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What are you reading


  • 2017 2016 2015

    @ABWorsham:

    Just picked up a biography on Napoleon Bonaparte.

    I should read more on Napoleon. Richard Sharpe novels is where I have got most of my information. : )

    Can’t remember if I asked you if you read “Lee Considered” AB

    It’s a more critical look of General Lee, but thought it made some good points.

    Probably mentioned this to you as well, but Edward Porter Alexander’s “Fighting for the Confederacy” is an exceptional read and one that I would recommend to anyone interested in the American Civil War.


  • 2018

    recently finished Churchill’s history of the second world war.  available on youtube of all places.  i listen while i deliver.  very good.  also trying to finish The Histories by Herodotus.



  • @barney:

    @ABWorsham:

    Just picked up a biography on Napoleon Bonaparte.

    I should read more on Napoleon. Richard Sharpe novels is where I have got most of my information. : )

    Can’t remember if I asked you if you read “Lee Considered” AB

    It’s a more critical look of General Lee, but thought it made some good points.

    Probably mentioned this to you as well, but Edward Porter Alexander’s “Fighting for the Confederacy” is an exceptional read and one that I would recommend to anyone interested in the American Civil War.

    I have not yet, however I’m looking forward to picking up the book. Thanks for the suggestion.


  • 2019 2018

    Just finished Paul Kennedy’s Engineers of Victory: The Problem Solvers Who Turned the Tide in the Second World War. It’s a fascinating read, detailing the obstacles the Allies had to overcome in order to win the war and how they did it. Kennedy breaks the obstacles down into five chapters:

    1. How to Get Convoys Safely Across the Atlantic
    2. How to Win Command of the Air
    3. How to Stop a Blitzkreig
    4. How to Seize an Enemy-Held Shore
    5. How to Defeat the “Tyranny of Distance”

    I learned a great deal from this book (for example, I didn’t know that from 1943-45, roughly 75% of U-boats sunk were killed by Allied aircraft) and thoroughly enjoyed the read. I also found it quite thought-provoking, from an A&A standpoint. If you’re looking for inspiration/ideas for new house rules, particularly for R&D, read this book. If you play Global 1940 (or just Pacific 1940) and find yourself struggling to develop a coherent strategy for the Pacific theater, read this book (chapter 5 in particular).

    Two additional notes about Engineers of Victory: First, the Introduction may seem a bit dense and off-putting. As I read it, I thought, “this book is going to be a bit of a slog, isn’t it?” Happily, my first impression was completely wrong. The book only gets better from there, so don’t let the intro deter you.

    Second, the chapters are quite long, about 70 pages each. Fortunately, the author has broken them up with sub-headers, which make for good stopping points.

    Overall, I’d rate Engineers of Victory a must-read, one that expertly fills in the gap between stories of tactical-level combat (e.g., Band of Brothers) and grand strategy/memoir (Churchill’s The Second World War, Patton’s War As I Knew It, et al).



  • I’m currently reading,The Vanquished, Why The First World War Failed to End



  • Unlikely Warrior, by Georg Rauch. The memoirs of an Austrian soldier who fought in the Ukraine and Romania in 1943-44, and was captured by the Russians in summer of 44. Highly recommended!


  • 2019 2018 2017 2016

    Armageddon by Max Hastings. It chronicles the Battle for Germany 1944 to 45. I have praised Hastings before on this forum and this is another great book from him.


  • 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 '14 '13 Moderator

    I own that PP.
    Did you see that Beevor has written an Arnhem? It is out in May. Will be buying it, as I live that subject.


  • Customizer

    Hastings’ Nemesis for the end of the Pacific War; particularly interesting for the complex double-dealing in China, for example a huge percentage of American supplies sent to China were sold directly to the Japanese army.


  • 2019 2018 2017 2016

    Let me know what you think of it witt. Beevor is another master.

    Nemesis was the last Hastings I read Flashman. As always the author sheds light and clarity by cutting through accepted truths and looking at the facts!


  • 2019 2018

    Just finished Munich, 1938 by David Faber. A very worthwhile read, IMO. For those who think Hitler enjoyed the full support of the German people and army, this book will be an eye-opener. Likewise, those who think Chamberlain was merely short-sighted in his quest for peace will learn what a dangerously foolish, vain and untrustworthy man he was. The book’s money quote on Chamberlain comes from a Labour Party leader:

    “Within the limits of his intelligence, he [Chamberlain] is rational, but it is shocking how narrow those limits are.”

    All in all, Munich, 1938 is a thoroughly-researched, well-written account of the British (and French) betrayal of Czechoslovakia and squandering of the last real chance for peace in Europe.



  • Just got Storm of Steel by Ernst Junger in the mail.


  • 2019 2018 2017 2016

    Just finished Six Minutes in May by Nicholas Shakespeare. About Churchill’s promotion to PM despite the debacle in Norway. Forensically strips away Churchill’s obfuscation and lays bare his personal responsibility for what went wrong. Understanding the obstacles to Churchill’s appointment emphasises the qualities that still made him the best option.

    Chamberlain comes out better than expected. Although his government was not waging war effectively he does get credit for delaying hostilities in 1938 and then massively increasing UK defence budgets.



  • Storm of Steel is a good one for sure. I am just beginning To Rule the Waves How the British Navy Shaped the Modern World


  • 2017 2016 2015

    @Private:

    Just finished Six Minutes in May by Nicholas Shakespeare. About Churchill’s promotion to PM despite the debacle in Norway. Forensically strips away Churchill’s obfuscation and lays bare his personal responsibility for what went wrong. Understanding the obstacles to Churchill’s appointment emphasises the qualities that still made him the best option.

    Chamberlain comes out better than expected. Although his government was not waging war effectively he does get credit for delaying hostilities in 1938 and then massively increasing UK defence budgets.

    heh heh yea he gets credit for that alright.  🙂  looks like an interesting read


  • 2019 2018 2017 2016

    There is a fictional account of Munich by Robert Harris, barney. That is also well worth reading for its take on Chamberlain’s reasoning.



  • @ABWorsham:

    Just got Storm of Steel by Ernst Junger in the mail.

    Storm of Steel was an amazing read. It’s a great firsthand account of the brutality of the Western Front.


  • 2019 2018 2017 2016

    A Perfidious Distortion of History by Jurgen Tampke

    Found this a very interesting read. It attempts to dismantle the often accepted view that the Versailles peace treaty was so damaging that it lead directly to WW2. I did not find every argument advanced by Mr Tampke convincing, but there is a lot of worthwhile argument and analysis, covering the causes of WW1, the subsequent peace and so the causes of WW2. The general conclusion is that Versailles - being so very much less onerous than treaties imposed by Germany on its defeated enemies - did not deal with the underlying causes of European conflagration, allowing those to come to the fore again.

    For anyone interested, here is The Times review of this book:

    https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/a-perfidious-distortion-of-history-the-versailles-peace-treaty-and-the-success-of-the-nazis-by-juergen-tampke-80sm5rt0n


  • 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 '14 Customizer '13 '12 '11 '10

    @Private:

    Found this a very interesting read. It attempts to dismantle the often accepted view that the Versailles peace treaty was so damaging that it lead directly to WW2. I did not find every argument advanced by Mr Tampke convincing, but there is a lot of worthwhile argument and analysis, covering the causes of WW1, the subsequent peace and so the causes of WW2. The general conclusion is that Versailles - being so very much less onerous than treaties imposed by Germany on its defeated enemies - did not deal with the underlying causes of European conflagration, allowing those to come to the fore again.

    The Times website won’t let me read more than the opening paragraph of the article, so it’s hard to evaluate the book’s arguments, but I’d say that while Versailles certainly contributed to the eventual outbreak of WWII it’s questionable to claim that it led “directly” to it, given that the two wars were twenty years apart.  The Franco-Prussian War similarly contributed to the eventual outbreak of WWI forty years later, but similarly did not lead to it directly.  The argument that “Versailles did not deal with the underlying causes of European conflagration, allowing those to come to the fore again” sounds at least partially right.  WWI caused serious cracks in the European power structure which had been in place for the past couple of centuries, and Versailles was arguably an attempt by the winners to patch up the cracks in their part of the edifice and restore the status quo.  The restoration proved superficial; WWI caused serious economic, demographic and political damage to all the participants, including the winners, and this damage left them in a fragile state throughout the 1920s and 1930s – which is one reason why Britian and France in particular were in such a weak position to face expansionism by the Axis powers.  It took WWII to finish the job started by WWI, i.e. the replacement of the European order by the new global order which emerged after the war – a global order characterized by the bipolar US/USSR superpowerdynamic and by the crumbling of the British and French colonial empires over the following couple of decades.


  • 2019 2018 2017 2016

    Agree with all of that Marc. The book would add a number of points, of which here are a couple:

    1. The key cause or WW1 was a Prussian military mindset and bureaucracy, fostered over the previous century and more, but greatly strengthened by Bismark’s wars in the pursuit of German unification. Germany really was determined upon European hegemony and the allies were right to defend a balance of power. This contradicts the generally held perception of WW1 being a failure by all parties to avoid war.

    This military mindset and bureaucracy survived Versailles, despite the departure of the Kaiser. For example, the judiciary and the army both demonstrated support for right-wing politics and hostility to the left. The false myth of Germany not being defeated in WW1 was assiduously nurtured by its governing classes, adding a powerful drive to return Germany to its rightful position of European dominance.

    I found the book rather convincing an this point.

    2. Versailles left Germany as the dominant European power. Less than 2% of Germany’s native population were lost by territory being ceded, leaving Germany with a much larger population than France. Within a a very few years its industrial output surpassed pre-war levels. Much of the huge reparations bill was structured with no expectation of it being paid, but included in the total to mollify the electorates of the allied nations. In fact Germany then paid only a tiny fraction of the reparations that the allies were expecting. The huge costs of rebuilding swathes of France and most of Belgium were actually funded by the allies.

    All of this runs against our awareness of hyper-inflation in Weimar Germany. It seems that inflation was actually encouraged by the Weimar government to reduce the actual value of reparations, which were set in German Marks.

    I was less sure on this point, although the book quotes all sorts of statistics.

    Sorry you could not open the full article.


  • 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 '14 Customizer '13 '12 '11 '10

    @Private:

    The book would add a number of points, of which here are a couple:

    A few comments on this.  First, I doubt that France and Russia saw themselves as defending “a balance of power” in Europe; if any of the Allied powers thought that way, it was Britain, whose foreign policy in the decades leading up to WWI basically aimed at keeping Britain’s options open.  This non-committal policy infuriated the French, whose objective was to get Britain solidly on-side for any eventual war with Germany.  (Ironically, that’s pretty much what Britain’s own objective was vis-a-vis the U.S. from 1939 to 1941).

    Second, the search for a single “key cause” for WWI is a quest that has occupied historians and other commentators for a whole century, with the pendulum swinging back and forth (according to the fashion of the day) between “it was Germany’s fault” (see Article 231 of the Treaty of Versailles, a.k.a. the War Guilt Clause) and “it was everyone’s fault” (see Margaret MacMillan’s book “The War That Ended Peace: How Europe Abandoned Peace for the First World War”, though she does attribute significant blame to Kaiser Wilhelm, arguing that his unstable personality would not have been an issue if he’d been the ruler of Lichtenstein rather than of the preeminent military land power of his era).

    Third, it should be noted that Germany wasn’t the only major power of the day where right-wing views were espoused by the army and other leading social actors.  The pre-WWI Dreyfus Affair scandal in France illustrated a similar dynamic, and in the run-up to WWII the right in France hated the left to such an extent that it was sympathetic to the concept of an authoritarian regime, which is exactly what France got from the Vichy Regime under Marshall Petain (who, when France was crumbling in June 1940, blamed its defeat on (as I recall) “twenty years of Marxism”).


  • 2019 2018 2017 2016

    Quite. It is this moving interpretation that makes this book interesting. Sounds like you should read it! 🙂



  • Currently I’m reading a book titled David the Great, it’s covers the life of King David from the Old Testament.



  • I’m currently reading The Road Past Mandalay by John Masters.


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