Category Archives: Military

Review of “The Rest is Silence”

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.


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Review of “Bismarck: 24 Hours to Doom”

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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 “Operation Firedog”

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Book Reviews – “Operation Firedog” eBook was published in 2017 (original paper edition was published in 1982) and was written by Robert Jackson. Mr. Jackson has published more than 50 books, mostly non-fiction about the military. This is the 8th novel in his fictional “Yeoman” series.

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 ‘R’ because it contains scenes of Violence and Mature Situations. The story is set in and around Singapore during the late 1940s. The primary character is Wing Commander George Yeoman.

Yeoman is assigned to a new base in Malaya. Yeoman, his air crews and British troops are there to fight the communists that are threatening to displace the government and take over. They find themselves in a situation every bit as dangerous as the recent war.

I enjoyed the 4 hours I spent reading this 177 page Military Fiction novel. I have read most of the other Yeoman novels, but this one does well as a stand-alone read. Even though it was written more than 35 years ago, it is still a good read. The cover art depicts the jungle warriors that are a prominent part of the story. 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 “Archangel”

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Book Reviews – “Archangel” eBook was published in 2017 and was written by Margaret Fortune (https://margaretfortune.wordpress.com). Ms. Fortune has published two novels, both in her “Spectre War” series, this being the second book in the series.

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 ‘R’ because it contains scenes of Violence. Because of the age of the primary character, this might be considered a Young Adult novel, but the story content is pretty vivid. The story is set in the far future. Mankind has spread out through the stars and have finally encountered an extraterrestrial life form that seems bent on their destruction. The primary character is seventeen year old Celestial Expanse Guardian First Class Michael Sorenson.

The Celestial Expanse has been at war with the Tellurian Alliance. Suddenly they find themselves faced with a far deadlier enemy, the Spectres. The Spectres have wiped out the Tellurian Alliance and is now slowly gaining ground against the forces of the Celestial Expanse. They are invisible to the eye, drifting about but able to take over a human’s mind, then breed new Spectres to infect others.

Sorenson is recruited to a secret R&D facility within the Celestial Expanse. He and his colleagues are the front line in testing and evaluating new weapons to be used against the Spectres. Slowly Sorenson begins to find clues that there is a traitor at work within the R&D facility. No evidence is strong enough to involved his chain of command. As the R&D facility rushes towards testing a new weapon which they think will kill off the Spectres, there is also concern that the Spectres are about to mount some kind of offensive of their own.

Will Sorenson identify the traitor? Will the new weapon finally succeed in killing Spectres? Will humanity survive what ever the Spectres have planed?

I enjoyed the nearly 13 hours I spent reading this 461 page Science Fiction novel. While this is the second in the series, it read well as a stand-alone novel. I liked the way the characters were developed and the plot itself. The cover are is reasonable showing Sorenson in his battle armor. I give this novel a 4.4 (rounded down 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 “Cursed Command”

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Book Reviews – “Cursed Command” eBook was published in 2017 and was written by Christopher Nuttall (http://www.chrishanger.net). Mr. Nuttall has published nearly 30 novels. This is the third book in his “Angel in the Whirlwind” series.

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 ‘R’ because it contains scenes of Violence and Mature Language. The story is set in the far future. While the main character is Captain Kat Falcone, her former Exec and now Captain, William McElney is also a prominent figure.

Falcone and McElney are sent with their ships away from the front and the war with the Theocracy to the Jorlem Sector. They are on a primarily diplomatic mission. McElney’s new command, the HMS Uncanny, has a spotted history and is nicknamed the Unlucky.

McElney must overcome the reputation of the Uncanny, assist Falcone in fighting pirates, help smooth diplomatic relations and carefully confront a Theocracy ship that is on a “diplomatic” mission in the Jorlem Sector. Falcone again comes across as a strong and resourceful leader.

I thoroughly enjoyed the 8.5 hours I spent reading this 416 page Science Fiction novel. I have read all three of the novels in this series and have thoroughly enjoyed them all. This is another good military science fiction novel. I have liked the principal character of Kat Falcone. The cover art is OK, but does not appear to relate to any particular part of the story. 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 “SBS in world War II”

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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

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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 (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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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Does This Suit Come in White?

Science Fiction is becoming reality again with this new combat suit developed by Russia. It includes a powered exoskeleton, ballistic armor and a heads-up display in the helmet. Still just a concept, it may be deployed in the next few years.

Certainly equipment like this will take real Earth bound soldiers of the near future into the realms previously occupied by the Spartans of Halo and the Storm Troopers of Star Wars.

Review of “The Jersey Brothers”

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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 https://www.netgalley.com 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.

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