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Michael OConnor "Wordsmith" RSS Feed (Wausau, WI USA)
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Flight Journal World War 2s Last Dogfights
Flight Journal World War 2s Last Dogfights
by w
Edition: Single Issue Magazine
2 used & new from $10.99

4.0 out of 5 stars End-on-the War Combat Ops!, July 23, 2015
WORLD WAR II'S LAST DOGFIGHTS is a mish-mash of articles most of which relate late-war air combats in the ETO and Pacific. A 2015 FLIGHT JOURNAL 'Collector's Issue,' it should interest fighter combat buffs.

The LAST DOGFIGHTS title is a bit misleading. Over half the articles - those written by Don Nijboer, James Busha, Robert Dorr, Eric Hammel and Barrett Tillman - do cover end-of-war combat missions. Other articles, though, deal with American efforts to acquire Luftwaffe aircraft/technology, 'Magic Carpet' ops that ferried servicemen and POWs back to the States, the postwar destruction of the German and Japanese aircraft, etc. It's a mixed bag but a well-illustrated one with lots of contemporary and vintage b&w and color pix.

WORLD WAR II'S LAST DOGFIGHTS makes for is a quick but interesting read. I would have liked more 'turning-and-burning' stories but that's just me. Recommended.

*****
One question: Why, if the magazine is devoted to late-war air combats, does the cover feature a Hurri and a Bf 109E, both early-war birds??
*****
8,800 Helpful Votes!


The Battle of Kursk 1943: The View through the Camera Lens
The Battle of Kursk 1943: The View through the Camera Lens
by Valeriy Zamulin
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $70.97
28 used & new from $60.53

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A First-Rate Photo-Guide to the Kursk Battle!, July 22, 2015
Valeriy Zamulin's THE BATTLE OF KURSK 1943 is a photo-guide to that most momentous WW II battle, utilizing over 500 never-before-seen photographs from various Russian Archives. Easter Front enthusiasts will enjoy the rich visual imagery presented by Zamulin and Helion & Company.

Zamulin's book is a real door-stopper of a book, topping at 476 pages. It's divided into three sections: the creation of the Kursk bulge and the Russian defensive preparations; the launching and defeat of 'Operation Citadel;' and the Russian counter-offensive. After short but comprehensive summaries, the book presents page after page of nicely-reproduced, well-captioned pix of Russian and German troops and commander, tanks, artillery, aircraft, trench scenes, 'in-action' scenes, etc.

For those of us who endured decades of poorly-reproduced or badly-doctored Russian photographs of 'the motherland at war,' the pix in Zamulin's are truly magnificent. I would have opted for fewer shots of USSR commanders and more battle scenes but what the heck.

While there have been other Kursk photo-histories, THE BATTLE OF KURSK 1943 jumps to the top of the heap. Though the price is steep ($71.69), anyone interested in the Eastern Front will want to add this book to their collection. Recommended.


Hunter of Sherwood: Knight of Shadows (Hunter of Sherwood: Guy of Gisburne)
Hunter of Sherwood: Knight of Shadows (Hunter of Sherwood: Guy of Gisburne)
by Toby Venables
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: $6.66
42 used & new from $2.98

5.0 out of 5 stars Marvelous Re-imaging of Robin Hood Legend!, July 17, 2015
Tony Venables' HUNTER OF SHERWOOD: KNIGHTS OF SHADOWS is a wonderfully entertaining re-telling of the Robin Hood/Prince John/Guy of Gisburne tale. A 2013 Abaddon release, Venables' book is a guaranteed page-turner that leaves you wanting more.

KNIGHT OF SHADOWS deals with Guy of Gisburne's attempts to steal a treasured artifact, the jewel-encrusted skull of John the Baptist. The skull is also lusted after by a truly evil Templar knight named de Mercheval as well as the king of France. Facing tremendous odds, Gisburne and his squire, Galfrid, undertake a rousing quest to acquire the artifact and bring it to his master, Prince John, who is also having trouble with a band of ruffians led by 'the Hood.'

Venables' book is one of the very best medieval English adventure novels I've read in years. The author takes all the old legends and myths associated with all those historical characters and re-images them, creating a rousing tale populated by believable, flesh-and-blood characters engaged in daring deeds. KNIGHT OF SHADOWS is one great read! Highly recommended..


American Warlords: How Roosevelt's High Command Led America to Victory in World War II
American Warlords: How Roosevelt's High Command Led America to Victory in World War II
by Jonathan W. Jordan
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $16.33
55 used & new from $12.34

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Roosevelt's 'Team of Rivals' at War!, July 14, 2015
Jonathan Jordan's AMERICAN WARLORDS provides an incisive portrait of America's top military leadership in World War II. Focusing on General George Marshall, Admiral Ernest King and Henry Stimson, Jordan presents an engrossing tale of how 'Roosevelt's warlords' formulated, reworked and guided America's war-winning strategy while simultaneously dealing with a myriad of personalities such as Churchill, Stalin, de Gaulle, Ike, MacArthur and others, all with their own agendas..

Jordan's behind-closed-doors chronicle, which benefits from a wealth of primary research material, reveals the trials, tribulations, game-playing, hissy fits, compromises and turf battles that shaped the final victory. Along with detailing strategy, he presents a vivid, entertaining, warts-and-all portrait of the players. While Marshall comes off best, King is probably the most fascinating character, a brilliant strategist but a terribly flawed human being with contempt for just about anybody else.

AMERICAN WARLORDS makes for compelling reading. Jordan is a gifted writer and he brings those long-ago machinations and historic figures to vivid life. Highly recommended.


Milwaukee Rock and Roll (Images of Modern America)
Milwaukee Rock and Roll (Images of Modern America)
by Larry Widen
Edition: Paperback
Price: $14.91
22 used & new from $11.32

4.0 out of 5 stars Photo-Guide to the Milwaukee Music Scene!, July 7, 2015
Larry Widen's MILWAUKEE ROCK AND ROLL is a photo guide to the Milwaukee rock scene in the 20th Century. It showcases native Milwaukee rockers and/or rock acts that played in Milwaukee venues. A 2014 Arcadia Publishing release, it is part of that publisher's IMAGES OF MODERN AMERICA series.

Widen's book tops off at 96 pages and consists of b&w and color photographs of various rock artists/acts over the years including B. B. King, the Beatles, the Stones, Alice Cooper, the Doors, Joni Mitchell, the Allman Brothers, Joan Baez, Lou Reed, Edgar Winter, Frank Zappa, Cher, Genesis, Willie Nelson and others. Widen's witty captions compliment his pix.

If you're looking for as a quick, colorful guide to the Milwaukee music scene, Wide's book is just what the doctor ordered. Recommended.


The First Combat Bomb Wing in World War II
The First Combat Bomb Wing in World War II
by Ron Mackay
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $23.37
49 used & new from $23.37

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Mighty 8th Unit at War!, July 3, 2015
Ron Mackay has written several 'Mighty Eighth' volumes including an earlier title for Schiffer on the 1st Air Division, which controlled several air wings of B-17s. THE FIRST COMBAT AIR WING IN WORLD WAR II, a 2014 Schiffer release, takes a detailed look at the combat life and times of one of those air wings.

The 1st CW was created in September 1943 and initially made up of the 91st, 351st and 381st Bomb Groups. (The 351st was later being displaced by the 398th BG). Those units saw some 33 months of intense air combat, playing a leading role in the 8th AF's strategic campaign to smash Germany. Mackay traces that action chronologically, covering the initial build-up, Blitz Week, creation of the 1st CBW in September 1943, 'Black October,' D-Day, etc.

The text is well illustrated with hundreds of vintage b&w and color photographs.

Fans of the Mighty 8th at war will enjoy THE FIRST COMBAT BOMB WING IN WORLD WAR II. It is a thorough re-telling of the brave, young men who daily pitted their B-17s against the Luftwaffe and German flak defenses. Recommended.

*****
8,750 Helpful Votes!


Global Street Art: The Street Artists and Trends Taking Over the World
Global Street Art: The Street Artists and Trends Taking Over the World
by Lee Bofkin
Edition: Paperback
Price: $17.32
37 used & new from $9.32

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fun Guide to Street Artwork!, July 3, 2015
Who wasn't walked down the street of a major city only to chance upon some piece of imaginative, quirky, colorful and sometimes mind-blowing street art/graffiti? Street art spans the globe as is brought out in Lee Bofkin's informative and visually delightful GLOBAL STREET ART. A 2014 Firefly Books release, it showcases THE STREET ARTISTS AND TRENDS TAKING OVER THE WORLD.

GLOBAL STREET ART tops off at 304 pages. Arranged by subject, it examines and illustrates global street art in chapters on Global Breakdown, Techniques, Movements & Themes, Spaces & Surfaces, etc. It presents pages after colorful page of artwork by artists like Carlos Munoz, Cristian Blaxner, Dan Kitchener, John Fekner, Nicky Nahafahik and others known by their nom de plume like 'Napol,' "Aroe' and 'Suiko.'

Bofkin's book makes for fun reading. Whatever the canvas, the results are truly breathtaking. Pick up a copy of GLOBAL STREET ART, turn to a random page and enjoy. Recommended.


Flight Journal magazine, Summer 2006-F6F Hellcat, 80 Pages of Awesome Photography.
Flight Journal magazine, Summer 2006-F6F Hellcat, 80 Pages of Awesome Photography.
by Summer 2006-F6F Hellcat-Ultimate Zero Killer. 80 Pages of Awesome Photography. Flight Journal magazine
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars Tribute to Grumman's Hellcat!, June 29, 2015
F6F HELLCAT is one of the 'special issues' FLIGHT JOURNAL publishes every so often. A 2006 release, this 98-page magazine provides an entertaining, informative smorgasbord of articles on the fighter that broke the back of Japanese naval air power in World War II.

F6F HELLCAT brings together a baker's dozen of F6F articles that previously appeared in FLIGHT JOURNAL. It does a nice job of covering the Hellcat's worldwide service in WW II with articles on F6Fs over France, Hellcat aces Dave McCampbell, Hamilton McWhorter and Jim Duffy, USMC night-fighter Hellcats, Hellcats ops from carriers USS Cowpens and Monterey, test-flying the F6F and so on. The authors of those articles include such luminaries as Barrett Tillman, James Busha, Corky Meyer and Warren Bodie.

The articles are nicely-illustrated with vintage and contemporary b&w and color photographs, profiles and maps.

All in all, F6F HELLCAT is an appealing, visually-delightful tribute to a war-wining fighter. Recommended.


Air and Space Collectors Edition Legendary Aircraft of the Vietnam War
Air and Space Collectors Edition Legendary Aircraft of the Vietnam War
by e
Edition: Single Issue Magazine
2 used & new from $11.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Vietnam Air War Mag!, June 29, 2015
LEGENDARY ARCRAFT OF THE VIETNAM WAR is the latest AIR & SPACE SMITHSONIAN special edition. A 2015 release, it offers up 15 articles on various U.S. Vietnam warbirds and Vietnam air war topics.

The articles are divided into sections on: 'The Helicopter War,' 'Bombers vs. Missiles,' 'Eyewitnesses' and so on. Included are articles on 'Spooky' gun-ships, the Christmas 1972 bombing, North Vietnamese aces, the UH-1 'Huey,' Grumman's Intruder, the F-4 Phantom, Wild Weasels, airborne PsyOps, etc. The articles are illustrated with vintage and contemporary b&w and color photographs and artwork.

I was surprised that the F-8 and other a/c weren't covered but space considerations may have limited what was included.

In short, LEGENDARY AIRCRAFT OF THE VIETNAM WAR is an informative, well-illustrated smorgasbord of material on the Vietnam air war. Methinks a volume 2 might be called for. Recommended.


We Don't Need Roads: The Making of the Back to the Future Trilogy
We Don't Need Roads: The Making of the Back to the Future Trilogy
by Caseen Gaines
Edition: Paperback
Price: $9.54
61 used & new from $8.49

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Going Back in Time with Marty McFly & Company!, June 29, 2015
When it first came out, I thought BACK TO THE FUTURE was one of the best-scripted comedies ever. Everything about the movie - plot, characters, action - just clicked. Caseen Gaines' WE DON'T NEED ROADS is an enjoyable overview to the original BTTF and its sequels.

Gaines' book, a 2015 Plume release, starts out with BTTF's most controversial issue - the replacement of Eric Stoltz by Michael J. Fox - and then backtracks to the beginnings of the movie. Gaines details the early careers of the movie's creators, Bob Gale and Bob Zemeckis, and then goes into the who/what/when/why/how of the first movie and the two sequels with many reminiscences from Gale, Zemeckis, Lea Thompson, Christopher Lloyd and other BTTF actors and production people...but not Crispin Glover (controversial BTTF issue #2).

Although I enjoyed Gaines' book, I lost interest when he went into the sequels. Frankly, I'm sorry they made the two sequels. The first BTTF was perfection, comedic lightning caught in a bottle. Hollywood should have placed it on the 'great job' shelf and left it for the ages. Hollywood being Hollywood though, the money men naturally demanded a sequel and two sequels were cranked out. Technologically and visually they were impressive but the uniqueness, the sweetness of the original were gone.

In any case, fans of the trilogy will enjoy WE DON'T NEED ROADS. It's an enjoyable trip back to Hill Valley, its memorable residents and their fantastical adventures. Recommended.


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