September reads

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September reads

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Set 5, 2015, 6:49am

AN old classic, The Battle of Königgrätz: Prussia's Victory over Austria by Gordon A. Craig. Well written.

Set 5, 2015, 7:41am

A close run thing and a case of faulty Austrian thinking. They should have completely given up the defense of Italy and used these troops against Germany. A loss against Germany was fatal whereas a loss against tiny Italy could have been reversed quickly later on. Had the Austrians had one or two divisions more at Königgrätz, they might have prevailed (or sent them into a few more futile charges and still lost).

I picked up a few classics at a bargain price. Gerry Embleton's wonderful photo book Medieval military costume : recreated in colour photographs. In it, he again calls every kind of cloth roll on a headdress a turban. In my view, this is bad terminology: A helmet with a piece of cloth wrapped around is not a turban but a helmet with a piece of cloth wrapped around. The helmet is the essence, the cloth the accessory.

Another great read is Michael Mallett's Mercenaries and their masters that has triggered a lot of research since its publication. Rubicon is a page turner as well, with a conservative POV of Roman history.

Set 5, 2015, 1:46pm

I am still working on The Battle of the Wilderness by Gordon Rhea, a carryover from September.

Set 12, 2015, 7:20am

Finished up Churchill and His Generals (A) yesterday evening, a nice synthesis of the current state of play of what we understand of how the British Army fought World War II.

Set 21, 2015, 10:09am

Last week I finished up The Court-Martial of Paul Revere (A), a well-done examination of the man's part in the ill-fated Penobscot Expedition of 1779 in respect to the rest of his public life.

Set 22, 2015, 5:30pm

The 28th of October 1918 was the Humpty Dumpty moment for the Habsburg Empire. Held together for centuries by the virtual equivalent of duct tape, the empire unraveled on that day. In the morning, re-captured Czech were still shot as traitors in the Italian theater while in the afternoon, a joyous takeover was taking place in Prague, a more violent one in Zagreb, a bureaucratic one in Vienna and a confusing one in Budapest. 1918: Die Stunden des Untergangs presents the 24 hours of this eventful day, hour by hour. While Austria-Hungary was collapsing, the German writer Thomas Mann was still writing down his thoughts of German victory in his diary - barely two weeks before Germany collapsed too. The casualties had already shifted from the battlefield to the homeland, as a thousand people per week were dying from the Spanish flu in Vienna alone.

Overall, I am a bit disappointed by Rubicon as the actual Roman civil war is covered only in the last two chapters and feels quite rushed. Holland's real heroes are the conservatives Sulla and Cato, but these two guys sell less well than Caesar, so the book is titled Rubicon.

Set 29, 2015, 10:00pm

I've just started Home Before the Leaves Fall by Ian Senior.