Category Archives: History

Review of “The Rest is Silence”

51JBt-+b9IL._SY346_

Book Reviews – “The Rest is Silence” ebook was published in 2014 and was written by James R. Benn (http://www.jamesrbenn.com). Mr. Benn has published twelve novels, all in the “Billy Boyle WWII Mystery” series. This is the 9th novel in that series.

I purchased this novel from the Barnes & Noble (Nook) bookstore. I categorize this novel as ‘PG’ because it contains scenes of Violence. The story is set in World War II England, just weeks before the Allied invasion of France. US Army Captain Billy Boyle is the primary character.

An unidentified corpse washes ashore on a beach being used for secret rehearsals of the D-Day invasion. Boyle is sent to find out who the dead man is, more importantly to determine that he was not a German spy observing the secret activities.

Boyle and his friend and associate Lieutenant Piotr “Kaz” Kazimierz stay at the estate of an old friend of Kazimierz which is located near where the body was found. The family they are staying with seem to have their own secrets and intrigues going on.

On top of their investigation hundreds of US military are killed during a German attack white they are practicing for the invasion. “Operation Tiger” (depicted in the story) was a real life disaster for the Allies while preparing for D-Day.

I thoroughly enjoyed the nearly 10 hours I spent reading this 336 page World War II Mystery. I have read all nine of the novels up to this point and I have thoroughly enjoyed them all. I like the characters that author Benn has created in Boyle and Kazimierz. I also like how he weaves real history into his stories. The cover art is a good selection. I give this novel a 4.5 (rounded up to a 5) out of 5.

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

Advertisements

Review of “4th Rock from the Sun”

51ZspMxb6ZL

Book Reviews – “4th Rock from the Sun” eBook was published in 2017 and was written by Nicky Jenner (http://www.nickyjenner.com). This is Ms. Jenner’s first book.

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’. The book covers all things about and related to the planet Mars.

While there is some scientific data, most of the book deals with side stores related to Mars. I feel like it just rambles on about topics associated with Mars.

Sigh . . . I had higher expectations for this book. I read about 20%, but at that point I just had to give up on it. I won’t call a Rule of 50 on it, but it just isn’t a book of interesest to me. I think there will be many who like this book, but I am not one of them.

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

Review of “MacArthur’s Spies”

518eDJ5eywL._SY346_

Book Reviews – MacArthur’s Spies” eBook was published in 2017 and was written by Peter  Elsner. Mr. Elsner has published five non-fiction 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 takes place mostly in the Philippines during the years just before and during World War II.

While several people are mentioned, the most prominent figure is Claire Phillips, a singer and Manilla nightclub owner. Some of the others include Colonel John Boone who led a group of guerrillas. There is “Chick” Parsons a business man and US Navy officer who claimed to be a Panamanian diplomat to escape the Philippines with his family. Soon after he was on MacArthur’s staff in Australia coordinating guerrilla activities in the Philippines.

This books describes activities of US citizens in the Philippines during the war, as well as several Filipinos. These individuals, mostly civilians, gathered information on the Japanese military, gathered then smuggled supplies to prisoners of war and carried out guerrilla warfare. Their actions were a part of World War II I knew little about before hand.

I found this book to be very interesting. I enjoyed the 9+ hours I spent reading this 362 page non-fiction history. I found it surprising what these and others were able to accomplish under the noses of the occupying Japanese military. The cover art is OK. 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).

USA, Texas, Austin – Texas Military Forces Museum

The Texas Military Forces Museum is located in Building 6 on Camp Mabry in Austin, Texas. The street address of Camp Mabry is 2200 West 35th Street. A photo I.D. for all adults is required for entry onto Camp Mabry. In addition, Camp Mabry regulations require motorcycle riders to wear long pants, a long sleeve shirt, and a motorcycle helmet. The museum is always free and is open 10AM to 4PM Tuesday thru Sunday.

IMG_1045

I like history museums and particularly those that cover the period 1939-1945, the years of World War II. I had seen the sign at Camp Mabry while driving down MoPac many times for the Texas Military Forces Museum. Finally on September 17 of this year I was motivated by Austin Museum Day to visit the museum.

IMG_1056

While this isn’t a huge museum (at only 45,000-square feet it is a fraction in size of the National World War II Museum in New Orleans), I was impressed with it’s size and the extent of it’s collection. As the name implies, the museum covers all periods of Texas military history from the war of independence with Mexico, the US Civil War, World War I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam and todays War against Terrorism. The largest portion of the collection is focused on the action by Texas units during World War II. The museum has been open since November 14, 1992.

IMG_1046

The museum holds several vehicles from the World War II era. Mostly US, but also a few German vehicles. Some of these they take out of the museum and use during reenactments conducted a couple of times each year on the grounds of Camp Mabry.

 

They also have some well done dioramas from several periods, though I think my favorite is the one depicting a down in France shortly after D-Day. Amazingly this detailed display was built by Gilbert High School students of Gilbert, Arizona.

IMG_1057

Leaving the building itself, there is a static display of armor and artillery around the building. Mostly from World War II, but a few more modern as well. I thoroughly enjoyed my visit. I wish I had made the time to explore the museum earlier.

IMG_1060

I am hoping that I can return on Armistice Day (November 11, 2017) weekend when they host one of the re-enactments “Close Assault 1944“. The re-enactment is presented by “Company G”, this is a “hard core” LIVING HISTORY group. Their principle aim is to find out what it was like to be on the front lines and in camps during America’s greatest conflicts – the War Between the States, World War I, World War II and Vietnam – while educating and commemoration along the way. The event is free and there is plenty of free parking.

If you like history, particularly military history, you will want to visit this museum.


See my other Food & Location articles


 

Review of “Battle of Arnhem: Snapshots of War”

51HJI8dOHKL

Book ReviewsWWII – “Battle of Arnhem: Snapshots of War” eBook was published in 2017 and was written by Victor Gregg. Mr. Gregg has published 7 works.

I received an ARC of this short story through https://www.netgalley.com in return for a fair and honest review. I categorize this short story as ‘R’ because it contains scenes of Violence. The story tells of how the author went from being a rifleman to a paratrooper during World War II. Tales of his actions during operation Market Garden are included.

I thought that this was an interesting hour read of World War II History. The cover art gives a World War II feel to the story. I give this short story a 4 out of 5.

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

The Home Front

WWII – If you are an Audible user and you are interested in history, particularly the World War II period, you might be interested in “The Home Front: Life in America During World War II“. This audio series is normally $24.95, but currently this 8 hour and 12 minute series can be downloaded for free. The description:

Free for a limited time. Narrated by award-winning actor Martin Sheen, The Home Front: Life in America During World War II takes listeners into the lives of Americans at home who supported the war effort and sustained the country during wartime. The war brought immediate, life-changing shifts; from the rationing of butter, to an explosion of war-related jobs, to mixed-signals about the role of women in society. Feel what living in the United States was like for everyday people during this disruptive and uncertain period of American history in the newest Audible Original series.

 

Review of “The Book Thieves”

51OHfeOuXlL._SY346_

Book Reviews – “The Book Thieves” eBook was published in 2017 and was written by Anders Rudell and Henning Koch (https://henningkoch.com). This is Mr. Rudell’s first book and Mr. Koch’s third.

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 spans the period from the rise of the Nazi party in per-war Germany until many years after it has ended.

The story tells of the confiscation and burning of many books as the Nazis rise to power. Many of the the books confiscated found their way into the collections of many within the Nazi party.

Once the war was over, these books began to surface and an effort was put into place to trace the owners and return volumes to their original owners or their descendants.

I read only a little of this book before I set it aside. I did not want to call a Rule of 50 on it as it contains a lot of very interesting information, just not interesting to me. The cover art is well chosen for the book. For general reading I would say this is a 2, but for those interested in this topic I would say it is at least a 4. 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).

Review of “Bismarck: 24 Hours to Doom”

51af8JR0jKL

Book ReviewsWorld War II – “Bismark: 24 Hours to Doom” eBook was published in 2016 and was written by Iain Ballantyne (http://iainballantyne.com). Mr. Ballantyne has published 9 books.

I received an ARC of this novel through https://www.netgalley.com in return for a fair and honest review. I categorize this book as ‘G’. This book documents the last 24 hours of actions by the British Navy as they close in on the German battleship Bismarck and sink her.

The book contains first hand accounts gathered by the author of sailors and aviators involved in finding, tracking and finally sinking the Bismarck.

I thought that the 2+ hours I spent reading this World War II History were interesting. The cover art with a head-on shot of the Bismarck seems appropriate. I give this novel a 3.8 (rounded up to a 4) out of 5.

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

Review of “SBS in world War II”

51GxYL8UamL

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 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 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.

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

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

intrepidlogo_new - Copy

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 (https://www.intrepidmuseum.org) 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.

IMG_7794

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.

IMG_7799

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.

IMG_7792

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.

IMG_7798

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.


See my other Food and Location articles