Monday, December 18, 2006

Three Books

Bruce Catton - American Heritage New History of The Civil War
This book is one of the seminal volumes in Civil War history. Not because of its depth or groundbreaking analysis but because of the large number of historians that list it as one of their first exposures to the Civil War. This book provides a great overall history of the war but it is the maps that get all the attention. The maps are drawn 3D maps with tiny soldiers, cannons and cavalry running around, fighting and otherwise depicting the actual troop actions. They give a nice feel for the events over traditional military maps, especially for younger readers.

James McPherson - Battle Cry of Freedom
This book won the Pulizter Prize so it must be good. It is a much more comprehensive
narrative than Catton. Frankly, I skipped most of the first 6 chapters since they covered the political events of the prior decades leading up to the war. I was mainly interested in the military side of things. MacPherson covers everything in just enough detail to get a good feel for the war.

Tom Clancy - Debt of Honor
I hadn't read a Tom Clancy book for ages before picking this one up at the library. I don't think I will be picking up another for a while. This book is predictable and boring. The premise is that the Japanese, after getting in a trade dispute with the US, decide they need to be more "indepenent." So they attack US naval forces and invade Saipan and Guam. The industrialists that are controlling the government also have plans to ally with China and India to grab more land. But there is no suspense, no surprises. Jack Ryan is the hero who can do no wrong (and his wife is even more annoyingly perfect). In the end, the US uses its superior technology to knock out key Japanese capabilities and forces them to retreat. Maybe it is because I read "The Hunt for Red October" and "Red Storm Rising" at the height of the Cold War and they seemed real and plausible and that made those books fun and exciting. But Debt of
Honor just seems silly.

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