Category Archives: History

Review of “SBS in world War II”


Book Reviews – “The SBS in World War II” eBook was published in 2017 (Original paper edition was published in 1983) and was written by G. B. Courtney. Mr. Courtney published two book about World War II.

I received an ARC of this novel through in return for a fair and honest review. I categorize this novel as ‘PG’ because it contains scenes of Violence. The story covers the second world war.

This is a non-fiction book giving the history of the Special Boat Service over the course of the war, covering not only the European Theatre, but also operations in the Pacific. This is very much a book of history with many people named and with short commentary on various operations. I found the motto for the unit to be rather unique: ‘Excreta Tauri Astutos Frustrantur’ (‘Bullshit Baffles Brains’).

Those in this unit operated primarily from submarine or motor launch slipping ashore silently in two man fold-up canoes, carrying out a mission behind enemy lines, then paddling back to their ride.

I enjoyed the 6.5 hours I spent reading this 225 Non-Fiction History. It was a little dry but it did give a different perspective on the British war effort during World War II. I’m not sure whay they picked a landing craft for the cover art. That was not what the SBS typically used. I give this novel a 4 out of 5.

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USA, New York, New York – Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum

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We like visiting museums. We also like visiting and exploring older military vessels. We like NASA and the Space program. The Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum ( combines these.

The Intrepid Museum Complex is located at located in New York City on the West side of Manhattan on Pier 86, 12th Ave. & 46th Street. As they say on their website:

The Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum is a non-profit, educational institution featuring the legendary aircraft carrier Intrepid, the space shuttle Enterprise, the world’s fastest jets and a guided missile submarine. Through exhibitions, educational programming and the foremost collection of technologically groundbreaking aircraft and vessels, visitors of all ages and abilities are taken on an interactive journey through history to learn about American innovation and bravery.

The Intrepid Museum was founded in 1982 with the acquisition of the aircraft carrier USS Intrepid, now a National Historic Landmark, which served tours of duty in World War II and the Vietnam War, and was a recovery vessel for the Gemini and Mercury space missions.

The three primary parts of the museum are the USS Intrepid, The USS Growler and the Space Shuttle Enterprise.


The Intrepid was launched in 1943. The aircraft carrier USS Intrepid fought in World War II, surviving five kamikaze attacks and one torpedo strike. The ship later served in the Cold War and the Vietnam War. Intrepid also served as a NASA recovery vessel in the 1960s. It was decommissioned in 1974. You are able to walk through the bridge shown above as well as part of the crew quarters and mess.


On the flight deck of the Intrepid is a display of several aircraft, mostly from the US, but a few from other countries including two MIGs. The ship is in good shape and to certainly have a good view of the massive hanger deck. We found the areas available to tour less satisfying that the USS Lexington in Corpus Christi, TX.


The submarine USS Growler is also on display for tours. This is the only American guided missile submarine open to the public. You are able to enter in the bow through stairs installed in place of one of the missile storage bays, walk through the ship, then up stairs in the aft of the vessel.

This 318 foot long and 26 foot wide vessel would spend around 70 days at a time patrolling the Russian coast as part of the US nuclear deterrent force during the cold war. So for more than two months her and her crew of 80-100 would be submerged in the North Pacific.

As we walked through the ship it was hard to conceive of that many men be crammed in so little space for such a long period of time.


The third major part of the museum is a display of the Space Shuttle Enterprise. The Space Shuttle Pavilion showcases the space shuttle Enterprise, the prototype NASA orbiter that paved the way for America’s successful space shuttle program.

If you like military displays, aircraft or space, you will enjoy visiting the Intrepid Museum Complex.

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Review of “The Jersey Brothers”


Book ReviewsWWII –  “The Jersey Brothers” eBook was published in 2017 and was written by Sally Mott Freeman. This is Ms. Freeman’s only publication.

I received an ARC of this novel through in return for a fair and honest review. I categorize this novel as ‘R’ because it contains scenes of Violence and Mature Language. This true story takes place during the years of World War II. It tells of three brothers who all served in the US Navy.

The two older brothers, Benny and Bill, were Annapolis graduates and both served on-board ships in the Pacific as well as in Washington D.C. during the war. The youngest of the brothers, Barton, was a new Ensign who had been posted to Manilla as a supply officer just prior to the Japanese attack on Perl Harbor.

The book goes through the experiences of all three. The part of the story for Bill and Benny tell of their combat experiences as well as an inside look at the politics behind the scenes. Bill was stationed in the White House a few years and knew president Roosevelt and the government principals, then joined an Admiral’s staff in the Pacific. Benny was a gunnery officer on the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise for a few years, then returned to Washington D.C.

Barton underwent years as a POW, being moved from camp to camp and suffering under horrible conditions. Both Benny and Bill used all the contacts they had trying to find their brother. Barton, and hundreds of other prisoners, suffered greatly in the Japanese POW camps.

I thoroughly enjoyed the 14 hours I spent reading this 608 page Non-Fiction World War II account. The author is a the niece of young Barton. She spent about 10 years researching before she was able to write this account. While basically a biography of the three brothers, it reads much like a novel. The heroic action by many is cited. The political infighting within the US military which impacted the war effort is also revealed. The cover art is OK as much of the story involves US Navy invasions of Japanese held islands in the Pacific. If you are interested in this period of history, you will enjoy this book. I give this novel a 5 out of 5.

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Review of “Tail Gunner Takes Over”


Book ReviewsWWII – “Tail Gunner Takes Over” eBook was published in 2016 (original paper edition was published in 1945) and was written by Sqd. Ldr. Richard Rivaz DFC. Mr. Rivaz published two books.

I received an ARC of this novel through in return for a fair and honest review. I categorize this novel as ‘PG’ because it contains scenes of Violence. The story is set in the UK and Canada during World War II. The primary character is the author.

This is the journal kept by Rivaz. In his first book, Tail Gunner, Rivaz talks about his first few years in the war as the gunner on a bomber. In this book he tells of his experiences after he was chosen to go to flight school and become a pilot. Some of that training took place in the UK, but the bulk of his pilot training took place in Canada. It gives a very different look at World War II and how the civilians took the war effort in stride.

I thought that the just shy of 6 hours I spent reading this World War II Non-Fiction book was interesting. I had read his first book earlier. The cover art is a reasonable choice for the book. I give this novel a 4 out of 5.

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Review of “Death’s Door”


Book Reviews – “Death’s Door” eBook was published in 2012 and was written by James R. Benn ( Mr. Benn has published 10 novels in his “Billy Boyle World War II Mystery” series. This is the seventh book in the series.

I purchased this novel through Barnes & Nobles for the Nook reader. I categorize this novel as ‘PG’ because it contains scenes of Violence. The story is set in and around Vatican City during 1944. The primary character is Billy Boyle, an American Army Lieutenant.

Rome is occupied by the German army, but the Vatican City has not been invaded. An American monsignor living in the Vatican is murdered. Boyle, along with his sidekick, Polish Baron Lieutenant Piotr “Kaz” Kazimierz, are smuggled into the Vatican under orders to find the murderer. This is a windfall for Boyle, as his girlfriend, Diana Seaton, who had been undercover for the British as a nun at the Vatican, has been arrested. Boyle sees the assignment as an opportunity to rescue her, as well as solve the murder.

Boyle finds the Vatican to be far more complicated than his time as a Catholic alter boy prepared him for. There are many different factions within the Vatican. Not all support the liberation by the Allies. Boyle also finds himself confronted by German agents and old adversaries .

I thoroughly enjoyed the 10+ hours I spent reading this World War II Mystery. I have now read the first seven books in the series and have enjoyed them all. I like the characters of Boyle and Kaz, as well as the other continuing characters in the series. The cover art does give the impression of intrigue between the church and Germany. I give this novel a 5 out of 5.

My book reviews are also published on Goodreads (

A Look at D-Day, June 6, 1944

WWII – I wish I had seen this back on June 6 so that I could have posted it then, but I only became aware of it today. While this is on YouTube, it is a compilation of slides, both of text and photos, telling the story of the D-Day invasion.

To quote the YouTube posting:

The Normandy landings (codenamed Operation Neptune) were the landing operations on Tuesday, 6 June 1944 (termed D-Day) of the Allied invasion of Normandy in Operation Overlord during World War II. The largest seaborne invasion in history, the operation began the liberation of German-occupied northwestern Europe from Nazi control, and contributed to the Allied victory on the Western Front.

On D-Day, the Allies landed around 156,000 troops in Normandy. The American forces landed numbered 73,000: 23,250 on Utah Beach, 34,250 on Omaha Beach, and 15,500 airborne troops. In the British and Canadian sector, 83,115 troops were landed: 24,970 on Gold Beach, 21,400 on Juno Beach, 28,845 on Sword Beach, and 7900 airborne troops.

11,590 aircraft were available to support the landings. On D-Day, Allied aircraft flew 14,674 sorties, and 127 were lost.

In the airborne landings on both flanks of the beaches, 2,395 aircraft and 867 gliders of the RAF and USAAF were used on D-Day.

Operation Neptune involved huge naval forces, including 6,939 vessels: 1,213 naval combat ships, 4,126 landing ships and landing craft, 736 ancillary craft and 864 merchant vessels. Some 195,700 personnel were assigned to Operation Neptune: 52,889 US, 112,824 British, and 4,988 from other Allied countries.

By the end of 11 June (D + 5), 326,547 troops, 54,186 vehicles and 104,428 tons of supplies had been landed on the beaches.

Review of “Churchill’s Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare”


Book Reviews – “Churchill’s Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare” eBook was published in 2017 and was written by Giles Milton ( Mr. Milton has published nearly a dozen books, both historical and novels.

I received an ARC of this novel through in return for a fair and honest review. I categorize this novel as ‘PG’ because it contains scenes of Violence. The story is told beginning just before World War II through it’s conclusion. Most of the stories are of events in the UK, but there are other events depicted as well.

As Nazi Germany was beginning to rise in power, a handful of British saw the need to develop new tools to wage war against the Nazi’s. Once Europe had been overrun, unconventional weapons and techniques were needed to fight a guerrilla war. This book is the story of their efforts.

I thoroughly enjoyed the 9.5 hours I spent reading this Non-Fiction account of World War II ingenuity. I was surprised at all this ‘skunk shop’ was able to develop, with so little infrastructure and resources. I was also surprised at how much resistance they met with from the established military. Had it not been for Churchill backing these renegades, history might have turned out much differently. I give this novel a 5 out of 5.


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Review of “George Lucas: A Life”


Book Reviews – “George Lucas: A Life” eBook was published in 2016 and was written by Brian Jay Jones ( Mr. Jones has published three biographies.

I received an ARC of this novel through in return for a fair and honest review. I categorize this novel as ‘G’. This book tells the life story of George Lucas. The bulk of the story covers around 1970 to today. There is a lot to learn about Lucas in his early years, but most importantly his efforts with American Graffiti and all of the Star Wars and Indiana Jones movies are covered.

This biography read well, though it did take more than 12 hours to finish the 480 pages. I learned a lot about Lucas and his impact on movie making. The cover art was a good selection. If you are a fan of Star Wars and/or Indiana Jones, or a student of cinema, then you will want to read this. I give this novel a 5 out of 5.

My book reviews are also published on Goodreads (

Remembering D-Day

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WWII – It is that time of year again when I make an effort to see some of the movies that depict D-Day, June 6, 1944 or that period in history. I watched “The Longest Day” last night and I am watching “Saving Private Ryan” tonight. I’ll probably start on the “Band of Brothers” series tomorrow.

Nearly 75 years have past since D-Day and few are left today that experienced it. I’m surprised as how many of today’s youth do not even understand the significance of June 6 or December 7. I am glad to see that a new film, “Dunkirk” depicting how nearly 400,000 surrounded British, Canadian, Belgian and French escaped from France in 1940, will be premiering this summer. I think it will help bring attention to those critical years (1939-1945) in history.

I have an interest in history, particular of that period. I had hoped to visit the “National World War II Museum” in New Orleans again this weekend, but that has now been delayed a few months. I have been there twice now but I am ready to visit again. They have done a superb job of telling the story of both the European and Pacific Theaters in World War II.

Enjoy the Podcast “Internet History”


Podcasts – I listen to a lot of podcasts, mostly when I am driving or when I am working around the house. I recently added the Internet History podcast to my list of subscriptions. You can subscribe to it though iTunes and the other common podcast sources. Each episode covers one topic related to the history of the Internet. Some are only 20 minutes long while others are nearly two hours in length. The episode published May 29, 2017 was episode 143 so there is a large inventory of back issues to listen to.

Their official description on iTunes is:

An interactive history project, producing a book on the history of the Internet era by crowdsourcing facts and first person accounts from listeners. Each podcast represents a new chapter focusing on some section of Internet history. 

The two episodes I have listed to so far, “How the Dot Com Bubble Happened” and “The History of the iPhone” were both well done and very interesting. If you are interested in the Internet, it’s history and the technology that enabled it, you might like this approximately weekly podcast.