Whiterook's 2015 Reading Challenge Log

Annual Reading Challenge

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Re: Whiterook's 2015 Reading Challenge Log

Postby Whiterook » Sat Apr 04, 2015 1:33 pm

Book #5
The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius

by Marcus Aurelius Antoninus

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Though I now put this book in the catagory of completed, it will never be completed. That's a good thing, in this case. :D

This is a pondering book. Billed as... 'A Practical Guide for Living in an Irrational World', that could not have described it any better. A series of 'reflections' on life...the 'meditations' were written in latter war campaigns, and encompass (in a Sexist View) how to be a better better man; in the World View, how to be a better human.

The Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius Antoninus (AD 121-180) embodied in his person that deeply cherished ideal figure of antiquity, the philosopher-king. Viewed as one of the Top 5 Emperors, his Meditations reveal a mind of exceptional clarity and originality, and a sprit attuned to both the particulars of human destiny and the vast patterns which underlie it.

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This tome is also transcendent and transferable towards being a great leader.... not only in the military... but also in business and life in general. There is an extreme shortage of the latter these days, in my humble opinion.

It's a book to be consumed in small bites....as little as a sentence or two at a time, in fact. And further, over and over and over again. Concepts that must be meditated upon and applied in thought of the moment ...to who and what you are... and honest comparisons made. Ponder. Reflect. Apply.

It is, in every way, your guide for improvement. We all need inprovement. That is what life is all about....learning and improving.

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This book helped me find a way out of a funk in which I did a personal "Walkabout" over the course of three years in just the recent past. It helped me perform an honest inventory into who I am, where I've been, where I am now, and where I'm going as a walking/breathing specimen on the Big Blue Marble.

It's powerful....impactful....humbling....energizing....food for the soul....fodder for being 'better'.

If you don't own this, simply....you must.
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Re: Whiterook's 2015 Reading Challenge Log

Postby MAGNA » Wed Apr 08, 2015 11:36 am

Ok I'll bee in this chalunj two. Myne will bee two lern to reed in 2015...... and two spel propa ......
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Re: Whiterook's 2015 Reading Challenge Log

Postby Whiterook » Tue May 26, 2015 5:19 pm

MAGNA wrote:Ok I'll bee in this chalunj two. Myne will bee two lern to reed in 2015...... and two spel propa ......


:lol: Now THAT will indeed be a challenge!!!! :D
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Re: Whiterook's 2015 Reading Challenge Log

Postby Whiterook » Tue May 26, 2015 5:27 pm

Book #6
Into the Storm (Book 1 in the The Destroyermen series)

by Taylor Anderson

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The Destroyermen series chronicles the alternate history adventures of the crews of the WWII destroyer USS Walker (DD-163) and the Japanese battlecruiser Amagi, in the early stages of the War in the Pacific during World War II. The ship, and her sister ship USS Mahan, are mysteriously transported to an alternate Earth, with relatively the same geographically as the one they left, but evolution took a different turn eons ago. This all after a nasty battle between the outgunned (and seemingly doomed) Americans and allies againsst tthe Japanese jugernaught.

The nine books in the series so far also include: Crusade, Maelstrom, Distant Thunders, Rising Tides, Firestorm, Iron Gray Sea, Storm Surge, and Deadly Shores.

An enjoyable read, and enough tooth to make me buy the second book (Crusade, started this weekend). I've not read a lot of alternate history stuff, but the WWII naval aspects set the hook nicely, and I soon started to feel more comfortable (after at first, feeling a little out of my wheelhouse) with the non-humans portrayed; and in fact, I am now starting to really 'get it'....mainly but reading the wiki writeup on the series and gaing a better picture in my mind of the world I am reading. The main nemisis (the Grik) were more difficult for me to conceptualize...until I started thinking of scenes in the movie "Jurassic Park", and that's when the lightbulb went off :D

This first book setup the pemise for the story's foundation nicely, and I have a feeeling it will get much more *busy* as the series goes on. Yes, I've trapped myself (thusfar) in the snare of, I have to see how this all develops and ultimately turns out. So, it looks for now like the whole series will get a read.

It is very character heavy....even reading at a good, steady pace, it's occassionally difficult to remember some of the characters as they pop in and out. But, the scope is almost epic in scale, so it could be well understood the cast of characters would also be large.

I like that this is outside my normal range of interest, in subject (alternate history), yet still has a deep foundation in WWII subject matter. It was recommended by a frriend, who read the whole series and loved it...he shares many of my interests and tastes so, chances are I will be happy to have stumbled into this series.
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Re: Whiterook's 2015 Reading Challenge Log

Postby Whiterook » Mon Jun 22, 2015 5:56 pm

Book #7
Crusade

by Taylor Anderson

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In book 2 of the Destroyermen Series, Crusade finds the Lt. Commander Matthew Reddy, and the crew of USS Walker (DD-163), reunited with their sister ship, the destroyer USS Mahan (DD-102), and set out to fight the Grik.

Lots of action in this second installment, with Reddy leading the Lemurians in a united battle, much like the Allies of WWII they'd left behind in their alternate world. There are many factions of Lemurians, both sea-fareing on large carrier-sized ships called "Homes", and land-based. Reddy is faced with banding as many of the factions (some whom fight each other like little childern in a schoolyard) as he can, into a Allied Expedionary Force, to fight the lizard-like Grik whom threaten the Lemurians with extinction.

There is double dealing, betrayal, and some amazing battles. And it isn't nearly over!

<< SPOILER ALERT!>>
>
>
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The Grik have now taken over the ship that was trying (and nearly succeeding in) Walker and Mahan doing the Deep 6 before the starnge storm in book 1 sent the American ships into the alternate world...only to find out the Japanese battlecruiser Amagi also met the same fate of being lost in a new, and bizarre world.

Book 2 ends with both sides licking their respective wounds, and a bit of a breather in the action. But the dark storm clouds of war loom ominously!
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Re: Whiterook's 2015 Reading Challenge Log

Postby Frank » Wed Jun 24, 2015 1:25 pm

The alturnate history type books are always a love em or hate em type of thing. I have read a couple of the Harry Turtledove ones which were ok but I had not seen these, they look interesting. I will have to take a closer look.
"Some believe that it is only great power that can hold evil in check.But that is not what I have found, it is the small everyday acts of normal folk that keep the darkness at bay. Small acts of kindness and love."
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Re: Whiterook's 2015 Reading Challenge Log

Postby Whiterook » Sun Aug 02, 2015 8:00 pm

Book #8
Command of Honor

by H. Paul Jeffers

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"Command of Honor" cover


On a whim, I picked up this book from my book shelf, waiting to be read for a little while now. Having been reaing science fiction for so many books recently, I was a little hungry for a good WWII historical read.

I'd picked up this book ome time ago, mainly because General Lucian King Truscott was a top WWII general I knew very little about...in fact, next to nothing! Until now, I'd seen him mentioned in other works; and most notably in the 1970's movie "Patton", in a minor role. But those small glimpses intrigued me every time, as I saw what appeared to be a brilliant tactician and strategist.

I had no idea how brilliant until now, and that's with only 70 pages read this afternoon, under my belt!!!

The book starts in 1917, as a 21 year old Second Lieutenant pulling into Douglas, Arizona by train. With a nice description of his family lineage, I quickly found myself immersed in deja vu....

In those early years as a Cavalryman, he served a brief stint with the 11th Cavalry...of whose uniforms and history are used in my favorite drum & bugle corps, the Casper Troopers. I have experienced a re-awakening of my obsession with drum corps and the Troopers this Summer, attending several shows. It has emblazened and reignited even further my love of the Old West. Mention of the 11th was the first smile.

Next, was a posting in Marfa, Texas. Marfa was the attention of my dreams this past decade as a place I could easily move to...quiet and unassuming, it is said to be one of the most laid back places one can still find in the United States.

Next was a brief stint at the Presidio, in California, where I found myself temporarily detailed to back in my Fort Devens days in Massachusetts. That place left a HUGE impression on me, to this very day. I instantly could see Truscott on base, and see what he liked about it.

Those were the big three deja vu experiences I got in my reading. I've never had that happen to me before!

But the book (again, only a 33rd of the way through) has reveealed so much more about the man and things I've marveled at all these years, One of the most mind-blowing is his being dispatched by Army Chief of Staff, George C. Marshall, to go to England in 1942 to form an American version of the wildly successful British Commandos, learning under Lord Louis Mountbatten...ordered to not call them Commandos, but come up with a distinctly American name. Enter the Rangers!

And to digress a tad, to see the cast of later-leading players (Eiesenhower, Patton, Bradley, Clark, etc.) in their early careers leading up to Pearl Harbor is really cool. The author has a great style of writing, in serving up just enough to give you the big picture without getting bogged down in the weeds.

I can't wait to see what the other two thirds reveal! I do already know, however, that I am a big Truscott fan now!
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Re: Whiterook's 2015 Reading Challenge Log

Postby Frank » Tue Aug 04, 2015 1:50 pm

He does seem to be one of the more overlooked Generals, I know of him from gaming, FOW has the "Truscott trot" move and fire special rule, but that is all. It is great though when a persons story reasonates on so many levels, it seems to give you a connection to the person.
"Some believe that it is only great power that can hold evil in check.But that is not what I have found, it is the small everyday acts of normal folk that keep the darkness at bay. Small acts of kindness and love."
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Re: Whiterook's 2015 Reading Challenge Log

Postby Whiterook » Wed Aug 05, 2015 3:24 pm

Yes, the "Truscott Trot" was mentioned early on in the book.

After being stationed in Marfa, Texas...in 1925, he was sent to the Troop Officers' Course at Cavalry School, at Fort Riley, Kansas, in September of that year. This was one of the most famous (and romantic in history) military posts of the Old West. A time before mechanized war/mechanized cavalry and still immersed in horse soldiering. Fort Riley was established in 1852, to protect settlers heading west, and had been at the heart of the Indian Wars, and most notably, the home of General George Armstrong Custer and the ill-fated 7th Cavalry.

The book really brings to bear, two officers I never heard of:

The first was Colonel Bruce Palmer. He was Second in Command of the Cavalry School, and had an ambition of modernizing the cavalry with use of armored vehilces and motor transport. This was Truscott's introduction in what an armored force could possibly bring to the battlefield, including speed of mobilization and response. It must have been something, for the horse cavalry army of the day to now, after the advent of tanks and airpower in WWI, consider mechanzation of the cavalry. We can safely assume that many in the military establishment (of all nations) resisted, for hate of change, a change in military doctrine so drastic!

The second officer I'd not previously been aware of was Colonel Charles I. "Scotty" Scott, the Cavalry School's Directorof Instructions. He introduced Truscott to the value of training men to cover large stretches of territory in a short time. Cavalrymen of Fort Riley were expected to traverse 100-miles in full field equipment in 24 hours.

Both these officers appear (to me) to have been pivotaly keys in Truscotts view and opinion of speed of infantry on the battlefield: Seventeen years later, 'General' Truscott's soldiers were required to execute speed marches that would be cursed by weary and footsore soldiers in WWII North Africa, Sicily, and Italy as the "Truscott Trot".
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Re: Whiterook's 2015 Reading Challenge Log

Postby Whiterook » Wed Aug 05, 2015 6:32 pm

I had decided to take the day off today for a little road trip, as the weather was to clear past the heat and humidity; but the thunderstorms that rolled through to effectuate that change actually contained a micro-burst that knocked out the power yesterday at 3 PM, and power was not restored until mid afternoon today!

So being in the dark all last night by candlelight, and opting to postpone the day trip today while waiting to see if power returned (and an emergency run for ice for the freezer!)...I got through Operation Torch.

For his succssful planning and capture of Casablanca, in French Morocco and the airfield at Port Lyautey, Truscott earned his second star to Major General.

Having gone up against the French in Torch, I found it interesting that Truscott was 'forced' to dictate terms to French General Mathinet, as Truscot's superior, General Patton, wasn't available to do so. That became ironic in the next chapter, "Chasing the Fox"...

Patton was a Major General at that time, and with Truscott gaining his second star too, Patton had no place for him. So Truscott went to Ike's headquarters that Christmas eve, and a few days later, Ike assigned him to be his Deputy Chief of Staff to break up a stalemate between British, French, and American forces not playing well in the sandbox...this being from the Allied halt in their drive into Tunisia before capturing the vital port of Tunis (and Bizerte).

This is all surrounding the disaster of Kasserine Pass, up against Rommel's forces and the Italians; and further complicated by Colonel General Hans-Jurgen von Arnim's Fifth Panzer Army near Tunis, as well as the Panzer Army Afrika in Libya, under Rommel, ready to rush into the fray.

Rommel was performing a strategic withdrawl, making sure to protect the two important ports with a small force, while pushing larger forces against Allied communications fronts. This after Rommel's owning the desert with success after success, and for the first time, put a bit on his heels.

The Allied "sandbox" part comes in with American II Corps Major General Lloyd R Fredendall, who couldn't stand the British, but was under their control in this timeframe. He was to seize a bottleneck in Rommel's line of communications at Gabes on the eastern coast. Meanwhile, the primary force facing the Germans would be the French, under the very General that Truscott dictated terms of cease-fire/operations to for the French at the outset of Torch, at the Kasbah....General Mathinet! The third troublesome playmate in this great sandbox was British Lieutenant General Kenneth Anderson.

General Fredendall ended up retreating back through the Kassserine Pass under German pressure, having had an argument with Anderson who wanted to hold. The Germans pushed back through Kasserine. American field artillery from the U.S. Ninth Infantry Division, and every gun that could be brought to bear on the Germans saved the day by pushing the Germans back (remember, Rommel left a small force that almost took the cookie!).

Ike arrived on-scene and after discussions of the German pullback, wanted Fredendall to attack at once, but Fredendall wanted to wait a day and the battle was over before the Americans could re-seize the moment.

This brought to my attention how truly messed up Allied communication was between senior leaders. Granted, this is all at the beinning of the war, and the Americans' first steps against the Germans, but still it was amazingly FUBARed. But also, lessons learned.

Ironically, in the end, Truscott was asked by Ike to give an assessment of General Fredendall, to which Truscott relayed that Fredendall lost the confidence of his subordinates and the II Corps could never fight effectively under him; and that general Fredendall disliked the British and would not be able to work with them. Truscott advised Fredendall be removed....

This was a bit of a revelation to me, as I've always read Omar Bradley was the confidant Ike sought and was advised to remove General Fredendall. I still beoieve that to be true, but I would imagine that the author of this book found account of Truscott also being a piece of that puzzle.

If I remember right, this leads to the scene in the 1970's movie "Patton", of Patton releaving Fredendall in Tunisia.
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