View Full Version : What Are You Currently Reading? 2015

12-31-2014, 11:50 PM
Yes, a new thread for the books and other stuff we recommend to readers.:wry:

There are annual threads now for each year since 2007, it should help searching for a review.

Backwards Observer
01-19-2015, 05:56 AM
Battle Studies (http://www.amazon.com/Battle-Studies-Ardant-du-Picq-ebook/dp/B0084ALCXC) by Colonel Ardant Du Picq

The Wars of French Decolonization (http://www.amazon.com/Wars-French-Decolonization-Modern-Perspective/dp/0582098017) by Anthony Clayton

"Sing me a song
You're a singer" Black Sabbath, Heaven and Hell (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-og87crqsCE)

01-22-2015, 01:30 PM
I am 80% through reading 'Taking Command' the autobiography of General Sir David Richards and will post a review at the end. It is an easy read for an armchair observer, but I would not have compared him to General Stanley McChrystal, as Professor Anthony King does in this WoTR review:http://warontherocks.com/2015/01/military-command-in-the-21st-century-through-the-eyes-of-two-generals/?singlepage=1

01-23-2015, 03:09 AM
Razib Khan (a blogger really worth reading; mostly blogs about genetics, but a good deal of history and current affairs thrown in) has a piece about "The Fall of Carthage" (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B00GU3ASJ4/geneexpressio-20). Some speculations that am sure will be of interest to SWJ readers...see here. (http://www.unz.com/gnxp/institutions-usually-beat-genius/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=institutions-usually-beat-genius)


01-23-2015, 07:05 PM
Overall I agree but one has to put the issue in the context of ressources, especially manpower. One city was founded as a far away colony while the other established itself among the large Latin population as center of power. The relative large demographic base, with a strong web of alliances partly with people of similar ethnicity and language was crucial enabled it's institutions to absorb crushing defeats, and the other way around. In other cases, few ressources and good institutions against a genius at war could mean the destruction of a state and end of a people. Waging war in a foreign land with a large proportion of your small manpower ended not so much time ago very badly for another great seapower, Athen. One city-state which was actually quite famous for it's insitutions.

In Churchill days for example the Americans could 'always do the right thing' after they tried everything else because at that stage they had ample ressources in time, capital and manpower to overcome doing the wrong things. Most political entities aren't that lucky.

Backwards Observer
02-07-2015, 10:06 AM
On the German Art of War: Truppenfuhrung: German Army Manual for Unit Command in World War II (http://www.amazon.com/German-Art-War-Truppenfuhrung-Stackpole/dp/0811735524) by Bruce Condell and David T. Zabecki (Editors)

Civilization and Barbarity in 20th CenturyEurope (http://www.amazon.com/Civilization-Barbarity-20th-Century-Europe/dp/1573926450) by Gabriel Jackson

"I seek to cure what's deep inside,
frightened of this thing that I've become" Toto, Africa (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FTQbiNvZqaY)

02-12-2015, 01:03 PM
Anabasis (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anabasis_(Xenophon)) by Xenophon. A gripping story told in a manner which won early praise and great fame. The narration feels quite modern apart from the long speeches, of which some are however rethoric highlights.

Lots of perspectives and aspects to discover but I was mostly attracted the decision-making on this journey. So much uncertainty with so many different actors and motives and such fluidity of constellations. Obviously for the modern man there are no pure good guys in it, especially if you read between the lines.

Maybe another interesting angle is the military one. I've read Il sergente nella neve and Taktik im Russlandfeldzug shortly before it and it makes for strange comparisions. For example the Hellenes find themselves in a 'wandering pocket' of old with the enemy strenght in cavalry, light infantry or both as well as their geographical position making escape in small groups or alone hopeless. The huge tactical disadvantage of being composed largely of heavy infantry unable to flee however means that it is a lot easier to convince the men to fight towards a common objective. Some details of the retreat match those in the sergente of the neve especially of course the chapter in which they battle the snow in the mountains. Aspects of the lodging (first comes, first occupies) or provisions are seemingly timeless.

Obviously there is much more, for example the issue of leadership and the ability of the Greek to quickly replace former leaders even in very large numbers. Despite (or perhaps because?) the many internal debates their units prove to be robust and are quickly reorganized and adapted to the current needs. For the most part they are quick to support other units operating in 'combined-weapons' formations which get 'suppressed' by enemy units on dominant terrain and rapidly maneuver against the threat with the rest. Weapons like the increased use of long-range missile weapons are an important part of the success but certainly the questions of morale, leadership and tactics, even politics and interpretors, are far more so.

There is more to write but give it a try first.

Backwards Observer
02-26-2015, 05:37 AM
Thunder in the Sky: Secrets on the Acquisition and Exercise of Power (http://www.amazon.com/Thunder-Sky-Secrets-Acquisition-Exercise/dp/157062660X/ref=la_B000AP6ZLI_1_41?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1424927166&sr=1-41) by Thomas Cleary (Trans.), Chu Chin Ning (Fwd.)

Asian Godfathers: Money and Power in Hong Kong and South East Asia (http://www.amazon.com/Asian-Godfathers-Money-Power-Southeast/dp/0802143911) by Joe Studwell

"Diamonds and dust
Poor man last
Rich man first" AC/DC, Sin City (https://vimeo.com/28668983)


Red Rat
02-27-2015, 04:19 PM
Sacred Violence: Political Religion in a Secular Age (http://www.palgrave.com/page/detail/sacred-violence-david-martin-jones/?K=9781137328076)

Taken from the book's introduction:

"This book addresses the complex relationship between ideology or political religion and the recourse to political violence and irregular warfare in the 21st Century. The focus of this work is the emergence of the ideology of Islamism and its adaption by Al-Qaeda and its affiliates to the strategic practice of jihadism, both in the Muslim world and among the Western diaspora. In exploring this case, the thesis applies the precepts of war developed by Carl von Clausewitz and his most important modern interpreter, Raymond Aron, to the evolution of jihadism, its tactics and its justification."

A fascinating book, focused in large part on the UK experience, it challenges many of the liberal Western assumptions made about both multi-culturalism as currently practiced in Europe and the role that religion plays in some societies.

Backwards Observer
04-02-2015, 07:59 AM
The War Managers (http://www.amazon.com/The-War-Managers-Douglas-Kinnard/dp/159114437X) by Douglas Kinnard

The 14-Hour War: Valor on Koh Tang and the Recapture of the SS Mayaguez (http://www.amazon.com/The-14-Hour-War-Recapture-Mayaguez-ebook/dp/B0053GO7TQ) by James E. Wise Jr. and Scott Baron

Backwards Observer
04-14-2015, 04:17 AM
Vietnam: the other war we need to remember (http://www.theage.com.au/comment/vietnam-the-other-war-we-need-to-remember-20150413-1mjqq6.html) - newspaper article - Hugh White - The Melbourne Age, 4/14/15

Arthur Calwell Speech (http://parlinfo.aph.gov.au/parlInfo/download/media/pressrel/CAAA6/upload_binary/caaa65.pdf;fileType=application%2Fpdf) - online pdf - 4/5/65

"The gentleman's name is Wong." Arthur Calwell, Commonwealth Parliamentary Debate, 2/12/47.

Backwards Observer
04-16-2015, 04:54 AM
NICAP: The UFO Evidence (http://www.amazon.com/The-UFO-Evidence-Richard-Hall/dp/0760706271) by Richard H. Hall (ed.)

Our Dumb World (http://www.amazon.com/Our-Dumb-World-Onion/dp/0316018430/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&sr=&qid=) by the Onion

Roy Batty
04-16-2015, 09:22 AM
All of Shakespeare's English history plays. They're full of martial pomp, skullduggery and sly dealings, royalist egomania, spectacle and flourish...and contain some of his most memorable characters, such as Richard III, Falstaff, and Henry V.

In historical sequence, they are:

Richard the Second
Henry the Fourth, Part One
Henry the Fourth, Part Two
Henry the Fifth
Henry the Sixth, Part One
Henry the Sixth, Part Two
Henry the Sixth, Part Three
Richard the Third

...I'm leaving out Henry the Eighth and King John because they're annoying.

04-27-2015, 08:55 PM
Berkshire was a mighty success in the last fifty year and any long-term shareholder's slice has become much more valuable. Two special letters (http://www.berkshirehathaway.com/SpecialLetters/WEBCTMLtr.html) were written by the Chairman and Vice-Chairman to look fifty years back and fifty ahead. Munger came up with a handy list of the 'Berkshire system' which has some queer similarities with Truppenfuehrung of all things and some of the stuff in the Human face of War (http://www.amazon.com/The-Human-Face-Birmingham-Studies/dp/1441187502). Obviously there are also vast differences between one 'business' and the other, and I'm no fan of, let us say, Clausewitz for Business. Still in some cases the essence is surprisingly similar.

The management system and policies of Berkshire under Buffett (herein together called “the Berkshire system”) were fixed early and are described below:

(1) Berkshire would be a diffuse conglomerate, averse only to activities about which it could not make useful predictions.

(2) Its top company would do almost all business through separately incorporated subsidiaries whose CEOs would operate with very extreme autonomy.

(3) There would be almost nothing at conglomerate headquarters except a tiny office suite containing a Chairman, a CFO, and a few assistants who mostly helped the CFO with auditing, internal control, etc.

(4) Berkshire subsidiaries would always prominently include casualty insurers. Those insurers as a group would be expected to produce, in due course, dependable underwriting gains while also producing substantial “float” (from unpaid insurance liabilities) for investment.

(5) There would be no significant system-wide personnel system, stock option system, other incentive system, retirement system, or the like, because the subsidiaries would have their own systems, often different.

(6) Berkshire’s Chairman would reserve only a few activities for himself. [ For a 'few activities' a rather long and remarkable list follows]


Why did Berkshire under Buffett do so well?

Only four large factors occur to me:

(1) The constructive peculiarities of Buffett,
(2) The constructive peculiarities of the Berkshire system,
(3) Good luck, and
(4) The weirdly intense, contagious devotion of some shareholders and other admirers, including some in the

I believe all four factors were present and helpful. But the heavy freight was carried by the constructive peculiarities, the weird devotion, and their interactions.

P.S: Could not resist to post a picture of Berkshire's HQ team, which handles many key tasks of company currently Nr. 5 in US market cap with 'unbelievable efficiency' to quote Buffett.


To be true two could not make it, so it is not quite complete...

Bill Moore
05-16-2015, 11:27 PM
Savage Continent: Europe in the Aftermath of World War II by Keith Lowe


This book certainly shattered the narrative I had regarding Western Europe after WWII. I was quite familiar with cases of retribution and starvation in the West, but not to the scale depicted in this very informative book. Actually the level of chaos and violence in Iraq and Afghanistan in the aftermath of our invasions paled in comparison to the level of violence and chaos in many parts of Europe. High rates of starvation, continued genocide against the Jews (and other groups), U.S. abuse of German prisoners, millions of refugees that took years to resettle, etc.

The author uses numerous primary sources, and does a good job of citing known and suspected numbers (which often varied greatly), and why there is a discrepancy. While I suspect most serious readers of SWJ realize that high levels of savage violence are quite possible in so-called civilized western society, no reader will have any doubt that what we're seeing in Iraq is not unique to Islam. In Europe, in the aftermath of WWII, there were also beheadings, setting people on fire, intentional starvation, destruction of entire towns, etc. A good, even if unpleasant read.

Backwards Observer
05-18-2015, 05:53 AM
The Razor's Edge (http://www.amazon.com/Razors-Edge-Vintage-Classics-ebook/dp/B0031RS73G/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&sr=&qid=) by W. Somerset Maugham

Quartered Safe Out Here (http://www.amazon.com/Quartered-Safe-Out-Here-Harrowing/dp/1629142034) by George MacDonald Fraser

05-20-2015, 04:03 PM
After the fine Where Iron Crosses Grow (http://www.amazon.com/Where-Iron-Crosses-Grow-Military/dp/1782006257/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1432137532&sr=8-1&keywords=where+iron+crosses) (now pretty cheap with Kindle) I picked up Tank Warfare on the Eastern Front (http://www.amazon.com/Tank-Warfare-Eastern-Front-1941-1942-ebook/dp/B00OZ3HSNA/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8). So far it is pretty good.

Such a vast conflict within a 'world' war is so rich in detail of living, fighting and dying that it is difficult if not impossible to come to concise and clear conclusions. The author does, so far, a good job to put things into context. The importance which training, experience, often superb leadership on many levels, radios, a combined arms approach among others player should be by now well understood. This goes as well for the woeful operational and tactical preperation of Soviet units in midst of a reorganization, the almost non-existent tactical radio communication, lack of ammunition and fuel and so forth. A huge part of the Soviet soldiers were put by this combination in an ofen at best very difficult situation which greatly reduced their ability to fight effectively. So strangely the 'tank shock' is one of those things which stand out for me. The great difficulties if not inability of German tank and AT weapons to penetrate 'medium' and heavy Soviet armor, are actually similar to the one's with heavy Allied one. The sheer number of hits some KV suffered while fighting mirrors instances in France, with the crews of puny AT-guns and Tanks shooting and hitting skillfully and in vain till death. While there is a huge scope in training, organization, people's quality and so forth but one still needs the proper tools to do the job against such strong resistance. The whole package counts both ways.

P.S: Both 'The Viaz'ma Catastrophe, 1941' (http://www.amazon.com/The-Viazma-Catastrophe-1941-Disastrous/dp/1908916508/ref=pd_sim_14_1?ie=UTF8&refRID=163NMKZ23TQBJRJV2A71) and the 'The Rzhev Slaughterhouse' (http://www.amazon.com/Rzhev-Slaughterhouse-Forgotten-15-month-1942-1943/dp/1908916516/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1432137074&sr=8-1-fkmr0&keywords=Rhzev+catastrophe) are now the available for Kindle at roughly half the price I payed for the hardcovers. The former is in my humble opinion especially valuable.

05-21-2015, 08:32 PM
PAM 20-202 German Tank Maintenance In World War II (https://ia600902.us.archive.org/4/items/DAPAM20-202/DAPAM20-202.pdf) enriches that side of the story.

In the course of the war it became evident that the factors determining the operation of a tank maintenance service varied according to theater of operations, technical developments, etc. These varia-
tions necessitated constant adaptation and improvement in the organic structure and equipment of the maintenance units. Consequently, no standard tank maintenance system having a general application could be evolved. On the other hand, some basic principles worth remembering can be derived from the German experience in World War II.

It is worth to point out that the peacetime logic of a centralized 'factory maintance' was obviously more compelling and efficent in peace. It also made some more money. In war it was obviously different. From an social and economic point this aspect was fascinating:

Since the advance dumps and army group depots were usually out of those parts for which there was a heavy demand, the tank maintenance companies began to send details to the depots to represent their interests. Upon the arrival of a supply train carrying spare parts, each detail tried to secure the parts its company needed most urgently. When more and more companies adopted this procedure the depots became the scenes of fierce struggles for priority items. As soon as a detail had secured some parts, it would contact its parent organization by radio or telephone. In a matter of minutes the trucks would be on their way to the depots to pick up the spoils.


More arbitrary measures were often employed by some of the tank maintenance company commanders who believed that they were acting in the interest of their own unit. During the latter part of the war
some of them even resorted to bribery. Others would contact manufacturers in the zone of interior outside of normal channels to procure parts directly at the source. Occasionally, even tactical com-
manders took part in the hunt for parts when the number of serviceable tanks at their disposal began to dwindle.


Such expedients obviously did more harm than good. Moreover, the persistent shortage of spare parts affected the morale of the tank maintenance personnel who, though capable and willing, were unable
to accomplish their mission at a time when every tank counted.

Backwards Observer
05-22-2015, 06:39 AM
To the Lighthouse (http://www.amazon.com/Lighthouse-Virginia-Woolf-ebook/dp/B00DHT1F2I/ref=mt_kindle?_encoding=UTF8&me=) by Virginia Woolf

Flashman and the Dragon (http://www.amazon.com/Flashman-Dragon-Papers-Book-10-ebook/dp/B002RI9OX2/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&sr=&qid=) by George MacDonald Fraser

05-27-2015, 02:06 PM
I had the chance to read in the IISS Library, London 'Historical Experience: Burden or Bonus in Today's Wars - The British Army and the Bundeswehr in Afghanistan' by Eric Sanger; Publisher Rombach in 2014.

A good read and valuable as the author was not a Brit writing about our war. To be fair the German section was not as interesting.

No reviews on Amazon.com:http://www.amazon.com/Historical-Experience-Burden-Bonus-Todays/dp/379309748X/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1432735280&sr=1-1-fkmr0&keywords=Historical+Experience%3A+Burden+or+Bonus+ in+Today%27s+Wars+-+The+British+Army+and+the+Bundeswehr+in+Afghanista n

Useful Abstract:http://cadmus.eui.eu/handle/1814/29298

05-27-2015, 02:32 PM
I really should not be let loose in a good bookshop, nor should attention be paid to recommendations here. Not in priority order.

'Soldier I: The Story of an SAS Hero' by Pete Winner (given the title Soldier I for the coroners inquest for the Princes Gate operation, the Iranian Embassy in London, which the SAS stormed in 1980). He gave a superb talk on that part of his career recently.

'The French Intifada: the Long War between France and its Arabs' by Andrew Hussey (reviewed here awhile ago). Two reviews, post 32 onwards on:http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/showthread.php?t=4399

'Abu Hamza: Guilty - The fight against radical Islam by Reda Hassaine and Kurt Barling. Hassaine being an Algerian who became an informant for several intelligence agencies during the "Londonistan" period.

'Boko Haram: Nigeria's Islamist Insurgency' by Virginia Comolli (from IISS). Long awaited and mentioned here in the Nigeria thread.

'We Love Death As you Love Life: Britain's Suburban Terrorists' by Raffaello Pantucci (now @ RUSI, ex-IISS & China). Long awaited and well reviewed elsewhere.

'Counterinsurgency in Crisis: Britain and the the challenges of modern warfare' by David Ucko & Robert Egnell. Reviewed here IIRC last year.

'Counterinsurgency: Exposing the myths of the new way of war' by Douglas Porch. Reviewed here IIRC in 2013 mainly on its own thread:http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/showthread.php?t=18465

'British Generals in Blair's wars' edited by Jonathan Bailey, Richard Iron and Hew Strachan. Controversially delayed as several contributors as serving officers had to withdraw and the MoD was not happy. mentioned here IIRC within the UK military thread.

Something not military: 'The Blunders of Government' by Anthony King & Ivor Crewe.

Backwards Observer
05-28-2015, 02:33 AM
The China Mirage: The Hidden History of American Disaster in Asia (http://www.amazon.com/China-Mirage-History-American-Disaster-ebook/dp/B00QQPJXFG/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&sr=&qid=) by James Bradley

Street Smart: Intelligence Preparation of the Battlefield for Urban Operations (http://www.amazon.com/Street-Smart-Intelligence-Preparation-Battlefield-ebook/dp/B000VXKTPW/ref=tmm_kin_title_0?_encoding=UTF8&sr=&qid=) by Jamison Jo Medby and Russell W. Glenn (RAND), also available online (pdf (http://www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pubs/monograph_reports/2007/MR1287.pdf))

06-15-2015, 08:02 AM
So far I have read six of the books.

I have added a short review of 'The French Intifada: the Long War between France and its Arabs' by Andrew Hussey on another thread, Post 35:http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/showthread.php?t=4399&page=2

'Soldier I: The Story of an SAS Hero' by Pete Winner is a good read and in places takes unexpected turns, notably about PTSD, stress etc. Good chapters on the Mirbat battle in Oman and the Iranian Embassy siege.

The two books on UK counter terrorism complement each other, neither author refers to each other's book. 'We Love Death As you Love Life: Britain's Suburban Terrorists' by Raffaello Pantucci is a must read on why British nationals turned to terrorism. It is not a history of the attacks and the response.

A London-centric and Arab community account comes in 'Abu Hamza: Guilty - The fight against radical Islam' by Reda Hassaine and Kurt Barling. Hassaine being an Algerian who became an informant for several intelligence agencies during the "Londonistan" period. Controversial in places.

Then two books on COIN: 'Counterinsurgency in Crisis: Britain and the the challenges of modern warfare' by David Ucko & Robert Egnell and
'Counterinsurgency: Exposing the myths of the new way of war' by Douglas Porch.

Both are excellent and very, very critical of the pursuit of counter-insurgency school of thought and practice. Ucko focusses on the UK and Porch has a wider outlook.

From Ucko two quotes:
The case of Afghanistan thereby points to the significant problems inthe British way of preparing for and prosecuting modern wars: the failure to properly formulate and resource strategy; the failure of civil-military coordination at both the strategic and oerational levels; the limitations of military improvisation and of 'muddling through' in the absence of a plan; and the dangers of letting strategic intent and operational approach develop independently (pg. 108)

...there is no fig leaf large enough here to cover the deep flaws in the British government's own approach and conduct in these counterinsurgency campaigns.

Porch is incredibly direct in his criticism, based on his historical knowledge and watching the last decade plus. I doubt if anyone in an official military education post in the UK could have written such a book.

06-15-2015, 03:03 PM
I recently purchased a group of books, and the most important one is a reprint of JEAN LARTGUY's (1920-2011) classic "The Centurions" which was only released on May 19th, 2015.

As I get ready to head north to attend a buddy's retirement ceremony, I have to choose between that or the recently-acquired biography on Tim Hetherington, titled "Here I Am".

Backwards Observer
06-16-2015, 06:52 AM
The Innocents Abroad (http://www.amazon.com.au/The-Innocents-Abroad-Mark-Twain-ebook/dp/B004SQTBKC) by Mark Twain

The Steel Bonnets (http://www.amazon.com/Steel-Bonnets-George-MacDonald-Fraser-ebook/dp/B008CBD1B4/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&sr=&qid=) by George MacDonald Fraser

06-16-2015, 08:24 AM
I recently purchased a group of books, and the most important one is a reprint of JEAN LARTGUY's (1920-2011) classic "The Centurions" which was only released on May 19th, 2015.

As I get ready to head north to attend a buddy's retirement ceremony, I have to choose between that or the recently-acquired biography on Tim Hetherington, titled "Here I Am".


Tim Hetherington was not a familiar name, so I looked him up and learnt a lot. To Americans this is a poignant reminder and the subject of a SWC thread:
Infidel is an intimate portrait of a single U.S. platoon, assigned to an outpost in the Korengal Valley-an area considered one of the most dangerous Afghan postings in the war against the Taliban-but it is as much about love and male vulnerability as it is about bravery and war.....(my emphasis) ...Hetherington co-directed the award-winning film Restrepo


Link to the cited biography:http://www.amazon.com/Here-Am-Story-Hetherington-Photographer/dp/0802120903

Link to Jon's other book:http://www.amazon.com/Centurions-Jean-Larteguy/dp/0143107445/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1434442920&sr=1-1&keywords=jean+larteguy

06-16-2015, 09:29 AM
Howard Kippenberger: Dauntless Spirit (http://www.amazon.com/Howard-Kippenberger-Dauntless-Denis-Mclean/dp/1459672461/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1434443135&sr=8-1&keywords=howard+kippenberger)

Storm of Steel (Ernst Junger) (http://www.amazon.com/Storm-Steel-Penguin-Classics-J%C3%BCnger/dp/0142437905/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1434446838&sr=8-1&keywords=Storm+of+Steel+%28Ernst+Junger%29)

06-26-2015, 07:52 PM
Stalin's Keys to Victory (http://www.amazon.com/Stalins-Keys-Victory-Stackpole-Military/dp/0811734234)

There is no doubt that a very important key to defeat of Nazi Germany was massive material pouring out of Soviet factories. The scale was a shock for Hitler and he conceded it (http://civilianmilitaryintelligencegroup.com/19880/transcript-of-a-recording-of-adolph-hitler-and-carl-mannerheim) in this famous recording (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CORQJlX-mLs). He does of course continue on with his shopping list of excuses and fantasies, but there is no doubt that the armament output was a nasty surprise.

Resource mobilization for World War II: the U.S.A., U.K., U.S.S.R., and Germany, 1938-1945 (http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/soc/economics/staff/mharrison/public/ehr88postprint.pdf)

Granted the superior potential for war production of the Allied nations over their enemies, what factors enabled this potential superiority to be realized in the different economies under combat conditions? More than 40 years after the event, a fully comprehensive answer to this question has not yet been compiled. Early interest in the comparative economic history of World War II faded soon after the war

I certainly agree on that one, especially concerning U.S.S.R, considering the elementary importance in the last big war and vast scale of tens of millions mobilized in armament production alone.

The Soviet Defense Industry Complex in World War II (http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/soc/economics/staff/mharrison/public/dfc1994postprint.pdf)

An aspect I see hardly mentioned, maybe discussed bu missed by myself, is the key fact that Germany was considerably behind the investment curve in armament compared to the Soviet Union. For example the Soviet Union invested with skilled American knowledge in huge plants outfitted with American and German machinery which were running before something on this scale was seriously considered in Germany. The large amount of tanks, perhaps the best known benchmark, produced before Barbarossa and even the invasion of Poland is just one testimony to that. A far higher share of German war production in the 41/42 period went into producing the means of production. Maybe I will try to go into more detail and other keys later.

All in all I personally find it a highly interesting topic and quite relevant today, thankfully not too much.

P.S: Others are of course far more knowledgeable about small arms and certainly WWII ones are not my forte so I was a bit surprised to read about the ballistics of the 7.62x25 Tok. steel core bullets coming out of a SMG like the PPS-43 (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PPS_submachine_gun). As a package it really seems as the 'best' of it's class with very low production costs, high reliability partly thanks to much better magazines, very light weight, controllable rate of fire with fast and light bullets. Such ammunition seems in retrospect better suited for a war SMG then German, British or American choices. It is somewhat closer to the modern PDW idea while ironically being the base of the 9mm.

Just one relative small aspect in a huge thing of course...

Backwards Observer
07-01-2015, 04:16 AM
Humanitarian Imperialism (http://www.amazon.com/Humanitarian-Imperialism-Using-Human-Rights/dp/1583671471) by Jean Bricmont

American Fascists (http://www.amazon.com/American-Fascists-Christian-Right-America/dp/0743284461) by Chris Hedges

Steve the Planner
07-01-2015, 08:05 PM
Razor's Edge.

To Backwards Observer's selection, I am on my third lifetime read of this book.

Curious provenance that I think is accurate. Christopher Isherwood was in Berlin (He was the Caberet inspiration of the Englishman). Maughan and he were (Gay) friends. Isherwood, after many adventures, moved to Santa Monica, CA, to work as a screen writer with all the other Euro ExPats: Huxley, Hesse, and later, Maughan.

After all of his adventures, Isherwood settled down in Santa Monica and found religion---Buddhism, etc., later providing the English Translation of the Bagavadgita. Isherwood was Larry (Razor's Edge) and Siddartha (Hesse) and appeared in many other guises (Cabaret) by that group of writers--- including his own (Mr. Norris Changes Trains, I ama Camera, Etc...)..

From the above, my exploration of the backstory for Razor's Edge took me far afield from what I expected, but confirmed that (like Maughan's Larry) Isherwood did become the Boatman, popping up in many places with a wry smile (Cheshire Cat?).

Backwards Observer
07-02-2015, 04:48 AM
Hi Steve!

Back in the day on the other side of the Pacific from Santa Monica, one of the reasons for callow scribes to sit on the verandah at the Raffles Hotel (buying one ice lemon tea for the whole afternoon, looking thoughtful, learning to smoke ciggies cough, not writing anything) was the Somerset Maugham/assorted notable authors angle.

Maugham was but one of many writers who immortalised the historic hotel. Among those who sojourned there included Rudyard Kipling, Somerset Maugham, Noel Coward, Han Suyin, James Michener and so many more. Many of them lend their immortal words and even their names to the hotel. A few had suites named after them.

Somerset Maugham first visited Raffles Hotel in 1921, and was inspired to write the short stories contained in The Casuarina Tree. Shutzman wanted to use Maugham's name in promoting the hotel and wrote to the author to ask his permission, and invited him to stay at Raffles. Maugham answered, declining the invitation but granting the hotel both the use of his name and his quote that Raffles Hotel "stands for all the fables of the exotic East" in advertisements.

Raffles Hotel, The Grand Old Lady of Singapore, has Its Own Museum. (https://www.thaiairways.com/plan-your-trip/destinations/en/wtf-raffles-hotel-the-grand-old-lady-of-singapore.htm) - thaiairways.com

Regarding 'The Razor's Edge'; the consensus seems to be that it was kinda goofy, but I actually preferred the film! I'm shallow.


Also Bill M. (Murray, that is.):)

Backwards Observer
07-25-2015, 10:15 AM
The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (http://www.amazon.com/Strange-Case-Dr-Jekyll-Hyde-ebook/dp/B0083ZR7BY/ref=sr_1_4?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1437818841&sr=1-4) by Robert Louis Stevenson

The Picture of Dorian Gray (http://www.amazon.com.au/Picture-Dorian-Gray-Oscar-Wilde-ebook/dp/B0084AXZK0) by Oscar Wilde

07-28-2015, 05:01 PM
Skunk Works: A Personal Memoir of My Years at Lockheed (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Skunk-Works-Personal-Memoir-Lockheed/dp/0751515035/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1438102544&sr=8-1&keywords=skunk+works), written twenty years ago.

Amazing book with many nuggets in quite a few areas like managing, technology, production, military procurement and more. It is always important to be critical of works like personal memoirs but some of those nuggets surfaced already in different sources like the (German) military experience and Berkshire.

Backwards Observer
07-30-2015, 05:08 AM
The Ascent Of Man (http://www.amazon.com/Ascent-Man-Jacob-Bronowski-ebook/dp/B005BON6OW/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=) by Jacob Bronowski

Anthropological Intelligence: The Deployment and Neglect of American Anthropology in the Second World War (http://www.amazon.com/Anthropological-Intelligence-Deployment-American-Anthropology-ebook/dp/B00EHNS1OS/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=) by David H. Price

Backwards Observer
08-04-2015, 02:20 AM
Social Sciences As Sorcery (http://www.amazon.com/Social-sciences-sorcery-Stanislav-Andreski/dp/B0006C54HG/ref=tmm_pap_title_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=) by Stanislav Andreski

War and Cinema: The Logistics of Perception (http://www.amazon.com/War-Cinema-Logistics-Perception-Thinkers/dp/1844673464) by Paul Virilio

09-08-2015, 09:00 PM
'The Dark Net' by Jamie Bartlett, published in 2014 and as a paperback in 2015 in the UK:http://www.amazon.com/Dark-Net-Inside-Digital-Underworld/dp/1612194893/ref=sr_1_1/178-9881847-3136112?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1441745497&sr=1-1&keywords=the+dark+net+jamie+bartlett

A clearly written, simple guide to the Dark Net; in layman's terms a world of activity way beyond Google and a surprising social commentary on human activity - drug dealers, pornography, hackers and more.

Backwards Observer
09-10-2015, 03:06 AM
The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything (http://www.amazon.com/The-Jesuit-Guide-Almost-Everything/dp/0061432695) by James Martin, SJ

Deceit and Self-Deception (http://www.amazon.com/Deceit-Self-Deception-Fooling-Yourself-Better-ebook/dp/B005UAHXW8/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=) by Robert Trivers

Backwards Observer
09-16-2015, 10:45 PM
The Tartar Steppe (http://www.amazon.com/Tartar-Steppe-Verba-Mundi-Book/dp/1567923046/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1442443018&sr=1-1&keywords=the+tartar+steppe) by Dino Buzzati

Stalking the Dragon: 10th Anniversary Edition (http://www.amazon.com/Stalking-Dragon-Anniversary-Kregg-Jorgenson-ebook/dp/B00408A8U0/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1442442737&sr=1-8) by Kregg Jorgenson

Backwards Observer
10-09-2015, 07:11 AM
Military Writings (http://www.amazon.com/Military-Writings-Leon-Trotsky/dp/0873480295) by Leon Trotsky

The Devil We Knew (http://www.amazon.com/Devil-We-Knew-Americans-Cold/dp/0195093771/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=) by H.W. Brands

Strategies For Managing The Consequences Of Black Swan Events (http://ascelibrary.org/doi/full/10.1061/(ASCE)LM.1943-5630.0000036) by Avinash M. Nafday (ASCE Library online article)

Backwards Observer
10-13-2015, 04:48 AM
Guerrilla Strategies (http://www.amazon.com/Guerrilla-Strategies-Historical-Anthology-Afghanistan/dp/0520044436) by Gerard Chaliand

Death In The Rice Fields (http://www.amazon.com/Death-Rice-Fields-Peter-Scholl-Latour/dp/0140086420) by Peter Scholl-Latour

How To Cut Toxic People Out of Your Life (http://www.artofmanliness.com/2015/09/29/how-to-cut-toxic-people-out-of-your-life/) by AJ Harbinger (The Art of Manliness[!] online article)

Backwards Observer
10-29-2015, 03:18 AM
We Kill Because We Can (http://www.amazon.com/We-Kill-Because-Can-ebook/dp/B015D1UQX6/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=) by Laurie Calhoun

This Is Why We Can't Have Nice Things (http://www.amazon.com/This-Cant-Have-Nice-Things-ebook/dp/B00VY1P3Q0/ref=pd_sim_351_7?ie=UTF8&dpID=51akxxyzsJL&dpSrc=sims&preST=_AC_UL160_SR108%2C160_&refRID=12V7Q66H9HMAV7QYCQHP) by Whitney Phillips

10-29-2015, 07:16 AM
Bloodlands by Timothy Snyder

Backwards Observer
11-05-2015, 03:30 AM
Superpower: Three Choices for America's Role in the World (http://www.amazon.com/Superpower-Three-Choices-Americas-World-ebook/dp/B00PVBCF4M/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=) by Ian Bremmer

Stranger Than We Can Imagine: Making Sense of the Twentieth Century (http://www.amazon.com/Stranger-Than-Can-Imagine-Twentieth-ebook/dp/B00NLHJR94/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=) by John Higgs

Bill Moore
11-08-2015, 12:58 AM
Asia's Cauldron: The South China Sea and the End of a Stable Pacific, by Robert Kaplan


For those unfamiliar with the strategic challenges in the South China Sea and the surrounding area that is driving the U.S. rebalance to the Asia-Pacific this book is an excellent primer. I can almost guarantee that old Asia hands will also learn something new from reading this book. It is an easy weekend read, yet it covers an wide range of relevant historical issues in an easily understood manner. While it tends to focus on the state actors, it also touches among the growing Islamic Fundamentalism in Malaysia (and elsewhere), and the potential expansion of radicalism in the region that may further contribute to regional instability.

Ghost Fleet: A Novel of the Next World War, by Peter W. Singer and August Cole


This is a novel about a future war between China (post communist China) and the U.S. It focuses on how the opponents use high technology weapons, drones, cyborg tech, cyber, and operations in space among other things. I agree with the critiques that if you're looking for a good fiction book with developed characters this isn't your book. Character development was shallow, but if you want to explore how future wars may be fought this is an interesting read.

Cybersecurity and Cyberwar: What Everyone Needs to Know, by Peter W. Singer


If you are a military planner, homeland security planner, any sort of national security strategy advisor, then you need to read this book to ensure you have a realistic grasp of what cyber threats really are and the implications of those threats. Singer does a great job of putting them in context. This definitely is not a sky is falling book, but it is a clear eyed view on the nature of the challenge we face in this domain.

11-08-2015, 08:52 AM
I'm about 1/3 though...

I have to say I'd rather keep my techno-thrillers focused on the technology, not superficial characters.

There's supposed to be a high-tech, high-speed war in a global battlespace, and yet we see actually very little of the opening salvo. However, the book opens with a killing that at this point has nothing to do with the plot.

I do appreciate the emphasis on cyber technology and drones, however, a key element of "Red Storm Rising" was that smart weapons would be exhausted within weeks during a great power war.

Looking at the sheer quantity and quality of tools and technology needed to decimate decades-behind and less-than-peer militaries in Iraq, Yugoslavia, Iraq again and Libya, it seems to me that any Sino-American conflict would start to go low-tech rapidly, especially for the Chinese side. Yet somehow China is ahead qualitatively and quantitatively...

Looking at other conflicts (e.g. in the Donbass and Syria), the RMA has not helped Russia defeat insurgents with small arms, technical, the odd refurbished T-55, and TOWs...

Mixed emotions at this point...

Backwards Observer
11-09-2015, 04:49 AM
The Voice of Asia: The Changed Outlook of the Asian World Toward the West (http://www.amazon.com/Voice-Asia-Changed-Outlook-Toward/dp/B00MU9S2FY/ref=tmm_mmp_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=) by James A. Michener

An Eye for the Dragon: Southeast Asia Observed: 1954-1970 (http://www.amazon.com/An-Eye-Dragon-Southeast-1954-1970/dp/0374151296) by Dennis Bloodworth

11-18-2015, 06:39 PM
I reviewed this book a few months ago and recommended it. Now the author has made the entire book free to access:https://t.co/s2nztIo1O5

'Counterinsurgency in Crisis: Britain and the the challenges of modern warfare' by David Ucko & Robert Egnell.

Backwards Observer
11-18-2015, 10:58 PM
Why I Am Not A Christian (http://www.amazon.com/Christian-Essays-Religion-Related-Subjects/dp/0671203231) by Bertrand Russell

The Chinese Looking Glass (http://www.amazon.com/Chinese-Looking-Glass-Dennis-Bloodworth/dp/0374122415) by Dennis Bloodworth

11-24-2015, 05:37 PM
Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison, by Michel Foucault.


Wiki article lay stress on penal system, but Foucault's main idea is that discipline mechanisms shaped the entire European society.

Backwards Observer
11-25-2015, 03:17 AM
The History of Hell (http://www.amazon.com/History-Hell-Alice-K-Turner/dp/015140934X/ref=tmm_hrd_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=) by Alice K. Turner

A History of God: The 4000 Year Quest of Judaism, Christianity and Islam (http://www.amazon.com/History-God-4000-Year-Judaism-Christianity/dp/B001UU545K/ref=tmm_hrd_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=) by Karen Armstrong

http://www.psychic-revelation.com/images/i_ching_06_sung.jpg http://astredamus.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/Hexagram-9-Hsiao-Chu.jpg

11-30-2015, 06:51 PM
Karen Armstrong gets worse every year, but "a history of God" was not too bad.
Finally read Andrew Roberts "Napoleon". Well worth a read. My (off the cuff) review here:


Backwards Observer
11-30-2015, 11:02 PM
Karen Armstrong gets worse every year

Please explain. I certainly wouldn't want to be mislead by someone with some kinda tenuously cobbled together narrative or self-serving crackpot agenda or whatever:)

11-30-2015, 11:39 PM
I read "History of God" around 2001 or so and it seemed an interesting book then, though I really cannot remember any salient point by now (not an unusual thing with me and books). But since then I have read her articles and interviews (and once heard her speak) and I find her extremely naive and prejudiced (not in the Right wing sense, but prejudiced by her postMarxist/postmodern political views). She has decided that it is her mission to correct what she regards as an Islamophobic Western academic tradition and/or that she will massage all the expectations of her Eurocentric liberal audience. She then cherry picks verses, events and interpretations to fit that worldview. It is not a vicious worldview, but as a guide to policy or understanding it is severely lacking.
I don't know anything about the author of the following piece and if she is somehow guilty of other thoughtcrimes, please do not hold it against me :), but on Karen Armstrong she is spot on..
http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2014/11/karen_armstrong_is_wrong_wrong_wrong_on_bill_maher .html

Backwards Observer
12-01-2015, 12:02 AM
I read "History of God" around 2001 or so and it seemed an interesting book then, though I really cannot remember any salient point by now (not an unusual thing with me and books)

So true about reading! I barely remember anything about any books I read, I think that makes me more informed. I'm about halfway though "History of God" and all I can recall so far is El Shaddai and a whole bunch of what seems like gang warfare:confused: As far as thoughtcrimes, "Your attitude is noticed", as they say:)


Backwards Observer
12-01-2015, 01:35 AM
She has decided that it is her mission to correct what she regards as an Islamophobic Western academic tradition and/or that she will massage all the expectations of her Eurocentric liberal audience. She then cherry picks verses, events and interpretations to fit that worldview. It is not a vicious worldview, but as a guide to policy or understanding it is severely lacking.
I don't know anything about the author of the following piece and if she is somehow guilty of other thoughtcrimes, please do not hold it against me :), but on Karen Armstrong she is spot on..
http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2014/11/karen_armstrong_is_wrong_wrong_wrong_on_bill_maher .html

Incidentally, re: your link, this is what ye olde culture wars sometimes look like where talk shows have yet to catch on:)

Chinese going to Bersih, get ready for bloodbath!


Backwards Observer
12-01-2015, 06:58 AM
Here's another view of the Bersih thing mentioned above that seems to play down the Islamophobia angle, 'cos turns out it's actually only about pride. That's a relief :):

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia – Thousands of ethnic Malays have rallied to uphold Malay dominance and support Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak's government, following calls for Najib to step down over a $700 million financial scandal.

Wednesday's rally, which included members of Najib's ruling Malay party, is to counter a protest in late August by tens of thousands of Malaysians to demand Najib's ouster and political reforms.

A nation of 30 million, Malaysia is predominantly Malay Muslim, with significant Chinese and Indian minorities.

The protesters on Wednesday accused ethnic Chinese of driving last month's demonstration, saying they had insulted Malay leaders and challenged Malay supremacy.

Wearing red shirts, the protesters chanted "Long live the Malays" as they blew horns and marched from several locations in Kuala Lumpur to a field near Parliament.

Thousands of ethnic Malays rally to support Malaysian prime minister, uphold Malay pride (http://www.foxnews.com/world/2015/09/16/thousands-ethnic-malays-rally-to-support-malaysian-prime-minister-uphold-malay/) - Fox News - Sept 16, 2015

12-01-2015, 09:55 PM
Malaysia got rich, in large part thank to their Chinese minority, but the Malays have also become more Islamized over time (they were never as relaxed as their Javenese neighbors to begin with) and they will play the race card as well as the "Islam-in-danger" card very freely. I would predict more trouble, except that the Malays also seem to have a functioning "Hard-British-Raj" administrative system, so they may be able to keep a lid on things for a few more years. Plus overseas Chinese communities tend to be docile and not make trouble, especially if they can keep making money.
But as they say, it's a matter of time.

Backwards Observer
12-02-2015, 12:22 AM
Malaysia got rich, in large part thank to their Chinese minority, but the Malays have also become more Islamized over time (they were never as relaxed as their Javenese neighbors to begin with) and they will play the race card as well as the "Islam-in-danger" card very freely. I would predict more trouble, except that the Malays also seem to have a functioning "Hard-British-Raj" administrative system, so they may be able to keep a lid on things for a few more years. Plus overseas Chinese communities tend to be docile and not make trouble, especially if they can keep making money.
But as they say, it's a matter of time.

Hey, that's great info. My Chinese family have been living in Malaysia since our grandfather came over in the 1890's 'cos apparently he was too much of a slacker to make it in bad old China. He did okay until the forties when the kempeitai tortured him and chopped his head off for some reason. I was there for the last Malay/Chinese chopapalooza in 1969...bad vibes, but interesting. Our asses got bailed out because the local Sultan sent the Sabah Rangers, who were mostly Christian-ish former headhunters, to our neighbourhood. I remember them slow-walking silently out of the jungle near our house accompanied by a Saladin armoured car one misty morning. They looked cool but kinda scary. Like all backwards foreigners we really don't understand our own countries. It only makes sense when some, uh, 'objective' outsider with no specific agenda to wiggle explains it to us. It's a local code of silence thing, I guess. Thanks!;)

Backwards Observer
12-02-2015, 01:52 AM
(they were never as relaxed as their Javenese neighbors to begin with)

Maybe I misunderstand, but are you referring to Indonesia where they mellowed out on Konfrontasi and relaxingly killed over half a million people in 1965?

Indonesia - Malaysia confrontation (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indonesia–Malaysia_confrontation) - Wikipedia

50 years since the Indonesian massacre of 1965 (http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/sep/30/it-is-50-years-since-the-indonesian-genocide-of-1965-but-we-cannot-look-away) - Guardian - Sept 30, 2015


May 1998 riots of Indonesia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/May_1998_riots_of_Indonesia) - Wikipedia

12-02-2015, 05:04 AM
I know about 1965, but I just meant that their ISLAM really is a little bit syncretic (mostly East Java), so they are sometimes held up as the poster-boys for how Islam will become all multi-culti thanks to the "tolerant Muslims of South East Asia". Of course, the Javanese are also becoming closer to "classical Islam" thanks to closer links to Saudi Arabia, so the whole story is a bit overblown, but anyway, the thought in my mind was that their mildly syncretic and relaxed Islam is then (casually and carelessly) extended to ALL of SE Asia, which is not true. Malays and Moros used to be more "radical" even in the good old days.

I am sure you know more than me about these things and can enlighten us further :)

Backwards Observer
12-02-2015, 05:54 AM
I know about 1965, but I just meant that their ISLAM really is a little bit syncretic (mostly East Java), so they are sometimes held up as the poster-boys for how Islam will become all multi-culti thanks to the "tolerant Muslims of South East Asia".

Okay then, but it's good to know that people who can kill half a million of their neighbours can still be considered relaxed.

I am sure you know more than me about these things and can enlighten us further :)

Yeah, I kinda doubt that.

Backwards Observer
12-02-2015, 08:19 AM
How are emerging complex situations going to be effectively addressed when there seems to be an insistence that the power of the narrative is derived from its (almost uniformly binary) simplicity?

Bill Moore
12-05-2015, 02:28 AM
The Long March
The True History of China's Founding Myth
by Sun Shuyun


This book was enlightening from both a historical perspective and because it provided very personal views of the numerous people the Sun interviewed as she followed the path of the Long March. I have read several books in recent years that put Mao that characterize Mao more honestly than the popular myths spun in the West about him. One of his strongest points was his ability to write, to propagandize and inspire, and he had many U.S. journalists, but especially Edgar Snow helped create the myth of Mao in the West. Once a narrative is established it takes time to change it, now researchers have that opportunity to examine the conflict with less bias. Sun is one of those authors. A few excerpts:

She provided interesting insights on the German Otto Braun who the Comintern put in command of the Red Army (there were German advisors on both sides, but Braun appeared to be mercenary, while the Germans advising Chiang were nurturing an important relationship so Germany could retain access to resources critical to developing their war machine). Despite Braun's apparent incompetence (he is blamed for communists' defeat before the long march) they referred to him as the supreme emperor.
He was Stalin's envoy, and Moscow's support was paramount for the Chinese communists-ideologically, politically, financially, and militarily.

Beckoned to today's discussion on women in combat, the communist had no qualms about this. There is a lengthy discussion the women cadres and fighting units.
"You could not easily tell us apart on the outside," she said. "We all had our heads shaved so the enemy wouldn't know they fighting women. And we all wore caps."

The Fourth Army formed the "Independent Woman's Regt," led by a beautiful Chinese woman who was a good leader. One example when they ran into a regt of a local warlord.
She organized attacks from several directions to confuse them. Then she told the women to call and plead with the men to turn their weapons on their officers. To their complete surprise, the firing stopped and white flags came up--Five Hundred Peasant Women Defeat Regt-- ran the headlines in the local newspapers.

On the march through Tibet the communists oddly complained about the Tibetan's irregular tactics (also discussed why the Tibetans hated the communists).
We could hear their tribal horns calling them to battle from the cliffs and mountains. More battles than we ever had with the Nationalists. The Tibetans would not fight properly. They attacks us at the rear. Once they isolated a few of our men they pounced on them like vultures on corpses. Note these are interviews with participants, and of course they only saw the civil war from their perspective, so I doubt the Maoists had more battles with Tibetans than the Nationalists, but they certainly had a hard time marching through that region.

There are several pages on the American journalist Edgar Snow, who wrote the widely popular book "Red Star over China" that put Mao and the communists in a positive light in the West. It also helped shape the Chinese people's view of the communists.
Mao was deeply grateful to Snow and gave him the highest praise a Chinese could. He said Red Star over China had a merit no less than that of the Great Yu, the mythical emperor who was supposed to have brought China's floods under control and saved the people. A genius of propaganda, Mao knew the importance of the pen, but even he did not expect Snow's pen could be so powerful--it profoundly influenced the fate of the Red Army, the Communist Party, and Mao himself.

Throughout the book there were stories of terror and suffering during the long march. Mao's forces killed thousands of Chinese deliberately, but other incidents were simply due basic human instincts.

Mao's Western Legion was largely wiped out by the Mas, who were Muslim warlords. All but 400 of 20,800 men and women were either killed or captured, yet this tragic story has been largely left out Long March History.

She interviewed one of Mao's soldiers who was captured and converted to Islam.

You know, Mao's Little Red Book is not that different from the Koran. Both tell us to do good and no evil, help the poor, and make the world a better place. It is a pity you can't buy the Little Red Book so easily anymore, otherwise I would have my sons read it.
Why did he think the Mas were so cruel to the Red Army then?
Ma Fucai didn't hesitate. You can see the land is too poor to support many people. For their own survival they had to get rid of us. That was why their soldiers were so brave, as if they were on drugs. They were unlike any of thee warlord troops we fought before and we could not get any recruits.

Just a few random quotes from my underlining in the book. Several comments about starving, killing innocents to get food, desertions, and yet a core of dedicated communists endured a very arduous march and then skillfully exploited a weakened Nationalist Army after the Japanese surrendered. The West didn't provide adequate support to Chiang largely because of the narrative Snow and Stilwell created. Certainly Chiang was not a good leader, but based on Taiwan's success compared to massive mass murder of Chinese in Mao's purges it certainly, at least in hindsight, calls into question our decision to limit support to Chiang.

Bill Moore
12-05-2015, 03:02 AM
The Wars For Asia 1911-1949, by S.C.M. Paine


Amazon sums up better than I can.

The Wars for Asia, 1911-1949 shows that the Western treatment of World War II, the Second Sino-Japanese War, and the Chinese Civil War as separate events misrepresents their overlapping connections and causes. The long Chinese Civil War precipitated a long regional war between China and Japan that went global in 1941 when the Chinese found themselves fighting a civil war within a regional war within an overarching global war. The global war that consumed Western attentions resulted from Japan's peripheral strategy to cut foreign aid to China by attacking Pearl Harbor and Western interests throughout the Pacific on December 7-8, 1941. S. C. M. Paine emphasizes the fears and ambitions of Japan, China, and Russia, and the pivotal decisions that set them on a collision course in the 1920s and 1930s. The resulting wars - the Chinese Civil War (1911-1949), the Second Sino-Japanese War (1931-1945), and World War II (1939-1945) - together yielded a viscerally anti-Japanese and unified Communist China, the still-angry rising power of the early twenty-first century. While these events are history in the West, they live on in Japan and especially China.

While it is close to 500 pages long, over a hundred pages are endnotes, and quite a few more are the bibliography. The actual narrative is only 300 pages, and it does an excellent job of explaining the strategies and interests of all concerned from the warlords, Chiang, Mao, Russia, Japan, and the U.S. It is a fascinating story that I highly recommend for those interested in China, East history, strategy, and military history.

Bill Moore
12-05-2015, 03:23 AM
The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers by Paul Kennedy.


This was a book I intended to read a couple of years ago, but couldn't find the time. This wasn't an easy read, since it is dense in facts and figures to support his theory of why nations rise and fall. For me, it further confirmed that strategy must be broader than how we employ the military as instrument.

A couple of quotes to give you the jest.

The argument in this book has been that there exists a dynamic for change, driven chiefly by economic and technological developments, which then impact upon social structures, political systems, military power, and the position of individual states and empires. The speed of of this global economic change has not been a uniform one . . . [due to] climate, disease, wars, geography, the social framework, and so on . . . . Because of man's innate drive to improve his condition, the world has never stood still.

The second major argument in this book has been that this uneven pace of economic growth has had crucial long-term impacts upon the relative military power and strategical position of the members of the states system. . . . economic prosperity does not always and immediately translate into military effectiveness . . ., the fact remains that all of the major shifts in the world's military-power balances have followed alterations in the productive balances; and further, that the rising and falling of the various empires and states in the international system has been confirmed by the outcomes of the major Great Power wars, where victory has always goine to the side with the greatest material resources.

Much of the book focused on the requirement for states to balance short-term security (maintaining defense capacity) against the longer term security of rising production and income. This is one reason I express concern about the COINdistas arguing we stay in force for 20 or more years in no win fights. We bleed out our national power while other states shore up theirs.

A very interesting book, and I may use its arguments to start a new thread for discussion. This book was written in the mid to late 80s, so the Cold War was still ongoing. Many of his predictions regarding the great powers at that time came true, including the relative decrease of U.S. power over time. However, I tend to think non-state actors, and states using unconventional warfare empowered by information technology may call aspects of his theory into question. Also the proliferation of high end technology to other states despite their financial weakness provides them with strategic options states didn't have in the past.

12-05-2015, 05:50 AM
The Long March book is really great. A must read for anyone interested in the history of contemporary China. The Chinese revolution used to be one of my pet subjects when I was a teenager, and I was wrong about practically everything. This book as well as others like "Tombstone", the various Mao bios, Zhou En Lai by Gao Qenqian and several others helped to set me right :)

Bill Moore
12-13-2015, 02:18 AM
The Supe, by John Vermillion


When Army General Harris Green begins to suspect that President Keith Rozan’s halting leadership of the US military will lead to catastrophic results for the country down the line, General Green must ask himself an important question: Should a military leader forsake his commissioning oath when a president acts outside the bounds of the Constitution?

Tipped off by White House aides that President Rozan has imminent plans to change the character, purpose, and future of the US Military Academy, General Green realizes he must take action. And he knows just the man with the courage and character to fight Washington from behind the Superintendent’s desk at West Point: Marine General Simon Pack.

Hardheaded and unswervingly devoted to his missions, General Pack resigned from the US Marine Corps out of revulsion at the rise of careerism among senior leaders. But with time running out, will General Green persuade him to return to active duty to save the Academy’s future—and the future of the US military?

A thought-provoking and controversial story that asks hard questions about military-civilian relations, The Supe is essential reading for anyone who cares about the future of the military in this country.

The highlights are mine. I just read this book on a long flight after receiving it as a gift. For those with years of experience, you have most likely witnessed the power of good leadership to transform any unit into a cohesive team that pursues the highest standards. On the opposite end of the spectrum is the destruction of morale and effectiveness that bad leadership can wreck on an organization. General Pack in this novel is the strong leader that is brought back from retirement to purge the toxic effects of political correctness on West Point. The book is an enjoyable, yet serious, read that political and military officers of all ranks should read. In many ways it reminded me of the classic "Once an Eagle," and the hero officer in that story Sam Damon. This novel is much shorter in scope and focused on strictly on current events instead of covering the evolution of a soldier's profession over decades.

Bottom line, I think most military professionals who visit SWJ will enjoy the book.

12-26-2015, 11:03 PM
A fascinating book that crams in so much, even if it has an overwhelmingly Anglo-US focus - the Soviet era KGB and East German HVA get a mention. The historical setting is good, using Russia in 1917 as one and Northern Ireland for another. Oddly very little from Israel.

Then the 'new world' intrudes with the demise of the 'Cold War' and the 'new jihadist terrorist' threat taking centre stage.

A few puzzling references appear to non-warfare threats, notably multinationals moving billions and whether in the future there is a national political requirement to spy on them. What would have been the impact of a spy in some of our banks prior to the 2008 "crash" ?

The interplay between HUMINT and TECHINT (in all its varieties) is covered well.

I have made a lot of notes to think further about and some online, anonymous research in 2016.

Yes the author is a journalist and his Amazon bio states:
Stephen Grey is a British writer, broadcaster, and investigative reporter with more than two decades of experience reporting on intelligence issues. He is best known for his world exclusive revelations about the CIA's program of "extraordinary rendition," as well as reports from Iraq and Afghanistan. A former foreign correspondent and investigations editor with The Sunday Times, he has reported for The New York Times, The Guardian, BBC, and Channel 4, and is currently a special correspondent with Reuters. Grey is the author of Ghost Plane.

"Insiders" on both sides of the Atlantic have expressed their admiration for the book, including details they thought were not in the public domain.

Amazon (US):http://www.amazon.com/New-Spymasters-Inside-Modern-Espionage/dp/0312379226/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1451170674&sr=1-1&keywords=the+new+spymasters+by+stephen+grey

Amazon (UK):http://www.amazon.co.uk/New-Spymasters-Inside-Espionage-Global/dp/0670917400/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1451170982&sr=1-1&keywords=the+new+spymasters+stephen+grey