Current Reading - July 2019

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Current Reading - July 2019

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Jul 7, 2019, 3:19pm

Finished The Road to Concord: How Four Stolen Cannon Ignited the Revolutionary War by J. L. Bell. The book meanders a bit, but it pretty good. It documents how the efforts by the British Army's General Gage in locating and seizing cannons and other military stores from the patriots/rebels, and the efforts by the latter in hiding and removing those items from British control, drove events that culminated in the fighting at Lexington and Concord.

Jul 8, 2019, 10:32am

I don’t recall if I mentioned last month that I’m reading Mallett and Hale’s The Military Organization of a Renaissance State, about the Venetian army in the 15th and 16th centuries. I’m quite happy with it.

Jul 22, 2019, 4:43pm

Finally finished A Very Brilliant Affair: The Battle of Queenston Heights, 1812 by Robert Malcomson. It is a well done book with plentiful maps, in-body illustrations and good organizations. I just seemed to struggle with the mention of so many names on both sides and with trying to keep them straight.

Jul 23, 2019, 1:02pm

I finished The Secret History of the War, Volume 1 by Waverley Root. This is a fascinating, extremely detailed book about World War 2, written for the most part while the war was still going on. Root was an American journalist stationed in Paris right up until the German occupation of the city. The book was originally to be co-written with French journalist Pierre Lazareff, but Lazareff understandably became otherwise engaged "in government service." However, he allowed Root to use the material he'd already compiled. At any rate, this long book (I am reporting here on Volume 1 only, which in itself is 650 pages of fairly small print) contains endless interesting details of, particularly but not solely, the political conditions and many machinations of governments before and during the war. In particular, Root (and Lazareff) focus on France, both pre-war and during the Vichy era. Root maintains that a) many in French leadership were, essentially, fascists who abhorred their own Republic; b) much of the Germans' meticulous prewar 5th column propaganda activity was done for them by French leaders (Philippe Pétain comes in for particular criticism) and c) the French Army's efforts to resisting the German invasion were sabataged by traitors within the government and the army. These people were either Nazi sympathizers or were so convinced of the Germans' eventual victory in the war that they thought resistance to be futile. I don't know the degree to which these opinions have been backed up or discredited in the intervening years, but Root makes a very, very strong case.

Root goes into some detail about the conditions in France and the other conquered countries during the years of occupation, during which, eventually, near starvation conditions applied as the Germans extracted more and more of the local produce and manufactured goods to feed their armies. When you see movies about the French occupation, you never see the people as gaunt and malnourished as Root describes them.

Also included are chapters on Finland, the history of the German-Soviet Pact and the eventual, disastrous, German invasion of Russia, and events in the Balkans, Africa and the Low Countries. Also fascinating is the chapter about Hitler's continual attempts to make a separate peace with the Western allies in order to be able to concentrate solely on fighting Russia. Again, this is Volume 1 of a three-volume set. I'll be starting on Volume 2 very soon.

Jul 30, 2019, 4:58pm

Finished a short and rather technical The First Destroyers by David Lyon, describing the first Torpedo Boat Destroyers (TBDs).

Editado: Jul 31, 2019, 12:57pm

The Royal Navy's Air Service in the Great War was my main read of the month and I highly recommend it if you're curious about the topic; if it's about the Fleet Air Arm and Hobbs doesn't know it you probably don't have to either.

As for Remembering World War I in America it's not really military history; it deals more with the efforts to cobble together a usable past from an adventure that was probably a mistake.