"Vintage" ebooks

Who owns the rights to publish ebooks?

The picture of publishing economics has changed dramatically.  Since the middle of 2011, Amazon is selling more eBooks than hardcover and paperback books combined.  What this trend makes clear, is it is becoming increasingly difficult to publish a book profitably based solely on bound book sales.  This article looks at HarperCollins' recently filed lawsuit against eBook publisher Open Road, and the role legacy publishing contracts, and contract ambiguity, plays in the battle over lucrative eBook rights.  
. . . 
Read the rest of the article, posted on attorney Lloyd Jassin's Copylaw website:

Copylaw: Who Controls eBook Rights?: The Court Battle that Could Determine the Fate of the Book Industry: A Review & Analysis The picture of publishing economics has changed ...

As always, Lloyd does a thorough job discussing the legal issues. And there's footnotes.

I don't know if the decision will necessarily change the face of the publishing industry, but it certainly will have an effect on the majors, as well as any number of literary estates.
Life's been good . . .

. . . goodbye 2011. Hello 2012.
American Sniper . . .

. . . on Facebook here.

Planning note: Chris has several events planned at the SHOT Show in Vegas, one more reason to attend what is the biggest shooting, hunting, outdoor sports event in the world. (The convention is January 17-20. Website here.)
Eagle upgrades

The major sale of hardware to Saudi Arabia announced this week by the Obama administration has actually been in the works for well over a year, and if you don't think the timing of the announcement has anything to do with Iran, you're not following closely. (The reasons for the delays are more complicated, but lest we digress...)

Eighty-four new F-15SAs - brand new Saudi strike versions - are the essential part of the deal, though the plan to upgrade another seventy existing F-15s isn't too shabby either. The aircraft have a variety of upgrades over the "old" F-15s, most notably in radar and weapons capabilities.

By the time this contract is fulfilled - which of course will take several years - the Saudi air force will be flying most advanced fleet of Eagles on the planet. I'm already looking forward to the mock duels between the Saudi Eagles and F-35s . . .

The present F-15Ss are fairly capable on their own, as the video here shows:

Talk about 'Make my day'


Iran Threatens to Block Oil Shipments, as U.S. Prepares Sanctions

NYT story. (And may other places.)

If Iran actually did try and block the Gulf, the question wouldn't be whether the U.S. would respond, but rather whether the response would end only with the elimination of the country's nuclear plants and other capabilities. You'd have to expect the government would be targeted as well.

The tiny navy would be wiped out within a few hours, if that. Ditto the air force.

And I guess you'd have to change the handicap on Obama's reelection chances, no matter what.

Of course, eventually they might be in a position to get weapons even after the shellacking. But without a doubt, they'd get them a lot faster by continuing to pretend that they're complying, which is what I expect they'll end up doing, tossing in just enough window dressing to give everyone political cover and avoid a war.

Giving the U.S. - and Israel - an excuse to attack them is not particularly smart. Oh, wait . . .
What the copy editor taught me . . .

Or tried to:

* Lights can't twitter. (Nor can they Tweet . . .)

* You can't really get away with using "shopped" (as in Photoshop) as a verb for anything other than buying stuff.

* You can't use "sweat" in the past tense any more.


Helen Frankenthaler, dead at 83.
Now on Kindle

Three of my techno-thrillers previously available only in "book" form on now available for the Kindle; more e-formats to come.

Here are the links:

Brother's Keeper takes place on the cusp of the old cold war; for me, family relationships and responsibilities are as important to the story as geo-political ones. (Don't worry though; stuff still gets blown up.)

Much of Havana Strike is set in Cuba - makes sense from the name, no? "Boulevard of Broken Dreams" has always haunted me after writing this; kind of a theme song.

This is an Andy Fisher book - the irreverent, chain-smoking, coffee guzzling FBI special agent and star of many a sleepless night. He returns in my next novel, The Helios Conspiracy, due out at the end of February.

Sniper excerpt . . .

Up on Townhall.
Re-upped . . .

Three of my older (but not that old) novels should be available on Amazon.com as Kindle e-books in time for the holidays:

More details and links when they're live.
IBM predicts the future

A bit too optimistic? Or inevitable?
Now available on Kindle

The third book in the Jake Gibbs - Patriot Spy series.

On sale here.
Outtakes from American Sniper

Helping Chris Kyle write his autobiography was a real labor of love. We started with hours and hours of interviews. He recounted his experiences in raw, straight language. I didn't try to adorn it; the words and memories were eloquent enough on their own.

Chris was initially very reluctant to do the book. In the end, I think two things convinced him: first, he would be able to bring some light to a few of the extremely brave things his friends did during the war, and two, he would have a chance to talk about the toll the war takes on families.

Of course, everyone wants to know what the fighting was like, and there's plenty of that.

Some of the outtakes from our interviews are now on my web site at http://www.jimdefelice.com/American_Sniper.html There are links there to buy the book. It's not like any other war memoir you've read.
North Korea - now part of China?

NORTH KOREA as we know it is over.

Interesting op-ed in today's NY Times.

Speaking of the Times, I was somewhat amused by the story saying that the CIA's was taken by surprise by  Kim Jong-ils' death and calling this a serious intelligence failure.* Besides wondering why journalists expect to be told what spy agencies know, it is kind of amusing to see intelligence agencies judged on journalistic standards - i.e. Who got that story first? rather than by things that are actually relevant.

*Actually, the story back peddles much lower in the copy, almost as if someone pimped up the beginning and then someone else read it and tried to dial back. "Extensive" or "minor" - which is it? If you're going to analyze something, you ought to at least decide what you're saying. But that's another problem . . .

Outtakes from American Sniper

I've posted some of the audio from the work sessions with Chris Kyle as we wrote American Sniper on my webpage. They're located here.

You can also get to them from the main page.
Kim Jong-il

. . . dead* at 69**. What happens next?

* Notice it took two days to figure it out?

**Officially. Unofficially, who knows?

American Sniper

. . . now has a Facebook page here.
The destruction of culture


Now there's all this pressure to offer [culture] for free because of a misunderstanding of the economics of the media business. Creative work is devalued, because you were under the illusion that you were paying for a thing. You were never really paying for a thing — you were paying for a piece of culture.

From Robert Levine's thoughtful assessment of web culture and our collective future in the LA Times.
Osprey in action

Note the wing control surfaces as it lands . . .

To answer some questions I've been meaning to answer but keep forgetting - the wing on the V-22 Osprey does not actually rotate; the engines/rotors/big things hanging off the end of the wings do. But that common misunderstanding is pretty reasonable if you've seen the aircraft in action, because to naked eye the movement of the flight control surfaces does make it look like the whole wing is rotating. I'm sure I've made that mistake myself millions of times.

Damn thing sure does kick up a fuss . . .

Some images from the Bulge

Both the Americans . . .

. . . and the Germans suffered very heavy losses.

If you're looking at this map, you're ready to panic . . .

If you have this one, things are much more manageable.

Most Americans know about the heroic defense at Bastogone* by the 101st Airborne, which played a key role in stemming the German tide. But most don't realize that more men died after the town was relieved than before.

And if you really want to get critical, the defenses on the north shoulder of the German salient were the key to the collapse of the German overall plan. But the events there have never received the dramatic treatment as Bastogone or the Third Army drive from the south.

By the way, Bradley was actually up where it says 12th Tac on the bottom map - that's his "tactical" headquarters. The fact that he was so close to the front was one of the reasons (at least allegedly) that he so many problems with Ike. It's interesting that the map subconsciously takes him so far out of the picture.

*Spelled Bostogne on the army map - was it drawn by a Red Sox fan?

The Bulge

Some 67 years ago today - assuming my math is right - the German army launched a massive offensive in the Ardennes so effective it's probably one of the few World War II battles that most Americans who aren't history buffs can name -- the Battle of the Bulge.

Omar Bradley was the commander of the armies that were caught in the Bulge. Ironically, when the attack was launched he was already en route to Versailles to discuss strategy with Eisenhower -- strategy on getting more soldiers, not about dealing with the German offensive.

The strength and location of the German offensive took Bradley, like everyone else, by surprise. He quickly recovered, however, and in some respects his reaction and the things that he did are probably the most eloquent proof of his worth as a soldier. Unfortunately, he was at odds with Eisenhower about the strategy for dealing with the attack and the ultimate capabilities of the Germans (and the Americans). History actually proved Bradley right, but that has tended to be lost in the telling of the battle, at least to the popular imagination.

There are many lessons that can be drawn from the Bulge - never underestimate your enemy, never underestimate yourself. The battle certainly shows how difficult it is to restore your perspective on things when things you believed suddenly turn out not to be true.

Me, my Marist cap, and the General

CSpan has posted a video of my talk at Marist on General Bradley, and is even selling videos of it, God bless them.

Here's the link: http://www.c-spanvideo.org/program/OmarB (I can't get the video to play here, but it will at the link.)

Once again, thanks to Marist College, CSpan, and the General.
At sea

China's carrier, on its second sea trial a week or two ago.


Question: If your wife sends you a relationship request, and you deny it, what are the odds of ever having sex again?

Speaking of the MiG-25 . . .

The Russian announcer is saying, "This is one bad-ass mf of a plane."

It was fast-fast-ugly. Serious Cold War iron.
MiG-ing around . . .

Spent a good hunk of yesterday looking at satellite images of southern Libya (don't ask). along the way, I had a chance to study images of a military air base and noted some MiG-25s.

Funny thing is, the aircraft in an image in 2004 were in exactly the same place as the image in 2010. The only thing that had changed was the amount of sand on the wing and fuselage.

Damn. If they didn't want to use the thing, they could have at least let me borrow it for a bit.
It ain't over until it's over . . .

Had an interesting talk with Neil McCabe at Guns&Patriots Tuesday. He's doing a podcast on the Battle of the Bulge and very graciously invited me to share some thoughts.*

As we were talking, we both noted that things for the Americans went comparatively easily after the Bulge. "Game over," in effect.

But thinking later, I realized that, while yes what happened afterwards was considerably easier for the Americans than the Bulge, there was still considerable fighting, dying and suffering. That's one problem with the way we talk about history. We (myself included) tend to wrap things up into very neat packages. History in general is seldom like that, and war certainly isn't.

The Bulge began around 5:30 in the morning December 16, 1944, and continued until the end of January 1945, was a horrific battle fought with courage and savagery. It produced an enormous number of casualties on both sides, and set the final course of the war. But it was just one stop on the way to the end.

*I'll post a link when it's up. In the meantime, check this page at Human Events for the Guns & Patriots newsletter and articles.
Coming soon . . .

. . . to a Kindle near you.

The third book in the Jake Gibbs series.
I wonder what they'll say . . .


President Obama on the RQ-170 Sentinel lost in Iran:

"We've asked for it back. We'll see how the Iranians respond," Obama said at a news conference. Obama said he wouldn't comment further "on intelligence matters that are classified."

At least he still has a sense of humor.
Mitt the (wise?) spender

The NY Times has a fairly complimentary story today about Mitt Romney's frugality - at least I interpret frugality that way.

But there is also this:

Several of Mr. Romney’s colleagues saw a measure of delusion in his thrift, especially after his self-financed 1994 campaign against Senator Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts. Mr. Wolpow recalled Mr. Romney’s response after learning that a few Bain Capital executives had invested their own money in a jet-sharing program to make travel easier. 
“I don’t see how anyone could spend $2 million on the share of a private jet,” Mr. Romney told him. 
Mr. Wolpow replied playfully: “Mitt, I don’t see how anyone could spend $4 million trying to beat Ted Kennedy.”


Gene therapy breakthrough

SATURDAY, Dec. 10 (HealthDay News) -- A single treatment of gene therapy dramatically improved symptoms and quality of life in a small group of men with hemophilia B, an uncommon form of the bleeding disorder, a new study suggests.

Full story here.

As rare as the disease is, the breakthrough itself is breath-taking. And perhaps a little scary.
Would you trust your spaceship . . .

. . . to this crew?

(That's us getting ready to go inside a clean room on the NASA tour last week, courtesy of NASA and Tor/Forge publishers . . .  Photo stolen from Larry Bond.)

It's never too late . . .

. . . for true art to shine.
More on the UAV

This up-dated National Journal story is probably the best "mainstream" account of the UAV, mixing some prudent speculation in:

I can't see the future . . .

Though I suppose I should be happy to take the credit . . .

More than a few people have commented on the similarity between the RQ-170 situation in Iran and the opening sections of Raven.

Thanks for the kind words.

While I'd love to claim some sort of ESP or ability to read the future, the truth is that something like this was bound to happen eventually. The Dreamland and Dreamland: Whiplash books always start from some sort of "real" premise and move on from there.

And yes, it's a hell of a lot easier to recover a UAV in fiction ... but even there it got complicated.

(You can get Raven Strike at your local bookstore, or here, here, here, or here.)

Real or fake?

It's all in the wings . . . maybe.

Story laying out questions about the Iranian images here. Only the CIA and Air Force know for sure, right?

The Sea Dart

I always wanted one of these when I was a kid . . .

Maybe I can slip one into a future book.

Really good overview of the project at Defense Media Network:

Convair's Sea Dart waterborne jet fighter was
a brilliant mistake whose time never came

Story here: http://www.defensemedianetwork.com/stories/xf2y-1yf2y-1-sea-dart-a-jet-fighter-on-water-skis/
Now on YouTube (naturally) . . .

By the way, what the "expert" says pretty much shows he knows as much about the aircraft as he does about baseball . . .

Classy job on the flag, though. Really adds to the credibility of the production.

Iran UAV claim, video




I'm amazed that any country that's not Germany or France wants to continue using the Euro.

Frankly, the ease of transactions is no longer much of a selling point - bank transfers and ATMs make the point essentially moot. The inconvenience is far outweighed by flexibility and, most importantly, sovereignty.

This isn't an argument for irresponsible spending, which would catch up with any country eventually. It's an argument against long-term penury, and permanent second-class citizenship.

All those British critics years ago knew what they were talking about, no?
What's Christmas coming to?

Is it wrong that I find the graphic of Santa gunning the Grinch terribly amusing?
The Gray Ghost

. . . and the Black Widow during testing.

If you're a fanatic about the YF-23, into Fifth Generation fighters, or just want to check out cool aircraft, here's a great site on the Northrup entry into the "contest" that eventually yielded the Raptor. http://www.yf-23.net/index.html

Phil Morden

Quite a while back, I posted a picture of an awesome-looking Phil Morden rifle. There's been a lot of interest, questions and requests in its wake.

I don't know Morden, nor do I have any connection to Top Shot or its producers. Here's a Facebook page that will give you more information about him and Top Shot: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Phil-Morden-Top-Shot-Season-3/102510356505801

The usual disclaimers - this isn't an endorsement, advertisement, etc., etc. - apply.
About the UAV . . .

So if you figured out a way to kill a UAV using cyber-warfare, would you brag about it? Or wait until you'd downed an entire fleet (if ever)?

On the other hand, if you wanted your enemy to think you could down it so they would cease and desist . . .

(And yes, losing the UAV is a big deal, no matter what anyone says, even if it's not catastrophic. The first order of business is to figure out what really did happen to it.)
Does fiction follow real-life . . .

. . . or is it the other way around?

I'm having a lot of trouble with the next Dreamland: Whiplash because not one but two major plot elements have now been nearly duplicated by real life.

Modifications are needed.
With allies like this . . .

If you were Pakistan and were worried about losing your nuclear weapons, who would you fear more: The U.S. or Islamic radicals?

A good story from the Atlantic on a range of issues concerning our so-called ally: http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2011/12/the-ally-from-hell/8730/
Have a Bradley Christmas? 

Pundit Review Radio very graciously included my biography of Omar Bradley in its year end best-of round up.

Story here: http://www.punditreview.com/2011/12/pundit-review-radio-book-recommendations-history/

Yeah, but it's cool anyway

Dreamland's latest

Hard to believe, but Raven Strike is the 13th book in the series (we doubled up for a bunch of years).

On sale now in various places, including on-line at B&N here.
Call me a NASA fan-boy

Having spent the better part of last week at the Goddard Space Center, all I can say is . . . wow.

Not to sound too jingoistic, but it's hard not to talk to the scientists, engineers, and technicians there and not come away feeling good about America. (And just to note, many programs have foreign participation.) Goddard is the best and brightest on steroids.

For me, one of the signature moments came early on when I saw gear you'd pick up at the local Home Depot in the high-tech clean room where the deep-space telescope is being built. Granted, there were some very high-tech gadgets in the room as well, but the juxtaposition emphasized that so much of space exploration is not about tools but about imagination and creativity.

I got about three hours sleep total last week, but it was definitely worth it. And maybe some day I'll figure out if the guy in the astro-biology discussion meant it when he said some scientists would claim clay is alive.

Starting the season off right . . .
Speaking of Pakistan . . .

Pak troops fire on U.S. forces ALL the time. Think that happened here?


Brief overview of yesterday: Learned about custom chip fab, nano-shutters, AI, space robotics, geo satellites, earth science, and mangled lug nuts.

Can't wait to see what they'll do for an encore.

(Still having posting problems. But I'll try to keep up the Twitter feed.)
Technical prblems

Having some difficulties blogging from the road as we tour NASA. I'll be Tweeting when practical, and will give a full report later on.

In the meantime, check out my buddy Dom Misino Thursday night at 10 (EST) on Investigation Discovery, talking about do-or-die hostage negotiating.
Will I survive?

Heading to the D.C. area on a train today with the Guru and Lawless.

You know somebody's gonna be packin' on that trip.

Q: Do I qualify as the sane one in that group?
A: Only by comparison.

Me: Finished cutting wood for today.
Her: What happened to your pants? The knee is totally ripped out?
Me: Got cut up.
Her: From the saw?
Me: Nah. There'd be a lot more damage if it was my saw.
Her: That's reassuring.
If Iran's nuke dreams are blocked . . .

. . .  what then?

A sobering look at what else might happen:


Persian Incursion

My friend Larry Bond's board* game simulating a war between Israel and Iran has been getting a lot of interest lately because of actual political events. NPR recently reviewed it very favorably:

I think one of the unique things about - aside from its incredible detail and accuracy - is the combination of military and political factors. This is one game you don't win merely by bombing the hell out of the other side.

Which makes it a lot like real life, certainly in the Middle East.

(You can get the game at Clash of Arms, here.)

* - and don't forget Chris Carlson. And Jeff Dougherty.
Another forgotten general . . .

Neil McCabe, the editor at Guns & Patriots, points out a book on another "forgotten" general, Curtis LeMay, who played an important role in WWII. LeMay fell out of favor, I think, because of Vietnam, but in many ways he was the father of strategic bombing, and an important figure in the history of air power.

Regnery has a whole series of "thankful for books" on their YouTube channel.
Europe's self-destruction

Watching the Eurozone self-destruct over the past two years or so has been interesting in the same way watching a train wreck is interesting. The wounds are all self-inflicted; the only question is whether they were inevitable.

One thing that seems amazing, given the continent's history, is that the turmoil has not led to serious geopolitical antagonisms -- Greeks (and others) may be angry at Germans, but there's no talk of war or anything remotely approaching that.

There are lessons for the U.S. in the Euro's demise, but they're not the lessons that many people seem to be talking about. And it really must be said, that comparing government's role in running an economy to the way a household or even a business must act is far less than helpful.

And I won't even comment on the politics.

No matter what happens in Europe, we'll be affected by it. Hopefully, there are some other silver linings that aren't obvious at the moment.

The Tornado

I spent a lot of time today watching video of the Tornado, the variable-swept wing attack and interdiction aircraft fielded by Britain, Germany and Italy in late Cold War period.

The plane has a brief cameo in the installment of Dreamland Whiplash I'm working on. I had to refresh my memory - or at least that was my excuse for watching airplane porn all day - since the last time I'd thought about the plane was several years ago in connection with the First Gulf War.

That war, unfortunately, proved that the concept of high-speed, low-altitude attack had been somewhat flawed.  The early Tornado missions suffered high casualty rates, despite the brave and expert crews who manned the planes, and the aircraft's performance, which as far as I know was never faulted. The problem is, a lot of dumb defenses around an important target can defeat anything flying low enough, even if it passes in the blink of an eye.

Fortunately, technology in other areas made the low level attack concept - at least for the high-value targets the Tornado was designed to deal with - obsolete.

I've always thought of the Tornado in roughly the same category as the F-111, which was a bit ahead of it development wise. They had similar missions (at least originally), and of course there were those moving wings. But the Tomcat was probably the real classmate, so to speak, even though the aircraft diverged in significant ways.
What I'm reading . . .

Pearl Harbor, by Steven M. Gillon.

While there have been many accounts of Pearl Harbor and the start of America's participation in WWII - Prang's book* remains one of my all-time favorite reads, period - surprisingly few have taken us to the White House and showed what happened behind the scenes on that fateful day.

Historian Steven M. Gillon's new book, which came out in October from Basic Books, does just that. It gives some insight not only into the start of the war but Roosevelt and America in general.

A quick, brisk read, it's aimed primarily at a general audience, but specialists and buffs who want to get a quick perspective or refresher on FDR and the day won't be disappointed either.

Among many other things, Gillion quickly dispenses with the notion - bizarre to anyone who knows anything at all about Roosevelt - that the President knew Pearl Harbor was going to be attacked. At the same time, he shows that FDR and the military knew something was going to happen. The real failure was one of imagination - too many people simply didn't think an attack on Pearl Harbor was possible.

Unfortunately, history shows such failures are endemic and enduring.
Everyone wants to blow up . . .

. . . their hometown.

Or so it would seem.

Working on Ace Combat Assault Horizon, the team was extremely cautious about attacks in "real" cities. In the most obvious example, action in New York was completely ruled out because of sensitivity to 9/11.

But now that the game is out and popular, there are posters in the Tokyo subways celebrating . . . the online version where you can protect Tokyo . . . or blow it up.

And everyone wants one.

While we're on the subject, here's a page with the crew that recorded the jet, helicopter, et al sounds, and some of the great American servicepeople who helped. (The words are Japanese, but the pictures are cool. The words say pretty much what you'd expect them to.) http://ah.acecombat.jp/usa_report/

I am kind of wondering what they thought of the B-29, but I haven't had a chance to ask.

Headline in today's NY Times:

The Deficit Deal That Wasn’t: Hopes Are Dashed

What hopes are they referring to? I don't know one person who thought they would actually make a deal, and I can't recall even a single airhead pundit thinking it would work out.

I guess, "Deal we thought would tank from day one tanks as predicted" wouldn't fit in the headline space.

Shamelessly shameless (self?)-promotion

Is it not "self" if there are a lot of others involved?

At least I can safely say I'm shameless...
Writing documents

A letter from a (very young) reader. Kids? Reading? There's hope for us all . . .
Where we're at today . . .

A-10Cs in the next Dreamland plus 1 (Does that make sense? It's the one coming out next year...)
When is a central bank not . . .

. . . a central bank?

When it's in the Euro Zone. One reason the Euro is toast:


I'm not actually convinced from reading the story that the bank president, let alone the reporter, know what the function of central banks historically has been. The story is set up in a way that completely demeans it and inherently criticizes it.

(Even Wikipedia gets the historical function of a central bank more or less right. See here for definitions: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Central_bank )

I suspect that the reporter thinks that Ireland's problems were caused by profligate spending, and the Italy was running a huge budget deficit before its current troubles - both common beliefs, apparently, and both false. As the guy who taught my auto mechanics class used to say, ya gotta know the problem before ya can fix it.
Speaking of which . . .

You can get it here, at B&N, among other places.

China lake . . .

Most Americans probably missed the news stories the other day about the U.S. and Australia firming up military ties. And in fact, it really isn't much news that America and Australia have a military alliance; Aussies and Yanks have been fighting and training shoulder to shoulder for quite a while.

But the announcement itself was significant, even beyond the details, because it's part of a counter to China's increasing development of a blue-water navy, and its continued assertion that the South China Sea is, bascially, a Chinese lake.

Those developments are behind (and embedded in) the plot of the Red Dragon Rising series. (Plug alert: book two just came out in paperback; book three is out in January.) But one of the best general discussions I've seen of the real issues involved were in this SRATFOR video, here:


You may not agree with any of the speakers, but they're worth listening to.
Writing documents

Rough outline for vid script (book trailer for The Helios Conspiracy, due out in February 2012).
Writing documents

Notes on illustrations and other things for the enhanced ebook of American Sniper.

Don't mess with my tacos


But isn't the strangest thing about this the fact that it led the local news?

Trending upwards . . .

I'm told the ebook version of Black Wolf, the next installment of Dreamland Whiplash, has been pushing its way up toward the top-100... which is kind of cool, since you actually can't get it for another two weeks. (It was number 85 in contemporary fiction this morning.)

The ebook is cheaper than the paperback, which I guess makes sense. But even though I have a Kindle, for some reason I find myself reading "real" books more and more.... slipping further and further behind the times, I guess.

(You can get the ebook here. Now that I've linked to it, sales will no doubt sink... And yes, the wrong cover was up there earlier. My bad...)
Writing documents

Pronunciation notes for the audio edition of American Sniper. (The voice actor is outstanding.)
 How good was Bradley (take 2)?

One of the questions that I keep getting asked about Omar Bradley is: How good a general was he really?
I keep struggling to answer the question not because I don’t think he was an excellent general – he certainly was – but because it’s so hard to put the answer into context.

The truth is, what we require of a general changes greatly depending on the general’s role. Bradley was a peacetime division commander, an army corps commander, an army commander, and finally an army group commander. Each of those jobs is more than a little different.

In terms of training up a division, he had an excellent record, attested to not only by the assignments he was given but by the success of his divisions, most notably the 82nd Infantry, which was considered highly rated enough to be formed into the elite airborne division. (Obviously, the credit for the division’s achievements go to the cadre of officers and men who took it from an infantry unit to the elite 82nd Airborne we know of today.) Bradley’s role in reshaping the 28th Infantry – a National Guard unit that was in terrible shape just before the war – is often overlooked. (I’m guilty of that to some extent myself, giving it pretty short shrift in the biography. The 28th, incidentally, got badly mauled in Huertgen, and ended up being shifted into a quiet sector for rest – putting it right in the way of the German advance in what became the Battle of the Bulge.)

His results stand in great contrast to Patton’s snarky remark about him having “failed to obtain discipline” at Benning, a line often taken out of context by historians who think that Bradley was some sort of milquetoast pushover who couldn’t organize a garden party. On the contrary, Bradley got results without terrorizing people or aggrandizing himself, something Patton never completely understood. (And in fairness to Patton, that remark was written in a fit of pique toward Bradley. His actual opinion of Bradley was much more complicated and generally complimentary.)

Bradley never led a division in combat, and while we have a lot of testimony about his abilities as a tactician, we really don’t know exactly how well he would have fared at that level. Extrapolating from the advice he appears to have been giving division commanders in Africa and Sicily (and to some extent later), it would appear that the accolades were warranted, but frankly there’s just not enough direct data there about what he said or did to decide whether he would have been X amount better (or worse) than anyone else.

As a corps commander in Africa and Sicily, his record is much clearer. (Corps commanders were responsible for two to three divisions during the war. They would generally determine tactics and troop dispositions in their sector, coordinating the divisions and – most importantly – the allocation of units that weren’t part of the division, say “extra” armor or artillery, etc. These attachments were actually a critical part of the war, something often overlooked by regular historians. Bradley’s flexibility, especially as an army commander, has gone largely unnoticed and uncredited; it’s a shame, because that flexibility was critical to winning the war.)

Bradley’s record as corps commander is fairly good, though on Sicily he’s severely handicapped by an overall plan (and a botched execution) that not only relegated his corps to a secondary position but quite honestly made little sense.

He was army and army group commander in northern Europe. Cobra, the breakout from the peninsula, was literally his plan; he single-handedly devised it. It stands as one of the great Allied operations of World War II. He also revised the Allied plan after the breakout, deciding to send Patton directly after the main German army rather than trying to secure Brest and ports on the Atlantic. That was another key decision in the campaign, one that results in the liberation of France and the destruction of much of the German army. (On the downside, it can also be argued that it contributes to the temporary stalemate at the frontier in late fall and early winter, until the Battle of the Bulge.)

But the real measure of an army and army group commander’s abilities isn’t so much the result of an individual battle but rather the outcome of the war he’s engaged in. You can say Robert E. Lee was a great general handicapped by a, b, and c, but at the end of the day the successful army commander was Grant. And to take Grant’s measure, you simply have to compare him to any of his predecessors.
Bradley, obviously, won the war. Anyone who thinks that was inevitable given the Allied advantages should look first at the results of the original plan for the breakout from Normandy, and then at Market Garden – two failures by any measure. (Both, not coincidentally, led by Montgomery, but that’s another topic.) Examine the campaign in Italy, and then comment on the inevitability of victory in France and Germany.

There’s an old saying to the effect that amateurs evaluating war (and generals) focus on tactics, while professionals focus on logistics and supply. But to really evaluate a modern army group commander, we have to focus on the achievements of his underlings – the army and corps commanders, the division leaders and finally the men themselves. Here Bradley’s record is truly remarkable.

Patton’s achievements in France under Bradley are in direct contrast with his conduct on Sicily under Alexander. Now we all know – because we’ve been told over and over – that Patton is a great general, so perhaps he would have achieved those things without Bradley. How then to account for 1st Army, whose leader never got anywhere near the accolades that Patton did?

But maybe the best argument for Bradley is actually on the German side of the war. A few minutes examining the relationship between Rommel and Rundstedt shows exactly how difficult the job is, and how easily – and fatally – a war can be lost by a failure of leadership at the highest levels.

So what does, finally, leadership at the highest level consist of?

The ability to bring out the best in others, whether they are geniuses or merely able. The ability to do it with a minimum of distraction, under fire, long enough to achieve a distant goal.

If that’s how you judge a general, I can’t think of anyone better than Omar Bradley.

Writing documents

Plot notes for the next Rogue Warrior: Blood Lies. (Probably out next summer or early fall.)

Relentlessly trying to kill . . .

. . .  the hands that feed it.

According to the Authors Guild, Amazon's "free" library feature violates every contract it had with publishers, essentially stealing from the writers. More information here.

The idea is to sell Kindle e-readers and Amazon Prime. Destroying the economics of competitors (aka, traditional publishers) - and writers - in the process is just a coincidence.

Writing documents

One of the drafts of American Sniper, Chris Kyle's story, to be published in the beginning of January, 2012.
Bradley's show

There were slides that went with the presentation airing on CSpan3 American History this weekend. I ditched them for that talk because I was afraid of technical glitches.

You can see them here, courtesy of YouTube; at some point I'll put words and images back together.

Speaking of that Marist presentation, I have to thank the college as well as CSpan for all their work and help. Marist was an extremely generous and welcoming host. The CSpan crew was professional, easy to work with, and I owe them all a few rounds of drinks.

Jim Johnson, who introduced me that night, is an historian and scholar who also served our country as an officer in the Army. A West Point grad, he was a knowledgeable, reassuring host, and I was grateful for his company that day. He heads the Hudson River Valley Institute at Marist, an important resource on history and the Valley in general. The website is at http://www.hudsonriver.org

I also have to thank Tim Massie for making the arrangements that brought CSpan to the Marist campus. People in the area as well as the national news media know Tim as the spokesperson for one of the best colleges in the Northeast. But he's a lot more than that, shepherding not only the college's image and outreach, but also looking after the students who take the courses he somehow manages to squeeze into his schedule each semester. (You can follow him on Twitter: @tcmassie)

Thanks also to the folks at Regnery for their help in this, especially publisher Alex Novak and publicist/media whiz Laura Bentz.

(You can catch the show Sunday, Nov. 13 at noon. It's online here: http://www.c-span.org/Live-Video/C-SPAN3/ And no, I have no idea why I was moving around so much - all the doors were locked so I couldn't run off stage.)
Omar Bradley on C-Span

Actually, it's C-Span3 and it's not the General himself but me talking about the General.

The show airs on C-Span 3's American History channel at 7 p.m. and 11 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 12, and again at noon Sunday, Nov. 13.

Hopefully, I didn't make too much of a fool of myself.

We remember

Iran and the bomb

From Global Security:

Iran says it "will not budge an iota" from its nuclear program, rejecting a United Nations report strongly suggesting Tehran is engaged in nuclear weapons development.
In a speech addressing thousands of people in the central city of Shahr-e Kord and broadcast live on state television on November 9, President Mahmud Ahmadinejad suggested that the UN's nuclear watchdog had discredited itself by siding with what he maintained were dubious U.S. claims that Iran was seeking to develop nuclear weapons.
"Why do you damage the agency's dignity because of America's empty claims?" he said. "It will be in your interest to be a friend of the Iranian nation. History has shown that Iran's enemies have not tasted glory and victory."
"We do not need an atomic bomb," Ahmadinejad added. "The Iranian nation is wise. It won't build two atomic bombs while you have 20,000 warheads. This nation will build something that you will not be able to match, and it will be morality."

(Article here; subscription based. But there are plenty of other sources.)

There are two choices:

1) Strike now, and gain anywhere from two to five years before Iran has a bomb (presumably using that time to strengthen anti-missile and detection technology), or . . .

2) Accept that Iran will have warheads, and learn to live with them.
Omar Bradley & Veterans Day

As the ground war in Europe was coming to a close, Omar Bradley tried to get a transfer over to the Pacific to take part in what at that point looked it was going to be a hell of a battle.

Douglas MacArthur made it clear he didn't want him - or Patton, for that matter.

Why? Basically because MacArthur didn't want anyone else stealing the glory.

Bradley seemed destined to take over Eisenhower's job - at least he seems to have thought that's where he was going - but instead, he got a call from President Harry Truman.

The Veterans Administration had been wracked by scandal, and though reforms were already underway, Truman needed someone of stature to make them stick - and, more importantly, to give the organization a much needed pr boost. Omar Bradley - who by the time had earned the nickname of "GI General" - was perfect.

Or so Truman thought. Bradley had other ideas. One was the fact that the job was an administrative position, and he didn't want it. Another was that it wasn't exactly a clear shot from there to head of the Army, which was the job he really wanted. Nor do I think it was lost on Bradley that the position was primarily a political one, and politics were not his long suit.

But Bradley was a soldier, and when your commander asks you to do something, you do it.

He did obtain a promise that the job wouldn't interfere with his future, and in fact Bradley did end up becoming head of the Army, and then the first Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of staff.

Truman's appointment actually worked out very well.  Given the huge number of returning veterans and the programs they were eligible for - VA loans, education, the hospitals - this was an incredibly important job at the time. The VA shaped up tremendously. It's not clear exactly how much credit should go to Bradley, who was there for less than two years, and came in after changes were already underway. But it is clear that he tackled the job with his usual efficiency, and he was certainly more than a figurehead.

He also did something that was fairly uncharacteristic, at least to that point - he started going around the country giving speeches to business groups, asking them to hire veterans for jobs.The pitch was usually along the lines of: These men survived battle; they can handle anything the business world throws at them.

Not a bad thought, actually. In fact, one that's still true today.
Speaking of American Sniper . . .

We have a really good voice actor for the audio version, John Pruden. You can hear some of his work at his website, JohnPruden.com

If you're into audio books, you're going to want to get his version of Sniper; it's sure to be a winner.

Goodnight . . . (??)

Coming this January . . . what war was really like.

You can pre-order on B&N here . . . it's already in the top 100 there, or at least was yesterday, when it was right under . . . Goodnight, Moon.

Somehow, that juxtaposition is just a little . . . troubling?

Can I get a 'duh' . . .

United Nations weapons inspectors have amassed a trove of new evidence that they say makes a “credible” case that Iran has carried out activities relevant to the development of a nuclear device,” and that the project may still be under way.
(Times story.) 

The only real question now: when will the attacks begin?

For @YankeesInk and everyone who doesn't believe in what Johnson said . . .
Some Bradley posts . . .

Besides the material on my web site, I've written a bunch of short blog entries on Omar Bradley.

Here are a few:

Oh yeah, I also wrote a book. To order it online, go to this page: http://www.jimdefelice.com/Ordering_Omar_Bradley.html and click on your favorite on-line retailer. You can also get a sample chapter there.

Telling the truth

. . . can get you fired, even when you're a two-star general.

To wit:
In an interview with Politico, Maj. Gen. Peter Fuller, deputy commander of the American-led NATO effort to train and equip Afghan security forces, called key elements of the Afghan government “isolated from reality,” described Karzai as “erratic,” and said officials there “don’t understand the sacrifices that America is making to provide for their security.”

Whole story here. (Original remarks here in Politico - worth reading.) Nothing, but nothing, General Fuller said is off-base - if anything, he was being kind.