NJIPMS 2003

Dauntless SBD - Accurate Miniatures

Dauntless SBD

This is Accurate Miniature SBD-1 Dauntless, the 2nd kit I built of this now defunct maker. At the time, it was state of the art and can easily still hold its own against the latest kits over a decade later.

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In Retrospect: The tradegy and lessons of Vietnam - Robert McNamara

First off, this book by former Secretary of Defence, Robert McNamara will be polarizing.  Whether US should have been involved in the first place, whether the communist threat to world peace was real, and whether the war was 'winnable' but just pursued wrongly by its leaders, its still a controversal topic. Being the 'architect' of the American response to Vietnam's kicking out French colonial power after WW2, McNamara was directly involved in the policies, the key players, and how the war was pursued. Having kept silent all these years until this book was written, what he has done here is one big Mea Culpa. The book is perhaps one man's attempt to make peace with mistakes of his past. Given that perspective, you will either admire his honestly or find it incredulous that he did not draw those conclusions during the war.  At the end, I don't think he really brings much new to the American Vietnam experience. However, as a document to the one person that was intimately involved in that conflict, its worth reading if you have an interest of this era, but ultimately its not going to give you a new perspective on the war.

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God's Chinese Son: The Taiping Heavenly Kingdom of Hong Xiuquan - Jonathan D. Spence

The book tells of the Taiping Rebellion that devasted China in the 19th century. Led by Hong Xiuquan, self claimed brother of Jesus Christ, the rebellion lasted almost 15 years. This was essentially a civil war that engulfed most of southern China, and an estimate of 20 millions dead - making this one of the most costly of wars in all history. Contrast this with the estimated 10-15 million Chinese dead in WWII. The story is well documented here and Dr Spence is one of the foremost Chinese historian today. The only problem is that the book does descend to 'academic speak' in many places. So it will be a tough read at points, but if you can get past those areas (frankly, you can skip some of those pages and still have a coherent history), the books is a good reference into the Taiping rebellion. If you are looking for a lighter read though, there are better choices out there.

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The Longest Day - Cornelius Ryan

As cliché as it sounds - if you only read only one book on D-Day, the Allied invasion of Normandy on June 6, 1944, this is it. The book was written in the 1950's, where Mr Ryan interviewed planners and survivors of the battle, on all both sides. Included are also stories of the French people living in Normandy. Dividing the book into three sections "The Waiting", "The Day", and "The Night", he weaves the overall grand strategic plan among the generals with the intimate stories of the men and women who experienced the battle first hand. It is those smaller stories that really bring the invasion to life for the reader. You know how it ends, but you still can't wait to see what happens next. There has been numerous books about D-Day since this was published in 1959, while each adds to our understanding of that event, none has surpassed it as a single volume narrative both in accuracy, perspective, and prose.

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Sharks over China: The 23rd Fighter Group in World War II - Carl Molesworth

After the famed "Flying TIgers" aka American Volunteers Group was disbanded by the US Army Air Force, they were replaced by the 23rd FIghter Group. Many former members of the AVG transitioned to the new 23rd FG, while many did not - but that's another story. Mr Molesworth has done much extensive research into the air war over China, an often negiected area in WWII studies. While personal correspondence and interviews are interspersed through the book, the book's structure is basically a day by day recounting of the missions. In terms of narrative, that is the biggest shortcomings of the book, those descriptions often become dry and repetitive. If you are looking for a fantastic reference book on the 23rd FIghter Group, this is it. If on the other hand you are looking for an interesting read, this may be tough going for all but those with intense interest in the China Air War during WWII - like I am.

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