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Thread: What Are You Currently Reading? 2013

  1. #21
    Council Member Backwards Observer's Avatar
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    Default mad dogs and englishmen

    You don't have to go out in the midday sun to appreciate the full-contact gentility of old-school British entrepreneurship.


    Dedicated - (By Permission) - To The Honourable The Court of Directors - Of - The East India Company; Through Whose Liberality The Mission Was Provided With The Means OF Prosecuting Objects Of Science, - By Their Most Obedient Humble Servant, - Thomas Stamford Raffles.

    Introduction

    ----------------

    In the year 1821, a mission was sent by the Governor-General of Bengal to the courts of Siam and Cochin-China, having for its object the opening of a friendly intercourse between those countries and the British possessions, and the establishment of free trade on both sides.

    This mission it is well known was not attended with the success expected; little or no positive advantage was gained to our trade, but the foundation of friendly intercourse was laid by the visit, and the knowledge procured may prepare the way for a future attempt under more favourable circumstances. (from The Mission to Siam, and Hue the capital of Cochin China, in the years 1821-2. From the Journal of G. F. [Edited] with a memoir of the author, by Sir T. S. Raffles.)
    The Mission to Siam, and Hue the capital of Cochin China, in the years 1821-2. From the Journal of G. F. [Edited] with a memoir of the author, by Sir T. S. Raffles.
    by George Finlayson & Thomas Stamford Raffles
    - apple iBooks

    Sir Stamford Raffles - wikipedia

    Summer in Siam - The Pogues - youtube



    -----------------

    Also, a second copy of Rust in peace: South Pacific Battlegrounds Revisited by Bruce Adams. The first went missing after a drunken visit by an itinerant amateur frogman who was trying to offload his old SLR before departing for parts unknown.

    Rust in peace: South Pacific Battlegrounds Revisited - amazon

    Rust In Peace Review - pacificwrecks.com

    Bruce - Monty Python - youtube

    Last edited by Backwards Observer; 04-08-2013 at 06:01 AM. Reason: Bruce

  2. #22
    Council Member Firn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ganulv View Post
    albeit only a few pages, chapter 35 of Roland Huntford’s Two planks and a passion. The book is a very well done history of skiing up to 1945. (There is a final chapter with a post-War history of skiing that feels a little tacked-on, but that period has already been covered by a number of books, in any case.)

    Interesting, that might be worth a read. Still can't figure out what the author has against our alpine style. Downhill is great fun indeed and 'Alpine touring' as it seems to be called in English, is a fantastic sport, which sadly costs quite a bit of lifes every winter.

    Touring has become big in the last ten years or so. Some of my relatives did practice it regulary over 40 years ago. Technology has come a long way indeed. The review was a bit meh, seriously:

    Huntford reproduces a 4,000-year-old rock drawing from Russia that depicts three Stone Age hunters on skis stalking elk. It's an astonishing image, like seeing a stick figure on a Jet Ski in the caves of Lascaux.
    ...
    ... "We need officers capable of following systematically the path of logical argument to its conclusion, with disciplined intellect, strong in character and nerve to execute what the intellect dictates"

    General Ludwig Beck (1880-1944);
    Speech at the Kriegsakademie, 1935

  3. #23
    Council Member ganulv's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Firn View Post
    Interesting, that might be worth a read. Still can't figure out what the author has against our alpine style.
    I get the impression that he enjoys the emphasis being put on being out in the wilderness rather than on fancy technique. I didn't get the impression from the book that he had anything against Alpine per se; he is honest about the fact that apart from Telemark that no Nordic style ski or technique is really up to a big run in the Alps.

    Quote Originally Posted by Firn View Post
    Downhill is great fun indeed and 'Alpine touring' as it seems to be called in English, is a fantastic sport
    In the U.S. there are two kinds of touring. Alpine touring emphasizes descent and usually means free heel skis and stepping up to climb (with skins, if need be) with randonee bindings offering the option to clamp down the heels on the way down. Light or Nordic touring allows for kicking and gliding as well as moderate turns during descents (the skis have a little width and metal edges).

    Quote Originally Posted by Firn View Post
    which sadly costs quite a bit of lifes every winter.
    Avy beacons, probes, and shovels are de rigueur in the western part of the United States, even for a lot of lift-served pistes.

    Quote Originally Posted by Firn View Post
    Technology has come a long way indeed.
    I spotted a pair of Kandahar bindings (aka bear traps, aka ankle-breakers) while I was rummaging around yesterday. Yikes!


    If you don’t read the newspaper, you are uninformed; if you do read the newspaper, you are misinformed. – Mark Twain (attributed)

  4. #24
    Council Member Firn's Avatar
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    1. A question for the moderator first: Can we include MOOCs* in our 'reading' list?

    I recently came after some quick personal research to the youtube channel of Standford and became interested first in a specific class and then in the broader concept.

    2. General Overview and the Development of Numbers is the specific lecture and it is great from a mathematic but also an broader economic point of view. Great stuff and absolutely logical. Love the Babylonian bank deposits.

    It is always a bit funny to hear an Englishman saying Franci, Pisano and so forth. It is of course the same the other way around.

    P.S: Ganulv, I missed your reply and enjoyed it now. You will love to see how Didier Cuche skies goodbuy

    *Interesting that MMOs, the games that is came first
    ... "We need officers capable of following systematically the path of logical argument to its conclusion, with disciplined intellect, strong in character and nerve to execute what the intellect dictates"

    General Ludwig Beck (1880-1944);
    Speech at the Kriegsakademie, 1935

  5. #25
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Thumbs up Moderator answers

    Firn you asked:
    1. A question for the moderator first: Can we include MOOCs* in our 'reading' list?
    I see no problems with that; we sometimes link elsewhere to podcasts and the like.
    davidbfpo

  6. #26
    Council Member ganulv's Avatar
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    Default ‘The Guerrilla Factory’ by Tony Schwalm

    This was on display at the new book table at my local library and I gave it a read. I enjoyed it well enough, but I was most interested in discussion of the author’s time spent as commander of training at Ft. Bragg and there actually is not a lot of that in the book.

    Quote Originally Posted by Firn View Post
    P.S: Ganulv, I missed your reply and enjoyed it now. You will love to see how Didier Cuche skies goodbuy
    That is an awesome video, thanks for sharing! I actually own and regularly use both a pair of boiled wool mitts and a set of waxed wool gaiters!
    If you don’t read the newspaper, you are uninformed; if you do read the newspaper, you are misinformed. – Mark Twain (attributed)

  7. #27
    Council Member Firn's Avatar
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    Thanks for the quick answer of the moderator.

    Part 3 discusses the 'arab' contributions to mathematics, for example algebra. It is amazing and logical to see the geometric roots of many approaches. Love the influence of business on the devlopment of that noble and 'pure' science.

    I loved that show by soft-spoken Didier and it really shows how things have changed in the last couple of years. The Austrians also put up a good farewell for the Swiss rival.* It also reminds me to actually spell-check my posts because it was certainly a nice goodbye and has nothing to do with a good buy. Too much finance ruins your brain, but if you watch the online class it shows that it certainly helped a great deal to develop math. Incentives and utility.

    *The Swiss and the Austrians are big rivals, even if it has soften up in the last years. I actually had some nice chats with Italian, Swiss and German coaches at the junior level and all of them say that the Austrians have more funding. The Swiss juniors are training often in Italy because is cheaper and the parents face a much steeper bill for giving their kids the chance to compete at high levels. It is not a healthy sport on the higher levels, and the cousin of one of my classmates, a multiple worldcup winner had to recently give up after another brutal training injury.

    The great Ghedina has fun and impresses also the Austrians. He is from the small 'ladin' minority in Italy.

    P.S: Love the gaitors. For hunting modern ones tend to be a bit loud. Many use Loden gaitors for short hunts. Good for powder and colder temps but terrible in wet snow on warm days.
    Last edited by Firn; 04-29-2013 at 08:06 PM.
    ... "We need officers capable of following systematically the path of logical argument to its conclusion, with disciplined intellect, strong in character and nerve to execute what the intellect dictates"

    General Ludwig Beck (1880-1944);
    Speech at the Kriegsakademie, 1935

  8. #28
    Council Member Firn's Avatar
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    The Complete Guide to Tracking: Concealment, Night Movement, and All Forms of Pursuit Following Tracks, Trails and Signs

    I actually have owned that book for quite a while now, but with the start of the hunting season I like to refresh mentally some of the basics. It helps a great deal to make use of your rifle and sometimes also after the shot your own or that of others.

    Cheap and possibly even cheaper looking - not even basic pictures made it into the book - it is arguably the best manual I know and has helped me a great deal. A very well organized and structed book, it blends tracking with other fieldcraft important for a hunter and offers you an efficient path for learning and improving said skills.

    The track pursuit drill with it's 7 steps is a no-nonsense approach to follow a track and to stalk. It helped me to slow down, hone my stalking and to increase my overall awerness. If you know the area well you can stalk well and pick up tracks to get a sense of the game patters. We have a vastly different situation from Austria and Germany as well from a good deal of Italy, with the red deer being very hard to hunt.

    It goes very well with Practical Tracking and Mammal Tracks & Signs. Fantastic books. The informations on lynx, bears and wolves are becoming highly relevant for my region.

    German-speaking, European readers interested in local fauna should like Tierspuren erkennen & bestimmen or Tierspuren&co.
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 05-07-2013 at 12:53 PM. Reason: Copied to the Tracking thread.
    ... "We need officers capable of following systematically the path of logical argument to its conclusion, with disciplined intellect, strong in character and nerve to execute what the intellect dictates"

    General Ludwig Beck (1880-1944);
    Speech at the Kriegsakademie, 1935

  9. #29
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Finally read Duffer's Drift

    Thanks to a "lurker" I have finally read 'The Defence of Duffer's Drift' by E.D. Swinton; well a retired police officer takes his time to read classic texts for the military.

    Well worth a read, although I suspect many here already have. On a search I found it featured on nearly twenty threads, with Tom Odom especially citing it's value.

    There are numerous places to get a copy, here is one I found:http://regimentalrogue.tripod.com/du...fers_Drift.htm

    Wikipedia:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Def...ffer%27s_Drift
    davidbfpo

  10. #30
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    Default Like DavidBFPO...

    ...I too like to read multiple texts (are you Dyslexic Dave?)

    Anyway I'm the process of reading or have read the following...

    Brian ldiss, The Dark Light Years

    K. S. Friedman, Myths of the Free Market

    Frederick Forsythe, The Dogs of War. Much, much better than the film.

    L. I. Held, The Quirks of Human Anatomy (A real gem)


    G. Till, Seapower
    &

    D. J. Lonsdale, Alexander the Great: Lessons in Grand Strategy

  11. #31
    Council Member Red Rat's Avatar
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    Just finished: Blood, Steel, Myth: II SS Panzer Korps at Prochorowka

    and about to start

    Demolishing The Myth: The Battle of Prokhorovka

    The large scale of the fighting highlights the significant impact of what may seem minor variations in TTPs between german Army (Heer) units and Waffen SS as well as the cumulative impact of combat fatigue and the impact of airpower.

    On my Kindle I am currently getting through a very readable:

    History of the Peloponnesian War

    and have just finished:

    The Heights of Courage: A Tank Leader's War on the Golan

    More big war then small war at the moment.
    RR

    "War is an option of difficulties"

  12. #32
    Council Member ganulv's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Red Rat View Post
    On my Kindle I am currently getting through a very readable:

    History of the Peloponnesian War
    Have you taken a stab at Herodotus? I don’t think anyone would go so far as to call The Histories readable—the historical geography in The Landmark edition helps, as does Carolyn Dewald’s Introduction in the Oxford World’s Classics edition—but that has a lot to do with the scope of his ambition. As the editor of The Landmark edition says, Thucydides was interested in politics and warfare, Herodotus was interested in everything.
    If you don’t read the newspaper, you are uninformed; if you do read the newspaper, you are misinformed. – Mark Twain (attributed)

  13. #33
    Moderator Steve Blair's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Red Rat View Post
    Just finished: Blood, Steel, Myth: II SS Panzer Korps at Prochorowka

    and about to start

    Demolishing The Myth: The Battle of Prokhorovka

    The large scale of the fighting highlights the significant impact of what may seem minor variations in TTPs between german Army (Heer) units and Waffen SS as well as the cumulative impact of combat fatigue and the impact of airpower.

    On my Kindle I am currently getting through a very readable:

    History of the Peloponnesian War

    and have just finished:

    The Heights of Courage: A Tank Leader's War on the Golan

    More big war then small war at the moment.
    Be curious as to your opinions about the two Kursk books. That's always been one of my favorite areas (Eastern Front).
    "On the plains and mountains of the American West, the United States Army had once learned everything there was to learn about hit-and-run tactics and guerrilla warfare."
    T.R. Fehrenbach This Kind of War

  14. #34
    Council Member ganulv's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Blair View Post
    That's always been one of my favorite areas (Eastern Front).
    As one of my professor used to write in the margins of my papers from time, “Are you sure that is what you mean to say?”
    If you don’t read the newspaper, you are uninformed; if you do read the newspaper, you are misinformed. – Mark Twain (attributed)

  15. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by ganulv View Post
    As one of my professor used to write in the margins of my papers from time, “Are you sure that is what you mean to say?”
    Maybe.....
    "On the plains and mountains of the American West, the United States Army had once learned everything there was to learn about hit-and-run tactics and guerrilla warfare."
    T.R. Fehrenbach This Kind of War

  16. #36
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    Default Gomorrah

    http://www.amazon.com/Gomorrah-Perso.../dp/0312427794

    This book has been out for awhile, but I just recently got around to reading it. I give it two thumbs up a big toe and look forward to the author's next book on the Cartels in Mexico.

    Roberto Saviano is powerful writer who knows what he writes about. His writing style very much reminded me of Michael Herr's writing style in his book "Dispatches" about the Vietnam war. Roberto writes about (although uses different terms) many topics of interest we discuss on SWJ ranging from global networks, criminal insurgencies (he points out that the mafia needs the state so it doesn't want to overthrow it, but it does want to control it and it does in much of Southern Italy), control of the populace through coercion and a prevailing fear, mixing legal and illegal business methods, etc. I think most will find it insightful and relevant to the study of Small Wars. A couple of excerpts.

    Since I was born, 3,600 deaths. The Camorra has killed more than the Sicilian Mafia, more than the Ndrangheta, more than the Russia Mafia, more than the Albanian families, more than the total number of deaths by the ETA in Spain and the IRA in Ireland, more than the Red Brigades, the NAR, and all the massacres committed by the government of Italy.
    Imagine a map of the world, the sort you see in newspapers such as Le Monde Diplomatique, which marks places of conflict around the globe with a little flame. Kurdistan, Sudan, Kosovo, East Timor. Your eye is drawn to the south of Italy, to the flesh that piles up with every war connected to the Camorra, the Mafia, the Ndrangheta, the Sacra Coronal Unita in Puglia, and the Basilischi in Lucani. But there's no little flame, no sign of conflict. This is the heart of Europe.
    They cut off his ears, cropped his tongue, shattered his wrists, gouged out his eyes with a screwdriver--all while he was still alive, awake, conscious. then to finish him off they smashed his face with a hammer and carved a cross on his lips with a knife. His body was supposed to end up in the trash so that it would be found rotting in a dump. The message inscribed on his flesh was perfectly clear to everyone.
    A discussion the author is having with his father,
    "Robbie', what do you call a man who has a pistol and no college degree?"

    "A #### with a pistol."

    "Good. What do you call a man with a college degree but no pistol?"

    "A #### with a degree."

    "Good. What do you call a man with a degree and a pistol?"

    "A man, papa!"

    "Bravo, Robertino!"
    If you read this book, or have read it already, you'll better understand why I posted this tribute to a heroic anti-Mafia fighter earlier.

    http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/...ad.php?t=18169

  17. #37
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    Tombstone: the Great Chinese Famine http://www.amazon.com/Tombstone-Grea.../dp/0374277931

    Its an amazing, moving book. And a must-read for anyone who still thinks the term "Maoist" is not a term of abuse. Though the Long March book http://www.amazon.com/The-Long-March.../dp/B008SMGP6A is perhaps even more of a mythbuster than this one.

  18. #38
    Council Member Firn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by davidbfpo View Post
    Thanks to a "lurker" I have finally read 'The Defence of Duffer's Drift' by E.D. Swinton; well a retired police officer takes his time to read classic texts for the military.

    Well worth a read, although I suspect many here already have. On a search I found it featured on nearly twenty threads, with Tom Odom especially citing it's value.

    There are numerous places to get a copy, here is one I found:http://regimentalrogue.tripod.com/du...fers_Drift.htm

    Wikipedia:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Def...ffer%27s_Drift

    I finished that book quite recently. I really like the way it presents a problem and helps the reader to interact and to learn step by step. Needless to say that the specific pedagogic approach can be valuable in other areas as well.

    From a military point of view firepower certainly made it's weight felt already there and even earlier with all the logical ramifications.
    Last edited by Firn; 06-11-2013 at 11:52 AM.
    ... "We need officers capable of following systematically the path of logical argument to its conclusion, with disciplined intellect, strong in character and nerve to execute what the intellect dictates"

    General Ludwig Beck (1880-1944);
    Speech at the Kriegsakademie, 1935

  19. #39
    Council Member Backwards Observer's Avatar
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    Default ? and ? = ???

    Advice and Support: The Early Years of the U.S. Army in Vietnam 1941-1960 by Ronald H. Spector.

    The idea that the appropriate use of American power will provide a satisfactory outcome to even the most intractable problem in the Third World is far from a novel one. It was succinctly, if inelegantly, expressed in the slogan which one saw everywhere in Vietnam, “Once we have them by the balls, their hearts and minds will follow.” The work presented here suggests a fundamentally different conclusion, but one which was also embodied in an expression commonly heard in Vietnam, “You can’t make somethin’ out of nothin’.”

    ...

    Added to this propensity to make something out of nothing was an American ignorance of Vietnamese history and society so massive and all-encompassing that two decades of federally-funded fellowships, crash language programs, television specials and campus teach-ins made hardly a dent. In Chapter 1 of the present work I attempt to show how infrequent and tenuous were American contacts with Vietnam before 1945 and what little knowledge of IndoChina there was in the U.S. even among specialists. U.S. contacts with Japan and China, however distorted by mutual suspicion, ignorance and prejudice, were rich and varied in comparison to those with Southeast Asia. (from the preface to the 1985 edition)
    Advice and Support: The Early Years of the U.S. Army in Vietnam 1941-1960 - amazon



    ***

    Something For Nothing (Rush) - youtube
    Last edited by Backwards Observer; 06-13-2013 at 05:45 PM.

  20. #40
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Slim book on Dien Bien Phu

    A "lurker" lent me a slim AUSA book, 'Dien Bien Phu: The Epic Battle America Forgot' by Howard E. Simpson. It is a long time since I read on the French Indo-China war, notably Bernard Fall in 'Street Without Joy'. Originally published in 1994 and my edition 2005:http://www.amazon.com/Dien-Bien-Phu-...America+Forgot

    Simpson writes well, although the editor missed some strange spellings and grammar which jarred an easy read. He has interviewed on both sides, including General Giap and clearly has admiration for the stoicism of the French (including a good number of non-French nationals and local tribesmen). Some new information was found; the UK & US official visits, the extent of US civilian pilots flying most of the transports and the use of quad .50 cal. machine guns.

    I still marvel at those who volunteered to parachute in the last days, many with just a few days training:
    800 French, 450 Legionnaires, 400 North Africans & Africans and 150 Vietnamese - only 681 jumped in.
    Finally the author was there, as a diplomat, before the siege began.
    davidbfpo

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