Excellent book for those who aren't aware of this little footnote of WWII. Because most people aren't familiar with the US Navy's Third and Fifth Fleets, much space is dedicated to background on how "Bull" Halsey and the Third Fleet came to be in the Philippine Sea on 17 December 1944.
The book is extremely well researched and tells the story in as impartial manner as possible. I listened to the book straight through in spite of the fact that I was very cognizant of the facts. The book reads like a historical novel. The authors weave essentially 5 story lines together to tell the 2 day saga. The result is a tale of hubris, tractability, heroism, insubordination, fatalism, life and death.
My only negatives are minor. The narrator mispronounced some nautical equipments, but was consistent in his mispronouncements. The authors also had minor problems with terminology. For example, the only "ceilings" onboard US Navy ships are those made of panels that are suspended by wires, hanging from the "overhead". I only mention these small errors because they stood out in an otherwise outstandingly researched book where the authors went to great pains to use authentic Naval terminology.
Knew from the reviews that this was a departure for Scalzi. What a departure! In my most humble opinion, this tome is an instant classic of the genre! A most novel concept and treatment of universal truths that will stay with readers long after they finish the book.
Think Michael Valentine Smith meets 'I Robot'! I do believe that his predecessors would approve!
Reading other reviews, I only wish that I'd purchased different narrator. Ms Benson wasn't bad, she wasn't quite up to the material.
The Battle of Surigao Strait was in many ways as confusing as the battle of Taffy 3. Mr. Tully did a masterful job in pulling all the disparate portions and records together to weave a coherent tale. My main problem was that Mr. Roelofs was obviously reading many of the names and locales phonetically and in many cases unless one speaks Japanese, it was difficult to keep all of the IJN players straight. Keeping all of the USN players straight was hard enough with all of the battleships and heavy cruisers playing chicken towards the end of the battle. I believe that part of the problem is that the IJN players like Kurita are familiar to American readers, but that the IJN officers at Surigao Strait aren't because they died there for the most part. Most of the senior officers I knew from previous books, but many of the ships' captains and officers were oft time difficult to keep straight with their ships.
The IJN run up the Straight is familiar to anyone who has watched "In Harm's Way", as James Bassett took this battle and mixed it with Taffy 3 in his book, "Harm's Way", on which the movie is based. While I could picture the essential maneuvers of the IJN run, it did get a bit confusing keeping the different heavy cruisers separate at times, and I'd have to back up the narration just to confirm which ship was which. But - the historic tale of the classic 'crossing of the T' at Suriagao Strait obviously does not stand up to scrutiny based on Mr. Tully's research. Oldendorf's reputation was largely made upon the picture of USN battleships steaming blissfully across the bows of IJN battleships in the dark while sending said IJN battleships to the bottom of Surigao Strait.
The phonetic pronunciations such as; "Lay-Tee", did get a bit tedious, Mr. Roelofs did a yeoman's job at narrating the book and has a wonderful voice to listen to. It seemed that he didn't understand what he was reading. He was reading the book without telling the story.
Having not read the book in some 30+ years, I'd forgotten how smoothly the narrative runs. Mr. Kramer's reading was effortless! Listening to this tome was a pure joy. This must be at least the fourth time that I've read the book and new details leap out in the audio version. For those who haven't had the pleasure, the book reads like a good novel making one wonder how the Union managed to actually win the Civil War.
Catton manages to make all the participants human, warts and all. Many of Grant's mistakes are glossed over, particularly at Cold Harbor. Yet the overall circumstances of the dysfunctional command of the Army of the Potomac leaves one wondering how it lasted long enough for Grant to take overall command of all the Union Armies. Most people forget that Meade retained command of the Army of the Potomac and that Grant was in overall command of all Union Armies. Grant was coordinating the Armies of the James, the Potomac, the Shenandoah, the Tennessee, as well as Sherman's army moving through SC and NC. The political situation of 1864 cost the Union in thousands of dead and wounded due to the inability of Grant to relieve incompetent army and corps commanders.
The bravery and steadfastness of the common soldiers of both sides were incredible. It was only that bravery of the Union regiments that saved the Union in spite of their general officers. The common soldiers of both sides had more in common than they differed and it was that commonality that allowed the nation to eventually heal after Appomattox.
This is a must a listen for any student of the Civil War. It's only a shame that the 2 prequels are available!!
Having read most of John Ringo's previous works I thought that I knew what to expect when purchasing this book. Most of his other works are 'straight' escapist military sci-fi with a healthy dose of Tea Party leaning under-leanings. So once one gets over the rants, there are some really well constructed action, interesting characters and storylines.
Without giving major spoilers, this book is divided into 3 distinct books. The first and last are primarily escapist 2005 era military action macho fiction, sandwiched around some very heavy S&M action, The second book in all honesty made me feel very uncomfortable just listening to and didn't feel transitory or logical to developments in the last book. I did keep thinking that the author either had some interesting research for this character or revealed way too much about himself!!
I enjoy military and military sci-fi as escapism and brain candy and so have a low suspension of belief for the structures within which the authors of these genres create fictional little worlds. My problem here is that it's hard to see if Ringo is attempting to give a character who harnesses his base urges constructively, or if this is titillation, strange titillation.
This memoir was written from various scraps that BGen Olds had jotted down, typed, and placed into his computer over the years, and then masterfully assembled by his daughter and friend into an extremely listenable first person format while he was dying from Stage 4 prostate cancer, (he died from congestive heart failure).
Robin Olds' career stretched from the skies over Germany to the skies of Vietnam, and from the halls of West Point to the mountains of Colorado Springs. A Colonel in his early 30's Olds' fighter pilot mentality went against the prevailing "bomber" and "missile" generals who ran the USAF from the founding of the USAF to the 1990's.
His vivid recollections of air to air combats are textbook, as are his memories of duty in the Pentagon lessons on how NOT to get promoted. Since this is a first person narration, some of his accomplishments are omitted, but all of his antagonist actions towards higher echelons of command are listed in detail.
Unfortunately his tendency to over imbibe is noted. While writing about his movie star wife he is over sympathetic. Her career was already on a down swing when they married and nothing to do with his service.
Mr. Dean's narration is right on save his lack of Robin Olds' slight Texas twang! This is a book that I'll come back to re-listen repeatedly!
Overall a very good history of the 'Big E', but way too much filler with bios of and side histories. I recognize the methodology as I've used it myself when I've come up short for material on the primary subject! Smooth narration.
Dr. Gallagher focuses the Civil War in historical terms of the 19th Century, stripping away the political correctness attributions revised since the civil rights era of the 1960's of the North fighting to free the slaves. Yes, slavery was the issue that cause the secession of the southern states, but the the northern states were fighting to retain the Union, with slavery if necessary but one country. He ties the concept of 'Manifest Destiny' with the principles of the Declaration of Independence to explain why the people of the north fought the Civil War, in their own words.
The recent crop of histories and documentaries have been maintaining that the northern states fought primarily to free the slaves. There was a reason that Lincoln couldn't issue the Emancipation Proclamation until late 1863 - political suicide. Only a minority of northern citizens supported emancipating the slaves until it was put into terms of destroying the southern economy and hastening the end of the war. Saving the Union was the primary purpose that both new immigrants and established citizens of the northern states volunteered for Federal Service.
Mel Foster does yeoman work narrating Dr. Gallagher's work.
Going into this book I expected to hear a new scholastic exposition upon the failings of the New Deal. Instead it was a Libertarian set piece on how the entire FDR administration efforts were machinations for re-election and to convert the American economy to Socialism! Every single New Deal policy was part of a malicious and devious plan to strip Americans of their individual liberties through increased taxation and larger government. According to the author capitalist free markets that are unconstrained by any regulation are the only historical economies to produce human progress. Any regulation, be it insurance on deposits, Social Security, or limitations on the sale of swamp property, all impede free markets! The book was written in 2002 and hasn't been updated to explain how FDR caused 2008.
I truly enjoyed the author's two previous efforts, so wondered how he went so far astray in this history with the basic facts. The entire book is written from a 21st century perspective and attitude, judging a 19th century man's, (Teddy Roosevelt), beliefs and actions. If that weren't bad enough, the author then cherry picked which beliefs and actions to present for his interpretations. All of this justification and rationalization is to support a hypotheses that in 1905, TR gave Taft the go ahead to behind the scenes, to abrogate a commercial treaty with a Korean government that ceased to exist in 1897. The hypotheses following is that Japan then invaded Korea, with TR's approval, thereby starting a domino effect - for both WWII and the Korean War in 1905. (This is the same theory which a minority opposition party in South Korea has espoused for years to prove that the United States can't be trusted if the North invades). That Revelation comes after much proof of how much of a racist and overall butthead TR really was. I'm not saying that the "social evolution" theories that the societies on both sides of the Atlantic took so near to their hearts, nor the proposition of Kipling's "white man's burden", hold a lot of water in the 21st century, but they surely did in the 19th. TR's desegregation of New York state public schools as governor is ignored, having Booker T. Washington to dinner at the White House is omitted, his appointing of African-Americans to Federal positions and the appointment of the the first Jewish Cabinet member are all completely left out of a book that paints the most progressive president in US history as an opportunist bigot.
The other two leading characters in the book don't come out unclean either. Taft, the then Secretary of War, comes off as simply going through life to make his wife happy. Her dream job is that of First Lady. The other thread is 21 year old, Alice Roosevelt, TR's eldest daughter who accompanied Taft on the "imperial cruise", who comes off as a misunderstood brat. One of the primary reasons for sending Alice was so that all public attention focused on her, as she crossed the Pacific, while her father was hosting the Portsmouth peace negotiations between Japan and Russia, in relative privacy. The fact that Alice and her step-mother didn't get along is a well known fact, but there is much revisionist history here as to 'why' Alice turned out to be such a brat - it was all her parents' fault!
The narrator did a great job. He took the material and ran with it with great gusto. One of the reasons the book irked me so much was the good presentation of bad material!
This is a much needed window into the history of US destroyer action in the South Pacific. Other than the stories of "The Little Beavers" of Burke's DesRon 23, and the fate of the tincans of Halsey's 3rd Fleet in Typhoon Cobra, little has been written about American destroyer operations during World War Two with any great specificity. Unfortunately the narrator's ignorance of anything "naval" or any familiarity with Naval history detracts from the subject matter with his repeated mispronunciations of both terminology and proper names. One would think that the editors would ensure that these errors would nor occur. Any fellow member of the US Naval Institute will cringe at these glaring errors. Content is outstanding, but the delivery while enthusiastic, makes this a tedious book to listen to for long periods of time.
I have found that this naval terminology mispronunciation problem is systemic on audible books due to ignorance and a lack of oversight, but one should expect that they would get proper names such as "Grumman" and "Mitscher" correct!
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