Saturday, December 1, 2012

My Reading for the Past Year

2012 was bad year bookwise for me.  Borders went out of business in September 2011.  My local Barnes and Noble folded its doors on December 31, 2011.  I didn't get to a book store in July 2012.  I didn't buy any books until the summer.  I went shopping for some light reading.  I picked up a Black Library novel called Legion of the Damned.  I never got into it.  It was too poorly written to excite my interest.  I did have military history to read from the local Border's fire sale and liquidation.  I read about three books before I tried another GW book called Fear to Tread.  I'm about 120 pages into it.  It's a good read.  I'm enjoying it.  I only read when I have downtime now. 

I have too much competing for my attention to just sit down a read a novel like I used to when I was young.  I look back in amazement at the free time I had to read when I was a young adult.  My mother still reads a book a week in her retirement.  I wish I had that kind of discipline.  I've noticed my tolerance for reading has lessened since I've taken up writing.  I feel my writing and editing should come first.  I'll save that for another blog I have dedicated to writing, music, and relations.

Needless to say, I thought I'd put together a list of the books I've read over the past 18 months in my down time.  It's mainly military history.  So here goes...

I was on a Vietnam kick when I started purchasing books about the conflict.  I thought I'd game it.  So I wanted background unit info on what it was like to be "in country."   I started out with American Warrior:  A Combat Memoir of Vietnam by Brigadier Gen. John "Doc" Bahnsen, Jr.  I then moved onto Steel My Soldiers' Hearts by Col. David H. Hackworth about 4/39th Infantry Battalion.  That was followed by Force Recon Command:  3rd Force Recon Company in Vietnam 1969-70 by Lt. Col. Alex Lee and Inside the VC and NVA by Lanning and Craig. 

I developed a deeper understanding for what it was like to be in combat while those on the homefront wanted to ignore what you did.  Never had the divide between soldier and civilian seem so complete.  I am still torn by the service our men and women provided America during the Vietnam War and the total disregard our politicians held those who served them.  Fortunately, I was only born during the end of the conflict and I didn't have to make a conscious choice whether to serve or actively resist being sent to die for an unpopular regime in Saigon.  So the more I read about Vietnam, the more it has killed any desire to game it for a long time...

I aslo read one of my Border liquidation purchases called Fortress Raboul.  It was on the airwar in the southwest Pacific during WWII.  The difficulties that particular theater presented reminded me of Vietnam.  The cost in Allied pilots and planes was also straggering.  It was an education for me, since I know the bare basics of the Pacific campaigns.   

I also picked up Ospreys on the Viet Cong, NVA, and special operation forces in Afghanistan.  Those were relatively easy reading.  I also purchased Greetings from Afghanistan - Send More Ammo by Benjamin Tupper and New Dawn:  The Battles for Falllujah by Lowry.  They are on my to read list.  I also have Queen Victoria's Little Wars by Bryon Farwell.  Though I did get some more Ospreys read about the Russo-Turkish War 1877, Bronze Age Greek Warriors 1600-1100 BC, and Mons 1914. 

I'm taking a break from heavy military history right now.  Fear to Tread is pure escapist garbage.  Enjoyable but not serious reading.  I have to be in the mood for serious military history and analysis.  My tastes ebb and flow depending on how I feel.  Sometimes, my tolerance for violence will allow me to read about accounts on the Eastern Front during WWII. 

Other times, I rather not deal with it.  Reality doesn't fit into neat boxes.  Real life can be ugly.  There is nothing glamorous about people dying.  People shouldn't die violently.  Yet, it happens all the time.  More oftern than we care to admit.  Even though I play with toy soldiers, I believe there should be an end to war.  We own it to our children and those who come after us to at least try to make a difference in this world.  I'm tired of listening to people who say we are doomed to repeat history. 

That isn't true.  I study history to learn from the mistakes our forebearers made.  If you look at most history, its military history.  History soaked in 5,000 years worth of blood.  It doesn't have to be this way.  What matters is that we try to make difference in the lives of others so that people in the future learn about military history by playing with toy soldiers instead of sacrificing their lives for a worthless piece of real-estate....       

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