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Nothing Sacred: Nazi Espionage Against the Vatican, 1939-1945
Nothing Sacred: Nazi Espionage Against the Vatican, 1939-1945
by David Alvarez
Edition: Paperback
Prix : CDN$ 50.34
20 used & new from CDN$ 3.06

5.0 étoiles sur 5 Another One for the Specialist, Dec 22 2001
Frank Cass among other things publishes several scholarly journals including Intelligence and National Security, one of the bulwarks of the historical genre. Ocasionally one of the issues is repackaged and presented as a standalone volume. They consist of many short articles.
Others in this series are complete studies prepared by one or more authors. The present volume is one of the latter.
Quite interesting but exceedingly narrow in scope. Little would be gained by a detailed analysis. The title says it all.
This is of interest only to the specialist. We must be thankful that Cass finds it practical to publish for us.

The US Army in World War II (1): The Pacific
The US Army in World War II (1): The Pacific
by Mark Henry
Edition: Paperback
Prix : CDN$ 14.56
40 used & new from CDN$ 7.02

5.0 étoiles sur 5 Great Improvement on Earlier Volumes Covering this Period, Dec 21 2001
This book is part of a set covering the US Army of WW II. The set covers the clothing, individual equipment, small and heavy arms, vehicles, and campaigns.
Of course, much more detailed information can be found in other works such as Shelby Stanton's definitive work on clothing but a complete collection covering these items would cost several hundred dollars at least and still not cover everything in detail.
Compared to the earlier volumes published by Osprey, it is an A compared to a D. The other volumes were superficial and suffered either from trying to cover too much or too long a period or written by authors who simply were not familiar enough with the period covered.
This is written by a knowledgable author and is superbly illustrated by the magnificent Mike Chappell. Drawing on multitudinous sources, these three volumes will satisfy those who want to know what grandaddy looked like in the war and give a useful overview for those not needing more detailed knowledge.
As a long time specialist in the period, I learned things and recommend this highly.
See my reviews of the other two volumes in this set.

The US Army in World War II (2): The Mediterranean
The US Army in World War II (2): The Mediterranean
by Mark Henry
Edition: Paperback
20 used & new from CDN$ 7.00

5.0 étoiles sur 5 Great Improvement on Earlier Works in this Series, Dec 21 2001
This book is part of a set covering the US Army of WW II. Compared to the earlier volumes published by Osprey, it is an A compared to a D. The other volumes were superficial and suffered either from trying to cover too much or too long a period or written by authors who simply were not familiar enough with the period covered.
This one is written by a knowledgable author and is superbly illustrated by the magnificent Mike Chappell. Drawing on multitudinous sources, these three volumes will satisfy those who want to know what grandaddy looked like in the war and give a useful overview for those not needing more detailed knowledge.
As a long time specialist in the period, I learned things and recommend this highly.
See my reviews of the other two volumes in this set.

Khaki Drill and Jungle Green: British Tropical Uniforms 1939-45 in Color Photographs
Khaki Drill and Jungle Green: British Tropical Uniforms 1939-45 in Color Photographs
by Richard Ingrams
Edition: Hardcover
16 used & new from CDN$ 70.56

5.0 étoiles sur 5 Another Fine Photo Study of the WW II British Service., Dec 21 2001
This full color book has a broader scope than his WW II Tommy (c.f.) It covers the khaki drill and jungle green uniforms of the RAF and even the Naval ratings of the Malta Defense Force in white undress shorts.
This book is extremely well photographed in a large format. Because Brayley served 24 years as a military photographer in many parts of the world he was able to pose his models in the actual locations where the items were worn in Africa, the Middle East, and the Far East. As in all his work, all of the items are original World War period issue.
The only peculiar thing to my eyes is that because many items were unused, due to the British manner of attaching the clothing issue labels to the outside of the garments, these lables are visible in the images. In actual service, of course, these would be removed.
The book covers as well as clothing, personal equipment, small arms, and comfort items commonly carried in the field.
This is a fine work and a classic of its genre and deserves a place along with his other works on the library shelf.

Ninety-Day Wonder: Flight to Guerrilla War
Ninety-Day Wonder: Flight to Guerrilla War
by John Horton
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
10 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 étoiles sur 5 Well Told Tale of War Service, Dec 13 2001
Among the more obscure campaigns and operations of the war in China were the seemingly incongruous operations of the US Navy in support of the Chinese Nationalist forces. One may quickly ask what were they doing so far inland from the open seas?
Well there were several reasons, one was to set up weather stations so that naval aviators could safely approach the coast and attack Japanese shipping, and American submarines could hide in the mists and rain while surfaced for recharging or lying in wait for the enemy.
Another major task was in support of the long range plans for the attack on Japan itself. The coastal zone north of Hong Kong though patrolled by the Japanese was not occupied and was a porous zone of smugglers and travellers back and forth between the two opposing sides. There were plans to land US forces there and build up for a western approach to Japan via Manchuria to squeeze the country against the approaching forces from the Pacific side.
The long range plan had to gather what is known as basic intelligence, that is, weather, climate, infrastructure, topography, the social situation, and any other information that could be used in campaign planning but which does not change quickly; the latter is known as Order of Battle and tactical intelligence detailing enemy dispositions and is gleaned from many of the disciplines, IMINT, HUMINT, and SIGINT.
Once gathered, basic intelligence remains more or less permanently useful except for the effect of major engineering projects such as highways, dams and reservoirs.
At the same time, Naval Group, China, was tasked with training and equipping Chinese tactical units intended for clandestine operations against Japanese internal garrisons and transportation networks. And finally with setting up observation networks to report on coastal shipping so that the submarines could be guided to attack positions. This book covers the author's activities with one of the Naval sponsored guerilla units.
Among all the writing on the multifarious naval activities in China, there is very little on the special operations except for a very scarce and long out of print book prepared as an official report in the forties and later privately published.
For other naval personal narratives of WW II China, see Wen Bon and Sampan Sailor, also reviewed on this site.

The US Army in World War II (3): Northwest Europe
The US Army in World War II (3): Northwest Europe
by Mark Henry
Edition: Paperback
Prix : CDN$ 14.40
37 used & new from CDN$ 7.69

3.0 étoiles sur 5 An interesting Overview of a Major Theatre., Dec 7 2001
(...)It is good to see the publisher is now publishing works of finer
detail than the early volumes in this series which tried to cover the
whole of the US Army and others for the whole period of WW II and
other eras. The subject matter is just too vast for such broad
treatment and the tactical and environmental conditions so different
from theatre to theatre.
As to the content I have perused several
works written and or illustrated by Mike Chappell and have found him
to be a sound researcher and a meticulous illustrator. I make it a
point to buy everything he does covering my period of interest, the
Twentieth Century. I have bought almost all of the available works in
his personally published series British Soldier in the Twentieth
Century. I have yet to find a mistake in his work.
As to the
author I have not read much of his work but the table of contents is
thorough and covers a mass of material gleaned from obscure official
histories that never were widely circulated especially the material on
the ETO jacket and other overseas procurements. The major problem with
the soldier's clothing and equipment in the Northern European winter
was the totally inadequate footwear of a flimsy nature compared to the
ammunition boots worn by the British and Canadians and the lack of
warm clothing which due to the amazing progress of the campaign across
France led to overconfidence that the war would be over before the
fall and such clothing would not be needed. So it was not shipped in
mid summer but was left in the US or in Britain. Also the shipping
priorities were such in France that ammunition and fuel for the
vehicles were first.
Though the bombing campaign against the
French railways stalled the majority of the German army in the south
of France from arriving before Normandy and reinforcing the garrison
troops, it was successful to such a degree that the railroads were
useless to the Allies and great quantities of fuel had to be used up
in the famed Red Ball Express trucking system instead of using it for
the attacking forces. Thus the famed Third Army stalled before the
German frontier for lack of fuel. And you cannot drive tracked
vehicles all the way across France without wearing them out.
All
of these factors combined with the worst winter weather in years to
stall the Allies short of clearing the sea approaches to Antwerp where
they could have had access to a major port and the Allied offensive in
the West bogged down until the spring.

The World War II Tommy: British Army Uniforms European Theatre 1939-1945 in Colour Photographs
The World War II Tommy: British Army Uniforms European Theatre 1939-1945 in Colour Photographs
by Martin J. Brayley
Edition: Hardcover
16 used & new from CDN$ 62.38

5.0 étoiles sur 5 Highly Useful Identification Guide, Nov. 15 2001
The work consists mostly of large format photographs of reenactors wearing original clothing and kit of the period. (Overall size of about 8 by 10 inches.) It goes much beyond anything else I have seen except the two volume set by Jean Bouchery (c.f.) and includes not just the ordinary battle dress worn by Tommy Atkins and his officers but the specialized kit of parachutists, mountain troops (cold weather gear), motorcyclists, and other unusual garb.
Many of the plates are done in the fashion of the French magazine Militaria which is a highly useful source as well.
Not only is ithis work an identification source; it also has some developmental history and organigrammes of front line tactical units.

The Comforts of Home: The American House and the Evolution of Modern Convenience
The Comforts of Home: The American House and the Evolution of Modern Convenience
by Merritt Ierley
Edition: Paperback
23 used & new from CDN$ 0.70

5.0 étoiles sur 5 Highly interesting popular history., Nov. 15 2001
The author makes horizontal sections in time recounting then current household technology. He covers heating, lighting, waste removal, plumbing, and major appliances.
Having grown up in a house built in the twenties and several times modified I am quite familiar with the use of anthracite coal for heating, and regular refuse removal including clinkers from the furnace. I hauled many a ton of coal, basket by basket, to stoke the fire and dragged out many an ash can full as a young lad.
On the other hand my father grew up in a house heated only by the kitchen range and a Franklin stove in the parlor. He was born in 1901.
Later we converted to gas and then moved to a house built in 1878 which also had been upgraded to have showers and gas heat. Up until the forties and fifties we had enormous hot air furnaces which depended on natural convection to distribute heat. Post WW II with the use of forced air heating the size of furnaces shrank to the size of a small wardrobe, instead of taking up half the basement.
This work is not much of a technical history but covers enough to carry the story, tracing from the inventions of the 1700s on. By the 1920s the major equipment of the modern home was all developed but was still to be refined and made automatic with thermostats and regulators. And the general use of central built-in air conditioning was not until the late 1950s. Only a few public buildings had chilled air and most of those were movie palaces and theatres which could not be left open to the natural environment.

The Bridges of New York
The Bridges of New York
by Sharon Reier
Edition: Paperback
Prix : CDN$ 17.01
26 used & new from CDN$ 9.64

5.0 étoiles sur 5 Thoroughly researched history. A classic for pontists., Nov. 15 2001
This is a reissue by Dover of a classic history and exhibit book. Covers all the major bridges in the New York City area. For both the casually interested and the specialist, the author has mined volumes of engineering periodicals and original records to cover not only the well known crossings such as the Brooklyn, TriBorough and George Washington bridges but also the lesser known aqueduct bridges over the Harlem River between the Bronx and Manhattan, and the railroad bridges; structures not usually featured in postcards and tour books because they do not present spectacular and soaring vistas against the sky. Yet still worthy of admiration for their engineering features.
Worthy addition to the collection of a pontist.

Body of Secrets: Anatomy of the Ultra-Secret National Security Agency
Body of Secrets: Anatomy of the Ultra-Secret National Security Agency
by James Bamford
Edition: Hardcover
37 used & new from CDN$ 4.88

4.0 étoiles sur 5 Real Time Revelations, Sept. 19 2001
I am not going to repeat all the arguments given above on whether or not the Lemnitzer group was right or wrong or the other revelations in this book. I have my opinions but having spent my adult hood in the period since 1960 can remember the Red Scare when I was a child in the forties and fifties, I can see on both sides.
What I feel comfortable with is the increasing realization at Fort Meade that they must explain to the US taxpayers and the world just what they are up to and whether or not they should be doing it now that the Cold War at least is over and we have a new series of international problems. Can they help or not? And without violating the Constitution and the general public's sense of fairness. All this is addressed and is well set out. Finally there is alot of information on the complex and the field units and some of the past triumphs and failures which is of interest. Together with the author's previous book Puzzle Palace, this is about as much as we will get on our national SIGINT until 40 years on when today's activities can be revealed in detail.

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