Jump to content

Currently Reading


pmaidhof
 Share

Recommended Posts

Well, it's a capital unit that you can kill off for large emotional impact without hurting the carrier, which is usually the asset that winds up saving the day for the good guys. :P

 

I'd say that sums it up quite well. Sorry Pete. :(

 

I agree, it was just a rhetorical question whereas I read two separate books and find the same class of ship, one dear to my heart, take it on the chin in each book. It wasn't like neither was escorted, just both sunk for effect.

 

I pulled out my copy of RSR; Saipan is actually sunk in the attack on the first convoy that also sinks Foch and badly damages Nimitz.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Replies 100
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

I pulled out my copy of RSR; Saipan is actually sunk in the attack on the first convoy that also sinks Foch and badly damages Nimitz.

 

Split in two before sinking if I recall correctly.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I decided to start reading some nonfiction again and hit my library (literally my library... In the dining room) for one of the military history books I'd stocked up but never read...

 

This episode is Adrian Goldsworthy's The Punic Wars. I've only just begun and I like his approach already. Very clear on his use of sources, how he weighted them, and a few critiques of historical analysis by various folks/factions in the past plus going into some detail of the background material like how each side (and neighbors) called up armies, trained them, etc.

 

"Carthago delenda est"

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Just finished "The Pacific War", by a former Marine named William B. Hopkins. It's a look at the personalities of the leaders and their strategic decision-making processes more than a blow-by-blow history of WWII in the Pacific. I found it an interesting read, though it appears to suffer from somewhat questionable editing in places. I was particularly interested to see how negatively MacArthur was portrayed, although the author on several occasions was at pains to point out his better qualities, as well.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Still reading The Second World War by Winston Churchill. Onto the fourth volume now, covering January 1942 until September 1943.

 

The key thing I'm getting from this is an appreciation of the sheer level of logistics involved in a total global war and how much seems to have been left to the commanders on the ground. There's also some good bits on Churchill's managerial style (a lot of memos criticising lack of action in his subordinates).

 

I've just finished reading his chapter covering the U-Boat War in 1942, including Scharnhorst and Gneisenau's "Channel Dash", as well as Operation Chariot (the attack on the St. Nazaire dry dock). Hitler never really understood sea power, did he?

 

While it's understandably flawed; it's a key primary source for studying the Second World War.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

No new things in this article, but I think it's worth of mention:

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000142405...3460547864.html

BOOKS AUGUST 27, 2010 Contemplating Death From Above

By Robert Messenger[

Randall Jarrell's "Death of the Ball Turret Gunner" is one of the few poems of World War II to have achieved wide renown. It reads in its entirety: "From my mother's sleep I fell into the State, / And I hunched in its belly till my wet fur froze. / Six miles from earth, loosed from its dream of life, / I woke to black flak and the nightmare fighters. / When I died they washed me out of the turret with a hose."

 

As we are reminded in "Bomber County," Daniel Swift's eclectic account of World War II in the air and the poetry it inspired, Jarrell was moved by the fetal image of a machine gunner hunched in the belly of a B-17. With brute concision he captured one of the two great ironies of airpower: Airmen don't fight in a war-scarred battleground but in an untouched cloudscape, and the lucky ones return to home base after each sortie. The remains of the gunner in Jarrell's poem are washed away by ground personnel—who likely have never heard a shot fired in anger—no doubt while the dead man's crewmates are off dressing for a meal. The interludes of comfort are incongruous with a combat airman's life expectancy: a mere six weeks in the European theater during World War II.

 

Bomber County

By Daniel Swift

Farrar, Straus & Giroux,

269 pages, $26

 

Read an excerpt of 'Bomber County' The other irony is harsher: that warriors engaged in advanced and skilled air combat were pummeling a helpless (and mostly noncombatant) enemy many miles beneath them. Strategic bombing—aimed at civilian targets more than military ones—is a form of justified massacre. In June 1943, Winston Churchill was shown films of the five-month bombing campaign known as the Battle of the Ruhr, and, in his official biographer's words, he "suddenly sat bolt upright and said to his neighbour, 'Are we beasts? Are we taking this too far?' "

 

It is a question that Mr. Swift asks repeatedly in "Bomber County." The U.S. and Britain dropped 1.6 million tons of bombs on Germany, causing civilian casualties of more than one million and rendering as many as 7.5 million people homeless. The seven-month B-29 firebombing campaign against Japan organized by Curtis LeMay is estimated to have killed a half-million people and to have left five million more homeless. It was so successful that the Air Force had trouble finding suitable targets for the atomic bombings at the end of the war. The Japanese, it should be noted, had used strategic bombing as early as 1938 in China, and Germany launched its own vast air assault on England in 1940.

 

Whether World War II's strategic-bombing campaigns were justified remains a source of profound disagreement. In 1997, the German novelist W.G. Sebald delivered a series of lectures—published in English as "On the Natural History of Destruction" (2002)—about the absence of the Allied blitz from postwar literature and, as he saw it, the absence of a much-needed moral debate. His lectures caused a furor in Germany and elsewhere. While few take the extreme position of Eric Markusen and David Kopf in their 1995 book, "The Holocaust and Strategic Bombing"—that the Allied bombing campaign amounted to genocide—most commentators these days come down against the Allies.

 

In "Bomber County," Mr. Swift tries not to takes sides. He is more interested in conveying the influence of airpower—the most glamorous and technologically advanced action of the war—on poetry. Remembering how important verse was to our understanding of World War I, he surveys the ways in which bombing and flying played out in contemporary poetry, both British and American.

 

 

Not every "war poet" was himself a soldier or airman. C. Day Lewis, Mr. Swift notes, viewed himself as heir to the trench poets of World War I, yet he did not fight—serving instead in Britain's ministry of information—and his perception of the bomber war as a new version of World War I's trenches was not based on personal experience. This is true of Jarrell, too, who served in only marginal roles on stateside bases, inventing the images and events of his bomber poems.

 

T.S. Eliot, too old for service, was a fire-watcher during the Blitz, scanning from a London rooftop for bomb damage that might spread. What he saw invigorated his last great work: the final of the "Four Quartets." ("Dust inbreathed was a house— / The walls, the wainscot and the mouse, / The death of hope and despair, / This is the death of air.") Stephen Spender was in the National Fire Service, having failed his medical exam when he tried to enlist at 35. His war poems focus on the destruction of bombing, seeing both poet and bomber similarly bound up together as creator and destroyer.

 

The American poet John Ciardi, by contrast, was a gunner on B-29s hitting Japan and worried in his diary that he would never reach the 35 missions that made a tour. Three missions before his plane would be shot down, he was reassigned to write official condolence letters—"We need somebody with combat experience who can write," an officer told him. And so literature saved one life at the expense of another.

 

James Dickey saw aerial bombing up-close as a pilot. His great (if not well-known) war poem, "Firebombing," imagines a middle-age suburban householder wondering if he can really be the same man who spread destruction and saw the terrible beauty of napalm igniting beneath him. ("Reflections of houses catch; / Fire shuttles from pond to pond / In every direction, till hundreds flash with one death.")

 

Though the aerial war and its poetic legacy are Mr. Swift's central concern, he adds yet another theme to "Bomber County." The author's grandfather, who worked in a rubber brokerage before the war, died flying a Lancaster bomber after a raid on Dusseldorf on June 12, 1943. Each of the book's chapters has episodes of Mr. Swift and his father visiting the sites associated with the dead man's life and attending reunions where former airmen look back on their experience with a mixture of sadness and longing.

 

 

The book's multiple parts do not to fit together neatly. Mr. Swift's grandfather was not a poet, and the author's memoir episodes seem far removed from his passages about poets and their attraction to the aerial war. Yet "Bomber County" is never less than interesting.

 

Mr. Swift gives W.H. Auden the final word. He was skeptical of the special value of war experience to a poet. In "Memorial for a City"—a poem inspired by a 1945 visit to the bombed out cities of Bavaria—Auden noted how little the modern technology of killing changed the inherent facts of battle: "Plum-blossom falls on the dead, the roar of the waterfall covers / The cries of the whipped and the sighs of the lovers / And the hard bright light composes / A meaningless moment into an eternal fact." Auden was struck less by the destructiveness of modern war than by the eternal ordinariness of its barbarism. But then he never saw combat.

 

—Mr. Messenger is a senior editor of the Weekly Standard.

 

 

 

/quote]

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Finished The Punic Wars today and I have to say that I really enjoyed it.

 

The wars are divided up first by war and then land/sea which made following the "plot" easy and natural. The author takes care to explain both what would have been mundane (weapons, army make up, etc) and the larger implications (strategic outlooks and their effects, etc). Some stand out tidbits were the Rome social structure with regard to going to war (minimum property requirements for joining the army, private citizens funding the war effort when the state couldn't afford more, etc) and the different approaches to war (strong negotiation / total war). Also interesting is exactly how ignorant we are of Carthage due to the outcome of the Punic Wars being its utter destruction.

 

In the end, it boils down to two statements for me: "Carthage knew how to win a war." and "Rome didn't know how to lose a war." (Possible addition: "Hell hath no fury like a Roman scorned.") When these two statements are put into play and history sparked a bit, we get a procession of wars at the beginning of what would end up making Rome not only a huge empire but also sow the seeds for its collapse. The Punic Wars started with Carthage being a major power in the entire region and Rome being fairly small, concerned mostly with Italy. We all know how it turned out...

 

Carthage entered the conflict behaving as most city states did in the region where war was a strong negotiation technique, a war ends when the outcome is obvious and a treaty is signed to establish the balance of relative powers demonstrated. When Hannibal rampaged through Italy and then threatened Rome directly, Carthage assumed the conflict was over. The Romans thought otherwise including one tradition saying the land that Hannibal camped out on being auctioned off inside Rome and going for a normal price... This is the level of confidence/determination/arrogance Rome repeatedly demonstrated. Likewise, when the Romans camped outside Carthage, Carthage thought meeting some demands would end the conflict with a nice peace treaty modifying the regional power balance. The results of meeting those demands have echoed down history... The Third Punic War's end, with Carthage completely destroyed, is the most common example, but not the first nor the last that Rome would achieve.

 

The book also lays out the major battles along with the reasons and effects. You get to admire the skills of Hannibal at Cannae and Scipio Africanus skillfully kicking the Carthagians out of Spain. There are good reasons why these battles are studied even today as they demonstrate over and over again the value of intelligence/recon, speed, reserves, and pretty much every other basic concept of warfare. The Roman military's evolution is very interesting to watch and has made it onto my list of topics to find a good book on as I've seen/read more than once about how various conflicts changed the Roman way of fighting wars. (A prime example of this is the fact that Rome barely had a navy in the First Punic War but was punching above its weight (IMHO) by the Third Punic War and far outclassing the naval power Carthage.)

 

Enough rambling, book recommended.

 

Next Book is "Kennedy's Wars: Berlin, Cuba, Laos, and Vietnam" by Lawrence Freedman. Time to see if my "Blame Kennedy" policy will hold up... =;>

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks Brains for the great book report. :)

 

As you say, even ancient battles continue to hold good lessons for the fundamentals of war.

 

I am now about halfway through Robert Massie's Castles of Steel: Britain, Germany and the Winning of the Great War at Sea, having picked it up at the start of my recently ended vacation. <_<

 

Lots of detail in ther, which I love. ;)

 

Still reading Melville's White Jacket as well, but the old English does make it slow going.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Currently reading hardly applies... My girlfriend go me Dale Brown's Executive Intent from the library and it didn't last 36 hours before it was read and absorbed! If you like the Dale Brown approach you'll really like this one.

 

It is relevant in the current China is to be feared and Russia is hiding something atmosphere :o

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Over the past few difficult weeks, I did have time to do quite a bit of reading. First was Tank Tactics From Normandy to Lorraine, by Roman Jarymowicz. This book traces the development of North American armored forces from the cavalry-infantry-armor debates following World War I, in both Europe and North America, to the initial American armored experience in North Africa, to the Canadian and American armored exploits in Operations Goodwood, Spring, Cobra, Totalize, and Tractable, to operational maturation of North American armored forces during the pursuit to the Rhine in late summer and fall of 1944. The book finishes up with a theory of why the west did not produce a heavy tank, and a comparison of how the soviet STAVKA may have handled the forces and operational situation that the west did in 1944-45. I enjoyed the read, and prompted me to find a book on Operation Cobra.

 

That search led me to After D-Day, Operation Cobra and the Normandy Breakout, by James Carafano. The author broke the book down into three parts; Part 1 The Universe of Battle: Summer 1944; Part 2 The Day of Infantry: 25 July 1944; and Part 3 A Clash of Armor: 26 to 30 July 1944. Part 1 set the stage comparing and contrasting the commanders, fighting men, equipment and tactics of the belligerents. Part 2 explored the initial attacks of primarily of US VII, and VIII Corps. US VII Corps was to punch a whole through the German 7. Army front west between St. Lo and the Brittany coast. As luck for US VII Corps would have it the carpet bombing, which inadvertently killed US Lieutenant General Lesley J. McNair, decimated German Lieutenant General Fritz Bayerlein’s Panzer Lehr Division and the main attack fell on an inter-corps boundary between German LXXXIV Corps and II Parachute Corps. On one hand the author commends US Major General J. Lawton “Lightning Joe” Collins decision to change the plan on the fly by committing US 1st Infantry Division, part of the exploitation force, when the lead infantry divisions do not make the anticipated early progress, yet is critical of him in that he stayed with the planned right hook to pocket LXXXIV Corps north of the city of Coutances after US VIII Corps “supporting attack” had already put those Germans in flight to the south. In the end, the author heaps praise upon the field grade officers and below of the US Army who displayed the acumen and flexibility in the face of a rapidly evolving tactical and operational situation. Another very good read, which led me to…

 

The Germans in Normandy, by Richard Hargreaves. This book traces the experience of individual German soldiers, Landsers, in the West from about 1942 along the coast, to Operation Overlord, the “ill-fated” counter-attack at Mortain – Operation Luettich, the virtual annihilation in the Falaise Gap, through the aborted defense of Paris and finally the rout/retreat back to the frontier. Most of the material was derived from the letters and diaries of the participants. Huge take away in this book was the awesome effects of allied fighter-bombers, the “Jabos”, the utter failure of the Luftwaffe, the gallant yet futile effort of the German Navy U-Boats and E-Boats against the protective screens/anti-submarine forces of the combined allied invasion fleet, the after-effects of the July 20, 1944 attempt on Hitler’s life, and mettlesome High Command that the landsers and their field commanders could not seem to understand why they would not understand the strain and pressures on Army Group West during the attrition / “materialschlacht” that was the experience of the retreating Germans in France during the Summer of 1944. Another interesting read.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Next up is a re-read of It Never Snows In September, by Robert J. Kershaw. "The German view of Market-Garden and the Battle of Arnhem, September 1944."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...
Next up is a re-read of It Never Snows In September[/u

 

Good book, I would recommend it anyone with an interest in Operation Market-Garden. The book was written by an, at the time, actively serving officer in the "Parachute Regiment" (original Copyright 1990) and in the final chapter attempts to tie in the prospects for a modern rear area's ability to respond to an airborne/airmobile assault in the context of a possible, yet ultimately never, Warsaw Pact airborne operation behind NATO front lines and would non-combat arms/reserve/heimatschutzen types be able to mount a timely and coherent response to such an operation.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
 Share


×
×
  • Create New...