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commodore_torakula

Ok that's It I'm doing this....book recommendations for the embarassingly overeducated with respect to war

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12/7/17's pick: "Neptune's Inferno," by James D. Hornfischer.....this is the best piece of non-fiction I've read in the last 5 years, and it's not even close...I supremely recommend the audio version, especially if, like me, you have trouble wading through TLDR walls of text.....the narrator sounds a little like George Kennedy--don't let that throw u.

 

 

Edited by commodore_torakula
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Or the same dozen that posted in your thread came back to see what others added a dozen times or so.  We don't have "thousands" of people reading the forums.  Sorry.

* 6/7/18 edit...wow, you completely changed your original post.

Edited by desmo_2

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Neptune's Inferno and Pacific Crucible both arrived today.  I treated myself and also picked up "The Last Stand of The Tin Can Sailors" by Hornfischer.

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4 minutes ago, Hiro804 said:

Neptune's Inferno and Pacific Crucible both arrived today.  I treated myself and also picked up "The Last Stand of The Tin Can Sailors" by Hornfischer.

You will like all three.  They are good reads and Ive them them all as well.  Enjoy!

B

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Couldn't get through Pacific Crucible...feel like I've read the same material half a dozen times. ...and I'm glad this idiot topic of mine will, sooner or later, sink into the turbid backwaters of my not knowing what the hell I'm doing here. ...anyway.... ....yes and Hornfischer's pretty tight

 

....edit: sure glad things have picked up.....thx especially to Jazzyblaster for joining the discussion

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Currently reading "Japanese Destroyer Captain," by Tameichi Hara et alia...it was a Xmas present....pretty gripping stuff, although I'm certain it loses something in translation....he does talk somewhat about the political aspect of Japanese whirlwind successes in early 1942 before the roof inevitably fell in......some said, "oh well hey now that we've had all this success let's sue for peace and etc...."....totally unrealistic after Pearl Harbor of course....

....He comes off as very human and forthright....I'm enjoying it.

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Commodore, thanks for the reference on "Japanese Destroyer Captain".  I've run across this book before but wasn't sure if I wanted to purchase it.  I think I will now...like your thoughts.  I enjoy reading from "the other side".

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thank you for your kind words...I feel like I should follow through on this topic now....maybe not a new recommendation every day, but I should do it....

....if u want something of the Wehrmacht "other side" flavor I can recommend a Nobel prize winner in literature--the late great Heinrich Böll....

                1/7/18 today's pick:   "A Soldier's Legacy," by Böll.....this was not the book he won the prize for, but I've read about half of his body of work (which includes a bevy of tight, hard-hitting stories in a similar vein) and this'd be my clear cut favorite.

....it's fiction, not memoir, but he did fight in WW2 and gives a real dose of what it must to have been like in Nazi Germany if you weren't a Nazi but they MADE you serve...tragic but true...(I am not here making apologies for Nazis, I hope you can tell....)

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I listened to "Neptune's Inferno" seven years back, just got through "Pacific Crucible" and "Conquering Tide," and am halfway through "Japanese Destroyer Captain."

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"The Admirals"  is a great book .   Follows the usa navy  admirals,   King , Nimitz , Leahy , Halsey etc.. .       Great read starts from 1900s, until after ww2.       I read all above and would rank the Admirals, right up there.         Also "Castles of steel " is good too.  

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On 3/10/2018 at 8:32 PM, odin909 said:

"The Admirals"  is a great book .   Follows the usa navy  admirals,   King , Nimitz , Leahy , Halsey etc.. .       Great read starts from 1900s, until after ww2.       I read all above and would rank the Admirals, right up there.         Also "Castles of steel " is good too.  

thx for the tip I'll put it in my library queue.....I skimmed "Castles of Steel" a ways back and didn't get into it, but I'll queue it up too and give it another try

....elsewhere is today's pick, "Grand Scuttle," by Dan van der Vat, a British journalist.......tells the little remembered story (or at any rate--hadn't heard of it) of how the post-Great War German fleet's admiral chose to scuttle an entire fleet rather than have it fall into the hands of the RN, while it was interred at Scapa Flow during the interim between the armistice and the signing of the Treaty of Versailles.

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4/19/18's pick: "Chesty," by Jon T. Hoffman.....this is a biography of one of the USMC's most legendary officers.

So far my pix have all been more or less with a naval bent in mind for the meat of the action, but this one features a Marine...and we all know that's a different story, right?...  TBH, I've only just cracked with one open after it has spent years in the bookcase unread...but so far so good.

...I remember well a discussion related in "Neptune's Inferno" between Puller and the captain of a ship that had taken him and one of his units aboard before putting them back ashore on Guadalcanal.  The jist of their talk was over their definite preference for fighting either on land or on sea......

This is exactly the sort of thing that intrigues me most about war sometimes--the "what if"s and counterfactuals that just branch off into chaos and the unknown that the people who fight wars have to face.

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Thanks for your recommendations! I'm happy that I came across this thread. :)

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5/31/18 today's pick:  "The Price of Admiralty," by John Keegan

 

...Keegan may be familiar to you as one of the foremost and most prolific war historians of the late 20th c.

   He was a professor at Sandhurst, (essentially England's West Point) for many years and knighted.  He's no longer with us but he left behind a great deal of good reads, and this one is no exception.

   It's an overview of several big, crucial naval engagements, including a very favorite of mine: Jutland....(today's the anniversary of it), which makes it a fairly engaging and quick read.

 

    ....and on a related note, to comment further on "The Admirals," by as recommended by  odin909.....I checked it out recently and got bogged down in the biographical material of the 4 admirals in question. ....I'm not saying it's not a great book, just that it wasn't particularly to my taste.  The style was slightly stilted.  In all likelihood, I'll have another look at it at another time. ...

......................peace, people!  ...--CT

 

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On 11/15/2017 at 4:15 AM, desmo_2 said:

Or the same dozen that posted in your thread came back to see what others added a dozen times or so.  We don't have "thousands" of people reading the forums.  Sorry.

* 6/7/18 edit...wow, you completely changed your original post.

...had to....you were spot on about the level of readership, and I had to accept it.....

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On 12/20/2017 at 11:14 PM, Hiro804 said:

Neptune's Inferno and Pacific Crucible both arrived today.  I treated myself and also picked up "The Last Stand of The Tin Can Sailors" by Hornfischer.

You get around to reading Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors yet? I really wish that one would get the Spielberg movie treatment, it'd be like Saving Private Ryan, but actual history and for the Naval Branch of the service.

For those that are interested, this is an older book, but there is The Pearl Harbor Papers. It's a collection of Japanese primary source documents that have been translated into English. It includes Minoru Genda's Affadavit before the War Crimes Tribunal, several of Isoroku Yamamoto's writings, Extracts from the Diary of Rear Admiral Giichi Nakahara, and a reproduction copy of the map that was used to brief Emperor Hirohito following the attack. It's also got a ton of other things. Very solid read.

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1 hour ago, DonKarnage2 said:

You get around to reading Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors yet? I really wish that one would get the Spielberg movie treatment, it'd be like Saving Private Ryan, but actual history and for the Naval Branch of the service.

For those that are interested, this is an older book, but there is The Pearl Harbor Papers. It's a collection of Japanese primary source documents that have been translated into English. It includes Minoru Genda's Affadavit before the War Crimes Tribunal, several of Isoroku Yamamoto's writings, Extracts from the Diary of Rear Admiral Giichi Nakahara, and a reproduction copy of the map that was used to brief Emperor Hirohito following the attack. It's also got a ton of other things. Very solid read.

I read that one and also Ship of Ghosts about the USS Houston saga.  Both excellent books.  The image of Ernie Evans standing at the stern of the Johnston waving/saluting with his only remaining hand as he is shouting rudder and engine orders below after the bridge was blown away is quite powerful.  Headed right back into action with whatever was left.  Can't make it up and should never be forgotten.  THAT was a heroic act, not the phony media definition where anyone who isn't a window licker is automatically labeled a "hero" for ratings.

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On 6/21/2018 at 2:33 PM, DonKarnage2 said:

You get around to reading Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors yet? I really wish that one would get the Spielberg movie treatment, it'd be like Saving Private Ryan, but actual history and for the Naval Branch of the service.

For those that are interested, this is an older book, but there is The Pearl Harbor Papers. It's a collection of Japanese primary source documents that have been translated into English. It includes Minoru Genda's Affadavit before the War Crimes Tribunal, several of Isoroku Yamamoto's writings, Extracts from the Diary of Rear Admiral Giichi Nakahara, and a reproduction copy of the map that was used to brief Emperor Hirohito following the attack. It's also got a ton of other things. Very solid read.

Yes, I did read it. Simply amazing and really defines what endurance and bravery truly are.  A movie would be fantastic, but as you mentioned needs to be like Saving Private Ryan.   Right now I'm reading Japanese Destroyer Captain by Tameichi Hara.

I just scored a like new paperback copy of Iain Ballantyne's Killing the Bismarck for $3.50 plus a little shipping.  It's going in my stack to get too sometime.

 

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On 6/21/2018 at 2:33 PM, DonKarnage2 said:

You get around to reading Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors yet? I really wish that one would get the Spielberg movie treatment, it'd be like Saving Private Ryan, but actual history and for the Naval Branch of the service.

For those that are interested, this is an older book, but there is The Pearl Harbor Papers. It's a collection of Japanese primary source documents that have been translated into English. It includes Minoru Genda's Affadavit before the War Crimes Tribunal, several of Isoroku Yamamoto's writings, Extracts from the Diary of Rear Admiral Giichi Nakahara, and a reproduction copy of the map that was used to brief Emperor Hirohito following the attack. It's also got a ton of other things. Very solid read.

Apparently, there is supposed to be a movie coming out, but who knows when: https://deadline.com/2015/10/wwii-biopic-come-hell-or-high-water-to-be-directed-by-john-moore-1201597566/

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@Avenge_December_7, a movie would be great. Would definitely go see it.

At the moment, I'm working on The Naval History of the Civil War by David Porter, as in Admiral David Porter who served the Union in the War and, later as the Superintendent of the Naval Academy.

Wolf of the Deep by Stephen Fox covers the history of the CSS Alabama during the Civil War. It was one of the most successful Confederate Naval Vessels of the war.

Last Flag Down by John Baldwin looks at the CSS Shenandoah which was the last Confederate ship to surrender, and fought on after the end of the war because they didn't know the war had ended.

The H.L. Hunley by Tom Chaffin gives a nice look at the history of the Hunley from conception to sinking.

In terms of World War II Books:

The War Below by James Scott was pretty good and deals with the war records of the USS Silversides, USS Drum, and USS Tang which were three submarines. Also touches, briefly, on Pappy Boyington.

The Rising Sun: The Decline and Fall of the Japanese Empire by John Toland is lengthy, but it covers everything related to the Japanese War Effort from, essentially the invasion of China and Korea all the way through to the surrender.

To Kingdom Come by Robert Mrazek has a lot of first person accounts of B-17 crew members.

The Forgotten 500 by Gregory Freeman discusses one of the largest rescue operations of downed U.S. aircrews and pilots during the war from, Serbia I think.

Hell Above Earth by Stephen Frater is the account of Werner Goering, the nephew of Hermann Goering, who flew U.S. Bombers during the war and his co-pilot's orders to kill Werner if they were ever shot down.

The Few by Alex Kershaw talks about the American pilots that went to Britain and fought for the British during the Battle of Britain, illegally.

Enterprise by Barrett Tillman. Pretty self-explanatory what this one is about.

Agent Zigzag by Ben Macintyre is about a Nazi spy who got turned into a double agent.

An Army at Dawn by Rick Atkinson covers a goodly chunk of the North African Campaign and Monty/Patton vs. Rommel.

The Lions of Iwo Jima by Fred Haynes is about Fighting Team 28 during the Battle of Iwo Jima.

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17 hours ago, DonKarnage2 said:

@Avenge_December_7, a movie would be great. Would definitely go see it.

At the moment, I'm working on The Naval History of the Civil War by David Porter, as in Admiral David Porter who served the Union in the War and, later as the Superintendent of the Naval Academy.

Wolf of the Deep by Stephen Fox covers the history of the CSS Alabama during the Civil War. It was one of the most successful Confederate Naval Vessels of the war.

Last Flag Down by John Baldwin looks at the CSS Shenandoah which was the last Confederate ship to surrender, and fought on after the end of the war because they didn't know the war had ended.

The H.L. Hunley by Tom Chaffin gives a nice look at the history of the Hunley from conception to sinking.

In terms of World War II Books:

The War Below by James Scott was pretty good and deals with the war records of the USS Silversides, USS Drum, and USS Tang which were three submarines. Also touches, briefly, on Pappy Boyington.

The Rising Sun: The Decline and Fall of the Japanese Empire by John Toland is lengthy, but it covers everything related to the Japanese War Effort from, essentially the invasion of China and Korea all the way through to the surrender.

To Kingdom Come by Robert Mrazek has a lot of first person accounts of B-17 crew members.

The Forgotten 500 by Gregory Freeman discusses one of the largest rescue operations of downed U.S. aircrews and pilots during the war from, Serbia I think.

Hell Above Earth by Stephen Frater is the account of Werner Goering, the nephew of Hermann Goering, who flew U.S. Bombers during the war and his co-pilot's orders to kill Werner if they were ever shot down.

The Few by Alex Kershaw talks about the American pilots that went to Britain and fought for the British during the Battle of Britain, illegally.

Enterprise by Barrett Tillman. Pretty self-explanatory what this one is about.

Agent Zigzag by Ben Macintyre is about a Nazi spy who got turned into a double agent.

An Army at Dawn by Rick Atkinson covers a goodly chunk of the North African Campaign and Monty/Patton vs. Rommel.

The Lions of Iwo Jima by Fred Haynes is about Fighting Team 28 during the Battle of Iwo Jima.

Great list. Thanks for the listing of books regarding the Civil War.  I grew up about 10 miles from Antietam and have always been a buff of the land battles but my knowledge of the navel side is woefully deficient. 

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I might as well add a few:

  • Battle of the Atlantic by Jonathan Dimbleby
  • Big E by Edward P. Stafford
  • MacArthur at War by Walter R. Borneman
  • Embracing Defeat by John W. Dower (about post-war Japan's reconstruction)
  • Battleship at War by Ivan Musicant (about USS Washington BB-56)

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@Hiro804 I grew up knowing a bit about the Union side of the Civil War, being a Navy Brat from a Navy Family. Didn't really know much of anything about the Confederate side though.

If you're looking for a fun trip, go down to Vicksburg National Military Park. Several years ago they dug up the USS Cairo which was a City-class ironclad gunboat, one of several deployed during Grant's southern campaign (prior to his becoming overall Union Commander). The Confederates sank it in the Yazoo River, with a hand detonated mine of all things, and the Parks Service dug it back up in the 90's (I think). It's the only example of a Civil War Ironclad that's left, well, such of it that is left. Getting into the Museum is covered in your admission to Vicksburg too, worth a visit.

If you do go to Vicksburg, you will need at LEAST 2 days to see the entire battlefield. Longer if you want to see EVERY monument (there is a truly legendary number monuments at the Battlefield). I was there from open to close one day and still only saw about half of it, of course some of that is because I dawdled at the Cairo Museum and the Cemetery, but still.

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