Author Topic: What are we reading?  (Read 584264 times)

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Offline ArizonaTank

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Re: What are we reading?
« Reply #5190 on: September 16, 2020, 10:41:20 PM »
Just finished “No Man’s Land” by John Toland

https://www.amazon.com/No-Mans-Land-1918-Great/dp/1568520093/ref=tmm_hrd_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1600093581&sr=8-1

This is a “popular” history of WWI that covers the key combat and political events of 1918. It is a good read because the author uses first hand accounts to tell much of the story. At points I felt almost like I was reading one of those “grand historical sweep” novels, following multiple characters through parallel story threads. Except the characters of “No Man’s Land” were real people. Most of the voices are British, American or German.

The skillful use of these voices pulled me into their world, with the sights, sounds and smells of these long ago events. For example, the narrative did a great job in showing the Allied armies' near panic during the German’s Michael offensive in March, 1918. This was just after Russia’s surrender, but before the Americans were ready to fight. The Germans were able to redeploy a million men from the Eastern Front. These fresh troops slammed a wedge between the British and French, pushing the British towards the sea. For a brief moment, the French and British began to talk of collapse.

The book has a bit of an uneven approach to what it covers. Emphasis is on the Western Front, the rise of the Bolsheviks, and the Allied intervention in Russia. The Middle East and Italian Fronts are only mentioned in passing. Also, in the last few weeks of the narrative, the focus moves away from the military side of the war. The focus is then on the political machinations leading to the Armistice; this leaves a bit of a hole in the military narrative.

Despite a its blind spots, I found the book to be interesting, and entertaining. I enjoyed the first hand accounts and found myself looking forward to reading about how their stories would unfold.

If you are looking for a relatively light read, that is entertaining and puts the experience of the war front and center, I recommend this book.       

Is this book primarily focused on the events of 1918, or is it looking at the entire war in equal weight?

The book only covers 1918. And IMHO this is a good thing. Combined arms and new tactics broke the armies free from trench warfare and much of the fighting was over open ground. The narrative takes off in March 1918 with the start of the German Michael Offensive. So the book really only covers about 8 months.

The fighting was very dynamic in this period. Sometimes the battle lines moved 20 miles in a day, something unimaginable in 1917. Spring and early summer saw the Germans push hard, since they were flush with troops released from the Eastern Front. At one point, the Germans threatened Paris. By August, a complete reversal occurred. The weight of American troops was being felt, the British and French executed some brilliant combined arms battles, while the German home front began to collapse.

IMHO, the two most interesting periods of WWI are 1914 and 1918. Both periods saw large armies maneuvering over open ground. But 1918 holds a special place since the fortunes of both sides swung so wildly over a short period of time. 

But if you are looking for a general history of the entire war, Toland's book is too focused.

IHMO A good general history of the entire war is: "A World Undone" by G. J. Meyer 
https://www.amazon.com/World-Undone-Story-Great-1914/dp/0553803549/ref=tmm_hrd_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1600317420&sr=8-1
« Last Edit: September 18, 2020, 02:57:50 PM by ArizonaTank »
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Online airboy

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Re: What are we reading?
« Reply #5191 on: September 17, 2020, 03:20:58 AM »
I prefer Keegan's WW1 book.

No Man's Land is interesting enough to put on my wishlist.  But the price of $12 seems pretty high for a book first published sixteen years ago.

Offline Gusington

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Re: What are we reading?
« Reply #5192 on: September 17, 2020, 06:49:14 AM »
^I just put it in my cart for about 8.00 with shipping. Thanks Tank!
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Offline solops

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Re: What are we reading?
« Reply #5193 on: September 18, 2020, 02:36:14 PM »
I am reading "The Wandering Inn" by Pirateaba. I highly recommend it. The Wandering Inn is a FREE fantasy web serial book located at :

https://wanderinginn.com/

It is actually seven books, the seventh book being the current one that is updated twice a week. While all of the books are free to read online, they are also available to purchase for Kindle or other readers. They are packaged in Volume I (books 1-3) for $0.99 and volume 2 (books 4-6) for ? I read two or three books a week. So I have absorbed a lot of mediocre to awful SF and fantasy garbage. This particular series is a step above the average. I like it enough to pay $5/month to get to read each chapter a few days earlier than the free version is posted.
« Last Edit: September 19, 2020, 12:58:46 AM by solops »
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Offline ArizonaTank

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Re: What are we reading?
« Reply #5194 on: September 19, 2020, 09:32:30 AM »
I am reading "The Wandering Inn" by Pirateaba. I highly recommend it. The Wandering Inn is a FREE fantasy web serial book located at :

https://wanderinginn.com/

It is actually seven books, the seventh book being the current one that is updated twice a week. While all of the books are free to read online, they are also available to purchase for Kindle or other readers. They are packaged in Volume I (books 1-3) for $0.99 and volume 2 (books 4-6) for ? I read two or three books a week. So I have absorbed a lot of mediocre to awful SF and fantasy garbage. This particular series is a step above the average. I like it enough to pay $5/month to get to read each chapter a few days earlier than the free version is posted.

Browsed the chapters a bit...looks really interesting. Love the concept. Thanks for suggesting.
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Offline al_infierno

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Re: What are we reading?
« Reply #5195 on: September 22, 2020, 05:19:03 PM »
Just started on Gravity's Rainbow by Pynchon.  Very wild stuff, tough to get through at times, but the prose is immense.  Not sure I'll make it through to the end, but my interest in Pynchon is piqued.
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Offline Gusington

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Re: What are we reading?
« Reply #5196 on: September 27, 2020, 05:03:57 PM »
About to start The Vampire: A New History by Nick Groom.
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Re: What are we reading?
« Reply #5197 on: September 27, 2020, 05:36:05 PM »
I'm reading Miracle at Midway by the same author as At Dawn We Slept.

This is a good book.  It takes both sides in chronological order alternating between Japan and the USA.  About 40% of the book is references and footnotes.

The downside of this book is that it was published before Shattered Sword was released.  Shattered Sword is the best account of Midway from the Japanese records and contradicts some of the earlier accounts about the Japanese decision making and some of the battle details that were falsely reported by one of the Japanese Officers whose early accounts have become discredited.

So Miracle at Midway is very good, especially for the interviews and details about the US side of the Battle.  The parts that are problematic are some of the Japanese details which are not the fault of the author - but the fault of a bad source not fully discredited until Shattered Sword was published.

I've found it to be a good buy and an interesting read for the $2.99 I paid for it on kindle.

Offline Gusington

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Re: What are we reading?
« Reply #5198 on: September 27, 2020, 06:47:28 PM »
Shattered Sword is on my (huge) to-read list.
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Re: What are we reading?
« Reply #5199 on: September 27, 2020, 07:36:05 PM »
Shattered Sword is on my (huge) to-read list.

If you have a copy, I would read it.  Midway was the most important single naval battle of either world war.  Shattered Sword overturned some of the established beliefs about Midway.  I'm reading my sixth(?) book that focuses primarily on that battle.

Offline Tripoli

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Re: What are we reading?
« Reply #5200 on: September 27, 2020, 08:06:50 PM »
Definitely read Shattered Sword.  It is one of those rare books which actually significantly adds to the knowledge about an already well researched and discussed topic.  ALl the more amazing given that it was not written by professional historians.

Offline Sir Slash

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Re: What are we reading?
« Reply #5201 on: September 27, 2020, 09:53:25 PM »
Bill O'Reilly's latest, "Killing Crazy Horse: The Merciless Indian Wars in America". Great read so far but as usual with his books, too short. Only 288 pages.
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Offline ArizonaTank

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Re: What are we reading?
« Reply #5202 on: September 27, 2020, 10:36:06 PM »
Just finished "Tower of Skulls" by Richard B. Frank

https://www.amazon.com/Tower-Skulls-History-Asia-Pacific-1937-May/dp/1324002107/ref=sr_1_1?crid=1XRRE187QU8ZX&dchild=1&keywords=tower+of+skulls&qid=1601266791&s=books&sprefix=tower+of+sk%2Caps%2C439&sr=1-1

This is the start of a trilogy covering the War in Pacific. As the first volume, Tower of Skulls covers the Sino-Japanese War and the early campaigns against the Allies in 1941 and 1942. It stops with the surrender of US forces in the Philippines.

The book's great strength comes from its comprehensive treatment of pretty much all of the campaigns from both the ground, sea and air perspective. Too many general histories of the Pacific War tend to ignore or not pay enough attention to the war in China, or 1941/42 campaigns such as Malaya, Burma, Java or Hong Kong. Tower covers them all, and even some more obscure ones such as the British 1942 attack on Vichy French held Madagascar. Overall I felt the book had that "just right" mix of operational and technical detail, while not losing sight of grand strategic concerns. In short, I thought it was a great read.
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Offline al_infierno

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Re: What are we reading?
« Reply #5203 on: September 27, 2020, 10:45:21 PM »
Just finished "Tower of Skulls" by Richard B. Frank

https://www.amazon.com/Tower-Skulls-History-Asia-Pacific-1937-May/dp/1324002107/ref=sr_1_1?crid=1XRRE187QU8ZX&dchild=1&keywords=tower+of+skulls&qid=1601266791&s=books&sprefix=tower+of+sk%2Caps%2C439&sr=1-1

This is the start of a trilogy covering the War in Pacific. As the first volume, Tower of Skulls covers the Sino-Japanese War and the early campaigns against the Allies in 1941 and 1942. It stops with the surrender of US forces in the Philippines.

The book's great strength comes from its comprehensive treatment of pretty much all of the campaigns from both the ground, sea and air perspective. Too many general histories of the Pacific War tend to ignore or not pay enough attention to the war in China, or 1941/42 campaigns such as Malaya, Burma, Java or Hong Kong. Tower covers them all, and even some more obscure ones such as the British 1942 attack on Vichy French held Madagascar. Overall I felt the book had that "just right" mix of operational and technical detail, while not losing sight of grand strategic concerns. In short, I thought it was a great read.

Hey, I just bought this for kindle myself!  Glad to hear from a groggy that it's worthwhile.  It's near the top of my list right now, once I take a break from fiction and dip my toes into the horror of real life.   :hide:
When the chimes end, pick up your gun.  Try and shoot me, Colonel.  Just try.
-El Indio, For a Few Dollars More


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.
- Silent Disapproval Robot


If the rule you followed brought you to this, of what use was the rule?
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Offline Gusington

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Re: What are we reading?
« Reply #5204 on: September 28, 2020, 05:05:35 AM »
I read Tower of Skulls over the summer, great book.
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