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Thread: What Are You Currently Reading? 2016

  1. #21
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    Default long live the new flesh

    The Image by Daniel J. Boorstin


    War Porn by Roy Scranton

  2. #22
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    Default within you without you

    The Warrior Within by John Little


    The Dying Earth by Jack Vance
    Last edited by Backwards Observer; 08-31-2016 at 02:58 AM. Reason: finger - moon, something something

  3. #23
    Council Member AmericanPride's Avatar
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    The Crimean War by Orlando Figes

    The Coming of the Third Reich by Richard Evans

    Ghost Warriors by Samual Katz
    When I am weaker than you, I ask you for freedom because that is according to your principles; when I am stronger than you, I take away your freedom because that is according to my principles. - Louis Veuillot

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    Default most people live on a lonely island

    The Coming of the Third Reich by Richard J. Evans (looks interesting - thanks, American Pride )


    Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow by Yuval Noah Harari



  5. #25
    Council Member AmericanPride's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Backwards Observer View Post
    The Coming of the Third Reich by Richard J. Evans (looks interesting - thanks, American Pride )
    It's the first of a three part series (I have the second one on order). I'm about 2/3s through the book. You won't find the typical detailed narratives as you would in other histories on the Nazi Party, so it's not a re-treading of the same story. Instead, it offers a more sweeping narrative, identifying a number of underlying ideas, causes, and movements (and within those, a subset of nuanced details) that contributed to the emergence and success of Nazism.
    When I am weaker than you, I ask you for freedom because that is according to your principles; when I am stronger than you, I take away your freedom because that is according to my principles. - Louis Veuillot

  6. #26
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    Default menschliches, allzumenschliches

    The Third Reich in Power by Richard J.Evans


    The Third Reich at War by Richard J. Evans



  7. #27
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    Default calling occupants of interplanetary craft

    Blitzed by Norman Ohler


    Who Shot the Water Buffalo? by Ken Babbs



  8. #28
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    Default knight of the east

    Europe's Inner Demons by Norman Cohn


    A Quarter Century of War by David North



  9. #29
    Council Member Morgan's Avatar
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    "The Modern Mercenary" by Sean McFate
    Morgan Smiley

    "If you can dodge a car, you can dodge a ball". Patches O'Houlihan

  10. #30
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    Default woman shows ankle to chimney sweep

    The Fatal Shore by Robert Hughes


    The Modern Mercenary by Sean McFate (sure, why not )



  11. #31
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    Default Neptune's Inferno

    As a ground pounder I knew little about the realities of Naval Combat beyond what I read in "To Rule the Waves" by Arthur Herman (another great book) and few historical readings where the Navy played a supporting role. After reading "Neptune's Inferno" I now have a great appreciation of the type of combat our sailors endured in the Pacific Ocean during WWII.

    https://www.amazon.com/Neptunes-Infe...ct_top?ie=UTF8

    Neptune's Inferno: The U.S. Navy at Guadalcanal, by Jame D. Hornfisher

    A fascinating account of the U.S. Navy's very closely run fight against the Japanese Navy in the vicinity of Guadalcanal. If the Navy would have lost this fight, the Marines would have likely been routed from Guadalcanal, leading to another Bataan Death March. This book provides a very detailed account of the various battles, to include the horrific carnage suffered in these battles.

    There were parallels to the Civil War, when Lincoln was looking for a General who would fight the army, which he found in Grant. The Navy struggled for a short while to identify their combat leaders and those who could adapt to modern war, especially how to employ radar successfully. The battles themselves, especially at night, pointed to the difficult challenge of identifying friend and foe, and hesitation in shooting allowed the enemy to shoot first resulting in grave losses. The Navy learned quickly and adapted, and even on a shoestring budget they prevailed. This book tells that story well.

    A couple of quotes from the book below.

    “the Navy was reshuffling its decks and getting the footing it needed for this new kind of fight. Distinctions were being drawn between officers who were battle-minded and those whose savage instincts were reserved for advancing their own careers."

    The battles
    “It is continually proved that the ability of a single individual can make or break the entire situation.”

    “Call it what you will, their navy [the Japanese] is exercising every function of control of the sea and every single resultant advantage is accruing to them. . . . The usual indecision, fear of a surface fight, trying to do it all by plane in the teeth of steadily repeated proofs that it could be done that way, has now brought us to this. We are forced into a surface fight.”

    One lesson arrived swiftly: that war is the craft of putting ordnance on target decisively, and it is really nothing else. This lesson was being learned the world over in more than a dozen languages. The rigmarole of military life, after all, was designed in part to shape the character of men to respond effectively in that half second where a vital decision must rise instantly from habit.

    "books could ever teach a man to respond effectively to the sensation of bulkhead shattering or a keel buckling underfoot. Think creatively, imaginatively, about what combat is really like, he hold his inquisitors, and what would you do if you lost control over your survival. You have to talk like that to your shipmates. There are no secrets here, but what you find is that some people are constitutionally unable to perform that way. Unless everybody does his job, and learns to do it under duress, there can be no fighting ship."

    The way America handled its “first team” differed markedly from Japan’s. The Americans brought them home after inaugural experience under sustained fire and employed them to train the next wave. The Japanese left them on the front to fight until the inevitable happened, and saw their human assets waste away.

    Having confronted the Imperial Japanese Navy’s skill, energy, persistence, and courage, Nimitz identified the key to victory: “training, TRAINING, and M-O-R-E T-R-A-I-N-I-N-G.” Improvements in doctrine, and its standardization of basic maneuvers helped make its victories possible after 1943.

    Graff giving a memorial in the late 90s, “We were the youthful hope of the nation and promise of mankind. Taking the world as we found it, in our way and in our time, we tried to remake the world—more hope, more possibility, a much larger community for happiness. That is what, years ago, brought us to Guadalcanal.”

  12. #32
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    The Pursuit of the Millenium by Norman Cohn


    Interesting Times by Chas W. Freeman Jr.



  13. #33
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    "The Arab Mind" - Raphael Patai
    Also "Shi'ism: A Religion of Protest" - Hamid Dabashi

  14. #34
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default A small naval 'war' Algiers 1816

    Picked up a small hardback at a conference: 'Gunfire in Barbary: Admiral Lord Exmouth's battle with the Corsairs of Algiers in 1816' by Roger Perkins & K.J. Douglas-Morris, published 1982.

    The battle was the culmination of British attempts to "reform" the piracy and slavery practiced by the city. For years the Corsairs had raided way beyond the Mediterranean; had been paid in gold for their good behaviour and sometimes 'gunboat diplomacy' was used.

    Not to overlook the participation of a Dutch flotilla.

    Fascinating account of the diplomacy, the covert recce of the harbour & city; the small fleet's preparations, the human angles and leadership.

    I did like this quote, which seems to have applied in other battles:
    ...the Algerine gunners seemed to have 'learned the Navy List by heart, they took care to avoid every body who would have made a vacancy for promotion'.
    davidbfpo

  15. #35
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    Paris Under The Occupation by Jean Paul Sartre


    The Iron Dream by Norman Spinrad



  16. #36
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    Default The First Victory: the Second World War and The East Africa Campaign

    Four books read on a beach recently.

    1) The newly published 'The First Victory: the Second World War and The East Africa Campaign' by Andrew Stewart. A good, well written book on a forgotten campaign to end Italian occupation of Abyssinia (now Ethiopia), Eritrea and Somaliland (a British colony held for a short time). The victory, with Italian surrender was over-shadowed by the defeats in Greece and Crete. 'Bill' Slim was an Indian Infantry Brigadier, who was to learn about being forgotten again in Burma.

    The immense logistical aspects are included and the strategic to operational issues. The lack of theatre maps is annoying, unless you are familiar with the regional geography. For example 18k trucks came overland from Broken Hill, now Kabwe in Zambia; the half-way point from the factory in South Africa, in the 2,900 mile journey to Nairobi.

    It was not an easy victory, notably with the bitter fighting @ Keren, a mountainous fortified position. Enigma helped, but the Italians consistently located Allied formations using SIGINT.

    No reviews yet on Amazon:https://www.amazon.co.uk/First-Victo...frica+campaign
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 12-20-2016 at 09:34 PM.
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  17. #37
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    Default Target: Italy The Secret War Against Mussolini 1940-1943

    2) 'Target: Italy The Secret War Against Mussolini 1940-1943' by Roderick Bailey. This is an Official History of Special Operations Executive in Fascist Italy and was published in 2014.

    A brilliant account of the attempt to 'set (Italy) ablaze', which was Churchill's ToR for SOE. For clearly explained reasons it was largely a failure until the end, in one particularly odd episode - a captured SOE radio operator acting as a link between the post-Mussolini Italian government and the Allies.

    Given contemporary campaigns in many places there is much to learn about operating in a harsh environment, culture and security feature. The Italian security services repeatedly "turned" operations round.

    Two episodes fascinated me and only briefly mentioned. A RN submarine in the summer of 1943 landed two Italian NKVD (later KGB) agents on the north-west coast; following an inter-allied agreement to do so and no-one knows what happened to them.

    In mid-1943 two Italian saboteurs from the elite San Marco Regiment (Marines) were landed in Libya to attack airfields and were captured - offered in a possible PoW exchange. Following the success of the SAS earlier in attacking the same airfields, although arriving overland. Not the first time they had done this:http://www.feldgrau.com/sanmarco.html

    Well reviewed on:https://www.amazon.co.uk/Target-Secr...lini+1940-1943

    There is an earlier volume on SOE in Italy after Mussolini's fall.
    davidbfpo

  18. #38
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    Default SAS: Rogue Heroes The Authorized Wartime History

    3) 'SAS: Rogue Heroes The Authorized Wartime History' by Ben Macintyre, is a newly published book by a multi-million best selling author, who had incredible support from the SAS Regimental Association and the Regiment releasing its War Diary.

    It is an enthralling book of the SAS's formation, under it's inspired founder and leader David Stirling (who was captured by Luftwaffe Paratroopers in Tunisia). He was literally "in the right place at the right time" to pitch his idea to three British Generals in Cairo.

    Due note is made of all those who joined, notably the French, Belgians, Greeks and British irregulars. Even some Jews and Arabs from Palestine. Plus the importance of NCOs and new kit, notably the versatile Willys Jeep.

    Within the account of training and combat is the real story - the human factor. Why volunteer for such a wartime role; how was death faced and the suddenness of action to name three? Alcohol helped, as did once in an Italian mission a Scottish bagpiper.

    With success came truly black moments: eighteen dying in an Italian street when a truck was hit by German artillery and the liberation of the unexpected concentration camp @ Bergen-Belsen, Germany.

    I had never read about a British soldier, with Nazi views, working for the Italians as a spy and "stool pigeon" in POW camps. It appears even David Stirling talked to him, stating later he was suspicious and said little. The traitor was tried and executed for treason later.

    There were odd passages, such as that Malta was bombed from airfields in Libya (around Benghazi) rather than the far closer Sicily, with far easier logistics.

    After VE Day the SAS were disbanded as the conventional army and it's elephantine memory regained power. They were reformed in 1952, as a regular unit, in Malaya and some of their activity has been public since then.

    Link to 101 reviews (90% 5*) on:https://www.amazon.co.uk/SAS-Heroes-...s+rogue+heroes

    On the US website fewer reviews and not so many 5*:https://www.amazon.com/Rogue-Heroes-...s+rogue+heroes
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 12-20-2016 at 09:31 PM. Reason: 44,466v
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  19. #39
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    Default Not the definitive account of Britain's small wars

    The fourth book was 'Defending the Realm: The Politics of Britain's small wars since 1945' by Aaron Edwards, pub. 2014. Somehow I missed this at the time until found a few months ago.

    The author set himself a high goal, according to the publisher's summary on Amazon:
    This is the first book to detail the tactical and operational dynamics of Britain's small wars, arguing that the military's use of force was more heavily constrained by wider strategic and political considerations than previously admitted.....Defending the realm? is the definitive account of the politics of Britain's small wars.
    Link:https://www.amazon.co.uk/Defending-r...ding+the+realm

    The book looks at the 'defending' in Palestine, Malaya, Kenya, Cyprus, Aden, Northern Ireland, Iraq and Afghanistan.

    It is a very moot point that the British Army has developed a culture and structure to capture it's experience - repeatedly shown in the Afghan campaign. When the deployment to Helmand started a copious open source resource by a US civil engineer was not consulted online or with the author. Whatever it learnt was not consistent.

    Far worse at learning were the civil servants, in the various colonial administrations, and the police too. A persistent feature was the neglect of police intelligence-gathering via the local Special Branch; their focus was on political intelligence and suspected subversion - not the prospect of violence, let alone insurgency. Setting up for COIN was hard and took time, all too often defeat loomed

    Understandably there is a long chapter on Northern Ireland, known as Operation Banner August 1969-July 2007. There is no a mention of the "dirty war" aspects, e.g. the collusion between Loyalist paramilitaries and parts of the state nor their part in the violence. No mention of the eventually successful intelligence system that reduced violence so much.

    A good book, but with faults and several strange claims e.g. the CIA & SIS smuggled most weapons into Afghanistan during the Soviet period! That was done by ISI who they both cooperated with.

    Perhaps he has written about this subject since Chilcot was published?
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 12-24-2016 at 08:43 PM. Reason: 45,642v 1200 in a few days!
    davidbfpo

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