This is a very interesting book, written by a man who hosted one of the most popular talk-radio shows in the country. His arguments against the "10 Big Lies" is based on historical, social and political analysis, and is often convincing.
Even though I'm felt inclined to agree with him on many things, there were instances when I thought he may have been a bit biased in his arguments and how he applied them. But then, we all don't agree all the time, which helps to make life interesting.
However, I did have a major problem with one of his facts. In the chapter titled "America Has Always Been a Multicultural Society," he states "...an estimated 50,000 black Confederates (almost entirely 'free negroes' of the time) went to battle to defend Dixie." This is absolutely not true. I once knew a fellow Civil War reenactor---but not a friend---who claimed, and he supposedly had "Documentation" to prove it, that 200,000 Afro-Americans fought for the South. So I pointed out to him 200,000 men was the equivalant of three or four Confederate armies. What vast conspiracy kept them hidden from thousands of historians writing about the war?
The same---50,000 men equals one Confederate army--- applies here. Historians acknowledge that a few score---mostly slave---Afro-Americans did actually fight against Union forces. Most blacks with the Confederate armies were slaves, functioning as body servants, cooks, teamsters, laborers, etc. And, when they had the opportunity, they willingly escaped into Union lines. It also doesn't explain why, when two Confederate companies of black slaves were organized in Richmond in March 1865, as they marched through the streets the white inhabitants of the Confederate capitol threw rocks at them. If 50,000 free blacks were already fighting for the Confederate cause, why would two hundred more blacks in uniform upset the white populace?
On the same page, he also makes another interesting statement, "The ancestors of most African-Americans have been in the U.S. longer than the ancestors of most white Americans." I know that is certainly true of my family.
In many ways this was an interesting book, but a number of the "100 Mistakes" were poorly researched. This leads a reader to doubt the accuracy of entries he or she may not be familiar with. Here are just a few examples of mistakes I found, and despite desperately wanting to provide readers with a complete history lesson, I'll try to keep my examples short.
#55 - In January 1864, Confederate General Patrick Cleburne, a division commander in the Confederate Army of Tennessee, wrote to his commanding officer suggesting the use of black slaves as soldiers for the Confederacy. To say this didn't go over too well is putting it mildly. But the author has Cleburne sending the letter to General George Thomas. Apparently, the author didn't realize Thomas was the commander of the Army of the Ohio, which just happened to be a Union army. I suspect the author got the Confederate Army of Tennessee confused with the Union Army of THE Tennessee. The Confederacy named its armies after states, while the Union named its armies after rivers. Still, Thomas commanded the Union Army of the Ohio, not the Army of the Tennessee. This is comparable to German General Rommel writing to American General Bradley, suggesting the use of Jews as soldiers in the German army. This was such a spectacular blunder I had to chuckle.
#73 - The author lists 500,000 German soldiers being lost at the Battle of Stalingrad during World War II. He also does this in several other places. However, the long acknowledged figure is about 250,000. To make it worse, the author does list 250,000 in one case, indicating he does not even check his own work.
#76 - The author lists the surprise Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor as a failure of the two commanding officers (U.S. Navy and U.S. Army) to believe intelligence warnings issued by Washington. As a result, both officers were almost immediately relieved of their commands and blamed for the Pearl Harbor disaster. Unfortunately, the truth is that neither officer received the same intelligence messages sent to others, such as MacArthur in the Philippines. This was due to 'politics,' in that the admirals concerned with intelligence in Washington were jealous of the lower-ranked officers in Hawaii, who were making the significant progress in breaking Japanese code. And this was well known before the author wrote this book. The complete story is too long to discuss here.
Let me mention that MacArthur also failed to act on the message and the disaster to the American Air Forces in the western Pacific was far worse than that suffered at Hawaii. This actually drastically changed the situation in the Pacific and led to the disaster at Bataan. MacArthur should have been the one relieved of his command, but once again 'politics' intervened. MacArthur's mistake would have made a good entry in "100 Mistakes," if only the author had read World War II history a bit more deeply.
The author also states "five battleships . . . were sunk or so badly damaged that they couldn't be used for the rest of the war." Actually, six battleships were damaged, but only two, the Arizona and the Oklahoma, were totally lost. The other four were repaired and sent into action, two in 1942 and the other two in 1944. This was not a secret, so I'm not sure how the author missed it.
# 79 - The author lists the Allied Battle of the Atlantic against the German submarine threat as a great undertaking. And it is well that he should. However, he has the turning point occurring when the Germans lost 43 submarines in February 1943. While the numbers are right, the date is wrong, as it happened in May 1943. An excellent book, Black May by Michael Cannon, describes this.
# 85 - The author subscribes to the theory that the U.S. and British armies could have taken Berlin in April-May 1945. But when Eisenhower made the decision not to, the Soviet armies, totally more than one million men, were only 20 miles from Berlin, while the Western Allied armies were scattered across central and eastern Europe and were 200 hundred miles from Berlin. At best, maybe an American division or two could have reached Berlin to join in the Soviet attack on that city. Considering the Soviets took what can only be described as HUGE casualties taking the city, most historians credit Eisenhower with making the correct decision.
# 87 - Once again, the author made a mistake concerning the identity of military units in describing what happened after the North Korean Army collapsed and ran after the invasion at Inchon during the Korean War. In one paragraph, he has the U.N. Tenth Corps going up the south coast of Korea and the Eighth Corps landing on the north coast. Actually, it was the Tenth Corps landing on the north coast and the Eighth ARMY traveling up the south coast. Two paragraphs later he identifies the units correctly. This makes you wonder if anyone, including the author, reviewed the book before publishing. You don't have to know your history to realize there was an error there.
# 88 and 92 - You may not have known this before, but the accidental discoveries of Scotchgard and Post-it notes were two of the "100 Mistakes" which changed the history of the world. The author thought these were so important he actually devoted one whole paragraph to each of them. Unfortunately, while he describes how these two 'great' occurrences happened, he doesn't waste any time telling you why they were important to history. Obviously, you already know.
# 94 - While you are still reeling from the momentous effects of Scotchgard and Post-it notes on history, the author reveals how the introduction of New Coke also changed world history. As I'm not a soda drinker, I must have overlooked its importance before. As such, I am grateful to the author for devoting almost four full pages describing what I had so obviously missed.
Since the author demonstrates his difficulty with numbers in this book, I'd like to suggest a reason for the inclusion of the last three 'Mistakes' mentioned above. After he submitted his manuscript to the publishers, a proofreader, who could actually count, discovered there were only 97 'Mistakes' listed. The author hurriedly scrambled to find three more 'Mistakes' and came up with Scotchgard, Post-it notes and New Coke.
This reminds me of one of my pet theories. When Audubon published his great portfolio on 100 American birds, it was received to great reviews and still has the admiration of art and wildlife fans. Unfortunately, one of the paintings is of a now-extinct bird. In fact, the bird may have even been extinct when the portfolio was first published, as no one but Audubon had ever reported seeing it. My "conspiracy theory" is Audubon miscounted and only painted 99 birds. When his publisher asked him where the 100th bird was, Audubon quickly provided one . . . one which never existed. Hey, who knows?
Whenever you pick up a book of "100 Most Famous..." , "100 Most Important..." , " or "100 something...", you know it is going to have problems, if not outright errors. I've read a number of these books and often remark out loud, "What! No Way!"
Despite this, I think the author of this book did a better job than most. However, I only gave it 3.5 stars due to the mistakes I found, and the ones I probably didn't.
For example, in the History and Politics section, he obviously got his 'facts' on the American Civil War from a Southern Lost Cause Mythology book. This is inexcusable. In some sections he made other mistakes or contradicted himself, sometimes in the same entry.
I didn't keep track of these contradictions, but on the last two pages he makes an interesting one. He states the Milky Way is 100,000 light years, or roughly 600 million miles, in diameter. Yet, on the facing page he states "A light year is the distance a beam of light travels in one year, or approximately 5,865,696,000,000 miles." Doing some simple math reveals the diameter of the Milky Way is about 9,776 times wider that he says on the other page. Obviously, he is off by more than a couple of decimal points. :-)
All in all, the book makes for interesting reading. But if you are ever in a position where you are betting money on a fact from this book, double-check it first.
I give this book only one star, and admit I only read the first two chapters. Frankly, I got tired reading about their egos. This is not to say these men didn't perform heroically, doing something most people would consider to be extremely foolish. Perhaps it was just the author, building these men up to be superheros. But, at the same time, it is my understanding these men reviewed the material to ensure its validity. And did we really need to be told about their tattoos?
In one early scene, one American arrives at the airport in Benghazi. As he enters the area where the luggage arrives, he sees another American leaning against the wall, who ignores him. Although knowing this guy is there to pick him up, he also ignores him. The author makes a big deal out of this, making the point the two guys don't want all the Libyans to know they are there to meet each other. Duh! Maybe that would work if it was a New York airport luggage area, but not in Benghazi! Seeing the only two Anglo-Saxon types in a Libyan airport ignoring each other would be proof they knew each other and were simply playing a "spy game." I immediately knew the author planned to continue to insult my intelligence with his "G.I. Joe Action Figure" stories.
As a former officer in the Marine Corps I knew men who had performed heroically, accomplishing deeds that seemed impossible. Almost all of them didn't write books about themselves. Or, if they did, also wrote about their mistakes, their weaknesses and their failures.
While certainly not a "great combat hero" myself, I learned early on not to tell people about things I did. Even my family and the friends I grew up with used to tell me, "Come'on, Tom, you're just making that up." So I stopped talking about my experiences.
Most people judge you by their own experiences. And if their experiences are going to school and then getting a safe, 9 to 5 job, they don't believe you, even when you are simply telling true stories about your basic Marine training.
For example, the hardest thing I did in my 33+ years at a university was to listen to university administrators tell me I had no idea how much responsibility they had, without laughing in their face. If I had told them what I did daily as a 24-year-old first lieutenant in Viet Nam, they would have accused me of lying to them. And, as I mention above, I wasn't a 'fighting' hero.
If you ask me, when the author began writing this book, he was writing it with a view to making a lot of money selling the movie rights to it. As far as I am concerned, this is just another example of one of those standard NYT "best sellers:" short chapters, large print and lots of white space.
After the success of the American Revolution---at least we Americans consider it successful---Britain was no longer able to ship its convicts to the now free state of Georgia. As a result, it had to find another location, and it choose Australia.
My mother was Australian, and I lived there for awhile. As a result, I found the book an interesting introduction to Australia's earliest history of the European settlement.
But unless other readers have a fascination with early European colonies around the world, they may not find this book as interesting as I did.
And I'm reminded of the joke about the American who traveled to Australia. While going through customs, the Australian customs official asked the American, "Have you ever been convicted of a crime?" To which the American replied, "I didn't know that was still required to get into this country."
For devotees of naval fiction, Woodman delivers yet another rousing sea tale. It was unusual as his hero, Captain Drinkwater, has an interesting role in the Battle of Trafalgar. Most naval fiction authors of this period have their heroes taking a significant part in the battle. In this book Woodman has his hero observing the battle as a prisoner of the French. Still, Drinkwater's actions during the battle are interesting and give more honor to his unusual name. And at the end there is a very interesting interview with a midshipman Drinkwater disdains. So perhaps that will change. We'll see.
While this was a good story, I thought there was a lot of filler, significantly on the romance side, with some sex thrown in. As if we couldn't handle a historical novel without that.
I was pleased to see the author made Jacob Brown somewhat of a major character in the book. Brown was a Quaker and pioneer settler who became one of our best generals during the War of 1812, and later served as commanding General of the U.S Army from 1821 until his death in 1828. While he is rarely mentioned in history, he deserves to be. But the author spent more time on Winfield Scott. I'm prejudiced, as I put a lot of work into the Jacob Brown Wikipedia page.
A short but very entertaining book which brought back memories. I will never forget our corpsmen. There is a very good reason why Marines idolize the Navy's medical personnel assigned to the Fleet Marine Force.
But this is a book about an Army nurse, her peers and medical support personnel. If you've never been in the service, overseas, or in a war, some of the things she relates may seem phony or made up to you. But they are true.
For example, in one chapter the author remembers a number of men admitted to the hospital, all of them unconscious or close to it. Probably due to morphine injected by field medics to relieve the pain from their wounds. As she is adjusting one soldier's position, he awakens, sees her and says out loud, "It's a girl." With that the other men began to awaken, also saying "A girl," and they stare at her. Good story from Hollywood, right? No!
I remember in Viet Nam when a Navy hospital needed blood. My entire platoon volunteered. We trucked over to it and lined up. All my men were anxious to give blood. I was about the 8th or 9th to make it into the ward. As I lay there giving blood, I watched my men leave and others come in. I also watched the American nurses in clean uniforms.
When I finished giving my pint, I left and walked down the line of men in my platoon still waiting to give blood. I suddenly stopped and looked at two men who tried to avoid my eyes. I asked them, "What are you doing?" They replied, "Waiting to give blood sir." After a few seconds I said, "But you just finished giving blood about ten minutes ago. Get out of line and go outside." Other men in the line laughed, and the only response I got from the two men now going outside was, "Did you see those nurses?"
These stories are so different from Heinlein's other work that I find it difficult to believe they are his. I wonder at what period in his career he wrote them. For whatever reason, the reviews on amazon are much more positive than mine.
A good story to add to my shelf of books about Americans who fought the Japanese from behind the lines during World War II.
The description errs in that Master Sergeant Manuel, he was promoted to lieutenant later, was not really a "Robinson Crusoe." He very quickly fell in with friendly natives who provided him with food, shelter and their friendship. They also helped with his injuries and worked with him to scout Japanese positions. Only one or two natives were pro-Japanese and the friendly natives quickly dealt with them.
However, Manual gives full credit to the natives throughout the book. In fact, he was annoyed when Australian coast watchers treated the natives as untrustworthy.
While the book mostly covers events of the American Revolutionary War that occurred in 1776, it also examines the background for those events. For example, what were the individuals who influenced those events really like. Or it relates interesting information about the culture as a whole.
A very interesting book about our American personality during the revolutionary period and that of some of our enemies---the British.
Just as an example, one out of every eight buildings in Boston was a drinking establishment.
A very well written book for younger readers. The book covers a trial that set precedents for legal matters that the writers of the Constitution did not anticipate. These precedents would be used in cases at both the local and national level over the next two hundred years and even help change history.
I was most impressed that such a book was written for young readers as it discusses constitutional law, a subject not often covered in books for that age group. And especially because it painted a negative picture of Thomas Jefferson, often described as a great president in most books, but who was, in reality, a very poor president and a self-centered man who should never have been elected to that office. This view is supported in other books I have read.
As such, the book opens up a new view for young readers, who are all too often subjected to a white-washed history of our nation.