I was at Borders a few nights ago and I picked up 'Warhammer 40,000: The Killing Ground', 'The Art of Clint Langley: Dark Visions from the grim Worlds of Warhammer', 'The Army of Flanders and the Spanish Road: 1567-1659' by Geoffrey Parker, 'Forgotten Wars: The End of Britain's Asian Empire' by Christopher Bayly and Tim Harper and 'The grand Strategy of Philip II' by Geoffrey Parker.

I finished 'The Lover' by Marguerite Duras a few days back. I have just started on 'Battles of the Thirty Years War: From White Mountain to Nordlingen 1618-1635'. I am also in the midst of a few other books including 'God is not great: How religion poisons the world' by Christopher Hitchens.

What you are guys reading?

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      I have the same book, my version is an Abacus paperback,  but a hardback edition would be nice. I have not read it yet but it does look great. I think it covers the 2nd Boer War.  There is also a series I saw on You Tube that covers this topic as well.  Another book by the same publisher, (Abacus), that is about the same size/length, is The Rise and Fall of the British Empire by Lawrence James.  It appears to me that Half Priced books is dumping cheep new copies of Abacus paperbacks (originally intended for the UK market) here in the US.


Greetings Rob:


Yes, Pakenham's book covers the Second Boer War, although he does discuss the First Boer War (1880-81) in passing. What I like about Pakenham's treatment is that he doesn't indulge in hand-wringing and he certainly doesn't make excuses for either the British high command or for the Boers, both of whom had done enough to stain both their respective reputations and their moral standing by the end of the war.

Especially appealing to me was his unvarnished evaluations of both Lord Roberts and Lord Kitchener. Although a number of British historians (Niall Ferguson comes immediately to mind) have attempted to make excuses for both men, Pakenham makes a convincing case that neither general "cared a fig" either for their own troops or for the civilians, both Boer and native blacks, that got in the British army's way. 

Interestingly, the two British generals who do emerge from this book  with their reputations intact, if not enhanced, are General Redvers Buller -- who, it should be noted, was scapegoated by both the War Off ice and the British press after the war -- and General French who, a generation later, would command the BEF in France at the start of World War I, but who would be replaced (probably rightly) because of his failure to come to terms with the horrific casualties of the "great War". Something that Haig (French's subordinant in South Africa) had no difficulty whatsoever accepting as a requisite of Allied victory against the Germans on the western front.

Again, I cannot recommend this book highly enough!


What is the best book on Gettysburg? I just returned from a trip to the battlefield and would like to know more about the battle.
The Killer Angels is a fictionalized account of the battle and is very popular and easy reading. Another book is the Osprey Campaign Series 52 "Gettysburg 1863" book. It is and oversized paperback of 128 pages but has lots of pictures, diagrams, and maps (which are key to understanding the battle).  For more generalized history of the entire Civil War there is the Bruce Catton or Shelby Foote Civil war trilogy.  To be honest the Park Service would have had a large selection for sale at the Battlefield and one would think the  "best" would have been one of those they had for sale.
Bart, a lot depends on what "best" means to you.  If you are looking for an introduction to the battle, the Osprey book that Robert Ryan lists below is the best place to start.  If you want something a little more meaty, either Stephen Sears' GETTYSBURG or Noah Trudeau's GETTYSBURG: A TESTING OF COURAGE are good.  After that, if you are hankering for a more in depth understanding of the historical context and reasons behind various decisions of the campaign that led up to the battle (as well as the battle itself), Edwin Coddington's THE GETTYSBURG CAMPAIGN: A STUDY IN COMMAND has yet to be beat as a single volume treatment, even though it's somewhat dated.  For a really detailed treatment, you have to read David G. Martin's GETTYSBURG: JULY 1 or Harry Pfanz's GETTYSBURG: THE FIRST DAY, then Pfanz's GETTYSBURG: THE SECOND DAY, finally terminating with Earl Hess's PICKETT'S CHARGE: THE LAST ATTACK.  There's a few other books on particular parts of the battle that are excellent, but this to me is the "short list!"

Read: "Brotherhood of Kings: How International Relations Shaped the Ancient Near East" by Amanda H. Podany. Covers the period 2300BC-1300BC. Shows how a balance of power was maintained between the great powers of the day and the beginnings of its collapse. By around 1100BC all this was swept away by the Sea Peoples movements across the Eastern Med. It relates to modern times as a new vast movement of peoples, antagonistic to the present "Political Order", overrun these  "powers" just like the Sea Peoples. Deja Vu! Outstanding and highly recommended.


"Hadrian" by Stewart Perowne. A bio on this Roman Emperor. Very Good and recommended.


"Fly by Night" by Ward Larson. A political thriller on a top secret CIA drone going down in the Sudan and a plot that will threaten America like never before. Very good and recommended.

The Campaigns of Napoleon   David Chandler
I have that one too, it came highly recommended...is there a Reader's Digest Condensed version?

Just read Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand.

Harrowing story of a marathon champion that participated in the 1936 olympics. Bombadier in a B-24 sea crash and survival of 47 days at sea and 2000 mile shark infested drift to Kwajalein that began a camp tale of beatings and survival against teriffic odds, the atomic blasts, fire bombing and recovery of faith, hope and forgiveness. Reccomended

Finished Gregor Mathias's excellent work, GALULA IN ALGERIA: COUNTERINSURGENCY: PRACTICE VERSUS THEORY which is indispensable reading for the COINdanistas--just came out this year.  While David Galula has had his critics, no argument has been better researched, argued, and presented as this one.  Mathias takes Galula's book and evaluates the captain's actions in Algeria against that standard.  To be fair to Galula, COUNTERINSURGENCY: THEORY AND PRACTICE was written after his experiences there with the benefit of reflection (to include what could have been done), but Mathias also brings in Galula's claims made in his PACIFICATION IN ALGERIA: 1956-1958 under some scrutiny.

Also am quite floored by Karl Marlantes's WHAT IT IS LIKE TO GO TO WAR.  Readers of his best-selling MATTERHORN will recognize much in this book, but it's still worth a slow and considered read.  Were I the Commandant of the Marine Corps for a day, this would top my reading list for Marines.  Were I the Chief of Staff of the Army, this is what I'd make all my soldiers read as well.  I used to recommend Jonathan Shay's ACHILLES IN VIETNAM and ODYSSEUS IN AMERICA and will still do that, but they come in second to this book as practical guides for mentally preparing to go into combat.

The original Galula work, Pacification in Algeria, 1956-1958, is still available for free pdf download from the Bland Corporation (I'm sorry another shameless plug for Dr. Strangelove )  Rand website.

Read:"Amenhotep III: Perspectives on his reign" by David O'Connor and Eric Cline. This is a group of essays on Amenhotep III reign. This is when Ancient Egypt was at the height of it power, politically, militarily, and economically. Just so-so.

"Trackers" by Deon Meyer. A spy thriller on Post-Apartheid South Africa. Outstanding and highly recommended. Great background on today's South Africa.


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