The other day I mentioned that I had raided Barnes & Noble after the Sarge - Tuna 2016 Summit Meeting. Okay "raid" hints that perhaps I didn't pay for the books, I did actually, that's just me, being dramatic. (Of course, it wasn't much of a "summit meeting" either, it's pretensions of grandeur I have. Not to mention writing occasionally in the same manner in which Yoda speaks. It's an affectation, artistic license if you will.)
Anyhoo, my buddy Wayward Sailor (the fellow whom I had dinner with and wrote about here) asked me just what those books I had purchased were. Or was I saving that for a blog post at some time down the road? I was indeed saving the identity of those books for later. Which has come to pass. (Later has come to pass, that was then, this is now. Or something.)
Pictured above, on the left, is the first of the five recent acquisitions which I have already read. I know what you're thinking, "Sarge, just how many books on Waterloo do you need?" The answer is, of course, is that I need all of them. Well, the really good ones anyway, and this one is superb.
Major Gordon Corrigan is a retired British officer with a somewhat mixed reputation amongst some historians (Google him, you'll see). As you know there are many historians I find absolutely pedantic, boring, and awfully dull, they don't sell many books, students fall asleep in their classes and they tend to be terribly judgmental of "popular history," you know the books real people actually spend money on and actually read.
Major Corrigan is not one of your boring, academic historians. Not at all, in fact he is very entertaining. His book Waterloo: Wellington, Napoleon, and the Battle that Saved Europe, is a worthwhile addition to any Napoleonic library (you can get it here). I have one quibble with it, but it's a minor thing and didn't detract from my sheer enjoyment of the book.
I highly recommend this book for it's overview of the campaign, the commanders who took part in it, the soldiers who fought it, and for his description of the battle itself. It's a small volume, easy to read, and Major Corrigan has a superb sense of humor.
Now, my quibble. Why do so many authors talk of the "vast clouds of black smoke shrouding the field"? Or words to that effect. In my experience, black powder produces whitish smoke, sometimes tending to light beige but by no means "black." Major Corrigan is not the only author to mention the smoke color as being something other than whitish. I'm sure the burning chateau of Hougoumont may have contributed darker smoke, but for the most part, all the black powder explosions I've ever seen have produced whitish smoke. Perhaps one of the readers can enlighten me on that score. (At the Waterloo re-enactment of 1995 you couldn't hardly see a bloody thing after about 30 minutes due to all of the white smoke produced by all the black powder being fired off from the various muskets and cannon. Is it just me?)
But all in all, Waterloo: Wellington, Napoleon, and the Battle that Saved Europe is an entertaining read. If you have a casual interest in the Battle of Waterloo and don't wish to wade through a 500 page work, this is the book for you.
Stephen Coonts' latest offering, Liberty's Last Stand, scares the living crap out of me. I've just started reading it and so far every word he's written presents a plausible scenario of how we could lose our freedom overnight. Some of the action might seem a little far-fetched, but if you have any knowledge of history and the events which transpired in Germany in the early 1930s, you might find it scary believable. I can't wait to see how it turns out.
Mr. Coonts is one of my favorite authors and has been since Flight of the Intruder (the book mind you, not the film). If you're a fan of Jake Grafton and Tommy Carmellini, don't miss this book. (I discovered over the weekend that I did miss one of his books with Jake Grafton. Back to the bookstore as I scratch my head wondering, "How did I miss that one?" The one in question being Pirate Alley. In guess you were wondering.)
Now the three remaining books in the stack ran the gamut from another favorite author, Nelson DeMille (I swear if he wrote a phone book, I'd buy it), to a book which while it didn't spawn the TV series Turn (that book would be Washington's Spies: The Story of America's First Spy Ring by Alexander Rose, 2007) is in the same area. George Washington's Secret Six: The Spy Ring That Saved the American Revolution is a later entry (Brian Kilmeade, 2014) which also tells the tale of the Culper Ring. six brave people who risked their necks (literally) to provide the Father of Our Country with vital intel. (Yes, I am going to buy the first one, when I find it. Don't point me online, I know that, it's just that I like visiting book stores and browsing. It's the aroma I crave...)
A Higher Call is one of those books that when I saw it on the shelf at B&N I wondered, "Now why is this book not in my library?" I'm familiar with the story, a number of my friends have already read it and recommended it to me.
Sarge's Lament (if it's ever written) might have the subtitle So Many Books, So Little Time. While I am a voracious reader, there are only so many hours in the day. It may take time, but I remember books recommended to me, and eventually read them.
What's a lament you ask?
A lament or lamentation is a passionate expression of grief, often in music, poetry, or song form. The grief is most often born of regret, or mourning. Laments can also be expressed in a verbal manner, where the participant would lament about something they regret or someone they've lost, usually accompanied by wailing, moaning and/or crying. Laments constitute some of the oldest forms of writing and examples are present across human cultures.Now close your ears dear Buck, it's some of that Highland music you dinna care for.
Scottish laments - The purely instrumental lament is a common form in Pìobaireachd music for the Scottish bagpipes. "MacCrimmon's Lament" dates to the Jacobite uprising of 1745. The tune is held to have been written by Donald Ban MacCrimmon, piper to the MacLeods of Dunvegan, who supported the Hanoverians. It is said that Donald Ban, who was killed at Moy in 1746, had an intimation that he would not return.
A well-known Gaelic lullaby is "Griogal Crìdhe" ("Beloved Gregor"). It was composed in 1570 after the execution of Gregor MacGregor by the Campbells. The grief-stricken widow describes what happened as she sings to her child.
"Cumha na Cloine" (Lament for the Children) was composed by Padruig Mòr MacCrimmon in the early 1650s. It is generally held to be based on the loss of seven of MacCrimmon's eight sons to an unknown illness, possibly brought to Skye by a trading vessel. Author Bridget MacKenzie, in Piping Traditions of Argyll, suggests that it refers to the slaughter of the MacLeod's fighting Cromwell's forces at the Battle of Worcester. It may have been inspired by both.
Other Scottish laments include "Lowlands Away", "MacPherson's Rant", and "Hector the Hero". Source
I have yet to hear a lament on the pipes which didn't bring a tear to my eyes. This one, which I hadn't heard before, was particularly moving as I lost a good friend back in 2014, a fine brawny lad by the name of John McPherson. I miss him still, I wrote of his passing here. I miss ya buddy.
Anyhoo, carry on, I must dash, those books aren't going to read themselves!