Books: what are you currently reading?

Brian W

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I'm about half way though Robert Citino's last book on the survey of German operational art in WW2. For what they are, I think the first two were much more interesting, although nothing very earth shattering about them. The last two (dealing with 1943 and 1944-1945 respectively) are really beating a dead horse, IMO.

 

Brian W

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The last two (dealing with 1943 and 1944-1945 respectively) are really beating a dead horse, IMO.
Circling back to this because I've finished it, and while most of it is simply a broad narrative of the war, there are some very good sections on the moral failures of the German general officers. I recently read the German Official Histories of the same period, and think that places too much blame on Hitler for the defeats in 1944-45, while Citino's book returns again and again to the basic math--the Germans might look good plugging a hole but the dikes could never hold and they had no strategic answers from 1943 onward. While Hitler's stand fast orders were bad, most of them made little difference one way or the other as the army wasn't capable of large mobile operations anymore.
 
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Brian W

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I was given this book a while back and finally took the time to read it Sunday. I cannot recommend it. It is basically a dystopian future in which the southern states of the USA again try to secede from the USA and spark a 15 year long war with the "Blues". The problem is that the writer has, I think, no real understanding of the USA, nor of the South. The two warring faction are Syrian refugees recast as American refugees, and Muslim suicide bombers recast as Southern suicide bombers. The new democratic Muslim empire stokes the war for its own gain in parallels with US Middle Eastern adventurism.

Sometimes the parallels make sense, but mostly they miss the mark because of the tortured set up. The other huge flaw is that the situation really doesn't lend itself to sympathy for the South's side of things, even though all the action is seen from their point of view. The main character is monstrously naive, not particularly intelligent, and never particularly sympathetic.

I will add that I may be biased in my reading. There are atrocities committed by the "Blues", as well as the types of thing that plague US forces engaged in anti-"terrorism" acts today such as mistaken air attacks killing civilians (the book posits a fleet of solar powered drones ("the Birds") that because of the destruction of the server network spend most of the war flying overhead uncontrolled by the Blues, attacking random targets in the South killing tens of thousands of civilians). Obviously the book is trying to show how these thing appear today by the refugees that suffer from them. I may be rejecting the book because I don't want to look too closely at what the US does now in its "global war on terror".

I normally don't read a lot of fiction, and would not even bother posting this review except that last night, the day after I read the book, I was watching a "Summer Reading Recommendation" clip and one of the people recommended it. I do not.

 

Michael R

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BATTLE HARDENED - an infantry officer's journey from D-Day to VE-day by Craig Chapman.

This is a "I was there and this is what happened to me" book with a difference. Instead of the actual person putting memories to paper, his family built his story from their memories of his oral stories to them. The author (his son) fleshes out the experiences of his father with his father's units' history. I found it to be worth the seven dollars I paid for the electronic version.
 

The Purist

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"The Battle of the Huertgen Forest" by Charles B MacDonald.

If anyone has read his, "Company Commander", or his tome on the Ardennes offensive, "A Time for Trumpets", they should enjoy this small book. It's a bit dated but it covers the high/low points. One reason for the read is to gather more information the US 28th Infantry Division. The fighting at Kommerscheidt and Vossenack in the forest and in front of Bastogne (the village defences, Clervaux and Wiltz) would make good material for a number of ASL scenarios (in addition to those already in print).

My short visit to the Ardennes last December (15-20) re-ignited my interest in "Hitler's Last Offensive"
 

Michael R

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"The Battle of the Huertgen Forest" by Charles B MacDonald.

If anyone has read his, "Company Commander", or his tome on the Ardennes offensive, "A Time for Trumpets", they should enjoy this small book. It's a bit dated but it covers the high/low points. One reason for the read is to gather more information the US 28th Infantry Division. The fighting at Kommerscheidt and Vossenack in the forest and in front of Bastogne (the village defences, Clervaux and Wiltz) would make good material for a number of ASL scenarios (in addition to those already in print).
It seems like OBJECTIVE SCHMIDT from Bounding Fire Productions would be right up your alley.
 

witchbottles

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Interesting story. Reads a lot like a watered down version of a Glantz history, but that actually makes it a bit more reasonable to read as its not so dry. A lot of first-person accounts adds to the appeal is it documents dozens of actions that could be easily transformed into ASL scenarios.
 

Brian W

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So far, very good, if a bit too much detail. Basically, the incredibly detailed story of a sensational murder at the dawn of the plainclothes detective, sensational press, and of detective fiction.


 

Brian W

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Hankering for a Fantasy novel, a genre I haven't read anything new in 15+ years. This one got crazy good reviews, but after two thirds of it I feel it is way too slow developing. I see the draw as the writing is above average (although sometimes it feels like the author is trying way too hard to be poetic), but the story isn't moving fast enough for me to be completely happy.

 

Brian W

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Russia Against Napoleon: The True Story of the Campaigns of War and Peace by Dominic Lieven. Only about a third into it; the author seems way too sympathetic to Alexander I, but otherwise gives the Russian view of the Napoleonic Wars.

 

Brian W

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Former President BHO's August reading suggestions:

It's August, so I wanted to let you know about a few books I've been reading this summer, in case you're looking for some suggestions. To start, you can't go wrong by reading or re-reading the collected works of Toni Morrison. Beloved, Song of Solomon, The Bluest Eye, Sula, everything else — they're transcendent, all of them. You’ll be glad you read them. And while I’m at it, here are a few more titles you might want to explore:

Sometimes difficult to swallow, The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead is a necessary read, detailing the way Jim Crow and mass incarceration tore apart lives and wrought consequences that ripple into today.

Exhalation by Ted Chiang is a collection of short stories that will make you think, grapple with big questions, and feel more human. The best kind of science fiction.

Wolf Hall, Hilary Mantel’s epic fictionalized look at Thomas Cromwell’s rise to power, came out in 2009, but I was a little busy back then, so I missed it. Still great today.

Haruki Murakami’s Men Without Women examines what happens to characters without important women in their lives; it'll move you and confuse you and sometimes leave you with more questions than answers.

American Spy by Lauren Wilkinson is a whole lot more than just a spy thriller, wrapping together the ties of family, of love, and of country.

The Shallows by Nicholas Carr came out a few years ago, but its arguments on the internet’s impact on our brains, our lives, and our communities are still worthy of reflection, which is something we all could use a little more of in this age.

Lab Girl by Hope Jahren is a beautifully written memoir about the life of a woman in science, a brilliant friendship, and the profundity of trees. Terrific.

Inland by Téa Obreht just came out yesterday, so I won’t spoil anything. But those of you who’ve been waiting for Obreht’s next novel won’t be disappointed.

You’ll get a better sense of the complexity and redemption within the American immigrant story with Dinaw Mengestu’s novel, How to Read the Air.

Maid by Stephanie Land is a single mother’s personal, unflinching look at America’s class divide, a description of the tightrope many families walk just to get by, and a reminder of the dignity of all work.
 

Paul M. Weir

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I find it difficult to concentrate properly on a book so I chew at it a bit at a time. Currently by my bedside:
In The Shadow Of The Sword by Tom Holland. His stuff is usually a worthwhile read.
We March Against England by Robert Forczyk.
 
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