Friday, December 31, 2010

The Books of 2010

This has been a tough year for me and books. I have mostly cuckholded my library as my time has been very limited. A start-up year is a time sponge. That and two wonderful daughters, a demanding Mrs. Salamander, an wide estuary for my boat, two new dogs, and a newly purchased deep-country acreage for my dacha and hunting retreat have kept me away from books. That and my magazines and decades long news addiction made worse by the internet.

Oh, that and I blog.

Pathetic excuses, but I did manage a few books. Looking back - some I still need to finish the last 50-or-so pages
(a bad habit I share with Mrs. Salamander who reads about 4x as much as I do), the there is a mixed story in the collection.

There are the comfort food of books I have re-read for the umpteenth time; USNIPress's superb
The Emden-Ayesha Adventure: German Raiders in the South Seas and Beyond, 1914 is a perfect example of this. If you have never read this, you have not lived a full and informed life.

The classic
The Long March: Xenophon and the Ten Thousand was another return. It is all there. Over 2,000 years old and most all you need to know about leadership in adversity and the characteristics of good and bad leaders is there.

As I could not have made the civilian transition the way I did if I were not a little lucky and a little smart with money over the years, I re-read
Monster Stocks: How They Set Up, Run Up, Top and Make You Money. It paid off again after the September follow-through day. This week I locked in some very nice gains on a quad of stocks. Not luck - informed decisions and hard work. It is there for you to if you take the time to read.

Next year, I will re-read O'Neil's How to Make Money in Stocks: A Winning System in Good Times and Bad, Fourth Edition, this time in its new addition that came out in '09. I really should have read it this year - but didn't.

If you have never read a book on how to understand the stock market - read that book. 'Nuff said.

On a more personal note, it was neat to read about something about my corner of the war - something I was involved with on the side in "parallel play" during the first months of the Long War,
Horse Soldiers: The Extraordinary Story of a Band of US Soldiers Who Rode to Victory in Afghanistan. What a great story that will make a great movie one day.

There were also books I read by acquaintances & friends I have met over the years as my alter-ego "Sal," and have had as guests on
Midrats; James S. Robbins's This Time We Win: Revisiting the Tet Offensive and Bruce Fleming's Bridging the Military-Civilian Divide: What Each Side Must Know About the Other - And About Itself fit that niche.

Other Midrats guests books include Such Men as These: The Story of the Navy Pilots Who Flew the Deadly Skies over Korea, an important book covering a subject we touched on a few times this year, The Korean War.

Finally, there was a book that was simply horrible; James Bradley's
The Imperial Cruise: A Secret History of Empire and War. It read like some graduate history student trying to get laid with his far-left faculty advisor. What a horrible misuse of an important story. Post-modernism flavored with white guilt and national self-loathing. Pathetic.

So, that was the year in books.

On a side-note, the end of the year has me feeling a bit off to be candid. This is my first full year as a civilian since the early/mid-80s. I miss it in some ways - but am enjoying being a father while I can. Children don't wait for you. It is good to have a place to grow roots, have a nice boat, a home, extended family a short drive, some acreage, and all that I take for granted so many gave so much so I could have just a bit.

I am very happy in what I do now, but ... still. I miss the sea. I know I am not a warrior monk, but still. The military is a calling, not a job - at least it was to me. You can't have it all, but I tried as long as I could and then something had to give.

I come from a line that does not make the military a living, and Mrs. Salamander definately does not. I've returned to the place and position I was supposed to be at a decade and a half ago - but I am glad I waited.

No, wouldn't change a thing. Not one. 2010 was a different year.

2011 - with hope I will see 2012.

So much to do, so little time.


John said...

Phib-  We visitors greatly appreciate the sacrifices in time and treasure that you make to share your thoughts and ideas with strangers.  We are the better for it.  I am sure I speak for many others in wishing you and your [long suffering and very tolerant!] family an even better year in 2011.

Anonymous said...

Happy New Year, Phib!  

turtleairships said...

Interesting synchronisity here.  It's my 4:40 AM and I'm laden with insomnia.  Dropped by, read the "books", and thought I'd say something supposedly unique:  ie:  toward Mrs. Salamander...

CDR, I don't know you outside of your blog, and I've always appreciated your writings and welcome here; as well as your audience. she comes up now and then, I thought I'd just give a nod to that good Lady of yours

gotta be quite a gal.

So, I come here to say this and to tell you to tell her so.....and find "John" has beat me by a hairs' whisker.   Like I said...sychronisity. be sure to tell her.  
 And, good 2011 to you!

Byron said...

Sal, first, Happy New Year! May you always find time for a good book! Personally, I always have time for books, I've been a voracious reader since at age 7 I discovered the library.

Cities with estuaries...I was born in a city at the head of one of the largest estuaries in the world: the Mississipi River Delta. At age 11, I moved to another that had a beautiful estuary, Jacksonville and the St. Johns River. I've always wanted to get a small boat like a pirouge and just run around in all the streams and creeks that make up this city on a delta.

Mrs. Phibian: by definition, she must be a strong and wonderful woman, for she is of the clan, Navy Wife. My daughter is one, so I have reason to know what they are like.

Last, I bought that damn book Imperial Cruise and worse, read the whole thing. Not bad if you apply a heavy filter for anti-American far left liberal viewpoints. But I only read it once...and did what I very rarely ever do...gave it away at a garage sale.

UltimaRatioRegis said...


Happy New Year to you and the Missus, and to the kids, two legs and four.  May you enjoy your acreage in the DEEP South, and avoid the frigid temperatures that are a part of global cooling that is a part of Global Warming.  A silent prayer for those we lost in 2010, and a prayer of thanks for having had them in our lives.

Yeah, a start-up is a hell of a lot of work, and once the cylinders start firing, you have to run up to the navigation bridge and plot the course....  But it is worth it.  And being one's own boss is a damned nice situation. 

I will dive into a couple of books you listed here, and a stack as high as my armpit for the next year. 

Tops on my list for the year just passed was a re-read (my fifth) of <span>Moby Dick</span>.  A classic epic, and will be a different book every time you read it, depending on where you are in your life.  We have all known a few Ahabs and a few Ishmaels in our times.

Next was Norman Friedman's <span>Network Centric Warfare</span>.  Superb account and analysis of the development of information systems to the modern day, and the real uses of those systems.   

Next was George McDonald Frazier's <span>Quartered Safe Out Here</span> (on tape).  A positively riveting account of what life was like in an infantry section in Slim's 14th Army, the last of the Kipling Armies, as they fought their way from the "battle of the boxes" and Imphal through Burma until the dropping of the atomic bombs and the end of the war.  Should have been required reading for all hands in the DADT debate. 

There were a ton of others, but those would be a good addition to any list, IMHO.


sid said...

Can't say it any better.

Happy New Year!

Therapist1 said...

Happy New Year everyone!!  I am currently reading, "Hero Found: The Greatest POW Escape of the Vietnam War".  It is about an A-1 Skyraider pilot by the name of Dieter Dengler.  They made the movie "Rescue Dawn" about his escape.

If you have not read the book, it is worth it.  Told through prism of of hero worship, it is still a good read.  Dieter was the only man to have escaped 3 times doing SERE school and leave having gained weight.

Good luck and much prosperity to everyone in 2011.

LT B said...

Ditto Phib. May all on the porch have a glory filled 2011! To show our Christian good will here on the porch, I even wish the trolls a wonderful year provided their wishes do not hurt this great nation.

Old Salt said...

Very well said, CDR S, my feelings exactly. I suspect many of us feel/felt the same way. It was NEVER a job, and we never went to work.

"<span>The military is a calling, not a job - at least it was to me." </span>

Old Salt said...

And a suggestion...for those interested in boats...check out for some superlative ideas on how to get out on the water expeditiously.

SCOTTtheBADGER said...

Happy New Year, Commander, and thanks for a pleasant year under your porch.

Surfcaster said...

If it is that bad, wouldn't it be better to level a desk or something? Ya know, keep it out of circulation and all that?

P.S. Happy New Year to Byron & the rest of the gang.

Surfcaster said...

Happy New Year to you and the Missus, and to the kids, two legs and four.  May you enjoy your acreage in the DEEP South, and avoid the frigid temperatures that are a part of global cooling that is a part of Global Warming.  A silent prayer for those we lost in 2010, and a prayer of thanks for having had them in our lives.  
Yeah, a start-up is a hell of a lot of work, and once the cylinders start firing, you have to run up to the navigation bridge and plot the course....  But it is worth it.  And being one's own boss is a damned nice situation. "</span>

Thank you for saying what I wanted better than I could.

(p.s. - contemplating my own business startup this year, ohh the horrors and opportunity)

MR T's Haircut said...

Happy New Year Phib.

My year was also "different"  cant say I will miss it.  Life changes and such.  Here is to a better one.

Cheers Mate.


UltimaRatioRegis said...


Worth it to try the startup, if you have anywhere near a reasonable model.  It is a great stabilizing factor to know that the main person you are counting on is yourself. 

It is, to mix metaphors, the high wire without a net, but you can't play the hand unless you're willing to put the ante in the pot.

Go get 'em!  And good luck.

LT B said...

Go back and check out "12 steps to leaving the military". :)

sid said...

<span>a wide estuary for my boat</span>
<span>Deep enough for 9 ft? 8-) </span>

DeltaBravo said...

...can we just kick the whole miserable decade to the curb?  All the heartbreak and horror and terror and tears?  Just take it all and say goodbye?  2010 was not the best for me either.  Just about got through it... I think.  Here's to a better 2011.  Happy 1-1-11!!

ewok40k said...

Everyone, keep safe first and foremost, as many of the readers are going in the harms way, and we all due to reasons beyond our power are marked as targets for the global jihad. May your sailing be smooth and safe too, for the sea is harsh mistress. Finally, patience with absurds of the politico life, do not let it drive you crazy.
Ewok's best wishes for 2k11

Grandpa Bluewater said...

Happy New Year to all from Gramps, CINCHOUSE, and the tribe.

prschoef said...

For those who enjoyed the Emden's story, WOLF by Richard Guilliatt and Peter Hohnen, Free Press, 2010, should fascinate. The Wolf was a somewhat later, WW One, raider. The story is wonderfully well written.

DeltaBravo said...

Don't see you around here as much as we'd probably like lately.  Hope your 2011 is better!

QMC(SW)(ret) said...

Speaking of oldies I have been reading Churchill's 4 volume "History of the English Speaking Peoples" in a 1963 "deluxe gift box edition" that orginially sold for the princely sum of $5.80 ($40 today by the Inflation Calculator). Someone took very good care of these books, they are are in excellent condition for nearly 50 year old paperbacks.  

SCOTTtheBADGER said...

Yes, we need more MTH!

UltimaRatioRegis said...

MTH is like cowbell on the porch!   We need more!

MR T's Haircut said...

HAHA more cowbell... I will try..

MR T's Haircut said...

Thanks DB!  will try to come around more.

DeltaBravo said...

Did he think he could escape and we wouldn't notice?  Hmmph.

Quartermaster said...

Horse Soldiers? They already made that movie. Starred John Wayne. They could do a remake for AFG and use "Garry Owen" for the theme music.

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