Author Topic: What are we reading?  (Read 591157 times)

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Offline airboy

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Re: What are we reading?
« Reply #5205 on: September 28, 2020, 06:00:14 AM »
Tower of Skulls is on my wishlist.  A local grog read it and also thought it was excellent.

Offline Gusington

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Re: What are we reading?
« Reply #5206 on: September 28, 2020, 08:21:30 AM »
If the author does finish the Tower of Skulls trilogy it will be incredible.
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Offline airboy

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Re: What are we reading?
« Reply #5207 on: October 05, 2020, 12:51:11 PM »
I finished Miracle at Midway last night.  I picked it up on a $2.99 kindle deal.

The author is the one who wrote "At Dawn We Slept" sort of.  He died while finishing up all of the research and interviews.  His staff finished up the book.

This is the best account of US actions at Midway that I've ever read.  His approach is to take the battle in chronological order, alternating chapters between the US and Japanese actions.  He carefully presents the information as what each side knew at that point in time - and what logical options they have based on the information they have in front of them.

The US coverage is better than Shattered Sword.  Shattered Sword has better Japanese coverage than Miracle at Midway.

His after action review of the decisions of the US and Japanese commanders at various levels and at various points in time is excellent.  His view of how Nagumo ran the battle was very inciteful.  He thinks Nagumo mostly made the right decisions at the right times using Japanese/US source materials.  His primary faulting of Nagumo was a haphazard search pattern for possible US carriers - but the information that Nagumo had on the strategic level suggested the US carriers were far away.

His review of the US actions at Midway were:
1] The USA mostly had bad equipment (inferior fighters including the F4F, torpedos (of course), torpedo planes, aerial bombs, and unarmored flight decks.
2] US had much better strategic and tactical intelligence (radar).
3] Information sharing between the fleet and Midway was horrid.
4] US junior officers and men fought very well.
5] US got very lucky, but Spruance and Fletcher held nothing back on the attack so they made their own luck.

His review of the Japanese actions at Midway were:
1] Japanese had much better equipment (aside from Radar & strategic intelligence).
2] Japanese were very brave and skilled
3] Nagumo's "mistakes" were minor - except perhaps for the search planes. 
4] Yamamoto made the big blunders: dividing his forces, not having the battleships as a screen, having a very unclear battle plan (is taking Midway the objective, or is destroying the US fleet), and poor planning for enemy response prior to the battle.
5] Not waiting for the two other fleet carriers to be repaired/replenished to concentrate his forces.

However, he says that Japs had all the time in the world to plan.  Spruance had only a couple of days and Fletcher a day and a half less than Spruance - but they made the right decisions.

He credits a couple of instances of luck and good decisions that turned the battle.

This is the fourth or fifth book on Midway that I've read.  If I had to make a recommendation,
Lord's book is an inspiring, interesting narrative that by current standards lacks a lot of information.
Shattered Sword is the best analysis of Japanese actions and doctrines.
Miracle at Midway is the best coverage of US analysis, options and actions.

This was well worth the $2.99 I spent on it.

Offline ArizonaTank

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Re: What are we reading?
« Reply #5208 on: October 09, 2020, 06:23:46 PM »
....
This is the fourth or fifth book on Midway that I've read.  If I had to make a recommendation,
Lord's book is an inspiring, interesting narrative that by current standards lacks a lot of information.
Shattered Sword is the best analysis of Japanese actions and doctrines.
Miracle at Midway is the best coverage of US analysis, options and actions.
....

Some good thoughts on these. I very much like Shattered Sword so I will put this one on the reading list. I like to read several books on the same topic as well. I find that doing so builds a better picture of the history...for me at least. 
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Offline ArizonaTank

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Re: What are we reading?
« Reply #5209 on: October 09, 2020, 07:05:54 PM »
I recently finished Masters of the Air by Donald Miller. This book is a history of the 8th Air Force in WWII and is the basis for an upcoming Spielberg / Hanks TV series in the sprit of “Band of Brothers” and “The Pacific”.

https://www.amazon.com/Masters-Air-Americas-Against-Germany/dp/0743235452/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=masters+of+the+air&qid=1602169777&sr=8-1

I really enjoyed reading the book. It had a great balance between analysis of major issues, strategy and operations. At the same time, it also provided gripping first-hand accounts. The book covers pretty much everything. Strategy, the missions, the capabilities of the aircraft, training, logistics, off-duty life, capture after bailing out, escape, and even race relations (the USAAF brought a horrible enforced segregation with it to England).

The book brought home the fact that being an 8th Air Force crewman was more dangerous than being an infantryman. Only 25% of fliers completed their tour without being wounded, killed or captured. They fought not only the enemy, but the extreme conditions in the aircraft. With no heating system, frostbite and severe cold injuries were just as much of a problem as flak. 

The book is mostly written from the US point of view. There are plenty of first hand accounts of the missions, and some heart wrenching stories of bravery in the face of certain death.

The book had some real highlights for me, among them:

1)   The fate of flyers who bailed out over Switzerland. These fliers didn’t really have it that good. And if the Americans tried to escape they were often sent to a horrid concentration camp run by a sadistic Nazi.

2)   The book had an in-depth and very well done (IMHO) discussion of “terror” bombing, and if it ever achieved its goal. In short, the book (and the USAAF) concluded that while the bombing eventually contributed to breaking German civilian morale, there was little effect. The Germans became apathetic (in 1945) and were only worried about survival. The civilians did not turn on their Government as had happened in late 1918.

3)   The book has a very good analysis of the US targeting strategy. Ultimately, the US started to go for oil and the transportation grid. These had much more impact than bombing other industries. But the US almost completely ignored the power grid and missed a huge opportunity to end the war sooner.

4)   The book has a lengthy discussion of if the US should have bombed the Nazi concentration camps such as Auschwitz. Would this have slowed the Nazi death machine down? After the war, there was quite a bit of controversy around the Allies ignoring the death camps. The book concludes that it would have had little real effect, other than to kill many of the incarcerated.

5)     The book covers the 8th's celebrities well, without going overboard. I knew about Jimmy Stewart, but I hadn't heard much about Clark Gable prior to reading the book. It turns out that he was not just a showboat. He lobbied hard to be treated like the other guys, and he flew on many dangerous missions as a gunner. In one mission, he had the heal of his boot shot off by a German cannon round.   

I could possibly throw out a few barbs about the book, but that would be picky. Maybe the biggest thing missing IMHO is how the US determined targets at the operational level. How did they know that a particular ball bearing plant produced 20% of the Reich’s ball bearings for example. It would have been nice to hear how this intelligence was collected and analyzed.

Anyway, Masters of the Air is a great book and an easy recommendation. Can’t wait to see it on TV. 

« Last Edit: October 10, 2020, 08:11:17 PM by ArizonaTank »
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Rated as the 2nd most valuable player of all time by Bill James.

Offline Gusington

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Re: What are we reading?
« Reply #5210 on: October 10, 2020, 11:46:10 AM »
Just started Dracula’s Demeter by Doug Lamoreaux.
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Online Sir Slash

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Re: What are we reading?
« Reply #5211 on: October 16, 2020, 08:44:47 PM »
Just finished, "Killing Crazy Horse" by Bill O'Reilly and Martin Dugard. I've read every, 'Killing' book and while most are what I would consider, 'Light History' they all have something in them I've never heard anywhere else. This one's the best in years, taking a unique approach of telling the story of the U.S. Govt. vs American Indians as one complete narrative instead of many different individual ones. The Who's, Why's and How's of the entire struggle from The Red Stick War in 1813 to the surrender of the Nez Perce in 1877 is covered, the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly included from both perspectives. With many great maps and pics, it's hard to believe so much could be included in a book less than 300 pages. A great read.  O0
"Take a look at that". Sgt. Wilkerson-- CMBN. His last words after spotting a German tank on the other side of a hedgerow.

Offline Gusington

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Re: What are we reading?
« Reply #5212 on: October 18, 2020, 02:03:40 PM »
What did it have on the Black Hawk War? Always wanted to learn about that.

I just finished Batman: Damned (part of the DC Black Label imprint) by Brian Azaarello and Lee Bermejo...has some of the greatest comic art I have ever seen, but was entirely too short. Need more Black Label!
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Online Sir Slash

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Re: What are we reading?
« Reply #5213 on: October 18, 2020, 09:35:20 PM »
There's a great chapter on the Black Hawk War including Lincoln's involvement in it.
"Take a look at that". Sgt. Wilkerson-- CMBN. His last words after spotting a German tank on the other side of a hedgerow.

Offline matt3916

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Re: What are we reading?
« Reply #5214 on: October 19, 2020, 02:35:19 PM »
Re The Black Hawk War.  See "Twilight of Empire" by Allan W. Eckert.  I'd recommend the rest of the books in his Winning of America series as well.

Offline Gusington

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Re: What are we reading?
« Reply #5215 on: October 19, 2020, 02:41:20 PM »
^Thank you kind stranger. And Slash :)
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Online Sir Slash

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Re: What are we reading?
« Reply #5216 on: October 19, 2020, 09:05:15 PM »
I wish there was more about one of my favorites, Chief Joseph and the Nez Perce. Kind of short there. Them Injuns could FIGHT!  :notworthy:
"Take a look at that". Sgt. Wilkerson-- CMBN. His last words after spotting a German tank on the other side of a hedgerow.

Offline Gusington

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Re: What are we reading?
« Reply #5217 on: October 20, 2020, 03:01:36 PM »
Now reading Baltimore, or, The Steadfast Tin Soldier and the Vampire by Mike Mignola and Christopher Golden.
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Offline al_infierno

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Re: What are we reading?
« Reply #5218 on: October 21, 2020, 04:09:31 PM »
Most recently finished No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy.  Great novel, and reading it made me appreciate what an awesome adaptation the Coen Brothers created.  Possibly the most direct book-to-film adaptation I've ever seen, and at the same time a rare example of a faithful film adaptation that actually stands on its own merit alongside the source material, rather than standing on its shoulders.  Similarly, I've started on The Road but it's a little too bleak and depressing for my mood lately.  I picked up Blood Meridian and All the Pretty Horses but haven't started them yet.

The last few days I've been burning through White Noise by Don DeLillo.  Hard to describe, but it's a quirky black comedy/satire of modern American life, with a vaguely Philip K. Dickian feeling of being lost in the "white noise" of modern technological distractions.

When it comes to historical stuff, I've been reading Operation Barbarossa and Germany's Defeat in the East by David Stahel.  Quite interesting look at the planning and execution of the initial stages of the Eastern Front, and basically argues that the war was lost for Germany by August of 1941, long before the Wehrmacht was stopped at the gates of Moscow, due to the utter failure of German planning and inadequate analysis of the Wehrmacht's ability to actually achieve its strategic objectives.
« Last Edit: October 21, 2020, 04:12:33 PM by al_infierno »
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If they made nothing but WWII games, I'd be perfectly content.  Hypothetical matchups from alternate history 1980s, asymmetrical US-bashes-some-3rd world guerillas, or minor wars between Upper Bumblescum and outer Kaboomistan hold no appeal for me.
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Offline airboy

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Re: What are we reading?
« Reply #5219 on: October 23, 2020, 08:30:44 AM »
I'm rereading Shattered Sword.  Miracle at Midway seems to have caught all of the battle operational problems covered in Shattered Sword.  Shattered Sword contains a ton of detail on Japanese Naval doctrine and mechanical limitations that Miracle at Midway did not have access to.

Japanese doctrine for AA, and their gun placement left them wide open for dive bombers.  Their only defense was CAP and good operations at the helm.