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Brilliant but boring as heck!

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  • Brilliant but boring as heck!

    I know a number of people who dislike history in all its forms. When I ask why, I often get that standard complaint that history is too dry, that "all those places and dates" bore them to tears. I guess I have been lucky, because whenever I've been exposed to history, it has always been presented as something more than "places and dates". Until recently, that is....

    I hate to say it, but famed WWII historian Michael Reynolds is a living example of the boring approach to military history. Some time ago, I purchased his book The Devil's Adjutant, about Joachen Peiper and his exploits during the Battle of the Bulge, but never got a chance to read it. However, after seeing the author on a recent documentary about the Bulge, I finally gave it a read...and was bored to tears! Seriously! I read a lot of military history, of various periods, and have never found such a stultifying presentation of military history! Without doubt, Mr. Reynolds is a wonderful historian. His examination of the terrain, TO&E, and historic documents displays a mastery of the material---alas, he is one of those authors that just does not seem to know how to turn it all into a engaging tale. It was a bona fide struggle to finish the book as my eyes would glaze over after a few pages. He simply presents battles with all the zest of a lecture in corporate accounting practices.

    To be fair, I discounted the book as just an oddity of boredom, not a comment on Mr. Reynolds other writings. Until....

    I found myself reading a back issue of WWII History magazine (May 2004---yes my reading is that backlogged! ). The article is question was about Operation Goodwood. After reading a page or two, I started to notice a very familiar style---deep analysis of terrain, TO&E, etcetera, but also a very boring presentation of endless "places and dates", or in this case, "places and unit IDs". Hmm...could it be? Yup! Checked the name of the author---Mike Reynolds. Sheesh! What is it with this guy?!?

    I admire the man's mind, but he needs to take a few lessons on presentation.
    Burke's Joystick: Because Edmund Burke would have been a gamer.

  • #2
    Well Scott, if you wanna read a damn good book on Jochen Peiper, you have to read Patrick Agte's "Peiper:Commander Panzerregiment Leibstandarte".
    The best book ever written on Jochen Peiper with tons of unpublished photos.

    Regards
    Fatih
    "A nation which makes the final sacrifice for life and freedom does not get beaten." - Mustafa Kemal ATATURK

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    • #3
      Isn't Reynolds considered mostly made up, too? I think at least his Steel Inferno is.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by fatih
        Well Scott, if you wanna read a damn good book on Jochen Peiper, you have to read Patrick Agte's "Peiper:Commander Panzerregiment Leibstandarte".
        The best book ever written on Jochen Peiper with tons of unpublished photos.

        Regards
        Fatih
        I'll keep it in mind! Thanks!
        Burke's Joystick: Because Edmund Burke would have been a gamer.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Redwolf
          Isn't Reynolds considered mostly made up, too? I think at least his Steel Inferno is.
          What do you mean? Making up facts for his books?
          Burke's Joystick: Because Edmund Burke would have been a gamer.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Wargamer Scott
            I know a number of people who dislike history in all its forms. When I ask why, I often get that standard complaint that history is too dry, that "all those places and dates" bore them to tears. I guess I have been lucky, because whenever I've been exposed to history, it has always been presented as something more than "places and dates". Until recently, that is....

            I hate to say it, but famed WWII historian Michael Reynolds is a living example of the boring approach to military history. Some time ago, I purchased his book The Devil's Adjutant, about Joachen Peiper and his exploits during the Battle of the Bulge, but never got a chance to read it. However, after seeing the author on a recent documentary about the Bulge, I finally gave it a read...and was bored to tears! Seriously! I read a lot of military history, of various periods, and have never found such a stultifying presentation of military history! Without doubt, Mr. Reynolds is a wonderful historian. His examination of the terrain, TO&E, and historic documents displays a mastery of the material---alas, he is one of those authors that just does not seem to know how to turn it all into a engaging tale. It was a bona fide struggle to finish the book as my eyes would glaze over after a few pages. He simply presents battles with all the zest of a lecture in corporate accounting practices.

            To be fair, I discounted the book as just an oddity of boredom, not a comment on Mr. Reynolds other writings. Until....

            I found myself reading a back issue of WWII History magazine (May 2004---yes my reading is that backlogged! ). The article is question was about Operation Goodwood. After reading a page or two, I started to notice a very familiar style---deep analysis of terrain, TO&E, etcetera, but also a very boring presentation of endless "places and dates", or in this case, "places and unit IDs". Hmm...could it be? Yup! Checked the name of the author---Mike Reynolds. Sheesh! What is it with this guy?!?

            I admire the man's mind, but he needs to take a few lessons on presentation.

            I hate that " History is to dry" "Its boring" and the like. History is amazing, I think its the other way around and current stuff is boring and dry, and history is amazing. But then the current stuff becomes history, and then I guess in turn history wouldbe come dry and boring, then it depreciates, and like everything, becomes amazing to a new generation, and then it isnt dry and boring.
            PvtJohnson

            Hold your ground men, hold your ground!

            Don't be a fool, wrap your tool.

            If your not mad enough to bare nuckel box, your not mad at all.

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            • #7
              Writers are artists who use words instead of say sound (musicians) or a canvas (painters). But the basic reason we like an artist remains the same. Some are good and some not.

              Anyone of us could do the research and then compile the information with some photos and call it a book. But it takes more than knowledge of the event to be a good writer.

              I have read many a book in the passage of my life, and some of it was truely spectacular, while some of it was merely spectaclarly dull. Doesn't matter the material, it's how it was written that counts.
              Life is change. Built models for decades.
              Not sure anyone here actually knows the real me.
              I didn't for a long time either.

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              • #8
                By and large, I have found the majority of history books that I have read to be very good or excellent. Now, part of my good fortune is that I rarely purchase a mil-his book that is brand new, usually I wait until all the reviews are in---so that probably accounts for my good fortune. But I also think that most mil-historians bring a lot of enthusiasm to their work and that is often reflected in their prose. I think the reason why Reynolds is less than thrilling is because, as a major general and a former member of NATO's "policy and plans" division, he is used to writing up dry, presentation-style AARs and strategy sessions for the brass. Unfortunately, this approach carries over into his personal writing as well.
                Burke's Joystick: Because Edmund Burke would have been a gamer.

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