“They pay me to be an Admiral, not to think!” This quote attributed to Berkley Milne sums up an era of change that transformed the organization of the Royal Navy at the dawn of the Twentieth Century. Author Christopher M. Buckey explores this transformation in his recent book Genesis of the Grand Fleet: The Admiralty, Germany and the Home Fleet, 1896-1914. Buckley examines the factors and personalities that led to the creation of the mighty armada that was a foundational element in the Entente’s victory in the First World War. Buckey spotlights the truism that while technological superiority is definitely important in naval warfare, it means little if not paired with an effective tactical plan that in turn rests on a solid foundation of strategy. Buckey explores the intersection of geography, politics and personality and how these factors shaped the formation of the Royal Navy in the years leading up to the outbreak of the First World War. The book serves as an effective proof that geography matters. The...Read More
The Second Anglo-Sikh War. Author: Amarpal Singh. Publisher: Amberley Publishing. Price $ 25.00 In the later half of the 1840’s the Sikh state founded by Ranjit Singh found itself in competition with the expanding British Empire’s East India Company. A short conflict in 1845-46 had led to concessions by the Sikhs, with those concessions fostering resentments which sparked a second war in 1848. Amarpal Singh’s book The Second Anglo-Sikh War provides a comprehensive overview of the war, it’s causes and the aftermath. The book is divided between an extensive portrait of the personalities and events that led to the second war and the campaign and battles that resulted in the defeat of the Sikh armies and the annexation of the Sikh territory into the British Empire. Starting from the final events of the First Anglo-Sikh War, Amarpal Singh provides a detailed narrative that delves into the personalities of the coming war. The reader is introduced to the feudal nobility of the Sikh leaders and the families. You’ll gain insights...Read More
Opening the Great Ocean Depths: The Bathyscape Trieste. 2021. Authors: Norman Polmar and Lee J. Mathers. Naval Institute Press. 304 pages. Price: $44.95 ISBN: 978-1-6824-7591-1 The United States Navy submarine branch has long carried the nickname as the “Silent Service”. During the Cold War that phrase referred to both how quiet the boats were as well as the often-clandestine nature of their work. While not as glamourous as the attack boats and boomers, research submersibles like the Trieste, Alvin and the NR-1 performed critical missions and often operated under the cloak of deep waters. Now, Norman Polmar and Lee J. Mather bring the origins of the deep submersible operations to the surface in their recent book Opening the Great Ocean Depths: The Bathyscape Trieste. The Trieste was one of the earliest of the submersibles designed from the pressure hull outward as a way for a human crew to explore the deep ocean and ultimately, to explore the very bottom of the sea. Trieste, and her crew of Jacques Piccard and...Read More
The Flutist of Arnhem: A Story of Operation Market Garden. Author: Antonio Gil. Publisher: Dead Reckoning. 152 pages. Price $ 24.95 ISBN: 9781682474631 I first encountered the defense of Arnhem bridge in Cornelius Ryan’s book “A Bridge Too Far”. Later came the movie with a cast of thousands and a number board games covering aspects of the operation. Antonio Gil revisits the events of this battle with his recent graphic novel “The Flutist of Arnhem: A Story of Operation Market Garden”. Gil weaves a good overview of General Montgomery’s big push to end the war with a fictional tale of an SOE agent trying to deliver important documents to the Allied High Command. The two separate story lines intersect during the events of Operation Market Garden – the combined air assault and ground offensive designed to push the Allies over the Rhine and into Germany. The book retells the story Operation Market Garden with enough detail to understand the events, without getting bogged down within individual combat actions. While the...Read More
The birth of AI is coming, and it’s going to be messy. You’re thinking about Skynet, aren’t you? Or maybe the visage of giant, self-aware autonomous armored vehicles rolling across the battlefield dealing death and destruction as they execute their instructions. Well, relax, because it’s not going to be a self-aware AI like Skynet or lumbering super tanks…well, probably not like...Read More
From Biplanes to Ballistic Missiles — The Career of General Thomas S. Power. “To Rule the Skies: General Thomas S. Power and the Rise of Strategic Air Command in the Cold War”. Book Review.
To Rule the Skies: General Thomas S. Power and the Rise of Strategic Air Command in the Cold War. 2021. Author: Brent D. Ziarnick. Naval Institute Press. 312 pages. ISBN: 978-1-68-2475874 The National Museum of the United States Air Force has an impressive collection of artifacts representing the Cold War and the Strategic Air Command. The hulking airframe of a B-36 Peacemaker heavy bomber dominates the hall. The Peacemaker is flanked by the sleek lines of the B-47 Stratojet and B-58 Hustler jet bombers. The adjacent missile gallery houses the silent pillars of ballistic missiles that made up a third of the nation’s nuclear triad. But you can walk the length and breadth of the museum and not find a mention of General Thomas S. Power. It’s surprising as General Power led the Strategic Air Command through both the trying test of the Cuban Missile Crisis and the transformation of SAC into a strike force encompassing both the bomber and the intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM). Dr. Brent D. Ziarnick aims...Read More
The Eagle and the Sun Duel at Okinawa in “Rain of Steel: Mitscher’s Task Force 58, Ugaki’s Thunder Gods, and the Kamikaze War Off Okinawa”. Book Review.
Rain of Steel is an indispensable reference for understanding the Okinawa campaign. Moore’s book leaves the reader with a good understanding of how the scope of the campaign extended well beyond the waters surrounded Okinawa. Reading the book, the reader gains an understanding of how both the tenacious Japanese defense as well as the cost in lives and material, shaped US planning for the invasion of the Japanese home islands.Read More
Andrea Casarrubea’s new monograph an essential book for historians Great War aerial combat. Book Review.
In the Skies of Forgotten Courage: The RNAS and RAF in the Adriatic and Albania 1917-1918 – Book Review. Andrea Casarrubea, Aeronaut Books. 2018. 364 pages. Soft Cover. $69.99. ISBN 978-1-935881-62-9 Mention Great War aerial combat and most people immediately think the conflict over the Western Front and pilots such as Ball, Bishop, Fonck, Udet and Von Richtofen. Back in the day my education on the history of air power left you with the impression that the air started at the North Sea and ended at Switzerland. While the Western Front was an important conflict, the war in the air was present almost everywhere that the war was fought. Unfortunately, there’s been a dearth of material on the actions in many of these theaters. But that situation is changing, in no small part due to Andrea Casarrubea’s 2018 book “In the Skies of Forgotten Courage”. The monograph focuses on the activities of the Royal Navy Air Service and later the Royal Air Force in the southern...Read More
Legends of Ground Warfare Panzerkampfwagen IV The Backbone of Germany’s WW II Tank Force – Book Review David Doyle, Shiffer Publishing, Ltd.. 2017 112 pages Hard Cover $19.99 ISBN 978-0-7643-5359-8 Rick Martin Prolific military scholar David Doyle has outdone himself with this 2017 look at the venerable Panzer IV medium tank. The Panzer IV (Pz IV) was, as the book’s title indicates, the backbone of the German Army during the 1940s. It was found serving on all fronts and over 8,500 tanks of this type were produced. This 112 page book is arranged with each chapter looking at a different Pz IV model from the prototype and Type As to the last production model, the Type J. Each chapter features a thorough discussion of the Type with a handy table showing the dimensions, engine type and performance, crew, speeds, fording depth and trench crossing ability and armaments of each particular model. In addition, the manufacturers, chassis numbers and quantities of each type are also shown. Crystal clear black and...Read More
Cleveland Tank Plant – Aircraft and military vehicle production at Cleveland Plant 2 (1942-1970) – Book Preview David Doyle, G-104 Press. 2017 112 pages Soft Cover $25.00 UPC:9781775013303 Silvio Iacuone David Doyle is world renowned for his books and magazine features on military vehicles, ranging from Squadron Walk Around and In Action books to his Ampersand 1100 combined page book set on Dodges in US Military Service. In his latest book though, he is stepping away from that and teaming up with G-104 Press, a new publishing company out of Ontario, Canada founded by Scott and Kim Taylor. Instead of a specific vehicle type or series, his newest title “Cleveland Tank Plant” focuses on a location, a location where parts of one of the best WW2 bombers and most unique Cold War vehicles were manufactured. The book is mainly comprised of well captioned photos featuring images of the XP-75 Eagle fighter, B-29 Super Fortress sub-assemblies, M41 Walker Bulldog, M42 Duster, M56 Scorpion, M114 Armored Recon Vehicle, M551 Sheridan, M108...Read More
U.S. Halftracks in Action – Book Review David Doyle, Squadron Signal Publications. 2017 80 pages Soft Cover $19.95 ISBN 978-0-89747-829-8 Rick Martin Squadron Signal’s venerable In Action line has been publishing soft cover books on military vehicles, ships and aircrafts since 1971! Now they are going back and updating their past releases adding new content. Their most recent release is U.S. Halftracks in Action and what an improvement! The original U.S. Halftracks In Action was printed in 1996 and was written by Jim Mesko. It was book number 34 in the “In Action” line. It ran a tight 50 pages and was mostly in black and white with some color inserts. This new release written by David Doyle and represents a new effort on the part of Squadron Signal. As David puts it “Squadron is making an effort to standardize their books at 80 pages. The older volume was well short of that. The company is also taking advantage of newer printing methods which allow for more color and...Read More
Walter R. Borneman, Little, Brown and Company. 2016 595 pages Hard Back $30.00 ISBN 9780316405324 Walter Borneman’s range of history books cover from the Revolutionary War to the Westward expansion of the railroads to World War II. His new book, “MacArthur at War” is a warts and all biography of General Douglas MacArthur. “Douglas MacArthur always lived in his father’s shadow. It grew long before he was born…” are the first two sentences in chapter 1 of Borneman’s engrossing biography. Douglas’ father, Captain Arthur MacArthur, Jr., fought under Sheridan during the Civil War and won the Medal of Honor for a rather unorthodox and somewhat controversial frontal assault which may or may not have been ordered by his commander. It is this personal initiative which was shared by his son, Douglas, as well as other legendary commanders of World War Two such as Patton and Rommel, but which put these men in to conflict with their superiors. Douglas not only had to contend with a father whose experiences in...Read More
Heroes of Peace – Book Review Heroes of Peace – A History of the Third Kentucky Infantry in the Spanish-American War Colonel Greg Eanes, USAF (Retired), The Eanes Group, LLC. 2016 200 pages Paperback $18.95 ISBN 9781530755349 By Rick Martin Colonel Greg Eanes has written a fascinating look at the shaping of a fighting unit from disparate national guardsmen who still held resentments stemming from the American Civil War only 35 years before. His tightly written book, Heroes of Peace – A History of the Third Kentucky Infantry in the Spanish-American War features informative narration backed up by quotations from contemporary newspaper articles as well as first person accounts reprinted from letters and diaries. Plenty of footnotes offer citations as to source materials. In addition, three appendixes offer a chronology of the Spanish American War which focuses on the Third Kentucky, Division and Brigade Organization tables of the Third KY and a Regimental Roster of the Third KY. A complete Bibliography end caps the book. When the USS Maine was...Read More
Armchair General Interviews Zombie Author E.E. Isherwood Armchair General recently sat down with the former online editor of the Armchair General website, Brian King. Mr. King writes under the pen name E.E. Isherwood and currently has a series of books called Sirens of the Zombie Apocalypse. Book 4, Last Fight of the Valkyries, has a release date of April 28, 2016. ACG: Can you tell us how you came to be a writer? EE: Thank you for inviting me. Yes, after my many years in the Armchair General community I had written so many articles and read so much history I felt I was ready to take on the task of writing a book. However, I admit I was also slightly burned out on military history after almost fifteen years of talking about it every day. That’s why my first four books are set during the zombie apocalypse instead of in real history. It allowed me to have some fun, while still staying true to the military principles I’ve...Read More
NORTHFIELD, Vt. – Nisid Hajari has won the 2016 William E. Colby Award for his book, “Midnight’s Furies: The Deadly Legacy of India’s Partition.” Now in its 17th year, the Colby prize is awarded annually by Norwich University to a first-time author in recognition of a work of fiction or non-fiction that has made a major contribution to the understanding of military history, intelligence operations, or international affairs. Hajari oversees Asia coverage for Bloomberg View, the editorial page of Bloomberg News. He writes editorials on Asian politics and economics and edits Bloomberg’s opinion columns and commentary from the region. “Midnight’s Furies,” his first book, has been named one of the best books of 2015 by NPR, Quartz, the Daily Beast, the Seattle Times, and Amazon. “I am absolutely thrilled to be named the recipient of the 2016 Colby Award,” Hajari said. “To join the company of such distinguished military and historical writers as Jon Meacham and Dexter Filkins is a tremendous honor, and it’s particularly gratifying that the judges chose...Read More
Outsourcing Security: Private Military Contractors and U.S. Foreign Policy. Bruce E. Stanley. Potomac Books. 238 pages. Soft cover. $25.00 There are many books published that are simply not intended for the mass market. These volumes are crafted by authors to be read by a particular readership. When that book also fills a gap in scholarship for that select group of readers then you have a special volume. This is the case with Bruce Stanley’s outstanding book, Outsourcing Security: Private Military Contractors and U.S. Foreign Policy. It unquestionably fills an existing niche and greatly adds to the body of knowledge in this area. As the title clearly suggests, Stanley’s focus is on the use of private military contractors (PMCs) by the United States. Certainly, this is a subject area which can generate some highly emotional debate. However, the author stays clear of the moral and legal aspects of their use. Instead, Stanley examines the rise in the use of PMCs by the United States in the past 25 years. Just as...Read More
Tough As They Come. SSG Travis Mills with Marcus Brotherton. Convergent Books. 272 pages. Hard cover. $25.00 The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have generated some incredible personal stories of courage and determination. These stories highlight the power of the human spirit and have undoubtedly inspired many who have struggled with their own challenges. One Soldier’s story which clearly has touched and effected many is that of SSG Travis Mills. His story and his ability to face an incredible challenge will now be known and appreciated by a far greater audience with the release of his outstanding book, Tough As They Come. For those unfamiliar with the challenge Mills has faced, it is a significant to say the least. During his third deployment to Afghanistan, while conducting a patrol, Mills set his backpack on the ground. This touched off an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) which immediately made him a triple amputee. A few days later, while in the hospital, his remaining limb was removed. Incredibly, Mills survived making...Read More
Rock of the Marne: The American Soldiers Who Turned the Tide Against the Kaiser in World War I – Book Review
Rock of the Marne: The American Soldiers Who Turned the Tide Against the Kaiser in World War I. by Stephen L. Harris (Berkely Caliber, 2015), 348 pages. One year into the centennial of World War I (1914-1918), publishers have turned from presenting a flood of books on the war’s root causes and how it erupted in the summer of 1914 to subjects covering how it was fought on the war’s battlefields. Stephen Harris’s Rock of the Marne moves the action ahead to the Western Front’s penultimate battle in 1918 – the Second Battle of the Marne. Fought from July 15 to August 6, the battle pitted 52 German divisions against 44 French, 8 American, 4 British and 2 Italian divisions along the Marne River about 50 miles northeast of Paris. During the opening phase of the battle, the initial German assault crossing of the Marne, the stubborn defense against overwhelming odds mounted by a regiment of the 3d U.S. Infantry Division earned that outfit its everlasting “Rock of the...Read More
Richard III: A Ruler And His Reputation. David Horspool. Bloomsbury Press, December 2015. 320 pages. Hardcover. $30.00. Richard The Third. Is there a greater villain in English history? Even Guy Fawkes, a man who wanted to blow up over two hundred members of Parliament and impose a Spanish Inquisition styled theocracy over England, gets parades. Poor Richard gets only calumny, memorialized as a deceitful child-killing hunchback who seized the throne and tyrannized his people. But hold on now, declares eminent historian David Horspool, how much of this is true and how much of the story is Shakespearean myth? With that in focus the author plunges into a biography as deep as it is rehabilitative. Richard III: A Ruler And His Reputation is a scholarly yet readable work of a fascinating period of history. As an American, everything I know about The Wars Of The Roses is this; a bunch of guys, all named either Henry or Edward, kept stealing the throne from one another in a half-century of civil war. Because...Read More
Drone Warfare: The Development of Unmanned Aerial Conflict. Dave Sloggett. Skyhorse Publishing. Hardcover. 249 pages. $24.99. The term “drone” is a word fraught with controversy. One man’s efficient and modern weapon system is another man’s object of terror. Unmanned aerial systems (UAS) technology has the power to beguile the user into believing it affords solutions to complex global issues – solutions devoid of the third rail in foreign policy development, namely “boots on the ground.” Author Dave Sloggett’s latest work, Drone Warfare, explores the history and controversy of these aerial platforms and their role in today’s warfare. Sloggett writes from a position of unquestioned expertise having served for decades as a scientific advisor to the British military as well as a strategic advisor to publisher IHS Jane’s. While the reader may picture the iconic Predator drone flying over the endless Afghan mountains, the actual use of drone technology is much more widespread and increasingly available. Contrary to popular belief, drones are not a legacy of the post 9/11 world; their actual genesis began with...Read More