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THE WARBIRD'S BOOK CLUB

All book links are to Amazon's US store, but you can probably find the same titles on your home-country store. I direct you to the print edition, where you'll also find the ebook if one is available. This website earns a small commission if you buy through these links. -- DF

Yes, Top Gun 2.0 is a great flick. It's both wonderfully old-fashioned (the Americans are the good guys, and the good guys win) and completely up to date (lots of Diversity and computer-generated action). Not only did I set through the full two hours and ten minutes with a grin on my face, but my life partner liked it, too, and she normally walks away from anything more violent than Disney's Snow White. And Tom Cruise looks good! The man is buff, and his jaw line is reasonably firm, yet he's 60 years old. (The movie, to be sure, was filmed three years ago and put on hold until the Covid panic subsided.) Best of all, from my point of view, we can stream it now on Amazon for as little as $4.99. Sure, it would be better to see it in an IMAX cinema, but we're still wary of spending an evening in close proximity to several hundred others.

A wealthy WASP from Boston, Joseph Grew wouldn't find many defenders in academia today, but he gets the respect he deserves in Steve Kemper's Our Man In Tokyo: An American Ambassador and the Countdown to Pearl Harbor, which moreover is a good history of the runup to the "date which will live in infamy" -- December 7, 1941 -- that launched the United States as a combatant in the Second World War. Though fluent in French and German, with a smattering of six other languages, Grew never learned Japanese. But he knew the country and had many Japanese friends. A Republican, he had been assigned to Tokyo by Herbert Hoover just before Roosevelt's landslide victory in 1932. They had been classmates at Groton and Harvard, and that counted for a lot: Grew would remain at his post for ten years, the last six months in house arrest with little heat but a cellar full of fine wines and liquors. Through it all, Grew did his best to interpret the two countries to one another, but was regularly sabotaged by the US State Department, which took the hard line toward Japan and badly underestimated the danger of a Japanese attack. As you read the last few chapters, you can almost hear the Doomsday clock ticking down to war. (To be released on November 8.)

There seems to be a trend toward triple biographies. As a Brit, Lloyd Clark of course includes the obnoxious "Monty of El Alemein" in The Commanders: The Leadership Journeys of George Patton, Bernard Montgomery, and Erwin Rommel but failed to convince me that Monty deserves to rank up there with the other two. Georgy Zhukov would have made a more interesting choice as the son of peasants and a nice contrast to the comparatively privileged early lives of the others. Of his three choices, each was born in the closing decades of the 19th century, and each fought heroically in the First World War. The Second World War began with Rommel and Montgomery as two-star generals, while Patton was still a colonel in an army only beginning to expand. Their paths didn't cross until 1943, in Tunisia, by which time Patton too was a major general, and not until the invasion of France did Patton show what he was capable of. Monty needed three months to break out of his Normandy beachhead, while the US Third Army raged through eastern France. To show his contempt, Patton offered to swing left and "drive the British into the sea for another Dunkirk." (Mr Clark doesn't mention this bit of bravado.)

Daniel Ford's books:

https://www.danfordbooks.com/lookback.htm">Looking Back From Ninety: Depression, War, the Good Life That Followed
Cowboy: Interpreter, Soldier, Warlord, and One More Casualty of Our War in Vietnam
The Only War We've Got: Early Days in South Vietnam
Flying Tigers: Claire Chennault & His American Volunteers, 1941-1942
Tales of the Flying Tigers (think of it as a lengthy appendix to the history)
The Lady and the Tigers (Olga Greenlaw)
Poland's Daughter: How I Learned About Love, War, and Exile
Glen Edwards: Diary of a Bomber Pilot
A Vision So Noble: John Boyd, the OODA Loop, and America's War on Terror
The Country Northward: A Hiker's Journal
The Greater America: An Epic Journey Through a Vibrant New Country (Ralph Paine)
~ ~ ~ ~
Michael's War: A Story of the Irish Republican Army
Remains: A Story of the Flying Tigers
Incident at Muc Wa: A Story of the Vietnam War
The High Country Illuminator: A Tale of Light and Darkness and the Ski Bums of Avalon

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