The following is a guest post written by Commentariat member Shel. Knowing Amazon commissions were soon to plummet, he offers these books and other items — including some cool firearm-related gadgets — that you might find of interest. And will find at Amazon.
You may not be quite as interested in war memoirs as he is. But you can purchase practically anything in the world via my Amazon links.
When you enter Amazon through any of the links in this post or anywhere on the blog, everything you purchase during that visit will be credited to me. All Amazon orders that are shipped by Tuesday, February 28, will earn the old higher commissions. Even after that, I’ll still be glad of your Amazon purchases, though I doubt I’ll be promoting Amazon much in the future.
WWII German Memoirs:
I remember reading the opinion that American Vietnam veterans had more in common with WWII German veterans than they did with WWII American vets, for after the soldiers came home, they had lost the war and people asked, “[W]hy did you do those terrible things?”
Lost Victories, by von Manstein. He comes across as extremely honorable and likable. His insight into Stalingrad, Kursk, and Hitler is unparalled.
Panzer Commander, by Hans von Luck. A remarkable breadth of experience including Africa as well as the Western and Eastern Fronts, and as a POW of the Russians. Extremely insightful in all areas.
U-boat Commander, by Peter Cremer. A marvelous tale of struggle and survival. His men would say, “Ali (his nickname) is better than life insurance.” And from the looks of the Amazon site, there are quite a few other excellent books on this subject.
The Forgotten Soldier, by Guy Sajer. The author is an Alsatian who joined the German Army and fought mostly on the Eastern Front. It’s a very accurate description of the experiences of a common soldier. When he made it home, he happened in his hometown to meet his mother, who promptly fainted. He carried her home, where his siblings sat around and stared at him.
Campaign in Russia, by Leon Degrelle. The author was the highest ranking non-German in the Waffen SS. Like most other members of the army, they considered themselves to be fighting communism, which they were. He was purely a soldier and when asked if he had any regrets replied, “[O]nly that we lost.”
Tigers in the Mud, by Otto Carius. His experience with armor on the Eastern Front, and then at the end, in the West. An extremely accomplished tank commander, he notes the deterioration in German leadership late in the war and especially in the west. He also had a pretty low opinion of American effectiveness.
Stuka Pilot, by Hans Rudel. A classic on air warfare and his experiences on the Eastern Front. This book was required reading for those on the A-10 project.
Other Losses, by James Bacque. While not a German memoir, this describes the horrors perpetrated upon the German POW’s by the Allies after the war had ended. In no way do we have clean hands.
Achtung – Panzer!, by Heinz Guderian. Written before WWII, this book demonstrates Guderian’s brilliance in learning from a past war and seeing the problems encountered as he explains solutions in great detail. These are the tactics which earned the name “Blitzkrieg.” I had to laugh at myself when the realization hit me that “[H]e’s really thought this through.”
WWII American Memoirs:
Marine at War, by Russell Davis. A wonderful and extremely human account of war in the Pacific. It is quite different in that respect from most war books.
Behind Japanese Lines: An American Guerilla in the Philippines, by Ray C. Hunt. The author was captured and managed to escape during the Bataan Death March. He stayed in the Philippines for the duration and voluntarily remained after the Americans came to help them retake the entirety of the island. Again a very human account. At one point he and another American were warned in the middle of the night that the Japanese were coming to the village where they were staying. In their hurry to leave his friend put his pants on backwards. Hunt informed him that the Japanese were going to shoot him in the back, prompting a string of profanity.
Ghost Soldiers, by Hampton Sides. The story of the prisoner rescue behind Japanese lines at Cabanatuan, Philippines. A happy tale.
A Rifleman Went to War, by Herbert W. McBride. The American author volunteered for the Canadian Army and fought on the Western Front. It’s pretty much attained a classic status.
To the Last Salute: Memories of an Austrian U-Boat Commander, by Georg von Trapp. The author, ironically known best because of “The Sound of Music” movie, served his country honorably and had considerable success in the Mediterranean.
Revolt in the Desert, by T.E. Lawrence. A condensation of his book Seven Pillars of Wisdom, it does a very good job of describing those interesting times.
War Between the States Books:
That Devil Forrest, by John Allan Wyeth. The author as a trooper served under Morgan and had only second hand information about Forrest. He also survived Camp Douglas and later become the first president of the American Medical Association. He was so impressed by the stories about Forrest he promised that if the time he became fifty no one had written a biography on Forrest, he would do so. Written by one who has “been there,” it contains an excellent mix of objective and subjective impressions of the man whom Robert E. Lee described as his ablest commander, even though they had never met.
The Illustrated Confederate Reader, by Rod Gragg. An amazing collection of antecdotes. I don’t know how he found them all.
Company Aytch, by Sam Watkins. A vivid picture of the life of a common soldier in The Army of Tennessee. Margaret Mitchell opined, “[A] better book there never was.”
I Rode With Stonewall, by Henry Kyd Douglas. The author was captured and was liked so much by his captors that they didn’t want to exchange him for fear he would be killed.
Stonewall in the Valley, by Robert G. Tanner. An excellent description of Stonewall’s Valley Campaign. In the prologue the author notes that on the journey to the valley, “in Manassas Gap of the Blue Ridge, cedar and hickory gave way to mountain laurel, and steam yielded to muscle. Several grades here were too sharp for the gorged trains, so everyone walked, creating a scene that was vintage Confederacy – hundreds of foulmouthed infantry kicking up dust and flinging bits of gravel at the lumbering baggage cars beside them.” It’s really not too hard to picture.
Scouting on Two Continents, by Major Frederick Russell Burnham. The American Burnham scouted against the Apaches, then the Matabeles in Africa, then the Boers in the second Boer war. There were a number of extremely remarkable experiences. He was decorated by the Queen in person for his actions.
Decent Interval, by Frank Snepp. Snepp was a head CIA analyst in Saigon. He became so frustrated by the Agency’s unwillingness to do an after action report on their failures that he wrote a book. Since he had signed an agreement not to disclose what he had done, the government was able to successfully sue him to prevent him from getting any of the profits from the book. And since he had not disclosed any classified information no criminal charges could be brought. It was a surprise to me that Nixon, who only inherited the war, was doing the right things for the right reasons and getting the right result. He did as well as anyone could have under the circumstances. The book is really well written.
The North Runner, by R.D. Lawrence. Lawrence, an English WWI vet homesteading in Canada, obtained a very proud and mistreated wolf hybrid from a local Indian. The animal, named Yukon, became his best friend and lead sled dog. It is unequivocally the best love story I have ever read, regardless of species.
Man Meets Dog, by Konrad Lorenz. I expected that Lorenz, having won a Nobel Prize for imprinting of goslings, would write in a style that was either totally sterile or just a little strange. It was neither and has become an accepted classic.
Dogs, by Coppinger and Coppinger. This detailed book describes the likely origin of interaction between humans and canines and discusses dog behavior in detail, such as the sequence of steps needed to make an eat a kill. They mention, in this light, how different breeds are missing different steps in this sequence, which accounts for their behavior. It is a quite thorough book on dog behavior.
How to be Your Dog’s Best Friend, by The Monks of New Skete. The monks breed and raise Alsatians, and so understand dogs well.
The Dog Who Wouldn’t Be, by Farley Mowat. Mowat describes his family experiences with his childhood dog and owls as well. A Canadian Classic, children used to read it in schools.
Never Cry Wolf, by Farley Mowat. An excellent description of wolf behavior. There was a successful movie of the same name, but as often happens the movie only marginally followed the book.
Tracks Across Alaska, by Alistair Scott. The author, a Scotsman, decided he wanted to learn how to drive a sled dog team, so he went to Alaska. The book follows his gradual progress as he accomplishes just that, ultimately owning his own team. His incidental observations on the effect the welfare state has on the Indians are quite perceptive.
Rascal, by Sterling North. A wonderful autobiographical description of the life of a young boy and a raccoon during the time of WWI, by a successful magazine editor. Society was so much better then; in fact the worst character seemed to be a minister.
The Redneck Manifesto, by Jim Goad. Goad notes that society always needs a scapegoat, which happens to be rednecks now. He does a good job of discussing history, noting that indentured servants were commonly treated worse than slaves, for the indentured servant could only be used for seven years while the slave was an asset for life.
West With the Night, by Beryl Markham. Her story of being raised in British East Africa (in her case, what is now southern Kenya) and having Africans as friends to becoming a race horse trainer, to becoming an accomplished pilot is exceedingly well written. Hemmingway said he wished he could write as well as she did; he also said he could vouch for the authenticity of a number of the stories. The article on Wikipedia notes there are serious questions as to whether Markham actually wrote all this, and her personal life was not one of fidelity. None of that, however, makes this anything less than a spectacularly good book.
Firearms Related Items:
2×4 Target Stand AR500 – Version 2.0 – Powdercoated. I’m going to buy these, as all that is needed in addition is a 2×4 and four pieces of PVC pipe to make a target stand from which you can hang steel. If the PVC pipe, which is very cheap, should wear out quickly I’ll get something stronger.
Laserlyte Trainer Cartridge. These sit in the chamber and put out a brief pulse when hit by a firing pin. They are tremendous in point shooting training, especially during evening or night hours, particularly when walking in the woods. Once they are purchased, the training is essentially free.