Discussion in 'WWII Books & Publications' started by Mahross, Feb 1, 2004.
Mass Effect: Retribution. Quite an amazing video game novel!
Reading: Duke, were glad we knew you. Which is a book that Ray kindly sent to me. Excellent book. It has many interviews in it from people who worked with or knew Duke personally.
I'm reading "Marshall: Hero for our time" by Lenard Mosley. Its my first book specifically on Marshall. Got it for a buck at a used book sale.
I’m not quite through with Hero of The Pacific: The Life of Marine Legend John Basilone; by James Brady. Brady is himself a Marine from the Korean war era, and a journalist with great sympathy for the USMC. He is however more than a little critical of the multitude of stories surrounding Sgt. Basilone’s final hours on Iwo Jima.
His position is there is no need to "guild the lily" with fictitious, false or exaggerated stories, it is obvious that this Marine was a war hero, and a fine leader of men. There is and was no need to do anything of the sort. He is also more than a little critical of the Basilone family’s treatment of his widow.
She (his widow) gave the entire $10,000 worth of death benefits to the Basilone family upon her husband’s death, and then wasn’t invited to the ceremony when her husband was re-interred at Arlington. When a USN destroyer was named in honor of her husband, she was ignored by the Basilone family at the launching.
I expect to complete this book this weekend, and return it to my local library. It is well worth the read, and does NOTHING to diminish Sgt. Basilone’s contribution to the war effort. It does call some of his more "exploitive" promoters onto the carpet however.
Reading Mussolini A Study In Power by Ivonne Kirkpatrick. An older book published in the 60s. Still informative though.
Reading Geirr Haarr's The Battle for Norway. Also read his first book on this topic The German Invasion of Norway. I have never before seen a number of the pictures distributed through the two books.
Quite detailed- a knowledge of Norway's geography helps!
Currently I'm reading Guy Sajer's wonderful memoir, "THE FORGOTTEN SOLDIER." Sajer was a 17-year old Wehrmacht Rifleman posted to a transport security unit on the Eastern Front when the Stalingrad Catastrophe occurred. His account emphasizes the universal truth that all soldiers, through all time, are the same: young, frightened and bewildered; constantly beset with screaming sergeants, terrible food, appalling weather and ceaseless fear. A great read.
Addendum: I am also reading "IVAN'S WAR: Life and Death in the Red Army 1939-1945," by Catherine Merridale. A comprehensive account of the life & death of the ordinary Soviet soldier during the War. Many interviews w/ex-Red Army soldiers & their families & volumes of newly-opened Soviet archives result in a new and unique picture of the Eastern Front as it "really" was.
Today I finished Tank Men. It was in many ways a special book. Mr.Kershaw is a former service man (Paras) and it shows.
Books concerning armour are usually centered around design and innovation. Tabels concerning armour thickness and penetration power of guns.
Kershaw focal point is to tell about the lads operating the machines. The book is based on interviews of WW2 tankies and the depth in the interview would have been impossible if Kershaw did not share a warrior background. (a phenomenon I have experienced myself)
In the index of the book there is an overview of the "cast" of the book. The tankers whom he writes about. I knew Bill Close and Otto Carius from before, the rest were largely unknown. This sets the scene for the book. A personal first hand and highly subjective account of the life inside the tank.
The book starts with the "genesis" of the tank, Little Willie through Cambrai and the end of the Great War. A lot of detail concerning selection and training of the first tank men, and the first tank on tank battle. This was for me interesting and a lot of unknown facts presented.
The next bit in the book is about the second generation of tanks and tankers. It pivots on the British gaining a massive lead through the experimental Mechanised force, and then loosing all of it through Old Guard Generals who fail to incorporate combined arms doctrine and tight military budgets.
The Germans had different circumstances and quickly takes the lead in shaping doctrine and tank design.
The author points out a few things often overlooked in armour discussions.
British designs did little to merge man and machine. Crew ergonomics were poor, and direction of design was "to make the tank as close to a horse as possible." We are introduced to Bert Foord a tank designer who brands the tank design and production as a "cottage industry" I found the impetus of Mr. Foord to be highly interesting throughout the book (he later worked on the Firefly project) and added to the first hand style of the book.
The early operations in the war are described and analyzed. The "Blumenkrieg" (flower wars) campaigns that the germans experienced during the Austrian and Czech campaign helped the Germans expand their understanding for crew ergonomics and logistical support. The Polish campaign blooded the Panzer Divisions and changed the TOE.
This is what the French and British (and Canadians...) got in their face during the 1940 campaign.
The book goes a long way to explain fundamentals often ignored in most armour discussions regarding the lead the Germans had.
The next bit of the book concern the British rewamping of their armour.
There is yet another generation of tank men coming in. Grammar school officers replacing Public school officers. This did according to the tankies a world of differences. A lot of first hand accounts of the useless cavalrymen can be found throughout the book and one of the gems is a blimpish officer shouting to a young tanker not to swing the turret around and around in one direction as it may unscrew and fall off...
We move on to the desert and the pendulum of war. The state of the kit in the MEF is best described by one of the tanks who needed a gallon of oil per mile.
The book goes on about the loopsided battles with the british having inferior kit and management until Monty and the Sherman's come along. Divisions fighting like divisions, clear thinking and a reliabale tank that can take the fight to the germans.
The book covers North Africa, East Front and sets the scene for the Western front.
Kershaw introduce us to the tight knit society in the tank and the bonding between the men. The backbreaking duty of the tankies averaging 4 hours of sleep having to service their tanks before they can sack out is one of the examples.
The Brew Up and injuries to tankers are described in detail. A grizzly subject that is recorded many places in the book.
A strong theme is the great tank scandal, seeing the allies invade Europe with obsolete designs. Monty's praise for the Sherman in 1942-3 and Patton's view of the Pershing beeing to big and slow for manouvre warfare, are held as strong arguements for the lack of new tanks. The Tank Destroyer concept of the US Army is also given a lot of blame for the poor tanks. This view is subjective and not discussed but stated as fact. (and one of the things I reacted to in the book)
The themes I have described are actually a backdrop in the book. The book follow the tankers through the war and are the main focus.
The human dimention is described in great detail, and the Normandy campaign is followed comparing the phsycological cycle from beeing a green tankie through maximum effect to fatigue. A novel touch and particulary interesting for people with service background.
All in all I liked the book, but found it to be "messy". The chapters are not summed up, but continnue the story.
The book brings up different faucets of beeing a tankie up until 1942. The rest of the book is injuries and combat fatigue.
Hanz Leiwig. Deustchland Stunde Null parts I and II. Incredible pics of German cities towards the end of war and shortly afterwards.
As time permits, Mark Zuelke's Terrible Victory about the Canadians in the Scheldt. Very readable and pulls me into a sense of being there which is different from most historical accounts not written by someone who was there.
"Bismarck: The Final Days of Germany's Greatest Battleship", by Niklas Zetterling.
Amazon.com: BISMARCK: The Final Days of Germany's Greatest Battleship
Fun read, very fast paced.
"SS-Panzer-Brigade "Westfalen"" by Wilhelm Tieke. JJF e-book. Some pretty interesting stuff, great source on the last days of the war.
And whatever else I happen to pull of the shelf and flip through. One could make the argument that I should focus a bit more, but eh.
I'm reading The Pacific War Diaries by James Fahey. Just purchased Helmet for my Pillow and With the Old Breed, will be reading that soon.
Currently I'm enjoying "Lost Voices of the Royal Navy - Vivid eyewitness accounts of life in the Royal Navy from 1914 to 1945" by Max Arthur.
About 1/3 through Given Up for Dead by Bill Sloan about Wake Island.
Currently reading Peter Paret's Understanding War: Essays On Clausewitz And The History Of Military Power.
As a fan of Paret's work, I am enjoying this book immensely.
Michael Breitman: The Architect of Genocide
Franz Kurowski: Panzer Aces 2
Rubert Butler: Hitler's Jackals
Spandau, by Albert Speer. Re-reading actually. One of those books that just demands to be read once a decade.
"Baa Baa Black Sheep" - Greg "Pappy" Boyington
"Bridge at Remagen" - Ken Hechler (age 96 - currently running for senate in WV! ) I read this some years back, but his announcement of candidacy called for another look.
I just finished up reading Max Hastings' "Retribution". Highly recommended.