Jesper's Books

I like to read, I like to read a lot.

Stopped at Stalingrad: The Luftwaffe and Hitler's Defeat in the East, 1942-1943 (Modern War Studies)

Stopped at Stalingrad: The Luftwaffe and Hitler's Defeat in the East, 1942-1943 (Modern War Studies) - Joel S.A. Hayward Not many books I have read about the Eastern Front relates much - if anything - about the role and contribution of the Luftwaffe. But I have to say that I am much more enlightened after reading this book. Information-heavy and detailled I see it as a 'must-read' for any reader with an interrest in the Luftwaffe history as well as the fierce battles on the Eastern Front.

Highly recommendable

Silent Victory: The U.S. Submarine War Against Japan (Bluejacket Books)

Silent Victory: The U.S. Submarine War Against Japan (Bluejacket Books) - Clay Blair Jr. I'm sure that real navy and submarine buffs will have a ball reading it with all the details it presents to the reader. And as such I can only recommend it wholehearted.

But for me it is simply too much and too far from my 'home turf'; Army and combat aviation related stuff.

Iron Men and Tin Fish: The Race to Build a Better Torpedo During World War II

Iron Men and Tin Fish: The Race to Build a Better Torpedo During World War II - Anthony Newpower Reading this book shortly after reading [b:Hellions of the Deep: The Development of American Torpedoes in World War II|1014639|Hellions of the Deep The Development of American Torpedoes in World War II|Robert Gannon||1000763] was actually quite interesting with the latter as the better of the two in my humble opinion.

I believe it to have a broader perspective relating in great detail the competition between Westinghouse and the Naval Torpedo Station (NTS) and NTS' reluctance to accept any faults in it's precision made torpedoes.

It also relates the frantic mobilization of US scientist and 'brain capacity' of all kinds to work in the weapons industry in general as well as on the urgent task of getting the US torpedoes 'right'

On the other hand this book goes much more into the details of the impact on morale among submarine captains and their crews as well as top brass, like Admiral Lockwood's and Chief of BuOrd William H. "Spike" Blandy's roles in what is called 'the torpedo scandal'.

So, actually, I'd recommend you to read both books

Hellions of the Deep: The Development of American Torpedoes in World War II

Hellions of the Deep: The Development of American Torpedoes in World War II - Robert Gannon Even though this book deals with a quite narrow subject Robert Gannin never the less manage to make it an interesting read. He seasons fact with anecdotes and the book never gets 'dry'. As circumstances would have it I had the free time to read it in one day and had a good time all the way.

A can only recommend it whole-hearted

The Spitfire Story

The Spitfire Story - Alfred Price Funny thing is that I do acknowledge the Spitfire as one of the most iconic and significant fighters ever designed but never really got 'caught' by it as such.

Mr. Price's book changed that to a degree. Amazing to read about the development from the first Mk I to the later Mk. 24. As an example; The increase in gross weight from the first Mk. I to the last Mk 24 equals 30 airline passengers plus their luggage. That's something . . . .

As mentioned I haven't read many books about the Spitfire so I cannot say whether this book is better than others or if it is just another book on the subject. But I had a good time reading it. And the book contains a lot of pictures to enjoy. (In my opinion early and 'mid-life' Spitfires where by far the best looking of the lot. The late Marks lost their harmonic and elegant look)

So I can only recommend it.

Take care


Tonkin Gulf and the Escalation of the Vietnam War

Tonkin Gulf and the Escalation of the Vietnam War - Edwin E. Moïse Did not finish it. A bit too detailed for me at present. But well written

Instruments of Darkness: The History of Electronic Warfare, 1939-1945

Instruments of Darkness: The History of Electronic Warfare, 1939-1945 - Alfred Price I have to admit it; I'm a tech-freak. I love to read about the technical aspect of military aviation, weapon systems, avionics, aerodynamics and stuff like that.

No victory in electronic warfare during WWI was lasting or absolute. Sooner or later your move would be followed by a countermove by the enemy. Thus the scientist had to stay at least one jump ahead at all times. The mapping of the enemy's technical and production capacity through electronic and other intelligence was essential. And every piece of intelligence had to be painstakingly put together in order to create an overall picture as clear possible.

And when to deploy new devises also had to be taken into consideration. Do we have a countermeasure to our own countermeasures? Like the 'Windows/Chaff' which was held back for some months as it was feared that the Germans had an equivalent - Düppel - in production. And if the Germans could see how efficient Windows/Chaff was they would begin air attacks on the UK using Düppel leaving the British radars blinded and British and Americans with no means to counter it.

Pure luck also played a part as when a JU-88 night fighter pilot lost his way and landed on an air base in the UK giving the scientist invaluable knowledge served undamaged at the end of the runway with so little fuel in the tanks that it was not even enough to make a fuel analysis.

I find this book as intriguing as any crime or spy novel. Easy to read and informative on a level where even I can follow. And as Dr. Alfred Price is one of my favorite authors I really had a good time reading it.

So if this subject has your interest, go get the book, find a good chair, sit down an submerge

By the way, I found this quotation as introduction to the last chapter in the book which I believe covers many things during war times:

"To inquire if and where we made mistakes is not to apologize. War is replete with mistakes because it is full of improvisations. In war we are always doing something for the first time. It would be a miracle if what we improvised under the stress of war should be perfect"

Vice-Admiral Hyman Rickover

Take care


The 'standard book' on the development of gunships

Shadow and Stinger: Developing the AC-119G/K Gunships in the Vietnam War - William P. Head

Relates the story, and use, of armed military cargo planes as gunships. The development was fast from the first AC-47 *) gunships with three 7.62 mm Gatling guns with a crayon cross on the port cockpit windows as a fore sight to the later AC-130 equipped with low-light-vision TV, infrared read optics, 20 and 40 mm canons and a 105 mm canon in the later versions of the AC-130.

A very interesting book and by many considered as the 'standard book' on the development of gunships

*) Initially the 'type key' should have been FC-47 - as in Fighter Cargo. But the fighter community protested vigorously; They did not want the word 'fighter' connected with a slow, lumbering, WWII vintage cargo plane. That would simply be unbearable.. Hence the AC as in Attack Cargo

What times it was . . . .

The Wall: The People's Story - Christopher Hilton

I grew up in the shadow of the Cold War.

But fortunately young and blissfully unaware of the thousands of nuclear IBM missiles and millions of Warsaw Pact troops ready to attack us from only a few miles away in Russia, Poland and DDR.

Hence I like to read about the period, to read about what I should have been worried about and afraid of. Sometimes it is even possible for me to 'connect' some of my own memories from the period with some of the events described in books like this.

I can recommend this book to anyone interested in the history of The Wall

"To err is human; to forgive, divine (A. Pope)"
Marco Effekten - Jussi Adler-Olsen Jeg ved ikke om det er mig, som har fået for meget af Adler-Olsen, eller om det er Adler-Olsen, som har tabt pusten? Det korte og det lange er, at denne bog ikke fangede mig nær så meget som de fire foregående. Den blev lidt 'lang i spyttet' hen mod slutningen, syntes jeg
To the Last Round: The Epic British Stand on the Imjin River, Korea 1951 - Andrew  Salmon Haven't read much about the British post WWII army exploits so I looked very much forward to read it. And I found it to be a good book. The author relates this account in a free flowing and easy read language. Including a brief but fine outline of the history of Korea up to the Korean War.

And I really wish I could have finished it, but had to abandon it because - and that's my bad, not the authors - I easily loose the 'big, chromium plated breadth of view' when too many names of NCO's, privates, corporals, Majors, Generals, regiments, places, hills, deployments, manoeuvres, dates etc. etc are tossed into an account. I really have to pay attention and stay focused on a book if not to. And that takes time and extended periods of reading which I did not give my self reading this one.

That said I can only recommend it to any with interest in the subject.
The Guns at Last Light: The War in Western Europe, 1944-1945 - Rick Atkinson For I-don't-know-which-time I have been brought across the invasion beaches of Normandy on June 6 1944, through the struggle to get a foothold and on to the fierce battles in the hedge rows. And once again I have been lead through the breakout and along with 3rd Army's mad dash across France. And one more time read about the bloodbath in the Fallals pocket, the 'Jabo's' and the significance of air superiority. As well as the terrible battles of the Hürtgen Forrest, the Battle of The Bulge and the epic Siege of Bastogne.

And one more time I have read that General Patton was a flamboyant personality and that he still did not got through the Siegfried Line 'like shit through a goose'. That 'Monty' was meticulous and not overly popular among he's American peers but very popular among his men. And that Eisenhower was as much a politician, with solid skills in 'human resources management, as he was a general.

This time I also learned quite a bit of the role and deeds of the French Army and the internal strife among it's generals. That Charles de Gaulle was headstrong and self-conscious and that his nickname - among others - was 'Deux Metres'.

All this together with appalling accounts of deaths by the thousands, sufferings, atrocities, madness, annihilation, heroism and cowardice. Of seized and missed opportunities as well as right and wrong decisions, all made in the fog of war. It all ending with the final collapse of the Third Reich in May 1945.

This - one more time - left me marveled by the destructive power and the vast amount of materiel and manpower involved. And left me kind of surprised that all this 'only' lasted for eleven months.

I don't know where Rick Atkinson differs from other great authors like Antony Beevor, Max Hastings or Stephen E. Ambrose, but there is this 'something'. And I can't define that 'something'; It may be the language, it may be the 'flow' in the book, it may be . . . ?

Bottom line is that I can only recommend this book whole-hearted to any and every person who take an interest in the subject. That be the casual reader as well as the reader with many book 'under the belt'

Take care!


Air War Normandy

Air War Normandy - Richard Townshend Bickers With bits and pieces of information I was not aware of, this book was worth reading. (E.g. I haven't read much - if anything - about German torpedo bomber attacks on the invasion fleet, a subject to pursue?)

One thing though; As my mother tongue is not English I found the 'flow of words' in the book a bit . . messy is too strong a word, but I sometimes found myself reading sentences and passages without getting the full meaning of them. And thus had to back and read them again.

But then again, that's the challenge and the fun in reading in other languages . . . .

The Silent Listener: British Electronic Surveillance: Falklands 1982

The Silent Listener: British Electronic Surveillance: Falklands 1982 - D. J. Thorp It may not be a 'hype' subject but for me this book was a small 'eye opener' of sorts. It's not only 'spooks' and the like who collects information, naturally. Intelligence is also collected in the battlefield by specialized units via SigInt and other sources. And is undoubtedly very important to any battlefield commander. And as I am currently in a 'Read about the Falkland War' mode this book fell in well.

But something in the narrative somehow irks me. The author leaves the impression of being a bit stiff and priggish in a war of flexibility, can-do attitudes and makeshift solutions. And a bit righteous in some of the tales he relates. But that may just be me.

Bottom line: Two stars is what this book gets from me

The Battle For The Falklands

The Battle For The Falklands - Max Hastings,  Simon Jenkins In 82' I was preoccupied with the task of being young as well as finishing my education in the merchant navy.

In those days - when at sea - the daily news were compiled and 'edited' by the radio officer and distributed on a single sheet of A4 paper pinned to the bulletin board in the mess. And to be honest, you would not find me in front of that reading it.

(To the youngsters: Once upon a time the internet did not exist. Amazingly we survived to tell the tale ;-)

So the 'big picture' of the state of the world was not all that clear to me.

To to read about the course of events in this - in many respects - strange war has been very interesting. And put more than a few things in perspective.

For me this book was a very good read

Currently reading

Memories of RAF Witchford
Barry Aldridge, Sue Aldridge
Six Armies in Normandy: From D-Day to the Liberation of Paris; June 6 - Aug. 5, 1944
John Keegan
The Day of Battle: The War in Sicily and Italy, 1943-1944
Rick Atkinson