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Michael OConnor "Wordsmith" RSS Feed (Wausau, WI USA)
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Famous Fighters of World War 1
Famous Fighters of World War 1

4.0 out of 5 stars Guide to World War I Fighters!, September 19, 2014
Tony Holmes' FAMOUS FIGHTERS OF WORLD WAR 1 is a wonderfully-illustrated, entertaining 'one-off' special edition published by Key Publishing.

The 98-page magazine describes and illustrates ten classic fighters of World War: the Fokker Eindecker, DH2, Nieuport 17, Bristol F2B, SE5a, Spad 13, Albatros D.V, Sopwith Camel, Fokker Triplane and Fokker D.7. Each warbird rates a ten page write-up with a general history followed by sections on 'Construction,' 'From the Cockpit,' 'In Combat,' 'Survivors,' etc.

Visually, the magazine is a delight. It features dozens of vintage b&w and contemporary color photographs of aircraft, pilots, cockpit details, engine details and so on. It also includes color side-profiles and color combat artwork by master WW I artist Russell Smith.

Thbough much of the information and many of the pix is old hat, FAMOUS FIGHTERS OF WORLD WAR 1 is, nevertheless, a pleasing and informative overview of ten legendary fighters. Recommended.


U-Boats in the Mediterranean, 1941-1944
U-Boats in the Mediterranean, 1941-1944
by Lawrence Paterson
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $25.86
32 used & new from $4.63

4.0 out of 5 stars Operational Log of Med U-Boats!., September 17, 2014
The operational record of Hitler's U-Boats in the Med is nicely detailed in Lawrence Paterson's U-BOATS IN THE MEDITERRANEAN, 1941-1944. Having litttle knowledge of the subject, I found this 2007 Chatham Publishing release an informative and compelling read.

German U-boats first appeared and saw action in the Spanish Civil war. Once war broke out in 1939, the grey wolves were committed to action in the Med despite Doenitz's wishes to the contrary. Operating from various bases, they scored a number of successes including aircraft carriers such as HMS Ark Royal, battleships like HMS Barham and countless merchantmen. Losses were partially replaced, again Hitler's doing but the Straits of Gibraltar passage often proved a death-trap for incoming reinforcements. March 1943 was probably the pinnacle of success for Med U-boats. Though sinkings continued till war's end, the U-boats were clearly fighting a losing battle.

Paterson does a marvelous job of bringing the Med U-boat war to life. The book benefits from in-depth research and all the battles are thoroughly described, often-times using actual combat reports. The politics and personalities of the conflict are also well-covered. I would have liked more photographs and more analysis of the strategical impact of the U-boats in the Med but that's just me.

Paterson's book should appeal to U-boat enthusiasts. It sheds a wonderfully-detailed and exciting light on a little-known segment of the World War II U-boat story. Recommended.
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Tom Cruise: Anatomy of an Actor (Cahiers du Cinema)
Tom Cruise: Anatomy of an Actor (Cahiers du Cinema)
by Amy Nicholson
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $35.23
45 used & new from $29.47

5.0 out of 5 stars Probing Behind the Grin!, September 14, 2014
Though I've never been a big Tom Cruise fan, it intrigued me when I came across a copy of Amy Nicholson's TOM CRUISE: ANATOMY OF AN ACTOR. Previous CAHIERS DU CINEMA volumes featured such acting heavyweights as Pacino, Brando, de Niro and Streep. I wondered how Cruise rated being included in such company. After finishing Nicholson's intriguing book, I'm still not sure Cruise rates that distinction but it was a fascinating read nonetheless.

Nicholson's book is equal parts film history and psychoanalysis of Thomas Cruise Mapother IV. Among the Cruise films examined are RISKY BUSINESS, TOP GUN, BORN ON THE FOURTH OF JULY, INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE, JERRY MAGUIRE, EYES WIDE SHUT, MAGNOLIA, WAR OF THE WORLDS, TROPIC THUNDER and MISSION IMPOSSIBLE: GHOST PROTOCOL. Interwoven with that material is Nicholson's penetrating, insightful exploration of Cruise's development as a person.

I was somewhat surprised at some of the flicks included and excluded but it's Nicholson book and she obviously chose carefully to make her point.

Movie buffs will enjoy this in-depth summary of the life, times and craft of Tom Cruise. Recommended.


Shooter's Bible Guide to Extreme Iron: An Illustrated Reference to Some of the World’s Most Powerful Weapons, from Hand Cannons to Field Artillery
Shooter's Bible Guide to Extreme Iron: An Illustrated Reference to Some of the World’s Most Powerful Weapons, from Hand Cannons to Field Artillery
by Stan Skinner
Edition: Paperback
Price: $15.60
24 used & new from $12.23

5.0 out of 5 stars Guide to Awesome Weapons!, September 8, 2014
Well-known firearms authority Stan Skinner's latest offering is SHOOTER'S BIBLE GUIDE TO EXTREME IRON, a rather specialized but quite interesting title sure to interest gun buffs. A 2014 Skyhorse Publishing release, Skinner's book is AN ILLUSTRATED REFERENCE TO SOME OF THE WORLD'S MOST POWERFUL WEAPONS, FROM HAND CANNONS TO FIELD ARTILLERY.

Skinner's book is a fascinating survey of some awesome weapons like large-caliber Express Rifles, high-powered Hand Cannons, various submachine guns, 'tricked-out' .22-caliber machine guns, firearms equipped with night-vision scopes and noise-suppression devices, Ultra-Big Bore Siper Rifles, Gatling Guns and Field Artillery old and new, etc. Part historical guide, part operational manual, SHOOTER'S BIBLE GUIDE TO EXTREME IRON describes the origins, development and operational history along with Skinner's own encounters with the aforementioned on firing ranges and gun shoots.

The book is well-illustrated with b&w and color photographs of all the weapons including parts breakdowns.

In short, gun lovers will enjoy this guided tour through the world of 'Extreme Iron.' There are some fantastic weapons in the book and Skinner does them justice with authoritative text and splendid illustrations. Recommended.

*****
7,750 Helpful Votes!


The Sci-Fi Movie Guide: The Universe of Film from Alien to Zardoz
The Sci-Fi Movie Guide: The Universe of Film from Alien to Zardoz
by Chris Barsanti
Edition: Paperback
Price: $15.90
27 used & new from $12.53

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fun Guide to Sci-Fi Flicks!, September 8, 2014
Chris Barsanti's THE SCI-FI MOVIE GUIDE: THE UNIVERSE OF FILM FROM ALIEN TO ZARDOZ is an updated and expanded version of VIDEOHOUND's 1996 SCI-FI EXPERIENCE: YOUR QUANTUM GUIDE. The earlier book came in at 464 pages; Barsanti's update tops off at 510 pages.

Barsanti's book reviews almost 1,000 sci-fi movies ranging "from the trashy to the epic, from the classics to day's blockbusters." Coverage includes movie and television flicks. Each title has very basic production info and a summary/review. Write-ups range in length from a 1/4 to a 1/2 page. Some films have accompanying photographs.

Among the cinema gems found in SCI-FI MOVIE GUIDE are CHARLY, TREMORS, FRANKENSTEIN, OUTLANDER, THE THING, BRAZIL, GRAVITY, PROMETHEUS, DEEP IMPACT, MONSTER A GO-GO, STAR WARS, THE TWILIGHT ZONE, THE MAN WHO FELL TO EARTH, THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL, THE ANDROMEDA STRAIN, SOLARIS, THE BLOB, THE BOYS FROM BRAZIL, INVADERS FROM MARS, PLANET OF THE APES, GALAXY QUEST, GODZILLA, PITCH BLACK, WHEN WORLDS COLLIDE, etc.

As can be seen, Barsanti's book is a sci-fi smorgasbord. It's informative and entertaining, a fun read. Recommended.


500 Essential Cult Movies: The Ultimate Guide
500 Essential Cult Movies: The Ultimate Guide
by Jennifer Eiss
Edition: Paperback
Price: $14.46
61 used & new from $0.88

4.0 out of 5 stars Guide to Classic Cult Flicks!, September 8, 2014
Jennifer Eiss' 500 ESSENTIAL CULT MOVIES is an informative guide to "some of the best cult classic movies ever filmed." A 2010 Sterling Press release, it's an entertaining romp through some famous, infamous and/or little-known flicks.

Eiss' book is divided into chapters on dramas, thrillers, action-packed adventures, crime flicks, comedies, westerns, etc. First comes a listing of the 'top ten' in that category followed by the 'Best of the Rest.' Eiss provides basic production info, a short-but-sweet plot summary and review. Write-ups range from a 1/2 to a whole page, depending on the film. Each film has an accompanying b&w or color photograph.

Most of the 'usual suspects' are here: CLERKS, WICKER MAN, PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE, BLOWUP, THE NIGHT OF THE HUNTER, THE THING WITH TWO HEADS, BLADE RUNNER, GLEN OR GLENDA, HAROLD AND MAUDE, THE SWIMMER, THE MAN WHO FELL TO EARTH, ASSAULT ON PRECINCT 13, LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT, SUNSET BOULEVARD, HEAD, ERASERHEAD, THE OULAW JOSEY WALES, DONNIE DARKO, MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE, DARKMAN, NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, etc.

The fun part of books like Eiss' is discovering new titles you weren't aware of, titles that slipped under the radar for one reason or another. You might question whether some of the inclusions warrant the cult status or why some of your personal favorites aren't included but, all in all, 500 ESSENTIAL CULT MOVIES is a fun read sure to please cinema buffs. Recommended.


Who Did It First?: Great Rock and Roll Cover Songs and Their Original Artists
Who Did It First?: Great Rock and Roll Cover Songs and Their Original Artists
by Bob Leszczak
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $31.50
25 used & new from $30.59

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Rock and Roll Song Trivia!, August 28, 2014
Bob Leszczak's WHO DID IT FIRST? GREAT ROCK AND ROLL COVER SONGS AND THEIR ORIGINAL ARTISTS is the third - and concluding - volume in Leszcak's three volume WHO DID IT FIRST series. (The first two volumes covered Rhythm and Blues and Pop cover songs). Like the others in the series, this 2014 Rowman & Littlefield release details classic songs that readers have "grown up with, danced with and romanced with."

Volume 3 offers up the back-story on over 400 songs ranging from ABRACADABRA to YOU'VE GOT TO HIDE YOUR LOVE AWAY. Among the chestnuts covered are ALL MY LOVING, RIDERS ON THE STORM, BAD MOON RISING, HAZY SHADE OF WINTER, THAT'LL BE THE DAY, YOU GIVE LOVE A BAD NAME, DRAGGIN' THE LINE, LIMBO ROCK, YELLOW RIVER, AMERICAN WOMAN, JAILHOUSE ROCK, STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN, IN THE AIR TONIGHT and LA BAMBA.

Each song rates a write-up generally averaging a half-page. Details are given on composer, original artist, label, release year, cover artist that had the most chart success with their remake, etc; followed a a two- to four-paragraph summary of the song's history. The text is illustrated with photographs of 45s, artists, record jackets, etc.

Volume 3 makes for fun and educational reading. I wondered about certain titles that weren't featured but maybe they're in the RHYTHM AND BLUES COVER SONGS volume. In any case, rock and roll trivia buffs should enjoy Leszczak's book. Recommended.


F6F Hellcat vs A6M Zero-sen: Pacific Theater 1943-44 (Duel)
F6F Hellcat vs A6M Zero-sen: Pacific Theater 1943-44 (Duel)
by Edward Young
Edition: Paperback
Price: $13.57
52 used & new from $11.15

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Taking the Measure of the Zero!, August 26, 2014
Edward Young's F6F HELLCAT VS A6M ZERO-SEN, PACIFIC THEATER 1943-44 is an excellent addition to the Osprey DUEL line and it's also one of the most historically important titles thus far published in the series. The aircraft in question - the F6F and A6M - both set the bar, at different times, in Pacific air combat. For the first year, Zeros ruled the skies, vanquishing just about every Allied fighter that opposed it. Then, in 1943, Hellcats arrived on the scene, ending the Zero's reign of terror and, in the process, turning the F6F into one of America's most significant war-winning weapons. The mano-a-mano match-up of these two fighters is wonderfully chronicled in Young's book.

Young has authored a number of Osprey titles, including several DUEL titles, and has the format down pat. He provides the strategic background to USN/IJN fighter combat, discusses the origins and development of both fighters, supplies needed technical specs, compares/contrasts USN/IJN training which played such an important role in the Zero's ultimate demise, describes F6F/Zero combats and closes with analysis and stats. The narrative is comprehensive, insightful and exciting.

The book is illustrated with the usual mix of vintage b&w photographs, color three-views, color scrap views, maps and diagrams. As always, Gareth Hector and Jim Laurier's artwork is first-class.

Air combat enthusiasts should latch on to a copy of F6F HELLCAT VS A6M ZERO-SEN, PACIFIC THEATER 1943-44. It not only tells an exciting story but also explains clearly and cogently why the Pacific air war changed when Grumman's superb Hellcat first met up with the Zero-Sen. Highly recommended.

*****
Review #2,150!
7,700 Helpful Votes!


Tumult in the Clouds: The Aviation Art of Russell Smith
Tumult in the Clouds: The Aviation Art of Russell Smith
by Jim Wilberg
Edition: Hardcover
11 used & new from $49.95

5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful World War I Aviation Artbook!, August 21, 2014
Though Jim Wilberg's book TUMULT IN THE CLOUDS is subtitled THE AVIATION ART OF RUSSELL SMITH, Wilberg's book is much more than a showcase of Smith's awesome World War I aviation artwork. Along with spotlighting over 40 of Smith's full-color paintings, the book features over two dozen informative articles that describe WW I pilots and aircraft. A fascinating words-and-artwork guide to WW I combat aviation, TUMULT IN THE CLOUDS will delight air combat enthusiasts.

The artwork featured in TUMULT IN THE CLOUDS include compelling, atmospheric scenes with Taubes, Fokker Triplanes, Brisfits, Camels, Spads, Nieuports, Fokker D.VIIs, D.H.2s, Albatros D.Vs, R.E.8s, etc. Interwoven with the artwork are chapters by noted aviation writers such as Jon Guttman and Greg VanWyngarden on WW I aces such as William Thaw, Frank Luke, the Red Baron and Ernst Udet along with aircraft bios on the D.H.2, F.E.2b, Fokker Tripe and Pfalz D.III. Along with the 44 artworks mentioned above, Wilberg's book includes 20 b&w sketches that trace the evolution of some of Smith's paintings coupled with a chapter written by the artist that reveals how he creates his masterpieces, Smith's artwork is complimented by dozens of vintage and contemporary b&w and color photographs of all those gorgeous warbirds and the men who flew them.

In short, TUMULT IN THE CLOUDS is military aviation history at its best. Breathtaking artwork is matched with authoritative text to produce an immensely appealing history of Great War aviation showcasing the work of an acclaimed artist.This 2011 Aeronaut Books release is a must-have. Highly recommended.


D-Day: Minute by Minute
D-Day: Minute by Minute
by Jonathan Mayo
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $18.63
49 used & new from $2.50

4.0 out of 5 stars D-Day Snap-shots!, August 20, 2014
Jonathan Mayo's D-DAY MINUTE BY MINUTE is yet another 6 June 1944 book but with a twist. Mayo's book, a 2014 Mable Arch Press release, offers a timeline history of D-Day, interweaving vignettes from various soldiers, sailors, airmen, civilians, etc. The result is a fascinating mosaic of D-Day experiences; visual snap-shots, if you will, of that most momentous event.

Mayo's cast of characters ranges from Prime Ministers to privates, Supreme Commanders to G.I.s, Admirals to airmen. Mayo's net is widely cast, including Americans, Brits, Canadians including STAR TREK'S Jimmy Doohan, Germans, Frenchmen, etc, Some are well-known to history: Eisenhower, Churchill, Montgomery. Others were "just ordinary joes" caught up in the world's greatest invasion.

I wish Mayo had included photographs of at least some of the commentators but that's just me.

In any case, D-DAY MINUTE BY MINUTE offers up an original and entertaining history of 6 June. Recommended.


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