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.