Monthly Archives: October 2016

After Stalingrad: Seven Years as a Soviet Prisoner of War by Adelbert Holl

This describes the author’s capture at the end of the Battle of Stalingrad and his progression via various camps as a prisoner of war eventually returning to Germany in 1950. I found the most interesting part covered the time he spent in the Gulag proper working on the Baikal-Amur Mainline in the Angarstroy camps near Tayshet. As is typical with biographical material like this it just shows the experiences of one person rather than giving a broader context.

The degree of German collaboration with the Soviets is interesting.  It seems to be much more widespread than I had really considered,  but maybe I should not be surprised.



SAS Rogue Heroes: the Authorized Wartime History by Ben Macintyre

This is all very readable as an organized and direct account of the origins of the SAS and its operations in the Second World War. It doesn’t really cover much about the why or context,  but maybe that is not really in the scope of the book anyway.


The Conquest of Plassans by Émile Zola

I read this as my progress through the Rougon-Macquart cycle.  I can’t say it is one of the best. The plot seems a bit plodding heading to the typical Zola tragic ending.

I didn’t get the same feeling I had eg with the Fortune of the Rougons that reading Zola was a good way to learn some French history. I am aware of the conflict between clerical and government interests;  this is relevant to relations of politicians to the French army at least to the Second World War.  However, I did not quite understand all the details.


Kissinger 1923-1968: The Idealist by Niall Ferguson

This was quite readable. It starts with Kissinger’s childhood in Germany and his journey to the US as a refugee from the Nazis and experiences in the US army in intelligence in World War 2. The significant part covers his life as an academic in political science, with his steady transition to actual politics. His work as an advisor to Rockefeller (from at least 1960) was followed by his appointment as National Security Advisor by Nixon in 1968. It is noteworthy how he was able to make the transition. It covers his investigations of the Vietnam war in the mid 1960s and his conclusion that the war was a lost cause. This is interesting considering his later role.

I found the material on the 1964 Republican convention interesting not the least as I read this during the 2016 Republican convention.  The two have some parallels.