Tuesday, August 14, 2018

King's African Rifles Soldier versus Schutztruppe Soldier (Five Stars)

A forgotten tale of World War One is the sheer scale of warfare on the African continent. Allied colonial forces (mostly British) took on the Schutztruppe of the German Empire, a force raised among the tribesmen of East Africa. In turn, the British Empire expanded the King's African Rifles. The war that kept men on the march through what is now Kenya, Tanzania, Moxambique and Malawi for four years is a testament to the guts and courage of the Africans who served in the colonies on both sides. Well-illustrated with contemporary photos, maps and original artwork.

I review almost exclusively history books (with rare exceptions). I will eagerly review any book having to do with antiaircraft or air defense. I am also interested in books on Africa, but again, mostly the history of the continent, especially in the 20th Century. Get in touch with me for more information. Most of my book reviews are also on Goodreads and Amazon.

Illustrated Military History of Hungary (Four Stars)

An interesting book, lavishly illustrated throughout. This book looks at the role of the Hungarian military, from an armed band to a People's Army and beyond. It's a fascinating story that takes in Hungary's role as a bulwark against the Turks, its relationship with Austria, its membership in the Warsaw Pact and, later on, its membership in NATO. I've been fascinated with the Hungarians ever since serving with them in the Sinai while they provided the military police to the Multinational Force and Observers. My only critiscism is that the book misuses or garbles many English idioms.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Working Class Mystic: A Spirtual Biography of George Harrison (Four Stars)

This was a great book about George Harrison, the Beatle who sought more than the empty life of a pop star or the philanthropic projects many people would have established if they had the resources Harrison had access to. George Harrison wanted to understand the meaning of life and he sought it out in Hinduism and the mysticisim of the East. Tillery is able to make the reader understand the path that Harrison chose.

Friar Park: A Pictorial History (Five Stars)

Awesome book! This uses period photographs and artwork to show the reader some of the great features of the park and its buildings. If you are interested in George Harrison or even just got a kick out of some of his photos and videos shot on the grounds you should get this book.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Trump: the Complete Collection (Five Stars)

This book provodes a history of Harvey Kurtzman's first attempt to publish his own humor magazine. Originally called X, Trump employed artists from Mad Magazine, giving them an opportunity to do work that was far more impressive in the fill-color format and high-grade reproductions used in the new magazine. Unfortunately for Kurtzman the cost of Trump was too high, even with Playboy magazine footing the bill. Too far ahead of its time, Trump only published two issues. The book includes the two full issues which went to press, as well as artwork from pieces planned out for #3.

Friday, July 6, 2018

A Strange Engine of War: The "Winans" Steam Gun and the Civil War in Maryland (Four Stars)

I would have bet money that you couldn't get an entire book out of the invention known as the Winans Steam Gun but John W. Lamb proved me wrong. Mentioned in several Civil War books as an oddity, the steam gun never saw combat with either side. The machine held much promise for its ability to sling 2-ounce projectiles (about the weight of a minie ball used in rifle muskets) at the rate of a modern machine gun. With that being said, the machine had drawbacks... for instance, its unmistakable appearance on a potential battlefield and some difficulty in changing azimuth and elevation settings.

Much of the book is taken up with the people who actually invented, built and demonstrated it and the odyssey of the prototype, from the mysterious goings-on in Baltimore to an attempted clandestine trip to deliver it to Harper's Ferry (within striking distance of the Rebels) to its delivery by the Union Army to Fort Monroe. Nothing seems straightforward in this story but Lamb does his best to straighten it all out. Includes contemporary images of the machine as well as places and persons involved with it.