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Topic: 2012 Over THere Choice Discussion

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Kat (polbio) -
Subject: 2012 Over THere Choice Discussion
Date Posted: 1/1/2012 6:25 AM ET
Member Since: 10/10/2008
Posts: 3,067
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Post a review of the book you chose for this category here

Kat (polbio) -
Date Posted: 1/5/2012 7:56 PM ET
Member Since: 10/10/2008
Posts: 3,067
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I finished The First World War by Hew Strachan. The book was well written and covered a lot of the "behind the scene" topics of WWI, like what happened in the Middle East and Africa. My only complaint about the book was that it didnt go in order.  Strachan covered each topic in its own timeline and then next chapter moved onto another topic. For example, in one chapter he covered the beginning of the war in the Balkans and covered it for two years, than the next chapter he was back before the war covering say Russia and moving forward. So that each chapter was a different perspective and each chapter covered large chunks of the war. To me, it was hard to follow the order things happened in, if that makes sense. It just seemed like he was all over the place.

Bruce -
Date Posted: 1/8/2012 10:11 AM ET
Member Since: 12/19/2008
Posts: 3,412
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"The Great Raid" by William Breuer. U.S. Army Rangers lead a raid to rescue hundreds of American POWs (many survived the Bataan Death March) from the Japanese Cabanatuan death camp. Breuer not only relates the horror inflicted on U.S. and Phillipino troops but on the sacrifices made by civilians of mulitiple nationalities on behalf of the allied cause. It's a great book, fast-paced and was made into a major motion picture. Another great book on this subject is "Ghost Soldiers" by Hampton Sides.

Kat (polbio) -
Date Posted: 1/8/2012 1:18 PM ET
Member Since: 10/10/2008
Posts: 3,067
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I had not heard of that book before, thanks for sharing. I have read Ghost Soldiers which was a great book!!

Subject: When Hell Froze Over by E. M. Halliday
Date Posted: 2/6/2012 7:31 AM ET
Member Since: 3/31/2009
Posts: 60
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When Hell Froze Over is about the American Expeditionary Force sent to Archangel, Russia just before WWI ended.  The force they joined consisted of White Russians, English, and French soldiers, sent there to try to open a second front to relieve pressure on the western front, and to try to assist White Russians in overthrowing communist rule.  President Wilson approved this, but set the American forces specific rules that they were used only to guard and protect the port of Archangel.  However, almost no one in Archangel knew this, including the common soldiers.  The American ambassador knew it, but disregarded it altogether, believing that the Bolsheviks were a huge threat to the whole world .  Thus American soldiers were in Russia fighting Communists in 1918.  This was news to me, and explains why the Communists did not like or trust the U.S.  This was a fascinating book.

From the book cover:  On November 11, 1918, World War I officially ended.   But for the men of the ill-starred American Expeditionary Force to North Russia, the fighting had only begun.  Plagued by meager supplies, poor  leadership, and the lack of a clear-cut objective, this small but valiant contingent fought impossible odds, scoring several stunning victories agains the Bolsheviks before superior  numbers and the bone-breaking arctic winter that had defeated Napolean forced them to withdraw.  Now in the clear, forthright account, E.M. Halliday re-creates one of the most obscure but important of American's foreigh interventions: an epic of cofusion, endurance, failure - and gallantry- that history almost forgot and the Russions never forgave. 

Kat (polbio) -
Date Posted: 2/6/2012 9:50 AM ET
Member Since: 10/10/2008
Posts: 3,067
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Wow, that sounds really good. I had heard we sent troops there, but didnt know the extent.

Date Posted: 2/9/2012 10:37 AM ET
Member Since: 10/17/2006
Posts: 1,427
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I read Goodbye to All That, by Robert Graves.  After one gets past the early chapters about schooling in England, Graves enlists in the Royal Welsh and goes off to World War I, in France.  The way he describes the experiences there, in the trenches and "no-man's-land, are pretty grim.  But what bothered me was the way that the men so quickly became so fatalistic about being killed.  That was hard to take, although, upon reflection, the reader could see that it was probably very necessary to develop a carapace of "unfeelingness" which could come across as callousness to the eye of an observer.  I dunno . . . it was hard to figure out one's response to that book.

Date Posted: 2/14/2012 1:50 AM ET
Member Since: 11/15/2008
Posts: 210
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I just finished On Hitler's Mountain: Overcoming the Legacy of a Nazi Childhood by Irmgard A. Hunt.  It discusses the author's childhood in Bertchtesgaden during WWII and the aftermath of the war.  It was an interesting examination of the attitudes of the adults in her life and the impact on her as a childhood in that environment.

If the subject of growing up as a child during the Nazi regime is of interest then another book to consider is A Mind in Prison by Bruno Manz.  Hunt was a younger child during the war whereas Manz was an adolescent and then a soldier, so it is a somewhat different perspective.  Both books are quite interesting.

Matt C. (mattc) - ,
Date Posted: 2/14/2012 6:47 PM ET
Member Since: 8/13/2008
Posts: 3,849
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I've started reading Human Smoke by Nicholson Baker, which is about WWII, and told in little snippets from various news sources or people from the time period.  It's pretty interesting, and a little disturbing to see some of the history leading up to the war.  

Date Posted: 4/3/2012 4:17 PM ET
Member Since: 7/17/2008
Posts: 469
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I read  Unknown Soldiers The Story of the Missing of the First World War- Neil Hanson  which focused on 3 men in particular. One each from England, Germany and America. It contained diary entries and letters that will break your heart. You quickly realize there are no "good guys/bad guys" but poor young men falling for the age old "FOR COUNTRY" slogans with all the best intentions only to have to come to terms with what they have really joined: Madness, fear, dispair, loneliness, pride of brotherhood, and all else that goes with war.  Seeing the war from the point of view of the soldiers helped me understand why so many youngsters rush off to be the first to die. Whether from wealth, squaller or a sense of "if not me, then who?"  I highly recommend this book to anyone curious as to why anyone ever thought this would be The War To End All Wars.