellent account of what has been a largely neglected war.

 Lots of good scenarios for this forgotten series of battles.
“Most gods throw dice, but Fate plays chess, and you don’t find out until too late that he’s been playing with two queens all along”.  Terry Pratchett.

During filming of Airplane, Leslie Nielsen used a whoopee cushion to keep the cast off-balance. Hays said that Nielsen "played that thing like a maestro"

Tallulah Bankhead: "I'll come and make love to you at five o'clock. If I'm late, start without me."

"When all other trusts fail, turn to Flashman." — Abraham Lincoln.

"I have enjoyed very warm relations with my two husbands."
"With your eyes closed?"
"That helped."  Lauren Bacall

Master Chiefs are sneaky, dastardly, and snarky miscreants who thrive on the tears of Ensigns and belly dancers.   Admiral Gerry Bogan.

Offline Toonces

  • Arquebusier
  • ***
  • Posts: 10998
  • Yvan eht nioj!
Re: What are we reading?
« Reply #4801 on: September 15, 2019, 10:00:32 AM »
I just finished Stephen King's On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft.

https://www.amazon.com/Writing-10th-Anniversary-Memoir-Craft/dp/1439156816/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=Stephen+King+On+Writing&qid=1568562869&s=gateway&sr=8-1

I really enjoyed it, more than I thought I would.  The first part of the book is a memoir of his life and some of the history behind the books he's written.  The second part is a sort-of tutorial on writing.  What I found most interesting in that part is how he usually writes fiction.  Instead of developing a plot (which is how I would have thought to approach it), he likes to put characters in a situation and see how the story develops from there.  A lot of times he has no idea how the story will evolve or end.  I found it absolutely fascinating.

I've always wanted to write something.  Maybe this book will finally get me off my bum and give it a try.  Like he says, it's free, you know?

I give it two thumbs up.

I'm now finally giving Steven Pressfield's The Virtues of War a read.  Pressfield's writing is just amazing. 
"If you had a chance, right now, to go back in time and stop Hitler, wouldn't you do it?  I mean, I personally wouldn't stop him because I think he's awesome." - Eric Cartman

"Does a watch list mean you are being watched or is it a come on to Toonces?" - Biggs

"Maybe the slightly sullen look is blaming you for making her feel dirty, wanting to be hot. Yes, it's your fault." - Biggs (again)

"That's what you get when you are getting older and less sober as I am." - SirAndrewD

"Toonces Drunk - (adj) Tooh-nsays Dru-nk Descr:  Smash into a room, insult all your friends, fall asleep for 2 days, naked, face down wearing nothing but ALL your watches on one arm."  - UCG

"The less I hear, the less you say." - Linkin Park

Offline Gusington

  • The Jewish Missile
  • Global Moderator
  • Tercio
  • *****
  • Posts: 42930
  • You must be at most 'this tall' to ride the Gus.
Re: What are we reading?
« Reply #4802 on: September 15, 2019, 06:01:51 PM »
Haven't posted here in a while...but the season is now ripe for dark fantasy. So I am almost done with Scourge by Gail Martin. Very, very good. Will be reading the sequel, Vengeance, too.

Bes that book above sound meaty and delicious. EDIT: 90.00 dollah??? whoa
"...feels like a 39.99 game to me.”

- Grim Reaper, Grogheads Seer

Offline JasonPratt

  • Arquebusier
  • ***
  • Posts: 16989
  • Now let us see what the future will bring...
    • The Evangelical Universalist
Re: What are we reading?
« Reply #4803 on: September 15, 2019, 08:28:43 PM »
Gus, if you'd like to splurge on some real-life Halloween mysteries (still going on today), I can mostly recommend the Missing 411 books -- though finding them isn't easy!

(ironically) (ba-dump-tish)

Maybe start with "A Sobering Coincidence", which gathers together an impressive subset of mysterious deaths independently investigated by a pair of former New York officials (detective and coroner).


I say "mostly" because you'll soon notice that the author tends to overshoot quite a bit in trying to suss out connections between the cases beyond the standard criteria for inclusion (for example in a still-fairly religious nation like the US, a significant number of disappearances and deaths in the M411 category happen to religious or spiritual people! oooooh.  ::) ) Also in his earlier books (the Western and Eastern duology), he tends to include old newspaper cases with fewer details that might perhaps count maybe in his criteria; in other words he has no early gradation of quality, so these very secondary or tertiary cases get counted in clusters like fuller entries even though they may well not be.

Still, the remaining cases left over are unnerving. Enough so that the other independent investigators of the Sobering Coincidence subcategory concluded there must be a nationwide cult of some sort, out kidnapping and murdering mostly-young-men by drugging and then drowning them.
Dawn of Armageddon -- a narrative AAR for Dawn of War: Soulstorm: Ultimate Apocalypse: The Hunt Begins: Insert Joke Here!

Strategic Werewolf Axe-chopping Simulator video AAR!

Survive Harder! In the grim darkness of the bowl there is only, um, Amazons. And tentacles and midgets. Not remotely what you're thinking! ...okay, maybe a little remotely.

PanzOrc Corpz Generals -- Season One complete; Fantasy Wars AAR, lots of screenies.

The full pdf of Cry of Justice has been posted to the Grogheads Book category here.

Offline Airborne Rifles

  • Man-at-Arms
  • *****
  • Posts: 1572
    • Northern Fury
Re: What are we reading?
« Reply #4804 on: September 16, 2019, 05:22:39 AM »
I just finished Stephen King's On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft.

https://www.amazon.com/Writing-10th-Anniversary-Memoir-Craft/dp/1439156816/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=Stephen+King+On+Writing&qid=1568562869&s=gateway&sr=8-1

I really enjoyed it, more than I thought I would.  The first part of the book is a memoir of his life and some of the history behind the books he's written.  The second part is a sort-of tutorial on writing.  What I found most interesting in that part is how he usually writes fiction.  Instead of developing a plot (which is how I would have thought to approach it), he likes to put characters in a situation and see how the story develops from there.  A lot of times he has no idea how the story will evolve or end.  I found it absolutely fascinating.

I've always wanted to write something.  Maybe this book will finally get me off my bum and give it a try.  Like he says, it's free, you know?

I give it two thumbs up.

I'm now finally giving Steven Pressfield's The Virtues of War a read.  Pressfield's writing is just amazing.

His book was absolutely fantastic.

Just finished rereading Virtues of War. I agree, Pressfield is a joy to read.

Offline Jarhead0331

  • Judge Advocate General
  • Administrator
  • Arquebusier
  • *
  • Posts: 12770
  • Global Moderator, General Counsel, Heavy Weapons
Re: What are we reading?
« Reply #4805 on: September 16, 2019, 05:46:11 AM »
Call Sign Chaos by Jim Mattis and Bing West.

The title speaks for itself!

Just picked it up this weekend and haven’t started yet. Need to finish Bagration 1944: The Destruction of Army Group Center, first. It’s part of the Classic Battles series from Osprey Military.
« Last Edit: September 16, 2019, 06:05:36 AM by Jarhead0331 »
Grogheads Uber Alles
Semper Grog
"No beast is more alpha than JH." Gusington, 10/23/18


Offline Gusington

  • The Jewish Missile
  • Global Moderator
  • Tercio
  • *****
  • Posts: 42930
  • You must be at most 'this tall' to ride the Gus.
Re: What are we reading?
« Reply #4806 on: September 16, 2019, 06:20:54 AM »
Thanks Pratt!
"...feels like a 39.99 game to me.”

- Grim Reaper, Grogheads Seer

Offline nelmsm

  • Equites
  • ***
  • Posts: 137
Re: What are we reading?
« Reply #4807 on: September 16, 2019, 06:03:10 PM »
Reading the first book of the trilogy on The Battle Chickamauga by David A. Powell. Good read!

Offline JasonPratt

  • Arquebusier
  • ***
  • Posts: 16989
  • Now let us see what the future will bring...
    • The Evangelical Universalist
Re: What are we reading?
« Reply #4808 on: September 17, 2019, 07:30:09 AM »
There's an epilogue or something to the trilogy, too, focusing on the Confederate Cavalry.

Nice to see a less famous Tennessee battle getting the full trilogy attention (with supporting maps as a fifth book even!)  8)
Dawn of Armageddon -- a narrative AAR for Dawn of War: Soulstorm: Ultimate Apocalypse: The Hunt Begins: Insert Joke Here!

Strategic Werewolf Axe-chopping Simulator video AAR!

Survive Harder! In the grim darkness of the bowl there is only, um, Amazons. And tentacles and midgets. Not remotely what you're thinking! ...okay, maybe a little remotely.

PanzOrc Corpz Generals -- Season One complete; Fantasy Wars AAR, lots of screenies.

The full pdf of Cry of Justice has been posted to the Grogheads Book category here.

Offline besilarius

  • Landsknecht
  • *******
  • Posts: 5377
  • ringmaster at circus amateur night
Re: What are we reading?
« Reply #4809 on: September 17, 2019, 05:47:06 PM »
 Spearhead: An American Tank Gunner, His Enemy, and a Collision of Lives in World War II
Archives

by Adam Makos

New York: Random House Ballantine Books, 2019. Pp. xiv, 382+. Illus., maps, diagr., notes, biblio., index. $28.00. ISBN: 0804176728

Tank Duel in the Rhineland

The best guide to the detailed history of armor combat on the Western front in 1944-45 may be the various books by Steven Zaloga, while you get the visceral feel of intense tank combat by watching Brad Pitt in Fury (2014), or playing the World of Tanks video game. But those who want a dramatic – and true – story about the tankers of both sides, blended with much of the tactical and technical background, should read Spearhead.

Mr. Makos has written a number of accounts of veterans’ experiences in World War II. This one is hard to beat. First off, the story of how this story came to be told is remarkable. It tells of an epic confrontation in Cologne between a classic German Panther Panzer V tank and the new American Pershing, M26 tank, filmed by a combat photographer (stunning stills from which are included). The author learned about that “duel” some 60 years later from a teen’s interviews of veterans for an Eagle Scout project. Makos found other surviving veterans from that tank unit and its supporting infantrymen and in 2013 took one (the American tank gunner, Clarence Smoyer) to the scene at the Cologne cathedral, and introduced him to a German gunner who had witnessed the event from another tank.

The book is named for the Third Armored (Spearhead) Division, in which Smoyer served. It picks up his story in September 1944 near Mons, Belgium, where his 32nd Armored Regiment’s Sherman tanks violently engaged German troops fleeing from Normandy. From there the book interweaves the separate accounts of Smoyer and the German gunner, Gustav Schaefer, until their paths met in Cologne and then follows Smoyer to the war’s end.

Meanwhile, Makos works in explanations of the mainstay Sherman 75mm M-4A1 tank and the opposing German Panther, and their tactical use.

Most accounts of the 1944-45 campaign tell of hapless Shermans bouncing shells off Panthers and then bursting in flame when hit by the superior German gun. Less often told are the counter-measures he describes, which reduced the Sherman’s flammability risk after penetration from 80% to 15%, by changing ammo storage, enhancing armor with field expedients (e.g., welding on armor from totaled tanks, securing steel tracks or sand bags to the hull, etc.), and upgrading the gun to the high velocity 76mm.

The ultimate fix was a new generation tank. That was not, however, as obvious to decision-makers who, like Patton, found the Sherman good enough in 1943, when there was time for a new model to make a difference. The critics, who know now with perfect hindsight what was needed, often ignore the Sherman’s strengths, including its ability to make long road marches without breakdowns (which plagued the heavy German tanks) and burn less scarce fuel than the bigger guzzlers. Shermans could log 2,000 miles without major maintenance and quickly change the engine in the field when needed. Smoyer’s tanks successfully made several such long road marches in the course of his war. A gunner like Smoyer especially appreciated powered turret rotation enabling quick engagement of targets, even from one side of the road to the other.

A new tank did arrive, the Pershing T-26E3 with a powerful 90mm gun, heavy frontal armor and a low silhouette somewhat like the Panzer’s. Clarence Smoyer’s crew got one of the few in the European theater. That turned out to be a good match. Smoyer was a natural gunner, though never formally trained. In tests of the Pershing for the division commander, Smoyer reduced a chimney 1,200 yards away, to rubble in one shot. Asked to repeat the feat, he hit a smaller chimney at 1,500 yards. his sniping coup was somewhat diminished when the Pershing’s muzzle blast bowled over Maj. Gen Maurice Rose, the division commander, standing nearby. General Rose recovered his stance and poise in time to laud the Pershing and the superb gunnery.

The climax, of course, is the tank battle in Cologne. Makos calls it a “duel”, a bit of an exaggeration since one of the “duelists” never fired a shot. The reason is interesting. Smoyer’s Pershing drove into an intersection over-watched by the Panther, whose gun was sighted on the intersection. Smoyer didn’t know where the Panther was until he entered the intersection, which should have been a second too late. However, due to the Pershing’s low silhouette, the German tank commander, never having seen a Pershing, thought it was a Panther and ordered the gunner to hesitate. He did so long enough for Smoyer to fire shells into and through the Panther. All of which was recorded on movie film. Stills from that film show the long muzzle blast from Smoyer’s gun and then the flames erupting from the German tank.

Smoyer’s unit moved on across the Rhine, from where they were sent on another long road march to close the encirclement of the Ruhr industrial area. They accomplished this mission at Paderborn, home of the German tank school; In intense combat with perhaps the best tankers in the Wehrmacht, Smoyer proved once again what he and the Pershing could accomplish.

Spearhead also tells us about the armored infantrymen supporting the tankers, especially against German infantry with the tank-killing Panzerfaust. As with the tankers, Makos found a surviving infantryman who fought alongside Smoyer.

These interlocking accounts are backed up with thorough research, including regimental morning reports and visits to the battle scenes with the survivors. The extensive notes include citations from Steve Zaloga on technical aspects, diagrams of the layout of the Sherman and Panther showing each crew member’s position, and map sketches explaining the one-on-one tank battles. Also included are photos of those named in the story and their vehicles.

One unfortunate omission is that other than a few generalizations, there’s a notable lack of useful information about tank maintenance. Thus, Makos’s accounts of the tankers on both sides misses the opportunity to confirm by way of their experience whether or not the insistence of American logisticians on tight control of maintenance, including the flow of spare parts, kept the Shermans rolling when lack of the of spares and other inefficiencies on the German side left otherwise powerful Panthers abandoned by the roadside. (“For want of a nail….”)

Makos’s style is relaxed and readable, assisted by short paragraphs. It is accessible to the general reader
“Most gods throw dice, but Fate plays chess, and you don’t find out until too late that he’s been playing with two queens all along”.  Terry Pratchett.

During filming of Airplane, Leslie Nielsen used a whoopee cushion to keep the cast off-balance. Hays said that Nielsen "played that thing like a maestro"

Tallulah Bankhead: "I'll come and make love to you at five o'clock. If I'm late, start without me."

"When all other trusts fail, turn to Flashman." — Abraham Lincoln.

"I have enjoyed very warm relations with my two husbands."
"With your eyes closed?"
"That helped."  Lauren Bacall

Master Chiefs are sneaky, dastardly, and snarky miscreants who thrive on the tears of Ensigns and belly dancers.   Admiral Gerry Bogan.

Offline JasonPratt

  • Arquebusier
  • ***
  • Posts: 16989
  • Now let us see what the future will bring...
    • The Evangelical Universalist
Re: What are we reading?
« Reply #4810 on: September 18, 2019, 06:42:38 AM »
 :o O0 :notworthy:
Dawn of Armageddon -- a narrative AAR for Dawn of War: Soulstorm: Ultimate Apocalypse: The Hunt Begins: Insert Joke Here!

Strategic Werewolf Axe-chopping Simulator video AAR!

Survive Harder! In the grim darkness of the bowl there is only, um, Amazons. And tentacles and midgets. Not remotely what you're thinking! ...okay, maybe a little remotely.

PanzOrc Corpz Generals -- Season One complete; Fantasy Wars AAR, lots of screenies.

The full pdf of Cry of Justice has been posted to the Grogheads Book category here.

Offline besilarius

  • Landsknecht
  • *******
  • Posts: 5377
  • ringmaster at circus amateur night
Re: What are we reading?
« Reply #4811 on: September 18, 2019, 04:16:52 PM »
And today, Gunner Smoyer was awarded the Bronze Star in a surprise ceremony at the World War II memorial in Washington, DC.

https://www.stripes.com/news/veterans/wwii-hero-of-cologne-receives-valor-award-nearly-75-years-after-famous-tank-battle-1.599524
« Last Edit: September 19, 2019, 05:12:06 AM by besilarius »
“Most gods throw dice, but Fate plays chess, and you don’t find out until too late that he’s been playing with two queens all along”.  Terry Pratchett.

During filming of Airplane, Leslie Nielsen used a whoopee cushion to keep the cast off-balance. Hays said that Nielsen "played that thing like a maestro"

Tallulah Bankhead: "I'll come and make love to you at five o'clock. If I'm late, start without me."

"When all other trusts fail, turn to Flashman." — Abraham Lincoln.

"I have enjoyed very warm relations with my two husbands."
"With your eyes closed?"
"That helped."  Lauren Bacall

Master Chiefs are sneaky, dastardly, and snarky miscreants who thrive on the tears of Ensigns and belly dancers.   Admiral Gerry Bogan.

Offline nelmsm

  • Equites
  • ***
  • Posts: 137
Re: What are we reading?
« Reply #4812 on: September 19, 2019, 07:42:44 PM »
There's an epilogue or something to the trilogy, too, focusing on the Confederate Cavalry.

Nice to see a less famous Tennessee battle getting the full trilogy attention (with supporting maps as a fifth book even!)  8)

I have the companion book Maps of Chickamauga and it's a great reference to have while reading the books. The other book is about the failure of the Confederate cavalry during the campaign. About 35% into the first book and it's a great read.

Offline Gusington

  • The Jewish Missile
  • Global Moderator
  • Tercio
  • *****
  • Posts: 42930
  • You must be at most 'this tall' to ride the Gus.
Re: What are we reading?
« Reply #4813 on: October 01, 2019, 12:34:02 PM »
Have read a few Kindle schlock horror reads that ranged from kitschy to crappy. Now, on to the good stuff...about to start either The Witching Hour by Anne Rice or Dr. Sleep by Stephen King. Not sure which (witch?) yet.
"...feels like a 39.99 game to me.”

- Grim Reaper, Grogheads Seer

Offline Martok

  • Arquebusier
  • ***
  • Posts: 12553
  • All that is gold does not glitter.
Re: What are we reading?
« Reply #4814 on: October 01, 2019, 01:35:39 PM »
Have started Kevin Hamilton's Judas Unchained, the sequel to his excellent Pandora's Star.  My copy just arrived in the mail today, which is great timing, as I'd finished the latter a couple days ago. 
"Like we need an excuse to drink to anything..." - Banzai_Cat
"I like to think of it not as an excuse but more like Pavlovian Response." - Sir Slash

"At our ages, they all look like jailbait." - mirth

"If we had lines here that would have crossed all of them. For the 1,077,986th time." - Gusington

"Government is so expensive that it should at least be entertaining." - airboy

"As long as there's bacon, everything will be all right." - Toonces