Category Archives: History

Review of “Churchill’s Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare”

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

I received an ARC of this novel through https://www.netgalley.com 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.

 

My book reviews are also published on Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/31181778-john-purvis).

Review of “George Lucas: A Life”

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

I received an ARC of this novel through https://www.netgalley.com 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 (https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/31181778-john-purvis).

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”

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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.

Review of “The Rising Sun”

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Book ReviewsWWII – “The Rising Sun” eBook was published in 2016 (original paper version published in 1999) and was written by Robert Jackson (https://www.fantasticfiction.com/j/robert-jackson/). Mr. Jackson published more than 50 books.

I received an ARC of this novel through https://www.netgalley.com 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 South Pacific during early (1941-42) World War II. Japan has attacked the US at Pearl Harbor and is rapidly growing its control over East Asia. The primary character is RAF Wing Commander Ken Armstrong.

Armstrong has led his flight of 20 Hurricane fighters from Cairo to near Rangoon, Burma (now known at Yangon, Myanmar) as reinforcements. He, and his command, struggle against overwhelming odds to slow the Japanese advance. As hard as they fight, the Japanese forces continue to spread. As usual in Jackson novels, there is plenty of daring flying and dramatic situations.

I enjoyed the 3.5 hours I spent reading this World War II novel. For some reason, most of the novels of this era I have read lately are set in Europe. Reading something about the Pacific Theatre was a welcome change. I do like the way that Jackson mixes history into his novels. I have read, and enjoyed, several other books by Jackson and two others with Armstrong as the main character. The cover art is OK, showing battle at sea. I think it should have been a Hurricane and Zero in a dog fight. I give this novel a 4 out of 5.

My book reviews are also published on Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/31181778-john-purvis).

Computer History – CDC 6500

I came across this video this morning. I thought that it gives an interesting look back at what computing was like when I started in the field. The CDC 6500 was in production from 1967 and was considered to be part of the first generation of ‘supercomputers’. This was an outstanding machine for its day.

These machines were mostly hand built with discrete components (transistors, resistors, capacitors, etc.) including around 250,000 transistors. Computationally speaking, this is insignificant by today’s standards. The A8 System on a Chip (SoC) used in Apple’s iPhone 6, by contrast, contains over 2 Billion transistors.

This CDC 6500 can be seen at the Living Computer Museum in Seattle. It will certainly be on my list of places to visit the next time I am in Seattle.

 

Trailer for “Dunkirk”

TrailersWWII – Between May 26 and June 4, 1940, during the early days of World War II, the British Expeditionary Force was surrounded in France. They had come to the mainland to stope Hitler, instead, they and their French and Belgian allies were overrun. They retreated towards the port of Dunkirk near the border with Belgium.

Germany had sought to surround them and force them to surrender. They fought on and over the eight days of the Dunkirk evacuation more than 338,000 men were able to make their escape to the UK. The rescue flotilla was made up of over 800 boats – both military and civilian – that risked the wrath of the German Army and Luftwaffe to bring the men home.

This movie. which opens July 21. tells the story of the evacuation. From what little this trailer shows, this looks like it might be a pretty good movie about World War II.