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Mike O'Connor "Wordsmith" RSS Feed (Wausau, WI USA)
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Japanese Naval Air Force Camouflage and Markings, World War II
Japanese Naval Air Force Camouflage and Markings, World War II
by Donald W. Thorpe
Edition: Paperback
21 used & new from $35.00

4.0 out of 5 stars Good Overview of JNAF Camouflage!, February 8, 2016
When it was published in 1977, Donald Thorpe's JAPANESE NAVAL AIR FORCE CAMOUFLAGE AND MARKINGS, WORLD WAR II was the ONLY English-language book on the subject available. With its combination of concise but authoritative text, color profiles and rare photographs, it was a a godsend to aviation buffs, modelers, etc. While it has aged, it's still a valuable resource.

After a general introduction to JNAF structure and terminology, Thorpe discusses general JNAF schemes, general markings, unit markings and aircraft. He covers such topics as the four basic schemes, operational markings, victory markings, hinomaru application, fleet identifiers, command markings and so on. While much of this info is now common knowledge, it wasn't back in '77 when I bought my copy! Section four is the frosting on the cake - eight pages of color profiles on JNAF aircraft ranging from Zekes to Judys, Alfs to Tabbys, Irvings to Georges. A color chip chart is included in this section. The profiles look to be done in colored pencil.

So, while it's long in the tooth, Thorpe's book and the companion JAAF volume are still worth a look. If the artwork seems a bit dated, the wealth of photographs still rates a thumb's up. Recommended.


Yardbirds: The Ultimate Rave-Up
Yardbirds: The Ultimate Rave-Up
by Greg Russo
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars In-depth History of One of Rock's Greatest Groups!, January 24, 2016
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Greg Russo's YARDBIRDS, THE ULTIMATE RAVE-UP is a thorough, entertaining summary of the life and musical times of one of the finest, most creative rock groups of all times. Originally published in 1997, this fifth edition, published by Crossfire Publications, will delight Yardbirds fans of all ages.

Though overshadowed by the Fab Four and the Stones, the Yardbirds - Keith Relf, Chris Dreja, Paul Samwell-Smith, Jim McCarty and Eric Clapton - created some of the finest blues music ever when they burst on the music scene in 1964. Clapton soon left and was replaced by Jeff Beck. Samwell-Smith dropped out later to become a producer. Yet, thanks to the mercurial Beck, the band soared to new heights. Unfortunately, the group lost its mojo thanks, in part, to producers who didn't have a clue about the band's genius. Jimmy Page took Beck's place but the band crashed and burned in 1968.

Russo's book is a worthy tribute to Relf, Dreja, McCarty & Company. His intimate knowledge of the band is evident on every page, providing an up-close-and-personal view of some very talented musicians at work. The book is illustrated throughout with hundreds of vintage and contemporary photographs of the various band members along with cover art, posters, etc.

YARDBIRDS, THE ULTIMATE RAVE-UP is a great companion piece to all the Yardbirds' recorded material. While nothing beats listening to those long-ago classic recordings, Russo's book gives the fans a wider knowledge of and appreciation for the group. I hope Russo does a sequel focusing in greater depth on the music similar to the BEATLES RECORDING SESSIONS book. Highly recommended.

*****
9,400 Helpful Votes!


Beatles Gear: All the Fab Four's Instruments from Stage to Studio - The Ultimate Edition
Beatles Gear: All the Fab Four's Instruments from Stage to Studio - The Ultimate Edition
by Andy Babiuk
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $36.92
41 used & new from $27.95

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fab Guide to Beatles Gear!, January 17, 2016
Beatles fans will enjoy Andy Babiuk's BEATLES GEAR. It's an informative, nuts-and-bolt guide to the various guitars, drums, harmonicas and assorted musical instruments the Fab Four played - or at least owned - during their career. A 2015 Backbeat Books release, Babiuk's book offers up a informative look at all the 'gear' that helped JPG&R create beautiful music.

BEATLES GEAR casts a wide Beatles net starting from their musical origins till the breakup. Babiuk does a fascinating job of tracing the evolution of Beatles gear in the context of their growing fame. While there is a fair amount of music terminology, that doesn't overwhelm the casual reader - i.e., me - from enjoying the story. The book features a wealth of color and b&w photographs illustrating the Beatles and their gear, many of which have never been seen before.

I haven't seen the first edition of this book so can't compare the two. In any case, there must be a million books on JPG&R out there but BEATLES GEAR provides an interesting, authoritative guide to a heretofore-little known area of Beatles life and lore. Recommended.

*****
9,350 Helpful Votes!


Duke in His Own Words: John Wayne's Life in Letters, Handwritten Notes and Never-Before-Seen Photos Curated from His Private Archive
Duke in His Own Words: John Wayne's Life in Letters, Handwritten Notes and Never-Before-Seen Photos Curated from His Private Archive
by Editors of the Official John Wayne Magazine
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $15.78
57 used & new from $11.79

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars John Wayne: Up-Close-and-Personal!, December 30, 2015
DUKE IN HIS OWN WORDS provides a behind-the-façade look at John Wayne the man as revealed by his comments, correspondence and photographs drawn from the Wayne Archives. A 2015 Media Lab Books release, the book should delight fans of the Duke.

The book's material is arranged into chapters on Letters to Family, Letters to Friends, Letters to Washington, Letters to Troops, Letters to Hollywood and Letters to Fans. In his writings, Wayne comes across as a plain-spoken, opinionated, thoughtful, and articulate individual. The photographs are a combination of shots showing John Wayne the Movie Star and John Wayne the man. The family shots are especially endearing.

DUKE IN HIS OWN WORDS is an affectionate remembrance of one of Hollywood's most popular stars. Recommended.

*****
9,300 Helpful Votes!


Fantastic Planets, Forbidden Zones, and Lost Continents: The 100 Greatest Science-Fiction Films
Fantastic Planets, Forbidden Zones, and Lost Continents: The 100 Greatest Science-Fiction Films
by Douglas Brode
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $24.93
46 used & new from $17.72

4.0 out of 5 stars Sci-Fi Film Guide!, December 29, 2015
There have been a number of "100 Greatest Sci-Fi Films" books published over the years. Douglas Brode's FANTASTIC PLANETS, FORBIDDEN ZONES, AND LOST CONTINENTS is the latest volume devoted to the subject. A University of Texas Press release, it will appeal to film enthusiasts.

The films are presented in chronological order by date of production. The first flick covered is A TRIP TO THE MOON (1902); the last, GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY (2014). All the 'usual suspects' are here including JUST IMAGINE, THINGS TO COME, THING FROM ANOTHER WORLD, FORBIDDEN PLANET, FANTASTIC VOYAGE, STAR WARS I-VI. E.T., ALIEN & ALIENS, TERMINATOR, STARGATE, THE MATRIX, AVATAR, etc. Each rates a four-six page write-up which includes sections on its Ranking, Credits, Cast, Background, Most Memorable Line, Plot, Theme, Trivia, etc. Each has an accompanying photograph.

Given the number of similar books, there's not a lot new in Brode's book but film fans will enjoy this latest trip down memory lane. Recommended.


Martin B-26 Marauder: The Ultimate Look: From Drawing Board to Widow Maker Vindicated (Ultiimate Look)
Martin B-26 Marauder: The Ultimate Look: From Drawing Board to Widow Maker Vindicated (Ultiimate Look)
by William Wolf
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $55.81
45 used & new from $51.80

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Nuts-and-Bolts Guide to the Martin Marauder!, December 15, 2015
William Wolf's MARTIN B-26 MARAUDER really is THE ULTIMATE LOOK at Martin's World War II bomber. A real door-stopper of a book at 640 pages, this 2014 Schiffer Publishing release provides the reader with a detailed, up-close-and-personal tribute to this legendary warbird.

Wolf's book is a technical guide to the B-26's creation and development rather than a 'turning-and-burning' operational history. After an opening chapter on the Glenn L. Martin Company, Wolf examines the B-26's design and procurement followed by a blow-by-blow examination of the Marauder's troubled production. An advanced design for the times, the B-26 initially earned a checkered reputation as a 'killer' ship. Likewise, the Martin Company and the USAAF had ongoing clashes not to mention the Truman Committee investigations! Subsequent modifications made the B-26 into an even more effective bomber but many of the problems associated with the B-26 had little to do with the basic design itself. Wolf describes the various B-26 models in part four of the book followed by a detailed examination of the B-26 aircraft with chapters on everything from the cockpit area to landing gear lights, the Pratt & Whitney engines to bombsights, armor plate protection to the hydraulic system. Other sections include 'Flying the B-26' and the 'B-26 in Combat.'

The book is lavishly illustrated with 1,000+ b&w and color photographs, diagrams, profiles, exploded views, etc. Shots include contemporary color pix of preserved B-26s and others under restoration.

I would have liked more information on the B-26 in combat but (1) the 'Ultimate Look' books are 'nuts-and-bolts' books and (2) let's get real...the book already tops off at 640 pages!

Bomber aircraft enthusiasts interested in a detailed look at Martin's legendary bomber need look no further than Wolf's mammoth tribute. Recommended.


Wings at the Ready: 75 Years of the Naval Air Reserve
Wings at the Ready: 75 Years of the Naval Air Reserve
by Richard Shipman
Edition: Hardcover
25 used & new from $0.73

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Naval Air Reserve Story!, December 1, 2015
Richard Shipman's WINGS AT THE READY, 75 YEARS OF THE NAVAL AIR RESERVE traces the history of the NAR from its creation to the early 1980s. A 1991 Naval Institute Press release, it stands as a comprehensive, well-illustrated tribute to reservists through the decades.

The NAR dates from 1916 with the passage of the Naval Reserve Appropriations Act, establishing a Naval Reserve Flying Corps, and the creation of the first naval air reserve unit at Yale University. Many of those reservists saw duty as instructors or combat in Europe such as David Ingalls, the first Navy ace. Postwar the wealth of NAR talent was shown the door. In 1923, thanks to Adm. Moffett, a definitive naval air reserve policy was formalized, calling for a 'unit' in selected naval districts. Two years later, the Naval Reserve Act of 1925 defined compulsory. While the 1920s and '30s saw growth in bases, etc. the units flew hand-me-down aircraft from the regular Navy. Those bases would be invaluable when war broke out in 1941 when the value of the NAR was proven, so much so that at war's end, the NAR Training Command was established. Reservists saw extension combat in Korea though not Vietnam. A major reorganization occurred in 1970 and the following decades saw other major changes. Shipman does a good job of recounting all that history, casting a wide brush to tell the whole NAR story, including details on units, aircraft, markings, bases, etc.

The book is nicely-illustrated with b&w and some color photographs.

In short, WINGS AT THE READY is a wide-ranging, informative and well-illustrated tribute t the Naval Air Reserve story. Recommended.

*****
9,250 Helpful Votes!


What's Inside: Aircraft of World War II
What's Inside: Aircraft of World War II
by Stuart J. Murphy
Edition: Hardcover
13 used & new from $0.01

3.0 out of 5 stars WW II Aircrat Illustrated...for Younger Readers!, December 1, 2015
Aaron Murray's WHAT'S INSIDE: AIRCRAFT OF WORLD WAR II provides cutaway illustrations and photographs of ten of the most famous aircraft that served in World War II. Originally an Amber Book production, this 2014 Sandy Creek edition should be of interest to younger readers.

Murray's book consists of four-page, bare-bones write-ups on the Stuka, P-51D, F6F, FW 190 Yak-4, Lanc, Spit, B-29, Zero and Bf 109E. Each section includes several photographs and a full-page illustration of the aircraft with various, fairly basic cutaways that reveal internal structures.

Younger aviation enthusiasts will enjoy this basic but nicely-illustrated guide to famous WW II warbirds. Recommended.


WWII Heroes: The Bravest of the Brave
WWII Heroes: The Bravest of the Brave
by Kim Lockwood
Edition: Paperback

4.0 out of 5 stars Sampler of World War II Heroes!, December 1, 2015
Kim Lockwood's WWII HEROES, THE BRAVEST OF THE BRAVE is a wide-ranging survey of 50 men and women who performed acts of heroism during the Second World War. A 2015 Wilkinson Publishing release, HEROES is part of their MILITARY SERIES.

Wilkinson's book tops off at 129 pages. It divides its subjects into categories such as U.S. Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, 'Behind Enemy Lines, 'Largely Unsung,' etc. It includes such well-known heroes as Dick Bong, Jay Zeamer, Guy Gibson, Hughie Edwards, Matt Urban, Audie Murphy, Doris Miller, Jack Churchill, John Basilone, Douglas MacArthur, Oskar Schindler and Raoul Wallenberg along with lesser-known men and women like Resistance fighter Nancy Wake, St. Nazaire raider Robert Ryder and Finnish super-sniper Simo Haya. Many won awards such as the MoH, VC, DSC, DSO, etc.

Write-ups for each person run from one-four pages; most get two. WWII HEROES is well-illustrated with vintage b&w and color photographs and illustrations.

WW II HEROES is an interesting, nicely-illustrated tribute to heroic men and women from that now-long-ago war. Recommended.


P-47 Thunderbolt Combat Missions
P-47 Thunderbolt Combat Missions
by Jonathan Bernstein
Edition: Hardcover
2 used & new from $34.95

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Thunderbolt in Words and Images!, November 27, 2015
Jonathan Bernstein's P-47 THUNDERBOLT MISSIONS, FIRST-HAND ACCOUNTS OF P-47 THUNDERBOLT OPS IN WORLD WAR II is similar to the B-24/B-29/P-51 books by Martin Bowman previously published by Metro Books. Like its stable mates, P-47 THUNDERBOLT COMBAT MISSIONS is a wide-ranging, wonderfully-illustrated overview of the P-47 at war.

Bernstein's book is divided into two sections: 'History & Development;' and 'The Missions.' In the first part, he traces the Jug's history and development, provides a brief combat history and furnishes a P-47 walk around. The second part looks at mission prep, bomber escort, fighter-bombers ops in the MTO, PTO island-hopping, P-47s in the CBI, Jugs versus GAF jets, etc. The first-hand reminiscences are great and provide a comprehensive, from-the-cockpit look at P-47s ops around the world.

The book features tons of vintage and contemporary b&w and gorgeous, full-color photographs and illustrations including pix of pilots, Jugs, equipment, weapons, AF medals and patches, gun camera action, etc. Visually the book is a delight.

Like its predecessors, P-47 THUNDERBOLT COMBAT MISSIONS is a pleasing package of gripping combat narratives and top-notch photography. Bernstein's book is one great tribute to Republic's legendary Thunderbolt.

*****
9,200 Helpful Votes!


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