What are you currently reading ?

Started by goat major, 03 November 2012, 06:40:05 PM

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Currently reading

The Quest for Fire
(French: La Guerre du feu)
[2020 English translation]

Joseph Henri Honoré Boex [1856–1940]
[1911 Belgian fantasy novel]

Wikipedia info: (not finished the book, so don't know if this is fully accurate)
The Quest for Fire takes place in 100,000 BC in Europe. The fauna of this period is omnipresent, including mammoths, cave lions, aurochs, cave bears, sabre-toothed cats, giant elks and saiga antelopes. Several humanoid ethnicities live alongside animals: the Ulams (Neandertal-like hunters-gatherers who worship the fire and are able to ally themselves with beasts), the Wahs (people without shoulders from marshes), the Blue-Haired Men (huge four-handed simians with a bluish fur), the Men-Eaters (bestial cannibals) and the Red Dwarfs (extremely warmongering and xenophobic pygmies).
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Finished "The Wilmington Campaign: Last Rays of Departing Hope" by Chris E. Fonvielle, Jr.  Wilmington was the last Confederate open port for the rebels.  It had several formidable forts on the coast and the Cape Fear river.  Fort Fisher was the largest on the sea side peninsula, mounting 22 Heavy guns and a mortar just on the northern land face.  There were 24 heavy guns on the sea face.

Characters in the fight were Admiral Porter of New Orleans fame, General Benjamin Butler, also at New Orlead (Porter and Butler disliked each other which lead to the problems off the first attack), Confederates General Whiting and Colonel Lamb and ultimately General Braxton Bragg.

Lee's Army of Northern Virginal, under siege at Petersburg and Richmond at this time, said that the fall of Fort Fisher and the closing of the last blockade runner port would necessitate his abandonment of Petersburg and Richmond.

A very well done book on the campaign and the various fleet bombardments and army attacks on the forts as well as the push to take Wilmington, up the river 18 miles.  Good photographs, OB's, maps and period drawings.


Just finished the second of Ann Leckie's "Ancillary.." trilogy - got into it quicker than the first, enjoyed it but it takes a while to build (no bad thing), and the denouement comes rapidly and is then over even quicker.

Feels like a definite hook to get into the third, which I'm off to get now :D
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Finished "The Personal Memoirs of P.H. Sheridan".  A very aggressive officer and I can see why Grant put him in command of the Army of the Potomac Cavalry Corps as well as sending him to the Valley to fight Ewell.

After the War he was sent to the US-Mexican border in Texas to overawe the French.  After which he went west to oversee the Indians (he was not very PC - calling the Indians savages.  attributed to him is the saying "The only good Indian is a dead Indian).

He went to Europe to view the Franco-Prussian War, arriving about the time of the battle of Gravelotte,  He traveled for most of his visit with Bismarck.  After going over the battlefield of Gravelotte he remarked that "their terrific cannonade must have left marked results.  All I could perceive, however, was a disabled gun, a broken mitrailleuse, and two badly damaged caissons."

Going over the battlefield at Bazeilles he said "Counting all the French dead we came across killed by artillery, they figured up about three hundred-a ridiculously small number; in fact, not much more than one dead man for each Krupp gun on that part of the line".

He was also critical over the use of the Prussian cavalry.  Old school tactics, covering the front and flanks. He thought they would have been better used cutting the French communications (as he did against the Confederates.

So, recommended.


Having read all of the Marcus Didius Falco books I am now on to the follow up series featuring his adoptive daughter Flavia Albia which I am enjoying every bit as much.

Several characters carry over and, while the status of women in Ancient Rome gives Albia some unique problems but also some advantages that Falco did not have to deal with it is written in much the same style and with the same panache.

The characters are what make the books for me, though they are well plotted and well told.

The scene from one of the books where a Parthian envoy on a war elephant is chasing his ex-girlfriend and her Roman double agent paramour through the streets of Rome while the Parthian's double-dealing henchman leads four cataphracts and some archers in a street fight against a bunch of mounted speculatores with Albia and her sidekick weaving through the mayhem trying to catch up with the escaping girlfriend is just begging to be recreated on the tabletop!

Very much recommended if you like Ancient Rome, historical detective stories or just a thumping good read!
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Finished "The Royal Artillery in the Peninsula and the Netherlands (1799-1815)" the Napoleonic Archive Volume 8, edited by Gareth Glover.  This is a continuation of the original Waterloo Archive, but now printed by Ken Trotman.

Nothing on Waterloo but extensive letters, diaries and reports on the Peninsula campaigns.  A couple of interesting tidbits to me concerns captured French artillery.  One of the Journal reports of 2nd Lieutenant Henry Hough RA tells about an order from Wellington to fit out a brigade (battery) of French guns for General Santoclides of 5 x 8 pdrs and 1 6" howitzer.  When I painted my 6mm Peninsula armies I wasn't sure if the French had taken their regular corps artillery to Spain due to the ruggedness of the various terrain.  I seem to remember somewhere reading that they only used 6 pdrs - so not true.  And I did use 8 and 12 pdrs for my troops.

And, a report in the diary of Major Thomas Downman RHA of the possibility of forming a brigade of 12 and 8 pdrs from the destruction of Almeida.  These being abandoned French tubes.  There is a mention of a brigade of guns being held up on the march until an 15,000 herd of cattle passed on the road. Logistics is everything to keep the armies moving and fed.  Another notation talks about a remount caravan coming up the road and where a brigade was able to get some needed horses.


Finished "The U.S. Army War College Guide To The Battle Of Gettysburg" edited by Jay Luvaas and Harold W. Nelson.  Place maps with guidebook numbers and relevant reports from participants.  These Guide books are very good for understanding the action.


And finished "Detour to Disaster: General John Bell Hood's "Slight Demonstration" At Decatur And The Unravelling Of
The Tennessee Campaign" by Noel Carpenter.

This is a good, little, detailed book about Hood's fight at Decatur on the Tennessee River, held by General Granger and Colonel Doolittle.  Hood "masked" the Union fort with two corps and had his third corps continue marching west.  Half-hearted attempts to take the fort and the pontoon bridge only brought Rebel casualties and lost time.  The Union eventually had 5000 troops and several batteries at the fortifications, and continually harassed the Rebel lines.  Eventually Hood marched on to Tecumbia and then north to his fate at Franklin and Nashville.

Very interesting book by the author who grew up in the area and felt this action did not get the attention it deserved.


Finished "The Generalship of Ulysses S. Grant" by Colonel J.F.C. Fuller.  Fuller thinks a lot of Grant, finding him constantly learning, never discouraged and factoring all sides, military as well as political.  Fuller's sections are: Part 1, The Civil War, Part 2, Grant As Subordinate General, Part 3, Grant As General-In-Chief and Part 4, The Generalship Of Peace.  There are also several appendices including commentary on the surprise at Shiloh and the attack by Thomas at Chattanooga.

Fuller says Lee was not able to figure Grant out in the beginning, and then due to high casualties for the Confederates there was not much Lee could do other than defend.  This was Grant's strategy: keep Lee involved so the other Union forces could do their work without worrying about reinforcements from Lee (Atlanta campaign, Valley campaign, Canby's attack to Mobile - not all of which went according to plan, but Lee was keep busy).

Even though the book is almost 100 years old, there is a lot of good information presented here.


Ohh.. this will be 300 pages of gold mine for me...

I just finished last night The War for All the Oceans, Adkins.  Picked it up pretty blindly for the battle of the Nile chapter, but ended up continuing.  The prose is fun and more like a novel.  The insertion of diary entries and such gives it a lot of character.  Great book if you want something both fun and informative in Age of Sail in the Nelson era.


Finishing up Angels in the Sky by Robert Gandt. It's a very well written account of the volunteer airmen who helped form Israel's air force in 1948.

Very interesting to read about the air campaign involving Czech versions of Me-109s, T-6 Texans, c-47s, B-17s, Spitfires of various models and Macchi fighters all dueling it out over the skies of Israel and Palestine.
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Finished "The Journal of Military History" Vol. 87, No. 3 (published 4 times per year).

Articles include:
Celtic Military Equipment in the Ancient Mediterranean: Innovation, Imitation, and Empire, 400-25BCE,
"The Great Doctrine Disaster": Reform, Reaction, and Mechanization in the British Army, 1919-1939.
A Tale of Two Grand Strategies: The bay of Bengal and Allied Operational Planning in Southeast Asia, 1942-1945,
plus others.

Also 91 pages of book reviews (where often I see another book to buy), 3 pages of other books received, 7 pages of recent journal articles, and 6 pages of reviews of Doctoral Dissertations on military history.


Finished :The Destruction OF The Imperial Army:Volume 1: The Opening Engagements Of The Franco-Prussian War 1870-71" by Grenville Bird.

Highly detailed with records from both the Prussian/German accounts and the French accounts.  I have the Prussian volumes which is heavily weighted to the Prussian side and which sometimes glosses over the controversies within their command.  This book shows the warts.

Good pictures of the battlefields, then and now.  Detailed maps but a magnifying glass is needed.

On to Volume 2.


QuoteFinished :The Destruction OF The Imperial Army:Volume 1: The Opening Engagements Of The Franco-Prussian War 1870-71" by Grenville Bird.

Detailed maps but a magnifying glass is needed.

On to Volume 2.
But all the maps are available free to download from the Helion website, a very useful innovation.
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Battle of Znaim by John H Gill.  Last of the four I had not read yet.

At times I think 1809 is the best period simply because Gill researched and wrote on it.  That is my review!