Current Reading - May 2020

DiscussãoMilitary History

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Current Reading - May 2020

Maio 20, 2020, 7:11am

The Monastery by Fred Majdalany, an account of the World War II battle for Monte Cassino by a British officer who fought in it. An excellent read.

Maio 20, 2020, 10:59pm

Just about finished Vikings at War by Kim Hjardar and Vegard Vike. Not too bad but I am finding it heavy going, most probably because of its text being in double column format.

Before that I read Beseiged 100 Great Seiges from Jericho to Sarajevo by Paul K Davis


Maio 24, 2020, 8:38am

Speaking of Vikings I might make note of The Viking Wars, though the original British title is better description of its contents and purpose.

Maio 24, 2020, 11:11pm

Yes, I read that not long ago and it was quite good :)


Editado: Maio 26, 2020, 10:39pm

Currently enjoying Stalingrad by Antony Beevor

Maio 28, 2020, 5:13pm

Completed reading The Fetterman Massacre: Fort Phil Kearny and the Battle of the Hundred Slain by Dee Brown on my Kindle. Very well done history focusing on the year 1866 from the start in January when the fort is first ordered to be built to the massacre in December and then the events afterwords. Written in an easy to read style but still a quite detailed history of Fort Phil Kearny and the people involved with it.

Maio 28, 2020, 11:03pm

This week I am finishing up: The Condor Years: How Pinochet And His Allies Brought Terrorism To Three Continents by John Dinges (2005)

Maio 31, 2020, 7:01am

I'll finish up the month by noting Tin Can Titans; not bad, not great. The author was mostly looking for an inspirational story and while they've done their homework the sum feels less than the parts. Looking at some other background there's probably a book out there to be written on men who received command due to being direct aides to FDR and who turned out to be failures; with Robert Ghormley leading the list.

Maio 31, 2020, 1:41pm

>5 bernsad: I need to read more Beevor. I've only read his history of the Spanish Civil War, and I thought that was very good.

I finished The Republic: The Fight for Irish Independence, 1918-1923 by Charles Townshend. I read this as a follow up to Townshend's Easter 1916: The Irish Rebellion. The two books were recommended to me, along with Tom Barry's Guerilla Days in Ireland, by a bookseller in a great store in Cork City when my wife and I were there on vacation a few years back. I had asked him about the best books to read to learn about the events of those years.

The Republic is very detailed and so is not particularly a fast read. Interestingly, during the course of the narrative, Townshend often compares earlier published histories to demonstrate how knowledge and perspectives about particular events have evolved as attitudes have changed and new information has been uncovered or new interviews given. Townshend also does his best to unravel fact from legend. Probably the toughest job for anyone, like myself, who did not grow up learning this history, is keeping straight all of the factions in the struggle and all of the chief figures. Given all that, my opinion, like that of many others evidently, is that Townshend has done an admirable job of it. In particular he shows the glories and the bravery of the revolutionaries, but also their frequent viciousness and incompetence. Also, the ways in which the English frequently and tragically misjudged one situation after another. In the end, it seems it was more global opinion, and British political exhaustion, than military achievements that got the British to the bargaining table and led to the treaty that created the Irish Home State, less than the full independence the fighters wanted, but perhaps as much as they might have expected given the totality of the Irish ability to carry on armed conflict and the British belief that control of Ireland was critical to their own self-defense.

This is a very good resource for anyone looking for a comprehensive and readable, if not always flowing, account of these fascinating but tragic times. Perhaps at least a bit of foreknowledge about the subject matter might be recommended, though, to keep the details from becoming too confusing. Anyway, four stars from me.

Maio 31, 2020, 2:32pm

Finally gave up after struggling past half-way through Churchill's First War: Young Winston and the Fight With the Afghans by Con Coughlin. Part of the problem is that Churchill's entire stay at the front amounted to six weeks so the first two thirds of the book is biography and filler and the author repeats himself at times. And also, this book was released in 2013 and the author makes comparisons to NATO and especially Britain's involvement in the fighting in Afghanistan at that time throughout the book. Some comparison would be fine, but after a while it gets to be heavy-handed. If you are really interested in Churchill's time in Afghanistan this might be worth a read, but there are a number of other books out there that cover this time period in adequate detail.

Editado: Jun 5, 2020, 11:27pm

>9 rocketjk: This is the first of Beevor's that I've read and I quite enjoyed it, there was a lot of detail but the story flowed along pretty well. I will be looking for more of his work.

I tried reading The Republic, I think you mentioned it in another thread, but ended up insanely bored with the detail where I would have enjoyed a broader narrative of the events.

Jun 6, 2020, 2:35am

I'm reading Warriors of the Himalayas, about Tibetan arms and armour. Very good for what's basically a exhibition catalogue.

Jun 6, 2020, 10:18am

>11 bernsad: Yes, I know what you mean about the detail in The Republic. I think it was trying to avoid writing just another account of all the skirmishes and ambushes that have been done up relatively often and try to get at all the moving parts of the politics and civic aspects of what the Republicans were trying to accomplish. But, yeah, there were times when I felt bogged down.