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Author Topic: What are you currently reading ?  (Read 247126 times)
Posts: 654

« Reply #2565 on: 09 February 2018, 12:25:34 PM »

Finished Dionysios Tsirigiotis "The Greek Strategy in Asia Minor 1919-1921" (in Greeks). This is a recent effort (2010) and tries to analyse the grand strategy of both the Venizelist goverment of 1918- November, 1920 and November Royalist governments (1920-1922) using as a theoretical framework the "Thucididean Paradigm" (essentially a locally greek academic variation of the International Relations paradigm of "Realism" -Waltz, Morgenthau, E.H. Carr etc).

One of the claims of both Greek and American academic "Realists" is that if one uses their theoretical framework one will be able to conduct value-free analysis. This is of course all hgowash as Brian Cox explained 40 years ago. And it shows in this analysis. To put it mildly the auhtor has strong Venizelist biases which are not restrained by his theoretical framework. He does do a good job of supporting his arguments with recourse to primary sources, and the book is worth reading for this at least. However, his choice of periods to cover and compare (Venizelos going to Smyrna, All post-1920 Royalist governements) provides a easy test for Venizelos. The end result of his analysis is that Venizelos followed a rational, low risk strategy, while the Royalists did not. He refuses to make the connections between the weak points of Venizelos policies and the policies followed by the Royalists by refusing to engage in counterfactual (he cites Carr is defense a but ignores the many defenses of the use of counter-factuals as for example Fearon's).

Thus this reinforces my belief that Llewellyn-Smith's "Ionian Vision" remains the most honest, and least biased (not biased) look at the Greek decision making in 1918-1923. I am afraid all the Greek authors I read to date are still fighting the National Schism. 

That said Tsirigiotis does a great job at locating two key decision points for the Royalists that made their effort extremely hard, and raising (inadvertently it must be said) the key impact of domestic politics on the Greek decisions, both Venizelist (my work on progress for Salvation and Catastrophe explore taht more deeply)and Royalists.

The the two main greatest mistakes of the November Governments was
a) bringing Constantine back
b) refusing allied mediation during the London Conference (February-March 1921)

He assigns blame for this to parochial political interests of the royalists (while presenting all Venizelist interests as national. Since I do not live in a world were Wolfer's and Cox's critiques do not exist, I do not believe in such fantasies).

More correctly we can say that like Venizelos, the Royalists sought a decisive victory in the National Schism via the attainment of the Megali Idea as expressed in the Treaty of Sevres.Since a central testament of the Royalist position was the restoration of Constantine as the King of all Greeks the idea of separating his restoration from attainment the Megali Idea, by doing the restoration referendum after a victiroius outcome of military operations, was not one that could easily be considered by the Royalist.

And once Constantine was back on the throne, he could not be associated with the retreat from the Megali Idea that a mediation would bring, because that would associate the Royalists with defeat, and thus undermine their position in the struggle for the National Schism.

Of course there is the question if a Greek acceptance of Major Power mediation in 1921 would had really changed the results (would the Kemalist had rejected mediation? If they had would the rejection have any impact of the hands-off attitude of France and Britain?).

But one thing that comes out of it is that Constantine bears a lot of personal responsibility. Since it was impossible for his partisans to separate the prosecution of the Megali Idea from his rise to the throne, he should had saved us all in 1921 and refused to take the throne. This would had probably meant that the November governments might have had a much better international environment in their struggle with Mustafa Kemal. This does not mean that the Megali Idea as expressed in Sevres survives, but it does probably mean that the historical result also does not happen. Whatever the result, the avoidance of a Disaster as big as historically happened would probably had permitted the monarchy to survive, and given at least a generation upper hand to the Royalists . That Constantine could not see this is indicative of his weak character.

Posts: 362

« Reply #2566 on: 09 February 2018, 05:00:44 PM »

I have started hte final book in the Extinction series title "War". This has been a great series to read if the post apocalypse appeals to you. The I will start the final book in hte Tracker series that was just released.

Lieutenant General
Posts: 6013

« Reply #2567 on: 09 February 2018, 09:17:18 PM »

KTravlos, thanks for a brief glimpse into a fascinating period of history
Posts: 356

« Reply #2568 on: 10 February 2018, 03:56:31 PM »

Finished a very good book, "The Early Morning of War; Bull Run, 1861" by Edward Longacre.

Lots of background and then highly detailed accounts of the battle. The author has several other ACW books to his credit, all great.
Posts: 2139

Ruff! Ruff!

« Reply #2569 on: 12 February 2018, 05:02:52 PM »

Just finished reading Osprey’s “Monmouth Courthouse 1778.” This is the battle which was fought when the American Army tried to prevent Clinton’s withdrawal from Philadelphia to New York and in which Major General Charles Lee was notoriously relieved by Washington of his command mid-battle and court-martialled thereafter. Historians tend to portray Lee as vain, bad mannered and egotistical but he was also a witty conversationalist and (some say) a more capable general than Washington. I’ve therefore been indoctrinated not to like him. However, having read this account, I must say I feel a bit sorry for Lee and questions should have been asked of the conduct of some of his subordinates who wouldn’t carry out his orders and/or took it upon themselves to retreat from the fight. He clearly got up the noses of Washington and his acolytes and basically, the court martial looks as if it was a stitch-up to get rid of him. To summarise, intercepted by Clinton, part of the British force turned back, repulsed the Americans (even with Washington in command) and continued on their march.

The book is from Osprey’s Campaign series which as fellow "forum’ers” will know, is a pretty good series for providing an introduction to various battle and campaigns throughout history.  Typically, these publications include an account of the events leading up to the campaign and the battles involved as well as information about the  opposing armies and commanders, orders of battles, photographs and illustrations portraying various events, etc. They also famously include 3D maps.

Somewhat annoyingly, these always seem to be thrown in at random. Does anyone else get annoyed by that?

You’ll be reading the book, turning a page and all of a sudden you’re on to a 3d map, which is slap bang in the middle of a section with no natural break. What do you do? Do you continue reading until you come along to the end of that section or chapter, or stop and study the 3D map? Personally, I like to stop reading at a natural break then go back to the map. Which is what I did on meeting the first 3D map in this book. Then, suitably armed with an idea in my mind of how that part of the action unfolded and ended, I then returned to the main narrative. This continued …. and continued. I then encountered a second 3D map. I stopped at this one. This started by stating “Washington relieves Lee” … but as this had yet to happen in the narrative, I carried on. I then encountered a third 3D map … but still no mention in the narrative of Washington relieving Lee. Finally, TWENTY pages after the first 3D map and TEN after the second, the narrative stated, “Washington takes command!”  At wits' end

This is not good enough, Osprey. I really wish they would put more thought into where they place maps, etc. Does anyone else get annoyed with this. How do you deal with 3D maps in the middle of the narrative? Do you stop and study these or go back to them later?

I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be.
Major General
Posts: 4306

« Reply #2570 on: 12 February 2018, 09:28:45 PM »

I always look at the pictures first!

Just after receiving a book about a Harrier pilot in the Falklands from my sister-in-law, I flicked through the photos. She asked if this would spoil the story. I was a bit surprised at this as it was history.

2011 Painting Competition - Winner!
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2016 Painting Competition - Runner-Up!
2017 Paint-Off - 3 x Winner!
Lieutenant General
Posts: 6013

« Reply #2571 on: 13 February 2018, 04:32:51 AM »

We tend to forget how little history most people know Wink At wits' end
Posts: 7268

« Reply #2572 on: Today at 07:44:18 AM »

I've given up on Hammer's Slammers. Trying to put my finger on why and am having difficulty. Partly it's because I find it very difficult to believe that a 90 ton tank held up on blowers isn't going to create a duststorm that will make it a target for every ranged weapon in the area. Partly because in the stories I read, the Slammers were never faced with a credible opposition, partially because of the way the volune I was reading was presented there were no characters to get to know properly. My boat remained firmly un-floated.

I've skimmed the last bit of the T35 book. It's a fantasticlly detailled piece of work about every T35 there ever was, and I think it includes every photo of a T35 ever taken. When you read the fate of most of these behemoths, it includes the workds "broken down" and "abandoned".  Sad

Whilst painting my Tumbling Dice a/c I listened to the Xeneophon's Anabasis on Librivox. ( If you haven't tried it, Techno, Librivox is a free audiobook website. The books are all public domain, so you're not going to get the latest JK Rowling, but you will get the classics plus lots of WWI and ACW memoires, SF, Fantasy (like Conan) and lots of other good stuff. This weekend I'm planning to listen to the Aeneid. Librivox is very good for listening to whilst you're doing something creative like painting or sculpting.

Meanwhile, I have re-downloaded the Alexiad of Anna Comnena, an everyday story of Byzantine Imperial folks, onto my Kindle.

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Lord Oik of Runcorn
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mad lemmey
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« Reply #2573 on: Today at 08:14:55 AM »

The Live Ship Trilogy by Robin Hobb
Picked up as a kindle freebie a while back, took a while to get into, but I’m really enjoying it now.

Is it time I had a signature? Everyone else does.

Chekov's Gun, Occam's Razor, and Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle walk into a bar. You won't believe what happens next!

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