The Jews Who Fought Back

Bielski_partisansMore than 30,000 Jews joined armed resistance movements throughout occupied Europe during World War II. Not only did they face death from the Germans and their European allies, they often endured dangerous anti-Semitism within their own partisan groups, fought with scant support from the Allies, and lived under the most atrocious conditions.

This is a story that contradicts an all-too-familiar (and extremely inaccurate) narrative that European Jews went to the death camps like lambs to the slaughter. My story at War Is Boring is an attempt to remind readers that many Jews were among the most effective and deadly resistance fighters of the war.

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2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 11,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 4 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

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Concerning the M1911 and the FN FAL

M1911_2MAY10_02One was John Browning’s masterpiece firearm, the other was nicknamed “the right arm of the Free World” because of its nearly global presence as an answer to the Kalashnikov. Both weapons are among the most successful military firearms ever developed.

My articles at War Is Boring explore the history of the M1911 .45-caliber pistol and the Fabrique Nationale FAL 7.62x51mm battle rifle.  It’s been said that the M1911 is the best military handgun in the world not only because of its rugged reliability in the field but because of the power of its .45 ACP cartridge. (There is no denying these implements are designed to kill people efficiently.) The FAL could have been the U.S. main battle rifle of the 1950s and 1960s had not the politics of procurement and shortsightedness of military brass obstructed its adoption. Would it have been better than the M14, which fired the same NATO cartridge?  In my opinion, yes. The M14 has enjoyed a renaissance as a designated sniper’s weapon and it is great rifle. But the FAL was adopted by almost every NATO country, which means both parts and ammo would have been more readily available.

You can make up your own mind about these weapons and I hope my articles provide grist for the mill.

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I Continue to Write About Things That Go “Bang!”

vietnam-war-01My gig with War is Boring is now steady: Three stories a month, and the editor clearly likes my articles on military history and military weapons. As a writer, I have found a small but stable niche, and I enjoy writing for the publication.

Here are a couple of recent stories. One is about the Smith & Wesson M-76 9mm submachine gun, a weapon that was both a replacement for another sub-gun favored by U.S. clandestine operators and a prominent movie gun. The other story is about the iconic Browning Hi-Power 9mm pistol, arguably the most widely used military sidearm in the world and the first high-capacity pistol.

Some of the headlines on the stories are, well, lurid. But I learned a long time ago to never argue with the copy desk.

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Drafting the Declaration of Independence

cropped-trumbull-large2.jpgThe Web site PortRevolt, which is dedicated to displaying art related to the American Revolution, has a brief history of the origins of the Declaration of Independence. It is readable and accurate, well worth the time for a Web visit that will combine history with the chance to view some of the most significant art associated with the Founding Period or portraying that period. As I wrote in an earlier post, PortRevolt is a valuable resource on the Web because of its emphasis on iconography, the systematic study and interpretation of paintings, drawings, and other portrayals of people and events to understand the past.

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War As A Masquerade

Armed men wearing military fatigues gather by Armored Personnel Carriers (APC) as they stand guard outside the regional state building seized by pro-Russian separatists in the eastern Ukrainian city of Slavyansk on April 16, 2014.

Armed men wearing military fatigues gather by Armored Personnel Carriers (APC) as they stand guard outside the regional state building seized by pro-Russian separatists in the eastern Ukrainian city of Slavyansk on April 16, 2014.

“Russia will invade Ukraine, probably within the next few weeks. They will annex the Crimea. From there, if they meet no resistance from the West, they will take more of the country,”
― Tom Clancy, Command Authority (2013)

Call him clairvoyant. In the last novel he published before his death, Tom Clancy predicted that Russia would move against its former satellite states. As far as Clancy was concerned, that plot element was a no-brainer. Russia, whether under the rule of Ivan the Terrible or Vladimir Putin, wants its buffer states.

However, Clancy has a key qualifier in the line from Command Authority: “… no resistance from the West … .” So far, the sternest measures the U.S. and E.U. have hurled at Putin and his regime are halfhearted sanctions that will probably disappear once winter comes and Western Europe needs Russian oil and natural gas to stay warm. There is stern language from NATO, but there is also open war with Russian paratroopers found on Ukrainian soil and a massive military force just kilometers from the border.

But most of the Russian military moves are incremental. A little here and a little there, and soon Ivan has sliced up the whole sausage. This kind of “secret war” is part of a tactic called maskirovka.  My article in today’s edition of War is Boring looks at the Russian’s recent use of maskirovka tactics and how it works to produce at least very little resistance from a distracted West.

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Love your Mother — The Ma Deuce

 

U.S. Marines fire pintle-mounted M-2 HB (heavy barrel) machine guns.

U.S. Marines fire pintle-mounted M-2 HB (heavy barrel) machine guns.

My article this week in “War is Boring” profiles the M-2 Browning .50-caliber machine gun. It’s more commonly called the “Ma Deuce” or simply “50-Cal” by G.I.s, Marines and other U.S. service personnel that use it. The Ma Deuce is a beast of a weapon according to people who have fired it either on the range or in combat. I have never witnessed one in use, but perhaps a kindly reader currently in the service will invite me watch one on a live-fire range. This video from the Military Channel can give you an idea of what it is like to see the mother of all machine guns in action. Sorry about the obnoxious commercial at the beginning of the video.

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