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Billy Mitchell: The Life, Times and Battles of America’s Prophet of Air Power
Wednesday, 30 January 2008 15:50


Publisher: Zenith Press

From Baird Maritime:
In the first decade of the twenty-first century it is almost impossible to imagine wars not dominated by air power. However, one hundred years previously, air power had barely been considered.

William “Billy” Mitchell was the grandson of a hugely successful banker, railway promoter and politician. His father was a European educated army officer and politician and a philanthropist. His was a strong, educated and powerful family that knew how to get things done.

He enlisted for the Spanish American War in 1898 as an eighteen year old private but was soon commissioned as the U.S. Navy’s youngest officer. Showing great promise he was quickly promoted Captain and soon began his fascination with flying. By the time the United States entered World War I in 1917, Mitchell was already agitating for air power and had qualified as a pilot.

He was instrumental in establishing the American Air Service and as a Colonel was assigned to command its I Corps. His was a successful war and he finished it as an acclaimed Brigadier General.

His next two decades were much more difficult and included a celebrated court martial. He pushed relentlessly for the establishment of a separate Air Force.

Meanwhile, for readers of this magazine, he began to prove that even the strongest battleships were vulnerable to attack from the air. This was controversial stuff.

During this time he saw the first French attempt at an aircraft carrier in 1922 and was inspired. As early as 1923 he commented on the vulnerability of Honolulu to air attack. He made similar comments about the Philippines. He saw the Japanese building a strong air force and forecast a “sneak attack” from aircraft carriers on the U.S. bases at Pearl Harbor. His detailed prediction eighteen years before the event was amazingly accurate. He was immediately and extensively disparaged.

His celebrated court martial was really the trial of a moderniser who was also a gladfly. It was really Mitchell vs. the War Department and military bureaucratic establishment. The result, predictably, was his dismissal from the Army.

Mitchell was a classic example of the “Prophet without Honour” but he was right. His visionary predictions were accurate and most of what he fought for achieved. Eleven years after his premature death a separate U.S. Air Force was established.

Ordering Information:

Zenith Press
St Paul, USA
Web: www.zenithpress.com
 
Capricorn Link
Windsor, Australia
Web: www.capricornlink.com.au


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Darkest Hour: The True Story of Lark Force at Rabaul
Wednesday, 30 January 2008 15:47


Author: Bruce Gamble
Publisher: Zenith Press

From Baird Maritime:

A rather basic and simplistic book that is nevertheless important. It basically catalogues the doomed force of 1,400 Australian soldiers who were rapidly overrun by a real force of some 20,000 Japanese marines at Rabaul in what is now Papua-New Guinea.

Worse was to come, hundreds of the survivors of the Battle were executed soon after. Many others died of malaria and other tropical diseases. The invasion to secure Rabaul took place early on January 23, 1942. It was complete by lunchtime.

Five months later some 850 prisoners of war together with 200 civilian prisoners from Rabaul were being transported to Hainan Island, South China. Their ship was sunk inadvertently by the US submarine USS ‘Sturgeon’. The result was that 1,050 more Australians were killed.

The book describes how and why it all happened.

Ordering Information:

Zenith Press
St Paul, USA.
Web: mbipublishing.com
 
Capricorn Link
Windsor, Australia
Web: www.capricornlink.com.au

 


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Fighting the War on Terror: A Counterinsurgency Strategy
Wednesday, 30 January 2008 15:43


Author: James S. Corum
Publisher: Zenith Press

From Baird Maritime:

Unimpressed, as many of us are, at the witch hunting tendencies of the Bush/Cheney administration, you have to be impressed still with the functioning of the American democracy. There are few other countries where leading military academics would be permitted to make such scathing and hard hitting criticisms of their government as Professor Corum has done in his book.

This excellent book concentrates, of course, on the current long running Iraq War. In it he explains the causes of America’s practically endless chain of disasters. He also suggests practical, sensible ways of overcoming them.

Insurgencies have been with us a long time as the author explains. They are likely to become even more common. They are not easily overcome. However, as he explains very carefully, it is far better to learn from past successes and failures.

Ordering Information:

Zenith Press
St Paul, USA
Web: www.zenithpress.com
 
Capricorn Link
Windsor, Australia
Web: www.capricornlink.com.au


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Kriegsmarine U-boats 1939-1945 (2)
Wednesday, 30 January 2008 15:40


Author: Gordon Williamson
Illustrated by Ian Palmer
Publisher: Osprey Publishing

From Baird Maritime:

Following its successes in the first half of World War I, the German Navy relied extensively on submarines in its buildup to World War II some twenty years later.

Some hundreds of submarines were built for the Kriegsmarine. All types are very well described here.

Again, as in World War I, the U-boat force enjoyed many successes in the early part of the War. However, as the Allied navies improved their techniques with convoys, ASDIC, sonar, depth charges and aircraft, the attrition rate among submariners became horrifying.

The Kriegsmarine continued to experiment with large, small and medium sized submarines but none could survive the onslaught from the revitalised Allied navies.

Ordering Information:

Osprey Publishing
Oxford, UK
Web: www.ospreypublishing.com
 
Capricorn Link
Windsor, Australia
Web: www.capricornlink.com.au

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Naval Battles of the First World War
Wednesday, 30 January 2008 15:39


Author: Geoffrey Bennett
Publisher: Pen and Sword Books

From Baird Maritime:

This substantial paperback history provides a succinct overview of all the main naval battles of World War I in which British Commonwealth navies were involved.

Very well researched and exceptionally well illustrated, it is a small classic of naval history. Originally published in 1968, it has been effectively revived as a Pen and Sword Military Classic.

A valuable book that cried out to be re-released.

Ordering Information:

Pen and Sword Books
Barnsley, UK
Web: www.pen-and-sword.co.uk

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