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What Are You Reading?

Discussion in 'WWII Books & Publications' started by Mahross, Feb 1, 2004.

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  1. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Good Ol' Boy Staff Member WW2|ORG Editor

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    A few nights ago, I finished
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    Two Years Behind the Mast, Lt Cdr Harold J. McCormick, USNR (Ret.), Sunflower University Press, 1991, 147pp, maps, photos, index. ISBN 0-89745-138-4

    This is an autobiography of Naval Reserve officer, serving in the Armed Guard of two Liberty ships and later, a tanker. His first command was aboard the SS William Gaston when it was torpedoed in the South Atlantic in July 1944.
    The timeframe of the book moved quickly and it appeared that he was working with primary documents to help him recall incidences. McCormick seemed to cover his career well and tried to add specifics where he could but 40 years is still 40 years and there seemed to be some filler that could added to better flavor the story.
    The author seemed to go great lengths in the 1980s to further research his ship's loss and established a genuine friendship with the German U-boat commander.
    Initially I was mildly disappointed by the brevity of book, however, I found the book to be mostly enjoyable and quick read.

    7/10 A good addition to my library.
     
  2. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Good Ol' Boy Staff Member WW2|ORG Editor

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    I just finished:

    [​IMG]

    Slinging Doughnuts For The Boys, James H. Madison, 2007, Indiana University Press, 300 pp, photographs, end notes, index ISBN 978-0-253-22107-0

    Elizabeth Richardson is the only female buried in the hollowed grounds of the Normandy American Cemetery, which overlooks Omaha Beach. She served with the American Red Cross "slinging doughnuts for the boys" in England and around Le Havre, France. She died in a plane crash 25 July 1944, traveling to Paris to make arrangements for she and other members of the ARC in Le Havre to move to Germany. The aircraft, an L-5, flew into dense, low fog and the pilot descended to try to get his bearings, where he contacted a tree and crashed. The plane caught fire and the passenger, who were killed on impact, were badly burned.

    This was clinical, bare-bones description of the book. However, the author provided much more than that about Liz-he wrote an engaging and thoughtful book, describing Miss Richardson eloquently. He used letters to friends and family, her diary, and personal accounts by those her knew her to paint heart-warming picture of this Red Cross volunteer.

    The author's writing style was inviting and he carried the story chronologically, occasionally using later diary entries about specific subjects when needed. Elizabeth described herself well, I gathered, by the comments provided by others and she seemed to have a great sense of humor and dedication to her job and country.

    I strongly encourage others to read her accounts of the war presented here, to get a stronger idea of all sides of the war. She loved England and was mostly in the Midlands until near the end of the war. She described the warts and the beauty of the land and people.

    My only complaint with the book is with the book itself. It was hard to read, as the binding were very tight and book would not open adequately nor would it lie flat. I had to man-handle the book to keep it open and to compound the problem, the inside margins were too narrow, such that I had issues reading the in-most words of each line.

    9.5/10 I deduct 0.5 for the bindings.
     
  3. ULITHI

    ULITHI Ace

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    1A9181EF-06EE-49AE-9892-4B7FD9D8CB43.jpeg I am currently reading/ re-reading Lusitania: An Epic Tragedy by Diana Preston. I read over 3/4s of it years ago but never finished it. Re-reading it has been rough, especially now that I have a child. Truly horrifying reading.
     
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2022
  4. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Good Ol' Boy Staff Member WW2|ORG Editor

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    This morning, I finished:
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    Red Scorpion, Peter Sasgen, 1985, Bluejacket Books of a Naval Institute Press original printing, 367 pages, photos, maps, appendices, index ISBN 1-55750-404-0

    This is an excellent account of the building, training and war patrols of the USS Rasher (SS-269), a highly successful Gato-class submarine based mostly out of Fremantle. The author is the son of Peter Joseph Sasgen, LtJG, USNR, who, as a plank owner of the boat, served as an engineer and earned the Silver Star as Chief of the Watch during the third patrol. He later was promoted to ensign. He made all wartime 8 patrols of the Rasher and was aboard when she came back to the States. The author had access to his father's diary and other notes, as well as ships logs and other primary documents.

    The writing style was engaging, with the author quickly grabbing and holding my interest and he moved the story chronologically, weaving in quotes and experiences form other crewmembers. The maps (charts) made it easier to follow the dialog, although dates along the track could have helped. The only photos were of the boat's captains, found with their biographies in an appendix. There were mention of other photos but I suspect they were in the original Naval Institute Press version and were removed in the Bluejacket Books printings.

    All in all, an interesting & well written book.

    10/10
     
  5. ColHessler

    ColHessler Member

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    I'm reading War in the Air, by Stephen Coonts. It's mostly excerpts from other books, ranging from WWI to Vietnam. I'm now on the part about the Hiroshima bombing.
     
  6. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Good Ol' Boy Staff Member WW2|ORG Editor

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    With all the CT nut-job we have her now correcting us on Pearl Harbor & Japan's willingness to surrender in the absence of atomic weapons, I decided to re-read Belton Y. Cooper's opus on US Armor and its design, production, and implementation.

    Since the authority on the machine itself and on strategic planning, army operations, and tactical inadequacies of US armor put his thoughts into written form, I thought I should edjumacate myself by going through that slop of a book again.

    Anyone want to give odds on me not finishing it?
     
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  7. USMCPrice

    USMCPrice Idiot at Large

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    I'd say slim and none.

    I don't know if you've ever seen this before, it's a presentation by Nicholas Moran, "Chieftain", in which he dispels many myths about US WWII armor. Some of these "myths" were popularized by the Belton Cooper's book.

    Myths of American Armor. TankFest Northwest 2015 - YouTube
     
  8. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    Busy reading another book but had to get this from net auction.

    Iwo Jima recon By Dick Camp. Zenith Press 2007.

    On February 17, 1945- two days before the invasion - four US Navy Underwater Demolition Teams of about a hundred men each and twenty-two Marine observers scouted the waters around Iwo Jima and went ashore to determine if the soil would support vehicles....
     
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  9. Half Track

    Half Track Well-Known Member

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    That looks really good. I like anything historical about the Pacific Islands war.
     
  10. USMCPrice

    USMCPrice Idiot at Large

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    Then you need to get The United States Marine Corps in WWII by S.E. Smith, 1969. It's an older book, long out of print but you can find them. I bought my older son a copy about a month ago, I wasn't about to loan my copy out. He'd been doing some research into my grandmother's brother (my great-uncle?) who was a Marine Corps tanker in WWII. He was wanting to know more about Bougainville and what it was like to be a tanker in the Solomons. I said you need to read, "Death on the Munda Trail" by Captain Robert W. Blake a tank commander there (one of the short stories in the book).
    Col. James P. F. Devereux, CO 1st Defense Bn, Navy Cross, Wake Island; "There are Japanese in the bushes..." .Joe Foss, VMF-121, Guadalcanal, 26 kills, MoH; "Down instantly, nose first..". Marion Carl, VMF-223, Midway/Guadalcanal, 18.5 kills, Navy Cross x 2; "Nine to One". Gregory Boynton, Flying Tiger/VMF-214, Solomons/Rabaul, 28 kills (including 6 from AVG), MoH, Nacy Cross; "Good Will to All Men...". Sgt. Mitchell Paige, MoH Guadalcanal; "I picked up a machine gun...". Samuel B. Griffith, XO 1st Raider Bn, Guadalcanal, Navy Cross-Distinguished Service Cross for New Georgia; "First Blood". Robert Leckie, 2d Bn-1st Marines, Guadalcanal; "Here Was Hell...". just to name a few of the authors and stories. He called me and thanked me for the book and said it's good first person history that reads like a novel.
    Amazon has new for $118.00 but you can always find used good for about ten bucks. It's a great read.
     
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  11. LRusso216

    LRusso216 Graybeard Staff Member Patron  

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    Working my way through Toland's The Rising Sun. Long, but good. About1/3 through.
     
  12. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Good Ol' Boy Staff Member WW2|ORG Editor

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    Is it a slog through?
     
  13. LRusso216

    LRusso216 Graybeard Staff Member Patron  

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    No. I'm enjoying it. His writing style is engaging. It's just long.
     
  14. BFBSM

    BFBSM Member

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    I am reading a little about Mark Clark now, leading into Operation Torch. I am starting with Calculated Risk.

    [​IMG]

    Then I shall follow up with Blumenson:
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    and Mikolashek:

    [​IMG]
     
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  15. LRusso216

    LRusso216 Graybeard Staff Member Patron  

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    It will be interesting to know their take on Clark. Some praise him, others excoriate him. Same was true for the men under his control. My father was in the 5th. He went into Salerno and stayed in Italy for the entire war. Unfortunately, he died long before my interest grew, so I don't know his feelings. When you've finished be sure to summarize their takes and your own view.
     
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  16. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Good Ol' Boy Staff Member WW2|ORG Editor

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    I agree witb Lou. Please give us much of a summation and analysis as you can.

    I would like to know if my disdain for him has validity.
     
  17. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    Quite a demanding character. At least what I have read those books seem surprising to me. Waste of time, I would say, sorry I am too straight here. Unlock the door for me, and my bad thoughts.
     
  18. GeoPM

    GeoPM New Member

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    My 11 year-old grandson has an interest in WWII. He has watched the 2019 “Midway”, “Saving Private Ryan” and “Tora, Tora, Tora” with his retired Senior Chief father. In a conversation with the Senior Chief, I was asked for some books the grandson should read. I am asking for the members here for their thoughts and recommendations on books and movies.

    Also, I have read recently of a hardcover copy of a “graphic novel” presentation of Hornfischer’s “Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors.” Anyone have a lead on finding a seller on this book? Amazon was negative.
     
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2022
  19. ColHessler

    ColHessler Member

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    Right now I'm reading Flying Buccaneers. It's the true story of the U.S. Fifth Air Force in the Southwest Pacific. I'm up to Feb. of 1944 and the reduction of Kavieng.
     
  20. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Good Ol' Boy Staff Member WW2|ORG Editor

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    I finished re-reading
    [​IMG]

    Death Traps, Belton Y. Cooper, 1998, Presidio Press, 346pp, photos. ISBN 0 89141 814 8

    I really don't know where to start.

    I first read this book about 18 years and I must say my low opinion of it has not changed. It is presented early on as a scholarly work, as Cooper goes to great lengths to pronounce his credentials as a combat soldier who was educated at VMI and received various training courses specific to armored warfare and tank maintenance. note: He was a 2nd Lt serving as a maintenance liaison officer with the 3rd Armored Division in the NW European Campaign. I cannot concede that is the work of a scholar in that there are no foot or end notes, no references, and no real indication that many of his broad pronouncements on the inferiority of the M4 tank and US tank doctrine are more than personal opinion.

    Had Cooper stuck to his personal memories and couched his "analysis" of the pros and cons of the M4 as his alone, then I could consider this book in higher regard, in spite of his editorializing and poor authorship. I have my suspicions that he wrote down his memories randomly and they were molded into book form by a ghost writer, who then added his 2 cent's worth. Cooper tended to repeat himself often. The reader was told at least 6 times that the 2nd & 3rd ADs were only heavy armored division in the US. But that was not enough. Each time, he had to include the actual numbers of tanks and other vehicles. Each. Time. There were other examples of needless repetitions of facts or opinions, almost word for word scattered throughout. He repeated the 3 or 4 paragraph story Col Joh Madaris, almost word for word in consecutive chapters, ten pages apart.

    He had a tendency, I felt, to relate stories he had heard about, but was not actually a witness to and gave no attribution to its origin. This seemed to be regular occurrence.

    His "analysis" of the M4, as mentioned voraciously throughout the book was slanted at best and he included no references anywhere for any of the historical discussion by senior leadership he claimed to have occurred and certainly was not a party to. He included Patton in decision-making discussion that he was not involved in and I suspect he conflated his later personal reading with his actual wartime personal involvement. He would enumerate losses of US armor during attack and then compare the weapons and armor of the opposing tank forces, then on later pages, talk about the tanks facing anti-tank and hand-held anti-tank weapons. This suggested to me that, while US tank losses were high, they were not lost during tank to tank combat, which the focus of his book. Also, apparently the only heavy German tank the US forces faced was the Tiger II, as he referred to the Tiger throughout the book as the "King Tiger".

    There were other historical errors throughout. One example is claiming the 2nd Panzer Division SS was defeated at Celles, when it was the 2nd Panzer Division of the Heer. I am sure he was proud of his division-any other soldier would have been. Yet, he tended to downplay the actions of other formations and make it appear as though the 3rd Armored conducted certain operations in a vacuum, particularly some well-documented actions in the Ardennes.

    Finally, I'll be quite frank with you. I cannot believe that Stephen Ambrose actually read the entire manuscript before penning his effusive foreword.

    4/10 Weak at Best
     
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