Thursday, May 28, 2015

41: A Portrait of My Father by George W. Bush

I received 41 as a Christmas present in 2014. I took the time to read slowly and soak in a wonderful little book. Regardless of your politics, you’ll enjoy 41. It is the first time a President told the story of his father, another President. We get a unique picture through the eyes and words of 43, George W. Bush. Warning, spoilers follow in every paragraph!

It is a unique and intimate biography. The book covers the entire scope of the elder President Bush’s life and career. You get some family background. You start back in school with 41. It includes his service in the Pacific during World War II. You learn of his courtship and marriage to Barbara. You learn of his pioneering work in the Texas oil business. 

You’ll cry learning of a daughter’s death to leukemia. You will be surprised to learn of The Robin Bush Child and Adolescent Clinic at M.D. Anderson Hospital. It is named for the young daughter whom President George H.W. Bush and Barbara Bush lost to leukemia in 1953. 

You will see 41s political rise as a Congressman, U.S. Representative to China and the United Nations, CIA Director, Vice President, and President. You see how he excelled at personal diplomacy. The book provides new insight on both the accomplished statesman and the warm, decent man known best by his family. 

Also, George W. Bush discusses his father’s influence on him throughout his life. This influence covers from his childhood in West Texas to his early campaign trips with his father and from his decision to go into politics to his own two-term Presidency.

A huge surprise for me was to learn that George W. Bush did not use email during his presidency. It is a wonderful book I highly recommend. It is an easy read that will keep you turning the pages.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

American Soldier by General Tommy Franks


President Bill Clinton promoted General Franks to fours stars. President Clinton also appointed Tommy Franks as Commander in Chief of the United States Central Command beginning in July 2000. General Franks served in that role through July 2003. In between was 9/11.

Tommy Franks led the American and Coalition forces to victory in both Afghanistan and Iraq. The part of American Soldier covering these wars are the most interesting because they combine military maneuvers, politics, action, and commentary. This does not mean that the rest of his autobiography is dull. They are not. General Franks’ writing is clear and engaging and his insider's perspective is informative and interesting.

In addition to his years as a war general, his memoir covers his childhood, his early years in the Army, his tours of Vietnam, his return to college to complete his degree at the University of Texas at Arlington, and how he considered retirement before being called up as commander of Central Command.

The "good old boy" from Midland, Texas rings throughout the book. We also see the diplomacy of General Franks. He provides insights into many of the individuals he interfaced. Those looking for criticism of persons in political office will be disappointed. Many will see his expressing admiration for his own staff, for President Bush and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld in particular, but he also has high respect for the office of the president leaving no criticism for Mr. Clinton or Mr. Bush. He lets us know he was surprised by the absence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and that no WMDs were used against American troops under his watch. American Soldier is a compelling book giving significant insights on the war on terrorism from the point of view of both warrior and diplomat.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

“Exit Plan” by Mike Sixsmith.

Exit Plan by Mike Sixsmith
It took me a several chapters to get into “Exit Plan” by Mike Sixsmith. My ignorance of Arab names, customs and the geography became apparent when I started reading the book. This contributed to my original lack of understanding of what was taking place and my difficulty of initially getting into the book.  I am glad I stayed the course. Reading the book enlightened me in these areas. 

It is apparent author Mike Sixsmith has a strong personal back in the Middle East. His military, intelligence community, and “been there” back ground are captured on the pages of the book. He does an amazing job of painting descriptions of the various countries. The detail made me feel as if I were there. 

The longer I read, the more difficult I found to put the book down. The author has you reliving and walking the pages of the last dozen year’s history. Extremism and Jihadism are explained in a way where I could see how people might get pulled into their sphere. The complexity of the issues embraced give insight into the politics and history of the region.

Mike Sixsmith was written a very detailed, creative work that adds a British element to the assault on the World Trade Center in New York City.  You journey into the thoughts and learn the motivations of Shahid Al Sheehi. He is a British Muslim. You share his experience as he moves through his personal spiritual pilgrimage at a London mosque to his metamorphosis as a Jihad terrorist. You join with M16 agent whose is hot on his trail to thwart any more disaster. His name is Bill Sloan. 

Whether on the streets of London, in the caves of Tora Bora in eastern Afghanistan, or the creek of Dubai, the action continues building reaching a fiery confrontation in Pakistan. The book is for anyone who loves military-political thrillers. If you read the first twenty-five pages, you will be hooked.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Embedded: A Marine Corps Adviser Inside the Iraqi Army by Wesley Gray

Have you wondered what it would be like to be in Iraq working with the Iraqi Army? Have you thought what it would like to get to know, work with the people in Iraq, and live with them? United States Marine Corps First Lieutenant Wesley Gray paints an insightful and sobering picture that answers these questions.

In 2006, 1st Lt. Wesley Gray was deployed as an U.S. Marine Corps military adviser to an Iraqi Army battalion in the Haditha Triad. For 210 days, he lived and fought beside Iraqi soldiers in the most dangerous and ruthless province of western Iraq. The province of Al-Anbar was filled with an insurgent population upset by a recent massacre of twenty-four men, women, and children shot at close range by U.S. Marines. They had been shot in retaliation for the death of one of their comrades in a roadside bombing.

In spite of the high tensions created by the shootings, Gray was able to form a bond with the Iraqis because he had an edge that very few U.S. service members possess - the ability to communicate in Iraqi Arabic. His language skills and his understanding of the culture led the Iraqi soldiers to call him a brother and fondly name him Jamal.

Gray draws on the brutally honest and detailed record he kept during his tour, including extensive interviews with Iraqi soldiers and citizens. He offers an all-inclusive portrait of the struggles of the Iraqi people to make their country a nation once again and includes a compelling report on the status and prospects of the U.S. government's strategy for success in Iraq.

1st Lt. Gray’s stories range from hilarious to tear inducing. I have two favorites. First, the story about getting information on who plants improvised explosive devices (IED) is chilling. Here the Iraqis tell Gray we are going about getting information in the wrong way. We should give them 24 hours to tell us who planted the IED. He is told we should demolish a house if we fail to get info. If that doesn’t work we should then demolish a block of houses. Then we will have the information. Second is the story of Major Gaines using the bathroom outdoors with a “toilet kit” at night and his getting upset as the spotlights are turned on him.

Gray also outlines Iraqi history, attitudes about leadership, and the outlook for the future of a unified State in the absence of American troops. Most of his forecast is grim.

The book is a good read and would be a valuable addition to all community libraries. It gives a realistic insight into what the USA is still confronting. The book gives answers about Iraqi culture, military culture, and is filled with a war stories and some exciting activity.

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

Never Surrender: A Soldier's Journey to the Crossroads of Faith and Freedom by LTG (Ret.) William G. Boykin and Lynn Vincent

Few people have been involved in as many significant US military operations over the past three decades as has LTG (ret.) William G. "Jerry" Boykin. From being a founding member of the Delta Force to commanding all US Army Special Forces, he shows that a person can be a committed Christian and a soldier.

Co-written by New York Times best selling author Lynn Vincent, Never Surrender: A Soldier's Journey to the Crossroads of Faith and Freedom gets your interest on page one and keeps it through the entire book. The book's structure helps with the presentation. It is divided in thirteen sections. Each section covers one of the stages of Jerry Boykin's life or a major US operation he was involved in. Each section is divided into short, action-packed chapters.

The book tells story after story of how famous military operations went down. The Iran Hostage Crisis, Sudan, Grenada, Panama, Waco and the Branch Davidians, Columbia, Somalia, the Balkans and more give great insight into contemporary US military history.

Jerry Boykin is a born-again Christian. The role of his faith is very tastefully woven into each story. You will not feel preached at, but rather have an appreciation of how his belief in God sustained and directed him through the years.

One of my favorite stories in the book involved Panama, the playing of loud, rock music and Manuel Noriega. The media thought the US Army was using the loud music as a psychological weapon against Noriega. The original intent of the music was to keep the media from being able to eavesdrop on the conversations between Boykin and the Vatican embassy where Noriega was hold-up.

The most insightful section was on Mogadishu, Somalia. It gives the real story that the movie Blackhawk Down omits. Boykin was the leader of the mission. He had to make the tough decision of leaving a man down in order to save others. He said that was the worst thing he has ever experienced.

Boykin has never been afraid to admit he is a Christian. Some things he said during the most recent war in Iraq upset people. He said that he believed God put George Bush in the White House. The news media quoted that statement. What the media didn't quote was that he continued by saying God put Bill Clinton and every other American leader in their positions. Boykin was pretty much beat up in the press over this. He was completely exonerated by internal military investigations.

I highly recommend the book. It provides fascinating insight into military tactics and life behind the scenes of Delta Force. Read and reviewed by Jimmie A. Kepler.

Monday, May 04, 2015

White Heat: The Friendship of Emily Dickinson and Thomas Wentworth Higginson by Brenda Wineapple

He had seen men enslaved, and seen death in battle on a terrible scale. So when a young, unknown poet named Emily Dickinson wrote to ask whether he thought her verse was “alive”, Thomas Wentworth Higginson – a critic for The Atlantic Monthly and a decorated Union veteran – knew he was seeing poetry that lived and breathed like nothing he had seen before.

Higginson was immediately awed by Emily Dickinson, and went on to become her editor, mentor, and one of the reclusive poet’s closest confidantes. The two met only twice, but exchanged hundreds of deeply personal letters over the next twenty-five years; they commented on each other’s work, mulled over writers they admired, and dazzled each other with nimble turns of phrase. After she died, he shepherded the first collected edition of her poetry into publication, and was a tireless champion of her work in his influential Recent Poems column for The Nation.

Later generations of literary scholars have dismissed Higginson as a dull, ordinary mind, blaming him for the decision to strip some of the distinctive, unusual structure from Dickinson’s poems for publication. However, Brenda Wineapple offers a portrait of Higginson that is far beyond ordinary. He was a widely respected writer, a fervent abolitionist, and a secret accomplice to John Brown’s raid on Harpers Ferry; wounded in the first year of the Civil War, he returned to service as colonel of the first federally-authorized regiment of former slaves. White Heat reveals a rich, remarkable friendship between the citizen soldier and the poet, a correspondence from which Dickinson drew tremendous passion and inspiration – and which she credited, more than once, with saving her life.

Brenda Wineapple is the author and editor of five books, including the award-winning Hawthorne: A Life and Sister Brother: Gertrude and Leo Stein. Her essays, articles, and reviews have appeared in The American Scholar, The New York Times Book Review, Parnassus, Poetry, and The Nation. She teaches in the MFA programs at Columbia University and The New School in New York.

Source: Pritzker Military Library .

Sunday, May 03, 2015

Zenith Press will be giving away copies of historically-accurate graphic history books by Wayne Vansant on May 3, 2015

Zenith Press has something fun this Sunday (May 3). Sunday is FREE COMIC BOOK DAY (#FCBD2015). Zenith Press will be giving away copies of our historically-accurate graphic history books by Wayne Vansant.

10 lucky winners will get a free copy of each of Vansant's 6 books and 1 lucky winner will have their face drawn into the Vansant book cover of their choice.

The winner could choose to be a soldier on the Normandy battlefield or the Red Baron flying through the sky or maybe Robert E. Lee on Gettysburg grounds!. After Wayne Vansant personalizes the cover with the winners face, we will print it in large format and frame it for the winner.

The direct link to the rafflecopter giveaway on Zenith Press' Facebook page is here (it won't work until Sunday): http://gvwy.io/fmzg29


9780760343920
Pub Date: 9/15/12
$19.99
104 Pages

Normandy

A Graphic History of D-Day,
The Allied Invasion of Hitler's Fortress Europe by Wayne Vansant

Summary

Normandy depicts the planning and execution of Operation Overlord in 96 full color pages. The initial paratrooper assault is shown, as well as the storming of the five D-Day beaches: Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno, and Sword. But the story does not end there. Once the Allies got ashore, they had to stay ashore. The Germans made every effort to push them back into the sea. This book depicts tsuch key events in the Allied liberation of Europe as:

1. Construction of the Mulberry Harbors, two giant artificial harbors built in England and floated across the English Channel so that troops, vehicles, and supplies could be offloaded across the invasion beaches.
2. The Capture of Cherbourg, the nearest French port, against a labyrinth of Gernan pillboxes.
3. The American fight through the heavy bocage (hedgerow country) to take the vital town of Saint Lô.
4. The British Canadian struggle for the city of Caen against the “Hitler Youth Division,” made up of 23,000 seventeen and eighteen-year-old Nazi fanatics.
5. The breakout of General Patton’s Third Army and the desperate US 30th Division’s defense o...

Contributor Bio:

Writer and artist Wayne Vansant was the primary artist for Marvel's The 'Nam for more than five years. Since then, he has written and illustrated many historically accurate graphic histories, such as The Hammer and the Anvil; The Vietnam War: A Graphic History; Normandy: A Graphic History of D-Day, The Allied Invasion of Hitler's Fortress Europe (Zenith Press, 2012); Gettysburg: The Graphic History of America's Most Famous Battle and the Turning Point of the Civil War (Zenith Press, 2013); Grant vs. Lee: The Graphic History of the Civil War's Greatest Rivals During the Last Year of the War (Zenith Press, 2013); Bombing Nazi Germany: The Graphic History of the Allied Air Campaign That Defeated Hitler in World War II (Zenith Press, 2013); and The Red Baron:The Graphic History of Richthofen's Flying Circus and the Air War in WWI (Zenith Press, 2014). He is currently working on The Battle of the Bulge: A Graphic History of Allied Victory in the Ardennes, 



9780760344064
Pub Date: 4/15/13
$19.99
96 Pages

Gettysburg

The Graphic History of America's Most Famous Battle and the Turning Point of The Civil War by Wayne Vansant

Summary

The Battle of Gettysburg is a landmark event in United States history. Widely recognized as the Civil War’s turning point, it accounted for the most casualties of any battle during the war and spelled the beginning of the end for the Confederacy.

In this powerful graphic history, Wayne Vansant describes the history leading up to the Battle of Gettysburg, as well all of the major military events on July 1st, 2nd, and 3rd, including the famous fight for Little Round Top on the second day and the death march known as Pickett’s Charge on the third and final day. He paints portraits of each army’s leaders, such as Robert E. Lee, James Longstreet, George Meade, and the then little known Joshua Chamberlain.

Vansant concludes a few months later at the dedication of the Soldier’s National Cemetery in November, 1863, when Abraham Lincoln delivered one of the most iconic speeches of all time, the Gettysburg Address. Gettysburg delivers one of the hallmark events of American history in an exciting and innovative format.

"Wayne Vansant has authored a graphic account of the Battle of Gettysburg wi...

Contributor Bio:

Writer and artist Wayne Vansant was the primary artist for Marvel's The 'Nam for more than five years. Since then, he has written and illustrated many historically accurate graphic histories, such as The Hammer and the Anvil; The Vietnam War: A Graphic History; Normandy: A Graphic History of D-Day, The Allied Invasion of Hitler's Fortress Europe (Zenith Press, 2012); Gettysburg: The Graphic History of America's Most Famous Battle and the Turning Point of the Civil War (Zenith Press, 2013); Grant vs. Lee: The Graphic History of the Civil War's Greatest Rivals During the Last Year of the War (Zenith Press, 2013); Bombing Nazi Germany: The Graphic History of the Allied Air Campaign That Defeated Hitler in World War II (Zenith Press, 2013); and The Red Baron:The Graphic History of Richthofen's Flying Circus and the Air War in WWI (Zenith Press, 2014). He is currently working on The Battle of the Bulge: A Graphic History of Allied Victory in the Ardennes, 



9780760345306
Pub Date: 9/30/13
$19.99
104 Pages

Bombing Nazi Germany

The Graphic History of the Allied Air Campaign That Defeated Hitler in World War II by Wayne Vansant

In Bombing Nazi Germany, renowned graphic novel author and artist Wayne Vansant profiles the dramatic joint American-British Allied air war against Nazi Germany throughout Europe during World War II. Meticulously researched, illustrated, and written with the same unmatched quality of Vansant's

Normandy and Gettysburg (also from Zenith Press), Bombing Nazi Germany tells the story of the first and second generations of airmen, soldiers, and politicians from both sides who sought to bomb the enemy into submission.

Vansant traces the development of the wildly controversial Strategic Bombing doctrine in the 1920s and 1930s, the early stages of WWII and the dominance of the German Luftwaffe, and the eventual 1942 involvement of the United States' 8th
Air Force and its vast fleet of B17 and B24 bombers. Beautifully detailed with maps, schematics, and charts, Bombing Nazi Germany also explores how industry and science aided the Allied air forces in these violent fights, as both the Americans and British made crucial advancements in air detection and evasion methods.

Contributor Bio:

Writer and artist Wayne Vansant was the primary artist for Marvel's The 'Nam for more than five years. Since then, he has written and illustrated many historically accurate graphic histories, such as The Hammer and the Anvil; The Vietnam War: A Graphic History; Normandy: A Graphic History of D-Day, The Allied Invasion of Hitler's Fortress Europe (Zenith Press, 2012); Gettysburg: The Graphic History of America's Most Famous Battle and the Turning Point of the Civil War (Zenith Press, 2013); Grant vs. Lee: The Graphic History of the Civil War's Greatest Rivals During the Last Year of the War (Zenith Press, 2013); Bombing Nazi Germany: The Graphic History of the Allied Air Campaign That Defeated Hitler in World War II (Zenith Press, 2013); and The Red Baron:The Graphic History of Richthofen's Flying Circus and the Air War in WWI (Zenith Press, 2014). He is currently working on The Battle of the Bulge: A Graphic History of Allied Victory in the Ardennes, 



9780760345313
Pub Date: 9/30/13
$19.99
104 Pages

Grant vs. Lee

The Graphic History of the Civil War's Greatest Rivals During the Last Year of the War by Wayne Vansant

Summary

Grant vs. Lee tells the dramatic story of the final year of the Civil War in Virginia a bloody and unyielding fight for both sides through the eyes of the two greatest Civil War generals: the North's Ulysses S. Grant and the South's Robert E. Lee.

The long and violent campaigns that took place from 1864 - 1865 (the Overland Campaign, Petersburg Campaign, and Appomattox Campaign) represent the beginning of modern warfare. By this point of the war, both sides employed seasoned and hardened soldiers who looked past the Victorian sensibilities of the gentleman soldier and understood that there would be no falling back.

By the end of 1864, both sides built trenches and mounted attacks to break each other's lines. There was a stalemate that winter. Grant's forces had superior numbers and supplies and by March 1865 they pushed Lee's army out of the trenches at Petersburg and took Richmond, the Confederate capital. Lee's dwindling forces retreated west, looking for food and other Southern forces to help continue the fight. After a bitter final battle at Sailor's Creek, Lee's army was surro...

Writer and artist Wayne Vansant was the primary artist for Marvel's The 'Nam for more than five years. Since

Contributor Bio:

Writer and artist Wayne Vansant was the primary artist for Marvel's The 'Nam for more than five years. Since then, he has written and illustrated many historically accurate graphic histories, such as The Hammer and the Anvil; The Vietnam War: A Graphic History; Normandy: A Graphic History of D-Day, The Allied Invasion of Hitler's Fortress Europe (Zenith Press, 2012); Gettysburg: The Graphic History of America's Most Famous Battle and the Turning Point of the Civil War (Zenith Press, 2013); Grant vs. Lee: The Graphic History of the Civil War's Greatest Rivals During the Last Year of the War (Zenith Press, 2013); Bombing Nazi Germany: The Graphic History of the Allied Air Campaign That Defeated Hitler in World War II (Zenith Press, 2013); and The Red Baron:The Graphic History of Richthofen's Flying Circus and the Air War in WWI (Zenith Press, 2014). He is currently working on The Battle of the Bulge: A Graphic History of Allied Victory in the Ardennes, 


9780760346020
Pub Date: 6/1/14
$19.99
104 Pages
310 illustrations & 3 maps
The Red Baron

The Graphic History of Richthofen's Flying Circus and the Air War in WWI by Wayne Vansant

Summary

In The Red Baron, graphic artist and author Wayne Vansant illustrates the incredible story of Manfred von Richthofen, whose unparalleled piloting prowess as a member of the Imperial German Army Air Service made him a World War I celebrity, both in the air and on the ground. In his signature style, enjoyed by readers of Normandy and Bombing Nazi Germany, Vansant beautifully depicts the fearsome intelligence and midflight awareness that would earn Richthofen eighty documented air combat victories over the Western Front in the halcyon days of military aviation.

From his beginnings as cavalry member and a pilot in training to the years he spent commanding Jasta 11 from the cockpit of his fabled red plane, to his eventual leadership of the ultramobile Jagdgeschwader 1 (aptly nicknamed "Richtofen's Flying Circus" by nervous foes because of the group's colorful
airplanes and mobile airfields), The Red Baron brings the story of this legendary figure to life. Richthofen died young under controversial circumstances, but the Red Baron's astonishing skill and tactical acumen lived on far long ...

Contributor Bio:

Writer and artist Wayne Vansant was the primary artist for Marvel's The 'Nam for more than five years. Since then, he has written and illustrated many historically accurate graphic histories, such as The Hammer and the Anvil; The Vietnam War: A Graphic History; Normandy: A Graphic History of D-Day, The Allied Invasion of Hitler's Fortress Europe (Zenith Press, 2012); Gettysburg: The Graphic History of America's Most Famous Battle and the Turning Point of the Civil War (Zenith Press, 2013); Grant vs. Lee: The Graphic History of the Civil War's Greatest Rivals During the Last Year of the War (Zenith Press, 2013); Bombing Nazi Germany: The Graphic History of the Allied Air Campaign That Defeated Hitler in World War II (Zenith Press, 2013); and The Red Baron:The Graphic History of Richthofen's Flying Circus and the Air War in WWI (Zenith Press, 2014). He is currently working on The Battle of the Bulge: A Graphic History of Allied Victory in the Ardennes, 


9780760346228
Pub Date: 10/1/14
$19.99
104 Pages
350 color illustrations

The Battle of the Bulge

A Graphic History of Allied Victory in the Ardennes, 1944 - 1945 by Wayne Vansant

Summary

Fought in the winter of 1944 - 1945, the coldest season in over 100 years, the Battle of the Bulge still ranks as the single largest battle ever fought by the United States Army. Thirty-one
American divisions fully one-third of the U.S. Army raised during World War II saw action in this battle. This battle was truly a test: could this conscript army from a pacifistic democracy defeat the best remaining men and machines that Germany's totalitarian government could produce?

In Battle of the Bulge, author and artist Wayne Vansant brings readers into the frozen foxholes, haunting forests, and devastated villages of the Ardennes during that freezing cold
winter. With meticulous historical accuracy and hand drawn
visuals that can tell a story in ways words alone cannot, Vansant recounts the Bulge with insightful detail, replaying the thrusts and volleys of both the combined Allied and German forces during the tumultuous battle. This is a story of panic, fear, and physical misery; a story of how a generation of draftees, National Guardsmen, and a small core of regular officers and NCOs fa...

Contributor Bio:

Writer and artist Wayne Vansant was the primary artist for Marvel's The 'Nam for more than five years. Since then, he has written and illustrated many historically accurate graphic histories, such as The Hammer and the Anvil; The Vietnam War: A Graphic History; Normandy: A Graphic History of D-Day, The Allied Invasion of Hitler's Fortress Europe (Zenith Press, 2012); Gettysburg: The Graphic History of America's Most Famous Battle and the Turning Point of the Civil War (Zenith Press, 2013); Grant vs. Lee: The Graphic History of the Civil War's Greatest Rivals During the Last Year of the War (Zenith Press, 2013); Bombing Nazi Germany: The Graphic History of the Allied Air Campaign That Defeated Hitler in World War II (Zenith Press, 2013); and The Red Baron:The Graphic History of Richthofen's Flying Circus and the Air War in WWI (Zenith Press, 2014). He is currently working on The Battle of the Bulge: A Graphic History of Allied Victory in the Ardennes, 


9780760346648
Pub Date: 11/3/14
$19.99
96 Pages
b/w illustrations

Area 51

The Graphic History of America's Most Secret Military Installation by Dwight Zimmerman, Greg Scott

Summary

The actual history of the United States' worst kept military secret revealed in graphic format.Though nearly everyone has heard of it, almost no one has known anything about it . . . until now. Located in the remote Nevada desert near the dry bed of Groom Lake, Area 51 is the most famous military installation in the world that doesn't "officially" exist. In Area 51, author Dwight Zimmerman and artist Greg Scott unravel the
real history minus the aliens and scifi movie plots revealing
in detail how for more than 60 years, the CIA, the U.S. Air Force, and aerospace company Lockheed Martin have all used Area 51 as a staging ground for test flights of experimental or highly classified aircrafts.

Scott illustrates the Archangel12 as well as following aircrafts, such as the U2, the SR71 Blackbird, and the F117 Nighthawk stealth fighter, while author Zimmerman tells the history of how they sprang from the research and development conducted at Area 51. This
first of its kind graphic history strips away the fantastical aspects of this mysterious location and establishes the actual, s...

Contributor Bio: 

Dwight Jon Zimmerman is a bestselling and award-winning author, radio show host, and producer and the president of the Military Writers Society of America. Zimmerman has authored the text for several graphic novels, including the acclaimed The Hammer and the Anvil, a dual biography of abolitionist Frederick Douglass and President Abraham Lincoln. His other titles include The Vietnam War: A Graphic History and Uncommon Valor: The Medal of Honor and the Six Warriors Who Earned It in Afghanistan and Iraq. He is also the co-author, with Bill O'Reilly, of the New York Times number one bestseller Lincoln's Last Days.

Greg Scott is a comicbook artist who has done stints at both Marvel and DC Comics, working on such series as Gotham Central and Case Files: Sam and Twitch. He's also a film fanatic and he typically watches two movies a day. The aesthetic of film informs his work, more so than traditional drawing. Get sneak peeks at his blog: gregscottart.blogspot.com.

Saturday, May 02, 2015

The Civil War: A Narrative, Volume 3: Red River to Appomattox by Shelby Foote

This magnificently written trilogy of books on the American Civil War is not only a piece of first-rate history, but also an excellent work of literature. The late Shelby Foote brings an accomplished novelist's descriptive power to this grand epic. This immense three volume set should be on the bookshelf of any Civil War buff. It is the definitive example of narrative history and creative non-fiction.

I started reading this 2,968-page trilogy on June 6, 2007 and have completed it in September 2008. This is not a reading assignment to tackle in a single season. I read 27 other books while reading through this great work. I will review each book of the trilogy separately. Book One was reviewed the day before yesterday. Book Two was reviewed yesterday. Book Three is reviewed today. 

The Civil War: A Narrative, Volume 3: Red River to Appomattox. Shelby Foote takes the Civil War and scrutinizes it in a writing style that feels as if you are hearing news from the front in an ongoing war. This book is not for the mildly curious, you will get bored and overwhelmed by the dates, names and places. This volume is longer than either of the first two volumes. But to military history, history, or civil war buffs, it is as detailed and factual as you could want. This is truly a definitive work on the War Between the States.

The book handles personalities of both individuals and cultures and their effects on the war. The reading can be slow going at times as armies march toward each other and the order of battle becomes established with the commanders’ names and stations, but the battle details seem incredibly well researched and the accounts of individual soldiers/officers bring home the reality of this conflict.

This book is well worth the effort to read, it imparts a sense of what the United States has survived and clarifies many historical perceptions of the era and the people involved in this massive conflict.

Once more I wish the editor had placed better divisions in the book.

A final thought - I have never read a better, more vivid, more understandable account of the savage battling between Grant's and Lee's armies. Shelby Foote stays with the human discord and distress, and unlike most Southern commentators, he does not take sides. In objectivity, in range, in mastery of detail in beauty of language and feeling for the people involved, this work surpasses anything else on the subject. It stands alongside the work of the best of them. 

Friday, May 01, 2015

The Civil War: A Narrative: Volume 2: Fredericksburg to Meridian by Shelby Foote

This magnificently written trilogy of books on the American Civil War is not only a piece of first-rate history, but also an excellent work of literature. The late Shelby Foote brings an accomplished novelist's descriptive power to this grand epic. This immense three volume set should be on the bookshelf of any Civil War buff. It is the definitive example of narrative history and creative non-fiction.

I started reading this 2,968-page trilogy on June 6, 2007 and have completed it in September 2008. This is not a reading assignment to tackle in a single season. I read 27 other books while reading through this great work. I will review each book of the trilogy separately. Book One was reviewed yesterday. Book Two is reviewed today, Book Three will be reviewed tomorrow.

The Civil War: A Narrative: Volume 2: Fredericksburg to Meridian covers from December 1862 and the Fredericksburg Battle to the Meridian, Mississippi campaign and the US Grant’s promotion to Lieutenant General. The late Shelby Foote continues writing in a down home, comfortable style that is like he is sitting beside you telling a story. Again, I point out as in the review of volume one, make no mistake; he is a southern and tells the story from a southern point of view. The book is a work of creative non-fiction. It is a first class narrative. It is the example of how to write history.

Foote covers all the battles. And he covers what takes place in between the battles though with minor battles tend to be brushed over with the simple reference to their being fought.

As in volume one I admit some parts of the book were a great struggle for me to get through. At times between the battles it was boring. The time from Fredericksburg to Vicksburg and Gettysburg took forever to cover. Foote occasionally repeated himself and would chase rabbits. The time between the campaigns and battles, the endless maneuvers and debates were challenging. Once he moved on to the next battle or fight, the action and pace of the book picked up. Foote shared enough strategy and tactics as well as some of the intellectual processes the key players used to help us understand what leadership on both sides will do under such situations. At times it was like reading the strategy behind a chess game. The back stories of the political considerations were actually enjoyable at times and problematic to boring at others.

I recommend this to any American or person with an interest in American history. Yes, the battles may seem to be repetitious. Yes, the politics and maneuvers do at times get somewhat dry. They must be included to tell the entire story. We need know the story well to know who we are as a people.

Again, I wish the editor had placed better divisions in the book.