Sunday, February 10, 2008

Front Lines

A month and a half into 2008, and I've only read three books now. Well off my normal pace. Is it a lack of attention span? Other distractions? Who knows?

#3 -- "Armageddon: the Battle for Germany, 1944-1945" by Max Hastings

Fitting that I finished reading this book this morning, because after last night I felt like Germany, 1944-1945. Well, not quite that bad. But I was definitely unwell.

But you're not here to read about that -- you're saying "really, Greg, tell us about the books you read. That's always fascinating." Anyway. I got this by accident several years ago -- as a member of the History Book Club (yes, nerrrrd) I mistakenly hit the "send my selection immediately!" button rather than the "don't send selection" button. It could happen to anybody.

It didn't really look like my thing -- I'm not terribly into military history -- but out of shame and obligation, I kept it on my shelf for a couple years, finally dragging it off this past week to give it a cursory chance before selling it to the used bookstore (it's a big book and takes up a lot of space).

So, naturally, it turned out to be fantastic -- I always assume books like this are going to be really aimed at war nerds, and heavy on military formations and other technicalities that aren't in my frame of reference. "Armageddon," at least, is not. It draws heavily from the first-hand accounts of people on all sides; Americans and Brits, Germans and Russians, Dutch and Poles, military and civilian. It's exhaustively researched but doesn't drag you down with statistics.

I made lots of little mental notes on things I should mention, but that was before I decided on the bold stroke of writing this review hungover. So the hell with it. Briefly: "Armageddon" is really really good, and I need to read something happy next.

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