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qpippin (Devon)

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5.0 out of 5 stars An interesting and historical fraud., 24 Oct 2011
According to the Mitrokhin book, 'The Sword and the Shield', "during the early Cold War, the Paris residency [of the KGB] also appears to have been the most successful promoter of active measures designed to influence Western opinion and opinion-formers. Between 1947 and 1955 the residency sponsored a number of bogus memoirs and other propagandist works, among them J'ai Choisi la Potence (I've Chosen The Gallows) by General Andrei Vlasov, who had fought with the Germans on the eastern front; the equally fraudulent Ma Carriere a l'Etat-major Sovietique (My career in the Soviet High Command) by "Ivan Krylov"; and bogus correspondence between Stalin and Tito, published in the weekly magazine Carrefour, in which Tito confessed to being a Trotsykist. The main author of the forgeries was Grigori Besedovsky, a former Soviet diplomat who had settled in Paris. Some of Besedovsky's fabrications, which even included two books about Stalin by a non-existent nephew, were sophisticated enough to deceive even such a celebrated Soviet scholar as E.H. Carr, who in 1955 contributed a forward to Notes for a Journal, fraudulently attributed to the former foreign commissar Maxim Litvinov. The resident in Paris from 1946 to 1948, Ivan Ivanovich Agayants, who had launched the Besedovsky frauds, was later appointed head of the FCD's first specialized disinformation service, Department D."

The Wildest Dream [DVD]
The Wildest Dream [DVD]
Price: 6.25

13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Faulty soundtrack., 5 Oct 2011
This review is from: The Wildest Dream [DVD] (DVD)
I entirely agree with the previous reviewer about the soundtrack.
The music is so loud that the narrator and voices are scarcely audible and entirely incomprehensible.
Anthony Geffen's wonderful film has been ruined.
I have written to 2Entertain about this since there is no point in returning the video to Amazon and getting an identical replacement.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 28, 2013 5:25 PM GMT

Fateful Choices: Ten Decisions That Changed the World, 1940-1941 (Allen Lane History)
Fateful Choices: Ten Decisions That Changed the World, 1940-1941 (Allen Lane History)
by Ian Kershaw
Edition: Hardcover

24 of 65 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Kershaw never found the plot., 11 Sep 2007
The subject is fascinating, and Ian Kershaw's reputation promises much. How could Hitler, Mussolini and the Japanese warlords make such crass mistakes? But in 483 pages citing 420 authors Kershaw provides no explanation because he ignores three pivotal factors.

First he is silent about the battle of Kalkin Gol in which Zhukov destroyed Japanese military pretensions in 1939 with pivotal consequences.
Secondly, Kershaw fails to mention Roosevelt's nightmare of the combined fleets of Germany, Britain, Italy, France, the Netherlands and Poland sailing up the Chesapeake and driving him from the White House in 1941 or 1942.
Thirdly, Kershaw never examines the USA's isolationist movement in any detail.

These omissions are extraordinary, and make his book valueless.

For the record, Kalkin Gol led to Zhukov's appointment as destroyer of the Wehrmacht. It also traumatised Japan which chose the southern option and refused to help Hitler fight Russia. Worse for Hitler, it allowed Zhukov to redeploy his Eastern army to the gates of Moscow where it defeated the Wehrmacht.
For the record, FDR's nightmare about the combined fleets in the Chesapeake drove him to commit his warships to the Atlantic in an attempt to fight Hitler to the last Englishman. This exposed him to the Japanese.
And for the record, the isolationist sentiment in the USA made it impossible for FDR to declare war on Hitler even after Pearl Harbour.

Kershaw therefore never asks why Hitler was ignorant of the proven abilities of Zhukov and the Red Army, and why he committed hara kiri by declaring war on a paralysed USA.

If Hitler had ignored FDR's provocations, there could have been no invasion of North Africa, of Sicily or of Normandy because there would have been no landing craft and no US armed forces in Europe. The Luftwaffe would have avoided defeat by the USAAF and in their turn defeated Bomber Command. There would have been no atomic weapons, and the war would have dragged on interminably. How it would have ended is anyone's guess, but Kershaw does not even get to ask it.

He just doesn't get the plot.
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 11, 2012 4:48 PM GMT

Franklin Delano Roosevelt: Champion of Freedom
Franklin Delano Roosevelt: Champion of Freedom
by Conrad Black
Edition: Hardcover

11 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Major flaw., 27 Dec 2006
This is an excellent book in many respects, but contains a major flaw that destroys the entire argument.

Conrad Black is unclear why FDR wanted war with Hitler. On the one hand he seems to believe Germany was no threat to the USA, and quotes without comment Stalin's toast (p1063) to the leader of the USA, which "was not seriously threatened with invasion". Black opines that Canada also was not threatened (p707); "Canada ..... had contributed to the British war effort without ... being under threat". But on the other hand Black believes in US benevolence (p1030); "The Americans had all the power, but would use it only when they themselves were threatened, as in the two world wars and the Cold War to come". This is blatently untrue both then and today.

The inconsistency comes from Black's manichean belief that the US wore a white hat. It never did, and certainly not in 1940. FDR was in a funk after Dunkirk, believing that the combined fleets of Germany, Britain, France, Italy and the Netherlands could in 1941 sail up the Chesapeake with nothing to stop them, with the Japanese threatening the West coast. Hence FDR's frantic building of battleships and carriers, and the despatch from the USA of 50 rust-bucket, four-stacker destroyers that tied up vital British dockyards for months in making them fit for purpose in the Atlantic.

Vichy France, which was influential in Washington, predicted Britain's imminent defeat, and Ambassador Kennedy concurred that Britain had no chance. Churchill spelt out the consequences to FDR (p557) that without immediate and significant US military aid Britain would become "a German vassal state, and if the British, French, Japanese, German and Italian navies were combined, overwhelming sea power would be in Hitler's hands". FDR thought the chances of Britain' defeat and the USA being overwhelmed were 70%.

That it did not come to this was due to the inability of the Germans to find a way of sinking significant numbers of British battleships and carriers. Their best chance was for the 40 or so operational German U-Boats to follow Gunther Prien into Scapa flow in September or October 1939 when the fleet was at anchor, and to sink it. This would have made Churchill resign as First Lord of the Admiralty, and brought down the government. The capture of the British and French armies at Dunkirk would then have led to capitulation on Hitler's terms. The fleets would then have combined, the USA invaded, and FDR defeated.

That was FDR's nightmare, but you would not guess it by reading Conrad Black, who seems to believe such a scenario was impossible. Black is generally light on military history as several howlers attest - the Black Forest is nowhere near the Ardennes, and Mustangs not Mosquitos were the long-distance fighters that gained eventual air superiority over the Reich. Black even believes that (p1027), "the British and Americans could have defeated Germany without Russia, and could have done so without atomic weapons".

If you can believe that then you can believe anything.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 29, 2014 7:45 AM BST

A Stranger to Myself
A Stranger to Myself
by Michael Hofmann
Edition: Hardcover

19 of 28 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Lost in translation., 31 Oct 2006
This review is from: A Stranger to Myself (Hardcover)
Wilhelm Reese was an enlisted civilian posted to the Eastern Front. His book describes his experiences, where they happened, and how they changed his state of mind. Ther result is therefore a valuable document and of particular interest to those who know something about the events and about soldiering.

And that is a problem because the translater, Michael Hofmann, does not use English or even American military terms. For examples: Hofmann translates a) 'Trommel-feuer' literally as 'drum fire', when any soldier would say 'stonk', 'barrage' or 'heavy bombardment'; b) 'Our reserves were being bled dry...There was no help to come', when a soldier would complain about lack of 'reinforcement'; c) 'The Russians drove their wedge farther into our hinterland', when a soldier would say 'the enemy infiltrated behind us' with all the angst that accompanies being cut off; d)'Tanks and artillery arrived too late and were shot down', which is a literal translation of 'abgeschossen' but quite wrong in this context in which tanks were 'shot up' while only aircraft were 'shot down'. The last three examples all occur in the last two paragraphs of page 151.

This incompetent translation makes the book difficult and often impossible to read. It does Willy Reese a grave disservice, and it is surprising that the great Max Hastings when agreeing to write the foreword failed to insist on the use of common military terms.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 23, 2013 4:40 PM BST

Among the Dead Cities: Was the Allied Bombing of Civilians in WWII a Necessity or a Crime?
Among the Dead Cities: Was the Allied Bombing of Civilians in WWII a Necessity or a Crime?
by A. C. Grayling
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 16.89

18 of 30 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent on ethics but short on history, 22 April 2006
Grayling provides an unanswerable case that area bombing was a moral crime, and he should be read for this alone.

But his account of RAF history is inaccurate, distorted and incomplete.

The tone is set by the cover where B24 Liberators are identified as Lancasters. Grayling claims that deficiencies in its Blenheims, Whitleys, Hampdens, Wellingtons and Battles was the reason for Bomber Command's adoption of night bombing, which ignores the fact that GAF experience was identical. Coventry, Luebeck and Exeter were destroyed by the same means. The GAF had the important tactical role of supporting the Heer while the RAF effectively abandoned the British Army. Modern research shows that 2 TAF was an inaccurate waste of time. Grayling accepts Butcher Harris' claim that bombing saved soldiers' lives but fails to examine the consequences of Bomber Command's squandering half of the entire British war budget. This left nothing with which to equip the British army with a tank immune to the 88-mm dual purpose gun. The result was stalemate in Normandy and the Reichswald with the war extended by at least six months during which the war cemeteries filled up with dead British and Canadian soldiers. There is much more that could be said on the subject of Grayling's acceptance of RAF propaganda expounded by historians such as Richard Overy and John Terraine. But on the ethics of area bombing Grayling is brilliant.

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