"The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich" is an excellent history of Nazi Germany and World War II. The author has the unique perspective of being a correspondent in Germany during the years leading up to the war and the war's outbreak, as well as having full access to captured Nazi documents after the war. Shirer clearly was in a perfect position to write a history of Nazi Germany. My one complaint is that this work focuses too much for my tastes on the diplomatic dimension, and not enough on the military dimension (the war itself) or life in Nazi Germany. That said, this is pretty much required reading for anyone curious about Nazi Germany.
If the mark of a classic is timelessness, the Heinlein short stories collected in The Green Hills of Earth certainly qualify. After 70 years, these stories are still great. Like other works from Heinlein's contemporaries (Isaac Asimov, etc.) they have a markedly different feel from modern sci-fi that is heavily influenced by huge franchises like Star Wars and Star Trek.
For another criminally underrated Heinlein work, check out Orphans of the Sky.
Geoffrey Wawro describes the death of the second sick man of Europe, Austria-Hungary. Beset by internal divisions amongst its many ethnic groups, especially between German Austria and Magyar Hungary, It's a miracle Austria-Hungary survived until 1918; it definitely wouldn't have done so without German support. A bonus star for being a WWI book 1) in English and 2) On a generally obscure subject area.
I found the battle descriptions entertaining, but beyond that this novel was lacking. The supporting cast are all one dimensional cutouts that exist for the sole purpose of having people for the main character to express his feelings. E.g. the fawning second in command who exists as a foil for the MC's self-doubt and the questioning vice president who exists to allow the MC to explain his plans. The villians are either cartoonishly incompetent buffoons or evil-for-the-sake-of-being-evil caricatures. Just not believable at all. The MC's long pontifications and monologues are also extremely tiring. This book wasn't horrible but I am definitely not moving on to entry #2 in the series.
A decent work, but it focuses too much on blow by blow military account of the war (which is done much better and in more depth in Battle Cry of Freedom and Shelby Foote's series) and the pre-war slave system and not enough on the "social revolution that transformed the South." Reconstruction is glossed over at the very end of the book, and there is little discussion of carpetbaggers, the migration of former slaves to northern industrial cities, the rise of the KKK, etc. Only recommended for novices of the Civil War period.
How lucky I was to stumble across this little gem of a series. Harry Sidebottom takes us to the Roman Empire, c. 260 AD, a time period (235-280 AD) where 25 emperors reigned and the Empire was wracked with rebellion and invasion. Roman commander Ballista is tasked with defending one of the Empire's easternmost outposts against the Sassanid Persians. Unfortunately, due to the state of the Empire, Ballista must also deal with rampant intrigue in the Roman upper ranks.
Mr. Sidebottom has a knack for describing in vivid detail the brutality, violence, and excess of the late Roman period - a time of "iron and rust" as he describes it in the third book of this series. Stefan Rudnicki's narration was also excellent. I greatly enjoyed it and I highly recommend this and the others in the series.
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