Friday, February 19, 2016

Grumble Jones February Book Review

As promised, I am continuing with a new monthly feature for my blog centered around reviews of books from my personal library.  I have rarely met an ASL player, who was not also a book fiend. And of course, I count my self as very much that sort of ASL player. Last month, I took a look at books focused on the Korean War. Tonight, I'll look at 2 books that I think are great reads and also great sources for scenario creation. 

We'll start off with a book by one of my favorite authors, Charles Whiting. Growing up in the late '60's and early '70's, Charles Whiting's books ruled the history section of the local B-Dalton Bookstore. They were also fairly cheap. A month's allowance and a trip to the mall would yield a great book.

Whiting's The End of the War was a book that grabbed my attention primarily for it's awesome cover. (I'll defer any box art commentary to Dave and Jeff at the 2-Half-Squads.) That said, as a 10 year old...this book was a bit dull. 

It was only later, as a young adult that I truly discovered what a gem this book is for detailing the events of the final month of the war in Northwest Europe.

One of the most interesting events detailed in Whiting's book is related to the mutiny of the Georgians on Texel Island. 

This book covers a wide variety of incidents that are little known. Additionally, there is a great deal of attention paid to the political machinations of the Allies and the Germans as the end game played out.

 Klaus Breitner the German commander who crushed the Georgians. Breitner's brutal destruction of the Georgians at the end of the war always seemed a bit unnecessary until I realized that the Georgians had massacred their German comrades in their the hundreds. After reading that, it was easier to understand Breitner's desire for revenge.

Shalva Loladze, the leader of the Georgian uprising. Loladze always intrigued me. He and his fellow Georgians knew that the end of the war was close and that they would fare poorly should the Germans lose the war. Stalin would certainly imprison them at best and execute them at worst. So the decision to rebel against the Germans seemed the only chance to change that desperate future.

for more on the Texel Mutiny - check out the link below:

Next up is Anthony Tucker-Jones outstanding account of the final phase of the Battle for Normandy...Falaise. The name conjures up oft seen images of destroyed German columns smoking in hedgerow bordered roads. Some of the war's most horrendous images were taken at the end of the fighting to close the Falaise Gap. Tucker-Jone's book details various accounts of the many units that comprised Panzergruppe West.

He gives fair time to all the German units rather than focusing solely on the 12th SS Panzer Division's efforts to hold the Gap open for the escaping German forces.

The 21st Panzer Division, Panzer Lehr, the 17th SS Panzergrenadiers, the Heavy Panzer Battalions, the 2nd Panzer Division, the 1st, 9th, and 10th SS and many more units are covered.

I have found this book to be an outstanding source for scenario creation. My post-it notes poke out from the pages noting this action or that, which might make for a suitable scenario. An average book may present the reader with two or three great scenario ideas. This book has more than I have been able to count. It's just that good.

And lastly, Tucker-Jones spends a good bit of time explaining why he refers to Falaise as a "flawed victory. I found this to be fascinating as well. Essentially, the Germans succeeded in getting out the veteran cadre of Grenadiers and Tankers, who literally in a few months time would stop Operation Market Garden and launch Watch on the Rhine. Tucker-Jones points out the amazing ability of the German military to re-equip its shattered divisions and have them operationally ready within 90 days of an absolutely devastating defeat.

Well, that will wrap up this month's visit to the Grumble Jones library. Next month we'll take a look at a few other notable tomes covering the Normandy Theater. Until then...happy reading! May you be inspired to create ASL scenarios!


  1. Coincidentally, I was just looking at a few of the Texel Island scenarios reprinted in the March Madness Best of pack last year. I know little about the mutiny. (The original Texel Pack had seven scenarios dealing with this subject.) I see that your scenario, Loladze's Mutiny, takes place in May, while those in the Texel Pack all occur during April.

    Apparently, more info re this mutiny can be found in the following source:
    Henri Antony Van der Zee (1998), The Hunger Winter: Occupied Holland, 1944-45, pp. 213–220. University of Nebraska Press, ISBN 0803296185 (Reprint. Originally published: London : J. Norman & Hobhouse, 1982.)

    A bloody epilogue of WW2, either way, especially given the fate of the "repatriated" Georgians.

    1. Thanks for the other sources. I believe my scenario was based on the final days of mutiny, which if memory serves, may be why it took place in May. Hopefully, my scenarios have gotten a bit more polished since I did that one. They may still all have lots of fleas...but are at least better looking!! Thanks again Chris!

  2. No worries.

    If you are headed to March Madness this year, you could probably hit Dan Best up for some "light" reading between scenarios. Just guessing, but based on the Texel Pack the group published in 2011, he may have a copy of Van der Zee's book.

    See also:

  3. Planning on being there this year. It's a great tournament! Hope to see you at a tournament on of these days!