‘Fields of War: Battle of Normandy’

May 6, 2014  |  No Comments

Approaching the 70th anniversary of D-Day, Robert J. Mueller’s “Fields of War: Battle of Normandy” is an important and welcome guide to anyone even passingly considering honoring the brave souls who charged into occupied Europe to help destroy one of history’s most monstrous tyrannies.

We don’t need an anniversary to bugle up gratitude for those brave, brave men who tipped the balance upon Germany’s hellish Nazis — we do need a book like this to help us find the way to do so after such a time as has passed.

Mueller’s “Fields of War” (French Battlefields. Arlington heights, 2014, $29.95) is listed as a “visitor’s guide to World War II battlefields” and it is certainly that. But, more, it is a crisp and clear portrait of world-shaping events and the armies — and individuals — who did the shaping. One by one.

This is a very good book.

“Fields of War” (www.FrenchBattlefields.com) paints in the grandest scale the battles, the units, the terrains and, most important, the soldiers who wrested Europe back from history’s most evil and bloody lords. For anyone considering a visit to northern France, this is the book to have in hand. For those others inspired to salute from afar freedom’s heavy victory, these pages give direction and explanation — and meaning.

Across more than 400 pages of maps, day-by-day accounts of unit-by-unit progress in the ghastly fighting that drove the Germans from their terrible hold on the lands they had conquered, “Fields of War” is a road map to history — across a landscape marked by century after century of nearly unceasing pain and bloodshed.

The prose is brisk and to the point: There is a great story being told here. The photographs are evocative and the perspective captured brings back to life events of so long ago — but only yesterday in the grim accounting of mankind’s mad dedication to violence.

From the hard beaches of Normandy to the routing of the hateful German occupiers, the book paces us through the accomplishments of nations, of armies, of divisions, of soldiers in battle after battle.

Robert J. Mueller’s previous book, “Fields of War: Fifty Key Battlefields in France and Belgium” tellingly looked at six centuries of fighting across a small patch of the world’s landscape. This book dedicates nearly the same space to one seemingly small season’s fighting in the same area — one which, prayerfully, will be the last such look needed as we hope against hope that no more battlefields such as these will be needed again.

The strategies and tactics are made clear. The events and progresses are helpfully outlined. Highlights for a visitor nearly three-quarters of a century later are accounted and defined. We need this book: As the participants fade and the memories dim, “Fields of War: Battle of Normandy” is possibly more important now than it ever might have been earlier.

The Courant’s Interview

July 20, 2013  |  1 Comment

Here’s the lead-in to the Hartford Courant’s nice interview. The entire piece is at http://www.courant.com/features/books/hc-bangkok-world-0721-20130721,0,7282443.story
The book is available through www.thebangkokworld.com, Amazon.com and at other locales.

By DAVID HOLAHAN
Special To The Hartford Courant
July 21, 2013

To people of a certain age, especially journalists, Denis Horgan’s fourth book, “The Bangkok World,” (296 pages, Bluefoot Publishing, $25) evokes memories of a misty distant past: when his home, Boston, had six daily newspapers (Hartford had two); when newsrooms ran on cigarettes, coffee, and whiskey; when the type was hot (molten lead) and being a reporter was not. Newspapering was viewed as a rung above riding shotgun on a garbage truck (maybe).

Horgan confesses: “I did not set out to become a newspaper guy any more than someone sets out to become an alcoholic or a drug addict; it happens that many of us might end up that way but no one starts out with that as The Plan.”

Happenstance, it turns out, isn’t always terrible, and the author’s love for his lifelong calling is vivid, even moving. After leaving Thailand, he enjoyed a distinguished career at The Washington Star and the Hartford Courant, where he was an award-winning columnist for decades. His writing is crisp, conversational, and insightful. He can turn a phrase on a dime.

His book focuses on the years 1966 to 1971, when the Vietnam War was getting bigger but not better. Horgan began that period serving in the U.S. Army, stationed in Thailand, and he sometimes squired journalists about. But when his tour ended, he stayed on to become, at age 26, the editor and publisher of The Bangkok World, an English-language daily. His most significant previous journalistic experience was as a copy boy at the Boston Globe.

The book is richly illustrated with three dozen black and white photographs by William Harting, the author’s colleague at the paper and the author of several books of photography. Words are not enough to describe Thailand in all its glory and chaos circa 1970, and Harting’s wonderful vision closes the circle.

Horgan’s love for Thailand is unbounded, even if his paper’s newsboys came after him once with malice aforethought (and a knife). The kid from Boston became a newspaper man in a mystical and tumultuous land far away, and he is eternally grateful: “Just getting off the plane in Don Muang, the sense of the place had embraced me like a beautiful fog. I had read a little on what Thailand was supposed to be like but I was not the least ready for the warm loveliness, the sharp colors, the smells and sparkle in the air, the niceness of the people. Simply, it made me feel happy.”

Voting Rights Outdated?

February 27, 2013  |  No Comments

How ironic that the Supreme Court, dominated by rightwing ideologues, nightriders and barnburners, is dedicating time to airily wondering whether America’s protections of the right to vote aren’t outdated exactly when America’s protections of the right to vote are under more attack than in a generation.
There is not less to fear but more.
The enemy of America’s rights this time is the Republican party — which in state after state is imposing harsh and terrible attacks on Americans’ chance to vote in fair and effective manner. People are denied the ballot for trifles, made to wait in hours’ long lines, abused and treated like criminals by the Republican party.
No distant enemy of the nation has ever caused as many Americans to be discombobulated, harrassed and harried at the polls as has the Republican party with its proud voter suppression campaign. Osama bin laden did less damage to our liberties at the polls than has the Republican party. Bin laden suppressed not a single American ballot — except those of the Ameericans who lost their lives at his bloody hands. Yet the Republicans in state after state have caused thousands and thousands of American citizens to be denied their rights, to be penalized for no crime whatever except their race, national origin or political affiliation.
No doubt the Supreme Court hacks will allow ever new ways for the GOP anti-patriots to inflict their partisan damage on the liberties so many have fought for.
That’s what we’ve come to expect from them.
It’s what they do.

Is This Really Fun?

February 24, 2013  |  1 Comment

90 to 30?
Howabout 30 to 90?

I know the UConn Women’s basketball program is sainted and beyond anything but the most reverential adoration. But come on.

90 to 30?
105 to 28?
119 to 50?
102 to 45?
105 to 49?
101 to 41?
94 to 37?
97 to 25?

Is that sports? The fawning goes on how well they play and how god-like is the coach. But is that what we want from our squeeky clean sports? Massacres? Scores run up crazily high?

This is getting a little stale.

Places to Cut on Budgets Spongers

February 21, 2013  |  10 Comments

Okie doke. They have to cut the budget. Since it is so often said by government haters hat there are so many people sponging on the federal budget, clusters of special interests gorging at the public trough, here’s a start; what government hater would ever object to cut:

Fort Jackson in South Carolina
Charleston Air Force Base in South Carolina
Shaw Air Force Base in South Carolina
The McEntire Joint National Guard Base in South Carolina
Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort in South Carolina
The Naval Weapons Station Charleston in South Carolina
Brooks City-Base in Texas
Dyess Air Force Base in Texas
The Goodfellow Air Force Base in Texas
Lackland Air Force Base in Texas
Randolph Air Force Base in Texas
Fort Bliss in Texas
Fort Hood in Texas
Fort Sam Houston in Texas
Red River Army Depot in Texas
The Naval Air Station in Texas
NAS Corpus Christi in Texas
Naval Air Station Kingsville in Texas
Eglin Air Force Base in Florida
Hurlbert Field Air Force Base in Florida
MacDill Air Force Base in Florida
Patrick Air Force Base in Florida
Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida
Camp Blanding in Florida
Air Station Clearwater in Florida
Blount Island Command in Florida
NAS Jacksonville in Florida
Naval Air Station Key West in Florida
The Naval Air Station Pensacola in Florida
Naval Air Station Whiting Field in Florida
Naval Station Mayport in Florida
Naval Support Activity Panama City in Florida
Moody Air Force Base in Georgia
Robins Air Force Base in Georgia
Camp Frank D. Merrill in Georgia
Fort Benning in Georgia
Fort Gillem in Georgia
Fort Gordon in Georgia
Fort McPherson in Georgia
Fort Stewart in Georgia
Hunted Army Airfield in Georgia
Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany in Georgia
Kings Bay Submarine Base in Georgia
NAS Atlanta in Georgia

Done with that there’s so many more to cut in Alabama, Mississippi, Wisconsin, etc.