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The Star of Africa
The Star of Africa
DVD ~ Joachim Hansen
8 used & new from $13.00

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: $16.98
58 used & new from $6.38

5.0 out of 5 stars Different look at WW2, June 7, 2014
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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: $17.50
97 used & new from $1.79

5.0 out of 5 stars Yorktown revisited, June 7, 2014
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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
16 used & new from $10.98

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

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: $15.72
41 used & new from $9.53

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.


Music From Western Frontier 2
Music From Western Frontier 2
Price: $18.88
13 used & new from $13.75

5.0 out of 5 stars 4th US Cav band Rides On, March 15, 2014
The 2nd Volume of US Army Music on the Western Frontier continues to be a success. This is what a post Civil War band might have sounded like. There is more brass for sure, and somehow the music and the manner in which its played has that out West quality to it! Hard to explain, but these folks somehow convey that sound. The US Cav bands were capable of playing mounted, although that was probably not done as much as their European counter-parts in this period. US Cavalry was for the most part mounted infantry and the bands would have have been similar in that regard.

Volume 1 in this series reflected a lot of popular Civil War tunes. Here we get more music of the post war period. There are some great selections of marches by Gilmore and Grafula that are less played now. Here you get to see what the band scene was like before Sousa dominated everything! There are no Sousa marches here and rightly so as the musical period covered by this recreated band ends just before that time.

Those wanting an authentic sound played on period instruments from the post Civil War era to just before Sousa can't go wrong here. The CD also provides nice linear notes and a brief history of the band and the music scene out West. Enjoy!


Frederick the Great: The Magnificent Enigma
Frederick the Great: The Magnificent Enigma
by Robert B. Asprey
Edition: Hardcover
42 used & new from $1.98

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb Friedrich Der Grosse Bio!, March 15, 2014
This is perhaps one of the best bios on Frederick II known as the Great. Not only is it readable, but the author gets you into the feel of the times as well. Frederick had a penchant for using French. Unlike other works, this author translates the numerous French, German and Latin phrases that come up during the course of the book. More biographers should do this instead of leaving their readers high and dry in that regard!

While most of Frederick's life was spent in the saddle conducting his military campaigns this work also spends time developing who the man was besides just the great general. We learn about his ability as a classical performer on the flute, and the once great court orchestra that he ran for many years between campaigns. Music, and literature were intellectual past times for him. Perhaps if the Silesian Wars had not taken so much of his time, Frederick might be known more today as Germany's philosopher king. He certainly ranks as such despite his constant wars.

Frederick fought some 16 major battles in his lifetime. This author is not remiss in his accounts of them. While not detailed military history like Christopher Duffy, the action is broken down into live time reports which gets the reader into the blow by blow flow. Each battle gets a nice description and summation along with a decent map to follow. Even complicated actions like Kolin and Zorndorff are readable and easy to follow here.

Frederick's post Seven Years War life gets a full latler part of the book. His work on the Prussian state gets the attention it deserves. Though an enlightenend autocrat Frederick had no concept of democratic government. That said, he was not hesitant to promote those from below the ranks who showed ability.

The popular topic of Frederick's sexuality gets some address here. While it is vogue today to consider him gay, the verdict is still out in that regard. Frederick certainly preferred the company of men. This was in part due to his cloistered upbringing and physical abuse from his deranged father, Frederick William I. He was likely bi-sexual as the author shows that he had dalliances with both genders. His marriage to Elizabeth of Brunswick was a political arrangement influenced by Austria. Frederick no doubt disliked that and treated his unfortunate Queen in a detached manner. She was also not his intellectual equal.

This work presents a universal look at the man and his times. It is well written and superb on all accounts. Even though it was done back in the 1980s this shall remain a classic of Frederick The Great for many years to come.


The military life of Frederick the Great
The military life of Frederick the Great
by Christopher Duffy
Edition: Hardcover
28 used & new from $5.75

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic Study of Frederick's War, February 10, 2014
Although written back in the 1980s this remains a standard of its kind. Christopher Duffy was an acknowledged expert on 18th century warfare and was one of the few authors working on this period at that time. His books on the Prussian and Austrian armies remain classics to this day. For this work he distilled a lot of what he had already written in the previous two books on the armies and added additional analysis of Frederick's campaigns.

While Fred's life is sketched out here, this is primarily a military biography. Those seeking more on his life should look elsewhere, although it can be fairly argued that Frederick's wars were essentially his life for the most part. Duffy provides discussion of the decisions Frederick took in his campaigns and battles. The chapter on the 7 Years War is extremely detailed and long. For some reason he did not break this down into individual chapters and preferred one long narrative. The same for the 1st and 2nd Silesian Wars of the 1740s. Frederick's genius was in his ability to seize the moment and throw everything into all out attack. It worked more often than not. He won roughly half of the 16 or so battles he fought during his extended career.Spectacular success at Rossbach and Leuthen was often equally balanced by horrific losses at Kolin and Kundersdorf.

Over time Frederick learned to temper his aggressive tactics with more thoughtful use of troops. His later battles in 1761-62 employ careful pinpoint tactics of attack with sophisticated coordination of infantry and artillery. In this way Frederick prefigures later 19th century warfare to a large extant, although he tends to be known less for these innovations. He would also develop notable skills in positional defense employing terrain, redoubts and fortified camps.

His earlier campaigns in the 1740s achieved notable victories without the huge bloodletting seen later in the 7 years War. The science of war advanced during these years and the Austrains became skilled in the art of defense with strong use of artillery. Frederick never really countered the Austrian use of Croats and Grenzers as raiders and skirmishers either. This was a failing that he would later try to address with middling success.

Frederick's last campaign in 1778, the almost forgotten War of Bavarian Succession tends to get glossed over in many biographies. It was not a high point in his military career. In fact, Duffy argues that the army used then was of Frederick's creation and was inferior in quality to his father's army. That army was the one that bore the brunt of his military campaigns. This is an interesting observation that Duffy makes implying Frederick's inability to perfect the instrument his father had created earlier in the 1700s. Frederick was not willing to throw his army at the Austrains with the same recklessness he had often done in the past. As a result the Campaign was inconclusive with the army suffering heavily from desertion and associated attrition.

Duffy concludes his fine study of Frederick with a general summation of his military career and contributions to the art of war. This is a seminal work and deserves to be in the library of any serious student of Frederick's Wars and Campaigns.


WOG: Frederick's War Board Game
WOG: Frederick's War Board Game
Offered by Grand Scale Games
Price: $62.98
7 used & new from $51.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Frederich Der Grosse marches on!, January 3, 2014
This is an interesting adaptation of the original Hold The Line (HTL) game of the Rev War to the Battles of the 1st and 2nd Silesian Wars and the 7 years War ranging from 1740 to 1759. These were the battle that made Prussia under Frederick the Great. The system is modified slightly from the Rev war game.

These battles were fought on a larger scale and of course included the use of lots more cavalry. You will find that both Heavy and Light cavalry add some different elements to the system. Leaders have been enhanced as well allowing for more varied use than in the original game. Musketry and Artillery ranges and effects have also been modified to account for this period.

New troops types include Austrian Grenzer or Croats & Pandors which have a hit and run quality to them. The Prussians in turn have numerous elite Grenadier units, deadier musketry and better leadership. This does make some of the battles somewhat lop-sided but these could be altered by the players if so desired.

The game includes only 8 battles. Some obvious battles like Rossbach and Zorndorf are not found because French and Russian counters are not included. Only the Austrians face off against the Prussians here. Some additional battles could have been included with them like Lobositz and Prague for example. Perhaps these and the others will be included in latter additions to the system.

The game is just as fun as the original HTL and players should have no problem adapting to the modifications which in general enhance the system. For a fun and simple portrayal of a lesser known period in wargaming you can't go wrong here despite the rather steep pricetag.


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