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Valentini Vincenzo "frontovik1" (Italy)
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Anzio: The Friction of War: The Friction of War - Italy and the Battle for Rome 1944
Anzio: The Friction of War: The Friction of War - Italy and the Battle for Rome 1944
by Lloyd Clark
Edition: Paperback
Price: 8.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Quite readable but lacks details, 8 Jun 2011
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The book is undoubtedly a worthwhile addition to the literature on Operation Shingle. The author conveys successfully the climate that brought to this hazardous operation that. while planned with the ambition of breaking the stalemate in Central Italy and freeing the Eternal City, was undertaken with a surprising half-heartedness and superficiality that borders into incompetence. Personally I still prefer Carlo D'Este's work on the same subject that I find more compelling and better detailed as a military history book, but this work should not be easily slighted. In my humble opinion at times the author seems to have chosen to deliberately gloss over details for the sake of providing a more readable and straightforward narration, but in doing so he misses important pieces of information for the reader. He completely ignores the fact that Italian troops fought alongside the Germans or that there were considerable war crimes committed against civilians by Allied troops, or that Cassino Abbey was razed to the ground for the sheer idiocy of Freyberg. As an Italian and an avid reader of history book I find this book somewhat generic and not much more than a worthy introduction to Operation Shingle and the liberation of Rome.


War without Garlands: Operation Barbarossa 1941-1942
War without Garlands: Operation Barbarossa 1941-1942
by Robert Kershaw
Edition: Paperback
Price: 8.99

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Updated and wholly convincing study on Barbarossa early stages, 1 Jan 2011
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Operation Barbarossa is universally considered as the defining event and the turning point of land operations in the European Theatre of Operations. After the German Angriff nach Osten the war was no longer a matter of a European struggle for supremacy but took intercontinental dimensions and after less than 6 months sealed the fate of Nazi Germany and her allies. This book describes the German Army operations ranging from the start of Barbarossa till its standstill and its reversals in front of Moscow of early december 1941. There is no doubt that Barbarossa was not an option born of Hitler's lunacy but a well thought operation whose success was to be the zenith of Hitler's regime, the realisation of what was first described in Mein Kampf ,and finally an event capable of finally forcing England to accept a peace treaty to sanction German power on the European mainland. This did not happen and from December 1941 German showed clearly her weaknesses and in spite of local successes was no longer able to mount attacks of the same scale of earlier ones. The reasons of this abject failure resides not just in the unexpected resiliance of the Soviet regime but mostly in the inability of the Nazi ierarchy to grasp the realities of the scale of their enterprise. Blinded by their ideology based on racial prejudices the Nazi regime showed their ignorance and lack of planning, that comdemned their finest troops to a gruesome struggle for survival against a cruel and determined enemy. An excellent book strongly recommended not just because of the remarkable coverage of military events but especially for the author's oustanding ability to provide a wider picture of the story including also political, strategic and human factors.


A Savage War Of Peace: Algeria 1954-1962 (New York Review Books Classics)
A Savage War Of Peace: Algeria 1954-1962 (New York Review Books Classics)
by Alistair Horne
Edition: Paperback
Price: 8.39

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 50 years ago...very little changed in the minds of the West, 26 Nov 2010
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The real meaning and outcome of France colonial rule in Algeria, the events and the ways of Algerian independence are still very sensitive issues in France, as proven by the recent harsh debates on an Algerian movie on the subject of FLN fighters. Speaking with Frenchmen one has at times the impression that they do not speak easily and gladly of this story and that they are all bound to a kind of eerie pact of silence: the feeling is of something very touchy swept hastily under the carpet but still not fully digested.
This book explains more than a thousand television debates and articles the difficult, disturbing and finally deadly relationship between old and new Western colonists and the Islamic world. Two visions of the man and the world that are destined to meet and doing so to collide. Algerian war was a kind of foretaste for many of the things that we nowadays are forced to experience and anticipated the continuing failure of Western rulers to manage social and religious unrest, their tendency to ignore the role played by economic considerations in any demand for self-government, their willingness to impose systems of rules and values alien to these countries. It is somewhat tragic that the country that gave us the Droits de l'Homme and the Enlightenment, failed so terribly to manage and to bring to a less deadly conclusion the self government demands of Algerians. Of course the author masterfully explains the complex weave of forces in France and abroad that confronted themselves on this issue, the Cold War and Panarabism both played an important role in this struggle, but finally it was France itself that decided to let Algeria free and doing so destroyed the lives of tens of thousands of pieds noirs et harkis. The role if the aging president De Gaulle was instrumental in this rip off and his management of the Algerian crisis cannot be considered as one of his highest achievements. Where the book misses some details is in the story of OAS members and their international connections, it is a pity because this is also a foretaste of today's dirty ops proudly presented by Western democracies in Middle East and Asia. This is but a small miss in any case and the book is an absolute read for anybody wishing to get a grasp of Mediterranean history.


The Great War for Civilisation: The Conquest of the Middle East
The Great War for Civilisation: The Conquest of the Middle East
by Robert Fisk
Edition: Paperback
Price: 11.89

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nothing but the truth, 5 Oct 2010
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This is one of those rare books that helps building a new perspective on things and manages to do so in a convincing way. The history of Middle East taken here in a broad sense encompassing Algeria and Afghanistan is a history of frequent and conflicting interaction with the West and its values. It is a prevailing view today that these two world are irreconcilably separated by a range of completely different and often opposing values. This is a view especially cherished by neoconservatives in the USA and their allies in Europe, a view that incidentally brought to a disastrous war and generally fails to understand even the basic concepts of humanity when they have to be applied to Muslim countries. This book tells us that the complex of values that stay at the base of both these worlds are essentially the same. All the attempts to depict them as opposed and destined to fight each other are just the result of wider economic and political interests that interestingly enough are always born along the axis Washington-London. This is by no means an uplifting book, a majestic, sad one yes.


The Middle East: A Beginner's Guide (Beginner's Guides)
The Middle East: A Beginner's Guide (Beginner's Guides)
by Philip Robins
Edition: Paperback
Price: 7.99

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant primer, 7 April 2010
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First of all it must be said that the author's definition of Middle East is a broad one as it includes also Turkey and the Maghreb Countries, whose connection is mostly religious and historical. The book is divided into chapters discussing the chief issues of this region, intending to clarify and thus fill the wide gulf between the Western world and the Middle East.
The end result is a pleasing, informative book whose value resides also in its success in explaining convincingly that most of the issues traditionally connected with Middle East, such as religious extremism, bigotry, backwardness, mind narrowness must not be taken face-value and additionally may be quite different from what they seem.
Especially well written are the pages outlining the often chaotic and ambiguous political events that have periodically seized these countries, each event is explained and put into its context thus allowing us to reach the conclusion that what seems to be inextricably political messes are in fact the result of a combination of sudden burst of political consciousness, ill directed efforts towards modernity or half-hearted embraces of Western style political agendas.
The book succeeds in convincing us that this fascinating, meaningful troubled part of the world is a lot less different than ours than we are led to believe by a wide array of Western politicians, doggedly bent in telling us that we are the good ones and they are the bad that have to be brought to think and act like us. No matter how...


Crete: The Battle and the Resistance
Crete: The Battle and the Resistance
by Antony Beevor
Edition: Paperback
Price: 8.99

12 of 16 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Singularly shallow, 7 April 2010
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Beevor is one of the most gifted among mainstream historians and the success of his books reflects his ability in weaving compelling narrative with independent and stimulating points of views. The controversies created in Russia by his previous books Stalingrad and the Battle for Berlin amply prove this. I am afraid that no such discussions will originate from this early work.
The book is singularly shallow, heaping together a string of facts mostly unconnected and avoiding to create a convincing broader picture of this pivotal battle, where against all odds German troops managed to win an already lost battle. The average reader remain with the bittersweet taste of an imperfect book, occasionally entertaining but mostly limping in a heavy style that fails to describe in a balanced way the struggle for the island. I found especially disturbing the author's double standard in respect of the numerous war crimes committed by British and Greek troops and irregulars against wounded and surrendering German soldiers. He glosses over them in a way similar to the one portrayed by Sebag Montefiore in the similarly failed Dunkirk. Added to this the description of British officers invariably as gentleman sportsmen, Germans as thick, senseless murderers, Greek as chivalrous bandits, only adds to the general sense of unsatisfaction.
I cannot recommend this as a serious piece of historical work while I am open for suggestions for the definite book on Operation Merkur.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 4, 2010 12:46 PM BST


Churchill: Visionary, Statesman, Historian
Churchill: Visionary, Statesman, Historian
by John Lukacs
Edition: Paperback
Price: 10.56

2 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A fan-club approach adding nothing to the man's complexity, 17 Mar 2009
Let's first try to assess what this book really is, it is not a biography, unless you consider an enthusiastic, fan-club approach to the matter as of any historical value, it is not a balanced study of a great man, his great merits and his serious failings, it is not an overview of an historical period with an unprejudiced attitude towards men and events. What is this then? In my humble opinion this is an attempt at an all-out glorification of a man whose failures are cavalierly glossed over in order to strengthen the author's view of the undisputed and undisputable greatness of Sir Winston. If this was just the author's personal foible it would be still acceptable but the fact is that the author does not think twice about demolishing nastily with a series of arguments conceived to pass his opponents as unscrupulous, superficial or insufficiently read any historian that does not agree with his enthused views of anything Churchill did, wrote or thought. At the end I had the uneasy impression of a work born from a cult of personality rather than a scholarly approach.


Blackshirt: Sir Oswald Mosley and British Fascism
Blackshirt: Sir Oswald Mosley and British Fascism
by Stephen Dorril
Edition: Paperback
Price: 11.92

19 of 41 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Extensive but sullen, 17 Mar 2009
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I was expecting a lot from this book because of the universally ravishing reviews that accompanied it but after the starting chapters that I found exhaustive and thought provoking, my interest started to wane as I realized that the author was engaged in a systematic and ruthless demolishing of the man Mosley and its ideas. I guess that a balanced biography should first of all try to take a detached stance from the person it tries to describe and not to judge it with the eyes of a XXI century political writer, devoid of even a minimum empathy with the man he purports to describe. I found that the modern aspects of dictatorships and their effort, totally failed as they proved, to review the basis of social and class relationships in the 30es were too quickly dismissed by the author that did not even admit that Jewish influence in the British policy was a major force in the shaping of Anglo German relationships and their tragic downfall. Since more than 60 years elapsed from those events I was led to believe that a more balanced and open approach to facts was desirable and formularic antifascism was at least partly overcome. Unfortunately this was not the case with this biography.
Comment Comments (15) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 25, 2013 10:36 PM BST


Combat Aircraft 71: Il-2 Shturmovik Guard Units of World War 2 (Combat Aircraft)
Combat Aircraft 71: Il-2 Shturmovik Guard Units of World War 2 (Combat Aircraft)
by Oleg Rastrenin
Edition: Paperback

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, absolutely stunning reference!, 25 Aug 2008
This is one of the first books I purchased in order to feed my new interest for VVS-RKKA aircrafts in WW2 and I was amazed by the quality of this work. The text is authoritative and informative without being boring, quite the opposite indeed! It focuses on the organisational and personal life of these elite units with an inordinate losses percentage but also with a high esprit de corps. Their punishing routine against tracked and non tracked German targets is written quite vividly and describes the great contribution of these units to the victory against Germany. Everything is rounded up by some very attractive colour profiles and well-chosen pictures. My only criticism as a modeller I would have appreciated also some plans of camouflage schemes for the top surfaces of the aircrafts depicted, not just profiles.
Very highly recommended.


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