Tales of the Flying Tigers

THE WARBIRD'S FORUM

I've had a great time lately, learning about Eastern Europe from the tongue-twistingly named Vejas Gabriel Liulevicius of the University of Tennessee. The project consists of 24 half-hour lessons, an audio download that cost me less than $50 with various discounts. (The outfit is called The Great Courses. They come on DVD or streaming video, CD or audio download, and everything is discounted on a regular schedule, I think every three months. Whatever, the discounts are worth waiting for.) I drive to the gym, clamp on the earphones, and attend class while working out -- healthy mind in healthy body!

What struck me most was this morning's lecture, dealing with the post-1945 partisan war against Russian occupation. The war faded out in 1953. It involved a hundred thousand "Forest Brothers" at its height, then just a handful, and finally one, August Sabbe of Estonia. He wasn't caught until 1978, when he was 69 years old and had outlived all his supporters, forcing him to turn to petty theft to stay alive. He drowned when the secret police arrested him, whether trying to escape (as the Russians said) or because he preferred death to a prison camp.

I tried -- I really did! -- to get into Winter is Coming, by the former chess champion and now anti-Putin activist Gary Kasparov. The story he tells is an important one, of how a one-time KGB colonel transformed himself into the kleptocratic dictator of Russia. And perhaps you'll like it better than I did! (Amazon's reader views are generally very favorable.) Personally, I preferred the less heated account by Steven Lee Myers, The New Tsar: The Rise and Reign of Vladimir Putin, now available in a paperback edition that actually costs less than the e-book. (I find that irritating. We actually own the paperback; we only rent the e-book. One of the reasons that traditional publishers are ceding market share to self-published authors is that the "independents" price more realistically. I typically charge $4.99 for my digital editions, while Knopf and Amazon want $15.99 for the Myers book, six dollars more than the paperback!

And here is a lengthy, intelligent, and persuasive look at Islamic State, which the author prefers to call by its politically correct name of ISIS, as if the first two letters did not mean Islamic State! (Which, I suppose, is why Mr Obama sometimes obscures it even further as Daesh.) I'm not familiar with the publisher or the author, Scott Attran. But I've sent the link to people I respect, and they liked it too.

I haven't read Wounded Tiger, but it's got great blurbs and reader reviews, which you can read for yourself on Amazon.com, and probably should. The tiger in question is Fuchida Mitsuo, the lead pilot in the devastation of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 (local time). Evidently Fuchida-san found God as a result of his wartime experiences. I'm not much for "non-fiction novels," because authors seldom make it clear what's real and what they invented. And I'm not much for books that are heavy on religion, and I sense from the reviews that that's what the author is serving up. Finally, while I respect the men who fought against against Americans in the Second World War, the Pearl Harbor attack was something apart from that war. Okay, you've been warned. Blue skies! — Daniel Ford

Welcome to the forum!

Here are a thousand or so files on airplanes, pilots, and the wars of the past hundred years, grouped under these headings:

Poland's Daughter

Annals of the Flying Tigers
Annals of the Brewster Buffalo
Annals of Poland: war and exile, 1939-1948
Japan at War, 1931-1945
Annals of the Chinese Air Force
Glen Edwards and the Flying Wing
Remembering Bluie West One
The Spadguys Speak (carrying a nuke to Sevastopol)
Annals of Vietnam
War in the Modern World

Plus these excellent places to look for more:

Question? Comment? Newsletter? Send me an email. Blue skies! -- Dan Ford

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Posted March 2016. Websites © 1997-2016 Daniel Ford; all rights reserved.