Books you have read recently.

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RetroRebel
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Books you have read recently.

Post by RetroRebel » Sat Aug 25, 2018 9:46 pm

Hello all!

If my memory serves me right, we had a thread like this on the old forum. Basically, this is a thread to discuss books you have recently read or are currently reading.

I'll start. I'm one of those types of people that read in cycles and right now I'm in the middle of a science fiction/fantasy kick.

I just finished Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson. An innovative magic system makes this a fun one to read but for some reason I had trouble getting started in earnest. The story is slow to start in the beginning and the extensive court politics makes it not the fastest paced book. But when the action gets going, it goes hard. I'm looking forward to finishing the trilogy.

Currently reading Leviathan Wakes by James S.A. Corey. Only a few chapters in but I'm enjoying it so far. It has been a while since I've read a straight up science fiction novel.

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Herb Roflcopter
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Re: Books you have read recently.

Post by Herb Roflcopter » Sun Aug 26, 2018 3:21 am

My dad's gotten into the (good) habit of ordering me books from Amazon, because it helps me read a bit more new material every year. (Basically, I love re-reading books over and over again, so it always takes me awhile to find new stuff. This way, I'm compelled to make time to read the books coming in the mail every month.)

Lately though, my dad got me hooked on the Jack Reacher novels. I've read 3 or 4 so far, and have enjoyed every single one. My only gripe now is that I felt Tom Cruise was miscast in the role for the films. If Dolph Lundgren had been a bit younger, he'd have been perfect for it.

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n11pilot
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Re: Books you have read recently.

Post by n11pilot » Mon Aug 27, 2018 4:25 pm

I've just finished reading Tom Clancy's latest Jack Ryan JR novel "Line of Sight". Since MR Clancy passed away in 2013 this series has been written by guest authors. This particular novel was written by Mike Maden. The novel was interesting and had a reasonably good story but I found it missing some of the tradecraft of the other Jack Ryan JR books. This may seem like a small thing but it is similar to a version of "Hunt for Red October" with the technology removed. If MR Madden ever gets wind of this mini review I hope he realizes that hard core fans of the "Campus" and Jack Ryan JR enjoy some in depth spy craft. My other concern is regarding my second favorite character in the series and that is senior spook John Clark. OK, we got it, John Clark is indeed a SENIOR spook. He has been in the business since God was an enlisted man, understood! Now, stop beating the reader over the head with his age, he can either still do field work or he can't but constant references to his lost abilities while he pulls off feats of amazing field work is getting irritating. Thank you.

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AeroDillo MkII
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Re: Books you have read recently.

Post by AeroDillo MkII » Mon Aug 27, 2018 8:25 pm

There's a few, but the one that sticks out is Franklin Allen Leib's The Fire Dream which is, in all probablility, my favorite piece of fiction pertaining to the Viet Nam War.

The heart of the story trails a Army-Navy Gunfire Liason Company from its formation and early trials of 1966-67 and wraps up with the Tet Offensive in 1968. The story follows four primary characters (Stuart, Coles, Moser, and Hunter). Incidentally, the first half the book provides the origin stories of each - Stuart and Moser aboard the USS Valley Forge and Coles and Hunter as marine infantrymen beginning stateside - before putting them together in South Viet Nam.

Like most such animals it goes for a cross-section of American society. Stuart is a freshly-minted naval ROTC grad who begins his naval career as a gunnery officer aboard an aging WWII aircraft carrier and distinguishes himself (somewhat unevenly, in his own estimate) during a couple of small incidents over the southern delta. Unfortunately for him, the rising of his star as an officer and a leader finds a sad mirroring in the collapse of his life at home.

Moser is a gunner's mate in Stuart's division. He's the gentle-giant type - not too bright, but a fair hand at repairing ordnance. As it happens he develops a strong loyalty to Stuart early on, as Stuart recognizes Moser's particular talents and acts on his behalf when possible. Off-ship Moser's pet is a Browning .50-caliber he carries in seabag, to the considerable amusement or amazement of most.

Coles is the angry black kid. Shorted an athletic career, he went to the marines instead and wound up drawing a plum assignment in California, but the machinations of garrison life and a lingering sense of guilt eventually prod him to Viet Nam, where be becomes the first of the four to join the ANGLICO.

Hunter, aptly named, is probably the most interesting of the group. A recon man, he's in his element outside the wire and tends to go astray otherwise. Early on he's wounded badly in the small fights outside Khe Sahn and evacuated stateside. Driven - but haunted - he returns on unfinished business, even if he's never quite sure what that business might be.

Honorable mention goes to Colonel (later General) Blackjack Beaurive, who functions as a mentor to Stuart and, impressed by the performance of the ANGLICO under his command, frequently attaches the unit to his own. Beaurive provides an interesting view of higher-level army officers that seldom makes it out of the accepted narrative of Viet Nam in general and the grunts-eye-view of fiction in particular - he's a gutsy, flamyboyant personality that nonetheless cares strongly for his subordinates and feels personally their losses - a grunt's grunt with heavy brass on his shoulders, as it were. Half Patton, half Stonewall Jackson, Beaurive could easily carry a book on his own.

From a technical standpoint it's a pretty solid read. Leib was, incidentally, a gunnery officer in his time and the details of calling close-air and the chaotic nature of an unforgiving environment, a cagey enemy, and the fickle nature of chance and luck in combat ring true. Especially notable are Stuart's first experience calling fire support while blinded by weather and a latter engagement that hinges on the participation of a WWII-era all-gun cruiser. Through it all Lieb gives us four very different leads from different worlds who nonetheless form an effective team. Each remains true to his origins and principles as a living, breathing individual inside the larger military machine. When the casualties begin it's a punch in the gut.

This is probably the only book I've ever found that manages to use 'Viet Nam' and 'Glory' in the same breath without falling flat. Any politics aside (and there are politics aplenty to be had here) it's a fine read in its own right. Decidedly worth a look if you're interested in the period, the war, small-unit dynamics in general, of if you're hunting a break from the usual crop of grunt/fighter-pilot fiction that tends to define the Viet Nam war genre.

I've read it three or four times now. No doubt I'll read it again. 8-)

- edited to correct Stuart as a ROTC (rather than Naval Academy) graduate -
Last edited by AeroDillo MkII on Tue Aug 28, 2018 6:07 am, edited 4 times in total.

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n11pilot
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Re: Books you have read recently.

Post by n11pilot » Mon Aug 27, 2018 11:14 pm

That was a great review, Dillo. I haven't heard of that book before but I will certainly look for it now.

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AeroDillo MkII
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Re: Books you have read recently.

Post by AeroDillo MkII » Mon Aug 27, 2018 11:37 pm

I'm not sure anybody else has heard of it, either. Apparently it wasn't much of a success commercially.

I've been hunting a second copy since mine's held together with packing tape.

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Blackthorn
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Re: Books you have read recently.

Post by Blackthorn » Tue Aug 28, 2018 12:32 am

During the last six months or so I have read three excellent books:

Hero of the Empire, by Candice Millard, about Churchill in South Africa as a young man.

The River of Doubt, by the same author, about Theodore Roosevelt's Amazon expedition after he left the White House

Mission, by Robert Matzen, about the military career of Jimmy Steward in WW2.
The world will not be destroyed by those who do evil, but by those who watch them without doing anything….Albert Einstein

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AeroDillo MkII
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Re: Books you have read recently.

Post by AeroDillo MkII » Tue Aug 28, 2018 12:40 am

I've got River of Doubt around here somewhere. Haven't had a chance to read it.

In the interest of comparision, have you read Jimmy Stewart, Bomber Pilot?

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Blackthorn
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Re: Books you have read recently.

Post by Blackthorn » Tue Aug 28, 2018 11:45 am

AeroDillo MkII wrote:
Tue Aug 28, 2018 12:40 am
I've got River of Doubt around here somewhere. Haven't had a chance to read it.

In the interest of comparision, have you read Jimmy Stewart, Bomber Pilot?
Yes, I have. I enjoyed it, but this latest one has many more details of most of the individual missions, and the final mission that made him "flak happy." Now I understand PTSD a lot better. It's riveting.
The world will not be destroyed by those who do evil, but by those who watch them without doing anything….Albert Einstein

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n11pilot
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Re: Books you have read recently.

Post by n11pilot » Wed Aug 29, 2018 2:23 pm

Blackthorn wrote:
Tue Aug 28, 2018 12:32 am
During the last six months or so I have read three excellent books:

Hero of the Empire, by Candice Millard, about Churchill in South Africa as a young man.

The River of Doubt, by the same author, about Theodore Roosevelt's Amazon expedition after he left the White House

Mission, by Robert Matzen, about the military career of Jimmy Steward in WW2.

I've read "The River of Doubt" and came away amazed that TR lived as long as he did. I've just put "Hero of the Empire" and "Mission" on my must read list.

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