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Content by Jeffrey T. Munson
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Reviews Written by
Jeffrey T. Munson (Dixon, IL)

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The Last Mission: The Secret History of World War II's Final Battle
The Last Mission: The Secret History of World War II's Final Battle
by Jim Smith
Edition: Hardcover
15 used & new from CDN$ 3.35

4.0 out of 5 stars A Gripping Account of the Final Bombing Mission of WW II, July 15 2004
This book provides a detailed examination of the last B-29 bombing mission against the Japanese Empire, as well as a very good description of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and a compelling discussion of the attemped coup by junior Japanese military officers against the Japanese government.
By the summer of 1945, the Japanese government was on its knees. Months of stinging defeats coupled by the continuous bombing of the homeland had brought the Japanese to a state of near extinction. Some factions of the Japanese were ready to surrender, citing the mounting losses from the American bombings, but most in the military favored continuing the war while preparing for the inevitable Allied invasion. Japan would strike at the Allies with massed kamikaze attacks while fighting to the last man on the invasion beaches.
Meanwhile, the Americans had perfected the world's first atomic bombs. After a successful test in the New Mexico desert, two bombs were shipped to the Marianas for eventual drops on Japan. The first bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, while the second was dropped on Nagasaki. Even after the atomic bombings, Japan refused to surrender. The Japanese were still holding out for the final battle on the Japanese mainland. However, Hirohito and members of his cabinet were discussing the acceptance of the Potsdam Decleration, the Allied message to Japan stating the Allies would only accept unconditional surrender from the Japanese. This caused the Japanese great concern, for they wanted the freedom to disarm their own troops, prosecute their own war criminals, maintain the emperor, and have no Allied occupation. All of these terms were considered unallowable by the Allies.
At the same time, Russia had entered the war against the Japanese, and they were sweeping through Manchuria with their sights set on Northern Japan and a chance at being allowed as part of the post-war occupation force. The Allies wanted to avoid this possibility.
After a moratorium on bombing raids over Japan, the raids began again. Since most important targets had been destroyed, the target selected was the Akita Oil Company refinery in Northern Japan. Was this a coincedence, or did the Americans specifically select this target so it wouldn't fall to the Russians in the event they advanced into Northern Japan?
Radar picked up the B-29s as they were heading North, and a total blackout of Tokyo was ordered. It was feared by the Japanese that the Allies were prepared to drop a third atomic bomb on Tokyo, thus the city was blacked out. It just so happened that the blackout occurred precisely when the scheduled coup was supposed to start. The main objective was to find the wax disks that Hirohito had used to make his surrender recording on. The militants wanted to destroy these disks and make their own broadcast stating the continuance of the war. However, due to the blackout, the militants had a very difficult time finding their way around the Imperial Palace, and the coup failed. Hirohito's broadcast went on as planned. Is it possible that this one final mission indirectly lead to the failure of the coup due to the blackout order? There is compelling evidence in this book to support this argument.
I found this book to be good overall, but the title is a little misleading. Most of the book deals with the coup plotting, while only a chapter or two actually deals with the "last mission". However, I did learn some things that I didn't know before. I do recommend this book. It contains excellent information on the coup, as well as the atomic bombings, and the information that is presented about the final ission is interesting. Read this book and learn about a turbulent period in August, 1945.

Mantle of Heroism: Tarawa and the Struggle for the Gilberts, November 1943
Mantle of Heroism: Tarawa and the Struggle for the Gilberts, November 1943
by Michael Graham
Edition: Paperback
12 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars A Near Disaster for the Americans, June 28 2004
After securing Guadalcanal in February of 1943, the Joint Chiefs began to decide where to stike at the Japanese next. It was decided that a thrust into the Central Pacific island groups of the Marshalls and Gilberts would be the objective, with the island of Tarawa in the Gilberts to be taken first. What happened on that tiny island in the Central Pacific can only be described as some of the bloodiest fighting of the war and a near disaster for the Americans.
Tarawa is surrounded by a coral reef which reaches as much as a half mile out into the ocean. Preliminary reports stated that the tide should have been high enough for the invasion fleet to successfully navigate over the reef, but the reports proved to be wrong. Much of the reef was exposed, so men were forced to wade in chest-deep water up to a half mile to the beach while facing murderous Japanese fire.
The pre-invasion bombardment of the island destroyed much of the above-ground buildings and outposts, but the Japanese had spend considerable time and labor constructing bunkers and pillboxes made from coral, logs, and concrete so strong that only a direct hit from a heavy bomb or shell could successuflly knock them out. These positions proved to be deadly for the Americans, as many were constructed to provide covering fire for other positions.
Once ashore, the Americans faced a fanatical enemy who refused to surrender. Many Japanese were literally burned alive by flamethrowers or blown to bits by grenades.
The losses of the battle were horrific for both sides. The Japanese lost virtually every man, while the casualties the Americans suffered were unlike any ever seen, and only matched by Iwo Jima and Okinawa. A battle that was supposed to last but a few hours turned into a week-long struggle for survival.
I felt this book did a good job of describing the decision to attack the Gilberts and Marshalls, and the description of the battle for both sides was well done. The quotes from veterans were essential to understanding the true essence of the battle, and the author supplies many quotes throughout the book. I recommend this book. It gives a good basic description of one of the bloodiest battles the Americans fought against the Japanese and the lessons learned from it.

The Fires of Heaven: Book Five of 'The Wheel of Time'
The Fires of Heaven: Book Five of 'The Wheel of Time'
by Robert Jordan
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 45.99
69 used & new from CDN$ 4.66

5.0 out of 5 stars Jordan's Wheel Keeps Turning, June 7 2004
After surviving the disappointment of "The Dragon Reborn", the Wheel of Time series has definitely regained its lost momentum and the series continues to get better with each book.
This book has been my favorite of the series so far. Jordan builds on the momentum he captured in book four ("The Shadow Rising"), and the storyline and character development continue in TFOH.
As for the main characters, each is facing new and exciting challenges in this book. Rand is still dealing with the realization that he is The Dragon Reborn. He has rallied the Aiel clan chiefs in a massive battle against the rebel Aiel chief Couladin, who claims that he is the true Dragon Reborn. Couladin and his followers, the Shaido, meet the fury of Rand and the rest of the Aiel in a decisive and climactic battle.
Egwene, Elayne, and Nynaeve continue their pursuit of the Black Ajah. Word has reached them that Siuan Sanche has been overthrown and stilled by Eladia. The three have also learned that a group of Aes Sedai has decided to try to overthrow Eladia and reclaim the White Tower.
Mat, Lan, and Moiraine continue to travel with Rand. Mat distinguishes himself in the battle with the Shaido by beheading Couladin. Moiraine has decided to become more yielding to Rand, but this turns into disaster at the end of the book.
This book is the best of the series so far in my opinion. The storyline and character development is very good, and the plot keeps the reader interested throughout the book. The last 200 pages of the book are some of Jordan's best work. The ending of the book is a true cliffhanger and will leave the reader wondering what will happen next. I'm looking forward to the next book in the series. Hopefully, it will be as good as this one.

Sink The Bismarck (Bilingual)
Sink The Bismarck (Bilingual)
DVD ~ Kenneth More
Price: CDN$ 6.99
26 used & new from CDN$ 6.18

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Movie About the Hunt for the Bismarck, June 1 2004
This fine film, made in 1960, does a fine job of re-creating the events surrounding the search for and eventual destruction of the pride of the German navy: the Bismarck. Veteran British actor Kenneth More stars as Captain Jonathan Shepard, a new officer who gets placed in charge of the hunt for the Bismarck in Britain's Naval Operations center. Shepard has a personal stake in seeing the Bismarck sunk. Bismarck's commander, Admiral Gunter Lutjens, played by Karel Stepanek, sunk Shepard's vessel earlier in the war. Dana Wynter stars as 2nd officer Anne Davis, an assistant to Capt. Shepard. A fictional implied but never shown romance develops between Shepard and Davis throughout the course of the film. Carl Mohner stars as Bismarck's Captain Lindemann.
The battle scenes are excellent. One must remember when viewing this film that the special effects are from the 1960's, but that does nothing to detract from the excitement of the ship-to-ship combat scenes. The fight between the HMS Hood and Bismarck is the high point of the film. It was exciting to see the ships being straddled by the other's shells, and seeing the Hood blow up was especially thrilling.
The historical correctness of the film was excellent except for a few minor details. For example, during the attack on the Bismarck by the British Swordfish torpedo planes, the movie shows two being destroyed when in reality none were lost. Also, the movie depicts a British destroyer being sunk by Bismarck. This is also incorrect as the Hood was the only British loss. Finally, the movie depicts Admiral Lutjens as being a staunt supporter of the Nazi party. This is also false. Lutjens was against Naziism, and refused to give the Nazi salute, instead preferring to use the old German navy salute. The movie also depicted a rather close relationship between Lutjens and Lindemann. This was also not the case. In reality, the two German commanders disagreed on many topics, and at one point during the heat of battle, Lindemann said to Lutjens that he refused to sit by while his ship was shot out from underneath him. Aside from these points, the historical aspect of the movie is very well done.
I highly recommend this film. The acting is excellent and the battle scenes will keep you on the edge of your seat. Watch this great movie and experience the hunt for the most feared ship in the German navy.

Blaze of Glory (Young Guns II)
Blaze of Glory (Young Guns II)
Price: CDN$ 6.97
78 used & new from CDN$ 0.76

5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Collection of Songs Inspired by a Great Movie, May 25 2004
This first-rate CD contains songs by Jon Bon Jovi that were inspired by the successful movie "Young Guns II". Each song on the disc has a distinct western style to it, and Jon's fine vocals are apparent on each track. The CD contains such high-energy songs as "BIlly Get Your Guns" and "Never Say Die" as well as the ballads "Miracle", "Blood Money", and "Bang a Drum". This CD has a distinctly different sound from other Bon Jovi CDs. Gone are the high-energy lead guitar solos. These have been replaced by acoustic guitar pieces and a slower pace to each song. I listen to this CD quite regularly and its one of my favorites in my collection. Pick up this great CD and hear a different side of Jon Bon Jovi.

Gold: Greatest Hits
Gold: Greatest Hits
Price: CDN$ 8.48
78 used & new from CDN$ 0.98

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Timeless Collection of Classic Hits, May 25 2004
This review is from: Gold: Greatest Hits (Audio CD)
This disc has all of the essential ABBA classics. From the ever-popular "Dancing Queen" to the melodic "Fernando", this CD contains something for every ABBA fan, either the casual or the strong follower. Formed in the early 1970's, ABBA quickly took Europe by storm, but they had some problems establishing themselves in the United States. But with each successive album, ABBA began to develop a very distinct sound that lured listeners in and they quickly began to establish themselves as one of the first successful "prog rock" groups.
This fine CD contains all of the songs that people associate with the group. "Dancing Queen" was their most successful single, and it appropriately leads off the disc. And the classics keep coming with "Knowing Me, Knowing You", "Take A Chance On Me", "S.O.S.", "Chiquita", "Fernando", and "Waterloo". Also included is "Does Your Mother Know", the only song where Benny and Bjorn sing lead vocals.
ABBA's trademark throughout the years has always been strong vocals and melodic insturmentals, and each of these qualities is readily evident on this CD. Frida and Agnetha shine on lead vocals, while Benny's and Bjorn's insturmentals and backing vocals give life to each song. I highly recommend this CD. If you are a casual ABBA fan such as myself, you'll get all of the essential tracks on one CD, but more loyal fans will enjoy it as well.

Who I Am
Who I Am
Offered by Polar Bear Store
Price: CDN$ 6.98
35 used & new from CDN$ 1.24

5.0 out of 5 stars One of Alan Jackson's Best CDs, May 25 2004
This review is from: Who I Am (Audio CD)
I am a big fan of Alan Jackson, and "Who I Am" is, in my opinion, his best CD. There are two excellent re-makes of earlier songs on this CD, "Summertime Blues" and "Thank God For The Radio", and they are both very good. I especially like Jackson's guitar playing on "Summertime Blues". This CD spawned several other hits as well, such as "Livin' on Love", "Gone Country", "I Don't Even Know Your Name", and the title track. All songs on this CD are typical Jackson: great ballads intermixed with some fun, up-tempo songs. This disc has a little bit for everybody. Country fans are sure to enjoy this fine CD from Alan Jackson.

December 8, 1941: MacArthur's Pearl Harbor
December 8, 1941: MacArthur's Pearl Harbor
by William H. Bartsch
Edition: Hardcover
17 used & new from CDN$ 28.80

4.0 out of 5 stars "One of the Blackest Days in American Military History", May 4 2004
On December 8, 1941, a scant ten hours after the attack on Pearl Harbor, a large force of Japanese bombers and fighters crippled the largest force of four-engine B-17 bombers outside of the United States, as well as many of their P-40 support fighters. This sudden blow allowed the Japanese to rule the sky over the Philippines, removing the only effective fighting force that might have opposed them in Southeast Asia.
How was this attack allowed to happen? Why didn't General Douglas MacArthur, commander of all military forces in the Philippines, have his planes in the air, or even better, why wasn't he launching an attack against the Japanese bases on Formosa? These questions have been asked almost as much as who was responsible for the Pearl Harbor attack, but what makes the Philippine disaster much worse is that MacArthur had ten hours' warning that the Japanese were probably going to strike but he failed to act!
General Brereton, MacArthur's air chief tried repeatedly to get clearance from MacArthur to launch an attack against Formosa, but each time he was told by MacArthur's chief of staff General Sutherland to stand by and not to use the B-17s offensively or even for reconnaissence without first obtaining Sutherland's permission. By the time Brereton was finally allowed to mount a reconnaissence mission against Formosa, it was too late, the Japanese were already winging their way toward Clark Field. The B-17 attack against Formosa never occurred.
What happened on December 8, 1941 can only be described as a huge derelection of duty by Sutherland and MacArthur. MacArthur should have sought out Brereton himself and devised a plan to attack Formoosa as soon as news of the Pearl Harbor attack was known, or, at the very least, Brereton should have been allowed to speak to MacArthur instead of receiving the run-around he got from Sutherland.
The results of the Japanese attack were devastating. Almost half of the B-17 force in the Philippines was destroyed on the ground as well as many of the P-40 pursuit planes. The Japanese, as at Pearl Harbor, suffered only minor losses.
I found this book to be a fascinating read. Mr. Bartsch describes American involvement in the Philippines from the build-up (and Washington's fatal decision to put their faith in a long-range bomber force as a deterrant to Japan) right through to the attack on Clark Field. Japanese and American viewpoints are presented, and the Epilogue solidifys Bartsch's case against MacArthur and Sutherland. I highly recommend this fine book. This subject has never really received the coverage it deserves, but this book describes in great detail one of the most destructive attacks against the United States. The ironic part is that it all could have been prevented if MacArthur and his staff had reacted differently.

Battle Of Britain
Battle Of Britain
DVD ~ Michael Caine
Offered by importcds__
Price: CDN$ 6.33
53 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Their Finest Hour, April 26 2004
This review is from: Battle Of Britain (DVD)
Starring such famous actors as Sir Lawrence Olivier, Michael Caine, Robert Shaw, Sussanah York, and Kurt Jurgens, this fine film depicts the battle for aerial supremacy over Great Britain in the summer of 1940.
The film begins with the fall of France, and depicts the German preparations for a cross-channel invasion against the British home islands. Germany thought that the feared Luftwaffe would have no trouble gaining air superiority over the inferior R.A.F., but,as it turns out, they were gravely mistaken.
The aerial combat scenes are what make this DVD truly special. The action is first-rate throughout the movie, and the air battles make you feel like you're actually in the cockpit of a Spitfire fighting it out with the Germans.
I highly recommend this excellent movie. The battle scenes are some of the best I've seen in a World War II movie, and they will keep you on the edge of your seat until the end. Watch this fine film and learn why Winston Churchill called this battle "Their Finest Hour".

Glorious Appearing: The End of Days
Glorious Appearing: The End of Days
by Jerry B. Jenkins
Edition: Hardcover
113 used & new from CDN$ 0.22

5.0 out of 5 stars A Glorious Ending to a Beautiful Series, April 22 2004
After twelve wonderful and moving books, the "Left Behind" series has come to an end and authors Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins have most definitely saved the best for last with this wonderful final installment.
In this book, the whereabouts of Buck and Rayford are unknown, and the remnants of believers are facing Antichrist Nicolae Carpathia's huge Global Community army near Jerusalem. Their mission: to destroy the remaining believers on earth and set up Carpathia's reign. However, God has another plan for Nicolae and his army. God sends his son Jesus to destroy Carpathia and his army while setting up his thousand year reign on earth.
The most special part of this book for me was when Jesus appeared in the clouds on his white horse along with all of the angels and prophets. The "voice" of Jesus seemed to leap off the pages. Jenkins' "voice" of Jesus and the resulting death of the G.C. soldiers at merely hearing His voice was extremely captivating to me as a reader. The vivid descriptions of Carpathia's and Satan's destruction was awe-inspiring as well.
I've read other reviews of this series by people who claim that the writing and storyline has slowed down with each new book in the series, but that cannot be said about "Glorious Appearing". In my opinion, this book is the best of the series. The writing is excellent, and the "voice" of Jesus makes the book that much better. LaHaye and Jenkins did their best work with this book.
Having read each book in this series, I'm sorry that its now over, but I've learned much more about the Rapture, Tribulation, and Resurrection from reading this series. The image I will remember most from this book occurs in the last three pages when Rayford, his family, and the rest of the Tribulation Force is reunited. I can almost feel their joy and excitement.
I highly recommend this fine book. You'll surely be drawn in just as I was.

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