Monday, November 27, 2006

The Jungle is Neutral: A Soldier's Two-Year Escape from the Japanese Army by F. Spencer Chapman

The Jungle is Neutral: A Soldier's Two-Year Escape from the Japanese Army by F. Spencer Chapman describes a British soldiers experience attempting to help a guerrilla resistance to the Japanese in malaya [now known as Malaysia] in world war two. He didn't really accomplish much but the book does provide an excellent perspective on the nucleus of the communist insurgents which were the opposition for the British during the Malayan Emergency.

The title comes from the authors description that the jungle is not in an of itself dangerous. You have to know what your doing. If your interested in jungle survival this book is also for you.

Recommended.

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.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

The Pentagon Papers by George C Herring

The Pentagon Papers by George C Herring is a reprint of the New York times version of the Pentagon papers. This printing contains a new introduction, forward to each document and a bibliographic further reading section. This is based on a secret pentagon study about America's involvement in Vietnam. The coverage is from the end of World War Two through early 1968 and the Tet invasion. With the perspective that the intervening years has given the new material is excellent.

A Vietnam collection would be incomplete without this work.

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

Rorke's Drift 1879:Pinned like rats in a hole by Ian Knight

Rorke's Drift 1879:Pinned like rats in a hole by Ian Knight is one of the Osprey publications. This one is on the battle where the most Victoria Crosses were handed out. It is one of the legendary battles in Victorian imperial history. With many myths growing up around it. Knight does an excellent job dispelling many of these misperceptions about the battle and campaign. The Zulu attacked a British outpost and were eventually repulsed. Since it's an Osprey it's relatively short with pictures and 3D diagrams. Simply a must have if you're interested in the battle.

Recommended!

Is available through Abebooks.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Hot civil war has begun?

Will we look back on the attack on the Iraqi education ministry as being the first salvo in the hot Iraq civil war? With what happened on Thursday in large part a counterattack things are going to get very ugly. There are no magic bullets and anyone who thinks there are, are deluding themselves.



Some questions for Stephen Harper Prime Minister of Canada

Are there Quebecois a outside of Quebec and a strip of Ontario?

What about the francophones in northern Alberta?

Were you just blowing smoke or do you actually mean it?

If you did mean it what powers you giveing them?

What about the native peoples, Hutterites etc.?

Can I form a nation inside Canada? Those that know me can probably guess the official national costume.

Just what other parts of the Reform Party tradition are you getting rid of?

Weren't you against Meech Lake and Charlottetown?

Wouldn't this mean that calling Quebec a "distinct society" in the constitution would be a step backwards now?

Do you really think you can rebuild Brian Mulroney's big coalition?

Remember how much the west was enraged by Mulroney pandering to Quebec?

Wasn't that why you helped Preston Manning to create the Reform Party?

Does it worry you just a little that Andrew Coyne and Warren Kinsella both agree this is a stupid idea?

Did you actually do any polling before this step?

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Afghanistan bookshelf

Here are my current book reviews on Afghanistan. The links take you to my reviews. Don't worry about the posting date I'll put new reviews into the list as I write them.

Bahmanyar, Mir Afghanistan Cave Complexes 1979-2004 : Mountain strongholds of the Mujahideen, Taliban & Al Qaeda

Fletcher, Arnold Afghanistan: highway of conquest

McCauley, Martin Afghanistan and Central Asia: A Short History

Rothstein, Hy S. Afghanistan And the Troubled Future of Unconventional Warfare

Tanner Stephen Afghanistan: A Military History from Alexander the Great to the Fall of the Taliban

Listening In: Intercepting German Trench Communications in World War I by Ernest H. Hinrichs

Listening In: Intercepting German Trench Communications in World War I by Ernest H. Hinrichs is a primary source about a soldier involved in signals intelligence in world war one. This is probably the only source of its kind. He was German American. There's a nice introduction to the mechanics of picking up trench communications and the American units involved. There's also of course material on trench life. After the war he came home and criticized theTreaty of Versailles and supported Adolf Hitler's attempts to throw it out. Strangely there's no reference about what he thought after this second world war.

A fascinating look at an unknown topic.

Is available through Abebooks.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

In the Belly of the Green Bird: The Triumph of the Martyrs in Iraq by Nir Rosen

In the Belly of the Green Bird: The Triumph of the Martyrs in Iraq by Nir Rosen describes the authors experience in Iraq from the fall of Baghdad to the elections in 2005. he is a reporter and speaks Arabic so can talk to people most other reporters can't. He interviewed the people from all three groups in Iraq. The book is excellent not just because of its description of the slide into violence but because he translates much of the propaganda that the different sides are using.

Highly recommended key to understanding Iraq today.

Is available through Abebooks.



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

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

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Thirty Days: An Inside Account of Tony Blair at War by Peter Stothard

Thirty Days: An Inside Account of Tony Blair at War by Peter Stothard describes the British prime minister's experiences from just before the British vote on participation in the war to the fall of Baghdad. Until the memoirs start coming out and 25 years from now when the archives open this will be an important source. The author, a reporter received unprecedented access. A rather sympathetic character sketch of Blair.

Recommended.

Is available through Abebooks.



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

Afghanistan And the Troubled Future of Unconventional Warfare by Hy S. Rothstein

Afghanistan And the Troubled Future of Unconventional Warfare by Hy S. Rothstein describes the problems that they United States has had in its counterinsurgency policy in Afghanistan. The author suggests that special Forces are the only ones that can do counterinsurgency. This would seem to be an overstatement. It just takes a different set of training goals for regular Forces. There's quite a bit on the infighting within the Pentagon about unconventional warfare i.e. counterinsurgency throughout the decisionmaking process on Afghanistan. An excellent summary. There's also a description of why the military dislikes doing counterinsurgency. In his view the special Forces need to be made into a separate force which also bypasses the Joint Chiefs of Staff. A little surprising that he never brought up the Air Force analogy. the Revolution in military affairs also comes in for some criticism.

Recommended even if some of his recommendations seem rather extreme.

Is available through Abebooks.



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

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

Friday, November 17, 2006

The Winter War: Russia Against Finland (The Pan/Ballantine Illustrated History of World War II) by Richard W. Condon

The Winter War: Russia Against Finland (The Pan/Ballantine Illustrated History of World War II) by Richard W. Condon is A brief history of the war between Russia and Finland. This is from a larger series of books on world war two campaigns. Instead of just getting descriptions of heroic exploits of Finland's military we also get an excellent discussion of tactics and strategy from both sides. There are pictures on just about every page. A superb book I will be looking for more in this series.

Highly recommended.

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, November 15, 2006

Friday, November 10, 2006

Pilgrimage of Grace, 1536-1537 by Geoffrey Moorhouse

Pilgrimage of Grace, 1536-1537 by Geoffrey Moorhouse describes a rebellion against Henry VIII. There isn't much on this rebellion as far as secondary sources. The book does an excellent job of looking through primary sources. The underlying issue was one of religion the break with the Roman Catholic church. Interestingly enough Hendry's advisers were criticized and not the King himself. Not that it made the reprisals any less violent.

Recommended.

From the Gracchi to Nero: a history of Rome from 133 B.C. to A.D. 68 by H. H. Scullard

From the Gracchi to Nero: a history of Rome from 133 B.C. to A.D. 68 by H. H. Scullard is an excellent history of Rome from the middle of the republican era through the Julio-Claudian emperors. Not only is there a discussion of the political and military aspects of the Republic and empire there's also material on literature and art. The book is often used as a textbook but even if you're just interested in the topic it's still good, not dry.

Recommended!

Is available through Abebooks.

Monday, November 06, 2006

The tools of empire: technology and European imperialism in the nineteenth century by Daniel R. Headrick

The tools of empire: technology and European imperialism in the nineteenth century by Daniel R. Headrick discusses the technology that assisted the European nations in creating their overseas empires in the nineteenth century. The book talks about weapons technology, steamships, antimalarial drugs, railways and submarine cables. The book isn't just a listing of technical specifications but also talks about the sociological effects. There's a section on further reading.

Highly recommended!

Constant Battles: Why We Fight by Steven LeBlanc

Constant Battles: Why We Fight by Steven LeBlanc discusses the underlying reasons for warfare. His analysis is that wars are primarily over resources. Carrying capacity is the amount of supplies a group can get. When they need more supplies they have to get it from somewhere like their neighbors. One of the interesting parts of his analysis is that with increasing complexity of human societies the number of casualties actually decreases compared with the total population.

Recommended!

Is available through Abebooks.

"They like smiling when they shoot"

Interesting piece on Canadians training the Afghan military. Canadians pin exit-strategy hopes on training Afghan troops.






Friday, November 03, 2006

The Limits of Air Power: the American bombing of North Vietnam by Mark Clodfelter

The Limits of Air Power: the American bombing of North Vietnam by Mark Clodfelter describes the use of strategic bombing in Vietnam. The author attempts to explain why Rolling Thunder failed and by Linebacker I and Linebacker ii were successful. He makes a convincing argument that would it was not political interference but a change in North Vietnamese strategy that led to the operations success or failure. After all guerrillas don't need a lot of supplies or stand around in large concentrations. The linebacker operations were successful because the Vietnamese attempted to go into conventional war i.e. stage three of guerrilla warfare and can therefore be destroyed just like classic Western forces.

Highly recommended also good for showing why militaries refuse to adapt to the actual war that they're fighting.

Is available through Abebooks.



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

It's always nice to know you're useful

My first complementary post from someone who I don't know off-line. Thank you jmnlman very cool that apparently my reviews are actually useful. The current account is 18 sales and just about $25 Canadian.

The blog Reading Copy is written by Abebooks employees.

The Thin Red Line by James Jones

The Thin Red Line by James Jones is one of the great World War II novels perhaps one of the great war novels of all time. The novel describes the experiences of soldiers and the invasion of Guadalcanal. Many of the characters on first appearance seen stock but Jones makes them all seem real and therefore disturbing. The descriptions of combat are superb Jones after all served in the US military during World War II. He was wounded at Guadalcanal.

Simply a masterpiece.

Is available through Abebooks.



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

Gideon's spies: the secret history of the Mossad by Gordon Thomas

Gideon's spies: the secret history of the Mossad by Gordon Thomas is an often confusing look at the history of the Israeli intelligence service from its beginnings before the formation of Israel to the late 1990s. It's confusing mainly because there is no direct narrative line we are constantly bouncing around the last 50 years of intelligence work. All the big stories are here including the kidnapping of Adolf Eichmann and the various operations against Palestinian terrorists. There is some lesser-known stories such as the sex trap used to corral and attempted leaking of Israeli nuclear secrets.

The material itself is interesting it is just not organized at all which makes an aggravating book to read cover to cover. It's almost like the author had ADD or something.

Recommended if you must have everything on Israeli intelligence or just need to look up a certain event.

Is available through Abebooks.

World History of Warfare by Holger Herwig, Christon Archer, Timothy Travers and John Ferris

by Holger Herwig, Christon Archer, Timothy Travers and John Ferris is a massive History of warfare coming in at over 600 pages with very small type. The work deals with warfare from different areas and time periods. Each author writes on their own area of expertise and manages to cut through much of the jargon and myths the have grown up around some of the events. Particularly good for this is the section on ancient warfare which is somewhat of a minefield even for experts. An excellent further reading section is also included. A nice place to start if you want an overview that is very readable even considering its length.

Highly recommended!

Einstein's dreams by Alan Lightman

Einstein's dreams by Alan Lightman is an intriguing thought exercise as fiction. In vignettes the author describes Albert Einstein thinking about what reality would be like if Time moved in different ways. Much of this is quite intriguing however it doesn't work terribly well as a novel. There's no real plot line as such.

Its recommended if you're interested in the thought experiment. I probably wouldn't read more than one vignette at a time.

Is available through Abebooks.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Waging War from Canada: Why Canada Is the Perfect Base for Organizing, Supporting, and Conducting International Insurgency by Mike Pearson

Waging War from Canada: Why Canada Is the Perfect Base for Organizing, Supporting, and Conducting International Insurgency by Mike Pearson [presumably not that Mike Pearson] this book supposedly describes just how easy would-be to set up a terrorist organization in Canada. Naturally much has changed since September 11 but even the material discussing the late nineties is full of mistakes. Interesting as far as giving some idea of what the opposition thinks. It actually is intentionally funny in places. Some nice one-liners. Definitely a curiosity. CSIS doesn't have to worry about me.

Is available through Abebooks.



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