Current Reading - January 2018

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Current Reading - January 2018

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Editado: Jan 27, 2018, 12:24pm

Guess I'll get us started for the month.

I finished Dog Company: The Boys of Pointe Du Hoc - The Rangers Who Accomplished D-Day's Toughest Mission and Led the Way Across Europe by Patrick K. O'Donnell.

This is an ultimately well done history of the Rangers who took on some of the toughest and most deadly missions of the invasion of Europe, starting with scaling the massive cliffs of Pinte du Hoc under heavy fire on D-Day to go after a set of heavy artillery pieces that had command of the Normandy beaches.

I actually started this book with a bit of trepidation, as the author is described on the inside back cover as a "combat historian, bestselling author and renowned leadership speaker." It was that third item that raised my defenses a bit, as I feared I'd be reading a motivational tome rather than a good and accurate military history. There is a bit of ham-fisted writing, especially in the book's early going as the assembling and training of the group is described. The lessons of that training are described as seeping into the soldiers' "every bone and fiber," for example.

Once the men go to war on D-Day, however, that sort of rah rah bravado gets mostly left behind. O'Donnell clearly did a lot of research and conducted as many interviews with veterans of the company as he could, along with walking all of the battlefields. I don't want to give the wrong idea. The achievement of these men was truly impressive and, well, inspirational in many ways. And O'Donnell does not stint from intense, detail-filled descriptions of the moment by moment fears and horrors of combat, particularly the effects of trying to survive, physically and mentally, one prolonged and terrifying artillery barrage after another for days on end. I learned a lot.

Jan 8, 2018, 12:09pm

Omaha Beach: A flawed Victory, strongly recommended to those with an interest in the Normandy campaign.

Editado: Jan 11, 2018, 6:32am

Apart from hardware books the most significant book I've read so far this month is Military Identities (A+), which is an examination of what the regimental system meant to the British Army, where it succeeded and where it fell short of expectations. The bottom line is that the Cardwell Reforms of the 1870s did mean that there was a fairly robust force available for colonial policing but it was never enough to produce an army that could meet the requirements of a general war, nor did the supposed regional and community connections, meant to make military service more attractive, ever quite transcend the reluctance of the better sort of working class man to put aside establishing himself in a trade and a family to spend the best years of his life in a military community that would rule his every waking moment (and pay him badly in the bargain).

Jan 15, 2018, 9:39pm

Finished a short but interesting The North-West Frontier: British India and Afghanistan, a Pictorial History 1839-1947 by Michael Barthorp. It actually had quite a lot of text for supposedly a pictorial history, and there weren't that many pictures and illustrations either. It is a survey of the campaigns of the North-West Frontier; not that much depth on any one campaign, but a worthwhile read to get an overview.

Jan 19, 2018, 12:02am

Completed Big Gun Monitors: Design, Construction, and Operations 1914-1945 by Ian Buxton. Very well written by a naval architect, it is a subject about which I knew almost nothing and I'm glad I picked it up.

Jan 21, 2018, 5:37am

Ill met by moonlight by W. Stanley Moss

An account of the kidnapping of a German general on Crete in 1944, written by one of the British officers who took part in the operation.

Jan 23, 2018, 3:15pm

Finished a very, very short The Army moves West: Supplying the Western Indians Wars Campaign by Robert A Murray. The Amazon store page doesn't show number of pages, which is 28, including covers and a couple of blank pages, although the text on each page is double column. It shouldn't take more than an hour to read. The book(let) consists of three essays, one on steamboats, one on wagons and the third on packmules. The essays are interesting and well-written, but definitely only an introduction to the subject.

Jan 27, 2018, 11:09am

I’ve started They Thought we Wouldn’t Fight by Floyd Gibbons a journalist who was embedded with the American troops in WWI before embedding was a thing. Mr. Gibbons was the go-to war reporter for every conflict until his death just before the beginning of WWII. He lost an eye in the trenches during the first war and wasn’t expected to live, but was back with the men in ten days.

Jan 27, 2018, 3:57pm

I'm reading the Swedish translation of the Norwegian Vikinger i krig, a popular account of Viking Age warfare.

Jan 31, 2018, 8:17am

The other particularly significant book I finished up this month was Battle for Belorussia (B), another brick from Dave Glantz and probably more of a reference work even as compared to his usual standards. I have a review up but the really short version is that operational-level offensives are usually not helped by economy of force measures.

Fev 1, 2018, 6:38pm

Read True to Type - A Selection from Letters and Diaries of German Soldiers and Civilians Collected on the Soviet German Front . Printed in 1944, it was a good insight into the German soldiers, police, and civilian headiness up through 1941 and their descent into the maelstrom thereafter. Then read Waterloo: The Campaign of 1815. Volume II: From Waterloo to the Restoration of Peace in Europe by John Hussey which was the same fine quality of the first volume - highly recommended!!

Fev 3, 2018, 10:35pm

11: RE Waterloo, thanks pal, guess I've got to buy those.