The bringers of war to Africa

Laband coverThe bringers of war: the Portuguese in Africa during the age of gunpowder and sail from the fifteenth to the eighteenth century. By John Laband. Pen and Sword, 2013.
Reviewed by Major John Johnston

PORTUGAL was the first European nation to establish itself in Africa and the last to leave the continent. People generally know of the voyages of discovery in the late fifteenth century and are aware of the empire’s painfully slow demise in the second half of the twentieth century, but what happened between these events is a mystery for most people.Continue reading

Whimsical wanderings and wonderings

book post cards_0002G’day Y’all; Whimsical wanderings and wonderings from Kentucky to Australia
Rob Roy Herzog, Xlibris Corporation

Reviewed by Tim Coyle
THIS is the autobiography of Rob Roy Herzog, the only person who went from Kentucky (the Deep South) to Townsville (the Deep North) via five US Navy aircraft carriers, then onwards to the Australian Defence Intelligence Organisation (DIO), where he served as an imagery analyst and latterly as an all-source intelligence analyst. Continue reading

Anti-Access Warfare: Countering A2/AD Strategies

Cover-Anti-Access WarfareAnti-Access Warfare: Countering A2/AD Strategies By Sam J. Tangredi, Naval Institute Press, Annapolis MD, 2013

ANTI-access/area denial, or A2/AD as it is often abbreviated, has become one of the buzz phrases of recent defence debates. The story goes that as the US and its close allies withdraw from their Middle East commitments their militaries have moved away from counter-insurgency operations and pivoted to the Asia-Pacific region where the primary challenge is countering, if not breaking down, the anti-access/area denial strategies of nations such as China, North Korea and Iran.Continue reading

The Wars for Asia — an Asian perspective

The Wars for Asia CoverThe Wars for Asia, 1911-1949. By Sally C.M. Paine. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2012

IT IS difficult for one mountain to hold two tigers. (Great rivals cannot coexist) — Mandarin proverb.

WHEN I first studied Asian history as an undergraduate in the 1980s, I thought we relied too heavily upon Western interpretations of events in the East. Since then I have been searching for a useful reference that examines modern Asian history from the non-western perspective. The Wars for Asia, 1911-1949 is exactly that book. Continue reading

Rescue from Saigon: the Lucky Few

Herman9780870210396_FINAL 2Jan K. Herman, The Lucky Few: The Fall of Saigon and the Rescue Mission of the USS Kirk, Naval Institute Press, Annapolis, Maryland, 2013, 134pp.
Review by CDRE Jack McCaffrie of the Seapower Centre, Australia.

THE Lucky Few is a slim easily read account of the chaotic evacuation from South Vietnam in April and May 1975, as the North Vietnamese Army approached Saigon (now Ho Chi Minh City). It focuses on the convoy of mostly South Vietnamese Navy vessels carrying about 30,000 refugees from Saigon to Subic Bay, before their onward passage to the USA. But it is also the story of the USS Kirk, a Knox class frigate commanded by Commander Paul Jacobs, which played a key role in the successful operation.Continue reading

Through the Eyes of Albert RN

Cover-Through Alberts eyes
By Tony Bentley-Buckle
Edited by Captain Peter Hore RN
Whittles Publishing, Caithness, 2013
Hardback; 143 pages with 44 b/w illustrations and end notes.
ISBN 978-184995-066-4

Reviewed by David Hobbs

THIS IS the second in a series of autobiographical books, edited by Peter Hore, that focus on people connected with naval warfare and the sea. Tony Bentley-Buckle led a particularly adventurous life; he was the son of a rubber planter in Ceylon, born in Belgium while his parents were on holiday and subsequently raised in England by aunts before joining the Royal Navy as a cadet in 1938. In the early war years he served in the cruisers Dunedin and Edinburgh before joining the battleship Revenge in the Eastern Fleet during 1941. Continue reading

RN and USN at war in the Middle East

Cover-Strike from the Sea
By Iain Ballantyne
Pen & Sword Maritime, Barnsley, 2004, pp.256; ISBN 1-84415-059-3.

Reviewed by Dr Saul Kelly, King’s College, London.

THE AUTHOR wrote this book within a year of the toppling of the regime of Saddam Hussein in Iraq by an Allied Coalition led by the United States and the United Kingdom. It has been reissued by Pen & Sword Books Ltd, presumably to coincide with the tenth anniversary of that significant event, which can now be seen as sounding the death knell of the old nationalist dictatorships in the Middle East and the emergence of their old enemies, the Islamists, in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, the Yemen, and Syria. Continue reading

The story of HMAS Brisbane — the Steel Cat

Steel_Cat_Front_CoverSteel Cat: the story of HMAS Brisbane, Vietnam and Gulf War Veteran
by Ken Doolan: Grinkle Press, 2009. ISBN 9780980282115. 208PP.
RRP $22 +$10 postage

Reviewed by Ian Pfennigwerth, Proud veteran of DDGs Brisbane and Perth

WHY review a four-year-old book? Because I think that it is worth consideration, even more so now as international events have demonstrated ever more clearly the value to Australia of ships like our lost guided missile destroyers. Ken Doolan was one of 25 fortunate men to have commanded Her Majesty’s Australian Ship Brisbane, last of three guided missile destroyers (DDG) commissioned into the RAN in the 1960s, and the story he tells is not of the ‘Boys’ Own’ variety, although the ships themselves inspired that kind of reaction. Continue reading

Australia’s lost naval vessels

Cover - Lost - the Stories of all ships Cover jpgLost: The stories of all ships lost by the Royal Australian Navy
by Allen Lyne, Moana Heights SA, Self-published, 2013. ISBN: 9780646903750.
RRP $32 + $3 postage within Australia

Reviewed by Ian Pfennigwerth

WHO KNEW that the RAN had lost 45 ships in its hundred years of existence? Probably nobody, until Allen Lyne spent five years researching the issue. His book describes the background, circumstances and the events leading to these losses, some of them well known, others far from so. Those not overly familiar with the history and circumstances in which the RAN has operated and fought will be grateful for the author’s thorough explanations. Lyne has also used his researcher’s prerogative to pass judgment on who or what was to blame for the losses. Continue reading

Land Based Air Power or Aircraft Carriers?

Dyndal NEW_Dyndal JktLand Based Air Power or Aircraft Carriers?
A Case Study of the British Debate about Maritime Air Power in the 1960s
by Gjert Lage Dyndal
ISBN 978-1-4094-3335-4
Ashgate Publishing both in the UK and USA
180 pages, 5 maps, 4 photographs

Reviewed by David Hobbs

THIS IS the sixth in a series of studies by the Corbett Centre for Maritime Policy Studies. The author is a Lieutenant Colonel in the Royal Norwegian Air Force and Dean of Academics at the Royal Norwegian Air Force Academy who was awarded his PhD by the University of Glasgow in 2009. He has written three earlier books on military subjects. Continue reading