Book Review: The Life and Adventures of Nat Love

Posted July 15th, 2021 by Devin and filed in History, Review

The Life and Adventures of Nat Love, Better Known in the Cattle Country as The Life and Adventures of Nat Love, Better Known in the Cattle Country as “Deadwood Dick” by Nat Love
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A nice insight into the life of Nat Love. The writing is a bit uneven, as it was dictated to someone that didn’t do a lot of editing of the train-of-thought tangents, but there’s still a lot of great stories in it. Even though a lot of the stories do have a “tall tale” feel to them — I attribute that to the book being written years after the fact — the book is a very informative look at the experiences of an ex-slave’s transition to the life of a cowboy, post-Civil War.

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Book Review: “The Devil’s to Pay: John Buford at Gettysburg. A History and Walking Tour”

Posted July 3rd, 2021 by Devin and filed in Civil War, Review

“The Devil’s to Pay”: John Buford at Gettysburg. A History and Walking Tour.“The Devil’s to Pay”: John Buford at Gettysburg. A History and Walking Tour. by Eric J. Wittenberg
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Very detailed and informative book focused almost entirely on the U.S. cavalry during the first day of the Battle of Gettysburg. Dispositions and actions are very well covered for that first day, as well as brief coverage of the units’ reduced employment the night of July 1st, and the day of July 2nd.

My only quibble with the book is it’s titled “John Buford at Gettysburg”, and while it does indeed feature him, it’s less about the man and more about the units under his command. And while it’s true that once battle is joined, the General has limited control over the actions of his men, I would have liked a bit more insight into Buford’s decision making as well as quotes from him as to what he was thinking that day; just more of his personal experiences during the battle.

That said, it really is a great book that brings a lot more detail to an aspect of the Battle of Gettysburg that has long been overshadowed by the other actions of those three days.

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Book Review: The Guns at Last Light, by Rick Atkinson

Posted June 24th, 2021 by Devin and filed in History, Review

The Guns at Last Light: The War in Western Europe, 1944-1945 (World War II Liberation Trilogy, #3)The Guns at Last Light: The War in Western Europe, 1944-1945 by Rick Atkinson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A great overall look at the war in Europe from the United States’ perspective, covering from Normandy through to the surrender. Atkinson goes a lot into logistics, which isn’t the typical “sexy” subject matter of WWII books, and shows how it was that “behind the lines” business of getting supplies to the front line troops that dictated much of the pace of the last year of the war. He also delves into the shortage of manpower, such as how British and German losses over the many years of war affected how many soldiers could be thrown into battle. American losses suffered during the Normandy campaign are also stacked against maintaining enough reserves of U.S. forces to prepare for the anticipated invasion of Japan.

Well thought out and written, this is an amazing book. I now need to go back and read the first two volumes.

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Model Kit Review: USS Choctaw in 1/192nd Scale by Flagship Models

Posted June 24th, 2021 by Devin and filed in Civil War, History, Ironclads and Gunboats, Modeling, Review

Over on ModelWarships.com, I review the new resin kit of the Civil War ironclad USS Choctaw.

Check it out HERE.

Quick Book Review: The City We Became my N.K. Jemisin

Posted June 24th, 2021 by Devin and filed in Review

The City We Became (Great Cities #1)The City We Became by N.K. Jemisin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Definitely one of the most “out there” premises that I’ve read from Jemisin. She pulls it off well, though, and any time I felt myself getting lost in the rules of the universe, the characters always grounded me. Fun, innovative, and a great commentary on urbanization and gentrification.

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Book Review: The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix

Posted May 16th, 2020 by Devin and filed in Review

The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying VampiresThe Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Hendrix takes the concept of “humans are the monsters” further in this book. The majority of the horror isn’t outright violence or hostility, but that of mistrust, fear, apathy, and a genuine inability of some to value the opinions of others, especially if those opinions are counter to our belief, or present us with an uncomfortable or inconvenient truth. So, while a vampire tale, and therefore there’s truly a monster involved, the greatest monstrosity for the characters is the indifference we can all feel towards another’s value and knowledge. Very well done.

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Book Review: The Pioneers

Posted October 11th, 2019 by Devin and filed in Review

The Pioneers: The Heroic Story of the Settlers Who Brought the American Ideal WestThe Pioneers: The Heroic Story of the Settlers Who Brought the American Ideal West by David McCullough
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

McCullough covers a little known window of American history with THE PIONEERS. Set in the Northwest Territory, the area that would one day make up the states of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, and Wisconsin, the book tells of the ordinance formed to allow settling in the lands ceded by the British at the end of the Revolution, and how it grew over the following decades.

With the ordnance ratified by the architects of the Constitution and the very country, we then are shown the difficulties of even reaching the site of the first settlement, Marietta, in Continue Reading »

Book Review: The Last Cruise of a German Raider: The Destruction of SMS Emden

Posted September 14th, 2019 by Devin and filed in Review

The Last Cruise of a German Raider: The Destruction of SMS EmdenThe Last Cruise of a German Raider: The Destruction of SMS Emden by Wes Olson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Wes Olson’s book, THE LAST CRUISE of a GERMAN RAIDER: THE DESTRUCTION of SMS EMDEN, is a fascinating read, not only about the career of Emden, but it also provides a window into the warfare of the early 20th century. Also, I do love a good solid book, and this is one is very well-made, with thick paper, and solidly constructed, so much so that it really jumped out at me how well made the physical book is. Besides that, the book covers everything from ship design, operational logistics, area of operation, operational requirements, and the final battle between Emden and Sydney, making this an informative and satisfying read.

There is a more in-depth version of this review over at Modelwarships.com.

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Book Review: The Path Between the Seas

Posted July 8th, 2018 by Devin and filed in History, Review

The Path Between the Seas: The Creation of the Panama Canal, 1870-1914The Path Between the Seas: The Creation of the Panama Canal, 1870-1914 by David McCullough
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Another great read from David McCullough. This one is a little denser than the other recent titles I’ve finished by him – The Johnstown Flood and The Great Bridge – but that doesn’t detract from the book. Indeed, the scope of the work requires the density. McCullough covers not only the American involvement in the canal, but the initial surveys and the aborted French project, and all of the associated drama. He recounts the engineering and medical advancements brought about by the project, as well as the darker side of the racism prevalent in the lives of the workers, and the dubious circumstances of Panamanian independence at the insistence of the United States.

My only quibble is that I’d like to have an addendum that covers the canal as it is today, after the ceding of ownership back to Panama, and with the new locks and other improvements recently added. Others can cover that, though, as McCullough’s book stands fine on its own as a thorough and compelling chronicle of an astounding project. Highly recommended.

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Book Review: The Terror

Posted June 9th, 2018 by Devin and filed in Review

The TerrorThe Terror by Dan Simmons
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is an odd book for me: incredibly well written, yet difficult to get through. The prose and imagery are beautiful, the characters compelling. The story takes forever to get going, and I feel that a healthy edit would have improved my experience. That said, the last section of the book mostly made the prelude worthwhile. I can see why others rave about it, but at several points during the reading, it became more of a chore than enjoyment. That being said, I’m looking forward to now watching the AMC series based on the book.

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