Book recommendation/request thread

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Book recommendation/request thread

Postby Thanas » 2010-02-24 07:04am

This is the official book recommendation/request thread for the History Forum.

If you recommend a book, make sure to name at least a reason why you recommend it. Simple cut&paste spam will not be tolerated. Furthermore, if you request a book, keep in mind that this is not a homework help center. Also, do not get upset if you do not get an answer, for you are not entitled to one.

That said, feel free to start anytime.


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Re: Book recommendation/request thread

Postby TC Pilot » 2010-02-24 01:09pm

Alright, I'll start things off:

I'd like to recommend China's Inevitable Revolution: Rethinking America's Loss to the Communists by Thomas Lutze. It's an interesting reevaluation of the nature of the post-war civil war in China, with emphasis placed on the so-called "Middle Forces" in Chinese society, the democrats and liberals of China, and the role they played in events that have generally been overlooked or completely ignored in scholarship. This is coupled to an examination, as the title suggests, of American foreign policy vis-a-vis China in the early Cold War. Unfortunately, the work is ridiculously priced somewhere around $80, but if you can get a library copy, it's well worth the read for those interested in the Chinese civil war and who want to see a fresh interpretation of the political forces at work in it.
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Re: Book recommendation/request thread

Postby Bakustra » 2010-02-24 01:39pm

I would like to recommend Mark Parillo's The Japanese Merchant Marine in World War II. It's an analysis of the Japanese Merchant Marine and its composition, its role in Japanese war planning and posits that Japan's neglect of its civilian needs and merchant marine worsened its downfall. The book compiles data from both sides of the conflict, along with personal reminisces from IJN and JMM officers and passengers. It includes a great deal of general information on Japan's industrial status, its doctrine problems, and the technological disparities between the IJN and the USN. It's expensive (I luckily picked up a copy at a library sale for a dollar), with Amazon listing it for $130US new and $48.50US used, but if you can find a copy and are interested in the Pacific Theater of WWII or naval history, read it.
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Re: Book recommendation/request thread

Postby Intio » 2010-02-27 05:21pm

"Monturiol's Dream" by Matthew Stewart. It details the invention and construction of the world's first 'true' submarine (no, the Turtle isn't a fucking submarine) by its Spanish inventor Narcís Monturiol, and how his creativity and designs for future submarines were hampered by the meddling of historical events at the time in Barcelona, and Spain in general.

His efforts were never really appreciated by various naval forces in Europe and the United States, despite the fact that he had built a weaponised double-skinned metal sub with full air conditioning etc etc. Many of the innovations he came up with became standard for submarines from that point onward.

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Re: Book recommendation/request thread

Postby [R_H] » 2010-03-01 02:30pm

Could anyone recommend me books on Muslim fortifications (especially those of mudbrick and/or rammed-earth construction)?

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Recommend me a book or article

Postby spaceviking » 2010-03-10 03:08pm

Recently I have become interested in collaboration and partisan activities in the western Soviet Union during the Second World War. I really enjoyed Kate Brown’s A Biography of No Place: From Ethnic Borderland to Soviet Heartland, does anyone know of any particular good books or articles on this subject?

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Re: Book recommendation/request thread

Postby Thanas » 2010-03-10 03:11pm

^Above post merged with the appropriate main book request thread.
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Re: Book recommendation/request thread

Postby Phantasee » 2010-03-11 03:15am

I picked up an abridged edition of Gibbon's Decline and Fall today. Would you recommend the Hans-Friedrich Mueller edition at all, Thanas? Or do you think a different abridged edition would be a better idea? The thing is over 1200 pages as is, and I don't have the time or money to acquire and read the full six-volume set, so abridged is the way I am going to go at the moment.
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Re: Book recommendation/request thread

Postby Thanas » 2010-03-11 08:33am

I have never read an abridged edition, but would caution against them on principle. BTW, you can pick the original six-page volume up for free at Gutenberg.
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A decision must be made in the life of every nation at the very moment when the grasp of the enemy is at its throat. Then, it seems that the only way to survive is to use the means of the enemy, to rest survival upon what is expedient, to look the other way. Well, the answer to that is 'survival as what'? A country isn't a rock. It's not an extension of one's self. It's what it stands for. It's what it stands for when standing for something is the most difficult! - Chief Judge Haywood
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Re: Book recommendation/request thread

Postby Phantasee » 2010-03-11 01:48pm

I don't mind ebooks for shorter works, but a six volume set is too much. I can't focus as well when I'm reading off a screen as well as I can when reading a print book.

According to the editor's foreword, this edition is different from the rest because it doesn't cut out all the criticisms of religion that most versions skip over for the sake of "brevity". Of course, it's in his interest to promote his edition as being better than the others. It also appears to be condensed to make it easier to use as a text for a one semester course, with a length appropriate for reading in a single term, so I think I'll work through it and if it turns out there's a huge whole in my knowledge I'll get around to acquiring the full set in hard cover.
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Re: Book recommendation/request thread

Postby TC27 » 2010-03-24 05:11pm

I recommend 1812: Napoleon's Fatal March on Moscow by Adam Zamoyski.

Its a great read with a very solid level of research (lots of primary sources).

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Re: Book recommendation/request thread

Postby Enforcer Talen » 2010-03-27 07:18pm

So, I'm trying to shore up my background on modern warfare. Ive read some books, and am looking for others. I'm mostly interested in the paradigm shifters - when did we find aircraft carriers to be awesome? Why did we leave heavy bombers for long range missiles? How is strategy made for biochem? What is cyberwar going to look like? Etc. So far, I have

Clausewitz. On war.
Mahan. Influence of sea power.
Rommel. Attacks.
Feifer. Battle of Okinawa.
mao Zedong, guerrilla warfare
Shirer. Rise and fall of the third Reich.
Friedman. 50 year war.
Lind. Vietnam.
Kahn. On thermonuclear war.
Hammes. The sling and the stone.
Grossman. On killing.

Stalingrad?
submarines?
aircraft carriers?
tanks?
satellites?
star wars defense?
biochem?
cyberwar?

What should I add? Are there any that should be taken off?
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Re: Book recommendation/request thread

Postby phongn » 2010-03-28 01:29am

WW1 naval warfare: Robert Massie's Dreadnought and Castles of Steel
Midway: Shattered Sword by Parshall and Tully
Guadalcanal: Richard Frank's Guadalcanal
The end of WW2 PTO: Richard Frank's Downfall
Stalingrad: Antony Beevor's Stalingrad
WW2 submarine warfare: Clay Blair's Hitler's U-Boat War and Silent Victory
Nazi Germany's economy: Adam Tooze's Wages of Destruction
General ship design: Anything by Norman Friedman.
Seapower: Seapower as Strategy, again by Friedman
Biowarfare: Ken Alibek's Biohazard
Strategic defense: B. Bruce Brigg's Shield of Faith
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Re: Book recommendation/request thread

Postby The Grim Squeaker » 2010-03-28 03:00am

I'm looking for a good, concise books for my research into the Causes of the post WW2 cold war/"Iron Wall" between the USSR and the West for my International relations essay, specifically issues on the national or grand political level?
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Re: Book recommendation/request thread

Postby thejester » 2010-03-28 05:11am

Enforcer Talen wrote:Stalingrad?

John Erickson's two-volume history of the war on the Eastern Front, Road to Stalingrad and Road to Berlin, both have pretty detailed info - albeit dry - on the Stalingrad campaign. Beevor's Stalingrad is much more of a narrative history, it's copped a fair bit of criticism from within Russia (but that increasingly seems to be par for the course) and focuses on the experience of the ordinary soldier rather than the mechanics of the campaign. Beevor also edited a book about Vasily Grossman, a Soviet journalist who covered the battle extensively. Finally there's the chapter on Stalingrad in Alan Clark's Barbarossa. The book is very, very dated but IMO Clark captures the character of the struggle really well. And of course obligatory reference to anything written by David Glantz.
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Re: Book recommendation/request thread

Postby Thanas » 2010-03-28 11:25am

phongn wrote:WW1 naval warfare: Robert Massie's Dreadnought and Castles of Steel


Instead of Massie I would recommend Marder. About 90% of Massie's books are taken from his work and Marder has much more detail, and is a much more serious historian and less prone to psychoanalyzing.

Marder, Arthur J, The anatomy of British sea power: a history of British naval policy in the pre-dreadnought era, 1880-1905 and:
From the Dreadnought to Scapa Flow: the Royal Navy in the Fisher era, 1904-1919

Much more better work than Massie.
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A decision must be made in the life of every nation at the very moment when the grasp of the enemy is at its throat. Then, it seems that the only way to survive is to use the means of the enemy, to rest survival upon what is expedient, to look the other way. Well, the answer to that is 'survival as what'? A country isn't a rock. It's not an extension of one's self. It's what it stands for. It's what it stands for when standing for something is the most difficult! - Chief Judge Haywood
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Re: Book recommendation/request thread

Postby phongn » 2010-03-28 01:27pm

Thanas, thejester - thanks.

A couple other reads: Kaplan's The Wizards of Armageddon, Kennan's The Sources of Soviet Conflict
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Re: Book recommendation/request thread

Postby Enforcer Talen » 2010-03-28 09:15pm

Awesome, fantastic lists and reply time. Thanx =D
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Re: Book recommendation/request thread

Postby spaceviking » 2010-03-29 02:44pm

I would recommend The Racial State: Nazi Germany 1939-1945, While the authors definition of modernism is debatable the authors gives a good presentation of what kind of society Hitler and others were trying to build, as well as dispels notions that equate Nazi social policies with those of modern liberal democracies. Also the book includes many primary sources (translations) for the reader.

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Re: Book recommendation/request thread

Postby The Grim Squeaker » 2010-03-29 03:27pm

phongn wrote: Kennan's The Sources of Soviet Conflict

Is that aimed at me? (Political, state level Causes of the cold war)
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Re: Book recommendation/request thread

Postby Enforcer Talen » 2010-03-30 03:18am

And another thing! Why did the US build superhighways and the Russians build trains as their transport infrastructure? And who was this McNamara guy that everyone hates?

Also. I know at one point we made a thread of "these are our navy objectives, which is why we have this many submarines." Does one exist for the military entire? So many aircraft carrier groups, so many bases, etc. Why do we have an army and usmc both, for example?
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Re: Book recommendation/request thread

Postby K. A. Pital » 2010-03-30 11:52am

Enforcer Talen wrote:And another thing! Why did the US build superhighways and the Russians build trains as their transport infrastructure? And who was this McNamara guy that everyone hates?

The last question is sufficiently well answered by wikipedia or google; the first one is complex and requires a lot of reading on U.S. and Soviet industrialization. I tried to give some stuff on Soviet industrialization in my threads here, but I think there aren't any links to such comprehensive works for the USA posted.

As for your previous questions, I could compose a worthwhile list for reading, but it will take time. Dunno if I'll manage to help out before I leave for the PRC.
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Re: Book recommendation/request thread

Postby phongn » 2010-03-30 12:57pm

The Grim Squeaker wrote:
phongn wrote: Kennan's The Sources of Soviet Conflict

Is that aimed at me? (Political, state level Causes of the cold war)

Both for you and Enforcer Talen. That essay is fundamental.

Enforcer Talen wrote:And another thing! Why did the US build superhighways and the Russians build trains as their transport infrastructure? And who was this McNamara guy that everyone hates?

At least the former was due to a confluence of many reasons: Eisenhower's admiration for the German autobahn, the rapid rise (in population and wealth) of the American middle class, the need to provide a giant dispersal runway, the intact US motor industry, etc. There are a lot of reasons.

Also. I know at one point we made a thread of "these are our navy objectives, which is why we have this many submarines." Does one exist for the military entire? So many aircraft carrier groups, so many bases, etc. Why do we have an army and usmc both, for example?

We don't have a thread for the entire military (though Stuart once proposed a thought experiment for such a thing). Don't forget that not all decisions are optimal or rational and many decisions may be made on who fights the budget battle best.
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Re: Book recommendation/request thread

Postby Balrog » 2010-03-30 09:56pm

One book I can recommend on the subject of artillery is Field Artillery and Firepower by Maj. Gen. Bailey. It really gets into the various uses of artillery for different missions, such as COIN, and a history of the development of gunpowder artillery up to modern day with an examination of future applications. While some individual artillery systems are examined, it is much more focused on the theory of their application, and some sections of artillery history get more attention than others. However, seeing a graphical representation of how much freakin' firepower a Soviet division had compared to a British during the Cold War is one of those :shock: moments.
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Re: Book recommendation/request thread

Postby Enforcer Talen » 2010-03-31 03:09am

Yeah, Im rereading Armageddon, so having a lot of questions percolate. Definitely adding all books mentioned so far to my amazon list.

Current wave of questions:

Whats the best book on Sherman's March to the Sea? On the history/capabilities of SAC?

At the polisci 100 level, we're taught about the security dilemma; when you see your neighbor buying tanks, so do you. However, Stuart has said what your neighbor does is largely irrelevant. You make your strategic mission and build war machines based on that. Does that mean the concept of an arms race is invalid? What if your strategic mission is the conquest of the neighbor?

How much cross training do we get from other armies? If I were to napkinwaffe an infantryman, he'd be a guy who took krav from the isrealis, did boot camp with the marines, advanced training with the french foriegn legion, and final training with Russian spetsnaz. Do planners trawl other nations for ideas, or are the training methods arrived at independently?
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