This offering was a vast improvement over Mr Kyle's first book. Even so, it's hard to tell what niche he was trying to fill here; the book is not deta...moreThis offering was a vast improvement over Mr Kyle's first book. Even so, it's hard to tell what niche he was trying to fill here; the book is not detailed enough to be a technical manual, and the subject matter far too broad to be covered in such a thin volume. One gets the impression he was writing about a subject he knew and understood in order to cash in on the laurels he garnered as a sniper in Iraq. There is no question that he loves the spotlight: whether he is discussing the kentucky long rifle or the M16 he somehow manages to mention that he, Chris Kyle, was a sniper in Iraq. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but he already covered that in his first book.
This volume isn't a bad read - Mr Kyle has a homey style that most readers will be comfortable with - and I can't quibble much about his choice of the 10 firearms that most affected the course of history in the USA. The only change I might have considered would be the inclusion of the Winchester 1897 shotgun, which was produced in vast quantities and used by US forces in several conflicts. It would have been nice to see one scattergun in the lineup, but hey, this is Kyle's show and not mine.
People who are really interested in guns will probably not find anything new here, but this book is recommended for those with only a basic exposure to firearms and wanting to expand their knowledge.(less)
The subtitle of this publication is The Story of the World's Greatest Conflict Told Through the Objects That Shaped It. I don't know what criteria we...moreThe subtitle of this publication is The Story of the World's Greatest Conflict Told Through the Objects That Shaped It. I don't know what criteria were used in order to select the 100 objects to include in the book, but some were questionable in my opinion. For instance: how did the Owen SMG get included while the Stg 44 was left out? In any event, it's an easy, interesting read and even knowledgeable WWII buffs will find some trivia of interest in here. The book would have benefitted from some diligent proofreading but I think my biggest moan is that they used a small font on glossy paper, thereby making it a little difficult to read.(less)
Blunt and brief, this book is riveting; I couldn't put it down. It's maddening that humans can treat each other in such a beastly fashion, but I suppo...moreBlunt and brief, this book is riveting; I couldn't put it down. It's maddening that humans can treat each other in such a beastly fashion, but I suppose we should be inured to it by now. After all, countries that claim to be civilized still maintain combatant civilians in camps without trial and torture them while thus incarcerated. Few people speak out against it. Nothing has changed.(less)
I have to say I feel somewhat guilty at not rating this book a little higher out of respect for the brave women whose wartime experiences are chronicl...moreI have to say I feel somewhat guilty at not rating this book a little higher out of respect for the brave women whose wartime experiences are chronicled within. Let's face it: Aleksievich poured her heart and soul into the research, travelling to over 100 cities and villages to personally interview hundreds of female WWII veterans. She was eager to get their story recorded for posterity and was careful to keep a diary to make notes on her travels and interviews.
The problem is that Russia had more than 800,000 women in arms during the war. Aleksievich interviewed a few hundred of these and then condensed her material into a book of less than 300 pages. Obviously, no one woman is going to get much of her story told in the space she would have allotted. Furthermore, the information received is practically all anecdotal and therefore vulnerable to embellishment or memory lapse. One thing is clear: the women under arms in Russia had a very, very hard go of it in WWII.
As I read the book, I couldn't help drawing comparisons between the female warrior of the 1940s and her modern counterpart. Compare the Russian woman crawling through snow to drag a wounded enemy from the field to the the female staff at Abu Ghraib posing their naked "enemies" for shameful and demeaning photographs. These women volunteered for their service, often in the face of opposition from parents and military officials. Usually they were issued a single uniform and rations were in unbelievably short supply. They were shot, tortured, starved, and had limbs removed without the benefit of anaesthetic, yet they had the strength to see the war through and go on to have post-war careers and raise families.
In fact, this book is a seemingly never-ending litany of woe with inhumanity piled upon inhumanity until it really just becomes numbing; families wiped out, friends vanished, limbs hacked off, children burned...and on and on until you feel you can't take it any more. I know that's the intent of the book...to show the ordeal endured by these heroines...but the task is too much for the writer. I would have preferred that she leaven the anecdotes with some statistics..they would almost be comic relief! Although the author's heart is in the right place, the project is too ambitious. Probably every one of those 800,000 women has enough credibility to warrant a book of her own; trying to give an overview of all that experience in under 300 pages is over-condensing it in my opinion.
This book is definitely worth reading; it suffers a bit in the translation, I think, but you will meet many solid and dedicated women in these pages.(less)
The modern military member will probably be doing a lot of head-shaking while reading this autobiography. This is definitely not your typical war stor...moreThe modern military member will probably be doing a lot of head-shaking while reading this autobiography. This is definitely not your typical war story as it is written by the only woman to enlist in the Foreign Legion. In this capacity, Ms Travers was not actually involved in combat except dodging the odd shell and, through blind luck, she managed to drive her General/lover through the encircling German armour at Bir Hakeim. For much of her time in Africa Travers lived in relative luxury as the General's paramour, a situation that would call for courts-martial all round in this day and age. Stiil, full points to Travers for honesty as she didn't try to gloss over her involvement in this and several other affairs of the heart. Full points to her for answering the Legion's call for troops (you cannot say her country's call as France was ruled by the Vichy regime at this time), and for turning out a war story that manages to be interesting in spite of the mushy stuff.(less)
I don't know why it took me so long to get around to reading this book, but I'm glad I read it. It is unlike other holocaust accounts because the fasc...moreI don't know why it took me so long to get around to reading this book, but I'm glad I read it. It is unlike other holocaust accounts because the fascists are not a present and immediate threat, and in fact Nazis have no direct contact with the occupants of the secret annex during the time that Anne kept the diary. Instead, they are a vague threat lingering beyond the perimeter of the hideout, so the reader at least is spared accounts of death and torture. I was impressed with the quality of Anne's writing, especially for one so young. The world was robbed of a great talent here. (less)