As faithful readers of his blog know, I am a biblioholic. Last week my bride and I were on vacation from the law mines, well for three of the days of last week, and we went to a fantastic book sale put on each year by the local chapter of the American Association of University Women in Naperville. This is a big sale with approximately 40,000 books. We purchased 45, well actually 46 because I accidentally picked up two copies of the same book, for $100.00. Here is a list of the books with commentary. Fortunately my bride shares to the full my biblioholism! She will be doing the commentary for 4-12 on the list.
1. From Savannah to Yorktown, Henry Lumpkin (1981)-Perhaps the best one volume modern study on the campaign waged by the British in the latter half of the Revolution to conquer the South. Lumpkin does a good job of detailing the savagery of this fighting, with Northern and Southern Tories in the ranks of the British adding an air of civil war to the conflict.
2. How to Stop a War, James Dunnigan and William Martel (1987)-Dunnigan is the founder of Simulations Publications Illustrated (dear old SPI) and the designer of numerous war games. After SPI went bankrupt in the early eighties and was sold to TSR, he began a career of writing books about war. This is one of his early efforts and contains his usual skillful use of historical examples to make his points.
3. An Ordinary Person’s Guide to Empire, Arundhati Roy, (2005)-The one dud in our purchases. Roy is a left wing loon and her tome reads like a fairly illiterate sophomore’s take on the world after having dozed through a class on Marxian Analysis of the World Crisis, while her boyfriend took occasional notes. She is a supporter of the Naxalites, a particularly bloody and futile Maoist insurrectionary movement that has been going on in India since 1967. This book is soon to be seen on e-bay.
4. Saint Louis and the Last Crusade, Margaret Ann Hubbard, (1958)-This and the following 4 books are all Vision Books children’s biographies of saints, in the original hardcover editions (not the Ignatius Press paperback reprints). Similar to Landmark Books, but on Catholic subjects and written from a Catholic perspective. This one is a biography of King Louis IX of France.
5. Katharine Drexel, Friend of the Neglected, Ellen Tarry, (1958)-A biography of St. Katharine Drexel (not yet canonized at the time of publication). Cathy read this to the kids for their afterschool “mommy school” when they were in grade school.
6. Saint Elizabeth’s Three Crowns, Blanche Jennings Thompson, (1958)-A biography of St. Elizabeth of Hungary; Cathy vaguely remembers reading about her to the kids during “mommy school” (might have been this book, or possibly a shorter account of her life elsewhere).
7. Saint Isaac and the Indians, Milton Lomask, (1958)-A biography of St. Isaac Jogues, one of the Jesuit “Blackrobes” who worked (and died) among the Indians in North America (mostly Canada). Cathy definitely remembers reading this one to the kids during “mommy school”!
8. Saint Thomas More of London, Elizabeth M. Ince, (1957)-A biography of St. Thomas More, of course; Cathy thinks homeschoolers could use this alongside a family viewing of A Man for All Seasons (preferably the 1960s version) as an introduction to the Reformation in England.
9. The Pattern Library, Crochet, Amy Carrol and Dorothea Hall, (1982)-An inexpensive crochet stitch dictionary for Cathy (if a family member knits or crochets, they’ll know what that is).
10. Knitting into the Mystery, Susan S. Jorgensen and Susan S. Izard, (2003)-A book on prayer shawl ministries coauthored by a female United Church of Christ minister (Izard) and a Roman Catholic laywoman (Jorgensen); mostly about the spiritual side of such groups, rather than making the shawls themselves (although 2 simple patterns – 1 each knit & crochet – are included); tries hard (maybe a little too hard) to appeal to an interfaith audience.
11. The Illustrated Afghan, Leslie Linsley, (1990)-A crochet afghan pattern book where the main panel or squares are done in plain Tunisian crochet (what Cathy says earlier generations called “afghan stitch”), and the intricate designs are cross-stitched on top.
12. Norwegian Rosemaling, Margaret M. Miller and Sigmund Aarseth, (1974)-A book on Norwegian folk art decorative painting on wood, featuring lots of stylized flowers/leaves/scrolls/etc.; looks a lot like tole painting (but don’t let a rosemaaling fan hear you say that!). We still have a couple of small rosemaalt items (a trinket box & a small decorative plate) Cathy acquired back in college while minoring in Scandinavian studies and connecting with distant cousins in Norway.
13. Socrates in the City, Eric Metaxas, editor, (2011)-A collection of lectures by such luminaries as Peter Kreeft, the late Father Richard John Neuhaus, the late Chuck Colson, et al on the big issues: God, Good, Evil, etc. Metaxas is a man to keep your eye on. He combines profound learning, a deep faith in God and a profound commitment to the pro-life cause. His biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer is a grand example of using the past to help illuminate the present.
14. Drummer Hodge: The Poetry of the Anglo-Boer War, M. Van Wyk Smith, (1978)-Now what list of books purchased by me would be complete without some obscure tomes. A good look at the poetry, and there was a fair amount of it, unleashed upon the world by the Boer War. Most of it was forgettable and much of it was bad, but looking at it helps us understand the passions roused by this controversial war.
15. Churchill’s Secret War, Madhusree Mukerjee, (2010)-Ms. Mukerjee claims in her book that Churchill’s dislike of Indians contributed to the toll of the Bengal Famine of 1943-44. Arthur Herman, who wrote a recent joint biography of Churchill and Gandhi has written a devastating rejoinder. Go here to read it. I will reserve judgment until I have read the book.
16. Platoon Leader, Thomas R. McDonough, (1985)-I have been reading this book since we purchased it last Thursday and have completed it. It relates the story of the author as a newly graduated West Pointer, assigned as a First Lieutenant to command an understrength platoon occupying a village in a Viet Cong dominated section of Vietnam. McDonough relates his struggles to be a competent platoon commander as he learns all the things that the Army had failed to train him about and that were vital for him to learn quickly if he and his men were to survive and prevail. McDonough learned that when it came to stand up fights with the Viet Cong assaulting his village, American fire power would prevail and inflict heavy losses on the enemy. What was deadly for the troops were the drip, drip losses caused on daily patrols through booby-traps planted by the Cong. (Shades of IEDs in Iraq!) McDonough comes to respect and like almost all the men he commands, impressed by their courage and their willingness to fight for each other. He does not romanticize them, but he clearly shows the nobility of spirit of most of them as they stoically endure their tours. The burden of command lays heavily on McDonough, a constant theme of the book. This is illustrated when he sends a squad to swim in the ocean, hoping that the salt water will be good for their jungle sores, and be fun for the men. Two of the men are caught in the tide and drown, and McDonough blames himself for their deaths, learning the old military fact of life that when you are in command, everything is your responsibility.
17. The Defense of Hill 781, Thomas R. McDonough, (1988)-Now a Lieutenant Colonel, the author of Platoon Leader wrote this amusing book about a Lieutenant Colonel who died and was sent to Purgatory for his military sins. In Purgatory he has to learn how to do things right. The book is an update of the classic Defense of Duffer’s Drift, a 1904 book that under the plot of six dreams sought to train British Army officers in the tactical lessons learned from the Boer War.
18. Strategy and Supply, The Anglo-Russian Alliance, 1914-17, Keith Nelson, (1984)-The difficulties that the British found in trying to support an unstable ally to maintain the Eastern Front while conducting a massive war of their own on the Western Front.
19. The Three Richards, Nigel Saul, (2005)-An interesting exercise in parallel lives as the author writes about the three monarchs named Richard in English history.
20. The Sleepwalkers: How Europe Went to War in 1914, Christopher Clark, (2012)-Rather a white wash of Germany’s role in bringing about the Great War, a useful corrective is Max Hasting’s Catastrophe 1914 which places war guilt where it rightfully belongs: on Austria-Hungary and Germany. Go here to read a review in which the foremost British historian of the War Hew Strachan writes about war guilt.
21. Sword of San Jacinto, A Life of Sam Houston, Marshall De Bruhl, (1983)-A very great man with very great flaws, Houston played many roles in his colorful life: husband, father, soldier, lawyer, Congressman from Tennessee, Governor of Tennessee, drunk, adopted Cherokee, Major General of the Texas Army, President of the Republic of Texas, Texas Representative, Senator from Texas, but perhaps his greatest role was at the end as Governor of Texas in 1859-1861. As secession fever built in Texas at the end of 1860 he stumped the state vigorously, although he knew it was hopeless, arguing against secession which he viewed as an unmitigated disaster for Texas and the nation. A life as complicated as Houston’s raises complicated problems for a biographer and I will see if Mr. De Bruhl is up to the challenge.
22. The Second World War: Europe and the Mediterranean, Vol, I, (1979)-Put together by the West Point History Department for the instruction of cadets, the 461 page tome takes a workmanlike introductory view of the conflict.
23. The Second World War: Europe and the Mediterranean, Vol, II, (1980)-Brings the War in Europe to a conclusion with an emphasis on the 1944-45 campaigns in the West, the Russian Front having been treated in volume one.
24. Churchill, Roosevelt, Stalin: The War They Waged and the Peace They Sought, Herbert Feis, (1957-1974 printing purchased)-A look at the wartime alliance of Russia, the US and Great Britain. One of the first scholarly attempts look at the alliance as an historical event, it suffers from a lack of access to since disclosed material and the inevitable distortion of attempting to write a history of a recent event. Time gives perspective, or rather quite a few perspectives. However, honor is normally due to pioneers, and Mr. Feis was certainly a pioneer in this area.
25. To the Maginot Line, The Politics of French Military Preparation in the 1920’s, Judith M. Hughes, (1971)-Ah the Maginot Line, that monument to the always wrong human assumption that the next war will be just like the last one. Ms. Hughes attempts to demonstrate that the Maginot Line was reasonable in the context of French politics, diplomacy and the human toll that World War I exacted from France. Perhaps, although the best French military minds at the time, de Gaulle among them, regarded the whole project as military nonsense and a waste of resources. The Maginot Line provided France the illusion of military security rather than the reality, and such illusions always set the stage for possible catastrophes.
26. Alfred Thayer Mahan, The Man and His Letters, Robert Seager II, (1977)-Mahan had a fairly lackluster naval career, he didn’t like sea duty and he was a poor ship handler, until he began to write about naval strategy after his appointment as a lecturer in naval history and tactics at the Naval War College in 1885. Mahan turned out to be a first rate historian as he churned out The Influence of Sea Power upon History, 1660–1783 (1890); The Influence of Sea Power upon the French Revolution and Empire, 1793–1812 (2 vols., 1892); and Sea Power in Relation to the War of 1812 (2 vols., 1905). The Life of Nelson: The Embodiment of the Sea Power of Great Britain (2 vols., 1897). No mere academic tomes, these volumes were lessons on how gaining control of the seas was all important and the need for strong fleets to accomplish such control. The books were immense hits and highly influential around the globe. The Kaiser, for example, put translated copies of The Influence of Sea Power Upon History aboard each ship in his fleet, and Teddy Roosevelt used the books to lend support for his expansion of the US fleet. Mahan was honored as a prophet during his own life. He died in December 1914 at 74 before he could produce articles on how his theories were playing out in the Great War.
27. Sea Power in Relation to the War of 1812, Vol I., ( 1905-1969 printing purchased)-The War of 1812 fit well into Mahan’s thesis of the importance of sea power, and he does justice to the subject.
28. Sea Power in Relation to the War of 1812, Vol II., ( 1905-1969 printing purchased)-
29. Fallen in Battle-American General Officer Combat Fatalities from 1775, Russell K. Brown, (1988)-Capsule biographies of the general officers killed are given, along with the details of how they were killed. I rather wish the generals had been noted in chronological order rather than alphabetical.
30. Israeli Nuclear Deterrence, A Strategy for the 1980’s, Shai Feldman, (1982)-Feldman is a left of center Israeli academic who has supported an overt policy by Israel of acknowledging its nuclear weapons and pursuing a policy of nuclear deterrence. I think it makes little difference since the enemies of Israel assume, correctly, the existence of the arsenal, and, also correctly, that Israel will use it if its existence is threatened. The chilling reality for Israel is that some of its enemies view a nuclear war as an acceptable loss to take out Israel.
31. Anthony Wayne: Soldier of the Early Republic, Paul David Nelson, (1985)-Wealthy businessman Anthony Wayne would now be unknown to history but for the Revolution. In that conflict he earned the nickname “Mad Anthony” and became one of Washington’s ablest combat generals. At the request of President George Washington he came out of retirement and led the infant United States Army to victory in the Northwest Indian War, the major military conflict of Washington’s two terms in office. Batman’s secret identity of Bruce Wayne was created by taking the names of Robert the Bruce and Anthony Wayne. In the DC comics Mad Anthony Wayne is an ancestor of Bruce Wayne and “stately” Wayne Manor was originally built by Anthony Wayne.
32. Journal of Political and Military Sociology, Vol. 4, No. 2, (Fall 1976)-The usual jumble of articles in an academic journal that usually has less readers than a moderately successful blog on an average day.
33. The Ancient Greeks, A Critical History, John V. A. Fine, (1983)-I am always a sucker for ancient history. Coming out five years before his death, the book was the culmination of a life time of study by the author.
34. Panzer Battles, F. W. von Mellenthin, (1955-purchased edition 1982)-Chief of Staff of the 4th Panzer Army, von Mellenthin wrote one of the classic works about armored warfare on the Eastern Front.
35. The Conquest of the Incas, John Hemming, (1970)-Less well known than the conquest of the Aztecs by Cortez, the conquest of the Incas by Pizarro, a distant cousin of Cortez, was more astounding.
36. Strategy & Politics, Collected Essays, Edward N. Luttwak, (1980)-I always enjoy the work of strategist Luttwak, even when I disagree with his conclusions, which is usually the case.
37. Forever in the Shadow of Hitler, 1993-A collection of essays by German historians arguing whether Germany will always live stained by the guilt of the Holocaust. This is the type of things that normally only intellectuals tend to worry about. Most ordinary Germans I have encountered act as if Hitler and the War are ancient history as far as they are concerned. Moderns tend to have the historical memory of Mayflies, so this is not just a German tendency.
38. Ancient Egyptian Art and Architecture, A Very Short Introduction, Christina Riggs, (2014)-Part of a series that I love by Oxford University Press. Cheap, thin paperbacks that give brief overviews of topics. Up to 477 titles now. Go here to look at them.
39. The Coming of the Third Reich, Richard Evans, (2003)-Perhaps the foremost expert writing in English on Nazi Germany, the books he has written on the Third Reich have advanced our knowledge of that evil enterprise. His strident Leftism is tiresome, but it does not usually infect his scholarship on Nazi Germany, at least that is the case in the books I have read.
40. Encyclopedia of the Third Reich, Louis L. Snyder, (1989)-One volume reference works like this one have less utility with the internet, but I still like having them around, especially if I am double checking what I have found on the internet.
41. FDR at War, The Mantle of Command, 1941-42, Nigel Hamilton (2014)-Hamilton is primarily known for his volumes on Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery. I am curious to read his take on FDR.
42. Sicily and the Surrender of Italy, Albert M. Garland, Howard McGraw Smyth, (1965-print edition purchased 1983)-When the Army went to War in World War II it was decided that professional historians would be enlisted to write the official history of the United States Army in the War. Thus was born the United States Army in World War II series which now encompasses 78 volumes. The series can now be read online here. I still like having the print volumes if I can get them cheap enough. The series is the starting point for any serious student of the US in World War II. The volume on Sicily is a good starting point to dive into the series. Operation Husky was a short operation and colorful personalities, most notably Patton, were involved. The volume shows an Army that was still suffering growing pains, with men and officers, just civilians months before, still learning the grim trade of war.
43. Supreme Command, Forrest C. Pogue, (1954-print edition purchased 1969)- The volume in the United States Army in World War II series that focuses on Shaef and Eisenhower. A fascinating volume on the planning and implementation of what Eisenhower called The Great Crusade.
44. The Life and Letters of Emory Upton, Peter S, Michi, (1885-print edition purchased 1979)-Upton earned a general’s star at the age of 24 for the brilliant charge he led at Spotsylvania. Go here to read about it. After the War he distinguished himself in the Army as a military reformer and student of foreign armies. In 1881 he committed suicide, driven to it by agonizing headaches which may have been the result of an undiagnosed brain tumor. After his death a book he had been working on The Military Policy of the United States from 1775, circulated within the Army for years. Secretary of War Elihu Root ordered that it be published after the Spanish American War, and many of the reforms he initiated in the Army were inspired by Upton’s book.
45. Plumer, The Soldier’s General, Geoffrey Powell, (1990)-The usual stereotype of a British general in World War I is of a hidebound incompetent, indifferently sending his men to be massacred by massed enemy machine guns. Nothing could be further from the truth in regard to Field Marshal Herbert Plumer, who was imaginative, highly competent, compassionate and won his biggest victory at Messines June 7-14, 1917, through the use of the largest mine in human history up to that point. The author was a career British officer who earned a military cross at the battle of Arnhem. I look forward to reading this biography.