Saturday, April 22, 2017

Review of The Road to Guilford Courthouse by John Buchanan

Author:  John Buchanan.
Title:  The Road to Guilford Courthouse:  The American Revolution in the Carolinas.
Publisher:  John Wiley & Sons.
Copyright:  1997.
Pages:  452.
Price:  $19.95 (US).

Overview and Impressions:

This book took a while to read.  The author packed lots of information into few pages. 

The Road to Guilford Courthouse covers the American Revolution in the Carolinas starting in Charleston, South Carolina and ending with General Greene's defeat at Guilford Courthouse.  That paved the while for General Cornwallis's surrender at Yorktown.  Cornwallis took the cream of his army through the Caolinas chasing after General Morgan's irregulars and General Greene's Continentals.  Corwallis destroyed his army in the process.  Thus, setting the stage for the British loss of her thirteen colonies.

Recommended.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Mid-April 2017 reading....

Here's a section of books that I'm reading....

1)  The Lost Stars:  Shattered Spear by Jack Campbell.  I'm about 2/3 way through this last The Lost Stars novel.  It's been entertaining so far.  I'm curious to see how everything ends next week....

2)  The Road to Guilford Courthouse:  The American Revolution in the Carolinas by Buchanan.  It's hard to remember that the American Revolution was really a civil between loyalist Tories and Patriot Whigs for control of the continent.  Interesting read.  I'm at the point of Cowpens, which I already read about.  It's been a hard read to digest all the information that the author provides, however.

3)  I finished Posiedon's Wake by Alastair Reynolds.  Interesting story about space explorers from Africa coming back home to Earth centuries later...

4)  I also finished The Madness of Alexander the Great:  And the Myth of Military Genius by Gabriel.  See previous blog entry for comprehensive review.

5)  I recently started was Such Men as These:  US Naval Aviators During the Korean War by Sears.  Starts in with Mitcher and his posting on the USS Valley Forge in 1952 in the Sea of Japan.

6)  My final book was Green Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson.  I barely started it before putting it down last Easter....

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Review of The Madness of Alexander the Great: And the Myth of Military Genius by Richard A. Gabriel

Author:  Richard A. Gabriel.
Title:  The Madness of Alexander the Great:  And the Myth of Military Genius.
Publisher:  Pen and Sword.
Copyright:  2015.
Pages:  224.

Overview and Impressions:
I'm no fan of Alexander the Great.  He died like most tyrants drinking himself to death.  According to the author, Alexander had a lot of emotional baggage that eventually unhinged him.  He couldn't trust anyone and saw conspiracies around him.  Alexander only felt relief in combat and wanted a heroic death in place of his miserable existence.

I'll give the author that Alexander was brave and reckless.  However, he didn't plan out his strategies too well.  Once he couldn't conquer the known world, Alexander turned his back on the people that help put him in power.  I could go on....

However, I won't.  The book is interested to think that Alexander the Great suffered from PTSD.  It's a better theory that someone inner city high teacher saying Alexander the Great died from AIDS!

Friday, March 31, 2017

Review of The Expanse #1: Leviathan Wakes by James S. A. Corey

Author:  James S. A. Corey.
Title:  The Expanse #1:  Leviathan Wakes.
Publisher:  Orbit.
Copyright:  2011.
Pages:  582.
Price:  $17.00 (US).

Overview and Impressions:
James S.A. Corey is the pseudonym for fantasy authors Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck.  They wrote The Expanse series.  Its about humanity's expansion into the stars from Sol.  The Expanse #1:  Leviathan Wakes was the basis for the first season of SyFy's The Expanse. 

The premise is that an alien pathogen is made to infect human beings by an evil Terran company.  The rest revolves around power politics, revolution, and war throughout Sol between the Belters, Earth, and Mars.  The scene is set several hundred years in the future, however, once the inner planets have been settled.  The alien pathogen turns out to be an unknown stargate once the infected asteroid of Eros is hurtled into the clouds of Venus. 

The book is well written.  It had me turning every page.  Recommended.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Review of Eden to Armageddon by Roger Ford

Author:  Roger Ford.
Title:  Eden to Armageddon:  The First World War in the Middle East.
Publisher:  Pegasus Book.
Copyright:  2010.
Pages:  667.

Overview and Impressions:
"Our fathers lost the First World War on the Tigres' shores..."  Johnny Turk, 1918.

The stupidity of advancing into machine gun fire by battalion, artillery barrages, and incompetent generals massacring generations of men on both sides.  I just want to take a hot shower and forget what I read.  I used to have the stomach for WWI histories.  I no longer do...

The Allies lost as many men as the Turks, the British were able to out general them on two fronts:  Palestine and Mesopotamia.  The war was won on those fronts.  Massacres and subsequent massacres cover every one's hands in blood.  No one was clean.

I could go on.  I won't.  I'm too disgusted with the whole thing.  One can see where the twilight zone political reality of today's Middle East came from.  Allah Akbar!  Ugh...

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Early March 2017 book review....

I've been reading the following book this past week:

1)  Hammer's Slammers by David Drake.  See previous blog entry.

2)  The Road to Guilford Courthouse by Buchanan.  Still working on reading about the American Revolution in the Carolinas.  It will take me a while to get through it.

3)  The Lost Stars:  Shattered Spear by Jack Campbell.  This is the fourth installment in The Lost Stars series.  It's been an interesting run so far.  I like the characters and the battle scenes are worth the reading...

4)  Eden to Armageddon by Ford.  I'm still reading read about the First World War in the Middle East.  Finished the section on Gallipolli.  Rather depressing reading in general...

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Review of Hammer's Slammers by David Drake

Author:  David Drake.
Title:  Hammer's Slammers.
Publisher:  Ace Books.
Copyright:  1979, 1985.
Price:  $2.95 (US).

Overview and Impressions:
Easy to read military sci-fi involved armored actions in the 26th century of the mercenary group, Hammer's Slammers.  It's always fun to read about them.  Fast read.  Recommended.

15mm SYW Battle of Minden: AAR, 04MAR17

Here are photos from the 15mm SYW Battle of Minden Game I ran yesterday.  Both side lost....



                                          Kevin Joyce pushing the initial French attack.


                                          Kevin Joyce responds to my flank attacks.


Both sides blow army morale on Turn 4.


Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Review of Ultima by Stephen Baxter

Author:  Steven Baxter.
Title:  Ultima.
Publisher:  Penguin Books.
Copyright:  2014., 2015
Pages:  520.

Overview and Impressions:

I was not impressed with this book.  The author, Stephen Baxter, spent too much of his time on world building/destroying.  The characters were secondary.  He assumes the multiverse he built will die in a final heat death.  Getting to that point was the a major plot-line in the novel.  It didn't help.

Not recommended except for hard-core hard sci-fi readers...

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Sapper Joe's Annual Game or AAR: 28mm Russian Civil War, 25FEB17

Here are photos from Sapper Joe's Annual Game or an AAR:  28mm Russian Civil War Game, 25FEB17:



                                          Battle of Tugalos:  Initial deployments


                                          Glenn Wilson and I move our 28mm Red Guard Battalion.



                                          28mm Canadian artillery raining down on Glenn's company.



                                          My armed thugs marching in the snow


                                          Steve Hood (Combat Colors) debating his next moves.


                     End of game when I ordered a retreat.  Afterward, I was executed for my actions.

The rules were modified Sword to Adventure using Sapper Joe's modifications.  The playtesting went well.  I didn't like the scenario of advancing across a snow covered field against artillery shells and light machine gun fire.  As the Reds, we paid a price in casualties.  Glenn tried running his men.  But he had to use a Commissar to shoot reluctant soldiers to move.  I kept rolling "1's" for movement.  So I walked my troops through the snow.  I still didn't like getting shot for ordering my troops from committing tactical suicide.  Very Russian Civil War....

Blake

Friday, February 24, 2017

Review of Tarzan and the City of Gold by Edgar Rice Burroughs

Author:  Edgar Rice Burroughs.
Title:  Tarzan and the City of Gold.
Publisher:  Ballantine.
Copyright:  1974.
Pages:  190.
Price:  $1.25 (US).

Overview and Impressions:

Quick read of a Tarzan story set in central Africa about two mythical cities.  Tarzan deals with the locals who are ruled by an evil queen who likes to hunt her enemies with man-eater lions.  It was a fun read.  Recommended.

Painting Projects...

I've slowly been working on 28mm Masai Warriors.  The figures are taking too long to finish.  Other things have intruded on my weekly painting time.  I've been assembling 30mm WH40K Adeptus Mechanicus figures.  I'm also slowly working on painting commissions.  I'm unsure how much I'll get for 2017.

Here's my list:

March 2017:
1)  Paint 28mm Masai.
2)  Assemble 30mm WH40K Adeptus Mechanicus figures.

April 2017:
1)  Paint 28mm Masai.
2)  Assemble 30mm WH40K Adeptus Mechanicus figures.

May 2017:
1)  Finish 28mm Masai.
2)  Finish Assembling 30mm WH40K Adeptus Mechanicus figures.
3)  Prime 30mm WH40K Adeptus Mechanicus figures.

June 2017:
1)  Paint 30mm GW High Elves.

July 2017:
1)  Finish 30mm GW High Elves.

August 2017:
1)  Paint 30mm Warmachine Dwarfs.

September 2017:
1)  Finish painting 30mm Warmachine Dwarfs.

October 2017:
1)  Paint 28mm US Vietnam Marines.

November 2017:
1)  Paint 28mm US ARVN Rangers.

December 2017:
1)  Begin painting 1st Platoon of 28mm Viet Cong.

January 2018:
1)  Paint 2nd Platoon of 28mm Viet Cong

February 2018:
1)  Finish painting 3rd Platoon of 28mm Viet Cong.

March 2018:
1)  Paint 40 28mm Beja Dervishers.

April 2018:
1)  Paint 40 28mm Beja Dervishers.

May 2018:
1)  Paint 40 28mm Beja Dervishers.

June 2018:
1)  Paint 40 28mm Ansar infantry.

July 2018:
1)  Paint 40 28mm Ansar infantry.

August 2018:
1)  Paint 12 28mm Armored Arab cavalry.
2)  Paint 12 28mm Arab camelriders.

September 2018:
1)  Paint 28mm mounted Ansar command.
2)  Paint 28mm Krupp gun and impressed crew.

October 2018 to December 2018:
1)  Work on painting commissions.

January 2019:
1)  Paint 18mm SYW Prussian musketeer brigade No. 1.

February 2019:
1)  Paint 18mm SYW Prussian musketeer brigade No. 2.

March 2019:
1)  Paint 18mm SYW Prussian musketeer brigade No. 3.

April 2019:
1)  Paint 18mm SYW Prussian fusilier brigade No. 4.

May 2019:
1)  Paint 18mm SYW Prussian cuirassier brigade No. 1.

June 2019:
1)  Paint 18mm SYW Prussian dragoon brigade No. 1.

July 2019:
1)  Paint 18mm SYW Swedish provincial infantry brigade No. 1.

August 2019:
1)  Paint 18mm SYW Swedish provincial infantry brigade No. 2.

September 2019:
1)  Paint 18mm SYW Swedish regular infantry brigade No. 1.

October 2019:
1)  Paint 18mm SYW Swedish garde infantry brigade No. 1.

November 2019:
1)  Paint 18mm SYW Swedish Horse brigade No. 1.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Review of Into the Storm: The Malcontents: Book One by Larry Correia

Author:  Larry Correia.
Title:  Into the Storm:  The Malcontents:  Book One.
Publisher:  Skull Island Expeditions.
Copyright:  2015.
Pages:  285.
Price:  $14.95 (US).

Overview and Impressions:

This was a rousing tale set in the Warmachine fantasy universe about a fallen Storm Knight and his malcontent underlings being turned into professional soldiers.  Hugh Madigan led his Malcontents to war against the fanatical Menoth Protectorate and their unyielding religious warriors.  There are twists and turns and losses throughout the conflict.  Enjoyable fantasy epic and an easy read. 

Recommended.

Review of Red Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson

Author:  Kim Stanley Robinson.
Title:  Red Mars.
Publisher:  Bantum Spectra.
Copyright:  1993.
Pages:  572.

Overviews and Impressions:

The technical aspects of this hard sci-fi book are awesome.  The social implications aren't.  The whole premise of the novel is the colonization and terra-forming of Mars by a group of American and Russian scientists.  Afterward, the UN allows for mass-colonization of the northern part of the planet.

While a group of scientists set up another secret colony in the southern polar region.  There are space-lifts and the usual cyber-punk frontier "Rim" towns.  The idea of a quiet American "revolution" against the international land-grabbers struck me as disappointing.  I thought more could be done with it the social development of Mars.  The author assumes the worst excesses in human nature regarding interplanetary settlement in the mid twenty-first century.

Still recommended for the technical descriptions of the Red Planet....

Monday, February 13, 2017

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Mid-February 2017 reading....

Here's what I've been reading this week:

1)  The Road to Guilford Courthouse by Buchanan.  Started reading about the American Revolution in the Carolinas...

2)  Ultima by Stephen Baxter.  More of the Roman Empire in space as an alternate universe book.  Several humans from our universe cross over and become involved the Roman and Celtic interstellar empires.  Interesting so far...

3)  Eden to Armageddon by Ford.  Depressing reading about the Middle East in World War I.  I'm reading about the Caucuses right now and the Armenian genocide of 1915-17.

4)  Red Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson.  I'm on page 400 of a hard sci-fi book about the colonization of Mars in the mid 21st century.

5)   Into the Storm:  The Malcontents - Book One.  Fantasy book set in the Warmachine universe about a failed Cygnar Stormknight and his platoon of malcontents before a big invasion of Menoth Protectorate, the crazy religious zealots who cleanse everything with fire.  It's an easy read.  I'm on page 50 right now....

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Early February 2017 reading...

I'm reading the following books:

1)  Red Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson.  Hard sci-fi book about the colonization of Mars.  I've begun the part where the colonists are introducing genetically engineered lichen to the planet.

2)  Ultima by Stephen Baxter.  It's an alternate sci-fi tail about the Celts, Chinese, and Roman empire in interstellar space.  Interesting so far...

3)  Eden to Armageddon by Ford.  It's a comprehensive story about World War I in the Middle East.  I finished Mesopotamia and now getting into the Caucasus Front.

4)  The Road to Guilford Courthouse:  The Revolutionary War in the Carolinas by Buchaccan.  Just started this book with the beginning chapters about Charleston, South Carolina....

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

WIP, WH40K Adeptus Mechanicus Army, 01FEB17

Here are some photos of my new WH40K Adeptus Mechanicus army that needs to be assembled;


                                          Unit of Adeptus Mechanicus Sigarians from Mars.


                                          Punched out sprues from my first box of Adeptus Mechanicus.


                                          Remaining boxes of WH40K Adeptus Mechanicus.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Review of Chief Joseph and the Indian Wars by Robert D. Bolen

Author:  Robert D. Bolen.
Title:  Chief Joseph and the Indian Wars.
Publisher:  Fort Boise Publishing.
Copyright:  2015.
Pages:  182.
Price:  $14.95 (US).

Overview and Impressions:

I read Chief Joseph and the Indian Wars by Robert D. Bolen.  The first part deals with the various Indian Wars throughout America.  The second part dealt with Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce and their flight from the US Army to the Canadian border in 1877.  Though Chief Joseph was a peace chief, his sub-chiefs were war chiefs.  He made use of them to delay General Miles pursuit.  However, he captured the Nez Perce thirty miles short of their objective....

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Review of A Devil of a Whipping by Lawrence E. Babits

Author:  Lawrence E. Babits.
Title:  A Devil of a Whipping:  The Battle of Cowpens.
Publisher:  Chapel Hill.
Copyright:  1998.
Pages:  231.
Price:  $19.95.

Overview and Impressions:

I forgot that the American Revolution was this nation's first Civil War against English rule.  The Battle of Cowpens played an important part in that war.  It helped set the stage for Cornwallis' surrender at Yorktown later that year.

Babits lays out the case for Cowpens.  He makes use of old pension records and battlefield archeology.  General Morgan comes over as an underrated military commander.  White Colonel Tarleton's reputation for butchery explains why the Americans refused to given quarter to the British Legion after it was defeated.

Morgan's use of progressively stronger infantry lines and the ability of the militia to hide behind the Continental battle line also helped explain why Morgan won against the exhausted British.  Afterward, the British Legion was crushed by its losses.

Recommended.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Mid-January reading: part II

Here's what I'm reading this week:

1)  A Devil of a Whipping:  The Battle of Cowpens by Lawrence Babits.  Read about General Morgan and Tarleton and their respective forces.  Our American Revolution was really a civil war between England and her American colonies.  Most Americans don't think of it that way, though...

2)  Ultima by Stephen Baxter.  I'm at page 116 of the novel.  It's the Roman Empire in space and their Celtic interstellar flight crews.  Interesting premise to the book...

3)  Eden to Armageddon by Ford.  Interesting history of WWI in the Middle East.  Started with the Allied Campaign in Mesopotamia...

4)  Red Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson.  Hard Sci-Fi novel about the colonization of Mars in the year 2026.  I'm currently on page 96....

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Mid-January reading...

Here's what I've read this week:

1)  Four Days in September by Jason Abdale.  See previous blog review.  Finished.

2)  Sedan, 1870:  The Eclipse of France by Douglas Fermer.  See previous blog review.  Finished.

3)  Ultima by Stephen Baxter.  I'm on page 49 of the book.  It has a futuristic Roman empire in space along with space vikings!!!  And a Han Chinese empire, too.  It picks where Proxima left off.  I haven't given up on reading more works by the author, though.  The second book makes up for Proxima's crappy ending when the human race is microwaved to death due to the destruction of Mercury...

4)  Victory Conditions by Elizabeth Moon.  I'm not doing a formal review of this book.  I thought I was getting good military sci-fi with a descent female protagonist.  Turned into one of the most boring works I've read in a long time.  Too long on narrative, too short on action.  And what action there was turned out to be rather unsatisfying.  Not my cup of tea....

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Review of Sedan, 1870: The Eclipse of France by Douglas Fermer

Author:  Douglas Fermer.
Title:  Sedan, 1870:  The Eclipse of France.
Publisher:  Pen and Sword Publishing.
Copyright:  2008.
Pages:  321.

Overview and Observations:

I read Sedan, 1870 to get a better idea of the battle that doomed the Second Empire.  Douglas Fermer paid specific detail to the individual soldiers who fought.  The major players of the Franco-Prussian War are also spelled out.  About half the book is the background leading up to the conflict.  The rest is the actual battle of Sedan itself.

Recommended.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Review of Four Days in September by Jason R. Abdale

Author:  Jason R. Abdale.
Title:  Four Days in September:  The Battle of Teutoburg.
Publisher:  Pen and Sword Publishing.
Copyright:  2014
Pages:  244.
Price:  $39.95 (US).

Overview:

The author, Jason R. Abdale, talked about the Battle of Teutoburg in 9 AD.  Rome lost three legions to Germanic tribesmen.  Abdale lays out for a case of the battle taking place in September and its location in western Germany.  He spent a lot time describing the battlefields and roles the various commanders played.  While I'm a fan of Roman history and took Latin during my undergrad, I'm burnt out reading about how the different soldiers were armed and what weapons they used.  It took away from the importance of the battle or why the Romans were in Germany in the first place.

What was important that Roman didn't actively seek to conquer Germany for a long time.  By then, the effort was half-hearted at best.  But some Roman prisoners did survive the battle.  For they were liberated when the Romans came back to Germania for revenge...

Recommend.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

AAR: 28mm WWI Darkest Africa Game, 07JAN17

Here are photos I took of a 28mm WWI Darkest Africa Game on Saturday, 07JAN17:



                                         The start of the game.


                                         Glenn Wilson (Mute Bystander) moves his Belgian askaris.


                                          Both sides take some pot-shots at each other.


                                          The Belgians make melee contact with the Germans.


                                          The Force Publique loses the melees and breaks army morale.


                                          The Belgians flee in terror of the Germans mighty ju-ju.  End of game.


Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Review of The Lost Stars: Imperfect Sword by Jack Campbell

Author:  Jack Campbell.
Title:  The Lost Stars:  Imperfect Sword.
Publisher:  Ace Books.
Copyright: 2014.
Pages:  297.
Price:  $7.99 (US).

Overview and Observations:

I keep reading Jack Campbell's The Lost Stars series because I like the reoccurring characters who are featured in it.  The independent star system of Midway launched a preemptive invasion to liberate the Ulundi star system.  General Drakon's infantry division are almost trapped on the planet when a battleship from Midway shows up to even the score for the underdogs.  The remaining Syndicate Worlds' mobile forces and infantry divisions are destroyed and scattered by a planetary bombardment.
That helps General Drakon's power armor troops take control of a Snake fortifications as the Syndicate's best troops die in the hell fire.  The Midway fleet finishes off the remaining Syndicate land forces before the survivors surrender to General Drakon.  However, Midway came as liberators to Ulundi.  The Midway forces gather up their own force via some troop transports and head home.  Not before giving some advice on how to govern Ulundi to the planet's population...

Recommended.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Happy New Year, 2017, and current weekly reading...

Happy 2017!  I waited to put something up until today.  I've been busy with reading this week.  This is what is currently on my reading table:

1)  Four Days in September:  The Battle of Teutoburg, 9 AD by Abdale.  I got into the background behind the Roman conquest of German and the Germans' response to it.

2)  The Lost Stars:  Imperfect Sword by Jack Campbell.  More hair by the tail action concerning Midway's liberation invasion of Ulundi and the Syndicate Worlds' response to it.

3)  Sedan, 1870 by Douglas Fermer.  Started reading about the frontier battles in Alsace and Loraine in August 1870 during the Franco-Prussian War.

4)  The Gate of Futures Past by Julie E. Czerneda.  Sira and her husband, Jason Morgan, flee the spaceship that brought them to Brightfall, home world of the Hovengry Cocentrix, along with the Om'ray survivors from Cersi.