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Aussie Reader "Rick" (Canberra, Australia)

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Tiger Ace: Life Story of Panzer Commander Michael Wittmann
Tiger Ace: Life Story of Panzer Commander Michael Wittmann
von Gary L. Simpson
  Gebundene Ausgabe
Preis: EUR 38,23

3 von 4 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
1.0 von 5 Sternen Doesn't deserve even a single star!, 28. Juli 2000
The best thing that can be said about this book is the reviews it has generated below. Take the time to read them and not the book. I was bitterly disappointed when I started to read this book. After paying a packet for it I couldn't just throw it away, I read it all the way through. I agree with every aspect of the previous reviews. How this got past the editor is truly amazing! How could a publishing company like Schiffer publish this trash is another question. If you want to learn more about this fascinating tank ace I would advice you to try and locate a copy of 'Michael Wittmann and the Tiger Commanders of the Leibstandarte' by Patrick Agte, published in 1996 by Fedorowicz.

The Boxer Rebellion: The Dramatic Story of China's War on Foreigners That Shook the World in the Summer of 1900
The Boxer Rebellion: The Dramatic Story of China's War on Foreigners That Shook the World in the Summer of 1900
von Diana Preston
  Gebundene Ausgabe

1 von 1 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
4.0 von 5 Sternen Enjoyable History, 28. Juli 2000
I would have to agree to some of the previous comments made about some this book. It is definitively a well-written account of the Boxer Rebellion but as seen through the eyes of the Western participants only. You will not find many Chinese accounts of the siege and fighting undertaken by the Boxers in this story.
Having said that I still found this book a delight to read once it got into the actual siege and relief operations. I found the first few chapters a bit slow but after that the narrative just flowed along with some great stories and accounts from the people who experienced this upheaval.
The story was well written and presented and it was easy to stay up into the early morning reading the book. The author supplied a number of maps to assist the reader in following the action and movements of the forces involved. She also supplied a great number of (small) black & white photographs taken at the time.
Some of the stories were excellent and I found some of the personal accounts truly amazing and very interesting. This is a book that may not suit the historian looking for a detailed account of the fighting but I am sure that most people who enjoy history will find this book a treat.
The story of Bishop Auguste Favier and his flock of Christians holding out at Peitang with a small detachment of Italian and French soldiers was great. The stories of what happened to a number of Missionaries and their families in the countryside were told in context to the situation as a whole.
Even though the book presents mainly the Western version of events I found that the author present her story in a fair and impartial manner. What happened to the Chinese Christians was not forgotten in the story but the book does concentrate on the Westerners. The chapter dealing with what happened after the siege was lifted was very illuminating and some facets of the interaction between the different foreign powers were very absorbing. I enjoyed a number of the quotes provided by the author and one that I found amusing was:
"I sent my servant (Chinese) on a message. He was robbed by a Russian, buggered by a Frenchman, killed by a German. In my dismay, I made complaint to a British officer. He looked at me, put his eye-glass into his eye, and said, 'Was he really? What a bore! '".
This is a good yarn, an enjoyable history and a decent story, well worth the effort to sit down and read.

The Parisian Worlds of Frederic Chopin
The Parisian Worlds of Frederic Chopin
von William G. Atwood
  Gebundene Ausgabe

5.0 von 5 Sternen An Excellent Book!, 23. Juli 2000
What pleasure it is to be able to sit down and write a review of a truly enjoyable book such as this one. As I sit here typing I am listening to some music from one of the greatest composers of the 19th Century, Frederic Chopin. Fitting no less, as this book provides the reader with a guide through the City of Paris as seen and experienced by Chopin during his time there.
The author, William Atwood, has written two previous books on Chopin and in this third book he shows that he has a deep understanding for Chopin and his time. Covering the period from 1831 to 1849 Atwood covers all manner of subjects in his discussion of Paris, that beautiful city that seemed to produce some of the greatest artists in Europe. The author provides you with an insight into the social and artistic scene as well as some of the more interesting people, places and activities of Paris.
The book covers not only music and musicians but poets, writers, painters, the opera and theatre, medicine, bohemians, people of the street and how they all lived and survived during this turbulent period. The story just flows along smoothly and some of the stories are just amazing.
For instance when Paris decided to solve the sewage problem that tended to blot the city streets they changed the roadways contours from concave to convex allowing the swill and sewage to run off the roads into the new drainage system. The only problem with this was that not all the drains were properly covered and children often fell through the drains into the underground sewer system!
Another interesting little story in the chapter on medicine informs the reader that during the craze for bleeding as a form of combating illness that swept Paris during the early 1830's it was estimated that by 1833 Paris was importing 41.5 million leeches a year!
One of my favourite stories was the tragic tale of Alphonsine Plessis, the lady of the camellias, which can be found in the chapter regarding bohemians and demimondes (I don't want to spoil the story for anyone so you will have to buy the book and read it for yourself). According the Atwood the people of Paris still leave offerings of flowers on her tomb at the cemetery at Montmarte.
For anyone who loves good history, the arts or just a well-written book I am sure they will enjoy this story. In the pages you will find some of the greatest names in the world of the arts, Frederic Chopin, Eugene Delacroix, George Sand, Honore de Balzac, Hector Berlioz, Alexandre Dumas, Victor Hugo, Franz Liszt, and many many more. The book also provides numerous black and white illustrations showing Paris, its people and its buildings, during this time. This is a great story, an enjoyable read and an interesting piece of history.

Finest Hour: The Battle of Britain
Finest Hour: The Battle of Britain
von Tim Clayton
  Gebundene Ausgabe

4.0 von 5 Sternen Eye Opening Account of the Battle of Britain, 21. Juli 2000
Having read many other accounts of the Battle of Britain I was unsure if this book would be able to offer anything new to the current literature. Well I was wrong, this story, presented by many of the participants, civilians, sailors, soldiers and airmen, was excellent. The authors let the people who experienced this terrible and also great time in their history tell the story.
The book starts in France at the commencement of the German invasion and follows a number of the characters through the fall of France, the start of the aerial fighting over England to the end of the Battle of Britain. The story is told from the English side with no accounts from any of the German participants but the title does say 'Finest Hour', which should give you an idea, what the book is about anyhow.
I found two of the stories quite sad, one involving the German bombing of a school in London that resulted in numerous civilian casualties and how the authorities solved the dilemma of identify and processing the bodies. Another story detailed the sinking of the British liner 'City of Benares' which was carrying over 90 children being sent to Canada so as to be safe from the nighttime Blitz against London.
I also found the story of the machinations between Churchill and Roosevelt over American aid to Britain during this period very interesting as was the account of the destruction of the French Fleet and their small victory later on against the British Fleet at Dakar.
Overall this is an interesting account of this pivotal period in England's history during World War Two. I am sure that many readers will find the human stories interesting and I doubt that any student of World War Two will not find something new and interesting in this account.

To Hell with Honor: Custer and the Little Bighorn
To Hell with Honor: Custer and the Little Bighorn
von Larry Sklenar
  Gebundene Ausgabe

4.0 von 5 Sternen Dry Read but Excellent Research, 29. Juni 2000
I have not read many books of this subject but I have always had a fascination for Custer and his demise at the Little Bighorn. Overall I found that this book attempted to answer all the questions of what went wrong and who was at fault. I think the author did an admirable job in his attempts to reconstruct the events leading up the final battle and the end of Custer and those troops of the 7th Cavalry who followed him.
I would agree that this would not have been an easy task. A lot of conjecture and guess work had to be used to complete the puzzle and although the depth of research certainly shows it still may be a case that we will really never know what when wrong and why. The main problem that I had with this book was it was a bit dry and tended to drag. The narrative picked up the closer we got to the final battle but reading about the events leading up to that point was slow.
I gave the book 4 stars as I think the author put forward a decent scenario of what he believed happen and why. The research was excellent but I would have liked a few more maps although the few supplied were OK. If he could have livened up the story a bit more it would have been a 5 star book. I would recommend this book to those who have a desire to learn more about this most interesting event in American history.

To the North Anna River: Grant and Lee, May 13--25, 1864
To the North Anna River: Grant and Lee, May 13--25, 1864
von Gordon C. Rhea
  Gebundene Ausgabe
Preis: EUR 39,33

4.0 von 5 Sternen A Great Addition to Civil War Literature, 17. Juni 2000
Once again Gordon Rhea has produced another fabulous and insightful account to follow on from his books on Spotsylvania Court House and Yellow Tavern. This is a well-presented and detailed account of the maneuvers and fighting between Lee and Grant during May 13th-25th, 1864. As one previous reviewer noted this is not a period of high drama involving great battles and massive charges but you would not notice that while reading this book.
The narrative moved along at a quick pace and you eagerly follow the story to see what is going to happen next and by whom. The maps supplied, 29 in all, were well presented and easy to read. The story followed each General's movements in attempting to outfox each other, from the 'Mule Show' to the North Anna River with a number of engagements in between.
I think the author offered some very interesting points in regards to each General's command decisions and why things happened or did not happen as intended. Overall this is a very enjoyable account of this forgotten period of Civil War history and I am keenly looking forward to Rhea's next book, which I hope will cover the fighting around Cold Harbor.

Barrow's Boys
Barrow's Boys
von Fergus Fleming
  Gebundene Ausgabe

4.0 von 5 Sternen Adventure Beyond your Dreams, 28. Mai 2000
Rezension bezieht sich auf: Barrow's Boys (Gebundene Ausgabe)
This is a fascinating and enjoyable account of a number of brave men, sent to the furthermost points of the world to fill in the blank spots on the British Navy's globe. John Barrow, Second Secretary to the Admiralty sent a number of expeditions to find the source of the Niger River, to locate and traverse the North-West Passage, to locate Magnetic North, to find out what was actually at the Antarctic.
There are some great adventure stories here, of brave men, blundering fools and gentle heroes. Travel the Sahara on a camel or with a slave convoy, drag boats and sleds across ice flows in the Arctic whilst on half rations or travel across the Canadian wilderness whilst near death from starvation. Experience the affects of scurvy and hunger whilst trapped in a wooden ship with massive icebergs slowly crushing the frame.
Read about the majestic sights seen by these intrepid travelers, pink ice, the aurora borealis and the aurora australis, Eskimo's and polar bears. Read about the tragic end to a number of these expeditions and the fate of many of the ship's crews, most notably John Franklin's 1845 expedition in the 'Erebus' and 'Terror' to find the North-West Passage.
This is a great book, the narrative flows along like a well-written novel. At times I found it hard to put the book down, reading late into the morning trying to finish a chapter. I must admit that I have no previous expertise in this field other than having read "Ice Blink" but I found the story well presented and believe that the author has done his research. This is an easy and enjoyable book to read and I think anyone who loves a good adventure story will certainly enjoy this account.

In Deadly Combat: A German Soldier's Memoir of the Eastern Front (Modern War Studies)
In Deadly Combat: A German Soldier's Memoir of the Eastern Front (Modern War Studies)
von Gottlob Herbert Bidermann
  Gebundene Ausgabe

2 von 2 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Engrossing Account of Combat on the Eastern Front, 16. Mai 2000
Firstly, before launching yourself into this excellent book please take the time to read the introduction by Dennis Showalter as it will help explain the style of writing to be found in this book. The book was originally written for the survivors of Bidermann's regiment and division, not for the general public. Bearing this in mind you will have a better understanding and feeling for the author's account of his experience of fighting on the Eastern Front during WW2. At times you might find the narrative old fashioned and even cliched but this is definitely not the case, it has to be taken in context of when and why this book was first written.
This is a great story, on par if not better than Guy Sajer's 'Forgotten Soldier'. This is a combination of a combat history of the 132nd Infantry Division and the author's role and experiences in the fighting on the Eastern Front. The author, Gottlob Herbert Bidermann, won two Iron Crosses, the Crimea Shield, the Close Combat Badge, the German Cross in Gold, the Gold Wound Badge (wounded five times), the Honour Roll Clasp and the Tank Destruction Badge. What is remarkable is that the author survived five years of combat on the Russian Front fighting in Crimea, Leningrad and later in the Courland Pocket. I found his stories about his early years fighting with an anti-tank section using the Pak 37 "doorknocker" very interesting, I had always believed these weapons to be next to useless on the Russian Front however I was surprised.
You can trace the change in the author from a novice who still cared about human beings, even his enemy to one whom has been brutalised by warfare to a point past indifference to death and destruction. I have taken the liberty to include below a short section of the text from the first chapter to give you an idea of the author's style of writing:
"The NCO was grasping one of the wheels of the Maxim carriage, his sightless eyes peering forward at the ammunition belt where it fed into the chamber of the weapon. Another held his rifle clenched in cold fists, his head resting against the ground as if asleep, the olive-colored helmet secured tightly under his chin.
Hartmann slipped past me and slowly approached two other figures lying closely together, side by side. One of the figures had draped an arm across the other in a last embrace, as if attempting to comfort a dying comrade. As Hartmann neared, a cloud of flies rose in protest, breaking the deadly silence and I moved forward to join him in surveying the ghastly scene.
Moving silently among the carnage, Hartmann suddenly turned and slipped past me without speaking, heading in the direction from which we had come. Carefully avoiding the eyes of the dead, I quickly followed him.
In this abode of death, only the trees, still and quiet, appeared to be survivors and witnesses to the struggle that had occurred, hidden within this wooded glade".
I found this book to be a very fascinating account of the fighting conducted on the Eastern Front from the perspective of a young German soldier. It offers some very interesting insights into combat and its affect on men who in the end just tried to survive against immense odds. There is a number of absorbing black and white photographs supplied from private sources that give the book a human touch. The only real problem that readers may find with this book is the lack of maps detailing the movements and combats of the 132nd Infantry Division. Overall this is the sort of book that should be in the library of every serious reader or student of the war on the Russian Front during World War Two.

Tiger I on the Eastern Front
Tiger I on the Eastern Front
von Jean Restayn
  Gebundene Ausgabe

2 von 3 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
4.0 von 5 Sternen A Truly Formidable Weapon of War, 12. Mai 2000
Not much can really be said about this publication other than that it is a must have book for anyone who has an interest in the German Tiger Tank. To me this was the 'tank' of WW2, a truly formidable weapon. This is mainly a photo history of the Tiger I on the Russian Front with limited text. The photographs were excellent and numerous, many never seen before. The book offered some great shots of the Tiger I in action. Jean Restayn has also supplied a number of colour drawings showing the markings and camouflage patterns for each German unit that crewed Tigers in Russia. The overall presentation from Histoire & Collections make this a very nice title for any serious WW2 buff. Not as detailed as some of the current books published by J.J. Fedorowicz but a whole lot cheaper! This is the type of book that you can just pick up and browse through and admire this massive tank in action. One of the photographs shows a Tiger with an awesome amount of hits against its armour and its still operational (I won't tell you how many as that will spoil it). It really makes you appreciate why it was such a feared weapon by the Allies.

Ice Blink: The Tragic Fate of Sir John Franklin's Lost Polar Expedition
Ice Blink: The Tragic Fate of Sir John Franklin's Lost Polar Expedition
von Scott Cookman
  Gebundene Ausgabe
Preis: EUR 23,07

4.0 von 5 Sternen Interesting and Compelling Story, 11. Mai 2000
This is the story of a fateful 1845 polar expedition that went terribly wrong. This was a British enterprise led by Captain Sir John Franklin to find the Northwest Passage using the most advance ships and equipment at that time. Now I am a complete novice when it comes to this subject matter however I found this book very interesting and it offered a compelling story of misadventure, bravery, corruption, and suspense.
I found that the author, Scott Cookman, presented his story in such an easy manner that the narrative just raced along and I lost track of time reading about this terrible drama. It must be stated from the beginning that the author has no direct testimony of what actually happen to this expedition since all involved died.
However Cookman has utilised the accounts of many other polar explorers to support his theory of what may have happened and to give graphic examples of the conditions these men laboured under during this expedition. Overall I found it a gripping account and although he may not be 100% correct in his deductions I found that it was quite believable.
Cookman has used a wide range of sources including material from the Public Records Office and the Admiralty in London. He takes the time to fully explain the means and methods used at the time for polar exploration and I fully enjoyed his account of the men and ships involved. This is a great story and the book has prompted me to learn more about the brave men who charted the Arctic and Antarctic regions before modern technology made all too easy.

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