Archive for the ‘Military History’ Category
“When Washington Burned: An Illustrated History of the War of 1812” by Arnold Blumberg. The publisher is Casemate Publishing.
Posted in Book Review, History, Humanities, Liberal Arts, Military History, Nonfiction, Reading, United States History, tagged Book Review, Britain, England, Great Britain, History, Military History, United States, US, US Army, US Navy, USA on April 13, 2013 | Leave a Comment »
“The True Story of Catch – 22: The Real Men and Missions of Joseph Heller’s 340th Bomb Group in World War II” by Patricia Chapman Meder.
Posted in Aviation, Book Review, English, History, Humanities, Liberal Arts, Memoir, Military History, Reading, United States History, Writing, tagged 1940s, Book Review, Memoir, Military History, Popular Culture, World War II on March 25, 2013 | Leave a Comment »
Did Joseph Heller commit a disservice to the members of the 340th Bomb Group when he wrote Catch-22? Did author Patricia Chapman Meder write an apologetic defending the real four officers some feel Joesph Heller blindsided when he made them into Catch-22′s four heavy hitters?
“The True Story of Catch – 22: The Real Men and Missions of Joseph Heller’s 340th Bomb Group in World War II” is a combination of both plus I feel some admiration for Joseph Heller making those men infamous.
There is a reason the original Catch-22 is found in the fiction not nonfiction section of bookstores. Joseph Heller didn’t write a memoir of his service during World War II. He wrote a satirical and somewhat historical novel.
Patricia Chapman Meder uses rare and unpublished photos to bring our actual heroes to life through use of first person narrative.
There is a third part in her book that is actually the book’s heart. She takes twelve men of the 340th and relates twelve true tales.
Fans of Catch-22 will enjoy the book. It makes good use of diaries, logs, and photos to bring the people to life. For those unfamiliar with Catch-22 the book will make you curious enough to pickup Heller’s book.
“The True Story of Catch – 22: The Real Men and Missions of Joseph Heller’s 340th Bomb Group in World War II” would make a nice companion volume or commentary for the serious student of the original work. It would make a nice inclusion in university or community libraries as a resource for Joseph Heller’s book.
I recommend ”The True Story of Catch – 22: The Real Men and Missions of Joseph Heller’s 340th Bomb Group in World War II” by Patricia Chapman Meder. The publisher is Casemate Publishing.
Read and reviewed by Jimmie A. Kepler.
Posted in Book Review, English, History, Humanities, Liberal Arts, Military History, United States History, tagged 1960s, 1970s, Aging, Book Review, Military History on February 16, 2013 | Leave a Comment »
Posted in Aviation, Book Review, Devotional Thought, English, Essay, Fantasy, Flash Fiction, History, Humanities, Liberal Arts, Memoir, Military History, Music, Podcast, Poetry, Poetry Site of the Week, Pulitzer Prize for History, Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, Reading, Religion, Science Fiction, Short Story, Short Story Site of the Week, Speculative Fiction, United States History, United States Poet Laureate, Writing, tagged Aviation, Book Review, Devotional Thought, English, Essay, Fantasy, Flash Fiction, History, Humanities, Liberal Arts, Memoir, Military History, Music, Podcast, Poetry, Poetry Site of the Week, Pulitzer Prize for History, Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, Reading, Religion, Science-fiction, Short Story, Short Story Site of the Week, Speculative Fiction, United States History, United States Poet Laureate, Writing on January 26, 2013 | Leave a Comment »
The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.
Here’s an excerpt:
4,329 films were submitted to the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. This blog had 17,000 views in 2012. If each view were a film, this blog would power 4 Film Festivals
Posted in Book Review, English, History, Humanities, Liberal Arts, Military History, Poetry, Reading, Writing, tagged Book Review, Memoir, Military History, Poem, Poems, Poetry, Writer's Life, Writing, Writing Life on December 29, 2012 | 1 Comment »
He had seen men enslaved, and seen death in battle on a terrible scale. So when a young, unknown poet named Emily Dickinson wrote to ask whether he thought her verse was “alive”, Thomas Wentworth Higginson – a critic for The Atlantic Monthly and a decorated Union veteran – knew he was seeing poetry that lived and breathed like nothing he had seen before.
Higginson was immediately awed by Emily Dickinson, and went on to become her editor, mentor, and one of the reclusive poet’s closest confidantes. The two met only twice, but exchanged hundreds of deeply personal letters over the next twenty-five years; they commented on each other’s work, mulled over writers they admired, and dazzled each other with nimble turns of phrase. After she died, he shepherded the first collected edition of her poetry into publication, and was a tireless champion of her work in his influential Recent Poems column for The Nation.
Later generations of literary scholars have dismissed Higginson as a dull, ordinary mind, blaming him for the decision to strip some of the distinctive, unusual structure from Dickinson’s poems for publication. However, Brenda Wineapple offers a portrait of Higginson that is far beyond ordinary. He was a widely respected writer, a fervent abolitionist, and a secret accomplice to John Brown’s raid on Harpers Ferry; wounded in the first year of the Civil War, he returned to service as colonel of the first federally-authorized regiment of former slaves. White Heat reveals a rich, remarkable friendship between the citizen soldier and the poet, a correspondence from which Dickinson drew tremendous passion and inspiration – and which she credited, more than once, with saving her life.
Brenda Wineapple is the author and editor of five books, including the award-winning Hawthorne: A Life and Sister Brother: Gertrude and Leo Stein. Her essays, articles, and reviews have appeared in The American Scholar, The New York Times Book Review, Parnassus, Poetry, and The Nation. She teaches in the MFA programs at Columbia University and The New School in New York.
Posted in Book Review, English, History, Humanities, Liberal Arts, Memoir, Military History, United States History, tagged 101st Airborne, 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, 9th Infantry Division, Desert Storm, Grenada, h norman schwarzkopf, H. Norman Schwartzkopf, History, middle-east, Military History, Panama, politics, Reminiscing, Vietnam, West Point on December 28, 2012 | 1 Comment »
I am remembering General H. Norman Schwarzkopf by republishing a review I did a number of years ago of his autobiography. I first read this book in 1995. I have read it once since. “It Doesn’t Take a Hero” by H. Norman Schwarzkopf takes its title from a quote Schwarzkopf gave during an interview with Barbara Walters in 1991; “It Doesn’t Take a Hero to order men into battle. It takes a hero to be one of those men who goes into battle.”
First, I must admit I am a Schwarzkopf fan. He commanded the 1st Brigade, 9th Infantry Division as a colonel while I was serving as a 1LT in the 9th Division. His third child (son) was born about two hours after my first son at Madigan Army General Hospital. We spent time in the Army hospital delivery room together. Our wives were in beds besides each other in the hospital ward. We were on a first name basis. He called me lieutenant and I called him sir. Prior to his arrival at Fort Lewis he had been the assistant commander of the 172nd Infantry Brigade (Alaska Brigade). The 172nd Infantry Brigade’s commander he served under was Major General Willard (Will) Latham who Schwarzkopf called the toughest general in the US Army. I have been an acquaintance of MG Latham’s for 40 years. Latham’s son Mark was a class mate of mine at University of Texas at Arlington (UT Arlington). Will Latham and I are active members of the Corps of Cadet Alumni Council Board at the UT Arlington. I have discussed Schwarzkopf and Schwarzkopf’s book with Latham. I also am a contributor to the Wikipedia article H. Norman Schwarzkopf.
Schwarzkopf came from an upper middle class family, his father was a West Point graduate, head of the New Jersey state police (who later led the hunt for the Lindbergh kidnappers), and served President Roosevelt on a special assignment in Iran. They lived in the best house in their town, and even employed a maid, but there was a dark family secret… his mother’s alcoholism. His experiences in the Middle East in Iran as a young man, where he lived with his general father, gave him a unique insight into the Arab world that served him personally, and the coalition as a whole. He went to boarding schools in the middle-east and in Switzerland. This helped him develop the cultural understanding and build some relationships that he would later call on during the Gulf War.
The part of the book that deals with his duties in Vietnam is interesting. He expresses the popular hindsight viewpoint against the stupidity and arrogance of the politicians and ‘Brass’ who ordered young men to lay down their lives in that far away land for no good reason. He became convinced that he had to do something to change the army from within; it was either that or he resigns his commission.
His role in leading the rescue of the medical students in Grenada is extremely interesting. It provided him with lessons that were applied during the Gulf War.
The most interesting part of the book is his telling of the Gulf War, Desert Storm. It is probably true to say that without “Stormin’” Norman, there wouldn’t have been a, successful, Gulf War. He was able to play on the links his father had with Arab Royalty, and then forged his own links with the current Saudi Royal Family, working with Crown Princes on a first name basis to get things done, everything from releasing endless millions of dollars in payments to the US – what is the daily rental on an aircraft carrier?! – to arranging for “tent cities” to be erected to shield the incoming troops from the scorching desert sun.
The most interesting aspect of the Gulf War section was the politics of the coalition, especially in the Arab world, something that was almost completely missing in Colin Powell’s memoir. In this crucial, although mostly unknown area of the War, Schwarzkopf’s experiences in the Middle East were invaluable. Middle Eastern politics are a lethal mine field at the best of times – us Brits have had our fingers burnt on more than one occasion over the years! – and pouring hundreds of thousands of free thinking, free drinking, Western troops of endless religious and moral persuasions into the autocracy that is the kingdom of Saudi Arabia, should have been a recipe for utter disaster!
Schwarzkopf’s deft handling of the endless ‘difficulties’ involving religious services, the consumption of alcohol, the reading of magazines of dubious ‘artistic’ merit, even the receiving of Christmas cards and the erection of Christmas decorations, were handled with a skill and subtlety that one would not have thought a mere ‘soldier’ possible. And then of course there was the Israeli question. The one thing above all else that would have blown the coalition apart would have been Israel attacking Iraq in retaliation for the Scuds that fell on Israeli territory. Although much of the efforts to keep Israel out of the action were handled direct from Washington, Schwarzkopf’s handling of the Saudi’s in particular, on the ground as it were was masterful.
“It Doesn’t Take a Hero” is a fascinating tale, a real inspiration; it shows what one man can achieve through clear thinking, a positive attitude, boundless enthusiasm, and a profound love, not only of his own country, but of mankind. I would recommend it highly. Read and reviewed by Jimmie A. Kepler.
Thank you General H. Norman Schwarzkopf for your service to our country.
Posted in Devotional Thought, English, Essay, History, Humanities, Liberal Arts, Military History, Poetry, United States History, Writing, tagged Bowdoin College, Christmas Bells, Famous Poets, Harvard University, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Jimmie A. Kepler, Personal Experiences, Poem, Poems, Poetry, Religion, Reminiscing, Writer's Life, Writing, Writing Life on December 22, 2012 | Leave a Comment »
by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!
And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along
The unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!
Till, ringing, singing on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime,
A chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!
Then from each black, accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South,
And with the sound
The carols drowned
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!
It was as if an earthquake rent
The hearth-stones of a continent,
And made forlorn
The households born
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!
And in despair I bowed my head;
“There is no peace on earth,” I said:
“For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”
Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead; nor doth he sleep!
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men!”
About “Christmas Bells”
“Christmas Bells” is a minor, yet well known, poem written by a very melancholy Henry Wadsworth Longfellow on Christmas morning in 1863 during the midst of the Civil War. It is anti-slavery poem as well as a seasonal favorite.
The poem was written six months after the battle of Gettysburg where 40,000 soldiers lost their life. In addition to despairing over the bloody war, Henry was also mourning the death of his beloved wife Fanny Appleton Longfellow. Fanny died in a tragic fire the same year that the Civil War broke out. In November of 1862 another personal tragedy added to his pain. His son, Union Lieutenant Charles Appleton, was wounded in the Army of the Potomac.
On Christmas morning in 1883, while sitting at his desk at the Craigie House in Cambridge, MA, Henry was inspired to write a poem as he listened to the church bells pealing. Their constancy and joyous ringing inspired him to write “Christmas Bells.” In spite of his sadness, Longfellow expresses his belief in God and innate optimism that indeed:
God is not dead; nor doth he sleep
The Wrong shall fail;
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men!
Sometime after 1872 Longfellow’s poem was adapted into a Christmas Carol. John B. Caulkin (1827-1905) was a famous English composer who set the lyrics to a gentle, melodic tune which is reminiscent of bells ringing. The carol is entitled “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day.” Alternative tunes have been written for the lyrics but Caulkin’s melody remains predominant.
I lived in Portsmouth, New Hampshire in 1966 – 1967. I was in the seventh and eighth grade. My father was in the United States Air Force at the time. As a student at Portsmouth Junior High School I took field trips to both Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine and Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Longfellow was a Bowdoin College graduate and was a faculty member before moving to Cambridge to teach at Harvard. We placed great emphasis when I was in junior high school on a classical education with understanding and appreciation of the arts including poetry.
Posted in Book Review, English, History, Humanities, Liberal Arts, Military History, Reading, United States History, Writing, tagged Book Review, Jimmie A. Kepler, Military History, Writer's Life, Writing, Writing Life on November 21, 2012 | Leave a Comment »
I love to read. Here is what I’m reading in the military history genre. I have review copies from the publishers for the following books. The projected completion dates for reading and reviewing the books are listed below:
1. “General Albert C. Wedemeyer: America’s Unsung Strategist in World War II” by John McLaughlin. The publisher is Casemate Publishing. My projected completion date is November 30, 2012.
2. “Fighting With the Filthy Thirteen: The World War II Story of Jack Womer – Ranger and Paratrooper” by Jack Womer and Stephen C. Devito. The publisher is Casemate Publishing. My projected completion date is December 31, 2012.
3. “Fighting With The Filthy Thirteen: The World War II Story of Jack Womer – Ranger and Paratrooper” by Jack Womer and Steven DeVito. The publisher is Casemate Publishing. My projected completion date is January 21, 2013.
4. “Valor in Vietnam 1963 – 1977: Chronicles of Honor, Courage and Sacrifice” by Allen B. Clark. The publisher is Casemate Publishing. My projected completion date is February 15, 2013.
5. The True Story of Catch – 22: The Real Men and Missions of Joseph Heller’s 340th Bomb Group in World War II” by Patricia Chapman Meder. The publisher is Casemate Publishing. My projected completion date is March 5, 2013.
6. “When Washington Burned: An Illustrated History of The War of 1812″ by Arnold Blumberg. The publisher is Casemate Publishing. My projected completion date is March 15, 2013.
7. “The Battle of the Denmark Strait: A Critical Analysis of the Bismarck’s Singular Triumph” by Robert Winklareth. The publisher is Casemate Publishing.My projected completion date is March 31, 2013.
I have 19 other requests to review military history books from publishers, authors, or publicists that I am considering.
Disclaimer: Regarding any review I write. I read the book. If I am slow in reviewing, it is because I haven’t finished reading THE ENTIRE BOOK and/or am reading other books as well as working my day job. No payment is received or accepted on reviews. The only compensation is the book which was used to write the review and was sent by the publisher, author, publicists or media groups. This allows me to maintain my independent point of view on what I review.