Summer Reading

Well, amidst all the $^&*#^$ going on around the country, I have taken time to finally read Jeff Shaara's The Steel Wave, the second novel in his Trilogy about the European Theater in World War II. I have enjoyed many of Shaara's books, particularly his Civil War novels that come before and after his father's Pulitzer Prize winning The Killer Angles, THE BEST novel ever written about the Civil War.

The thing I really like about Steel Wave is that Shaara not only moves the book along by interspersing his story with history, but he conveys the uncertainty of all the players in what is going on.

Clausewitz states that one of characteristics of war is that two intelligent actors (people) are working constantly against each other...warfare is not a static action but a struggle of individuals where chance plays a tremendous role.

In his book, Shaara captures this magnificently and really draws the readers into the doubt and uncertainty that the Allies had over whether they would win the Normandy Campaign and make the D-Day landings successful.

As I have often maintained, too many Americans, poorly schooled in [blech] "social studies" have no real understanding of history and consider that history is merely an inevitable set of circumstances. "Of course the Allies had to win the war, we had more of everything and we were the good guys."

This is clearly not so, for example, if Ike had delayed the landings due to weather from June 6 to June 19, which was the backup date due to tides and moons, the Allies would have landed during the biggest storm in the English Channel in 50 years and the outcome could have been quite different.

History is the result of thousands of decisions of individuals and the effects of those decisions. This novel does an outstanding job of conveying some of the magnitude of what the Allies did in June 1944 and some of the individuals, both generals and privates that made the Normandy Campaign one of the most important battles in history.

Shaara's final book in this series will be out just in time for Christmas...hooray...