I am an avid eclectic reader.
Eri Hotta is an independent scholar specializing in Japan international relations. Hotta was born in Tokyo. She received her BA in history from Princeton University, master and Ph.D. from Oxford. She taught at Oxford from 2001-2005. What led me to read this book was it offered the view point of Japan leading up to the Pearl Harbor attack. Hotta makes two central points, 1). Japan’s leaders and its people were influenced by a belief that Japan was destined for international greatness---going to war was a gamble. 2). Japan’s policy making process by 1940 was not open and parliamentary but Japan was not a dictatorship. Decision involved preliminary bargaining interaction with a complex administrative structure. The Japanese constitution allowed the military to advise the Emperor independently of the rest of the government. The author pain staking guides the reader through a convoluted mesh of personalities and principles. Hotta provides a brief history of Japan so the reader can understand what is happening in the eight months leading up to Pearl Harbor. Reading the book led me to learn something about Japanese politics and how Japan’s admiration for the United States began to turn sour in the first part of the twentieth century. A Hotta point out the Japanese language tends to be vague which led to problems with negotiation with the U.S. Secretary of State. Even though Hotta explains about Japanese history, government and politics she lays the blame for the war directly on Japan. Laurel Merlington did a good job narrating the book. If you are interested WWII history this book would interest you.
Tyler Trafford was a reporter in Calgary Alberta Canada. Following his mother's death in 2004 he inherited a Campbell soup cardboard box from his Mother. It was crammed with letters, a journal and photographs that revealed a history of his mother he never imagined. His mother was a beautiful girl from a rich family in Montreal whose Mother was controlling. She met a young pilot from Norway who was training at a nearby base. His name was Jens Muller, the love letters were from him. He went down over German and was a P.O. W. he was with a group that escaped. A movie was made about the escape called "The Great Escape" Muller was one of the few that made it out. I will not spoil the story but Trafford wrote the book about how he puts his mother's life as a young woman together. It does show how decision made can effect our life forever. Mike Vendetti does a good job reading the story.
This is the story of Franz Stigler, a German fighter pilot and Charlie Brown a B17 Eighth Air Force pilot. It is the fascinating story of how their lives intersected in December 1943 permanently altering their lives. I found this an emotional book with a similar effect on me as Laura Hildebrand's "Unbroken". It left me feeling good about people. Most of the book is about Franz Stilger's life as a child, young man and pilot commercial then military. He was a German ace and later flew the jet planes over Germany. It also covered the men of the B17 and then their hunt for each other after the war. I noted that long after the war the crew of the B17 "Ye Old Pub" received their metals- Brown, the Air Force flying Cross and the silver star for each of the crew making them the highest decorated B17 crew. Adam Makos is the editor of the military magazine Valor and came across this story during interviews with WWII pilots. He brought to life the story of a man, the air battles, the thrill of flying and the fear of living in Nazi Germany. I am sure glad he wrote the story as a book. Robertson Dean did a great job reading this book. This book is not only for us WWI and WWII history buff but for any teen or adult that is looking for a good story with moral value.
Mark Bowden's Black Hawk Down is the best story of modern war, as the subtitle calls it, I have ever read. I read the book, watched the movie and have listened to the audible audio several times. The depth and multitude of personal accounts of the battle that day in October 1994 is unbelievable. Bowden was patient and throrough in his research for this book and interviewed dozens of combatants and witnesses from both sides of the fight. His research coalesced into this masterpiece of military history that, in my opinion, should be required reading in highschools throughout the country, especially as we face the very real prospect of war on the ground in a clan dominated country once again with Iraq.
The character development in this book is fleeting but ample enough to get to know many of the Rangers and Delta Force operators that fought, bled and too often died in this battle. The story of the most selfless and heroic Sergeant First Class Randy Shugart and Master Sergeant Gary Gordon coming to the aid of downed pilot Mike Durant is reason enough to listen to this book. This book allows us to honor all of the men who fought in this battle, for their courage and humanity.
I highly recommend this book and suggest that you use the following web resource to supplement your listening: Black Hawk Down: An American War Story-The Original Newspaper Series Online. Mark Bowden is a writer for the Philadelphia Inquirer, where this story first appeared as a serial piece in the newspaper. This website includes maps, videos and the full text of the serialized version of the story.
Listen to this book and understand fully what we may be committing our soldiers to with a new war in the streets of Baghdad on the horizon. Will the citizens of Baghdad embrace our mission to bring freedom to their streets or will they react more like the people of Mogadishu?