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Thread: What Are You Reading Right Now?

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    Re: Part of the rise of the US

    Dale Brown's Flight of the Old Dog: The Soviet Union has mastered "Star Wars" tech in the form of a ground-based laser that can be directed at targets via an orbiting satellite. It's made all of the US's defensive capabilities vulnerable. To stop it, the US wants to use a heavily modified and heavily armored B-52 built at Area 51 and manned by America's best crew.

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    Re: Part of the rise of the US

    Island in the Sea of Time. The first of the Nantucket series.



    This is in preparation to re-reading the Emberverse series, since it seems that after almost 20 years the author has finally finished it.
    War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. - John Stuart Mill

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    Re: Part of the rise of the US

    Quote Originally Posted by jmotivator View Post
    Attachment 67260809

    Band of Brothers

    By Stephen Ambrose


    An excellent study of the most decorated US company in WWII, Easy Company, Second Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division . Ambrose wrote this book from interviews with the survivors of Easy Company in the late 80s and early 90s, around 50 years after the fact. These interviews were also augmented by extensive documentation and correspondence in the time of the war. It is a fascinating look into the mind of a soldier when they are stretched to their limits and how the human mind thinks under such duress.

    For instance, it never occurred to me in the more fanciful, novelized retellings of the war, that for all of their bravery, the men on the front line would regularly talk about hopefully losing an arm or a leg because, as they saw it, you left the fight on the Western front maimed or in a body bag, so losing a leg seemed like a bargain. They called it the "Million Dollar Injury". At one point one of the interviewees talked about going to the aid station in Bastogne and finding the happiest place in the whole village was in the recovery room for those with amputation. That more than anything, for me, shows exactly how horrific the life on the front line was, but the book does a good job of going into great detail on that life, and setting you up for that revelation such that it makes clear why that was the same position.

    Also of some interest that I learned while reading this book was a passing reference to something I guess I had always known, but never really considered. When discussing the monumental effort to counter attack after the German surprise attack (later referred to as the Battle of the Bulge) Ambrose pointed out a key weakness in the German strategy that persisted throughout the war: Their supply chain was, for the most part, managed by horse drawn carriages. It was very easy for the Germans to unintentionally extend beyond their supply chain. It was this key weakness that helped doom the last German offensive of the war. The US had many thousands of heavy trucks and jeeps that were able to resupply as fast as the mechanized infantry could move.

    The TV miniseries has long been one of my favorite TV shows of all time, but I must say, now that I got around to reading the actual book, I see the flaws more than I see what it got correct. They aren't small flaws, either, they are fundamental. but I won't get into those here. I still love the TV series, even for all the flaws.
    There's plenty of stuff that Ambrose left out in the book too (I read it a long time ago), especially when it came to some of the more colorful characters (Spiers, for example, actually executed a US Army sergeant, but that was never shown, and Liebgott wasn't Jewish, he was Catholic) in the company because it focused totally on Major Winters. I ended up using Wikipedia for more in depth backgrounds on the others.

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    Re: Part of the rise of the US

    Quote Originally Posted by PoS View Post
    There's plenty of stuff that Ambrose left out in the book too (I read it a long time ago), especially when it came to some of the more colorful characters (Spiers, for example, actually executed a US Army sergeant, but that was never shown, and Liebgott wasn't Jewish, he was Catholic) in the company because it focused totally on Major Winters. I ended up using Wikipedia for more in depth backgrounds on the others.
    Ambrose covered the rumored execution by Spiers, actually. I think he covered it the only way you could in the context of the war, as a rumor that everyone believed to be true.
    “A young man who wishes to remain a sound atheist cannot be too careful of his reading.” ― C.S. Lewis

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    Re: Part of the rise of the US

    51edAOwbeHL._SX324_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

    A Good Clean Fight

    By Derek Robinson


    This is a follow-on novel to the excellent book A PIECE OF CAKE, a fictional account of an RAF squadron from the Battle of Britain to the French Campaign. This novel spends time between the RAF squadron from A PIECE OF CAKE, an SAS squad, and a German intelligence officer during the Africa campaign. Robinson's first book in the series was rather controversial when it was released because it was not entirely glowing in its depiction of the men of the RAF, and this book follows generally the same theme. By now, however, most readers of military history, should realize that Robinson's fictional characters are really not that far off of the real thing. the book BAND OF BROTHERS doesn't really pull punches either on the mentality of men during wartime, but was excused because it was a first hand account. PIECE OF CAKE, on the other hand, was fictional, and written before realistic depictions of war had come into vogue... so it was more easily dismissed by British audiences taught to nearly deify the RAF. Robinson's novel made the argument that no, they were human, and wars are not necessarily won on brilliant strategy and flawless execution as they are on making mistakes at a slower pace than the enemy.

    A GOOD CLEAN FIGHT follows an SAS raiding party, the RAF Squadron and a German Intelligence office. Each separate story being one of waining leadership with something to prove.

    Barton's squadron of Tomahawks enters the story a ways into the book on the brink of being disbanded after a series of unforced errors that have seen the squadron suffer heavy losses with nothing to show, and Barton convincing his superiors to allow him a free hand at strafing enemy positions in a hope of drawing out German air cover.

    The SAS squad, on te other hand, has been wildly successful, but a series of errors have left the commanding officer, Cpt. Lampard, with a mark against him as he seeks promotion. Lampard is a risk taker, though, which is a bad mix for a desperate soldier.

    The German Intelligence officer, Major Paul Schramm, for me, is the most controversial story of the book. Robinson seems intent on making him more human than his RAF and SAS counterparts, the bookish wonk, disabled from injuries suffered in WWI, who seems to be the only one who takes war seriously, in that he hates it with a passion, while understanding the instinctive adrenaline rush of it. He suffers from PTSD connected to an event early in the book, and falls in with a Italian female doctor while recuperating in Benghazi, whose lust for life, and death, impact him greatly.

    Schramm is no less interesting than the other stories, but what I find somewhat objectionable, is how the author seems to make a conscious effort to minimize references to Hitler, or the Nazi policies that started the war in the first place. It is a hard bridge to cross between Schramm's constant indictment of war as the occupation of idiots, and his absolute lack of soul search on the ideologies of The Third Reich. This creates a gap in his moral searching that either shouldn't be there, or needs more explanation than the book gives it.

    Although that last bit is rather off putting, it is still a very good book, packed with interesting characters, dry British humor and a rather gripping story.
    “A young man who wishes to remain a sound atheist cannot be too careful of his reading.” ― C.S. Lewis

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    Re: Part of the rise of the US



    Red Famine: Stalin's War on Ukraine

    Anne Applebaum - Anchor/Random House - 2017 - 466pp


    "Applebaum's account will surely become the standard treatment of one of history’s great political atrocities . . . She re-creates a pastoral world so we can view its destruction. And she rightly insists that the deliberate starvation of the Ukrainian peasants was part of a larger [Soviet] policy against the Ukrainian nation . . . To be sure, Russia is not the Soviet Union, and Russians of today can decide whether they wish to accept a Stalinist version of the past. But to have that choice, they need a sense of the history. This is one more reason to be grateful for this remarkable book."
    — Professor Timothy Snyder, author of Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin


    We live in an extractive state, in which a ruling elite extracts wealth from the rest.

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    Re: Part of the rise of the US



    I got the coffee table book companion to Ken Burn's The Vietnam War miniseries for about $35, and its a well spent investment. Excellent articles and pictures. My only complaint is that its a hefty volume and one you cant read while lying down in bed. Other than that, its awesome. 9.5/10

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    Re: Part of the rise of the US

    James Elroy's "This Storm." The underside of Los Angeles circa 1941-42. One of America's best crime novelists, author of LA Confidential, numerous other crime novels of Los Angeles like the Black Dahlia, an almost telling work about his own mother, murdered when he was a child. Staccato writing, by an author who some claim is America's Dostoevsky. Nazis, Commies, corrupt police and politicians, actors and actresses turning tricks and every other criminal low life one can think of. The racism of the times, with LA serving as a metaphorical microcosm of the nation, making war profiteering seem harmless, and the nature of man as corrupt and evil. With all using and abusing sex, drugs and jazz. As if anything has changed. Always the question, who is the most corrupt and immoral?
    What kind of a man is a man who has not left this world a better place?

    No one is in control.

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    Re: Part of the rise of the US

    Why You Like It: The Science and Culture of Musical Taste by Nolan Gasser, Ph.D.

    A friend sent me this book Monday, and I was excited enough that within the hour, I'd gone to Amazon to buy a hand-held reading magnifier. That hasn't worked out so well, so I'm slowly squinting along, but it's a wonderfully readable read so far. Who decides what is "sophisticated"? How do you make music sound scary or funny?

    From the publisher, MacMillan:

    In this sweeping and authoritative book, Dr. Nolan Gasser—a composer, pianist, and musicologist, and the chief architect of the Music Genome Project, which powers Pandora Radio—breaks down what musical taste is, where it comes from, and what our favorite songs say about us.

    Dr. Gasser delves into the science, psychology, and sociology that explains why humans love music so much; how our brains process music; and why you may love Queen but your best friend loves Kiss. He sheds light on why babies can clap along to rhythmic patterns and reveals the reason behind why different cultures around the globe identify the same kinds of music as happy, sad, or scary. Using easy-to-follow notated musical scores, Dr. Gasser teaches music fans how to become engaged listeners and provides them with the tools to enhance their musical preferences. He takes readers under the hood of their favorite genres—pop, rock, jazz, hip hop, electronica, world music, and classical—and covers songs from Taylor Swift to Led Zeppelin to Kendrick Lamar to Bill Evans to Beethoven, and through their work, Dr. Gasser introduces the musical concepts behind why you hum along, tap your foot, and feel deeply. Why You Like It | Nolan Gasser | Macmillan

    Nolan Gasser's New Book Explores Musical Taste And Where It Comes From : NPR

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    Re: What Are You Reading Right Now?

    Grace of Nation

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