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Guest Hans Engström
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As with every general's memories, basic caution is advised. He apparently painted his relationship with Patton in far more benign colors when advising the Patton movie, which is my starting point of general skepticism.

But you're no dummy. You know all that. ;)

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Soviet and Mujahideen Uniforms, Clothing, and Equipment in the Soviet-Afghan War by Zammis Schein

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Mujahideen-Uniforms-Equipment-Soviet-Afghan-1979-1989/dp/076435115X/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=afghan+war+equipment&qid=1625065705&s=books&sr=1-1

Really very good indeed, there is no text as such other than captions to the pictures. But an awesome collection, reportedly picked up by the author from the Kabul market where there is a ready supply of such things.

The author has a couple of companion volumes on Soviet and Mujahideen weapons of the period, and other on battlefield relics. Ive seen neither, but on the basis of this are probably worth checking out.

Edited by Stuart Galbraith
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"Born under a Lucky Star" by Ivan Philippovich Makarov. Born in 1923 and wrote down what he remembered. A lucky man indeed, not only surviving against the Germans but against Communism also. 

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'The Pathfinders' by Will Iredale. First complete book ive found on the subject. It has everything from the effect of KG100 on Coventry, subsequent failures of British bombing, the internal political squabbles with Harris to set it up over his head, the technical development of Oboe and the target markers (the latter ive seen absolutely nothing on before). Its also, unlike much history, a really punchy hard to put down read. Well recommended.

 

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Yea.  Read it years ago.  I liked it so much that, when I had the opportunity, I purchased the '50s TV series on DVD.

Edited by Tim Sielbeck
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Spycatcher by Peter Wright.

Interesting book. The links of 1930's Cambridge, and to a lesser extant, Oxford, the interest in Communism, and the tie-in to espionage against Great Britain for several decades.

His observations on the U.S. Ivy-League schools and the C.I.A. is noted. The wide-spread efforts of Soviet spying in both countries is eye-opening. 

 The whole book reminds me of Ecclesiastes 1 when comparing the Communism of yesterday's "higher education" with the "Social Justice" of today's. 

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Started reading "Seven Men of Gascony",  by R.F. Delderfield copyright 1949. 

"Seven Men of Gascony" follows 7 French soldiers during the Napoleonic Wars. It has the feel of "All Quiet on the Western Front" perhaps the greatest war novel of all time.  100 pages in and it is very good.

If you've read every one of the Sharpe's Rifles series and are having withdrawal symptoms this book from the other side of the Napoleonic Wars may tide you over.

 

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On 9/29/2021 at 7:19 AM, Rick said:

Charles Macdonald "Company Commander" seems like a "classic" memoir.

Company Commander is an excellent book!

Incidentally, Charles MacDonald in addition to leading a U.S. Army infantry company in World War II was a noted author and historian post war. He wrote 7 books and was Deputy Chief Historian for the U.S. Army at the time of his retirement.

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Staying with the World War II theme.

Neptune's Inferno by James Hornfischer  .  Covers the US Naval campaign at Guadalcanal. 

Reading the descriptions of the naval battles feels like reading about an old west shoot out. 

The control of the waters around Guadalcanal was touch and go for months. Both the U.S. and Japanese navies were limited by logistics as much as any other factors.

No matter how well the U.S. Army and USMC fought at Guadalcanal, if the USN couldn't bring in beans and bullets it would be impossible to hold the islands. 

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I am reading a book by a Spanish author based on a theory by one Robert A. Langdon, an Australian scholar, on the historical consequences of the stranded crew of a 16th century stranded caravel. Quite intriguing.

Langdon's theory is presented in this book:

Quote

"It is the year 1526. The four ships of the Loaisa expedition have just entered the Pacific from the Strait of Magellan on their way to the East Indies for a cargo of spices. A storm blows up. The ships are separated. One, the caravel San Lesmes with 50 or so men on board is never seen again ... The new book traces the crew of the San Lesmes and their descendants to various atolls of the Tuamotu Archipelago, to the Society and Austral Islands -- even to distant Easter Island and New Zealand. It argues that the last prehistoric settlement of New Zealand was made when some of the San Lesmes crew came upon the North Island in trying to return to Spain from the vicinity of Tahiti by sailing along the latitude of the Cape of Good Hope. It claims that many Maori of today are descended from them. The book tells also how a number of present-day Easter islanders with no known non-Easter Island ancestors have been found to be carriers of certain genes that are peculiar to Europeans and especially common among Basques. In a nutshell, The Lost Caravel Re-explored throws unexpected new light on the prehistory of several widely separated Polynesian islands and challenges many long held views on that subject ..."--Back cover.

Juan Sebastián Elcano, the one that first went around the world, died in the Loaisa expedition.

Edited by sunday
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On 6/5/2022 at 9:09 AM, 17thfabn said:

Started reading "Seven Men of Gascony",  by R.F. Delderfield copyright 1949. 

"Seven Men of Gascony" follows 7 French soldiers during the Napoleonic Wars. It has the feel of "All Quiet on the Western Front" perhaps the greatest war novel of all time.  100 pages in and it is very good.

If you've read every one of the Sharpe's Rifles series and are having withdrawal symptoms this book from the other side of the Napoleonic Wars may tide you over.

 

You would love Swords Around a Throne, brilliant study of the French army in the Napoleonic Wars. He did a great study of the US Army in the War of 1812 as well. https://www.amazon.com/SWORDS-AROUND-THRONE-ELTING-JOHN/dp/0753802198

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The Poverty of Nations: A Sustainable Solution by economist Barry Asmus and theologian Wayne Grudem

Why the best way out of poverty is the Capitalism/Free Market system being led by Christianity. This book should be in every high school and college freshman reading list. Include Thomas Sowell's Basic Economics on that list. 

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This looks promising, memoirs of an Englishman fighting in the Spanish Civil War in the National side.

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/3278025949?book_show_action=true&from_review_page=1

Quote

Thus, polite opinion in England favored the Republicans, something that troubled Kemp not at all. His complete lack of Spanish did not deter him either. And in those days before the overweening state presumed to dictate to us the smallest details of our lives, it was easy enough to go fight in a foreign war. True, as today, the Left was better organized, and every country in Europe had official, open recruiting stations for the International Brigades. Kemp simply got a letter from a newspaper editor friend saying that he was authorized to send back wire copy, as a cover story, and off he went across the French frontier.

 

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On 7/1/2022 at 10:15 PM, sunday said:

This looks promising, memoirs of an Englishman fighting in the Spanish Civil War in the National side.

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/3278025949?book_show_action=true&from_review_page=1

 

Just finished it, liked it so much that I read it in two days.

Despite being wounded four times, the last one quite severely, it could be said that Mr. Kemp had quite the most blessed war experience. A Protestant officer on the very Catholic Carlists troops, the Requetés, then went to the Legion, to be one of a handful of foreign officers in the Tercio, thanks to the personal intervention of Millán Astray with Franco.

Militarily is pretty good, not very deep, but explains things like the difference between the English concept of platoon and the Spanish false-friend pelotón.

I have not seen such accumulation of serendipity since Leigh-Fermor's A Time of Gifts

Kemp also wrote an autobiography, alas, it is not in ebook format:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/33833612-the-thorns-of-memory

Edited by sunday
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"There's a War to be Won" by Geoffrey Perret on how the U.S. W.W.2 Army went from nothing to something.  Doesn't cover the casualty replacement problem, I think is was called Repple/Depple which was a problem from my understanding. That and the "90 wonder" Second Lieutenant. 

 

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Birthday gift from a friend: "Putin's People. How the KGB took back Russia and then took on the West", London 2020, by Catherine Belton, former Moscow correspondent for the "Financial Times". The title is an obvious play on "Smiley's People", and points to the book's spy-novel style approach which I think detracts a little from its seriousness; while we're at style issues, it could also have used a little more thorough editing, as the author seems overly fond of certain words like "avuncular", "pugnacious", "warren-like" and "siphoned", and the descriptions of persons in particular can be a little repetitive. Though doubtlessly the subject includes a lot of siphoning. That said, the treatment of Putin's rise as the product of a system thought up by "progressives" in the KGB who saw that the USSR was falling behind the West economically as far back as Andropov's reign in the early 80s is meticulous and encompassing.

You have heard most of the bits before: how the KGB employed young economically savvy thinkers to experiment with capitalist methods which would have seen the USSR turn into a hybrid system like modern China (though their model of authoritarian politics combined with liberal economics at the time was Pinochet's Chile of all places), and critically set up friendly firms in the West to bring in hard currency and embargoed technology; how Gorbachev lost control of the transformation and the ensuing centrifugal forces, and the KGB mission turned to looting the national and party treasure to stash away abroad for their own survival in a different guise; how under Yeltsin they themselves lost control of their young entrepreneurs who both pushed for and profited from the liberal reforms of the era to become the original oligarchs of the 90s; and how Putin, with a carefully-built record as deputy of liberal St. Petersburg mayor Anatoly Sobchak, but also the city's prototype takeover of public assets by intelligence-connected organized crime, was placed as an "interim" presidential candidate who would also protect the economic and legal safety interests of the Yeltsin clan, but really enable the long-planned return of the last KGB generation to power.

The rest, as they say, is history, as Putin took down the original oligarchs and restored a semblance of order from the 90's chaos to great popular applause as people enjoyed an economic upturn which actually trickled down to an emerging middle class; only for his own circle to loot the system again, buying Western consent, if not approval through invitations to the Russian money train, while also tapping into anti-Western resentment and want for restoring imperial Russian greatness as a unifying ideology and smokescreen for the power and money grabs. To the point where Belton argues the country has indeed returned to its normal imperial outlook where everything is decided by a quasi-feudal elite which get their cut of anything, different factions in the security-economic complex fighting each other over their shares of a cake dwindling from Western sanctions since the annexion of Crimea, and people competing to inform on each other for any business advantage, or to hedge against having their assets taken away at will. As she says, everyone who does business in at least the tens-of-million dollar range in Russia has become an agent of the state, including for influence operations in the West.

The book's merits are definitely in the breadth and detail of its coverage, which makes for an outright terrifying panoramic view of the system's reach, including deep into Western societies over decades of build-up. If I have any criticism other than on style, it's that it sometimes relies too much on the narrative of single sources. Not uncritically, and not without trying to check them; but for some of its most damning claims it cites only "an unnamed former Red Army Faction member" suggesting that Putin was involved with supporting Western terrorists during his posting to Dresden in the 80s. Then it tries do draw a line to the 2002 Moscow theater attack, citing another unnamed "insider" claiming that it was a false flag which went wrong when one of the Chechen terrorists allegedly hired for the show shot a civilian on the first day, preventing the planned successful negotiations to free the hostages; and that the subsequent  disaster may even have been intentional by some of the inner circle to tie Putin to the presidency on their behalf. Belton notes it could simply be put off as a typical conspiracy theory, if a report by Moscow prosecutors hadn't stated that the bombs and suicide belts of the Chechens were essentially blanks.

She doesn't go much into detail of influence operations in the West rather than just noting how political and economic circles in countries ranging from the US, UK and France to Austria and Switzerland have fawned over the new Putin-era oligarchs and their money, including both major British parties and one frequently cash-strapped real estate entrepreneur by name of Donald Trump; plus the financing of European left- and right-wing parties. I find a certain German ex-chancellor not being mentioned a glaring ommission, though. Of course it would probably have unfocussed an otherwise quite readable book of 500 pages (plus 100 of footnotes), and I realize it's a personal pet topic of mine. I was once more struck however by how much the Russian view of the West as a decadent culture in decline with leaders estranged from the population just like the terminal phase of the USSR has become a staple of both the left and right fringe in the West, so you can conclude it really has its seeds there. Of course ironically, as noted Putin's Russia has itself come to resemble the late USSR as an economically ailing dictatorial security services regime.

I will say that the book has made me see why the, let's call it Roman/Girkin camp within Russia itself has actually mere disdain for Putin, even though they may acknowledge that he ended the chaos of the Yeltsin years, and strokes their imperial Russian anti-Western resentment. Yet he probably remains inescapably tainted by his rise in the Yeltsin administration and vault to the presidency based upon the promise he would continue to protect the interests of the clan; not to speak of him replacing the original oligarchs with his own, who continued plundering the state and parking their money, children, mistresses etc. in the West, even if it followed a plan to buy influence and corrupt liberal instititutions there. So those are not "pro-Western liberals" in any shape the West itself would recognize, but are stuck with the label by association.

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