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Assholes: A Theory
Assholes: A Theory
by Aaron James
Edition: Paperback
Price: $10.73
94 used & new from $5.46

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.


Fury
Fury
Price: $13.00
23 used & new from $10.90

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: $25.02
64 used & new from $17.39

1 of 1 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
Price: $7.99

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
3 used & new from $14.00

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.


Sword of Honour
Sword of Honour
DVD ~ Will Adamsdale
Offered by Paint it Orange
Price: $20.34
21 used & new from $7.91

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Different look at WW2, June 7, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Sword of Honour (DVD)
While those who read the actual books upon which this series is based are perhaps disappointed, I found this to be a fascinating production. Daniel Craig is superb and plays the main character in a brilliant, restrained manner. For a change this is a realistic look at warfare with no over the top heroics. Everything portrayed here from a military history perspective is believeable and accurate. The randomness of war, combined with its absurdity gets well done here.

The various postings of Guy shows how one could have moved around quite a bit before seeing any actual combat. When that action does finally come its disjointed, confused and realistic. While the Halbadiers are a fantasy regiment invented by Waugh for his stories, his look at regimental life at the time is interesting. Again, absurd situations and characters abound!

This is a very British production and look at the war, and is a portrait of a truly good soul who manages to to get about in a chaotic world of events. For a true look at WW2 from the perspective of Old Albion I recommend this fascinating two part series.


Yorktown 1781: The World Turned Upside Down (Campaign)
Yorktown 1781: The World Turned Upside Down (Campaign)
by Brendan Morrissey
Edition: Paperback
Price: $15.59
81 used & new from $1.91

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Yorktown revisited, June 7, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Mr Morrissey's study of the Yorktown Campaign was quite enlightening. A lot about this campaign tends to get glossed over in the major histories of the Rev War. Here we get a good overall picture of the events leading up to the siege itself. Nice descriptions of numerous actions fought beforehand enhance the value of this work. In particular the very interesting and less well known battle of Greensprings fought not far from Yorktown a few months earlier could have had significant impact. Lefayette's blunder could have ruined Wayne's Penn. Brigade giving Earl Cornwallis a much needed victory that might well have had far reaching effects in this campaign.

I didn't find that the author short changed the reader on the events concerning Yorktown itself, but the fact remains that once Cornwallis penned himself in there was little that could have changed the final result. A fascinating what if remains if Arnold could have influenced the Earl to strike out at Lefayette and and the French Marines that well blocking the British from escaping at Williamsburg. This could have resulted in the Earl breaking free before Washy and Rochambeau were able to amass their overwhelming strength. It might have resulted in one of the most interesting battles of the war.

The Naval actions in the Cheseapeake were the deciding factor in all this and the author gives a good amount of time describing the two actions fought there. Uninspired British naval leadership doomed the Earl to his fate! If ever there was a need for a Nelson like figure to influence events in Britain's favor this was one time where it was sorely lacking.

The Osprey Campaign Series, limited as they are by their less than 100 page format still does an admirable job here. The maps and uniform pictures of key events in the campaign are inspiring and provide a vivid look. A good concise work for the for the Wargamer as well as Rev War buff.


Monuments Men
Monuments Men
by Bret Witter Robert M. Edsel
Edition: Paperback
21 used & new from $2.92

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Art in War, June 7, 2014
This review is from: Monuments Men (Paperback)
This is a popular history of a fascinating topic. The Nazi theft of art was a real nemesis and nearly succeeded in destroying countless works of art. While some desire this book to be more serious perhaps in its research I had no problem with the authors approach. Perhaps because I considered this a popular history from the start which modified my expectations. The topic was enlightening to me as it was an aspect of WW2 I was not that aware. So much about the war has been covered already that to find something like this was interesting. Reading the book after seeing the movie fleshed out a lot more of the story. The movie ties in well with the story here except of course many events had to be condensed and characters combined, etc. The usual stuff that cinema does when adopting a complex story to the screen. While other have pointed to more serious studies of this topic I find this book well written and a fun read. If you're like me and you've been there and done that with WW2 you should find this work a fun read. I certainly did!


Marinens Marscher: The Marches of the Royal Swedish Navy
Marinens Marscher: The Marches of the Royal Swedish Navy
3 used & new from $12.95

5.0 out of 5 stars Superb band that must be saved!, April 2, 2014
This historic band has served Sweden's Navy since around 1685. Seven trumpeters and 2 kettle drummers were the modest origins of what became the Royal Swedish Naval band service. Over the years many bands have come and gone but this current one is the last remaining professional band in the Swedish Navy.

Herein is a fine selection of Swedish nautical marches played with real verve and precision. Twenty-seven marches and over 75 minutes are presented here with distinct Naval and Coastal Defense associations. Many of the marches are by famous Swedish band composers such as Sam Rydbergs, while a few others are from the German march king Hermann Blackenberg no less! The band has a full and wonderful sound despite its small size.

With this band once again on the chopping block for Sweden's defense cuts it is indeed more poignant than ever to hear the fine quality of these 35 musicians. It is sad that a rich nation like Sweden would consider trashing an essential part of their naval history. There is a petition to try and save this band online. If its not too late to do so I would urge listeners to find it. After hearing this CD you will want to save it too!


Rossbach and Leuthen 1757: Prussia's Eagle Resurgent (Campaign)
Rossbach and Leuthen 1757: Prussia's Eagle Resurgent (Campaign)
by Simon Millar
Edition: Paperback
Price: $14.97
40 used & new from $10.74

5.0 out of 5 stars Prussia's Glory!, March 28, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Those who are looking for a good, quick analysis of these famous Second Silesian War battles of the can't go too far wrong here. The Osprey Campaign series are intended as quick reference works with nice maps and decent Oobs. They are ideal for wargamers and others looking for a nice summation of the battle. At roughly 95 pages each you can't expect an in-depth analysis of these actions. What you get is background information of the Campaign and rival commanders and armies followed by a fairly detailed description of the battle. These provide good color maps and illustrations of the events associated with the battle. Osprey also uses many contemporary prints and drawings as well.

Rossbach and Leuthen were two of Frederick's greatest victories. They epidemized his use of the famed Oblique Order method of attack. Leuthen shows this more clearly than Rossbach.

Rossback was a chaotic, encounter battle with Frederick catching the dysnfunctional Franco-Reichsarmee on the march. He proceeded to maul them in very short order. First with Moeller's expert use of artillery on Janus Hill which raked the enemy while in march column. Then the Prussian cavalry under the brilliant Sedlitz runs through the combined allied horse forcing them onto the ranks of their own infantry resulting in panic and mayhem. Finally the Prussian infantry advance over the Janus hill in perfect linear order with earshattering platoon and company vollies that cause havoc in Soubise's army. In less than a few hours the Prussian inflict over 10,000 allied losses with fewer than 500 of their own. It is one of Frederick's easist victories achieved with a minimum loss of Prussian life. Frederick could use more such cheaply bought victories!

At Leuthen there is potentially a more competent enemy. But the Hapsburg host is handicapped by having the inept Prince Charles of Lorraine placed in overall command instead of the more competent Leopold von Daun. Charles has a long list of defeats and this will perhaps be his greatest!

Frederick employs his classic Oblique Order of attack. He concentrates his smaller army against the flank of the stronger Austrian one. Fine marching and exact drill enable the Prussians who are familiar with the ground to march across the front of their enemy in order to slam into their flank. The terrain also allows for this as most of the Prussian maneuver is not visible to Charles and his staff. They also fall prey to Frederick's ruse of probing the Right while he leverages to strike their Left. Despite these advantages the Prussians will still have some stiff fighting as the Austrians even under bad leadership are still a formidable army. Still, it is an impressive victory with twice as many Austrian to Prussian casualties. The famous Anthem of Leuthen where the common Prussian soldiery give thanks To All Mighty God for their victory is one of many noteworthy events here. Frederick himself claimed that the honor of the House of Hohenzollern was vindicated with these two victories and he could die easier with that thought!

Both battles are covered pretty well in the Osprey format. Some might argue that each battle deserves its own booklet, and this would certainly add to the details of the narrative, but since Rossbach ends even before it gets started there is some logic in covering both battles in one volume. Nice maps and illustrations allow the reader to easily follow the action. The author also provides many actual photos of the battlefields today and how accessible they are for visiting. This to me is one of the great strengths of this series in that it provides that kind of infomation to the reader. In that respect these booklets can serve as a modern vistors guide as well. They also make for a good introduction to the general reader. Many pictures and maps can make the text seem less daunting to the reluctant modern day reader! Great introductory works and ideal for the Wargamer and historian alike.


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