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Dr Barry Clayton (United Kingdom)
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Bouts of Mania: Ali Foreman Frazier and an America on the Ropes
Bouts of Mania: Ali Foreman Frazier and an America on the Ropes
Price: 7.42

5.0 out of 5 stars Three Great Champions of the Ring., 26 July 2014
Muhammad Ali in his prime was one of the greatest athletes of all time. He brought grace, intelligence and beauty to a brutal sport. Today, heavyweight boxing in particular is in a sorry state riddled with corruption and encompassing the mediocre. Ali made it all look so easy from the moment he won Gold at the 1960 Rome Olympics. He demolished opponents as easily as he made mincemeat of Michael Parkinson on television. On this occasion high intelligence was on display, and it was not Parkinson's!

As Hoffer shows in this very entertaining book it was so different in the 1960's and 70's. This was an era when giants of the ring like Ali, Frazier and Foreman demonstrated in fight after fight raw courage mixed with sublime skill, things sadly lacking today.

The heart of the book is about Ali who was world champion from 1964 to 67 before being stripped of it because he refused to be drafted in order to fight against the Viet Cong. His stance polarised public oplnlon. Ali soon became a spokesman for civil rights and racial dignity. Hoffer tells this important part of Ali's life very well.

In March 1971 after 4 years of boxing inactivity Ali fought Joe Frazier in Madison Square Garden for the world heavyweight crown. He was not expected to win. He told the world that : I'm gonna shock and amaze yer'. Frazier, fed up with Ali's taunts prayed in his dressing room. He asked God to: 'help me kill this man'. Frazier won a 15-round thriller on points. For many of his fans Ali was still the champion because of the skill and courage he had shown in the bout, particularly after being when floored in round 15.

Hoffer then recounts the almost unbelievable fight in Zaire when Ali met George Foreman. The latter had beaten Frazier for the title in 1973. Foreman was a truly awesome ring figure possessing one of the most powerful punches ever witnessed in the ring. Few gave Ali a chance, several pundits said he was mad to face Foreman. The fight proved to be the most atonishing fight ever witnessed. No matter how many times one watches the video it never fails to cause utter astonishment at Ali's 'rope a dope' tactic. Ali looked like a man on a suicide mission. It has been calculated that he took in one round alone over 100 blows to the body. Eventually, according to plan, Foreman wore himself out by being forced to use his opponent as a punching bag. In round 8 Ali dispatched his opponent and regained the crown. I doubt if we will ever see Ali's tactic replicated. The punishment he took beggars belief but he outsmarted his opponent not only physically but also mentally.

Sadly, that fight took its toll on Ali, and Hoffer ends by recounting what happened to Ali, Foreman and Frazier in the years that followed. Ali was never the same again.

The book is riveting account of three great pugilists, one of them arguably the greatest ever.
Boxing has never been the same since they left the ring. It is very doubtful if we shall ever see their like again.


Waterloo: A New History of the Battle and its Armies
Waterloo: A New History of the Battle and its Armies
Price: 9.59

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Very Controversial Battle., 24 July 2014
The battle of Waterloo continues to attract more and more books despite the fact there has been nothing new to say for at least 40 years.
Among the many accounts of Waterloo this is, nevertheless, a useful addition for the general reader, particularly for those with little or no prior knowledge of the battle.

It is based almost entirely on secondary sources and is written in mainly narrative form. It reveals, therefore, nothing new about a very controversial battle, one that changed the destiny of Europe. A major weakness, shared by many accounts of battles, is it gives the impression that events were clear cut, x did this then y did that. The truth is that no battle can accurately be described in that form. As any honest general will tell you, warfare is chaos. Plans seldom work out as intended, friction rules the battlefield. The problem, of course, is that this would not sell books, hence the attempts to portray a battle as a slick piece of well-oiled planning. The result is, therefore,false and very misleading. It is not warfare it is Hollywood.

Waterloo has long been sold, regrettably sometimes even in staff colleges, as an example of brilliant soldiering and exemplary courage.It is in many ways a false picture as scarce documents, including invaluable French ones, reveal it was in fact a mixture of irony, accident, folly, bravery and sheer luck. It demonstrated as do most battles, that the winner is invariably the side that makes fewer errors than the loser. Having done numerous 'staff rides' of the battlefield it is clear that Wellington was lucky as he made several errors.

The paintings of the battle, it should be noted, were invariably painted from memory years after the battle and hence are overblown and inaccurate. They serve only to perpetuate myth.

It is often not realised that until very recently our knowiedge of what happened depended heavily on the reports of British officers present. Some of these reports were written 20 years after the battle. They were hardly objective in their descriptions of the battle. Indeed, some accounts have been shown to be false or very exaggerated. We should also remember that Wellingto had both eyes firmly fixed on a political career after retirement from the army. A mundane victory would have been very bad PR for him. He and his friends made sure the PR was very favourable.

One of the many myths about this battle is that it was won by brilliant tactics conducted by Wellington. As the author shows, and as the Sandhurst Professor Chesney amply demonstrated in the 1850's, this is false. Any one of a dozen generals could have done what Wellington did. Also, our contribution to the Allied camp in terms of numbers was very small.

Waterloo is, among other things, a classic case of 'what if'? Wellington's remark( not all historians believe he said it) about the outcome being a close run thing is an understatement. Wellingto did not win this battle, Napoleon lost it by disastrous tactics, tactics that were alien to the greatest general of the age, and of many others. Circumstances forced him to change.

Despite the number of books on this battle, there are still numerous things about it that are shrouded in mystery and controversy. This account does not address the major ones. Much more is needed about the vital contribution of 73 year-old Blucher. His use of cavalry after the French retreated was masterly. Many more myths should have been exposed by the author.

This is an easy general read. Later in the year two more solidly researched accounts are due out. One will prove to be very revealing. As the years roll by we are gradually getting near to the truth. This will upset the nationalistic diehards wwho always prefer myth to the truth.

Meanwhile, the book by Barbero is far superior.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 27, 2014 9:27 PM BST


In Plain Sight: The Life and Lies of Jimmy Savile
In Plain Sight: The Life and Lies of Jimmy Savile
Price: 6.69

16 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Sordid Celebrity, 19 July 2014
This book is about a revolting man. Savile's sexual exploits demonstrate once more how easily people are taken in. You can fool most of the people most of the time, particularly if the joker is a so- called celebrity.
This reviewer can say with complete honesty that I could never understand the adulation showered on this awful freak. My views drew the expected comments from those taken in. The author spent some 25 years researching this creature's sordid behaviour, it was time well spent for this depraved individual's activities demand a wide audience.

Those taken in included members of the royal family such as Prince Charles who was upset when Savile died, Margaret Thatcher who tried very hard to get him a knighthood ! Members of parliament, Cardinal Basil Hume who praised the monster's 'devout Catholicism' (but then he would be all too familiar with child abuse in his own church)and well-known media persons who have recently become very reticent about their love of this monster. Recent convictions of other celebrities demonstrate that Savile was not a lone predator of young girls, not by any means was he a lone sexual creep.

As for politicians, those holding political power have long sought the aura of being associated with celebrity. Think Tony Blair, for one.

So many people seem to be unaware that very, very few media celebrities bear any resemblance to their screen persona. They are all, of course, putting on an act. several adored film stars turn out to be wife beaters, drug addicts and generally disolute characters. Some of the best loved comics led and lead disgraceful lives indulging in drugs, numerous affairs and worse. Tax evasion is par for the course for many celebrities, as recent revelations have confirmed. Yet still people utter gibberish like 'isn't he /she a lovely person', despite knowing nothing whatsoever about the celebrity in question save what their PR team pours out in Sunday supplements. Of course, there are, thankfully, exceptions.

Perhaps we would also do well to remember 'dear, kind Dr Harold Shipman' who delberately murdered hundreds of his patients. Yet another 'unbelievable crime', by a very popular man, as The Times put it. No one believed rumours about him until it was too late. As a leading psychiatrist has written 'one major reason why these criminals get away with it for so long is because neighbours and colleagues, even friends, just 'don't want to know'. The quiet life desire overcomes all else. It is easier to look the other way. As a result, children are abused, some cruelly murdered.

Savile was a creep and a jabbering bore of weird appearance, his teeth alone would have kept a dentist in clover for years. Unfortunately, and they still exist in droves, this friend of politicians and prostitutes had silly, immature screaming girls desparate for 'a chat with Jim'. He even paid some to fawn over him on his tv show. Later he fawned over many in his caravan or in a BBC room.

His charitable work, lauded by many in high society, was a front to cover his sexual activities. He also pocketed thousands from commercials and sponsorship deals from, for example, British Rail.

His behaviour in hospitals was deplorable and obscene. He got away with his foul activitiies because, and this is crucial, no one dare report him for fear of losing their jobs. Who would have believed anyone who revealed what he was doing. The more monstrous his behaviour the less likely it was that a whistle blower would have been given the time of day. It was Kant who said: 'It is not difficult to tell the truth; the problem is having it believed'.

Another reason why Savile persisted in his activities was, and this is common, his resort to threats. He claimed, for example, he had friends in the IRA. Very expensive lawyers also frightened off critics. Libel and slander laws were frequently cited to deter. The behaviour of the BBC and several of its very well-known employees was deplorable. It beggars belief that his behaviour was not known to these people. I believe many, some in high places, knew what he was up to. There is, of course, a possibility that BBC colleagues kept quiet for fear Savile would reveal their own pecadillos.

The author paints a very disturbing picture of another group who pandered to Saville's disgusting activities, the Police, that once respected force for law and order.Coffee mornings with the police were held on a regular basis in Leeds. Complaints about JS were 'lost' or supressed. The police have aquired an unsavoury reputation over the past 25 years for 'losing' crucial files and fabricating evidence. Davies says that many senior police left more money in their will than they had earned in their entire service. We now know why. Their behaviour is a scandal and they ought to be named and shamed. The Times has reported recently that on average 20 policemen are dismissed the force each month for various reasons that include bullying, poor behaviour in general and lack of competence. Clearly, there is inadequate screening of applicants.

It comes as no surprise to learn that this freak was an admirer of Ian Brady and Peter Sutcliffe.Interestingly, his brother also had a record of sexual assault.
Claims that JS and his brother were abused by their father have not been substantiated.

This is a superbly written account of an evil person. It ought to be compulsory studied in every school, let alone by the general public. It is unlikely that Savile was/is the only sordid monster on the loose. No wonder this book is entitled 'In Plain Sight'. Recent court cases reveal that sexual assaults on young, some very young, children is all too prevalent in our society, and that those who commit such dreadful crimes are to be found in every corner and niche of that society. No profession is excluded, no reputation however exalted, is a guarantee that the person can or should be above suspicion if the evidence warrants it.

The National Crime Agency estimates that over 50,000 people in GB are viewing nasty child abuse images routinely online and that the scale of abuse is so vast that it will never be possible to arrest every suspect. Some 14 men have commited suicide in recent months after being investigated as part of Operation Notarise. 660 men have been arrested so far. More will follow.

It is highly likely that in the coming weeks there will be many more revelations involving well-known people. Meanwhile, 50 Catholic Priests have been defrocked in the UK this week for crimes against children. There is a growing view that this repulsive behaviour by those purporting to be christians is in some ways even more disgusting and repugnant than those committed by others. Unfortunately, this church acts like a magnet for sick men, and will continue to do so until those at the top of the hierarchy show the will and desire to prevent these men becoming priests in the first place.

There is without question a sickness in our society that must be eradicated, and quickly. The media bear a heavy responsibility for the avalanche of programmes laden with sexual themes that drench the air waves daily. No film today can apparently be made without appalling language and loads of sex. Why? We know why, money. Anyone who doubts this should read the outstanding book 'Family Newspapers' by Bingham. A brilliant account of how the UK press have dealt with sex in the past 100 years.

Those individuals who engage in these sordid activitie, must be outed and punished irrespective of the powerful positions they occupy in our society. That the crimes may have taken place in the past is irrelevant. The fact that social mores were different is also irrelevant. Children must be protected outside the home, and also in the home where many such crimes take place.

A disturbing thought. If Saville had been charged would he have been acquitted because of the public adulation that was showered on him? Think of the character witnesses he could have called in his defence. Would any jury have believed stories of what he did in his motor caravan and in hospital wards? l have my doubts given the vagaries of the jury system. One thing for certain, if he had been convicted he would have taken some other household names with him to the cells. They must be having sleepless nights.

Read it. It has added to a can of worms that was already wide open.
Comment Comments (8) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 28, 2014 5:42 PM BST


The Transformation of the World: A Global History of the Nineteenth Century (America in the World)
The Transformation of the World: A Global History of the Nineteenth Century (America in the World)
Price: 18.06

5.0 out of 5 stars A Global Panorama., 18 July 2014
A Waterfall Of Knowledge; that describes this book which has been translated from the German edition first published in 2009. The book is NOT a conventional history of a particular century. It is best described as a work of historical sociology. The format and style is not schematic. The strategy is narrative.

The book is extremely long-his other books have been quite short- and it demands a reasonable knowledge of the history of the 19th century and sociology. It is in many ways a book for dipping into in order to find answers or to discover a new nugget of knowledge. Be in no doubt this is a goldmine of nuggerts, some huge ones at that.

German scholars are seldom easy to read even in translation, and this one is no exception. A major reason for this is not the length but the sociological approach that pervades this epic account. If you are familiar with the work of, for example, Weber you will find this work much easier to follow and understand.

His capters on : 'Hierarchies, the Civilised World, Religion, Modernity and Culture are quite superb and bear reading again and again. Inevitably in a book of this length there are weaknesses. For example, a number of renown
scholars would disagree with the author's chapters on 'Toward Emancipation, and Democracy.

Nevertheless, the author's knowledge and scholarship is at times breathtaking. His section on Time and Space is a gem. It is not surprising that very soon the book will be available in French, Polish, Russian and Chinese. For the contents have a truly global attraction.

Professor Osterhammel makes it clear that in many ways the book, based on a lifetime of reading, research and teaching, is an experiment: he sees it as an attempt to 'put my own recipes iinto practice'.
It is NOT intended, as some have suggested, as a textbook. One very welcome focus, for this reviewer, is the author's emphasis on the important field of international relations, now derided in some quarters. Gender issues will no doubt be dealt with more fully in another revised edition.

Several world histories already exist, for example those by the recently deceased Eric Hobsbawm. Bayly's book on the modern world is another example. The 19th century has long awaited a detailed coverage. It is important to note that this account is based on secondary works. The author acknowledges his debt to many other writers.

This impressive work is the portrait of an epoch, a very important epoch. The book is, as the author admits, over Eurocentric. For him the 19th century is the 'European Century'.

The chapters are interrelated but can be read separately.

The author is currently researching the history and culture of music.


Village of Secrets: Defying the Nazis in Vichy France
Village of Secrets: Defying the Nazis in Vichy France
Price: 9.99

26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Righteous of Le Chambon., 12 July 2014
At a time when 12 more ex Nazi thugs who helped to murder thousands of men, women, children and babies are about to be tried for their unspeakable crimes, this excellent book by Caroline Moorehead is very weicome.

The author tells the remarkable story of the inhabitants of Le Chambon-sur-Lignon a village in south central France. It is, as she explains, located in mountainous and very inhospitable terrain. Her story is about the inhabitants of this village who sheltered thousands of people from the evil Gestapo who were willingly aided and abetted by the Vichy government and its many supporters. Other villages in the area also sheltered those escaping from the Gestapo but to a lesser extent.
As the author explains, the location of the village, often cut off for months in the harsh winters, aided its ability to protect the innocent. Deep forests furtherance enhanced this ability.

Moorehead has written biographies of Bertrand Russell, Freya Stark and Martha Gellhorn. She is heavily involved in human rights, and has written a history of the Red Cross. Her book 'Human Cargo'was well reviewed. At present she resides in London.

The village is high up in the Massif Central, and very remote. The story of how Le Chambon came to save so many has never been fully told before. Several of those involved are still alive, as are some of those saved. They have been interviewed by the author as part of her research. She also had access to archives hitherto unavailable. The result is a riveting account of what can be done to oppose tyranny. The village was in a region where many generations of Protestant Huguenots had hidden away from Catholics. Those saved, however, were not in fact saved by non violence but by 'imagination and cooperation'. It was not the only place in France that helped the threatened but its work was quite remarkable and in some ways unique.

The saved were, of course, mainly Jews (36%). The decision to do this was the result of a meeting between Andre Trocme, the pastor of the village and some Quakers in Marseilles. Trocme was a pacifist. He was half French, half German. He was instrumental in saving some 5000 ( this figure is disputed) communists and Freemasons as well as Jews. Trocme and many others helped to take hundreds of children to the safety of the farms on the plateau. Some were smuggled to safety in Switzerland. Trocme was a firm believer in the power of non-violence, and hence a supporter of Gandhi's beliefs. He died in 1971. Not everyone subscribes to the view he was a hero. The author explains why. A remarkable aspect was that several recuperating German soldiers were in the area for weeks yet they never realised who was being sheltered near them.

Moorehead points out that many others, teachers, scouts, Darbyists, Ravenists, doctors and agnostics all played key parts in the saving of lives. The vows of silence taken by the Darbyists made it easy for them to avoid inadvertently giving away what they were doing.

Those that were caught doing this were tortured and murdered. The decision to risk their lives for the sake of Jews had also a religious base; the area had a reputation over centuries for resisting. The Bible was at the core of their beliefs. Moorehead writes that this meant the villagers 'were alive to the fate of the Jews, the chosen people, whose salvation was implicit for their own'.

At the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem, which all ought to visit, some 70 people from the plateau on which Le Chambon is located, are listed as 'Righteous Among the Nations'. Only one other place has been given this honour.

It is frequently forgotten that Vichy France had concentration camps. Many thousands of Jews were incarcerated in them. The villagers rescued many of the children in these dreadful camps. Those who could not be rescued ended up in
Auschwitz; many were aged under 4. Their fate, and that of many thousands of others, never ceases to provoke horror and hatred of their willing executioners.

After France was liberated, Moorehead tells how those children who had been saved suffered again once reunited with their parents. It is a harrowing tale she describes. Many parents were 'simply unable to behave like proper parents again'. All involved were deeply scarred.

As the author reminds us, the Vichy period, from June 22nd 1940, was not erased from the memory of the French once liberated. To this day it is a wound very easily reopened. Memories of collaboration with the hated Germans still linger and fester.

One of the great virtues of this book is the way Moorehead destroys much of the myth surrounding what went on. As she says, the truth is much more interesting.
She points out that the myth has caused feuds, jealousies, hearsay and prejudice, pitting Catholics against Protestants, pacifists against resisters, and those who seek glory against those who prefer silence. To this day the whole topic is heated. In 2004, President Chirac called le Chambon: 'la conscience de notre pays'. Moorehead says what took place on the plateau during the terrifying years of German occupation is not only about bravery and morality, it is also about 'the fallibility of memory'.

This book is a reminder that brave people risked their own lives to protect those of all ages who were threatened by a murderous and evil regime led by Hitler. They should never be forgotten.

The illustrations are very good. They include maps and photographs. The detailed list of the principal characters is very useful.

Highly recommended.

Readers may like to note that another book covering the same topic has just been published: 'The Greatest Escape' by Peter Grose. An unfortunate piece of timing- for the authors that is, as his book covers virtually the same ground as Moorehead's. The book is also based on interviews with some of the survivors.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 14, 2014 9:59 PM BST


Strategy and Defence Planning: Meeting the Challenge of Uncertainty
Strategy and Defence Planning: Meeting the Challenge of Uncertainty
by Colin S. Gray
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 55.00

5.0 out of 5 stars The Fog of Peace, 4 July 2014
The author is a distiguished professor at Reading University who has advised several US Presidents on arms control and nuclear weapons. He is the author of many books on Strategy and International Relations.

In this new book he examines the complex problem of defence planning, pointing out it is not an exact science. Indeed it is conducted in an environment of uncertainty. The unknown is always threatening. Of particular concern today is the long lead and lag times for a new weapon or piece of military hardware. A new tank, for example will take up to 10 or more years to be battlefield ready.

Defence planning is to do with the management of risk (hard to define) in an uncertain future. The risk management is always a political process. Reliable knowledge about the future is unknowable. Ignorance pervades the planning process. Threats are always uncertain. History tell us that surprise is just around the corner. One of the key challenges is to link mlitary means to political ends given limited resources. The recent UK Defence Review is a good example of the problems involved. Significant cuts have and will be made to all the armed services. Will the future show these have been wise or horribly wrong? Are carriers of any use given the improvement in missiles, is our nuclear detterent needed now the cold war has ended-but has it? Are airborne forces any longer required. Will the current insurgent/terrorist warfare last or will conventional threats rear their head again? These are only a small selection of the many complex questions to which there is no simple answer. Get the answer wrong and you end up with unbalanced and mishaped armed forces equipped with the wrong weapons.

Non-state actors using unconventional weapons have caused some to argue that interstate wars are now obsolete. This is a very dangerous pronouncement. States must still plan for such wars because if caught unprepared the consequences could be grave. Prudence dictates this. Three major problems persist, namely, who is friend who is foe, what will be the future of future war, and timing.

Timing is full of uncertainty. Will war occur tomorrow, in two weeks time or in the next 15 years? New technology will worsen the uncertainty. Do we need a mix of old and new technologies is one of many questions that have to be addressed. Over and above all this is the availability of resources. A coalition presents even more problems for each partner has different capabilities and often widely differing views off vital interests.

When considering what is needed in terms of military capability, a country has to address the following questions, among others:
What should our armed forces be able to do to achieve political objectives; how much capabilty is enough; what criteria should analysis be based on; are their right or wrong answers to the many questions; what should our forces prepare to do; what is the time frame, and what if there are many answers to these questions (there usually is).

Only hindsight can tell you if you have been correct in your planning. It may then be too late. Military planning can never be an exact science. The future is too elusive to be imprisoned behind the bars of absolute predictability.

From around 2006 the global strategic centre of gravity had started to move towards Asia, to China in particular. This is rapidly altering the regional balance of power. This is forcing the West, and other Asian states, to reexamine their defence planning in a highly complex and potentially dangerous world.

Colin Gray examines and discusses some of these and other associated issues in this thought-provoking book. At a time of economic and financial stringency his book is both timely and important.

Highly recommended.


Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 (P5100)Case/Cover with 360 degree rotational Stand 10.1inch Screen tablet pc with free high quality screen protector and stylus pen (Orange)
Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 (P5100)Case/Cover with 360 degree rotational Stand 10.1inch Screen tablet pc with free high quality screen protector and stylus pen (Orange)
Offered by Super sam Store
Price: 2.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 3 July 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Superb quality at a very good price. Delivery on time. Highly recommended.


One Tribe at a Time: The Paper that Changed the War in Afghanistan
One Tribe at a Time: The Paper that Changed the War in Afghanistan
Price: 2.81

5.0 out of 5 stars A Tribal War, 30 Jun 2014
One of the oldest and most important military maxims that can be found in most of the classical writings on war and warfare is Know Your Enemy.
Unfortunately, the West singularly failed to do this prior to the second invasion of Iraq and the invasion of Afghanistan. As a result we displayed gross ignorance of the country, its peoples, history, and culture. The lack of linguists in our forces was a disgrace given, as we now know, that the Iraq war was planned some 18 months before the invasion.

The invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan have proved to be disasters. Failure has resulted from ignorance, arrogance and incompetence at the highest level, politically and militarily. There was, and in some quarters still is, gross ignorance about the culture in both countries, and in particular the true nature of the conflict. It was not, as many intelligence sources said, an insurgency requiring counter-insurgency operations a la Vietnam or Malaya, hence British claims that the Northern Ireland experience had given them expertise that could be transferred to Iraq and later Afghanistan proved to be irrelevant (it also irritated the American military).
I remember attending a think tank presentation by a very senior Army offficer prior to the invasion of Iraq. The ignorance displayed about the country and the enmity between sunni and shia was astonishing. Any question about culture and the likely reaction once Saddam was deposed was brushed aside as of no importance, hence the mess today.

It took a paper by Major Jim Grant (promoted from the ranks) to expose and analyse the true nature of the problem facing the Western forces. His paper was entitled: 'One Tribe At A Time'. Grant was trained by the US Army Special Forces. He began writing his paper in January 2009. In brief, it is about tactical employment of small, highly trained units. He was awarded medals, including the Silver Star,for bravery and given outstanding commendations for work in Iraq in 2003 and 2004. He fought in Konar and Helmand Provinces. His paper about the strategy in Afghanistan stated that despite killing thousands of Taliban 'we are no closer to victory today than we were in 2002'. The New York Times reported the contents and the Pentagon went viral.

Others in the military were also beginning to have doubts about the chosen strategy. One was Admiral Eric Thor Olson an ex seal, and now commander of all the US Special Operations Forces. Olson's view was similar to Vice President Biden's view, namely, a minimalist strategy with a smaller footprint using Special Ops was more likely to succeed than full-blown COIN. He, like Grant, knew the Afghans regarded us as interlopers. They did not like foreign troops on its soil, and neither would we. They regarded foreign troops as an occupation. Such views gelled with Grant's. Olson introduced an initiative to foster cultural knowledge of Afghanistan, he called it 'Project Lawrence' after Lawrence of Arabia. He was particularly keen to advance this approach within the Green Berets because they specialised in working with indigenous peoples. Olson was therefore very interested in Grant's paper. He decided to hold a teleconference with Jim Grant.

General David Petraeus, head of CENTCOM and future Director of the CIA, had also read the paper and sent it to General McChhrystal the NATO commander in Afghanistan saying he agreed its main thrust and that all should read it. Olson told Jim to assemble a team, draw up a training plan and 'get on the ground'.

We also know from captured documents at the scene of bin Laden's death that he regarded the paper as very important, so important that he ordered the assassination of Grant, fortunately it was not carried out.

The essence of Grant's paper is that the only way to defeat the enemy in Afghanistan, is to understand why the Taliban are fighting and to grasp the key fact that it is a tribal war; tribes are the most important military, political and cultural unit in the country. This crucial fact was never understood in Whitehall or the White House.The tribes are self-contained fighting units who will fight to the death for their and their family's honour. As Grant says: 'Their intelligence and battlefield assessments are infallible'.

Grant and his unit demonstrated again and again that a small effective fighting force could unite with an Afghan tribe and achieve success. He believed it to be essential that Tribal Engagement Teams (TETs) grew beards, wore local dress and learnt Pashtun, the local language. In short, they had to become 'American Tribesmen'. He is scathing about Pakistan describing it as a recruiting haven, a sanctuary, training centre and rest centre for the Taliban.

Grant has no doubt that there is a key link between opium and Taliban funding, and that to interfere with this only angers the people whose livelihood depends on the crop.

Major Grant dressed while in Afghanistan like a native, drank heavily and showed troops the film Lawrence of Arabia as a traing aid. This Green Beret major was believed to have gone native, and was made to retire after being demoted to Captain. He was charged with 'bringing disrepute and shame to the Special Forces Regiment'. His real crime was to reveal the ignorance in the Pentagon, and flouting military norms of dress and behaviour. Shock and Awe advocates were no doubt very upset.

He was accused of living in a fantasy world. It his view that the US miltary hierarchy's view of Afghanistan is the real fantasy.

A former war correspondent for the Washington Post, Ann Scott Tyson, left her job an went to live with him in a village in Afghanistan. The military clearly took a dim view of this. They are now married and live in Seattle. She has written a book about him and their life together. Her book has led to growing support for what Grant achieved, and anger at the way he was treated. The militaryhve never warmed to mavericks in their midst. Wingate and Lawrence being two examples.

The pity is that this excellent paper wasn't around before politicians and their military advisors took us into these two quagmires.

Stimulating and important.


Margot Asquith's Great War Diary 1914-1916: The View from Downing Street
Margot Asquith's Great War Diary 1914-1916: The View from Downing Street
Price: 18.04

9 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars In Defence of Her Husband, 28 Jun 2014
Read these edited diaries if you enjoy gossip, occasional wit and the acid comments of a wife trying to defend her much loved husband, loved despite his many affairs (she had many before her marriage). But take most of her criticisms of generals annd politicians with a large pinch of salt for they are for the most part misplaced and horribly biased. This is a shame because for a time Margot was literally at the heart of government. She could have left an enormously important record of events.

To understand her bitterness and caustic wit it is necessary to recall the record of Herbert, her husband, while he was Prime Minister. Margot was Herbert's second wife. He was a staunch Liberal, a compassionate and warm human being. He did well in the domestic politics field but, unfortunately, he was not cut out to run a war, particularly one like that which erupted in 1914. He lacked the dynamism, drive and ruthlessness to wage a Great War, and the senior military plus his political opponents knew it; so did Margot but she would never admit it in public.

Herbert held dear the values of Victorian Liberalism. He hated war and, therefore, conscription which his wife described as' stupid unEnglish coercion'. As the casualty lists became longer and longer he became bitter and frustrated; his only son and many friends were killed, including the Grenfell brothers.

Herbert came under fire as the possibility of a quick victory receded. His detractors, who included the Times and The Daily Mail, attacked him over his running of the war, in particular the shell crisis and the badly planned and disastrous Gallipoli venture.

As the criticisms mounted, Margot hit back with withering comments in her diaries about stupid politicians and generals. In her diaries she attacked, for example, Sir John French, Lloyd George whom she despised, Churchill, and Kitchener, the S of S for war. She had a particular hatred of Lord Curzon, the former Viceroy of India. She called him, Churchill and many other establishment figures 'curs and swine'. She demonstrates in these diaries again and again an inabilty to make objective comments about anyone whom she disliked. These were anyone who criticised her husband. Laudable but horribly biased behaviour for a leading diarist.

Margot continued to use her diaries to record what her husband had to face. Eventually, he was forced to resign. He was replaced by the dynamic Lloyd George. The diaries record what she heard, read and saw while Herbert was in Number 10. They contain some hilairious comments, examples of her acid wit and pertinent questions she put to those who criticised her husband. She held very little back. However, what is seriously lacking is a cogent analysis of political events.

Entertaining but you will learn little of long-term value.

The diaries have been very well edited.


Collision of Empires: The War on the Eastern Front in 1914 (General Military)
Collision of Empires: The War on the Eastern Front in 1914 (General Military)
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The War In The East, 27 Jun 2014
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Prit Buttar's latest book does all those interested in the Great War a valuable service, he reminds us that the war was every bit as nasty and bloody on the Eastern Front as on the Western Front. For far too long the focus on the latter has led to a serious imbalance and ignorance about the true nature of the war.

Churchill wrote a book about the Eastern Front, it was entitled: 'The Unknown War'. It was an apt title for while many can name three battles on the Western Front I doubt if many can name more than one, if that, in the East. There is still no official Soviet history of the army's performance in the war. German accounts are heavily biased, a bias that was transferred to that over-rated writer Liddell Hart.

The popular image of the war is a massive convulsion that transformed parts of France and Belgium into water filled trenches, where thousands were killed by gas, snipers or shells. This image is, of course, true as far as it goes but it fails to convey the full picture. Trench warfare has always been a somewhat dubious motif for the war because in the East another very bloody war raged on a vast scale. Static warfare did take place but the vastly different landscape allowed for the use of cavalry and the finding and use of flanks. The ratio of troops to space was also totally different. Some areas were vast swamps, dense forests while others were flat and open. The enormous Pripet Marshes forced the Russians to operate as two independent commands. The Carpathian mountains formed a formidable barrier in the south. The different topography forced armies to use different tactics whereas on the Western Front the tactics remained uniform until 1918.

It is worth noting that deaths were a higher percentage of German casualties in the east than in the west.

The author explains how the Eastern Front armies were very different to those on the Western Front. They did not operate in very similar ways as did those in Flanders. The Russian army, for example, was riddled with factions while that of the Austro-Hungarian Empire was to a great extent the creation of one man's vision.
There were other important differences that impinged on operations, for example the weather. This played an important role as it did in the Second World War. No armies on the Western Front had to suffer the intense winters that their counterparts did in the East.

Much more could have been made of another major difference in the Eastern Theatre, namely the strong anti war movement in Russia. This was deliberately fostered by the bolsheviks and to a degree financed by them. This seriously hampered the war effort.

Lloyd George believed that if Russia had been given adequate help she could have hastened Germany's defeat. His arguments are not convincing. In any case her allies had serious resource problems to contend with at home. It was not shell shortages that led to Russia's defeats at Golovin and elsewhere it was incompetence and disorganisation. Also, by 1917, Russian superiority on her front was almost comparable with the Western Power's superiority in France in 1918. By 1916, Russia was producing 4,500,000 shells a month compared with Germany's 7 million and an Austro-Hungarian output of 1 million.

It was not material problems that caused battles to be lost, it was bungling and bickering plus a belief in fortresses. It was administrative weaknesses not economic ones that caused disaster after disaster.

An interesting account that ends in 1915. The author spends far too long discussing matters like the assassination and the German General Staff when more detail on the different tactics, administrative problems and command and control problems would have been of far greater interest. At least we are spared being told wrongly that the Archduke's car could not reverse because it had no reverse gear. It had, and it can be clearly seen on the car to this day. Most of the otherwise best accounts of the assassination make this silly error, the authors have obviously never been near Sarajevo!

The maps and bibliography are sound. The latter includes some relatively new archival evidence.

Read in conjunction with Irving Root's: 'Battles East', this account will help to remind readers that, as in WW2, the Eastern Front played a key role in the outcome of the Great War.


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