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The Longest Afternoon: The 400 Men Who Decided the Battle of Waterloo
The Longest Afternoon: The 400 Men Who Decided the Battle of Waterloo
by Brendan Simms
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $17.70
66 used & new from $8.01

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Epic Defense of a Waterloo Chateau, August 24, 2015
Waterloo 200 has inspired some interesting books recently to help mark the signature passing of this noteworthy event in European history. The 200th annivevsary of Waterloo. Among the many aspects of this complex event. a few stand out. The gallant defense of the Chateau/farm known as Le Haie Sainte (named after the Savior perhaps) was one of the pivotal defensive positions the Duke of Wellington had chosen. As a master of the tactical defense, the Duke chose a number of key strong points to serve as breakwaters against the massive French assaults that he expected Napoleon to launch upon his line in order to break through to Brussels and win the campaign.

Branden Simms has created an inspired work which provides a detailed look at how a small unit conducted itself in this period under extreme duress. His book is not only a military history, but a look at the actual people who took part in these events. He chronicles their lives on an almost hourly basis and we endure with them those momentous events that took place on that sultry afternoon 200 years ago on a small Belgian field. That farmland and structures remain active to this day which are owned by individuals aware of their historical significance. The author was privileged to know the current owner of La Haie Sainte and was able to spend actual time in the Chateau doing the research for this book. This is a fast paced work, which reads almost like a novel. Those wanting to see a famous, world changing event like waterloo from an intimate, human perspective should certainly find this fine work worthwhile. The defense of Le Haie Sainte is still admired and studied today by military academies. It remains one of the epic Last Stands in history.

24 Hours at Waterloo: 18 June 1815
24 Hours at Waterloo: 18 June 1815
by Robert J. Kershaw
Edition: Hardcover
6 used & new from $20.30

5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent work, that gives a fresh perspective to the ..., August 19, 2015
This is a very compelling work. While there have been many books that highlight first hand accounts of Waterloo, this new format of placing the action within a 24 hour period provides a new twist on the topic. There are many old and new voices here. Lots of the old English accounts are there, but mixed in as well with more recently translated Dutch-Belgian, Prussian, German and French ones. This provides a refreshing mix and gives a new perspective to these distant voices from that horrific day 200 years ago.

The hour by hour pace of the book is exciting and provides a level of detail and drama which is new for the battle. There is a lot of action packed into this 400 page work. The scope of 24 hours means strictly Waterloo itself, and not the earlier actions. However we do get many references to them as the armies move into position from the preceding day.

An excellent work, that gives a fresh perspective to the soldier's experience 200 years ago. The voices of all these brave men, long dead, speak out to us today. The horror they saw and partook in seems incredible by today's standards. If war seems bad today, take a look at what these poor devils endured! They lived in harsh times where violence and lack of proper care were commonplace. We live soft lives today in comparison! A great read for Waterloo 200!

24 Hours at Waterloo: 18 June 1815 Paperback International Edition, January 5, 2015
24 Hours at Waterloo: 18 June 1815 Paperback International Edition, January 5, 2015
by Robert Kershaw
Edition: Paperback
9 used & new from $2,399.00

1.0 out of 5 stars and while very good, is certainly NOT worth the asking price shown ..., August 19, 2015
There has to be a pricing mistake here! This is a current title, and while very good, is certainly NOT worth the asking price shown here. Unless I am missing something in terms of some kind of special or unique edition I think there should be a correction.

Napoleon (TV Miniseries) (3-Disc Collector's Edition)
Napoleon (TV Miniseries) (3-Disc Collector's Edition)
DVD ~ Christian Clavier
Offered by cds_dvds_guaranteed
Price: $15.72
44 used & new from $7.94

5.0 out of 5 stars Vive L'Emperor!, August 7, 2015
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A visually stunning production. A good cast enhances this very well done mini-series. Presented in four parts it manages to capture the flavor of the times and the Emperor's incredible life. Historical events are accurately shown for the most part, and if changed are done so in the spirit of the time. Even a large 400 hour epic like this cannot possible capture the many aspects of Napoleon's hectic life. The battle scenes are well done and manage to show key elements of the battles portrayed. The overall effect is worthwhile and a treat to the eye as it was filmed in many of the actual locales. One of the better TV versions of the Emperor's epic life.

Lines of Wellington
Lines of Wellington
DVD ~ John Malkovich
Price: $22.99
15 used & new from $12.66

4.0 out of 5 stars Slow Moving Epic., August 7, 2015
This review is from: Lines of Wellington (DVD)
This is a slow moving work steeped in the history of the Peninsular War. In 1810 Napoleon thought he might finally eliminate The British in Portugal. These two elements had troubled his effort in Spain since 1808 and earlier. Marshall Andre Massensa was sent with a large, but as it turned out NOT large enough army of 60,000 to eliminate the Anglo-Portugal problem. Lord Wellington knew that the French were coming and had prepared an extensive series of fortified lines call Torres Vadres just outside of Lisbon. Its unfortunate that the movie was not named WELLINGTON"S LINES OF TORRES VADRES instead. The current title is vague and doesn't sound good. After stinging Massena at Busacco where the French lost 5,000 to 1,200 Anglo-Portugese, Wellington fell back upon his fortified lines and had the Portugese populace torch their land thus leaving nothing for the French. This was almost a rehearsal for Napoloen's invasion of Russia two years later where the same scorched earth policy would be employed by the Russian peasants. In fact the Russians were likely inspired by ths effort.

This film is like a pictorial version of Goya's Disasaters of War drawings. It takes the viewer on a Tour-de-Force showing how different elements of Portugal's populace dealt with the nightmare of the 3rd major invasion of their country. This event was a landmark in Portugal's history and is worthy of a film epic for sure. Unfortunately this one does not quite measure up.

John Malkovitich is hopelessly miscast as Wellington in this film. In 1810 he was 41 and in vigorous health! His portrayal of the iron Duke is lethargic and laconic! Wellington was very active and vigerous in his command style. Malkovitch shows little of that here. He should have played Andre Massena's role instead. . This would have worked better as Massena was not happy with his command, and his little tart mistress in Hussar uniform reflected his lack of concern. A good, young stiff upper lip Brit could have played Wellington instead. Think of Christopher Plummer's brilliant portrayal in the epic film WATERLOO. Malkavitich looks like he is ready to go to sleep half the time! Plus Wellington had far much more to concern himself than a silly painting of his recent victory at Busacco! In his own words he had great respect for Marshal Massena who was considered The Emperor's Child of Victory for all his past successes. Wellington never slept well until Massensa was starved out and broken at Torres Vadres. This must have been a deliberate decision on the part of the director to portrayal Wellington and Massena in this way. If so it was a poor one and detracts from the historical accuracy of the production.

The movie also does not show the extent of starvation and suffering that the French endured for over a month while they tried to figure out a way to penetrate Torres Vadres. Its almost anti-clamatic at the end when they are shown suddenly gone from their positions.

This is a beautifully produced, if uneven historical work. The director should have been more about his bussiness in certain very important details. He rather misses the point if his desire was to show how Portugal suffered during this time. Still worth a view as there are not many films about this topic outside of the rather tongue and cheek SHARPE series.

Assholes: A Theory
Assholes: A Theory
by Aaron James
Edition: Paperback
Price: $10.30
150 used & new from $1.47

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Growing Problem!, January 30, 2015
This review is from: Assholes: A Theory (Paperback)
The author makes a compelling argument that A_Hole Capitalism, which the US is close to becoming, encourages the mindset of these self -centered individuals. It comes as no great surprise that the US in terms of raw numbers is one of the leading exponets of A-Holes! Capitalism, by its very nature encourages the growth of such people, whereas more cooperative systems of government tend to discourage them. The author is tongue and cheek about his topic, but also quite serious and philosophical as well. He tries to provide a blue print of what typifies an A-Hole. He argues persuasively that a society can encourage their proliferation, and that once a certain tipping point is reached A-Holes can seriously degrade the quality of life of that society. We are dangerously close here in the US to reaching the point. This book is a cautionary warning. We must begin to structure our society in such ways that discourages the development of selfish, winner take all style capitalism. Otherwise we risk having true A-Hole Capitalism. An amusing, but sobering read which is dry at times but worth the effort. If you have ever dealt with these kinds of people, as many of us do on a daily basis, then this book should prove helpful. Perhaps it will awaken our society toward a growing problem which, like all the others needs time and effort to be addressed.

Price: $12.49
67 used & new from $4.78

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good, but with standard cliche ending, January 27, 2015
This review is from: Fury (DVD)
The production value and acting are all good to first-rate. My problem with this film is a tendency I see now with many recent WW2 films. The Saving Pvt. Ryan cliche ending. This is the third or forth recently made big Holywood WW2 film that has to have a handful of brave GIs holding off the Nazi hordes. We first got this fantasy ending from Saving Pvt Ryan back in 1998 and unfortunately it has now caught on as a required feel good ending for these kinds of films. This one had to have a job done on the SS so our gallant tank crew shoot-up an SS battalion! The film was good up to this point, and with a better ending surely would have been great.

Don't get me wrong, I don't have a problem with the Germans or SS getting smeared, but I think this has become all too predictable and takes away from what could have been a really great film about US tankers. I hope this is the last time we have to endure a GI last stand against the Nazi's. Something tells me though that this will not be the case and this cliche ending has now become the required norm. Maybe it would be good to see the war from a non-US perspective for a change too. We were only in the last half of it after all. We have tendency to get too full of ourselves and often forget that the war and most of the losses were suffered by our allies.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 27, 2015 9:29 PM PST

The Great War: A Combat History of the First World War
The Great War: A Combat History of the First World War
by Peter Hart
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $22.43
72 used & new from $13.84

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb Military Study, January 12, 2015
This is a superb military study of the Great War. if you are looking for some new perspectives on the Bloody Fields of Flanders and elsewhere then this seminal work by Peter Hart is a good place to start. Many, many books have been written on WW1 and with the 100th anniversary upon us this continues to be so.

This work places the military aspects squarely in the forefront and provides the reader a superb look at how and why the war was fought the way it was. The author also makes frequent use of first hand material to let the soldiers who took part tell their story.

Some detractors might observe that the chapters dealing with the Eastern Front and elsewhere are slender and that few quotes from participants are used. Doubtless the language problem was a factor here. If you are looking for a comprehensive look at the conflict on this front and others then you might be disappointed. The author is deffinately concerned mostly with the Allied effort on the Western Front. It is here that he believed the war would ultimately be either won or lost.

The author tries to dispel the many notions that the allied generals were incompetent and simply threw their armies away on wasteful frontal attacks. Instead Haig, Foch and Joffre are seen in more positive light. Under the circumstances it is doubtful that the battles could have been conducted much differently. The tactical concepts combined with the massive size of the armies and the firepower that they could produce were all factors that would have resulted in a bloodbath regardless of who commanded. .

The author sees the conflict as a pendulum that swung back and forth as first the Germans and then the Allies each tried to introduce new weapons and tactics into the Trench War matrix. Positive results were often achieved but the cost was always high. In WW1 military victory on the battlefield would never come cheaply to one side or the other. The size of the armies and the new firepower that they possessed simply precluded any decisive result until one side could be gradually worn down.

The author also provides a sobering look at the effects of US intervention in 1918 as the German Michael Offensives burned out. One quote from a German officer puts it simply: "Yes, it was easy for the inexperienced Americans to stage heroic feats against the German Army of 1918. It was totally exhausted and could no longer effectively resist the Allied attacks. These Dough Boys would have had a different story had they met the German army of 1914-16!" True, the US Army under its Bulldog General Pershing just ploughed forward with the crudeness of a Donkey often suffering horrific losses in the process.

This is a superb work, smoothly written and with many new insights to provide a fresh look at a well worn conflict.

The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo 2013
The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo 2013

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Tattoo Sinks Further Than Ever!, January 1, 2015
To say that musically the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo of 2013 is bad does not really convey the full impression. This is a show under its current producers who have allowed all elements of pop and fast paced entertainment to enter within its traditional confines.

The opening Fanfare is a confused mess of Magma sounds which is only saved by the gradual entry of the Massed Pipes & Drums. They play a fast paced medley of mostly modern piping tunes interspaced with some old evergreens. No complaints here, this display is always first rate if not a bit too hectic in that tunes are not played in full, but generally in clipped fashion. No doubt an undue influence from modern Civvy piping.

From here the show goes steadily downhill. The Traditional Band of Korea while colorful in person, are a dreadful racket audio wise.

Once again the party sounds of that annoying little brass ensemble from NZ, The NZ Army Band are back yet again. They seem to come every two years with same pop display. Can't we get a good long break from them!

The Tattoo seems to be taking undue influences from the NS Tattoo in Nova Scotia again with a Children's Choir this year. Their flat sounding voices bouncing off the castle esplanade make not for an appealing listening experience. One asks the question. Why? Why include them except for cute audience appeal.

Too bad this once proud Military Tattoo has gone the route of smaltz vs. quality.

There is what might seem an interesting appearance by the Central Mongolian Army Band but they seem buried within the multitude of racket.

Even the Massed Military Bands drawn from all aspects of the services can't save the show despite their talent. Playing a hodge -podge of classics the music is clipped and modified to the point that only a few bars of each gets any notice. Again, why bother!

The final packs it all in with a decent rendition from Holst's Planets in what appears the first real music of the entire Tattoo! But again those flat kiddie voices ruin everything!

One might dismiss the 2013 Tattoo musically as a one-off bad show, but unfortunately this is the growing trend among all Tattoos now. So we can only expect worse to come from the current producers of the Tattoo as they strive to mix more and more pop with the fast vanishing old traditions of the show. I don't even bother to buy the DVD anymore after hearing the music here. You shouldn't either! God help us for the 2014 production!

The Star of Africa
The Star of Africa
DVD ~ Joachim Hansen
6 used & new from $13.74

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Romantic Portrayal, June 26, 2014
This review is from: The Star of Africa (Hardcover)
This is an average film chronicling a lesser known German WW2 ace. For me the dubbed version takes away from the Germanness of the film. All the actors seems too Hollywood American in style. Best viewed in German with English subs where possible. This film provides a light and breezy look at a figher pilots career in WW2. Coming from Germany the film has interest but falls flat in a number of ways. Since he gained so many victors in aerial combat we see surprisingly few dogfight scenes. The ones we do see are repeated and are against the same RAF aircrafr, i.e. Hurricanes. No Spits are any bombers like Wellingtons, Lancasters, etc. Surely our hero must have shot some of them down! I understand this being a 1950s foriegn film the budget and ability to produce special effects were limited by today's standard. The mat shots of aircraft in the skies are a bit lame at times. The romance which becomes the centerpiece of the film while nice takes up too much time. While the acting and prodcution value are decent for the time period the film could have given us more emphasis on Marseilles career than it does. The end seems almost anti-climatic and is punctuated by a deffinite German anti-war message. OK, for the subject matter but an average view for all that. Could have been better, but typicakl of 1950s foriegn films I suppose.

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