Couldn,t really get into this book. The style of writing, though no doubt something that would delight the classical scholar of Greek made the whole t...moreCouldn,t really get into this book. The style of writing, though no doubt something that would delight the classical scholar of Greek made the whole thing a plod for me. Sorry!(less)
I really enjoyed this book. Maybe not great literature but Cornwell is both a great storyteller and a thourough historian. Simple stories, of the "Boy...moreI really enjoyed this book. Maybe not great literature but Cornwell is both a great storyteller and a thourough historian. Simple stories, of the "Boy's Own" variety but backed by meticulous and detailed resarch into military life of the day that adds substance and a suspension of disbelief. A great read any time, especially for an old soldier whi is grateful not to have had to serve under those conditions but with an appreciation of good soldiering, which has never changed in essence.(less)
This is an outstanding work. It is generally the case that only those who have known combat and the wounds it leaves can write about the experience in...moreThis is an outstanding work. It is generally the case that only those who have known combat and the wounds it leaves can write about the experience in a way that has the ring of truth. It has become possible now for these people to write about the inner demons, the invisible wounds in ways that until recently were not possible. The prevalence of Vietnam veterans suffering from ptsd made the expression of its travails somehow acceptable in ways it had never been; directly, detailed and visceral.
This book is a living link for me, a Vietnam Veteran, with my brothers and sisters who have been scarred by the more recent debacles in Iraq and Afghanistan. It allows me to know the details of their suffering and through what they have suffered to know that we are one.
This novel certainly desreves to become one of the great classics of war literature, to hold a place beside Remarque, Owen, Sassoon, Jones, Marlnates and many others. My thanks to Mr Powers, I understand what it must have taken to write this.(less)
I knew almost nothing about the Malayan Emergency before I read this book. Barber is a journalist and he writes for the masses so it's an easy read. I...moreI knew almost nothing about the Malayan Emergency before I read this book. Barber is a journalist and he writes for the masses so it's an easy read. It is not however an authoritative history. Focused almost totally on the main players on the British side it does give the flavour of the struggle if not the nitty gritty as experienced by troops on the ground. One thing that did come out of the book was the fact that the British prevailed largely because of leadership, notwithstanding the particular nature of the insurgency and its context. The key people who eventually took control were all outstanding leaders and most had had substantial experience with guerrilla warfare against thew Japanese either on the very ground in Malaya or in Burma. They understood the playbook.
The Americans were never to have such leadership. In the context of the guerrilla war in Indochina, Harkins, Abrams and Westmoreland were all generals steeped in the doctrine of conventional war in a European context. They never rose to the challenge. The other limiting factor for the Americans was their overbearing arrogance in the belief that they were unbeatable, despite Korea and that no one had anything to teach them. Even though there were soldiers who worked it all out very early in the piece, people like John Paul Vann. There were numerous examples of the right way to proceed all over the country. These were all ignored because of petty power plays and an inertia to change the perceived wisdom upon which the American forces were based.
The Vietnamese General Giap had them summed up even before they appeared in force as lacking the substance for a long hard drawn out fight and the understanding of how the war worked. despite their defeat he regarded the French as a worthier foe.
Had the Americans had people such as the Brits who ran the resistance to Communism in Malaya there is every probability that they may have prevailed well before the debacle of Tet 1968 when they woin the battle but lost the war. (less)
There was little of any substance in this book. Pulp sensationalism and apologist for the Nazi Waffen SS. True war does things to people particular gu...moreThere was little of any substance in this book. Pulp sensationalism and apologist for the Nazi Waffen SS. True war does things to people particular guerrilla warfare. It is nasty and uncompromising, with little latitude for quarter either way. The author paints these guys with some ambivalence. Certainly outstanding soldiers but there seemed to be just a bit too much enjoyment in the telling.
Whether the story is true or not who can tell. There were several points of interest though; the identification of the primary mistake of allowing a guerrilla force the luxury of sanctuary and the efficacy of fighting these people with their own methods on their own ground. The French certainly employed various forces in this way, some regular units Legion and Para as well as irregular units comprised of hill tribes between whom and the Vietnamese there was never any love lost. they were effective. The primary effort was always though determined by regular officers trained for a European war. The thrust was always wrong and the political will always lacking. The French were doomed from the outset by both the politics and poor senior leadership. Despite the magnificent effort put up by many French soldiers the nature of their deployment always worked to their disadvantage.
The book is not very well written and it is dated and often sensationalist. Not really worth the effort by a serious student of the conflict(less)
This is a memoir by a junior marine officer covering his training then subsequent deployments in Afghanistan and Iraq early in the US campaigns in tho...moreThis is a memoir by a junior marine officer covering his training then subsequent deployments in Afghanistan and Iraq early in the US campaigns in those places. If one makes allowances for the "gung ho" that comes with the territory it is a no nonsense account that gives a very clear idea of what the experience was like. The most telling part of this story is the last chapter aftermath, talks about the difficulty of adjustment and the lack of connection with those who weren't there. Reminiscent of Vietnam in every detail. A good read.(less)