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These explorer/merchants/soldiers were crazy and the odds not in their favor. The opportunity was too lucrative, though, in undercutting the previous Arab-Venetian trade by 600%. I wish that Crowley had mentioned how dramatic the spice trade shifted from Venice to the Atlantic, really a Nokia to Apple moment. While the Habsburgs and the French kings were fighting over Italy, they failed to notice that India (and Asia would have been much richer targets). One wonders what would have happened if not the demographically marginal countries of Portugal, Spain and the Netherlands had taken the lead but the multitudes of France.
Another element missing in Crowley's narrative is that the new military technologies of artillery, handguns and organized infantry was used also by non-Christian conquerors such as the Ottomans (e.g. against the backward Hungarian knightly army) and Babur in India. As always with Crowley's books, average readers will get a false confirmation about the Rambo Jesus Western Way of War.
The Guardian has a portrait of Edward Luttwak who seems to enjoy playing evil Loki. Statements such as "You know, I never gave George W Bush enough credit for what he’s done in the Middle East. I failed to appreciate at the time that he was a strategic genius far beyond Bismarck. He ignited a religious war between Shi’ites and Sunnis that will occupy the region for the next 1,000 years. It was a pure stroke of brilliance!" will infuriate both the left and the right. Luttwak seems to enjoy seeing the world burn.
Monongahela and the Road to Revolution (A+). The first two are your basic Osprey booklets, but the third is a really excellent examination of the battle with new source material from French-language archives and written by a man with good insight into how the First Nations fit into this campaign and a good sense of the lay of the land; this is apparently after having walked the length of Braddock's trail and paddled the main French supply route!
My not so positive review of Osprey's newish MAA title Armies of Castile and Aragon 1370-1516 has attracted the attention of the author (who has replied to critical blog posts elsewhere too). The main fault lies in the MAA format with its 48 pages limit. Adding a few pages (to 64) and color would really help. The current focus of cramming everything into one booklet due to commercial constraints of only limited pubic interest does not work, as the booklets produced do not do justice to their subjects.
Even under these constraints, in my view, the author's expertise should expose the reader to great and not easily found objects. Using valuable space for illustrations of John of Gaunt and Columbus leaves insufficient room for actually presenting the armies of Castile and Aragon. Only the 1440 era is well covered with two plates. The bibliography features two German titles but only a single Spanish one and again wastes space by including Oman's and Fuller's classic titles. A local expert would have produced a more helpful further reading list and a lot more local images.
The former covers much more then simply the painting schemes of Hungarian fighter aircraft and I was interested in how the authors related the travails of the aviation history buff during the Communist era; one amusing point is that participant interviews are not always all they're cracked up to be, as the pilots often didn't particularly remember how their own aircraft were painted (...grey is grey).
As for Miller's take on 1930s financial warfare I have to admit that it really didn't grab me. The question that Miller seemed to start with was whether how FDR signed off on the currency freeze was a fit of misunderstanding or an exercise in plausible deniability; there is no way to tell for sure but the second would seem to have been the case.