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Wellington's Peninsular by Micheal Glover This slim book was first published in and my copy was part of the Pan British Battles series. Well known Napoleonic Wars historian Michael Glover knows his stuff and this is an excellent introduction to Wellington's campaigns in Portugal and Spain. Although it focuses on four battles; Busaco, Salamanca, Vitoria and Nivelle, about half of the book is about the campaigning in between. Glover, using numerous memoirs from the time, does a good job of giving an idea of what early 19th Century battles were like.
But he faces the same problem as Wellington himself highlighted; namely it as as difficult to describe a battle as it would be to describe a fancy formal court ball. I have to admit I found myself a little lost at times by the descriptions of the battlefield manoeuvres. But it proved to be seriously flawed, so flawed in fact that someone should be fired. Historian Frank McLynn has case his net wide over the years tackling a very wide range of subjects.
I hope, despite the claims in the blurbs on the back of the book, this is not one of the best he has written. I liked his attitude. Slim comes out very well.
I came away with a better understanding of Stillwell but still think his anti-British streak did a lot of harm and even got a lot of brave men killed.
McLynn also has little time for General Harold Alexander and he's right there too. Where the book collapses is that on several occasions McLynn doesn't know who he is talking about. This is not just a few typos, the mistakes actually take some effort. He appears to confuse Generals Giffard and Pownall at least twice; a direct quote from William Slim has him referring to "Slim" when obviously it should be Stillwell; Japanese General Kimura allegedly orders opposing Chinese troops to withdraw and the Americans, not New Zealand's General Freyberg, supposedly requested the bombing of Monte Cassino in Italy.
Not to anyone who knows anything about the Battle of Britain. I got fed up trying to untangle the carelessness and was left wondering what to believe and what not to believe. In this case the series was a venture into something called Battlefield Archaeology. But despite the claim on the book cover that Glasgow based Tony Pollard and Neil Oliver carried out "a full archaeological investigation" of six scenes of British conflict, it was after all only television and the digging was very limited and surprisingly little in the way of artifacts was found.
One of the big surprises proved to be the failure to find any mass graves on any of the battlefields. Each of the six chapters gives a decent summary of historical events, information of about what might be found and tackles an aspect of the archaeological process.
It is written in a chatty and accessible style, which may owe something to the fact that Oliver was a journalist on several of Scotland's leading newspapers before becoming a well known TV historian. But the authors, who both served with Canadian armoured regiments, take the story back to the earliest French-Canadian cavalry regiment formed in to fight the British.
By far the biggest part of the book focuses on the Second World War. I suspect that one author tackled the Italian Campaign while the other looked at the fighting in Northwest Europe, and it shows. The illustrations and maps have been well chosen.
The book then charts the story of Canadian armour, both regular and reserve unit, up until It is not an entirely happy story, an armoured corps often without decent tanks, and at times the book reads like a pleading from the RCAC Association, who commissioned it.
Naval historian and retired Royal Navy officer John Winton takes a look at some of the more unorthodox aspects of war at sea. He doesn't feel a need to pad his text for length as he steams through a world of fire-ships, midget,submarines, explosive motor-boats, aircraft carriers made of ice and human torpedoes.
But he let's himself down when it comes to some easily checked facts and this casts a shadow of suspicion on his accuracy. Some of the vessels and exports in this book are well known but there is enough new material to keep it interesting. What it is is a look at the history of warfare up until the mids. The contributors were mainly academics associated with the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst, with Richard Holmes writing eight of the 20 chapters.
Some chapters are more readable and insightful than others. The book is well illustrated with photographs, artwork and diagrams. A 15 year old boy interested in military history. Instead, I found him a paranoid mentally unbalanced snobbish suck-up who some might feel prostituted his won sister to gain promotion. Oh, and he was an adulterer too. But none of this might matter if he was indeed a military genius.
However, I was unconvinced by D'Este's pleadings. He was good when the Germans were on the run at keeping them on the run but when they turned to fight, his battles turned into bloody slogging matches.
At times D'Este seemed to skate over the less savourary aspects of Patton's behaviour. I pretty sure at least one of the "shirkers" attacked by Patton in a military hospital was actually sick, too sick to explain himself properly to a hysterical General.
The book is almost half over before the Second World War starts. And D'Este hurts his own arguments by such gaffes as declaring that the Japanese over-ran Hong Kong in the summer of , whereas it did not fall until late December of that year.
So, it's no surprise that it is well illustrated, with helpful maps. It is generally fair and balanced, though there is a tendency to view events from the revolutionaries' point of view. The bulk of the fighters on both sides were poorly trained and inexperienced. The British should have had the advantage when it came to the quality of the officers but many performed poorly - which should have been an omen of events a few months later on the Somme.
The worst revolutionary commander turned to be a former British officer. The book offers a very readable but brief introduction to events which ultimately changed the face of northern Europe. Prior, best known for his First World War books co-written with Trevor Wilson, takes a dispassionate look at the facts.
I had not realised that Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain refused to actually fight the Germans because he still hoped after their invasion of Poland that he could do a peace deal with Adolf Hitler. He looks at how Winston Churchill wrestled control of the war from Chamberlain and fellow arch-appeaser Lord Halifax, thanks to the support of the Labour Party and in the face of oppostion from his fellow Tories.
Then there is Dunkirk and the Fall of France, followed by the Battle of Britain and the German bombing campaign against Britain's civilian population. He ends with a look at how the USA effectively bankrupted Britain, failed to keep several key promises, and only came into the war against Germany fully when Hitler declared war on them. Prior keeps a sharp focus on the key facts and argues his case well.
Not quite a contender for the Book of the Year but a good read nontheless. It is an easy and informative read, moving easily from the Big to Small picture in its pages. The text is backed up by photographs and the work of Canada's official war artists. There are also numerous maps. Pachino is where the Canadians landed in Sicily and Ortana was a seaside port which was bitterly contested with German paratroopers in the closing days of This is pretty much a model of what an short official campaign history should be.
Mutiny and Insurgency in India by T A Heathcote Dr Tony Heathcote was a student of the matters oriental and brings a sympathy and understanding to the causes of what is commonly known as The Indian Mutiny. Nor does he shy away from the artocities and war crimes committed by British troops, both white and coloured, during the suppression of the revolt. He also spent his career as a professional historian at the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst, so he knows his British Army.
His approach is fair and balanced and he does not skate over the murders of women, children and male civilians by the insurgents. It was indeed, as the subtitle of the book promises, a very bloody civil war.
At times the book reads like a bog-standard account of the fighting but can be regarded as a fine introduction to a complex conflict in which few can take much pride. So, a good primer. Author Nicholas Rankin casts his net wide with a definition of "deception" which includes camouflage, propaganda, double agents, inflateable tanks and fake radio stations. But perhaps he spreads it too wide. His research often lets him down, probably due to the vast array of topics tackled. The French Army did not enter the First World War in dressed in Horizon Blue; the Irish rebels of were shot, not hanged; and the British unit which was home to so many of the specialised armoured vehicles in was the 79th Armoured Division, not the 79th Armoured Brigade.
And those were just the glaring errors which leapt out at me. But Rankin has a good eye for a tale and tells a story well. The pace speeds up towards the end and some of the most interesting deceptions get scanter coverage than duller examples cited earlier in the book.
Perhaps Rankin realised that he was getting close to his contracted word total. A good read, but not a great one. In short, even a casual random dip into it telegraphs a lacklustre and missed opportunity. To me, an anecdote is short amusing story. Many of those in this book prove to be neither. The first of the entries are more military history than anecdote. It might have better not to have started until the 17th Century or at least cut the number of "anecdotes" from before that period back to about twenty.
Those who do not understand French are at a disadvantage and those who learned Spanish or German at secondary school will find it does them very little good when it comes to this book. There are many many truly amusing military stories out there.
Few are in this book. Does Hastings have no sense of humour? Tellingly, the last anecdote is from Hasting's himself and tells of how he was the first man who sailed with the Falklands Task Force in to get into Port Stanley after the Argentinian surrender. A more interesting tale would have been how a fellow journalist from a more plebeian background, convinced that the better socially-connected Hastings had failed to file other correspondents' reports as agreed and passed their contents off as his own work, was only narrowly stopped from killing him with souvenir Argentinian bayonet in the bar of Stanley's Upland Goose.
Despite his military background Oliver Lindsay draws heavily from civilian sources to weave together this sorry tale of forlorn defence. The inexperienced British, Indian, and Canadian troops, along with Chinese volunteers, never stood a chance against the veteran Japanese 38th Division. There were never enough Empire troops to defend the colony and the Japanese ability to move across country at a far quicker rate often stymied British commanders.
Lindsay was also stationed in Canada and made good use of his time to find out more about the two partially trained Canadian battalions who were basically sacrificed on the alter of Imperial solidarity. Lindsay takes the story beyond the Christmas Day surrender to look at the almost four years of captivity which followed. He also looks the fate of all too few of the Japanese war criminals involved in the artrocities committed during the fighting and the cruelty shown to the prisoners, military and civilian, brought to justice after the war.
The book is heavily laced with personal accounts and these give the book a nice edge.
Choose the odd one out.
Maybe the thug even used to be you, until you went straight. Women would refuse to go near any man with thug gish associations, for real—barely a thug could expect to get any action. I also made a thug chase movie with a bunch of my friends in high school. The Kremlin loses a useful propaganda tool, but it also eliminates a thug with a lot of Russian blood on his hands. The thug grinned wolfishly at me and then winked at his leader.
Wellington's Peninsular by Micheal Glover This slim book was first published in and my copy was part of the Pan British Battles series. Well known Napoleonic Wars historian Michael Glover knows his stuff and this is an excellent introduction to Wellington's campaigns in Portugal and Spain. Although it focuses on four battles; Busaco, Salamanca, Vitoria and Nivelle, about half of the book is about the campaigning in between. Glover, using numerous memoirs from the time, does a good job of giving an idea of what early 19th Century battles were like. But he faces the same problem as Wellington himself highlighted; namely it as as difficult to describe a battle as it would be to describe a fancy formal court ball.
July 8, By anilmlalwani India. GOON: bully, hood, hoodlum, hooligan, gangsta, gangster, mobster, mug, punk, roughneck, rowdy, ruffian, thug, yob, yobbo, scoundrel, bandit, brigand, crook, desperado, felon, gunman, highwayman, mafioso, lawbreaker, malefactor, offender, outlaw, perp, perpetrator, pickpocket, racketeer, robber, swindler, conman, juvenile delinquent, tearaway, guttersnipe, tough, reprobate niich , virago chandi , rake sponge, scrounge, cadge, vagrant, smuggle, traffic, contraband, extradition. FRAUD: defraud, fiddle-fudge, counterfeit-subterfuge, chicanery-shenanigan, sleight of hand :sleigh -legerdemain, dupe-duplicity, hoax-phony, spurious-specious, sham-flimflam, humbug, swindle, fleece, chisel, bilk :baulk , bleed, con, bamboozle, skulduggery, evasive, slippery, sly-slick, sneaky, underhand, fib, mendacity, fallacy, posing, lie, devious, bluff :double bluff , infidelity-perfidy, perjury, back stab, cross, double-cross, two-faced, smooth-tongued, sell-out, divulge :spillage. MIND: sentient, skittish, amnesia, muse-ponder-reflect, cognizance, hidebound , savant apphrend seize, either physically or mentally, ability to understand - through tangible or concrete experience , comprehend understand fully, conceptual understanding , apphrehension fear , comprhensive all-inclusive , rational i. CANCEL : annul, repeal, revoke, rescind, recall, rescission, abolish, abrogate-arrogate, outlaw :scofflaw , waive, BAN: prohibit, proscribe, forbid :forgo-forego forfeit , veto :vote , outlaw, embargo :embark , enjoin, injunction, interdict indict, indictment, verdict, inhibit , bid:offer-attempt-tell , BREAK: violation infractions, infringement, :infiltration, contravention ,. HAND: cuff, clout, pummel, sock, thump, swipe, slap, swat, smack, spank, knock, rap t , bat small in air , mitt HARD: slam bang , bash :bashful , belt, wallop :wallow , clobber n,v , smash, smite, thwack, whack, plough into, poleaxe, cannon, wallop LIGHTLY: jab, dab, pat, tap-wiretapping, flick-flip-toss swipe, pinch-spread -flip, bump sideswipe, knee, lash out. POLITE: civil, courteous, genteel, gracious, mannerly, well-bred, solicitous, thoughtful; chivalrous, gallant, gentlemanlike, gentlemanly, ladylike; ceremonial, suave, unctuous, urbane; elegant, refined; deferential, dutiful, submissive, yielding, becoming, befitting, decorous, meet, seemly, affable, cordial, genial, hospitable, pleasant, sociable; felicitous, demure, humble, meek :compliant-complaisant , modest, unassertive, self-effacing , smarmy. MOAN: to complain about something in a way which can be annoying and boring to other people.
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