Veterans' Day Reading Recommendations
In recent weeks, I've had the luxury of a little time for non-law reading, a luxury I've rarely had for many years. A few military histories that really stand out to me (to order them, just click on the image):
A history of fighter pilots, written by a fighter pilot. I think he had the aid of a ghost writer, since it does have a few mistakes that a fighter pilot wouldn't make -- such as describing a 20mm projectile as the size of a woman's forearm. But a good read.
There are dozens of books on the Battle of Midway, the turning point in the Pacific War, but this rewrites much of that history, since it employs the Japanese records. Major changes: when the American dive bombers came down, the Japanese planes were not packed on the deck, but below in the hanger deck. Those who thought otherwise thought that the Japanese used the American system, where planes were refueled and rearmed on deck. But the Japanese used the British system, where that was done below decks and the planes then brought back up. The records show the planes were still below deck; their strike would not be ready for launch for another 30-45 minutes. Also, our fleet doctrine played a major role. Prewar war games had shown that whichever fleet hit the enemy carriers first was likely to win. As a result, American carriers carried more dive bombers (good against combustible carriers) and fewer torpedo bombers than the Japanese, and put a higher emphasis on scouting and on attacking immediately.
This is a history of the Royal Navy in WWII, written by a historian I greatly enjoy. It goes into much detail about the fighting in the Med, where the British ran convoys to Malta. Churchill does not come off looking good. He underestimated the Navy's difficulties and committed it to more fights than it could handle, often over things that could have been ignored. He devoted major resources to Bomber Command, which was claiming it would quickly win the way by smashing German cities, at times when the planes were desperately needed to deal with the U-boats in the Atlantic.
A good history of the Battle of Britain. Churchill and Bomber Command look bad here, also. Fighter Command desperately needed Hurricanes and Spitfires, but resources were devoted to bombers. That the battle was won was due to Marshal Hugh Dowding, who had foreseen it in 1935. He pushed for creation of the radar stations, when that was considered doubtful technology, linked them to a central command with underground, concrete encased phone lines, created the central control system, and fought like mad in 1940 to keep from wasting his fighters trying to prop up the French(which Churchill much wanted to do). He created systems for salvaging crashed planes, coordinated outside the usual channels the system for getting replacement planes where they were needed overnight, and in the process stepped on a lot of toes. So in the end he never got his last promotion, even though he'd saved his country.
UPDATE: I was in a hurry -- the links are the images of the books, or the box saying no image is available. The Battle of Britain one was Michael Korda's "On Wings Like Eagles." (I'll fix the link if I ever have time!)