August 27th, 2016
I read a load of books this last week.
First was Grunt: The Curious Science of Humans at War by Mary Roach. I've heard good things about this author before, and I intend to read a couple more of them, but this book was given to me as a gift from my wife, so I pushed it up to read right away, and liked it very much. The author picks and chooses a variety of topics within the domain of the American military, each one quirky and fascinating. Well worth reading. I expect that I'll drag another book of hers out to read soon.
Next was Osprey Raid #29: The Hunt for Pancho Villa: The Columbus Raid and Pershing's Punitive Expedition 1916 – 17. You know, the border between the United States of America and Mexico has always been rather porous. Heck, when most of the West was still Mexico, the invasion of folks looking for their financial success was US citizens taking jobs from Mexicans. In this book, a whole American army invades northern Mexico hunting Villa and his troops. I found this one particularly fascinating to read, therefore.
Then, Gamemastering Secrets, an RPG book discussing tips and tricks for better game running. I've run RPGs for a long time, though not in the last year, but I intend to get back into it soon, so I'm going to be reading several books on the subject just to brush up and give good gaming. This one heavily expanded on specific games that I've never played, but it did give me a number of interesting ideas for future play.
Next, Bread: A Global History gives some details on the long association of bread with civilization, with a variety of breads that not only cover loaves, but also flatbreads and so forth. Moderately interesting. The last twenty or thirty pages are filled with recipes, for those who might be seeking such.
Following that I read Osprey Vanguard #11: US 2nd Armored Division 1940 – 45, a book that was fairly easy to read. The plates weren't much, the photos fairly standard, the text gets the points across but weren't all that terrific. Not bad, not excellent.
Next, Croaked: More Tales of the Firefly Witch, a book that essentially isn't available. Alex Bledsoe wrote a number of stories about a witch, living in the South, who is blind, except during the time of year when fireflies appear; when they are around she can see. Honestly, these stories (and this is a very short story collection) are very good reads, and I really like the characters. Unfortunately, the publisher went belly-up, and you can't find the books anywhere. Feh. I've liked the two things I've read now, but there's several others that I just can't find. Too bad...
Then, Osprey Vanguard #15: The Sherman Tank in British Service 1942 – 45 which really does pare down the history of the Sherman to just its use in the armed forces of the United Kingdom, not US, not Canada, not Israel. It's kind of nice to see them keep it to just that small subset; it allows more detail overall. I liked it.
Next was the book Osprey Vanguard #17: The Stuart Light Tank Series, not quite so pared down as was the previous book, and so it felt ... lighter? Anyway, not bad, but not the best.
I followed that book with Osprey Vanguard #18: The Panzerkampfwagen IV. In a rather odd conversation with a friend not long ago, I asked him if he had a favorite tank from WWII (yeah, I know, really odd conversation), and he mentioned this one. It was the workhorse tank for the Germans from early in the war until the end...and apparently the last time the tanks were used in combat was in a Syrian-Israeli conflict. Given that they were pretty well-engineered, you can understand their continued use until outright destroyed.
And that's that for this week...