Monday, July 31, 2006

Insurgency of Titu Meer A Brief History of Wahabi Movement Down to the Death of Saiyid Ahmad by Rudrapratap Chattopadhyaya

Insurgency of Titu Meer A Brief History of Wahabi Movement Down to the Death of Saiyid Ahmad by Rudrapratap Chattopadhyaya is a history of a Wahabi sect that was involved in an insurgency first against the Hindus and later the ruling British in the 19th century. The insurgency itself is dealt with in a rather short section. Most of the book is devoted to a discussion of the rise of fundamentalist Islam specifically Wahabi practices.

After the insurgents were defeated in pitched battle they were dealt with through normal British legal channels. One receiving the death penalty 11 receiving light sentences and the rest receiving sentences of seven years or less.

An interesting work on an unknown insurgency within North American counterinsurgency circles.

For reviews take a look at My Insurgency/Counterinsurgency, Partisan and Guerrilla Warfare bookshelf.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Dear Canada: The Death of My Country by Maxine Trottier

Dear Canada: The Death of My Country by Maxine Trottier is a young adult novel describing the fall of new France. I inadvertently picked this thing up when I went slightly nuts in the Canadian War Museum, bookstore. It actually is quite good for what it is. If it gets youth interested in history that's a good thing.

There don't seem to be any copies of it available through ABE as I'm writing this but if you have an account you can set up a want for the book.

Friday, July 28, 2006

The Germans by Hermann Eich

The Germans by Hermann Eich this book tries to describe both the perspectives of others towards Germany and their own perspectives on themselves about the Nazi past. Somewhat of a mixed bag. It often comes off sounding like a series of excuses but then in a paragraph makes the comment that criticism is justifiable. Interesting more for the quotations and the general ideas expressed.


For more WWII book reviews Take a look at My World War II bookshelf.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Battle of the Generals The Untold Story of the Falaise Pocket, the Campaign That Should Have Won World War II by Martin Blumenson

Battle of the Generals The Untold Story of the Falaise Pocket, the Campaign That Should Have Won World War II by Martin Blumenson is a rather strange book. The author sets out to analyze the relationships and arguments between Canadian British and American generals throughout the Normandy campaign. Actually what this book is a catalog of "croaking". If one of the major players ever had a bad word to say about anyone else it gets mentioned here. According to Blumenson everybody was incompetent or stupid or both except for General Patton.

There's a contradiction in the argument the criticism is leveled that the high command specifically Eisenhower and Montgomery were not interested in destroying the German forces in the pocket instead they were interested in seeking territory but Patton. Has been called correctly a "cavalry General". Patton who throughout the Normandy campaign was more interested in charging headlong to grab more territory then destroying the enemy.

The book does contain a decent description of the overlord decisionmaking process as well as the reasoning behind some of the decisions in the Normandy battle. A decent summary in that respect.




For more WWII book reviews Take a look at My World War II bookshelf.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Afghanistan and Central Asia A Short History by Martin McCauley

Afghanistan and Central Asia A Short History by Martin McCauley is what the title suggests a short chatty history of Afghanistan and the former central Asian republics of the USSR. Coverage is primarily from the fall of the Soviet Union to late 2001. A decent book but it left me wanting more.

It seems to be in the process of being remainderd at the moment so it can be had for very cheaply. I bought mine from ABE for $1. You can use the banner below or click on the title.




For more Afghanistan book reviews take a look at My Afghanistan bookshelf.

Friday, July 21, 2006

The Hitler Youth Origins and development 1922-45 by H. W Koch

The Hitler Youth Origins and development 1922-45 by H. W Koch describes the philosophical beginnings of the youth movement in the states that would become Germany during Napoleon's invasions through the fall of the Third Reich. The impression is often given that the Hitler youth was something like a perverted Boy Scouts but the book describes it as much more. There was even an attempt to create a parallel education system for the more "gifted" amongst them.

We get discussions of the various activities of the groups and their involvement in the second world war. The actual involvement in military operations is glossed over. There is mentioned of the 12th SS division but there is no mention of its participation in the murder of Canadian POWs. Considering one of the tenants of the book is that the Hitler youth failed in its goals of inculcated Nazi ideals this would seem to contradict so perhaps that's why it was not mentioned.

Interesting if partially flawed.




For more WWII book reviews Take a look at My World War II bookshelf.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Hell in a Very Small Place the Siege of Dien Bien Phu by Bernard B. Fall

Hell in a Very Small Place the Siege of Dien Bien Phu by Bernard B. Fall is the classic work on the fall of the French garrison. Fall who was one of the best analysts of the Vietnam conflict both from the French and American involvement until his death has written here the major work on the siege. This book is still required reading even after so many years.

Basically if you want to understand the battle why and how it was fought you must read this book. He also debunks various myths that had already grown-up around the campaign such as the foreign Legion being predominantly German [usually stated to be former SS]. Also the "paratroop mafia" and their effect on the battle.

By it you won't be disappointed.




For reviews take a look at My Insurgency/Counterinsurgency, Partisan and Guerrilla Warfare bookshelf.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Outposts of Empire Korea, Vietnam and the Origins of the Cold War in Asia, 1949-1954 bySteven Hugh Lee

Outposts of Empire Korea, Vietnam and the Origins of the Cold War in Asia, 1949-1954 by Steven Hugh Lee discusses the United States's attempt to set up an informal empire in Asia after World War II. An informal empire is where instead of direct Imperial control client states are set up who will follow the lead of the Imperial power. The book describes the outcome of these processes in South Korea and again in Vietnam before 1954. The book contrasts American attempts with forming this client state system with a actions of the British and Canadians.

This is one of the few books to consider Canadian foreign-policy outside of an internal perspective predominantly written by Canadians naturally. The author has done a substantial amount of archival research both Canada in the US.

The Americans had problems in setting up their client state system particularly with the South Koreans who often did things that the Americans did not appreciate. After the cease-fire was set up the Americans decided to exert control over the South Korean economy through control boards. This sort of nondiplomatic control is rarely mentioned in the literature.

An excellent book highly recommended.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

National Film Board animation online

The NFB has posted 50 of their animated shorts online. Some very cool stuff here. Yes this Sweater is included which I must have sat through dozens of times throughout my school days. Of course originally it had to do with Qu├ębec nationalism but considering multicultural Canada it can be viewed today to maintaining anyone's own identity from the pressure of the Toronto's of this world.





2 milestones!

I've received 1000 unique visitors to my blog so far. Not bad for it only being up since May 22. I've also manage to have two sales through my affiliate links. Which means I have a grand total of $1.60 Canadian in my account. It's a start anyway.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

The Complete Paratime by H. Beam Piper

The Complete Paratime by H. Beam Piper contains several short stories as well as a short novel in which uses the backdrop of Piper's Paratime universe. Basically this is a sort of multiple realities science-fiction witches become quite common these days. After all Star Trek has been making episodes about this for 40 years but when these stories was written the concept was quite new. Piper does a good job describing things. Basically there are five major timelines where a Martian invasion took over the planet Earth. There are five different outcomes and millions of minor variations inside each major time stream. The short stories are a mixture of police procedural [the police force is charged with keeping the secret of multiple realities] and part discussion of the outcome of changes past history affecting the current timelines. All sorts of fund for any historian. The alternate history genre at its best.




I've also reviewed Supertoys Last All Summer Long And Other Stories of Future Time by Brian Aldiss

For more Science Fiction and Fantasy book reviews take a look at My Science Fiction and Fantasy bookshelf.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Dear Crazy-As-Bat-Shit-Lady: The fridge doesn't come with a pedigree!

Amusing and very angry complaints about a difficult buyer. Something tells me this sort of thing happens on eBay everyday. Very funny and very rude you been warned.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Fire in the City Savonarola and the Struggle for the Soul of Renaissance Florence by Lauro Martines

Fire in the City Savonarola and the Struggle for the Soul of Renaissance Florence by Lauro Martines describes the career and death of the Renaissance religious figure Savonarola. Who is not a Democrat in the usual sense but at least wanted a wider participation in politics by individuals. He also railed against the corruption and hypocrisy of the Catholic Church and papacy which eventually led to his death as a heretic.

The work lays out his career as well as a political background to the times in which he lived. An excellent well-thought-out history. Even if it does take a few shots at academics for spending more time talking amongst themselves then writing accessible works for the general public. I don't know much about this topic but this book certainly helped.

Friday, July 07, 2006

German Anti-Partisan Warfare in Europe 1939 - 1945 by Colin Heaton

German Anti-Partisan Warfare in Europe 1939 - 1945 by Colin Heaton I'm very ambivalent about this book. On the one hand it is one of the few works to deal with Nazi counterinsurgency in Europe as a whole however there are some major flaws in the authors arguments.

First off he tries to draw a line between guerrillas and partisans defining one as groups working for the overthrow of a government and being supported by an external leadership while guerrillas are fighting for their own victory. The problem is that he can't seem to make up his mind which groups go under which category. Since he is actually talking on the tactical level almost all of the time it's hard to understand what difference it makes.

The author has obviously done a massive amount of research in archives as well as actual interviews with participants which he should be commended for but there are a few bizarre statements. One in particular that Athens was the most abused city in Europe throughout the war. Funny I always thought that Coventry, Dresden, Stalingrad and Leningrad are in Europe.

It's strange to say that this book sounds like a summary even though it is over 110,000 words long but the author seems to be rushed. He comes up with some intriguing ideas such as the French resistance was not particularly effective but quickly changes the topic. An entire book could be written on that alone. Perhaps most strangely of all the publisher inexplicably did not include an index.

In the introduction the author mentions that he will be conducting more research as well as interviewing more people so a second edition may be coming hopefully improvements will be able to be made. The problems with this work are fixable and should be fixed.

Not recommended in this form.

For more WWII book reviews Take a look at My World War II bookshelf.

For reviews take a look at My Insurgency/Counterinsurgency, Partisan and Guerrilla Warfare bookshelf.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Hitler's Death Squads The Logic of Mass Murder by Helmut Langerbein

Hitler's Death Squads The Logic of Mass Murder by Helmut Langerbein deals with the issue of the SS-Einsatzgruppen differently than Masters of Death The SS-Einsatzgruppen and the Invention of the Holocaust by Richard Rhodes which I reviewed earlier today. This book is more interested in the trials of the members which were performed by the West German government in the 1960s. The author touches upon the same major historical debate but argues that peer pressure and group dynamics were directly responsible for the actions of many of the soldiers. Due to the privacy laws in Germany some of the witnesses and defendants [who were acquitted] cannot be named which is aggravating from a historical perspective but understandable. Both are highly critical of the judicial response to the actions of the SS. Certainly they are important works.




For more Holocaust book reviews, take a look at My Holocaust bookshelf.

Masters of Death The SS-Einsatzgruppen and the Invention of the Holocaust by Richard Rhodes

Masters of Death The SS-Einsatzgruppen and the Invention of the Holocaust by Richard Rhodes lays out the history of the murder squads used by the Nazis to kill the Jews in the aftermath of the attacks om Poland and the USSR. In most discussions of the Holocaust the death camps get more play then these SS units but the author points out that the reason for the creation of the death camps was a direct result of the difficulties the Nazis had with these units. The use of gas was actually found to be more traumatic on the perpetrators then shooting the victims in cold blood. Mostly because they were forced to handle the bodies afterward.

The author does a decent job describing the various atrocities as well as the background of the units. There is an ongoing historical debate about the involvement of "average" Germans in the Holocaust. Rhodes shows that the average member of the death squads were already human scum prior to their involvement.

An interesting book on an often overlooked topic.

Dealing with the same topic from a different respective is a book Hitler's Death Squads The Logic of Mass Murder by Helmut Langerbein




For more Holocaust book reviews, take a look at My Holocaust bookshelf.

Ancient Rome by Christopher S. Mackay

Ancient Rome by Christopher S. Mackay single volume from the movement of people's that would become Roman through the fall of the Western Roman Empire in fifth century A.D. This is a monumental task however the author manages to accomplishe it.

He points out in his introduction that he could qualify just about every statement which would become aggravating. In the first 40 pages he does this seemingly for every sentence which had me quite concerned about the rest of the book but when we actually got through the second century B.C. things calm down and the text is quite readable.

There are one or two innovations such as instead of simply referring to the Emperor Augustus as Octavian for his early life the author gives him an intermediate name for part of the narrative. This is irritating since no one else to my knowledge has done this before. Which makes it rather confusing. As the subtitle suggests this is a political and military history which I quite enjoyed we get much more then the list of Emperor's after the first 12 which many books today do. He only really touches on social history where it causes problems in the political or military sphere such as changes in landholding which forced soldiers to be more interested in supporting their general. The General needed to help them receive compensation after campaigning which made them loyal to him personally instead of to the Republic.

There is a substantial list of books for further reading. This is a terrific introductory work and is very highly recommended.




For more ancient history book reviews Take a look at My Ancient History bookshelf.