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review 2017-08-12 04:28
Aces of the Legion Condor - Robert Forsyth,Jim Laurier

Here is a concise, comprehensive, well-told story of the establishment and combat history of Germany's Legion Condor's fighter squadron component (Jagdgruppe 88) during the Spanish Civil War. Jagdgruppe 88 was the fighter element within the Legion (4 squadrons), which along with its bomber, anti-aircraft, and reconnaissance/transport units, had been sent to Spain in 1936 by Hitler to assist the rebel forces (i.e. Nationalists) fighting against the leftist Republican government in Madrid. Indeed, the war itself was to be a proving ground for Jagdgruppe 88, which had entered combat flying what was at the time Germany's standard fighter plane, the Heinkel 51, a biplane not far removed from its First World War antecedents. 

Within a few months, the Heinkel 51 was found to be inferior to the Republican fighters (i.e., the I-15 'Chato' biplane fighter and the I-16 'Rata' monoplane fighter - both of which were supplied by the Soviet Union to the Republican forces) it encountered in combat. Consequently, the decision was made to send the new Messerschmitt 109 monoplane fighter (which represented in 1936 a revolutionary leap in aircraft design) to Spain for wartime evaluation and testing. This would be done in stages over the length of the conflict. (The numbers of Heinkel 51 fighters in the Legion would be reduced, til by war's end in 1939, only one squadron would be flying it as a ground attack fighter.) Indeed, as was pointed out in the book: "The Legion Condor had played a significant role in winning Spain for Franco, and the importance of the Civil War had demonstrated the importance of air power to battlefield victory. The success of every major Nationalist offensive and defensive operation was dependent upon clear air superiority." 

Like similar books in the Osprey Aircraft Series, "ACES OF THE LEGION CONDOR" is chockful of photos and richly rendered illustrations. It will make a welcome addition to any aviation enthusiast's library.

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review 2017-07-21 10:42
An excellent naval history of the Civil War
War on the Waters: The Union and Confederate Navies, 1861-1865 - James M. McPherson

A few years ago I decided I wanted to read a naval history of the Civil War. To my surprise, I learned that, for all that has been written about the conflict, there are relatively few books about its naval aspects and the ones I found proved disappointing. Had I waited a little longer I would have discovered that this book was a perfect fit for my needs, as James McPherson brings his expertise as the nation's foremost Civil War historian to the study of its naval aspects. Drawing upon both primary sources and secondary studies he surveys the various components of the naval war, from the Union blockade that was a critical dimension of the conflict to the revolutionary development of steam-powered ironclads, all of which he describes in his clear and assured prose. If there is a complaint to be made about this book it is that the apparent parameters of the Littlefield series for which he wrote it limited the amount of depth in which he can explore his subject, yet within its confines he has provided the best single-volume history of the Civil War at sea there is or is likely to be for some time to come.

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review 2017-07-16 17:48
Ghosts of the Civil War by Rich Newman
Ghosts of the Civil War: Exploring the Paranormal History of America's Deadliest War - Rich Newman

I am ready to pack my suitcase and head out for all the spots in this book. I have actually visited several of the places in this book but now I want to go back and recheck them all with this book as my field guide. I have been to Gettysburg more then once and have experienced things and even have some photos of things. I have been to Chickamauga, I even lived in Kennesaw , and have been to many more of the battle fields. I am a huge Civil War Buff, I also love Ghosts and Ghost stories. A lot of the stories in this book I have heard before but some I have not. To me this book was very interesting and I really enjoyed it. I received this book from the Author or Publisher via Netgalley.com to read and review.

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review 2017-07-15 18:21
Worth a read if this is your sort of thing
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter - Seth Grahame-Smith

I admit these kinds of books are a guilty pleasure of mine. You give me zombies and Pride and Prejudice I’ll read it in a heartbeat. You give me William Shakespeare with vampires and I’ll add it to my wishlist to read. People are going to scoff at these types of books because they’re known to be silly and not worth the time reading. Sometimes we just need a bit of silliness in our lives to remind ourselves that it’s okay to throw ideas that have nothing to do with each other and make it into a story (or film, or both.) I enjoyed this one because well, vampires, and history put together are usually a great mix. This time around it’s more of an alternate history story line with an interesting but pretty feasible so it’s not over the top ridiculous. Vampires who support the South because it gives them easy access to food. Sounds plausible doesn’t it? It makes sense if you think about it that way. Of course then you have vampires like Henry who don’t believe in getting food that way and that’s where the plot of vampires and history blend nicely together. The format of the book is also different and interesting in where it’s written like a ‘non fiction’ book. It’s a nice way of putting it together and adds more to the story to make it more enjoyable. The problem with this is, since it’s meant to emulate a non fiction book, it also dry and boring in some parts. So the execution of this type of book could have been a bit better to make the read less of a chore - as some parts seemed to have dragged. Despite some of the parts being a bit boring, it’s worth a shot to read. I enjoyed the ending immensely and liked what they did there with Lincoln. This book isn’t for everyone that’s for sure, but if you’re curious about it, give it a try.

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review 2017-07-11 00:18
Podcast #57 is up!
Lincoln's Trident: The West Gulf Blockading Squadron during the Civil War - Robert M. Browning Jr.

My fifty-seventh podcast is up on the New Books Network website! In it, I interview Robert M. Browning, Jr. about his history of the operations of the U.S. Navy's West Gulf Blockade Squadron during the Civil War (which I reviewed here). Enjoy!

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