Friday, August 26, 2011

Book Review: Brothers, Rivals, Victors: Eisenhower, Patton, Bradley and the Partnership that Drove the Allied Conquest in Europe

To set the stage properly, I am the author of military histories and a fan of General George Patton.  I received an email from the Jonathan Jordan, author of the book Brothers, Rivals, Victors: Eisenhower, Patton, Bradley and the Partnership that Drove the Allied Conquest in Europe.   He had read my blog and when I saw the subject matter of his book, I swore to myself I would pick it up. 

A worthwhile addition to your library
Now I have read Alan Axelrod’s Patton,  Patton: A Genius for War by Carlo D'Este, and even Patton’s own edited diary – War as I Knew It.  I dodged the book Target: Patton because I had done some digging on the material evidence and found it a little thin; the advantage of being a regular visitor to the National Archives.  None of this made me an expert on Patton, but I honestly didn’t think anyone would be able to break new ground on old Blood and Guts. 

I was wrong.   Happily wrong. 

Jordan’s Brothers, Rivals, Victors offers a very different perspective than those that have gone before him.  He masterfully weaves the story of Patton, Bradley and Eisenhower into a flowing narrative that is actually fun to read.  I was stunned at the new material in this book, not just on Patton but on all three men. 

Jordan does a fantastic job of keeping the flow of the story going, providing the right military and political context so that even if you don’t know anything about these remarkable men, you will be able to follow what is happening and why. 

Not only has he broken new ground in terms of research – his writing is some of the best I have experienced in the military history genre.  It is obvious that Jordan has a good sense of humor, some of his prose actually made me grin.  When was the last time that happened when you read a military biography? 

I will openly admit that I didn’t know much about Bradley so for me this was a treasure trove of learning. My only criticism of the book is that it seems to concentrate most heavily on Patton and Eisenhower…but in fairness that was to be expected (they had the longest friendship of the trio) and given my interest in Patton – I can’t complain. 

I have always considered Montgomery in a bad-light.  This book certainly reinforced this gut feeling on my part.  How he interacted with the team in the book was horrible at best.   

Go out and buy Brothers, Rivals, Victors: Eisenhower, Patton, Bradley and the Partnership that Drove the Allied Conquest in Europe.   I thoroughly enjoyed this book and I’m even going over the highlighted parts on my Kindle to see if I can beef up my own writing skills to get closer to what Jonathan Jordan manages to accomplish in this book. 

Monday, August 8, 2011

Flying Battleships in Action – Leviathans at GenCon

I was looking forward to GenCon this year because it was going to be the premiere of Leviathans - a game that I contributed to.  Well, the fates conspired to prevent the product from being for sale at the convention (for more details go to  You would have thought I’d have been disappointed – but you’d be wrong.

She's a soaring beast of death and destruction! 
The guys and gals at Catalyst Game Labs managed to pull off the biggest non-release of a product I’ve ever seen!   They ran demos of Leviathans throughout the con.  Not only that, they gave away miniatures from the game if you sat through the demo.  Sit through one demo, you got a destroyer.  Sit through another, you could trade up for a cruiser.  Enroll in the King of the Skies tournament you could trade up for a battleship! 

The moment the doors to the main hall opened, the Leviathans demo was two people deep!  My son Alex playtested the game back about a year ago and he and our family friend Andrew played it and were surprised at how fun the game was.  It was the talk of the show.  Catalyst even had giant ship models on display from the game – over two feet long – which drew a lot of attention.  Yeah, it was disappointing that that you couldn’t buy it, but hundreds of people played the game and loved it. 

I took a destroyer into two battles, bringing glory to France!  We were playing the entry level rules (Lieutenants) so I was not able to unleash the torpedoes (the French favor torps in the game) but I still managed to cross the British T several times, riddling a cruiser, damaging her Tesla coils and engine badly in one game.  In another session my destroyer was able to run around the flank of the major slugfest between the bigger ships, peppering them from a distance, then sweeping in for the kill. 

So what did people say?  Here’s some snippets that I heard:

“I like the fact you roll the dice once and you know if and where you hit.”

“These miniatures are awesome!” (Hands down this was the most common statement) 

“When will we see the Germans and the Americans?”

“Do the rules include (your choice here from:  Altitude variations, crew repair, clouds, bracketing the enemy?)  The answers by the way is yes!  Some of these are covered in the Captain’s expansion, but they are there. 

“This is so simple but so cool.”

“Hey, the French use the metric system and the English guns are in pounds and inches!” 

“There’s a lot of difference between the English and French ships.”

“Dude, your keel just got broken.” 

“What tournament allows the torpedoes?   I want to fire the torpedoes!”

“How does this compare with Dystopian Wars?” 

“I usually repaint prepainted minis.  I may have to make an exception with these.” 

“Somebody go after the destroyer, he’s driving me nuts with those lucky shots!”

Sacrebleu!  Somebody do something about that cruiser – he’s punching holes in me like Swiss cheese!”

“When can I order this?”

People play a lot of games at the convention, and I was no exception.  At the same time, I was drawn over and over again to Leviathans, even just to watch.  There was a ton of good buzz about the game.  Catalyst also had a convention preview of Cosmic Patrol which I saw people purchasing a lot of.  More about that later.

For now, let me simply say, “Battleships CAN fly and did at GenCon!”