Current Reading - November 2018

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Current Reading - November 2018

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Editado: Nov 4, 2018, 12:16am

Finished an excellent Titan II: A History of a Cold War Missile Program by David Stumpf, and the next day I finished the companion The Titan II Handbook: A Civilian's Guide to the Most Powerful ICBM America Ever Built by Chuck Penson. I picked up these books, as well as a reprint of the official Dash One, on a recent trip to the Titan Missile Museum in Sahuarita, Arizona, which I highly recommend visiting.

Nov 3, 2018, 7:37am

Still reading Stormtrooper on the eastern Front fighting with hitler's latvian ss

My parents were Latvian and I am still trying to work out (at age 70+) their Latvian experiences.

I found this book a bit bland. eg. "...and then I went there and was shot and went to hospital..."

Parts were interesting, other parts not. Guess I wanted...

Nov 16, 2018, 5:37pm

I've started reading The Secret History of the War, Volume 1 by Waverly Root. The first two volumes of this book were published in 1945. It seems there was a third volume published a few years after the war was over. These first two volumes were published between V-E and V-J Day, as the opening sentences are:

"The World War which began in Manchuria in 1931 - two years before the fateful date when Adolf Hitler came to power in Germany to stamp his name upon a new and dreadful epoch - has rolled full circle. Once more the battleground is in the Pacific."

Root worked in Paris as a correspondent for several publications, as well as for the Mutual Broadcasting Network, from 1927 through the outbreak of the war. Later he became quite well known as a food writer.

The work is quite voluminous, and I'll be working through the chapters gradually between my other reading over the next couple of years, most likely.

At any rate, I've read the first chapter, "The Origins of the War," and found it most interesting. In particular Root describes the weak and futile treachery of Chamberlain's abandonment of Czechoslovakia. Something I learned, although probably most of the folks reading this here already did know it, is that there was a three-way mutual defense treaty between the Czechs, the Russians and the French. As Munich approached, the Russians let the Czechs know they intended to honor the agreement if the Germans attacked them. The French, however, said, "No."

In fact, the Czechs evidently told the British and French that they would fight, anyway, and that "if a war begins you will be obliged to enter it whether you want to or not. We have decided to resist and thus force you to keep your engagement." The response was, "It is perhaps true that if you fight, we will be drawn in. But if we are drawn in, and if we are victorious, we will punish you for having forced our hand. There will be no Czechoslovakia after this war, whether we win or lose." (Emphasis Root's, whose footnote here states, "This account was given to me by one of Czechoslovakia's leading statesmen.")

So Czechs didn't fight. Later, the Russians were negotiating for a renewed treaty with France. They wanted the fighting to begin before the Germans reached the Russian border and so wanted the French to agree to consider an attack on the Baltic Countries an attack on Russia. The French wouldn't make that agreement, and the Russians came to feel (justifiably it seems) that the democracies were actually looking forward to seeing the Fascists and the Communists fight it out. Finally, Hitler came to Stalin and offered to simply divvy up the Baltics, giving Russia the buffer zone they wanted. Hence the German/Soviet Pact.

Root firmly believes that the Germans would have backed down, at least for the time being, had England and France stood up to them anywhere along the line up to the invasion of Poland. The German generals were fearful of what the consequences would be of going to war too soon, but Hitler was convinced the Allies wouldn't fight. He didn't even think the invasion of Poland would finally bring them in, evidently.

Anyway, that's what I learned in this book's first 15 pages. Volume 1 alone is 645 pages long. Does anyone else know of this book? It seems there are 10 or so LT members listing the book in their libraries.

Nov 16, 2018, 11:57pm

>3 rocketjk:

On Britain and France's abandonment of Czechoslovakia, there's an interesting fictionalised tale simply called Munich by Robert Harris which I read recently.

Nov 17, 2018, 5:16am

>4 John5918: Thanks! I've seen the book but I never knew what it was about.

Nov 18, 2018, 3:17am

>3 rocketjk: I'll take a BB for this.

Nov 18, 2018, 3:42am

I'm reading Bradbury's The Medieval Archer. Its showing its age (pub. 1985) in places, and the author has some idiosyncratic ideas he doesn't properly argue*, but on the whole it seems a reasonable survey of English archery in the high and late Middle Ages.

* At one place he mentions the fact that the Icelandic sagas describe voyages to Vinland as if it were an argument against their reliability, despite archaeological evidence for Scandinavian voyages to North America proper having been known for a good while when he wrote.

Nov 18, 2018, 1:05pm

>6 haydninvienna: " . . . take a BB for this."

I guess I should be familiar with what this means, but I admit I am not. What's "a BB?"

Nov 19, 2018, 1:01am

>8 rocketjk: Book Bullet. It's intended to mean that somebody recommended a book and you got "hit" by it (and decided to read the book). That's my understanding anyway: I'm relatively new to all this.

Nov 19, 2018, 2:56am

>9 haydninvienna: Thanks! That's sort of what I thought, but I wasn't sure. And, yes, this book looks like it's going to be quite fascinating. Let me know here if you end up picking up a copy.

Nov 20, 2018, 5:46pm

Completed an excellent Project Azorian: The CIA and the Raising of K-129 by Norman Polmar. Polmar is a serious naval historian, meaning this book has been pretty much overlooked while Red Star Rogue sold like hotcakes, even though it was (to put it mildly) a load of dingo's kidneys. Or at least that's what I think :-)

Nov 28, 2018, 8:55pm

Finished Rough Riders: Theodore Roosevelt, His Cowboy Regiment, and the Immortal Charge Up San Juan Hill by Mark Lee Gardner.

Nov 29, 2018, 7:24am

Last month's most relevant book was The French Army's Tank Force and Armoured Warfare in the Great War; quite simply it's the best work I've ever seen on the topic, even if it's pricey enough to be an ILL-special for most readers. This month's most relevant book was Racing the Sunrise, which deals with how the effort to reinforce the Philippines in 1941 evolved into laying the foundations for the American counter-offensive in the Southwest Pacific; it's basically a study in strategic logistics but still very readable.