Friday, December 09, 2011

Bombs Away!: The World War II Bombing Campaigns over Europe by John R. Bruning

Zenith Press‘s “Bombs Away!: The World War II Bombing Campaigns over Europe" by John R. Bruning is a must have for all World War II and aviation buffs.  The book is large, coffee-table size volume. The book is full of amazing pictures.  The photographs give greater coverage of the people in the war than most books. The coverage is more about the aircraft crews and ground support personnel than the aircraft specs. You learn about the people who endured the bombardment as well.

“Bombs Away!” takes account of the fascinating human element. It also describes the types of aircraft used on both sides and used in every major bombing campaign in the European Theater.

The author discusses strategic bombing theories.  John R. Bruning provides a foundation by taking the reader through the different air campaigns in the Spanish Civil War, Blitzkrieg attacks on Poland, France and Britain before applying the majority of the book to the American and British assaults on the Third Reich.

Mr. Bruning gives the particulars on how each command determined on their own approach to bombing Germany (the US daylight vs. the UK night-time), the aircraft they employ, their particular achievements and disappointments. We learn of the eventual impact of the combined strategic bombing campaign.

The book’s manuscript provides a first-rate rundown of bombing campaigns in the European Theater. However, the book's selling-point is the illustrations. While some of the pictures have been seen before and are familiar. The author collects them in one place. The volume contains nearly 480 black and white plus color photographs and maps. They describe both Allied and Axis aircraft, aircrew and the commanders. You experience in-flight air battles. You understand the damage to different targets.

Mr. Bruning covers the major campaigns, the plans, the planes, and the people. He does this with fine prose, wonderful quotes, and dazzling photographs that bring the story to life. The book is a must for both military and community libraries.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Book Review: Mission to Berlin: The American Airmen Who Struck the Heart of Hitler’s Reich By Robert F. Dorr

Robert F. Dorr's “Mission to Berlin” documents the mission that took place on February 3, 1945 to bomb Berlin, the capital of Nazi Germany.  The author does a very skilful job of telling the stories of the men who flew on it. He shares the incredible story of American fearlessness in the last months of World War II. The size of the air battle challenges our belief as in excess of 1,000 bombers and multiple-hundreds of fighter aircraft originating from Allied bases journey to the heart of Nazi Germany. You also get a good overview and understanding of the structure and operations of the United States Eighth Air Force.

Author Robert F. Dorr gives a detailed report of its evolution. He takes us from the pre-takeoff preparation and activities to the concluding landing.  The book is well paced. The basic structure of the book is spellbinding narrative. The storyline presents a mesmerizing description of many of the aviators on this historic mission. His use of primary source references such as first person interviews and personal letters adds warmth and the human touch to the narrative.

I found the way Mr. Dorr combines his interviews and letters with the detailed duties of each member of the crew a great way to explain the duties and procedures of the B-17 crew. The way he tells the story you feel as if you are there from take off to landing seeing the point of view of each member of the crew. He does an amazing job of drawing the reader into the life of the crew. This alone is reason to read the book.

Another reason to read the book includes the good picture of how the war affected the young crews, the technical side of the B-17 and its development and deployment as well as the evolution of fighting strategies. It was fascinating to see the change in philosophy as to the use of the fighters and to see how the Thunderbolts and especially the P-51s made a great difference in the  survival rates of the B-17s once they were able to escort all the way to Berlin.

I enjoyed the appendix that explained “What Happened to Them?” It told us of what key personalities mentioned in the book did after the war. It was a pleasant addition to the book.

This is an outstanding book.  Every World War II buff as well as aviation enthusiast will want it in their library. This is the second book I have read written by Robert F. Dorr. The first was “Hell Hawks!” which I also strongly recommend.  Zenith Press is the publisher.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

101st Airborne: The Screaming Eagles at Normandy by Mark A. Bando

"101st Airborne: The Screaming Eagles at Normandy" by Mark A. Bando is a well presented book. It has a nice blend of photography and prose. It is organized into ten chapters. They detail the training, preparation as well as the jump into Normandy of the 101st Airborne Division. 

The 10.5 x 10.5 inches format allows for an excellent presentation of the photographs. The pictures cover the entire spectrum. Some are very familiar. Some are rare. Some are disturbing. The photograph on page 73 of a double row of dead German paratroopers is an example. There were so many dead in the photo than I could count them all!  I was surprised at the large amount of color pictures in the book. Amazing best describes the collection of photographs.

As good as the pictures were I especially enjoyed the story. The book chronicles the 101st in a way that blends a well-written narrative with first person testimonials of the veterans. Their recollections illustrate and explain the events of the chapter with a human touch.

Interestingly Bando includes one chapter on the 82nd Airborne Division and a chapter about the true story of the movie “Saving Private Ryan” titled “Saving Sergeant Niland”.  The book also contains a glossary of terms and an abbreviated index.

The book would be a great addition to the library of a military historian and is ideal for inclusion in a community or school library.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Guns of the Civil War by Dennis Adler

"Guns of the Civil War" by Dennis Adler is a wonderful book. The work provides a much need detailed reference for the guns used in the US Civil War. The release of the book is timely as it helps celebrate the 150th anniversary of the war. The book is a high quality publication with a stylish and thorough history of Colt, Henry, Manhattan, Remington, Sharps, Spencer, and S&W Firearms, and guns by many other competitors and contemporaries. The history and high-level coverage given to the armsmakers of the US Civil War era is without equal. The photography is high definition, beautiful, and world-class. The photographs easily would make an excellent gallery showing by themselves. 

I enjoyed sitting on the couch with my 85 years old father going through the book. We turned page by page and talked about the both the weapons, their descriptions, and the beauty of the photography. The book is an excellent reference. It will be enjoyed by historian,  US Civil War buff, as well as gun collectors. 

I have provided a copy of the book to my writer’s workshop to use for a reference. Any author of historical fiction will benefit from the detailed descriptions in the book. It would make a great addition to any community library.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Battle for the City of the Dead: In the Shadow of the Golden Dome, Najaf, August 2004 by Dick Camp

The year was 2004. During the spring and summer the Iraqi nation was overwhelmed with violence. The nation's Shiites and Sunnis headlined the sectarian fighting. The Army of Iraq had been disbanded by the United States Proconsul. The results of his actions were infusing a large number of angry young men into the streets of the population centers in Iraq. These men had no jobs skills, no jobs, and no prospects for employment. These men were literally angry in the streets. The clergy fueled their anger which developed into a rage and campaign for jihad against the United States and all "occupation forces". 

By August 2004, Muqtada Al-Sadr, a Shiite cleric, called upon thousands of Mahdi Militia, his armed followers and de facto private army, to resist the occupation. Fighting would break out in several locations. The holy city of Najaf, the site of the largest Moslem cemetery in the world, and the Imam Ali Mosque were major sites of fighting. U.S. forces found themselves fighting in 120-degree heat. The battleground was through a tangle of crypts, mausoleums, and crumbling graves. The fight was rough. It had the religious zealots against the motivated and disciplined United States Army and Marine Corps troopers. It makes for a spellbinding account of Americans in battle.

The book itself is excellent. Dick Camp tells an excellent story. The quality of the book is remarkable. I am referring to everything from the writing, the large amount of high quality color pictures, and even quality of the paper the book on which the book is printed.

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Finland's War Of Choice: The Troubled German-Finnish Coalition in World War II by Henrik O. Lunde

“Finland's War Of Choice: The Troubled German-Finnish Coalition in World War II” by Henrik O. Lunde  tells the little know story of the strange partnership and joint military operations of Finland and Germany between 1941 and 1945. The coalition of these two is rarely included in English books. This is not the more well know “Winter War” of 1940 between the Soviet Union and Finland, but rather the story that has not brought pleasure to that Finns. It was a political decision and union the Finns would rather forget.

Henrik O. Lunde is an excellent writer. He gives us the necessary background of Finland’s history. He gives a necessary overview covering the country’s severance from the Soviet Union in 1917. He explains Finland’s seclusion after the Winter War in 1940. Finally he explains the decision making process and unbelievable lack of planning and coordination used by both the Germans and Finns in forming this unlikely coalition against the Soviet Union.

We see how bizarre it was for that the German Generals allowed their military machine to accept an unsteady and rickety alliance. We see how the normal planning processes just did not happen. We see the failure to plan their goals and objectives. We see inadequate command and control as well as no overall coordinated plan. We find the normally highly professional German General Staff not following normal procedures and protocol at every turn. We see how Leningrad jaded both the Germ and Finn’s planning and strategy.

We see how the Finns quickly fell into “Goose-Step” with the Germans as the willing followed their leadership without question. We learn that their best trained and most powerful army made almost no major contribution because of its misuse in central and northern Finland. German lack the troop strength in this harsh climate theater to achieve success without the Finns. The Finns were unwell in provide the necessary assistance. 

The book concludes with the Finns battling the USSRs counterattack in 19944. We see how Finland lost all military gains. To the German’s dismay the Finns engaged in a separate peace agreement with the Soviets. This resolution gave the German’s no option due to their troop strength levels except to fight their way from the region. The casualties for this theater of operation were a staggering 1,000,000 plus.  Compared to the Soviet losses of over 800,000 the Finland/German total of just fewer than 300,000 were meager.

Former US Army Colonel Henrik Lunde has produced a well written, well researched book. It should be part of any World War II students library and is must reading for any student of 20th century European history. It is well done.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Update on Reviews - September 25th

My day job has been extremely busy. I was placed on a special project requiring a large amount of my at work and away from work time.

The positive is I have read three of the next four books on my review list. The negative is I have not yet written the reviews of the books. I hope to have "Finland's War of Choice: The Troubled German-Finnish Coalition in World War II" by Henrik O. Lunde written and posted by next Saturday, October 1. I have the first draft of the review completed.

Friday, September 02, 2011

Skorzeny's Special Missions: The Memoirs of Hitler's Most Daring Commando by Otto Skorzeny

"Skorzeny's Special Missions: The Memoirs of Hitler's Most Daring Commando" by Otto Skorzeny.  Zenith Press has produced an excellent new edition of the book.

Prior to reading the book I did not know of Otto Skorzeny. He isn’t a well known World War II German soldier. From a little research I found his memoirs had been originally written in German. At first, the book didn't grab my attention. Maybe this was because I had never thought of viewing World War II from the point of view of a German commando.

As I read the book I found Otto Skorzeny does something few do. He lets us into his mind. It helped me understand his point of view. The book is action paced. It experience commando action as if you were there. The more I read the more I came to realize this book is one of the must read, must have books of World War II. I would call the book historical literature and a required study for all World War II buffs.

The telling of the story of the rescue of Mussolini is worth the purchase price alone. You learn that Skorzeny was selected for the mission because Hitler was aware the shared an Austrian heritage. The story of how the German intelligence learned of Mussolini's location is amazing. You experience the planning and execution of the mission. You experience the concept of the operation down to Skorzeny deployed his unit.

After the Mussolini mission you journey with Skorzeny to France to put down a possible coup whose mission is the overthrow of the Germany loyal Vichy government.  The threat failed to materialize.

Skorzeny became involved in research and development of tactics and the weapons needed for commando operational support. You travel with him to the Russian front were he began commando operations. You next find him back on the western front. Here he used one of the most controversial attacks deployed during the war. He used English-speaking German soldiers to work behind American lines during the Battle of the Bulge. The detail of the plan is shared including its development, organization, equipping, implementation, and what caused the plan be found out and it failure.

It is always interesting to look at military events from a different point of view. Here you get the best insights into German commando operations. It is amazing. It is worth the purchase price and should be part of your library.

After reading the book, I believe no military education of World War II is complete without having read this classic work.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

War in the Pacific Skies by Charlie Cooper, Ann Cooper and Jack Fellows

“War in the Pacific Skies” is an excellent work on the war in the Pacific during World War II. The book is a wonderful intermingling of story, photography, and art.

The authors tell the story in words and pictures. The pictures and paintings take a part of the story bringing it to life. This is a well-written and beautifully illustrated book. It provides a matchless look into the Pacific Air War during World War II. You cover all the major battles/campaigns. The reader gets an excellent overview of the air war in World War II in the Pacific Theater.

Charlie Cooper (Author), Ann Cooper (Author), and Jack Fellows (Illustrator) have created a masterpiece. The book would make an excellent addition to any aviation buff or military historian’s library. It would make a wonderful addition to school or community libraries.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

"Predator: The Remote-Control Air War Over Iraq and Afghanistan: A Pilot's Story" by Matt J. Martin

Wow! This is one well written book. The story is well told. The book is surprisingly interesting exceeding my expectations.

My thought going in is a book about flying remote control airplanes from half a world away? What I found was a compelling story that kept my interest and had me viewing modern warfare through a new set of eyes ... and I am a former US Army officer! The book will make an amazing movie.

You travel with Gen-X author Matt Martin from his graduation at Purdue University and commissioning as a second lieutenant in the US Air Force through his navigator training and his RC-135 crew experience. We see how his passion to pilot an aircraft fly leads him to apply for the Predator.

The stories are amazing. I laughed when his growing up on a farm experience lead him to identify the suspicious object between the two builds as a manure pile that was generating heat. The chases of the green Toyota was both educational and spell binding. The story of the rocket man and their motivation to get the bad guys had me turning each page.

I loved the chapter with the Peugeot chase and surveillance, especially with the Abrams Tank pointing its main gun at the driver. In another chapter I was amazed when they blew off the front end of the vehicle with the machine gun surviving. The story of the double air strike’s success in taking out the mortar crew made me glad I am no longer a mortar platoon leader as I was 35 years ago!

I enjoyed the human side of the stories in the book. You realize how warfare has changed. You realize people go to war for their shift and then go home at the end of their work day. You learn how both restrictive the rules were on the US and yet see how hard we work to protect the innocent.

Lt. Col. Martin gives some of the best historical background on the conflict I have read. It helps explain both Iraq and Afghanistan. He also looks at the morality of war in a very personal way that helps show the human side of our military. The book deserves more attention as it is a significant contribution to the literature of modern warfare. When I first received the book to review my initial thought was we are too close to the war. I highly recommend the book giving it five out of five stars. You will not be disappointed when you read "Predator: The Remote-Control Air War Over Iraq and Afghanistan: A Pilot's Story" by Matt J. Martin.

The book has a few typos that a forward explains. They did not impact my enjoyment of the book. It looks like "quarters" being replaced with "Bobby" ... so you have the word "headBobby" instead of headquarters a few times as well a "quarters" being replaced with "Bobby". It was no big deal.

Well done!

Saturday, July 02, 2011

"The Pacific War: The Strategy, Politics, and Players That Won The War" by William B. Hopkins

"The Pacific War: The Strategy, Politics, and Players That Won the War" is the best book I have read on the Pacific War Theater of World War Two. The book presents the decision-making processes, strategies, and at times politics that guided the Allied Forces to victory. You are there decision by decision and campaign.

This is both an extremely readable book filled with recent scholarly research. It is as entertaining as a novel. The prose is amazing. I cannot over emphasize how well written the book is. It has an amazing freshness readers will enjoy and is a book you will read from cover to cover. The book covers all the familiar episodes as well as censored or little known events that played a major role in final victory.

The book begins with the first few chapters setting the background. The chapters that follow tell the story chronologically. The chapters are so well written they could stand as independent historical journal articles. They cover the various campaigns.

You receive insights into all aspects of the war. You learn about the big picture items like Plan Orange (a series of United States Joint Army and Navy Board war plans for dealing with a possible war with Japan during the years between the First and Second World Wars) and it's implementation.

You learn of the economic mobilization of the USA. You learn of the size of the role of Australia's involvement in the defeat of Japan as well as the size of General MacArthur's ego. You learn of the role of breaking code and how it was critical to victories in the Coral Sea and Midway.

The battle between the Army and Navy over command and control amazed me. The infighting between services was childish. It shows the need for strong command and control - I think of the removal of an Army general by a USMC general which from the facts given was justified, but caused inter-service strife. You learn how 1944 presidential candidate Thomas Dewey was made aware of the role of the code breaking by General Marshall to keep him from causing grave injury to the war effort.

The role of the submarines is given due credit. The problems with the torpedoes at the war's beginning and their resolution show bureaucratic failures and American ingenuity.  The decisions to keep US Army Divisions out of Burma and China as well as the struggles between Generalissimo and Madame Chiang Kai Shek and Lieutenant General Joseph W. Stilwell, Commanding General, China Expeditionary Forces. You learn the details of the Battle of Leyte Gulf and Philippines as well as realize General MacArthur's personal obsession with the Philippines.

I highly recommend the book. It should be required reading for every Army, Navy, and USMC officer. It should be included in every military and university library as well. This is a very import addition to the history of the Pacific War in World War Two.

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Four Stars of Valor: The Combat History of the 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment in World War II

Phil Nordyke's "Four Stars of Valor: The Combat History of the 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment in World War II" is excellent. It is must reading for any student of World War II. Mr. Nordyke does an great job as he takes us with the 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment (PIR) from its beginnings and training in the United States, through its deployment to North Africa, and through its campaigns in Sicily, Italy, Normandy, Holland, the Bulge, and Germany before returning home.

The book takes it title from the 505 PIR's record four combat jumps in Sicily, Salerno/Naples, Ste Mere Eglise/Normandy, and Nijmegen/Holland. Stars representing participation in combat jumps had been worn unofficially on parachute wings during and after World War II. FYI - this practice did not gain official sanction until after the 1983 invasion of Grenada, Operation Urgent Fury.

I took about six weeks to read the book. I found it a book that demanded I read every word on every page. Be prepared for some very graphic descriptions of the training and combat. You'll feel the heat of north Africa. I was disappointed as I read the Hermann Goring Fallschrim Panzer and 15th Panzer Grenadier Divisions were on Sicily, that General Bradley knew it, and because of secrecy of Ultra they did not pass this information on to the attacking forces! "This was a cruel deception of our own forces, but necessary in order to protect the secrets of Ultra."

Mr. Nordyke does an excellent job of using primary sources. At first I was a little confused when I encountered an incident that was described from multiple persons points of view, but quickly saw the value in seeing the way more than one person viewed/remembered an incident. It helped paint a more complete picture. Pages 300 - 301 and the actions of Private Camille E. Gagne's response to the killing of First Lieutenant John Dodd is one example. The coverage giving to the 505th's role in Nijmegen/Holland is very detailed and had me feeling I was were there.

The 505th PIR's involvement didn't stop after it's fourth jump into Nijmegen/Holland. They played a key role being deployed by truck into Belgium's Ardennes Forest as the 82 Airborne Division helped stop Hitler's in The Battle of the Bulge in freezing December 1944 and January 1945.

The book has exceptional maps and an amazing index. This book should be required reading for active duty members wearing jump wings. It is a must addition to any military historian's library and would be an excellent addition for all university and community libraries.It would a wonderful gift for anyone who has severed in the 505th.

Friday, April 29, 2011

The German Wars: A Concise History, 1859-1945 by Michael A. Palmer

This is not another book on the history of the German military. Instead, Michael A. Palmer’s excellent volume takes a wide-ranging approach looking at political, social, economic, and military developments across Europe, and the United States of the period. He outlines the history of the European political and military landscape.  Between 1859 –1945 the German were engaged in the War of German Unification, Franco-Prussian War, World War I and World II. They won two of wars and lost two wars.   

Dr. Palmer’s book is a small volume. Including indexes, it is only 248 pages. There is an amazing amount of information contained in this small space. While not a detailed tome, the author supplies enough information for you to get the general picture of a subject.  For example, he surveys the reasons for World War II, including the role of the Treaty of Versailles and the Kellogg-Brand Pact but does not get bogged down in the finer points.

Dr. Palmer's book has a wonderful blend of scholarship and readability. He communicates the information in an interesting manner. I loved the sidebars he has throughout the book. They cover a variety of subjects relevant to the wars. They expand and explain various points. For example, he does an excellent job of explaining the strategic bombing in World War II. In February 1944, the around the clock bombing of the Eighth sand Fifteen Air Forces quickly ground down the Luftwaffe to their knees. Learning of the role the air war hard in reducing German production output by as much as forty percent amazed me.

Excellent critical thinking is demonstrated in the last chapter title “Conclusions”. The focus of the chapter is conclusions that can be drawn from the wars.  He shows an innate error in the German plans for World War I and World War II. He shows how the leadership anticipated the wars quick conclusion. They failed to plan for a war that lasted more than a few weeks. For instance, German war production for World War II did not reach maximum efficiency until the war was several years along. Why? The Germans thought their prewar supplies would be sufficient for a short war.

The origination of the index at the book’s end is very helpful. First, there is traditional index. Next, battles, military units, organizations, people, places/geography, wars, and weapons organize the index. This makes it easy to locate information.

This is an excellent book  - well done, Dr. Palmer. It is highly readable. It would be an excellent addition to the library of any military historian, public library, university library as well as personal collection of persons with interest in European or Trans-Atlantic History. 

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Hitler's Master of the Dark Arts: Himmler's Black Knights and the Occult Origins of the SS by Bill Yenne

“Hitler's Master of the Dark Arts: Himmler's Black Knights and the Occult Origins of the SS” by Bill Yenne. Mr. Yenne takes a well-known subject, the SS, and examines it through an unusual point of view. Instead of just looking at the organizational structure and providing a time line of it’s history he digs into the historical background it through the scope of paganism showing the background and origins of Nazi racial philosophy and how these philosophies became the motivating force of the SS .

Mr. Yenne explores the roots of Himmler's racial philosophies as he developed the SS in the book’s first half. The activities of the SS during World War II and the occupation of Europe by the Nazis files the book’s second half.

The reading was enjoyably, those sometimes it was repetitive. An example is Heinrich Himmler believing himself the reincarnation of Heinrich I, the first king of Germany. Mr. Yenne dwelt too long on this subject. Stating it once would have been enough.

Mr. Yenne’ research of the subject shows. The book is full of interesting sidebars and visuals. The quality of the book, presentation, and photographs are spectacular. Once again Zenith press shows why they are at the top of the list of publishers of military history books.

“Hitler’s Master of the Dark Arts” communicates the philosophies of Himmler. It drives home the point he was the man who coordinated the Holocaust. His SS carried it out.

Mr. Yenne successfully tackled the subject from a controversial point of view. He made his point. Any serious student of World War II and the SS will benefit from reading the book. The book helps in gaining a better understanding of the SS and Himmler. 

Friday, February 18, 2011

The Cool Woman by John Aubrey Anderson

The Cool Woman by John Aubrey Anderson is a military action-adventure. The story is set in Vietnam of the early 1970s. The book's main character is Bill Mann. He is a pilot. He flies the Douglas A-1 Skyraider. His primary mission is rescuing downed pilots and military troops in trouble.

Mr. Anderson does a good job of making Bill a realistic character. As you read the book you’ll feel like you are in the airplane on mission. The author does a good job of holding your interest. You'll find your heart fluttering at some of the suspense. There’s a mixture of wit and faith in the book. It’s handled tactfully, getting the message delivered without being preachy. He asks the question and deals with the importance of God. The book held my interest.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

The All Americans in World War II: A Photographic History of the 82nd Airborne Division at War by Phil Nordyke

"The All Americans in World War II: a Photographic History of the 82nd Airborne Division at War" by Phil Nordyke delivers what the book’s title promises, a photographic history of the 82nd Airborne Division at war. The book is filled with numerous black and white photographs. The photographs are excellent and many that have never before been published.

The book is organized into 36 chapters. The chapters chronicle the 82nd Airborne Division’s from the division’s reactivation in February 1942 to the return to the USA in January 1946. The chapters begin with a one-page summary of that stage of the 82nd’s action. A skillfully produced map showing the locations of allied follows the chapter summary. It contains locations of allied and axis units visually showing their actions that are covered in the chapter. Next, the reader feasts with pages of period photographs of the action.  There are 30 detailed maps and 365 photographs.

This book is a very useful addition to or a great stand-alone volume for the reader wanting to learn more about the All American Division in World War II. It really is spectacular. It would be an excellent addition to any military historian’s library of college and community library.

I am a former US Army officer who graduated from airborne school in class 36-76. I found myself reading the book in one sitting. My father is a World War II veteran who served in the European Theater of Operations. He also could not put the book down until he had read it from cover to cover.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Into the Viper's Nest: The First Pivotal Battle of the Afghan War by Stephen Grey

"Into the Viper's Nest: The First Pivotal Battle of the Afghan War" by Stephen Grey is the story of American and Afghan forces cooperation in dealing with the Taliban stronghold on southern Afghanistan. It details the vivid three-day battle for the Taliban stronghold of Musa Qala. The battle started on 7 December 2007 This is an excellent, well-written book.  Grey skillfully tells the story of how American, British, and Afghan forces took the fight to the Taliban in 2007.

The town of Musa Qala was a notorious Taliban stronghold. This was the location chosen for everything to change. A local leader decided he was going to leave the Taliban. He was joining the Hamid Karzai's government. This defection needed coalition protection.

Stephen Grey is an excellent writer. He captures all phases of this story. He covers the discussions between President Karzai and coalition leaders. He covers the particulars of the deadly combat to wrest control of Musa Qala from the hands of the Taliban. He paints a picture of International cooperation as he tells the story through the words of the British, Afghani, and American men who were there. The publisher did an excellent job with eight pages of graphics and charts to showing systematically how the battle took place.

I highly recommend this book for any reader looking for a tactical-level viewpoint on the Afghan War. Anyone interested in Afghanistan and the war against the Taliban will benefit from reading the book. I recommend for community and university libraries as well as the personal libraries of all military historians. This is the best I have read on United States involvement in Afghanistan.