Organization of American Historians Annual Meeting

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This week, Casemate is at the Organization of American Historians Annual Meeting in St. Louis, Missouri.

The Organization of American Historians (OAH) is the largest professional society dedicated to the teaching and study of American history. The mission of the organization is to promote excellence in the scholarship, teaching, and presentation of American history, and to encourage wide discussion of historical questions and the equitable treatment of all practitioners of history.

We’ll be exhibiting at the event until April 19th at America’s Center & Renaissance Grand Hotel. If you’re in the area, read more about registering for the event here, and visit us at stand 509!

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Society of Military History 2015 Annual Meeting

red-logo-The-Society-for-Military-History

Casemate is currently attending the Society of Military History’s 2015 Annual Meeting in Montgomery, AL.

The Society of Military History is dedicated to stimulating and advancing and study of military history. Running until April 12th, Casemate will be exhibiting it’s wide range of titles to scholars, soldiers, and attendees with an interest in military history.

Check out some photos from the event below:

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French Defeat in Dien Bien Phu 1954 ushered US Military engagement in Vietnam.

Han Weisman, author of Casemate’s just published THE DAKOTA HUNTER shares with us some background from his writings

With the siege war of the French troops in a desolate Army Camp in NW Vietnam coming to a close in April 1954, almost 70 Douglas C-47s made overtime to supply the camp. Bringing in food, ammo and medical supplies, on the way out to the South, they flew hundreds of wounded soldiers from this Jungle Hell in the remote mountains  near the Laotian border. It was an airstrip built by the Japanese during WWII and was selected by the French Army as a stronghold against the advancing nationalist Viet Minh forces under their legendary General Giap.

It will remain forever a disputable decision as to why the French opted to occupy such remote venue in the heart of enemy ruled territory that could only by supplied by air with long flights.and had no real strategic value in that outback. The battle that was about to develop there must have taken the French by total surprise, mainly due to what the enemy could deploy in fire power. With 50.000 troops, they dug in on the surrounding hills that overlooked the lower situated French camp. A bad starter but worse, the Viet Minh had done the impossible by transporting over 300 km of impenetrable jungle their heavy artillery, howitzers and guns for their final assault on the well defended camp.

French Artillery with 105mm howitzers and 155mm guns was not able to neutralize the hidden enemy gun positions and soon, the daily supply flights of the Dakotas  were made impossible as the Vietnamese activated their Russian made AA 37mm guns.  Under heavy attack from that AA fire, a Dakota made the “Last flight out of Hell”. All who stayed behind must have realized the imminent “Doom’s Day”.

In one of the dramatic LIFE Magazine pictures, the French soldiers dig trenches around the airstrip, in the hope to better defend the aircraft parked out there, but it all came to no avail. From the mountains that we see in the backdrop, every day more Viet Minh guns were arriving and shelled the narrow airstrip at choice. The French artillery Colonel could not stop this carnage and commited suicide.

The moment inevitably came that the supply to the camp could only be done with paratrooper/ ammo droppings by a fleet of 50+ Douglas C-47’s and 12 C-119’s Fairchild Flying Boxcars. But every day, the Drop Zone became smaller and the pressure higher on the originally 30.000 French troops consisting of Army, Legionnaires, Paratroopers and Colonial Forces f om North Africa as well as French Vietnamese soldiers and local T’ai Tribal forces. The supplies had to be dropped from higher altitude in a smaller area, so many of the drops incl. the ammo came in enemy hands and were used against the French force.

Finally, on the 7th of May 1954, the camp was overrun by the Viet Minh troops. To the dismay of the old Colonial Powers from the West, almost 12.000 French troops were captured after the surrender: they were forced to made the ‘Walk of Shame’ over 300 km and most of them never returned from that agony. The first Indo-China War had come to its finale and brought an end to 100 years of French Colonial Rule in SE Asia in 1956. As the world might have thought that peace had finally settled in this region, the second Indo-China War was only just about to begin. That war would officially bring in the US Military engagement in Southern Vietnam from 1961 to 1975.

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In the early 1950’s, the French Air Force in Vietnam was equipped with ‘vintage’ WW II American aircraft as the Grumman F8F Bearcat (see photo), the A-26 Attack Bomber, Sikorsky S-55 Helicopters and light spotter planes. Their inventory of all sorts of aircraft was rapidly filled from the the surplus stocks left over after the Korean conflict  that had ended in 1953.  Up to a total of 70 C-47’s and a large number of C-119 Flying Boxcars for para droppings of troops and heavy battle equipment were flown in via Japan.

Detail piquante: the deliveries were made and piloted by the controversial Civil Air Transport ( CAF), founded by the legendary USAF General Claire Chennault, who was since the war involved in SE Asian operations. First with the legendary “Flying Tigers”, the American Volunteer Group (AVG) that fought the Japanese Occupation Forces in 1941 with their “shark mouth” decorated Curtiss P-40 Warhawks. After the war, Claire Chennault became involved in the Chinese civil war and helped Gen. Chiang Kai-check to escape to Formosa (later named Taiwan). It was here that Chennault set up the CAF, allegedly a CIA supported airline for coveted activities that had no official US Government support. CAF later transformed into Air America, that played a role in the second Indo-China War, starting in the early 1960’s.

On one photo, we see the Victory dance of the Viet Minh troops on a burnt C-47, as a symbolic dismissal of the Colonial Power. The day of Victory for the Viet MInh was a day of Infamy for the French Army and Government. In the final stage of the siege of Dien Bien Phu, the French had desperately begged for help from the USAF with deployment of massive air raids against the Communist forces in the mountains. With carpet bombing raids from the B-29 Super Fortress fleet that could fly in from the Island of Okinawa, the Viet Minh troops and gun positions could be annihilated in a matter of days.

This request is considered by some as the first seed of later American involvement in the second Indo-China War (1960-1975). President Eisenhower along with many of the US Military strongly opposed against any support to the French request, as it could be considered by the free world and the ex-colonial nations as an attempt to keep up a Colonial Power that was in its final and fruitless struggle for survival in SE Asia. While USA had strongly promoted the liberation of former Colonies  (Indonesia, India), it ran here in a split, that had far reaching consequences. There were many in the US of the mid 1950’s who advocated to interfere, likely fed more by the fear for advancing World Domination of Communism than helping the French in their dreadful situation.

Ironically, the smothering conflict between North and South Vietnam took a similar development as with North and South Korea, leading to a confrontation with China seeking dominance in Eastern and SE Asia. Spurred by the victory in South Korea, US President J.F. Kennedy, after long hesitation and only stealthy supplies to the South Vietnamese regime, stepped in with open military support in May 1961 by sending 400 US Army Special Forces to train the South Vietnamese Army.

History took the escalating war in another direction but this blog is not a political forum to make a judgement over what happened in the ensuing years, This is only a small contribution to look back at what happened there 60 years ago in a remote jungle camp in North Vietnam: a forgotten battle that involved armies from 6 different countries. Time to forgive but not to forget, and one day I hope to go there and visit the camp and see the remnants of that lost battle. Maybe I can come closer to the feelings of desperateness of the many soldiers who fought that war and felt lost and abandoned by a colonial power that had no more reason to be there. WWII had totally reset the World Order, it took some nations another 15 to 20 years to see the New Light.

In my book “The Dakota Hunter” I describe my youth years in the Borneo jungle, from 1950-1957. Indonesia had just escaped 3,5 years of Japanese occupation and 400 years of Dutch Colonial Rule. Its declaration of Independence in 1945 by Sukarno led to a long and violent up rise against the Dutch Army. Finally in 1950, the Independent Republic of Indonesia was recognized by the World, My father, working for Shell as an oil exploring engineer, moved in with our family to an unstable country that was ruined by the Pacific War which had evoked strong anti-Colonial/ Dutch sentiments. For a curious young kid like me, the material scars and remnants of that war were omnipresent. it was like a play station, but the dangers and emotional tensions were always around. In those years, we always kept an open eye for an ´escape route´, just in case things might go berserk one day. I vividly remember my father coming home and informing us about the French defeat in Vietnam and his anxiousness that the “Commie Pest” would one day hop over to Indonesia.and wipe us all out. With no newspaper, radio or armed protection, we grew maybe a bit paranoia from that “Dien Bien Phu” story. The only transport that could ever get us out from there was. the venerable Douglas DC-3/ Dakota, which also brought the last French wounded soldiers out. One month later LIFE magazine arrived with all the photos of that C-47 in Vietnam as you see in this post. This plane was considered as our Life line, and for me that aspect of the “last change savior” would even go further: it turned into a romantic symbol of “Fly-away to another World” that later in my life would attract me like a magnet to go travel and find the DC-3, as if that plane could bring back my intensely fascinating Borneo years.

In my book I describe that passion for the Dakota and the global hunt I made since 1990 with 20+ expeditions to meet her again. 250 photos and 320 pages packed with adventure and history of an aircraft that changed the world and had a huge impact on my eventful life.

For more info about the book, merchandise, war- and DC-3/ C-47 related tales and photos, see also my new website http://www.dc3dakotahunter.com

You can follow/like my Facebook page on http://www.facebook.com/thedakotahunter.

Read the review of my book in your favorite War History Online magazine  written by Mark Barnes

http://www.warhistoryonline.com/reviews/review-dakota-hunter-mark-barnes.html

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Casemate UK launches new publishing program

As military history is revealed as the only history genre to grow book sales in 2014, Casemate UK launch new publishing program

Key anniversaries in 2014 sparked a revived interest in military history with book sales in the genre growing 9%. With the 2015 anniversaries of VE Day, the Battle of Britain, and Waterloo offering exciting opportunities for booksellers, is this growth set to continue? Casemate UK believe so.

2015 sees the Oxford-based military book distributor launch its own UK publishing imprint to compliment the  Casemate’s US publishing program. Focusing on British and European military history the new list will sit perfectly alongside the many specialist military history books already distributed by Casemate UK.

The bestselling European military history books for 2015?

 

Wellington’s Hidden Heroes: The Dutch and the Belgians at Waterloo – In time for the 200th anniversary comes an original account of the previously unacknowledged crucial role that the Netherland forces played in averting defeat at the Battle of Waterloo, including a controversial assessment of Wellington and his army.

The Battle of Britain: An Epic Conflict Revisited – In time for the 75th anniversary this will be the most thorough, expert examination of the topic available. Illustrated with numerous maps & rare photos, it reviews the battle as seldom seen before.

War’s Nomads: A Mobile Radar Unit in Pursuit of Rommel during the Western Desert Campaign, 1942–3
An intimate account shedding light on a key but little known aspect of the Eighth Army’s Western Desert Campaign – the first in British military history in which the RAF and the army collaborated so closely.

Gold Run: The Rescue of Norway’s Gold Bullion from the Nazis, 1940 – A tale of immense bravery, endurance and great leadership against overwhelming odds in one of the greatest gold snatches in history.

The Most Dangerous Moment of the War: Japan’s Attack on the Indian Ocean, 1942A gripping account of Japan’s great raid on the Indian Ocean in 1942, an advance that could have threatened wholesale defeat for the British, and which Churchill described as ‘The most dangerous moment of the war’.

Ghost Patrol: A History of the Long Range Desert Group, 1940–1945 – An accessible and entertaining new history of the Long Range Desert Group, forerunner of the SAS, famous for their exploits in the Desert War, and full of memorable characters and archetypal British heroes.

About Casemate UK:
Part of the Casemate Group, Casemate UK is a specialist military history publisher and book distributor in the UK, European and Commonwealth markets. They have recently opened a military history books showroom in Oxford. More information can be found at www.casematepublishers.co.uk.

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A Hero Lost: Spencer Wurst 1924-2015

Spencer Free Wurst, age 90, passed away at UPMC Hamot, on March 16, 2015. He was born in Erie on December 19, 1924.

Among his many accomplishment, Spencer and his niece Gayle authored Casemate’s highly regarded DESCENDING FROM THE CLOUDS: A Memoir of Combat in the 505 Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Division. This  memoir of his war experiences  was a Main Selection of the Military Book Club and a History Book Club selection.  Library Journal stated that Spencer’s book “ranks as one of the best war memoirs written by a World War II veteran.” Spencer will be missed by all.

Spencer joined the National Guard in Erie at age 15. He quit school at 15 and trained with the 112th Infantry Regiment, 28th Infantry Division, before transferring to the newly-formed parachute infantry. In 1941, he was on a truck with other soldiers returning from maneuvers to Indiantown Gap Military Reservation when the attack on Pearl Harbor was announced.

After training in the newly-formed Parachute School at Fort Benning, Georgia, at age 17, he was proudly wearing his wings as a newly-qualified paratrooper with the 82nd Airborne Division. As he once put it, “The United States had no doctrine about airborne warfare, and the Army had never written anything about parachute operations. We wrote the book as we went along, and we added, changed, and deleted as we matured.”
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Spencer served in the European Theater of Operations from North Africa in 1943 through Germany in 1945. For most of this time, he was a squad leader or platoon leader in Company F, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, the famous unit that liberated the first town in Normandy, France, Ste.-Mère-Eglise (portrayed in the classic film The Longest Day). Spencer made three of the four combat jumps with the 505th PIR, earning two Purple Hearts in Normandy, the first one on D-Day in the perimeter defense of Ste.-Mère- Eglise.
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He was awarded the Silver Star for his role in the battle for the highway bridge in Nijmegen, Holland, and is featured in Cornelius Ryan’s famous account of the Holland Campaign, A Bridge Too Far. In the Ardennes Campaign, his unit participated in some of the fiercest fighting on the northern shoulder of the Bulge, before crossing over into Germany in the murderous Hurtgen Forest.

Near the end of the war, Spencer attended Officer’s Candidate Training School in Fontainebleau, France, and graduated first in his class. After V-E Day, he elected not to remain with the Division for occupation duty in Berlin, and was flown home on the “Green Project,” as one of the highest of the “high point” men in the 82nd Airborne.

Back in his native Erie, Spencer was eager to settle down and raise a family. “First I wanted to find a wife,” he stated. “Next, I would take off my chutes.” In 1946, he married 20-year-old Mildred Shugart, of Erie, whom he described as “the most devoted, kind, and gentle wife a man could ever ask for.” In 1974, Spencer and Millie moved to Clymer, N.Y., after raising their family in Harborcreek (1946-1974). Spencer retired from General Electric in 1982 after 35 years as a metallurgic technician.

Spencer rejoined the 112th Infantry, 28th Division, where he had a successful career in the Pennsylvania Army National Guard as a platoon leader, company commander, regimental S-3 and finally, commander of the 112th Infantry, the unit he first joined as a 15-year-old boy. His service included two years active duty as a tank company commander in one of the first four American divisions of NATO. He ended his military career in 1975 as Assistant Chief of Staff, G-3, and retired with the rank of Colonel after 35 years of service.

In 1990, Spencer F. Wurst was named a “distinguished member of the 505 Parachute Infantry Regiment” by the Secretary of the Army, in recognition of his “special place in regimental continuity, tradition, and esprit de corps.” He was inducted into the OCS Hall of Fame at Fort Benning in 2000.

In 2004, he served as President of the 112th Infantry Regiment Association. For the 60th anniversary of the Holland Campaign, World War II magazine published his account of the ferocious fighting in Nijmegen, “Against All Possible Fire” (September 2004).

Colonel Wurst’s combat decorations and awards include: Silver Star Medal; Bronze Star Medal; Purple Heart with one Oak Leaf Cluster; Europe-Africa-Middle East Medal with an Invasion Spearhead, one Silver Campaign Star (5 campaigns), and one Bronze Campaign Star for a total of Six Campaigns; Combat Infantry Badge; Parachute Wings with Three Combat Jump Stars; and Presidential Unit Citation with Cluster (two awards). He also received the following Foreign Combat unit Awards: French Fourragères (three awards); Dutch Orange Lanyards (two awards); Belgian Fourragères.

In 2008, Spencer was admitted into the French National Order of the Legion of Honor and received the Croix de Guerre, France’s highest military decoration. During his years of service from 1940 to 1975, he received 12 Non-combat Army Service Awards and numerous Pennsylvania Army National Guard Awards.

Spencer was preceded in death by his wife, Mildred, in 2007. “In our case it is really true that ‘they lived happily ever after,'” Spencer said on the occasion of their 56th anniversary in 2002. Spencer Free Wurst is survived by three children, Chris Wurst (Lane), Spencer R. Wurst (Debra), and Carolyn Fialkowski (Ed); seven grandchildren; 10 great-grandchildren, and two nieces, Gayle Lynne Wurst and Karen Kay Wurst.

Friends may call at the Dusckas-Taylor Funeral Home & Cremation Services, Inc., 5151 Buffalo Rd. (at Hannon Rd. in Harborcreek Township) on Thursday from 4 to 8 pm. Further visitation will be held on Friday at Faith Lutheran Church, 5414 East Lake Rd., from 10 a.m. until the time of the Funeral Service there, at 11 a.m., conducted by the Rev. David Laakso. Burial will be at Arlington National Cemetery at a time to be determined.

Memorial contributions may be made to Clymer Library, 564 Clymer-Sherman Rd., Clymer, NY 14724 or EUMA, 1033 E. 26th St., Erie, PA 16504, to benefit the Liberty House for veterans. To send an online message of sympathy or to view the Wurst Family tribute wall, please visit www.dusckas-taylorfuneralhome.com.  

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Fun facts for Saint Patrick’s Day

We all know about four leaf clovers and shamrock shakes- but did you know  St. Patrick wasn’t Irish? The biggest misconception about St. Patrick was that he was Irish. He was actually born in England around  385, St. Patrick didn’t make his way to Ireland until Irish pirates kidnapped him at age 16.

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There were no snakes for St. Pat to banish in Ireland. Legend has it that St. Patrick chased away snakes in Ireland,  however Ireland didn’t have snakes at the time. Surrounded by icy water, Ireland was the last place that these cold-blooded reptiles would want to go. It’s much more reasonable to think that the “snakes” that St. Patrick banished were representative of the Druids and Pagans in Ireland since they were considered evil.

The original color for St. Patrick’s Day wasn’t green. .When The  Order of St. Patrick was established in 1783, the organization’s color had to stand out from those that preceded it. And since dark green was already taken, the Order of St. Patrick went with blue. Green was associated with the country later, presumably because of the greenness of the countryside, which is so because Ireland receives plentiful rainfall. Today, the country is also referred to as the “Emerald Isle.”

St. Patrick’s Day in the US has a strong political history. In the mid 19th century, the Irish faced discrimination. In a few rare instances, prejudice against the Irish was even more fierce! The Irish were culturally unique, Catholic, and because of deplorable conditions in Ireland, flooded into the US in large numbers. They were perceived as a potentially disloyal and were treated harshly. To combat this, the American Irish began to organize themselves politically. By the end of the 19th century, St. Patrick’s Day was a large holiday for the Irish and an occasion for them to demonstrate their collective political and social might. While the political emphasis has faded along with the discrimination, the holiday remains ever popular as an opportunity for festivity regardless of one’s cultural background.

St. Patrick’s was a dry holiday in Ireland until 1970. Aside from the color green, the activity most associated with St. Patrick’s Day is drinking. However, Irish law, from 1903 to 1970, declared St. Patrick’s Day a religious observance for the entire country meaning that all pubs were shut down for the day. That meant no beer, not even the green kind, for public celebrants. The law was overturned in 1970, when St. Patrick’s was reclassified as a national holiday – allowing the taps to flow freely once again.

Bonus Fact: Your odds of finding a four-leaf clover are:

About 1 in 10,000.

For more Irish History- check out these titles

978184884148297819060337989781445601083

Celtic Saints

Long Long War: Voices From the British Army in Northern Ireland 1969-98

Helmand Mission With 1st Royal Irish Battlegroup in Afghanistan 2008

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WAR BONDS author Cindy Hval draws a huge crowd at first signing

Auntie’s Bookstore in hosted Cindy Hval’s first signing for WAR BONDS: Love Stories from the Greatest Generation on February 22.  Cindy had this message-

So thankful and humbled by the amazing turnout for the War Bonds book launch at Auntie’s yesterday.
Especially, delighted that so many family members of the couples featured in the book were in attendance.
I only wish that I’d been able to chat with all of you!
I also wish we hadn’t run out of books! But I will be signing all the books for those who pre-ordered as soon as they arrive.
I would love it if you could send me photos of yourselves reading War Bonds! You can email them to me at dchval@juno.com
Also, feel free to post reviews on Amazon and Goodreads.
I truly believe word-of-mouth helps to make books successful!
Thanks again for your amazing support and embrace of War Bonds.

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In case you missed it, here are some more opportunities to meet Cindy:

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Ground breaking analysis of America’s interventions, peacekeeping operations and insurgencies

AMERICA’S MODERN WARS arrived Friday, and author Christopher A. Lawrence took some time out of his busy schedule to talk with Casemate.

While the past half-century has seen no diminution in the valor and fighting skill of the U.S. military and its allies, the fact remains that our wars have become more protracted, with decisive results more elusive. With only two exceptions—Panama and the Gulf War under the first President Bush—our campaigns have taken on the character of endless slogs without positive results. Christopher Lawrence’s soon to be published America’s Modern Wars: Understanding Iraq, Afghanistan and Vietnam takes a ground-up look at the problem in order to assess how our strategic objectives have recently become divorced from our true capability, or imperatives.

The book presents a unique examination of the nature of insurgencies and the three major guerrilla wars the United States has fought in Iraq, Afghanistan and Vietnam. It is both a theoretical work and one that applies the hard experience of the last five decades to address the issues of today. As such, it also provides a timely and meaningful discussion of America’s current geopolitical position.

It starts with the previously close-held casualty estimate for Iraq that The Dupuy Institute compiled in 2004 for the U.S. Department of Defense. Going from the practical to the theoretical, it then discusses a construct for understanding insurgencies and the contexts in which they can be fought. It applies these principles to Iraq, Afghanistan and Vietnam, assessing where the projection of U.S. power can enhance our position and where it merely weakens it.

It presents an extensive analysis of insurgencies based upon a unique database of 83 post-WWII cases. The book explores what is important to combat and what is not important to resist in insurgencies. As such, it builds a body of knowledge based upon a half-century’s worth of real-world data, with analysis, not opinion. In these pages, Christopher A. Lawrence, the President of The Dupuy Institute, provides an invaluable guide to how the U.S. can best project its vital power, while avoiding the missteps of the recent past.

Why did you decide to write this book?

           

            I decided to write this book because it was new and unique analysis that had never been done before. From 2004 to 2009 we did extensive work on insurgencies for three different U.S. government agencies. This started with an estimate done in 2004 on the situation in Iraq, included the development of a large insurgency data base, and ended with a series of over a dozen reports detailing the nature of insurgencies. Then the work stopped abruptly in wake of our assumed success in Iraq and Afghanistan and the declining defense budget. Therefore, it was time to try to summarize a dozen insurgency reports into one smaller readable cohesive book. It was the desire the present work that was unique that forced me to put pen to paper.

When did you first realize that you wanted to become a writer? What is it about writing that appealed to you?

 

It was the realization that I was sitting on research and material that was unique is depth and scope that finally led me to start writing. It was a desire to present this unique material that forced me to write, not a desire to write. This was first done with my extensive 1600-page book Kursk: The Battle of Prohorovka (Aberdeen Books, Sheridan, CO., 2015) and has continued with America’s Modern Wars: Understanding Iraq, Afghanistan and Vietnam (Casemate Publishing, Philadelphia & Oxford, 2015) and the completed but not yet published War by Numbers: Understanding Conventional Combat.

Each of these books brings forth some part of the work I have been doing at The Dupuy Institute since 1993.

What are you working on at the moment?
I have just completed a third book War by Numbers: Understanding Conventional Combat. This book is built off of our work on conventional war that we did for the Department of Defense and the U.S. Army. In the meantime I have started a fourth book, co-authored with Niklas Zetterling, called Understanding World War II, which I hope to have done before the end of 2015.

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War Bonds: Love Stories from the Greatest Generation

We’re pleased to announce that War Bonds: Love Stories from the Greatest Generation is now available from Casemate!

War-Bonds

From blind dates to whirlwind romances to long separations, War Bonds highlights stories of couples who met or married during WWII. Each of the 30 stories begins with a World War II-era song title and concludes with a look at wartime couples in their twilight.

Read an interview with author Cindy Hval below and make sure to download a chapter sample about Pearl Harbor Survivors Warren and Betty Schott here.


What kinds of books did you read growing up? Which had the greatest impact on you?

The Little House on the Prairie series dominated my childhood. I loved those books and the plucky Laura Ingalls, but what I loved even more was that the stories were based on her own life.

What fascinates you about revisiting the past and bringing it to life in a book?

I think it stems from my fascination with Laura Ingalls Wilder and the Little House books. Her stories made a bygone era so real to me. I hope that in sharing the stories represented in War Bonds, others will get that magical sense of time and place.

Continue reading

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Marine Corps Tank Battles in the Middle East

We’re pleased to announce that Marine Corps Tank Battles in the Middle East is now available from Casemate!

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In this new release, Oscar Gilbert describes how Marine Corps tankers have been used to wage a smarter kind of war during our fights in Iraq and the post-9/11 years.

You can download a free chapter excerpt from this book here.


An Interview with Oscar E. Gilbert:

What fascinates you about revisiting the past and bringing it to life in a book?

In my professional life I was always something of an iconoclast, and that carries over into my writing. I never accept anything as the final word on a subject. I like to re-examine history based on interviews with veterans, read original period documents, and if at all possible to tour the old battlefields, and not just recycle previous accounts. In doing this I have found that much of historical “common knowledge” is just plain wrong. It’s also supremely important to view historical events, attitudes, and behaviors through the eyes of the historical participants, and not filter them through our own culture and personal attitudes. For example it is easy to condemn the surprisingly common practice of killing prisoners without understanding what drives men to murder. “One captain was sitting in the front line eating his lunch with one hand and shooting the snipers with the other as they came out to surrender.….he said he had had several wounded Jocks shot on their stretchers.” (Peter Hart, The Somme, p. 179)

When and how did you become interested in Military history?

I was always interested in military history since childhood. One of my longest assignments in the Marine Corps Reserve was as a battalion training NCO, teaching the required annual “refresher” courses on a number of subjects, including history of the Marine Corps.


More titles from Oscar E. Gilbert:

Marine Corps Tank Battles in Korea Cover Marine Corps Tank Battles in Vietnam Tanks in Hell Cover
Marine Corps Tank
Battles in Korea
Marine Corps Tank
Battles in Vietnam
Tanks in Hell

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