Monthly Archives: May 2013

New book on the American Presidents

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Of the hundreds of millions of people who have lived in America, less than 50 men have been elected as President of the United States. Some such as George Washington, Andrew Jackson, Grant and Ike were military heroes  (a once common way of achieving the White House). Others with seasoned politicians at the local or national level (governors, senators, congressmen), many of which were attorneys before entering politics. A handful were brilliant global statesmen with impressive resumes of international experience. Some of these men have remained famous and readily come to mind. Others have drifted into obscurity and are rarely discussed today.

What they all had in common was the enormity of the task of leading the United States in an ever changing world, once which over the past three centuries has become more complex and challenging on the international level. Yet, all of these presidents faced challenges unique to their own times, as well as the more mundane tasks of fighting Congress and political opponents, stimulating and growing the economy, protecting the borders and dealing with immigration, and how to properly maintain a military. Some had to face these challenges while dealing with overwhelming personal challenges, either health-wise or family-wise.

Some succeeded. Some failed. All deserve recognition.

Author Kathryn Moore has assembled a comprehensive single-volume book which explores the men who held the position. The new book is entitled The American President: Detailed Biographies, Historical Timelines, from George Washington to Barack Obama (Fall River imprint of Sterling Press, 2013, ISBN 978-1-4351-4602-0, MSRP $19.95). At a whopping 678 pages, this book makes a useful reference work, replete with enough details on each man to give the reader a solid overview of the presidents’ views, challenges, family, political leanings, and key issues. She supports the book with a worthwhile website with even more information and background details.

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Massive new U.S. Army photo book is a winner!

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The United States Army, rooted in the Continental Army of the late 1700s, tested in battle against domestic foes and  international forces, is now into its third century of existence. Hundreds of thousands of illustrations, photographs, paintings, and other graphics exist of uniforms, commanders, common soldiers, battlegrounds, and equipment/weaponry/vehicles/ships. Author D. M. Giangreco has mined these and selected a wonderful array of photographs and other visual media to illustrate his new book, United States Army: The Definitive Illustrated History.

1,400 to be precise.

In a stunning work which easily lives up to its name as the “definitive illustrated history,” Giangreco and his editors and publisher have created a book which is sure to be popular with anyone who has ever served in the U. S. Army, knows someone who did, or simply likes war stories and military history. The illustrations are lavish, frequent, and appropriate to tell the sweeping story of the everyday U.S. soldier in camp, on the march, or in combat. Here are photos of famous leaders, the warriors they c0mmanded, and the fields on which they served, and in some cases, bled and died.

Here are a few sample pages to give an idea of the general layout of the book, which is a must have for anyone interested in the Army.

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Wargamer Brad Butkovich issues new history of the Battle of Pickett’s Mills

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Brad Butkovich is known in Civil War wagaming circles for a series of excellent scenario books for regimental-level gaming, with a strong focus on action in the Western Theater. His research skills and attention to detail are evident in those scenario books, as is his grasp of the military tactics and objectives of the commanders.

Based in Lilburn, Georgia, Brad has maintained a keen interest in Civil War events in his region, including the May 1864 Battle of Pickett’s Mill. The old battlefield has remained free from major development, and in recent years has been preserved and nicely interpreted, sparking renewed interest in this early fight between William T. Sherman’s Union forces and the Confederates of Joseph E. Johnston. More than 2,000 men died in what became one of Sherman’s rare severe defeats, one which he conveniently neglected to mention in his post-war memoirs. It was a stinging loss, one which largely has also been overlooked in most histories of the fighting in North Georgia other than a passing mention.

Brad has corrected this oversight in his new book, which thoroughly recounts the fighting which Union soldier and later author Ambrose Bierce, sickened at the carnage to Sherman’s blue-clad ranks, deemed as “the dead-line.”

This 207-page book is divided into 17 short chapters which set up the battle in its military context, examine the leaders and major personalities, recount the movements of the opposing forces to come to the encounter, and then present the battle situation and unfolding combat action. Butkovich then dives into the aftermath of the fighting and what the next steps were for Sherman, Johnston, and their key subordinates.  He then finishes with an interesting account of the postwar history of the main properties where the fighting occurred and the efforts to preserve the old battlefield as a memorial park so that future generations may ponder what happened there.

Among the many useful features of the book are the excellent maps, which are plentiful and well crafted. Drawing from his previous experience in creating his own maps for his wargaming efforts, Brad has included more than a dozen useful maps of various phases of the Battle of Pickett’s Mill.  All are well done and serve the dual purpose of helping illustrate the ebb and flow of battle and to serve as an inspiration for tabletop wargaming the various phases of the battle.

All in all, this is an excellent addition to the historiography of the warfare in North Georgia and William T. Sherman’s movements toward Atlanta in the spring of 1863.

Brad Butkovich’s The Battle of Pickett’s Mill: Along the Dead-Line is a product of The History Press and is part of their popular Civil War Sesquicentennial  Series. The annotated,indexed book retails for $21.99 but can often be found at a lower price deeply discounted on amazon.com. It’s well worth the investment and should be a “must have” for anyone interested in the Atlanta and North Georgia military operations.

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