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Old 05-27-2015   #21
davidbfpo
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Default Waiting for time to read

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/...ead.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/...ad.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.
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Old 05-28-2015   #22
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The China Mirage: The Hidden History of American Disaster in Asia by James Bradley

Street Smart: Intelligence Preparation of the Battlefield for Urban Operations by Jamison Jo Medby and Russell W. Glenn (RAND), also available online (pdf)
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Old 06-15-2015   #23
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Default Waiting for time to read: an update

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/...?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:
Quote:
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.
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Old 06-15-2015   #24
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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".
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Old 06-16-2015   #25
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The Innocents Abroad by Mark Twain

The Steel Bonnets by George MacDonald Fraser
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Old 06-16-2015   #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jcustis View Post
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".
Jon,

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:
Quote:
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:http://www.timhetheringtontrust.org/

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

Link to Jon's other book:http://www.amazon.com/Centurions-Jea...=jean+larteguy
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Old 06-16-2015   #27
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Howard Kippenberger: Dauntless Spirit

Storm of Steel (Ernst Junger)
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Old 06-26-2015   #28
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Stalin's Keys to Victory

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 in this famous recording. 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

Quote:
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

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. 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...
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Last edited by Firn; 06-26-2015 at 09:24 PM.
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Old 07-01-2015   #29
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Humanitarian Imperialism by Jean Bricmont

American Fascists by Chris Hedges
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Old 07-01-2015   #30
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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?).
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Old 07-02-2015   #31
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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.

Quote:
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. - 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.)
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Old 07-25-2015   #32
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The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson


The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
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Old 07-28-2015   #33
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Skunk Works: A Personal Memoir of My Years at Lockheed, 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.
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... "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
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Old 07-30-2015   #34
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The Ascent Of Man by Jacob Bronowski


Anthropological Intelligence: The Deployment and Neglect of American Anthropology in the Second World War by David H. Price
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Old 08-04-2015   #35
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Social Sciences As Sorcery by Stanislav Andreski


War and Cinema: The Logistics of Perception by Paul Virilio
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Old 09-08-2015   #36
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'The Dark Net' by Jamie Bartlett, published in 2014 and as a paperback in 2015 in the UK:http://www.amazon.com/Dark-Net-Insid...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.
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Old 09-10-2015   #37
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The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything by James Martin, SJ


Deceit and Self-Deception by Robert Trivers
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Old 09-16-2015   #38
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The Tartar Steppe by Dino Buzzati


Stalking the Dragon: 10th Anniversary Edition by Kregg Jorgenson
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Old 10-09-2015   #39
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Military Writings by Leon Trotsky


The Devil We Knew by H.W. Brands


Strategies For Managing The Consequences Of Black Swan Events by Avinash M. Nafday (ASCE Library online article)
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Old 10-13-2015   #40
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Guerrilla Strategies by Gerard Chaliand


Death In The Rice Fields by Peter Scholl-Latour


How To Cut Toxic People Out of Your Life by AJ Harbinger (The Art of Manliness[!] online article)
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