The Sekhmet Bed (The She-King Series, Book 1) by Libbie Hawker

My Review:

I loved the book. Libbie Hawker is one of today’s best writers of historical fiction writers. She is without a doubt a master storyteller. She had my attention early and kept me turning the pages. Her research for the book was excellent. Several times I would Google something mentioned in the story an would find she was spot on historically. I recommend the book and am now reading book 2 in the series. Well done!

Book Summary:

Queen Ahmose knows her duty: to give the Pharaoh a son. But she is young and has just watched her closest friend die in childbirth. If the Pharaoh plants his seed in her she will die the same way, in a pool of blood, surrounded by wailing women. She has her husband’s love, but a king must have an heir…and even the Pharaoh’s patience will run out. Meanwhile, a lesser queen – Ahmose’s own sister – has given him three sweet, bright children, all of them boys. Ahmose knows her grasp on the Pharaoh’s heart is loosening.

Desperate, she begs the gods for courage to become a mother. They give her more than courage: she is granted a vision of a shining prince, her son – a gift for Egypt who will bring glory to the land. He will be more than the son of a king. He will be the son of the god Amun.

But when the child arrives, it’s a girl.

Ahmose knows the vision was not wrong. Her daughter Hatshepsut has a male soul, and Amun intends the girl to rule. But the Pharaoh will not scandalize Egypt by proclaiming a female successor. If she cannot convince the Pharaoh to accept Hatshepsut as his heir, everything Ahmose loves will be destroyed. ~Stephanie Dray, author of the critically acclaimed Lily of the Nile.  

Source of Book Summary: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/12398627-the-sekhmet-bed

Advertisements

Six Wakes by Mur Lafferty

Mur Lafferty crafted an amazing sci-fi book with Six Wakes.

I was me hooked early by the well-crafted story. It’s full of mystery, intrigue, and uses a premise I’ve never met before.  What’s the premise? Generational space travel by cloning.

The cloning isn’t to create multiple copies or versions of a person. Instead, it gives the ability for a person to live forever. When the person is cloned, the new body is twenty years of age. Through brain mapping, the memories, knowledge, and experience of the person forever increase as they have all the recollections and know-how of the old body they’ve replaced.

The book is too good not to read if you love science fiction filled with who done it. I dub Mur Lafferty the title of Master Storytelling goddess. No wonder the book was nominated for every sci-fi award. It is a murder mystery set in space with clones.

As I said, Mur Lafferty crafted an amazing sci-fi book with Six Wakes.


Photo Source: This is the front cover art for the book Six Wakes written by Mur Lafferty. The book cover art copyright is believed to belong to the publisher, Orbit Books, or the cover artist. It is used through Fair Use for the purpose of reviewing the book.

Company Commander: The Classic Infantry Memoir of World War II by Charles B. MacDonald

This past month I reread “Company Commander: The Classic Infantry Memoir of World War II” by Charles B. MacDonald. I highly recommend the book.

At just 21 years of age, Captain Charles B. MacDonald first commanded I Company, 3 Battalion 23rd Infantry, 2nd Infantry Division from October 1944 to January 1945 and later G Company, 2 Battalion 23rd Infantry, 2nd Infantry Division from March to May 1945.

This memoir was written in 1947 when recollections were still sharp. It resulted in a very detailed account of what it was like to take command of a line infantry company and lead it into battle.

The book gives us a template for writing a personal military memoir. It is by far the finest memoir of any junior officer in World War II.

Charles MacDonald does a great job of keeping his focus on his own experiences. He does not speculate or wastes my time by giving conjecture on the big picture. We only have first-hand information from the events of his personal participation.

He sticks to what life was like for a junior officer in command of an infantry company. We share his sleepless nights, hunger, the dirt and filth from lack of personal hygiene, stressful situations, and dangers. He takes us from the Siegfried Line in the Ardennes, through the Battle of the Bulge, and to the end of the war in the Czechoslovakia.

This book is a must-read for all US Army junior officers who seek to command at company-level. It is informative for military historians as well. It is still required reading at West Point and on the company level officer (second lieutenant, first lieutenant, and captain) recommended reading lists by the U.S. Army today.

Upon this book’s publication in 1947, Charles B. MacDonald was invited to join the U.S. Army Center of Military History as a civilian historian, the start of a career during which he wrote three of the official histories of World War II in Europe and supervised the preparation of others.

The book is simply the best. You will be turning the pages and feel as if you are there.

The Steel Wave by Jeff Shaara

Summary:

The Steel Wave by Jeff Shaara is the second novel in his Second World War historical fiction trilogy of the European and Mediterranean Theater. He has a fourth book dealing with the Pacific Thater of World War II.

The Steel Wave’s theme is the planning and execution of Operation Overlord. Operation Overlord is the name of the Allied invasion of Northern France.

Character-based Story:

Jeff Shaara uses his familiar character-based story technique of examining the time period from the perspective of the historical figures and adding some composite fictional characters. His method works splendidly.

The Steel Wave is an appealing read. The novel’s pacing is energetic.  I never lost interest.

The author did his research. His insights into the difficulties faced by General Eisenhower, the different leaders, and the soldiers are spot on. He gives the reader an appreciation of the hazards and difficulties that faced the planners and soldiers of Operation Overlord.

We are taken into the discord, hesitations, and ultimate perils with which the Allied generals had to contend. He spends about the first half of the book with these issues.

The Ordinary Soldier’s POV Shown:

A very good job of showing the invasion from the perspective of the ordinary soldiers is made.  He shows how courage along with the ability to improvise when plans broke down lead to success.

This is excellent historical fiction about a well-known subject. The story is well told through the characters. I strongly recommend the book.

The Rising Tide by Jeff Shaara

Summary of Book:

The Rising Tide is military historical fiction and the first novel of a continuing series by Jeff Shaara based on certain theaters of World War II. It covers the North African Campaign from its position in late May to Rommel’s defeat. It also covers Operation Husky in Italy.

The main characters are two men from history, Erwin Rommel and Dwight D. Eisenhower, and two fictional young soldiers, Jack Logan and Sergeant Jesse Adams. Jack Logan was a tank gunner who was eventually taken as a prisoner of war by the Axis but then freed by Allied forces. Sergeant Jesse Adams was a paratrooper with the 505 PIR of the 82nd Airborne. He is selected by Colonel Jim Gavin when Gavin is promoted to Brigadier General to go with Gavin to go to England/Scotland to lead in the preparations for Operation Overlord (the D-day invasion).
 
This excellent book tells a well-known story in a new way. Jeff Shaara composes a very interest account of the battles in Sicily, Italy, and France forward from both an infantryman’s view and that of the leaders. 
 
My edition of the book is 576 pages long book. The book started slow. It went through the war planning and diplomatic issues showing the interactions of the military personnel from the many countries who make up the allies.

North Africa and Sicily

The action in North Africa showed the difficulties of the soldiers dealing with the weather, inexperienced leadership, and tanks that fired shells that simply bounced off the German tanks. 
 
As the reader, you get to jump into Sicily with the paratroopers. Jeff Shaara brings the reader into the battle. You experience many tense moments when things go wrong. The resourcefulness of the men in the field and how they learn to work together shines through in this part of the book. 

Italy

Operation Husky with the battle for Italy receives minimal coverage. This section felt rushed through and is adjunct to the rest of the book. 
 
I found the book an interesting read. It brought the events of the North African, and Mediterranean Campaign to life in a good and different way.

 

Four Stars of Valor: The Combat History of the 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment in World War II

505th Parachute Infantry Regiment (PIR)

Phil Nordyke’s “Four Stars of Valor: The Combat History of the 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment (PIR) in World War II” is excellent. It is a must-read for any student of World War II.

Mr. Nordyke does a great job as he takes us with the 505th PIR from its beginnings and training in the United States, through its deployment to North Africa, and through its campaigns in Sicily, Italy, Normandy, Holland, the Bulge, and Germany before returning home.

Record Four Combat Jumps

The book takes its title from the 505 PIR’s record four combat jumps in Sicily, Salerno/Naples, Ste Mere Eglise/Normandy, and Nijmegen/Holland. Stars representing participation in combat jumps had been worn unofficially on parachute wings during and after World War II. FYI – this practice did not gain official sanction until after the 1983 invasion of Grenada, Operation Urgent Fury.

Sicily and The Secrets of Ultra

I found it a book that that demanded I read every word on every page. Be prepared for some very graphic descriptions of the training and combat. You’ll feel the heat of North Africa. I was disappointed as I read the Hermann Goring Fallschrim Panzer and 15th Panzer Grenadier Divisions were on Sicily, that General Bradley knew it, and because of secrecy of Ultra they did not pass this information on to the attacking forces! “This was a cruel deception of our own forces, but necessary in order to protect the secrets of Ultra.”

Excellent Job of Using Primary Sources

Mr. Nordyke does an excellent job of using primary sources. At first, I was a little confused when I encountered an incident that was described from multiple people’s points of view, but quickly saw the value in seeing the way more than one person viewed/remembered an incident. It helped paint a more complete picture. Pages 300 – 301 and the actions of Private Camille E. Gagne’s response to the killing of First Lieutenant John Dodd is one example. The coverage giving to the 505th’s role in Nijmegen Holland is very detailed and had me feeling I was there.

The Battle of the Bulge

The 505th PIR’s involvement didn’t stop after its fourth jump into Nijmegen/Holland. They played a key role being deployed by truck into Belgium’s Ardennes Forest as the 82 Airborne Divisions helped stop Hitler’s in The Battle of the Bulge in freezing December 1944 and January 1945.

The book has exception maps and an amazing index. This book should be required reading for active duty members wearing jump wings. It is a must addition to any military historian’s library and would be an excellent addition to all university and community libraries.

Barksdale’s Charge: The True High Tide of the Confederacy at Gettysburg, July 2, 1863, by Phillip Thomas Tucker

barksdale charge

Very Readable

Phillip Thomas Tucker’s has written a well researched, very readable book titled “Barksdale’s Charge: The True High Tide of the Confederacy at Gettysburg, July 2, 1863”.

Dr. Tucker’s book makes the premise that at the Battle of Gettysburg General Barksdale’s charge is more significant that General Picket’s charge. The author presents detail after detail.

Mississippi Brigade

The book gives a wonderful history of the Mississippi Brigade. He points out they are tall, straight shooters, and brave. I found the book redundant at points.

The author makes good arguments for Barksdale’s charge being more important than Pickett’s. If Barksdale had lived and expended the same energy that Pickett did in defending his actions, we think more highly of his Mississippi brigade’s contributions. Interestingly, the point of view presented was almost exclusively southern apologetic.

Pickett’s Charge vs Barksdale’s Charge

The book was an enjoyable read. The history of the Mississippi brigade and its contributions are worth the purchase price. I think the historians have already decided Pickett charge was more important than Barksdale’s, but it made me reevaluate.

I have read more than twenty-five books and memoirs on the subject of the Battle of Gettysburg. I have walked the paths of Barksdale’s Charge. Pickett’s Charge, and stood on Little Round Top. I am a trained historian by education who has studied a significant amount of military history. I am a former US Army infantry officer who has studied the battle in detail in my military science curriculum. I know how to examine the presented premise but respectfully disagree with it.