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Author Topic: What are you currently reading ?  (Read 569900 times)
Steve J
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« Reply #3585 on: 07 January 2021, 07:38:06 AM »

Quote
Looks very interesting but I note that the single one star review on Amazon excoriates the author on the grounds that he uses old secondary sources rather than modern primary research and therefore repeats past errors in fact and emphasis. It is a topic most of us know little about but can you make any estimate of the validity of the criticism?

The author interviewed many Japanese participants as part of his research after he retired, as well as consulting Russian sources before Putin put pay to that, so I would venture his has done some primary modern research. However this is a new period to me so I can't vouch for how 'accurate' his facts are, but it is certainly a good read.
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steve_holmes_11
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Posts: 1118


« Reply #3586 on: 07 January 2021, 11:09:13 AM »

Strategos II

Ancients rules by Philip Sabin (Prof).

Very difficult reading at a first pass.
Partly due to an Avalon Hill style numbered paragraph layout.
Mainly (I think) due to the rules not introducing things in the order they occur in the game.

Authored 2006, so showing their age a little.
I like the main concepts, so am prepared to grind through and achieve understanding, or reject the lot.

The Yahoo groups referenced in the introduction are also defunct, which certainly doesn't help.

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hammurabi70
Captain
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Posts: 332


« Reply #3587 on: 07 January 2021, 11:36:59 AM »

The author interviewed many Japanese participants as part of his research after he retired, as well as consulting Russian sources before Putin put pay to that, so I would venture his has done some primary modern research. However this is a new period to me so I can't vouch for how 'accurate' his facts are, but it is certainly a good read.
Many thanks. It does suggest a good read. You never know these days if reviews are genuine or professional hatchet jobs.
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Gwydion
Cadet

Posts: 33


« Reply #3588 on: 07 January 2021, 11:38:29 AM »

I think the criticism comes from the interpretation and assumptions about Soviet Strategic Foreign Policy rather than any 'facts' about the battle and its operational background.
The basis of the book is a doctoral thesis completed in 1970.
The bit that some current scholars find problematic is Goldman's reliance on Cold War interpretations of Soviet policy aims and actions in the pre war period. His view of Soviet foreign policy is largely based on, or at least aligned with Ulam's 1968 view in his 'Expansion and Coexistence', which was an excellent work when there was no access to Soviet sources, but is a Cold War document to its core. Goldman tends towards a monolithic view of Soviet relations and this colours his view on the strategic position of Nomonhan/Khalkin-Gol and its place in a Machiavellian strategy against the 'West'.
He perhaps relies too much on a 'deconstruction' of Comintern documents available in the west pre the fall of the Soviet Union to divine the plans and policies of the Commissariat of Foreign Affairs when many of those plans have since been released and published in collections before Putin shut down access.
So - battle narrative good, relationship to European theatre strategic plans and WWII very much coloured by US Cold War thinking if not propaganda.
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Big Insect
Lieutenant Colonel
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Posts: 975


« Reply #3589 on: 12 January 2021, 08:17:10 AM »

'Nine Fox Gambit' by Yoon Ha Lee
Highly acclaimed new sci-fi author - Hugo & Nebula Award winner.

Totally Impenetrable!

This is the 2nd attempt I've made at getting to grips with new East Asian sci-fi authors and I must admit I am struggling.
I battled my way through this over the course of 4 weeks - which is a long time for me - especially for a 317 page paper-back.
I suspect that many will give up (as I nearly did) during the initial chapter battle scene - this is so reminiscent of the current wave of online Asian computer games that I suspect if you are not a player (& I am not) you will be lost before you start.
There are some interesting ideas - that mathematics and calendar cycles, ceremony and remembrances can be used as weapons of war - but once you get past that, the plot is very - very thin.
I ended up with no empathy for any of the characters - other than a particular assassin later on in the story - who attempts to kill his 'mark' with a parcel bomb masquerading as a sweet pastry delivery - but the heroine's character is weak and as the story progresses I got less and less interested in what she was wittering on about.

The other problem for me, is that I like my sci-fi visual and the lack of any descriptive elements left me struggling to engage with this universe and its occupants at all.
There are 2 other books in the series Raven and Gun - but I shall be avoiding both of these, and Nine Fox Gambit has already gone into the charity recycling box by our front door.
Save your 7.99 and try something else

Cheers
Mark
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fsn
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Posts: 9680



« Reply #3590 on: 12 January 2021, 08:31:25 AM »

Just started "the Battle of Dorking" by George Chesney.  Smiley
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Lord Oik of Runcorn
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steve_holmes_11
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Posts: 1118


« Reply #3591 on: 12 January 2021, 10:22:42 AM »

Passes 4/5 on Strategos II

Interesting ruleset concealed behind an awkward layout and DTP formatting of the day.

I had hoped to pull the necessary details out into an extended homemede QRS.
It now looks as through at least 6 pages will be required.
Hard work...

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Big Insect
Lieutenant Colonel
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Posts: 975


« Reply #3592 on: 12 January 2021, 10:28:55 AM »

I've only every played Strategos once and watched part of a couple of other games at the regular annual Society of Ancients 'Battle Day' events - where Phil is also a regular contributor/speaker.
But I must admit I couldn't really get to grips with it.
Well done you for persevering with the project  Smiley
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steve_holmes_11
Colonel
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Posts: 1118


« Reply #3593 on: 12 January 2021, 06:20:21 PM »

I've only every played Strategos once and watched part of a couple of other games at the regular annual Society of Ancients 'Battle Day' events - where Phil is also a regular contributor/speaker.
But I must admit I couldn't really get to grips with it.
Well done you for persevering with the project  Smiley

I'm growing close to the point of "Let's park this for future action".
I can see an immense re-edit will be necessary to make it teachable to any likely opponent.

It's a question of efficient use of hobby time.
 - Big investment into possible side-project of ancients
or
 - invest that time into up and running projects.
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hammurabi70
Captain
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Posts: 332


« Reply #3594 on: 15 January 2021, 12:54:47 AM »

I think the criticism comes from the interpretation and assumptions about Soviet Strategic Foreign Policy rather than any 'facts' about the battle and its operational background.
The basis of the book is a doctoral thesis completed in 1970.
The bit that some current scholars find problematic is Goldman's reliance on Cold War interpretations of Soviet policy aims and actions in the pre war period. His view of Soviet foreign policy is largely based on, or at least aligned with Ulam's 1968 view in his 'Expansion and Coexistence', which was an excellent work when there was no access to Soviet sources, but is a Cold War document to its core. Goldman tends towards a monolithic view of Soviet relations and this colours his view on the strategic position of Nomonhan/Khalkin-Gol and its place in a Machiavellian strategy against the 'West'.
He perhaps relies too much on a 'deconstruction' of Comintern documents available in the west pre the fall of the Soviet Union to divine the plans and policies of the Commissariat of Foreign Affairs when many of those plans have since been released and published in collections before Putin shut down access.
So - battle narrative good, relationship to European theatre strategic plans and WWII very much coloured by US Cold War thinking if not propaganda.

Ah!  Very interesting addendum to the material so many thanks.
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paulr
Field Marshal
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Posts: 10588


« Reply #3595 on: 15 January 2021, 06:49:44 AM »

Catching the train to work each day has got me back into reading books Smiley

The First Punic War by JF Lazenby

He compares and contrasts the various sources for each significant event and comes up with the most 'likely' description

I'm finding it very interesting understanding how few sources there are and how contradictory they are

A real contrast to the 'definitive' history you normally see
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mmcv
Brigadier
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Posts: 2016


WWW
« Reply #3596 on: 15 January 2021, 07:56:13 AM »

'Nine Fox Gambit' by Yoon Ha Lee
Highly acclaimed new sci-fi author - Hugo & Nebula Award winner.

Totally Impenetrable!

This is the 2nd attempt I've made at getting to grips with new East Asian sci-fi authors and I must admit I am struggling.
I battled my way through this over the course of 4 weeks - which is a long time for me - especially for a 317 page paper-back.
I suspect that many will give up (as I nearly did) during the initial chapter battle scene - this is so reminiscent of the current wave of online Asian computer games that I suspect if you are not a player (& I am not) you will be lost before you start.
There are some interesting ideas - that mathematics and calendar cycles, ceremony and remembrances can be used as weapons of war - but once you get past that, the plot is very - very thin.
I ended up with no empathy for any of the characters - other than a particular assassin later on in the story - who attempts to kill his 'mark' with a parcel bomb masquerading as a sweet pastry delivery - but the heroine's character is weak and as the story progresses I got less and less interested in what she was wittering on about.

The other problem for me, is that I like my sci-fi visual and the lack of any descriptive elements left me struggling to engage with this universe and its occupants at all.
There are 2 other books in the series Raven and Gun - but I shall be avoiding both of these, and Nine Fox Gambit has already gone into the charity recycling box by our front door.
Save your 7.99 and try something else

Cheers
Mark

I just grabbed a free Kindle sample of it to see what all the fuss is about. Will see if I can get thought the opening. I do enjoy some Asian inspired sci-fi and fantasy, though often find the concept and setting more interesting than the story itself.

I'd recommend Marko Kloos if you haven't read him already. I've been enjoying his Front lines and Palladium Wars series. Military science fiction but does a good job of balancing action with suspense, character and plot. I find a lot of military fiction writers get carried away writing the action and just keep dialling that up unrealistically. Marko takes a more measured approach.
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kipt
Major
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Posts: 646


« Reply #3597 on: 16 January 2021, 04:13:27 PM »

Finished "The whirlwind Of War: Voices Of The Storm 1861-1865" by Stephen B. Oates.

This is the second volume of the author's ACW project.  Again, he writes as if the people are speaking (or thinking).  It is very effective and presents the story in a most unique manner.

Highly recommended along with his first volume, "Voices Of The Storm: 1820-1861".
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kipt
Major
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Posts: 646


« Reply #3598 on: 26 January 2021, 06:49:16 PM »

Finished "Wellington: Waterloo And The Fortunes Of Peace" by Rory Muir.

This is the second volume of Muir's Wellington and as it says in the title, Waterloo and the years to Wellington's death.  Extremely well written and these two volumes will stand for a very long time as the defining tale of Wellington.

The book after Waterloo discusses Wellington's political life, about which I really knew little.  He was much more of a politician than previous biographies allow, and was actually very influencing.  Wellington has been blamed for the stagnation of the British army up to the Crimea, but as the author points out, the army did very well but the support services failed.  Wellington had no responsibility for those services.

I must say from a view across the pond, British politics are "interesting".  Tories, Whigs, caricaturists, back bench, Ultra Tories, radicals, House of Lords, House of Commons, ministers, etc. are all discussed and presented in all their glory and blemishes.  Although I prefer the military portion, this was interesting.

Highly recommend the two volumes for the definitive life of Wellington.
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Steve J
General
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Posts: 9203


« Reply #3599 on: 30 January 2021, 12:29:02 PM »

Catastrophe: Europe Goes to War 1914 by Max Hastings. A few chapters in and as with other Hastings books, loving his writing style and the detail he adds to the narrative. A pleasurable read and fascinating too Smiley.
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