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A 15-minute Summary & Analysis of Erik Larson's Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania
A 15-minute Summary & Analysis of Erik Larson's Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania
by Instaread
Edition: Paperback
Price: $6.99
19 used & new from $4.66

5.0 out of 5 stars A Lot Of Information In A Quick Read, September 3, 2015
The purpose of Instareads is to provide a quick synopsis of a book with its characters, actions and the themes as well as an introduction to the author’s style. “Dead Wale” is the story of the sinking of the “Lusitania.”

This Summary delves into the military and political aspects of submarine warfare in the early days of World War I. Readers obtain a quick introduction to British knowledge of German codes, the use and, in Lusitania’s case, withholding of intelligence obtained thereby, the unsettled working relationship between First Lord of the Admiralty, Winston S. Churchill and the First Sea Lord, Jacky Fisher, the measured American response and the captains of the vessels involved.

Books that summarize other books this serve two purposes. Shorter and an easier read than Cliff Notes and the like, they give the reader a quick survey of the information in the work being summarized and assist the reader in deciding whether or not to pursue the book summarized. I picked up as lot of information about Lusitania which will be of help when I teach a class on World War I-1915 in a few weeks. After that, well maybe I will read “Dead Wake” itself.
I did receive a free copy of this book to read and review.

iHomeSet Camping Lantern - LED - USB Rechargeable - Mini Flashlight - Pocket Size (Orange)
iHomeSet Camping Lantern - LED - USB Rechargeable - Mini Flashlight - Pocket Size (Orange)
Offered by EM Store
Price: $23.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Extremely Pleased With This Lantern, September 3, 2015
I am glad that I accepted a free sample of this HomeSet Camping Lantern for testing and review. It is small, lightweight, with an orange plastic exterior. It can be easily recharged by plugging into a USB charger or, in a real emergency, by the crank in the bottom. The light has two intensities and can be projected as a spotlight with the device compressed or as a lantern with it opened as an accordion. The bottom is flat for sitting on a surface and has a handle for hanging.

This lantern has many uses, including camping, emergencies or just as an alternative source of lighting. We often eat dinner on our porch and, with it getting dark earlier, often open up the lantern and set it on the table for an almost candle-like glow. We are extremely pleased with this HomeSet Camping Lantern.

Legends and Lies by Bill O'Reilly and David Fisher | Summary & Analysis: The Real West
Legends and Lies by Bill O'Reilly and David Fisher | Summary & Analysis: The Real West
Price: $2.51

5.0 out of 5 stars A Quick Introduction to Heroes And Villains of the Old West, August 31, 2015
Instareads proved a quick synopsis of the story, the characters and the themes of the book as well as an introduction to the author’s style.

“Legends and Lies” is a collection of brief biographies of heroes and villains and the Old West, including Davy Crockett, Kit Carson, Black Bart, Wild Bill Hickock, Bass Reeves (possible inspiration for the Lone Ranger), George Custer, Buffalo Bill Cody, Annie Oakley, Jesse James, Doc Holliday and Billy the Kid.

Books like this serve two purposes. Shorter and an easier read than Cliff Notes and the like, they give the reader a quick survey of the information in the work being summarized and assist the reader in deciding whether or not to pursue the book summarized. I have been a fan of the Old West since I watched Davy Crocket and Wild Bill and visited Jesse James’ Meramec Caverns. I learned about new characters just from this Instaread. Before this summary I probably would not have bought Bill O’Reilly’s “Legend and Lies” but now I just might. Thanks Instaread!

I did receive a free copy of this book to read and review.

The First World War
The First World War
by John Keegan
Edition: Hardcover
208 used & new from $0.25

5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Start to Great War Study, August 26, 2015
This review is from: The First World War (Hardcover)
I picked up “The First World War” in hopes of finding a good one volume work on the War. I was successful. Author John Keegan has crafted a thorough exposition of all fronts, Eastern, Western, Gallipoli, colonial and maritime. Each facet is examined, military, political and personal. Out of necessity he moves fast so as to cover everything without becoming bogged down in details.

I picked up a few facts of which I was unaware: that Emperor Franz Joseph was initially against the war, that French generals had ordered the Eifel Tower be prepared for demolition in the event of imminent capture, the sickening enthusiasm in the armies and that the Marines were the most professional part of the Doughboy forces, but any Marine would have told me that. This book puts things into perspective by comparing the death rates among the belligerents and pointing out that, on the whole, relatively little damage was done to Europe by the War.

Battles that were just places to me, Ypres, Tannenberg, Verdun, The Somme, Vimy Ridge, San Mihiel became pieces in the great puzzle of the Great War. Mere names: Joffre and Petain, French and Haig. Ludendorff and Hindenburg became people. Trench life and the nature of gas attacks were described in comprehensible terms. By the time I reached the end I had a much greater understanding of the Great War as a whole, its origins, its flow and its conclusion. I highly recommend it as a starting point for any Great War study.

Sparkle Mini Roll, 6 Count
Sparkle Mini Roll, 6 Count

2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointed, August 22, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I am disappointed in this Sparkle Mini Roll towels. The reduced width does make for more economical use than standard size paper towels and it is about the right size for a single ply napkin. For many jobs I find the standard size to be more helpful and other brands tend to be more absorbent. I will go back to my prior brand.

The Hinge of Fate
The Hinge of Fate
by Winston Churchill
Edition: Hardcover
5 used & new from $2.24

5.0 out of 5 stars An Indispensable History of World War II, August 21, 2015
This review is from: The Hinge of Fate (Hardcover)
"The Hinge of Fate" is the fourth of 6 volumes of Winston S. Churchill's monumental history of World War II. The title is drawn from the fact that it was during the period of this book, late 1941 to the middle of 1942, that the hinge of war turned and the German and Japanese, who were advancing so quickly as the book opened, had started their long march to defeat and destruction. In the early chapters the Japanese are running rampant throughout the Pacific and into the Indian Ocean, threatening even Australia and India, while America was trying to recover from Pearl Harbor. The German Army was running out of steam in Russia, but months of bitter siege lay ahead. In North Africa, the Axis were still struggling with the British for control. In the Atlantic, U-boats exacted their deadly tolls, even within sight of American shores.

In the Far East, the Japanese marched through Malaya to the shores of the British bastion, Singapore, whose guns were, unfortunately, pointing to the sea rather that toward the land approaches. There inferior Japanese forces received the greatest surrender in the history of the British Army. The Dutch East Indies and its oil fell to the Japanese while their Navy menaced Ceylon, their Army conquered New Guinea and their pilots bombed Australia.

In North Africa the combined Italian-German forces threatened the Suez Canal and made the Mediterranean a hostile Sea for Allied shipping. The surrender at Tobruk, again to inferior enemy forces, was another blow to British confidence and prestige.

Churchill is mostly telling the story from his viewpoint, which was not, during this period, limited to Downing Street. The book starts with him visiting at the White House. The reader then follows him to Casablanca, across North Africa, to Moscow and back to Washington.

Churchill was a political animal and he tells the political tales. One of the major problems during this period of the war was the rivalries among French leaders: DeGaulle and Giraud, the sensitive prima donnas, and Darlan, the essential officer with a collaborationist past. Winston frequently mentions the American antipathy toward DeGaulle and the uproar created by the arrangements with Darlan, commander of the French Navy, who had so willingly cooperated with the Nazis when they were in the ascendency.

No political problem surpassed that of taming the Russian bear. It was up to Churchill to face Stalin's demands for a second front and then convince him of the impossibility of a landing in Europe in 1942 and the value of the "Second Front" in Africa and the bombings of Germany. The necessity of telling Stalin that the Arctic convoys would be suspended due to unacceptable losses did not make the meetings any more pleasant.

We now think of Churchill as the unchallengeable leader of Britain, but this book reminds us of an abortive revolt in the House of Commons in which a motion of censure was introduced in the wake of surrenders at Singapore and Tobruk.

Not all was disaster and the Hinge did turn. Before Alamein we never had a victory, after Alamein we never had a defeat. Operation Torch landed American troops in Africa and started them on the road to victory. In the Pacific, the Coral Sea and Midway, which was intended to finish the destruction of the American fleet begun at Pearl Harbor, sent Yamamoto's air arm to the bottom. By book's end, Africa was redeemed, the Japanese tide was receding, the Red Army was attacking and the next operation, Sicily or Italy, was being debated.

I have been a fan of Churchill's work since my father suggested that I read it. Now, as I reread it thirty some years later, the attraction has not diminished. It still brings the reader into meetings, conferences, battlefields and the minds of the wars leaders. It is limited by its personal outlook, but nonetheless it remains the indispensable World War II memoir.

Yalta: The Price of Peace
Yalta: The Price of Peace
Offered by Audible, Inc. (US)
2 used & new from $35.95

5.0 out of 5 stars An In-Depth Study Of A Crucial Conference, August 16, 2015
“Yalta: The Price of Peace” is an extensive, well researched study into the events related to the Yalta conference of 1945: the situations that spawned it, the conference itself, the problems it addressed and those it solved, and those it did not and its aftermath that still casts a shadow over the world scene.

Yalta, in the Crimea, was one of several locations suggested, including Alaska. Ultimately it was selected in accommodation of Stalin’s unwillingness to leave the Soviet Union, despite the strain that the travel put on FDR’s declining health. Each participant came with his own wish list. Stalin wanted to ensure his hold over Easter Europe, Churchill wanted to guarantee the independence of Poland, for whom Britain had gone to war, and Roosevelt wanted Soviet commitments to enter the war against Japan and to participate in the United Nations. FDR got what he wanted, Stalin claimed to have achieved his goals and Churchill, and later Truman, complained that Russia did not live up to its agreements. Differing interpretations, such as of democracy and trials may explain at least some of the post-war disputes.

Author S. M. Plokhy provides description that never boors and analysis that stimulates the mind. Recently released archives give him an advantage over previous historians. The physical setting of destruction in the wake of the Nazi withdrawal made it a dubious venue. The personalities and their interaction are carefully studied. The question of whether Roosevelt’s declining health affected the deliberations and their outcomes is raised and Plokhy’s answer is given. The issues, such as the reason Russian help against Japan was deemed to be needed and the distribution of influence in Europe make for profound contemplation. From school days I remember talk that it did not seem right that two Soviet republics, Ukraine and Belarus, had votes in the United Nations in addition to the U.S.S.R.. In this book I read that Stalin justified it on the basis that at least four British Dominions would have votes and that, at one point, Roosevelt suggested membership for Alaska, Hawaii and Puerto Rico. The subsequent developments, including Potsdam, the substitution of Truman for Roosevelt, the Soviet failure to live up to its agreements and the lingering sense of betrayal among Eastern Europeans all have their places in this narrative. I was impressed by the influence of Averell Harriman on policy at that time and the extensive involvement of Alger Hiss in the Yalta Conference.

I like this book because it is such an in-depth study of this controversial conference and the agreements flowing therefrom. I feel that I have a much greater appreciation of the meaning of Yalta and the Allied political dealings in the last year of World War II. A book that contributes so much to our understanding is worth five stars.

Purell 9121-03-EC Hand Sanitizing Wipes, Variety Scent, 40 Count Canister (Pack of 3)
Purell 9121-03-EC Hand Sanitizing Wipes, Variety Scent, 40 Count Canister (Pack of 3)
Price: $14.53
2 used & new from $14.53

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pleasant And Cleansing, August 7, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
The Purcell Hand Sanitizing wipes are gentle on the skin but hard on the dirt. Available in a variety of fresh scents they are both pleasant and cleansing. These are the wipes for me.

Remington PF7400 F4 Comfort Series Intercept Foil Shaver, Black
Remington PF7400 F4 Comfort Series Intercept Foil Shaver, Black
Price: $37.49
2 used & new from $37.49

5.0 out of 5 stars Everything I Would Ask For In A Razor, August 4, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This Remington PF7400 F4 Battery Operated Electric Razor is light weight, easy to grip and takes a charge quickly. It gives a good, close shave, has a pop-up trimmer and cleans easily. The cap has extensions that make it easy to balance when at rest. It has everything I would ask for in a razor.

14-18: Understanding the Great War
14-18: Understanding the Great War
by Stéphane Audoin-Rouzeau
Edition: Paperback
Price: $13.97
72 used & new from $2.46

3.0 out of 5 stars Understanding The Great War” helps the reader understand the War through the ..., August 2, 2015
“14-18: Understanding The Great War” helps the reader understand the War through the understandings of those who fought it, lived through it and commemorated it. Chapter by chapter the authors examine how civilized societies turned into brutal warriors, collectively and individually, and how they dealt with this transformation.

The magnitude of the struggle was unprecedented. The neat wars of the past between professional armies were replaced by total war as masses were inducted into the military and entire nations were channeled into support of the war effort. Civilians who had never fought before found themselves hating enemies they did not know, picking off perfect strangers and cleaning trenches of the frightened and wounded. What would they report about their service? Although uniformed personnel suffered most of the casualties, civilians found themselves bombarded, expelled from their homes and forced to work for their country’s invaders. How do they reconcile their loyalty to homeland with their acts of self-preservation? How did the war affect the people’s faith and how did men of the cloth and their flocks pray to the same God for help in killing their fellow men? How did individuals and nations assuage their grief and with what rituals did they conduct their mourning?

Authors Stephane Audoin-Rouzeau and Annette Becker raise and try to answer these questions and more. Originally written in French by French scholars it focuses on the French experience, but not the exclusion of other belligerents. The writing flows so well that I would not have known that it was a translation had I not been told. I did pick up a few facts of interest. Australia was the only significant belligerent not to adopt conscription, most armies were dominated by peasants and War Memorials listing the dead and tombs of the unknown arose in the wake of the Great War. At times I concluded that the American Civil War anticipated the course of the World War I and its aftermath. A fairly balanced study of the Armenian Massacre is presented as the Turks sought to remove civilians potentially sympathetic to the Ottoman Empire’s Russian enemies. At the end of this work I felt that I was aware of some currents flowing below the surface of battle and politics that so often dominate other tomes. Understanding will take more reflection and more reading. It is a good read early in the Centennial as it will help readers appreciate some of the thoughts they will encounter in future histories. For that it is worth picking up.

I did receive a free copy of this book with the hope, but not the requirement, of a review.

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