Sunday, November 30, 2008

Added books to the TBR pile,

Just 2 this week:
  • Guerrilla Strategies: An Historical Anthology from the Long March to Afghanistan… by Gérard Chaliand
  • The Barbarian Invasions: History of the Art of War, Volume II by Hans Delbruck

Saturday, November 29, 2008

The Amateur by Robert Littell

Amateur by Robert Littell is a spy novel originally published in 1981. The West German Embassy is attacked by terrorists. Their demands are not met so they randomly select one of their hostages and execute her. Her boyfriend a CIA employee who works with ciphers wants to take revenge. The Company refuses to do so. He must find a way himself. The book tries to be two things. The first of these is a character study which Littell does quite well the second is an action adventure which is done less effectively. I was particularly perturbed by several characters stating that revenge is therapeutic. I'm perfectly willing to accept revenge is a major plot device in books of this nature. I'm not comfortable with it being claimed to be anything more than vengeance. Some of the assassinations are rather silly. There is the use of a x-ray machine for instance.

Mildly recommended.

Friday, November 28, 2008

The non-confidence motion

“In light of the government’s failure to recognize the seriousness of Canada’s economic situation and its failure in particular to present any credible plan to stimulate the Canadian economy and to help workers and businesses in hard-pressed sectors such as manufacturing, the automotive industry and forestry, this House has lost confidence in this government and is of the opinion that a viable alternative government can be formed within the present House of Commons.”

From here.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving to my American readers. Now don't forget to go out and shop tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Napoleonic Wars: The Peninsular War 1807-1814 by Gregory Fremont-Barnes

The Napoleonic Wars: The Peninsular War 1807-1814 by Gregory Fremont-Barnes part of ospreys essential histories series. This covers the campaign in Spain and Portugal. Like most English sources more than half of the space is taken up with a discussion of Wellington's campaigns. There is some material on the guerrillas and the French. I would've preferred a little more from the French perspective. There is a short biography of an English soldier and George Canning who was Foreign Secretary. There is a chapter on Spanish art.

As typical with Osprey titles there are illustrations, maps and diagrams on just about every page. There's a decent enough further reading section not surprisingly it contains entries for every relevant Osprey title. It does have others as well.

Recommended if you needed an introduction or a refresher.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

History of the Art of War, vol.I Warfare in Antiquity by Hans Delbruck

History of the Art of War, vol.I Warfare in Antiquity by Hans Delbruck this is the 3rd edition originally published in 1920 and translated into English in 1975. Delbruck's massive 4 volume history is famous for its critical analysis of sources and use of modern equivalents. For example in a widely quoted section he points out that the Persian army could not be as large as claimed by Herodotus because it would stretch over hundreds of miles long. He argues that with professionalism came military advantages over adversaries.

One minor frustration is that the book is littered with analogies to current affairs or German history. I would have preferred it if the translator would have provided some explanatory notes. I can understand why he wouldn't want to break up the text but they could have been included in the back of the book.

This is a must-have for anyone serious about military history.

Highly recommended!

You can start panicking

From the NYTimes.

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, the publisher of authors including Philip Roth, Jonathan Safran Foer, Günter Grass and J. R. R. Tolkien, has temporarily suspended acquisitions of new manuscripts, a company spokesman said Monday.
I'm scratching my head over this. Why would you go out of your way publicly to let the world know. Presumably telling Agence would be pretty easy to do. Also in the article is some squirming about marketability for works. Funny I thought that was the name of the game anyway.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Added books to the TBR pile

Not a thing. I haven't even managed to do much reading so it's not like the piles getting any smaller.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Abraham Lincoln books

New York Times has a piece that's on James M. McPherson's battlefield trips and on upcoming books for Lincoln's birth bicentennial. I'll be doing some adding to my wish list.

Tried by War: Abraham Lincoln as Commander in Chief by McPherson
Lincoln: President-Elect by Harold Holzer looks like a massive work [600 pages]. Very interested to see what he has to say about the time between the election and first inauguration.

Quotation [occasional]

Attention, all 13-year-old female readers of this newspaper: Run, do not walk, to the nearest multiplex playing “Twilight,” the screen version of Stephenie Meyer’s best-selling potboiler about a principled vampire and the teenage girl who loves him. Others needn’t run. Or walk.
-- Wall Street Journal

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Very apt indeed.

The New Star Trek as 90210.
H/T to MGK

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Why I don't go to conventions

Checkout this awesome review of a convention. Admittedly I haven't been to one this bad but there's nothing here that really surprises me.


I did an interview over at the Book Bloggers.

Governor General's non-fiction award

Fifteen Days: Stories of Bravery, Friendship, Life and Death from Inside the New Canadian Army by Christie Blatchford [link takes you to my review] picked up the Governor General's award in nonfiction. Here's a link to a CBC article about it.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Agincourt: Henry V and the Battle That Made England by Juliet Barker

Agincourt: Henry V and the Battle That Made England by Juliet Barker is a history of this campaign from the Hundred Years War. The book deals with the battle in a very short section. Most of the narrative is taken up with the preparations for the campaign diplomatic, financial and logistical. As well as the aftermath, celebrations for victory and long-term impact. Barker has tapped into sources that are rarely used when discussing the campaign. The book is very much from the British perspective she spends a lot of time defending Henry V. In most cases her arguments are reasonable except where the prisoner slaughter is concerned. Throughout much of the book she makes a big deal about the chivalrous behavior on both sides. Presumably it would be rather dishonorable to try to attack the British if you had been taken captive. So using the opinions of the time the British actions seem even more heinous.

Recommended for anyone who wants a new look at this key campaign.

Note: this was provided by the publisher for review purposes.

The stupidity it hurts

Ecclestone wants medals instead of points. Some of the best racing in F1 over the last few seasons has been for that single point at 8th.

Monday, November 17, 2008

30 years is a good run

Canadian Grand Prix is dead. Honestly I be surprised if it was ever back. Bernie seems to have found greener pastures. Ecclestone clearly wanted to get rid of it. Considering the economic climate the demand of over $143 million guaranteed over five years is just vulgar.

Fifteen Days: Stories of Bravery, Friendship, Life and Death from Inside the New Canadian Army by Christie Blatchford

Fifteen Days: Stories of Bravery, Friendship, Life and Death from Inside the New Canadian Army by Christie Blatchford is a book on Task Force Orion that served in Afghanistan in 2006. Blatchford a journalist for the Globe and Mail has here basically done one long newspaper piece. She pulled out 15 days that she considers significant and writes about them providing back story. Now I'm treating this like a piece of military history because that's my background. That being said it can be rather frustrating and places. Most of the stories involve death or serious injury to Canadians. There's no real sense that what we're being told about is at all. typical of operations. In places the book almost comes off like a series of obituaries. That being said the stories of combat are riveting I only wish there could have been a little more.

This is up for a Governor General’s Literary Award should it win? Honestly I have no idea but if you're interested in the Afghanistan mission this is part of the first crop of books that deal with the combat experience for the CF.

Mildly recommended!

Note: this book was provided through Mini Book Expo.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Eric Margolis makes no sense

So imperialism if done by Nazi Germany or the Soviets is perfectly acceptable but when the Western Allies attempt to counter it they are evil. The last time I checked the German entrance into World War I could have been stopped. Margolis seems to be under the delusion that if you have a timetable you must use it. Also the British became involved because you know the Germans invaded Belgium! Although considering his opinion on Poland I'm pretty sure he doesn't care about any small country. I think I know a few Dutch, Polish and Ukrainian people who would argue the point.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

The Scoundrel Days of Hobo Highbrow by Pal H. Christiansen

The Scoundrel Days of Hobo Highbrow by Pal H. Christiansen is a Norwegian novel that describes the life of Highbrow a failed [or failing] novelist who misinterprets social situations he's a part of. The writing and translation are excellent. Lyrical but at the same time nicely compact. Highbrow is an intriguing character even if he's not a terribly sympathetic one. I did keep wondering just what he was going to get wrong next. My major issue with the book is the plot. It really doesn't seem to go anywhere. Characters just wander through. His girlfriend becomes pregnant so there's quite a bit about him thinking that she cheated on him but as a reader we don't find it credible.

Mildly recommended.

Note: this was provided for review purposes.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince trailer

"But I am the chosen one."

Nice and atmospheric. Can't wait for the summer.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Inside Star Trek: The Real Story by Herbert F. Solow and Robert H. Justman

Inside Star Trek: The Real Story by Herbert F. Solow and Robert H. Justman is an attempt to set the record straight. Solow[the co-producer] and Justman [the executive that oversaw production] make a convincing case that the "Gene Roddenberry myth" is exactly that a myth. It that throughout his life he refused to give others credit for important parts of the series. Their accounts are frequently backed up with excerpts from memos and other internal documents. On face value this comes off as an exposé but there's actually more here. There's material on the behind-the-scenes drama with NBC as well as the feuding actors. Literary science fiction fans will find the account of the City on the Edge of Forever controversy interesting. Harlan Ellison doesn't come off particularly well. Which let's face it isn't much of a surprise.

One minor criticism is that both writers are trying to be funny it is occasionally hard to tell if a situation is being played up for laughs or actually happen that way. For example when they were ready to start shooting the first pilot they were interrupted repeatedly.


Thursday, November 13, 2008

Fields of Fire: The Canadians in Normandy by Terry Copp

Fields of Fire: The Canadians in Normandy by Terry Copp is a history of the Canadian Army from D-day through Falaise. Copp argues that British and American historians have it wrong when they say that the allies in general [and Canadians specifically] only defeated the Germans by crushing them with manpower. That the Germans were better war fighters man for man. He makes a convincing case that this was not true. The Canadians were able to achieve victories because of the training received in Britain. As well as an excellent cadre of junior officers. The book contains a nice bibliography that would easily allow for the creation of a further reading list on the Canadians in the campaign. There is a sequel to the book which discusses up until the end of the war. I'll be picking that up also.


Book bloggers

Check out this new blog The Book Bloggers that will be publishing a daily interview with a book blogger. I'll be going up next Wednesday. If you're looking for someone new to read or someone to promote their latest masterpiece to take a look.

Quotation [occasional]

"This woman is mad. She's completely mad, and she's in love with her own fictional creation."
--- Robert Pattinson on Stephenie Meyer

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Instant Replay: The Day That Changed Sports Forever by Tony Verna

Instant Replay: The Day That Changed Sports Forever by Tony Verna is the memoirs of the director that created instant replay. The book covers his early career in the 1950s through the 21st century when he invented a way for computers and mobile devices to track the soccer ball in matches. Verna's was responsible for directing 5 Super Bowls, 12 Kentucky Derbies, Live Aid and various other events. Verna's shares often amusing stories about some of the famous events in American sports. For instance the icebowl and "the catch". There's quite a bit of name dropping. He knows famous people and wants you to know that as well. He also has some rather evident axes to grind specifically against CBS who refused to recognize the work that he did. The writing style takes some getting used to I think it could be transcribed tape. There are occasional asides and aggressions. If you're interested in how TV sports evolved read this.


Note: this book was provided for review purposes.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

We remember...

You know what to do.

CauseWired: Plugging In, Getting Involved, Changing the World by Tom Watson

CauseWired: Plugging In, Getting Involved, Changing the World by Tom Watson is a book that looks at the changes to social activism created by advances in social networking. Watson a journalist and community organizer discusses various methods of connecting with citizens and fundraising. A large portion of the book is taken up with Facebook the causes application allows someone to show on their profile there support of an issue. Unfortunately besides providing a large mailing list there isn't much here demonstrating that this is effective. I do have a Facebook account and I've been known to add various things without deciding to become involved. The section of the book on micro-financing is much more satisfying because it can actually point to success stories both in developing countries [microloans] and in the US [schools]. There's also a short section on the political campaign of Barack Obama. How the campaign harnessed the Internet. I'm not sure it's really on topic but it was interesting all the same.

It should be noted that everything here is nice and legal the closest thing they get to civil disobedience is some of the groups will crash congresspeople's phone lines. I understand why anonymous versus Scientology is not mentioned but that is definitely a part of the new digital world.


Note: this book was provided for review purposes by the publisher.

Monday, November 10, 2008

100 book challenge for 2009

I'll be participating in this reading challenge. The rules are pretty simple 100 books during the calendar year of 2009 and you can't start until January 1st. I'll be updating this with the titles as I go.

  1. The War with Mr. Wizzle by Gordon Korman

  2. Go Jump in the Pool! by Gordon Korman

  3. The Last Battle by Chris Bunch

  4. The Roman Soldier by G. R. Watson

  5. The Hundred Years War, Volume 2: Trial by Fire by Jonathan Sumption

  6. Squadron Airborne by Elleston Trevor

  7. Gunpowder: The Players Behind the Plot by James Travers

  8. Justinian's Flea: Plague, Empire, and the Birth of Europe by William Rosen

  9. Warsaw 1944: Poland's bid for freedom by Robert Forczyk

  10. Planning a Tragedy: Americanization of the War in Vietnam by Larry Berman

  11. Tales from Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin

  12. Revolution and Intervention: The French Government and the Russian Civil War, 1917-1919 by Michael Carley

  13. Fool Moon by Jim Butcher

  14. Storm and Conquest: The Clash of Empires in the Eastern Seas, 1809 by Stephen Taylor

  15. Men of Honour: Trafalgar and the Making of the English Hero by Adam Nicolson

  16. In Search of Churchill: A Historian's Journey by Martin Gilbert

  17. Flying on the ground by Emerson Fittipaldi and Elizabeth Hayward

  18. Tehanu by Ursula K. Le Guin

  19. The Stainless Steel Rat is Born by Harry Harrison

  20. Medical Histories of Confederate Generals by Jack D. Welsh

  21. Churchill at War 1940-45 by Sir Charles Watson

  22. The Battle for North Africa by John Strawson

  23. High Chicago by Howard Shrier

  24. Crystal Rain by Tobias S Buckell

  25. And No Birds Sang by Farley Mowat

  26. Battle of Wits: The Complete Story of Codebreaking in World War II by Stephen Budiansky

  27. Bach, Beethoven and the Boys!: Music History As It Ought To Be Taught by David W. Barber

  28. Number Ten by Sue Townsend

  29. The Normans by David Nicolle

  30. The Magicians by Lev Grossman

  31. Storm Front by Jim Butcher

  32. The Unveiling: An American Teacher in a Saudi Palace by Kristin Decker

  33. Passeggiata: Strolling Through Italy by G. G. Husak

  34. Prussian Light Infantry 1792-1815 by Peter Hofschroer

  35. The Pursuit of Victory: The Life and Achievement of Horatio Nelson by Roger Knight

  36. The Farthest Shore by Ursula K. Le Guin

  37. The Canadians in the Second Battle of Ypres, April 22nd-26th, 1915: A Social History and Battlefield Tour by N. M. Christie

  38. Half a Crown by Jo Walton

  39. North from Calcutta by Duane Evans

  40. Ha'penny by Jo Walton

  41. Hitler's Motor Racing Battles: The Silver Arrows under the Swastika by Eberhard Reus

  42. El Alamein, 1942: The Turning of the Tide by Ken Ford

  43. Stephen and Matilda: The Civil War of 1139-1153 by Jim Bradbury

  44. The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch

  45. Right of Thirst by Frank Huyle

  46. A Summons to Memphis by Peter Tay

  47. Ultra in the West: The Normandy Campaign of 1944-45 by Ralph Bennet

  48. On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society by Dave Grossman

  49. Terra Insegura by Edward Willett

  50. Marseguro by Edward Willett

  51. The Mitrokhin Archive II: The KGB and the World by Christopher M. Andrew

  52. Vimy by Pierre Berton

  53. Garden of Beasts: A Novel of Berlin 1936 by Jeffery Deave

  54. The Warrior Heir by Cinda Williams Chim

  55. Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole

  56. The Conduct Of War, 1789-1961: A Study Of The Impact Of The French, Industrial, And Russian Revolutions On War And Its Conduct by J. F. C. Fuller

  57. Churchill's Secret Skills: It Took More Than Fine Speeches to Defeat the Nazi's by Binden Shovel

  58. Chemical Cowboys: The DEA's Secret Mission to Hunt Down a Notorious Ecstasy Kingpin by Lisa Sweetingham

  59. Roman Forts in Britain by David J. Breeze

  60. Guerrilla Warfare: A Historical and Critical Study by Walter Laqueur

  61. Napoleon's Egypt: Invading the Middle East

  62. The Tombs of Atuan

  63. The Difference Engine by William Gibson and Bruce Sterling

  64. Churchill Proceedings 2001-2003 edited by Tony Benn

  65. A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin

  66. Reasoning Otherwise: Leftists and the People's Enlightenment in Canada, 1890-1920 by Ian McKay

  67. Fault Line by Barry Eisler

  68. Otterburn 1388: Bloody Border Conflict by Peter Armstrong

  69. Chain of Command: The Road from 9/11 to Abu Ghraib by Seymour M. Hersh

  70. Don't Call Me a Crook!: A Scotsman's Tale of World Travel, Whisky and Crime by Bob Moore

  71. Winston Churchill:Personal Accounts Of The Great Leader At War by Michael Paterson

  72. Every Man Dies Alone by Hans Fallada

  73. War Reporting for Cowards by Chris Ayres

  74. The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers by Paul Kennedy

  75. Mutiny on the Bounty by John Boyne

  76. A Brief History of the Birth of the Nazis: How the Freikorps Blazed a Trail for Hitler by Nigel H. Jones

  77. Gauntlet: A Novel of International Intrigue by Richard Aaron

  78. The Saga of Beowulf by R. Scot Johns

  79. Full Throttle: The Life and Fast Times of Curtis Turner by Robert Edelstein

  80. Napoleon On the Art of War by Jay Luvaas

  81. Baptism of Fire: The Second Battle of Ypres and the Forging of Canada, April 1915 by Nathan M. Greenfield

  82. The First Casualty by Ben Elton

  83. Cry of Justice by Jason Pra

  84. First Among Sequels by Jasper Fforde

  85. Alone on Guadalcanal: A Coastwatcher's Story by Martin Clemens

  86. Goshawk Squadron by Derek Robinson

  87. Working the Wheel by Martin Brundle

  88. Farthing by Jo Walton

  89. The Best Friend I Ever Had by David Nuffer

  90. Elisha's Bones by Don Hoesel

  91. The Boys' Crusade: The American Infantry in Northwestern Europe, 1944-1945 by Paul Fussell

  92. Mao's China and After: A History of the People's Republic by Maurice Meisner

  93. Blood Harvest by Brant Randall

  94. Something Rotten by Jasper Fforde

  95. Walking Back the Cat by Robert Littell

  96. The Battle for History: Re-fighting World War Two by John Keegan

  97. Fool Moon by Jim Butcher

  98. Revolution and Intervention: The French Government and the Russian Civil War, 1917-1919 by Michael Carley

  99. The Stainless Steel Rat Gets Drafted by Harry Harrison

  100. Me of Little Faith by Lewis BlacK

Twilight fans riot

And on the creepy side of the news there's this. Talk about not understanding your audience. Oh it gets better Robert Pattinson asked to bite seven-year-old.

Interesting WWI memoir

I'm not sure about other countries but in Canada in the days before November 11 new material often becomes available. It seems like every Canadian publisher will release something new on Canadian military history just before Remembrance Day. For those of us with an interest this also has extended to the blogosphere. For instance at Hassenpfeffer The First World War Memoirs of Sampson J. Goodfellow: Part 1 check it out.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Cavalry: The History Of Mounted Warfare by John Ellis

Cavalry: The History Of Mounted Warfare by John Ellis is a heavily illustrated history of fighting on horseback from prehistory through the 1950s. The book is just over 80,000 words with photos drawings and diagrams on nearly every page. The text is a summary so there is a tendency to gloss over certain areas but Ellis hits the high points in a readable style. Each chapter covers an era of history it concludes with a technical note that discusses changes in harnesses, weapons and armor. There isn't just coverage of the West. There's also information on India, China, Africa and a little bit on the native peoples of North America. The bibliography is extensive and contains lots of ideas for follow-up. If you're new to the subject or need a quick refresher like I did this is an excellent book.


Secret Santa! for Book Bloggers

I'm not sure if I'll be able to participate but this does look intriguing. If your a Book Blogger check it out. Deadline to sign up is November 18th. Nice to see that its international which I like as a Canadian.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Added books to the TBR pile

Lot of Arcs this week:

  • In the Land of Invisible Women: A Female Doctor's Journey in the Saudi Kingdom by Qanta A. Ahmed an ARC
  • Victory of Eagles by Naomi Novik
  • Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq by Thomas E. Ricks
  • The Devil's Guide to Hollywood: The Screenwriter as God! by Joe Eszterhas
  • Dark Matter: Reading the Bones by Sheree R. Thoma
  • The Scoundrel Days of Hobo Highbrow by Pal H. Christiansen an ARC
  • Instant Replay: The Day That Changed Sports Forever by Tony Verna an ARC
  • Agincourt: Henry V and the Battle That Made England by Juliet Barker an ARC
  • Fifteen Days: Stories of Bravery, Friendship, Life and Death from Inside the New Canadian Army by Christie Blatchford an ARC

Friday, November 07, 2008

In the Land of Invisible Women: A Female Doctor's Journey in the Saudi Kingdom by Qanta A. Ahmed

In the Land of Invisible Women: A Female Doctor's Journey in the Saudi Kingdom by Qanta A. Ahmed is the memoirs of Ahmed's 2 year long job at a Saudi Arabian hospital in Riyadh. Reading the back cover material as well as the PR sheet I was expecting an exposé [pun intended] on Saudi Arabian society particularly women's issues. Both the beginning and end of the book certainly do have that flavor. Ahmed apparently was not expecting the restrictions that females have to live under. The covering being the most obvious. The last section deals with the Saudi reaction to September 11. She finds out much to her horror that many of the people she respected were anti-Semites. The middle section is a rather touching description of her trip to Mecca to participate in the Hajj.

I was interested by the simple logistics of day-to-day life for women in the Saudi kingdom. How they impacted her job as a physician. There's some material on the women's movement and the support they receive from like-minded moderate men. An excellent book on an intriguing subject.


Note: this book was provided for review purposes by a PR outfit.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Old Man's War by John Scalzi

Old Man's War by John Scalzi is the first book in a military science fiction series. I've actually been reading Scalzi's blog for over a year now. Figured it was time to read some of his fiction. John Perry is 75 the age to enlist in the Colonial Defense Force. He'll receive a younger body but have to give up his life on Earth and be thrust in wars of attrition against different alien species.

The novel is fast-paced with compact pros that is a welcome relief from jargon heavy science fiction. The characters often poke fun at the stereotypes of the military in the media. In particular a drill sergeant that is actually the heart ass he claims he is. It's pretty funny in places. The combat is 20th-century small unit tactics with more firepower. A rifle can fire several different types of ammunition. All and all a enjoyable distraction.

Highly recommended!

The Ghost Of Napoleon by B. H. Liddell-Hart

The Ghost Of Napoleon by B. H. Liddell-Hart this was originally a set of four lectures given in the mid-1930s. They attempt to define the strategy and tactics of Napoleon his forebears and successors. Liddell-Hart argues convincingly that Napoleon was not an innovator rather he used developments that had been created by others. From the way that the argument is defended I assum this was rather controversial at the time. I'm pretty sure it's not today. The second half of the book deals with Carl von Clausewitz. Liddell-Hart believed that the stalemate of the first world war can be laid at the feet of Clausewitz. The logic is a little tortured even. Liddell-Hart has to admit that there were caveats about the utility of mass in On War but military readers were too stupid to notice. So Clausewitz is being blamed for being unclear.

It is possible to see some of the ideas that he would later expand in his book Strategy. The indirect approach, surprise and dislocation both tactically and inside the commanders head.


Rifles: Six Years with Wellington's Legendary Sharpshooters by Mark Urban

Rifles: Six Years with Wellington's Legendary Sharpshooters by Mark Urban is a unit history of the 95th Regiment in the Napoleonic wars. This is popular history but for once that's not meant as a criticism. Urban manages to provide enough color to keep someone new interested while at the same time tapping into primary sources that have not been hashed and rehashed repeatedly. Those familiar with the Sharp books will already have some idea of the battles and campaigns covered. I'm pretty well-versed in the Peninsular campaign but even I learned a few things. Substantial notes and a bibliography makes this a must have.

Highly recommended!

Kingdoms of the blind: How the great democracies have resumed the follies that so nearly cost them their life by Harold W Rood

Kingdoms of the blind: How the great democracies have resumed the follies that so nearly cost them their life by Harold W Rood is the first book in my Hailer Publishing reading project it was not a fortuitous beginning. Perhaps this explains why it was on sale.

The book is divided into two sections the first of which discusses German rearmament between the world wars. This section is actually pretty good although Rood does seem to imply that Germany was getting ready for World War II in about 1921. I think that's an overstatement there's a difference between rearmament and planning a global conflict.

The second section is where things fall off the rails. It's a discussion of Soviet and American responses from the end of World War II through the late 70s [the book was published in 1980]. Rood's logic such as it is is that Germany was allowed to rearm by the Allies which led to the second world war. The Soviets are arming at a fast rate which means they're going to launch a Third World war. With hindsight the argument is rather silly. Even without hindsight his argument doesn't make much sense. For instance he says that the Cuban missile crisis was actually a loss for the Americans. He also is at pains to point out the strengths in the Soviet economy. A wee bit overblown as he probably should have known at the time. I'm pretty sure there were signs of economic problems in the 1970s. I did find it interesting that he never mentions the Berlin airlift. I guess that would have violated his thesis that the West was ignorant and incompetent.

Not recommended!

I'm not going to announce my next book in the project until Canada Post figures out whether it's going out on strike or not.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Quotation [occasional]

"Wasilla hillbillies looting Neiman Marcus from coast to coast."

-Anonymous Republican aide quoted in Newsweek

Michael Crichton Dead at 66

Michael Crichton dead from cancer. There was a time in junior high when I voraciously devoured his books, Jurassic Park, Congo, Sphere and The Great Train Robbery. Around Timeline for some reason I've never quite been able to put my finger on I lost interest. I do have a copy of timeline here somewhere but I never made it through the initial setup when they are driving through the desert. His other great creation ER was something else that I watched religiously but haven't in years. Perhaps it's fitting.

So is Bill Bennett Jabba?

CNN has too much money.

The real America has spoken

I am a student of history. I didn't think I'd see this in my lifetime. There are no words.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

"So I think it could have gone that way."

All I wanted was a quiet US election. Just to sit here watching CNN and MSNBC all day. Apparently that was too much to ask because this hit.
"[Kloves the screenwriter] felt a certain pulll between them at that point. And I think he's right. There are moments when [Harry and Hermione] touch, which are charged moments. One when she touches his hair as he sits on the hiltop reading about Dumbledore and Grindelwald, and [two] the moment when they walk out of the graveyard with their arms around eachother."

"Now the fact is that Hermione shares moments with Harry that Ron will never be able to participate in. He walked out. She shared something very instense with Harry.

"So I think it could have gone that way."
Let the screams of outrage from the Harry and Hermione fans begin. Now of course there is one problem with this it didn't actually mean anything in the books. It's not like in either case Harry grabbed Hermione and kissed her hard after. Harmonians, some advice Rowling is screwing with you. She likes to do that from time to time.

Lewis Hamilton F1 world champion

Now that was a Grand Prix. Nothing like the thrill of watching someone lose the championship on the second last lap only to regain it out of the blue on the final lap. As usual a surprise to the ITV commentators who apparently didn't realize just how much time Timo Glock in the Toyota was losing. It's fitting that their last race would involve such a large screw up. I can only hope that the BBC will be able to put out a more interesting product next season. The ITV commentary has been downright painful at times since Murray retired.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Holidays in Hell by PJ O'Rourke

Holidays in Hell by PJ O'Rourke this is a collection of his columns for Rolling Stone that appeared in the mid-80s. They deal with troublespots around the world including Beirut, Nicaragua, the Philippines South Korea, South Africa, Israel and somewhat off theme Heritage USA and Warsaw. Unlike O'Rourke's later stuff the humor is more in pointing out the absurdities as opposed to being mean. The Heritage USA section is a little on the mean side. I've read several other books by O'Rourke since this but this is still my favorite. Every couple years I reread it when I need something light.

Highly recommended!

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Two Brothers - One North, One South by David H. Jones

Two Brothers - One North, One South by David H. Jones is a piece of historical fiction about the American Civil War. The narrative follows to plot lines. The first of these takes place in a Union Hospital in Washington, DC. The poet Walt Whitman comforts William a Confederate soldier who dies from his wounds. Clifford a brother who fought for the Union side was also in the hospital. Whitman tells him the story of William's experiences. A third brother a Union physician also provides material to the discussion. The two living brothers want to know what William had been doing during the conflict. Whitman tells them his story.

Jones evidently knows his historical material. The book is highly accurate where events are concerned. The problem in the book is how those events are brought out to the reader. Characters don't really speak in dialogue rather they give stump speeches or encyclopedia articles of information. Much of the material would be obvious to participants of the times. It's a very forced way to inform the reader. The book concludes with an appendix that contains excerpts from newspaper accounts and other primary sources.

The second half of the book flows better. There are less speeches and more actions but I found the book hard to get into. If someone is a Civil War fanatic you may like this but if you're looking for historical fiction you will probably want to look somewhere else.

Not recommended.

Note: the book was provided by TLC Book Tours feel free to follow the tour in the upcoming days through the link.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Added books to the TBR pile

Very light week for books around here.

  • History of the Art of War, Volume I Warfare in Antiquity: by Hans Delbruck

Quotation [occasional]

A crashing, mind-numbing bore. This is the literary equivalent of waterboarding.
- Christopher Buckley on Anne Rice's new book.