Book Review: A Peace to End All Peace: The Fall of the Ottoman Empire and the Creation of the Modern Middle East by David Fromkin

A Peace to End All Peace: The Fall of the Ottoman Empire and the Creation of the Modern Middle EastA Peace to End All Peace: The Fall of the Ottoman Empire and the Creation of the Modern Middle East by David Fromkin

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

 

“The Middle East became what it is today both because the European powers undertook to re-shape it and because Britain and France failed to ensure that the dynasties, the states, and the political system that they established would permanently endure.”

A Peace to End All Peace: The Fall of the Ottoman Empire and the Creation of the Modern Middle East by David Fromkin is a book that we all should read to get a better understanding of how and why we got to where we are today in the Middle East. Fromkin details and explains the political happenings in the Middle East during World War I and the aftermath of the war. Great Britain and Lloyd George are the focus of the book, the Arabs, French, Germans, Greeks, Italians, Ottomans, and Turks are covered as well. It is a story of failure on the part of the European powers and the poorly thought through partition of the Middle East. What happened was complex and there were a lot of players involved due to changes in Governments and leadership, but Fromkin navigated them well and made the happenings easily understandable. Once you finish reading this book, you’ll understand why there are so many grievances, why so many are understandable, and why there is really no one country or person to blame.

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History Related Amateur Radio Special Event Stations for October 2018

Four history-related Amateur Radio special event stations during October stand out to me. Two o the special event stations honor important figures from US History: Dwight D. Eisenhower and Roger Williams. A third commemorates the birth of one of our armed forces: the US Navy. The fourth commemorates a key battle of the American Revolution and the subsequent surrender of British Forces at Yorktown, VA.

The Grayson County Amateur Radio Club in Sherman, TX will be operating special event station W5I from 8 October to 16 October in commemoration of Dwight D. Eisenhower’s birthday on 14 October 1890 in Denison, TX. Eisenhower was a pivotal figure in American History during World War II and the early part of the Cold War. After the Pearl Harbor Attack, Eisenhower was assigned as a Brigadier General in the US Army to the General Staff in Washington DC where he was responsible for developing war plans against both Japan and Germany. Just six months later, despite having never held an active command higher than Battalion Commander, he was appointed Commanding General, European Theater of Operations and promoted to Lieutenant General. In the run-up to the North African invasion, he was named Supreme Commander Allied Expeditionary Force, North African Theater of Operations. In late 1943, Eisenhower was appointed Supreme Allied Commander in Europe and Supreme Allied Commander Allied Expeditionary Force. He would hold both commands until the end of World War II in Europe. Despite not having the experience of command above the battalion commander, Eisenhower proved to be an excellent appointment by President Roosevelt. The job of Supreme Allied Commander was just as much a political job as it was a military job and he did a terrific job juggling the different aims, wants, and politics of the various Allied powers as well as dealing with extraordinary personalities like DeGaulle, Montgomery, and Patton. After World War II, Eisenhower, by now a five star General of the Army served as Military Governor of the American Occupation Zone in Europe, as Chief of Staff of the Army, and finally as NATO Supreme Commander before retiring in 1952. In 1952, Eisenhower was pressed to run for President by the Republican Party and was elected. As President, Eisenhower was noted in the foreign policy arena for working to bring the Korean War to an end, Cold War policy including nuclear policy and the “domino theory,” and his handling of the Sputnik crisis and U-2 incident and in the domestic policy arena for continuing New Deal programs such as Social Security, creating the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (later split into the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Education), authorizing the Interstate Highway System, the Civil Rights Act of 1957, and the Little Rock Crisis. On the political spectrum, Eisenhower considered himself a moderate, progressive Republican. It can easily be argued that his experience as Supreme Commander during and after World War II gave him the experience in handling disparate groups and personalities that enabled him to be a great President; he was ranked the 5th greatest President in the 2017 C-Span Presidential Historians Survey. In his farewell address, he offered us advice which is still pertinent today:

“As we peer into society’s future, we – you and I, and our government – must avoid the impulse to live only for today, plundering for our own ease and convenience the precious resources of tomorrow. We cannot mortgage the material assets of our grandchildren without risking the loss also of their political and spiritual heritage. We want democracy to survive for all generations to come, not to become the insolvent phantom of tomorrow.”

“In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.”

W5I will be operating on or near 14.250 USB, 7.200, LSB, 14.040, and 7.040. QSL via Grayson County ARC, PO Box 642, Sherman, TX 75091.

Providence Emergency Management Agency RACES, KK1PMA, in Providence, RI will be honoring Roger Williams with a special event station on 13 October. Williams is a fascinating figure in US History. A Puritan minister, Williams came to the Massachusetts Bay Colony from England in 1630. Before long, his beliefs in religious freedom and separation of Church and State and his dealings with Native Americans brought him into conflict with the Colony’s leadership. First, he believed that individuals should be able to follow their own path when it comes to religion and that they should not be coerced into following a particular church; in his mind, a state religion was a religion forced upon the people.  Second, he believed that it was not the place of civil authorities to enforce religious laws such as those found in the first five of the Ten Commandments: idolatry (Thou shalt have no other God before me/Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image), blasphemy (Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain), and the breaking of the Sabbath (Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy). These arguments were the antithesis of most of his contemporaries but they would influence our Founding Fathers and the direction our government would take. Also contrary to most of his contemporaries in the Colony was how he dealt with Native Americans; Williams believed in fair dealings with Native Americans. He came to question colonial charters that didn’t reimburse Native Americans for land taken to form those colonies. It was because of those beliefs that Roger Williams was banished from the Massachusetts Bay Colony. After his banishment, he eventually founded Providence Plantation, which eventually became the colony of and then the state of Rhode Island It’s also worth mentioning that Williams was opposed to slavery and attempted to prevent its legalization in Rhode Island. Unfortunately, it was an admirable but unsuccessful attempt.  KK1PMA will be operating on or around 53.02 USB, 14.275 USB,  and 7.275 LSB. QSL for a certificate via Barry Noel, P.O. Box 28091, Providence, RI 02908.

Also on 13 October, NI6IW, the USS Midway (CV-41) museum ship will be commemorating the establishment of the US Navy on 13 October 1775. The United States Navy celebrates its birthday on 13 October because the Second Continental Congress authorized the purchase of two ships, marking the beginning of the Continental Navy. The Continental Navy was shortlived; it was disbanded at the end of the American Revolution because the new government lacked the funds to maintain a standing navy. Between 1790 and 1797, the US Revenue Cutter Service (a forerunner of the US Coast Guard) provided the only armed maritime service that the United States had. In 1794, however, Congress passed the Naval Act of 1794 authorizing a permanent standing Navy; the US Navy was established and by 1797, the first three of the US Navy’s first six frigates were commissioned and in service. For more information on and a good read about the beginnings of the United States Navy, I highly recommend Ian W. Toll’s Six Frigates: The Epic History of the Founding of the U.S. Navy. NI6IW will be operating on or around 14.320 USB, 7.250 LSB, and 14.070 as well as D-STAR on REF001C. QSL via USS Midway (CV-41) COMEDTRA, 901 N Harbor Drive, San Diego, CA 92101.

On 20 October, K4RC, the Williamsburg Area Amateur Radio Club in Yorktown, VA will commemorate the surrender of British forces after the Battle of Yorktown. The Battle of Yorktown lasted from 28 September to 19 October 1781. Yorktown was more of siege than a battle, American and French forces surrounded the British Army on land and at sea. The Continental Army under George Washington and the French Army under the Comte de Rochambeau surrounded the British Army under Charles Cornwallis. At sea, the French Navy under the Comte de Grasse blockaded the British and prevented reinforcement attempts. The siege began on 28 September and throughout the first half of October, the Americans and French worked closer to the British positions. On 14 October, assaults of the British defenses began and on 17 October the British offered to surrender. Negotiations began and on 19 October, the surrender was official. The British surrender at Yorktown didn’t end the American Revolution, it would continue until 1783, but it did give American morale a much-needed boost. It also caused a collapse of public support for the war in Great Britain and moved the British government to negotiations to end the Revolution. To read more about the American Revolution, I would recommend Robert Middlekauff’s The Glorious Cause: The American Revolution, 1763-1789 and for reading about the last years of the American Revolution following Yorktown, I would recommend American Crisis: George Washington and the Dangerous Two Years After Yorktown, 1781-1783 by William M. Fowler Jr. K4RC will be operating on or around 14.265 USB and 7.265 LSB. QSL via K4RC, P.O. Box 1470, Williamsburg, VA 23187.

Book Review: Charles XII and the Collapse of the Swedish Empire 1682-1719 by Robert Nisbet Bain

Charles XII and the Collapse of the Swedish Empire 1682-1719 (Illustrated)Charles XII and the Collapse of the Swedish Empire 1682-1719 by Robert Nisbet Bain

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I became very interested in Charles XII, Sweden, and the Great Northern War while reading Robert Massie’s biography of Peter the Great. A search for books on the subject yielded Charles XII and the Collapse of the Swedish Empire 1682-1719 by Robert Nisbet Bain. It isn’t a biography of Charles XII, it is more a book about his wars and how they and his actions brought about the collapse of the Swedish Empire. I found it very informative and learned a lot about both the Swedish Empire and Charles himself. Nonetheless, I found it very difficult to rate the book. It was originally published in 1895, so you have to consider that research and scholarship might have changed things since the book’s publication and you have to adjust to a different style of writing and vocabulary. That wasn’t the problem. The problem with this book is that the E-book version isn’t just poorly edited, it apparently was edited at all. It seems that the conversion was done and immediately published; it is full of spelling errors that make you have to go back and re-read passages to understand them. There are numerical figures that are incomprehensible. If I were rating the book purely on content, I’d easily give it a 4, but because the errors made it so difficult to read, I have to give it a four. That said, it’s well worth reading, but I’d suggest trying to find a print version because the conversion errors are more than simply irritating.

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History Related Amateur Radio Special Event Stations for September 2018

The month of September has a number of History related amateur radio special event stations, but four stood out to me. The first is N0HWJ, which is commemorating the Lewis and Clark Expedition. The second is a set of special event stations, K3B, N3B, and W3B, which commemorate the Battle of Brandywine during the American Revolution. The third, K7T, commemorates the final surrender of Geronimo. The last, W0CXX, commemorates the 85th anniversary of the Collins Radio Company, undoubtedly one of the United States’ most important radio equipment companies.

The N0HWJ Lewis and Clark 1804 Expedition special event station will be ending its multi-month run on 15 September. Beginning at Camp Dubois near Wood River IL in May 1804, the Lewis and Clark Expedition, also known as the Corps of Discovery was commissioned by President Thomas Jefferson after the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. Lead by Captain Merriwether Lewis and 2nd Lieutenant William Clark, the expedition was tasked with exploring the newly acquired territory and the Pacific Northwest as well as mapping both territories and staking claim to the Pacific Northwest before European countries could. Additionally, they were to do scientific studies of the plant and animal life and establish relations with the native peoples of the territories. The expedition lasted over two years, ending in September 1806 and traveled over 8,000 miles Despite difficult terrain and conditions and contact with both friendly and unfriendly tribes, there was little violence and they lost only one man. Even though it didn’t find the fabled Northwest Passage, they weren’t the first ones to explore the area, and they set the stage for the treatment of Native Americans in the future, the expedition was a success. They greatly contributed to the United States’ knowledge of its new territory and established a claim to the Pacific Northwest. Look for N0HWJ on or around 14.275,  14.250, 3.982, and 3.975. QSL via Don Lallier, N0HWJ, PO Box 303, Orchard, NE 68764.

Special Event Stations K3B, N3B, and W3B, operated by the Christiana Amateur Radio Emergency Service in Chadds Ford, PA will be commemorating the Battle of Brandywine, fought during the American Revolution, from 6 to 16 September. It was both the longest single-day battle (11 hours) of the American Revolution and was fought by the largest number of troops in any battle of the American Revolution (14,000 plus Americans versus 15,000  plus British)Fought around Chadds Ford and Brandywine Creek in Pennsylvania, the Battle of Brandywine was a significant defeat for the American forces led by George Washington. Poor scouting on the American’s part resulted in a lack of knowledge of where the British were and what they were doing, so the British forces under General William Howe were able to flank the Americans. A combination of delaying and rear guard actions and a British lack of cavalry allowed the Americans to escape and fight another day, but the loss at Brandywine led to the fall of Philadelphia, the home of the Continental Congress. K3B, N3B, and W3B will be operating on or near 21.280 14.280 7.180 3.860. QSL via Battle of Brandywine Special Event, P.O. Box 1324, 1620 Baltimore Pike, Chadds Ford, PA 19317

On 15 September, The Oro Valley Amateur Radio Club in Tucson, AZ will commemorate the 132nd Anniversary of Geronimo’s surrender at Skeleton Canyon with special event station K7T. Many assume Geronimo was a Chief of the Apache tribe, but he wasn’t – he as a leader and medicine man, but not a Chief. He was a skilled leader in raids and warfare and frequently led large numbers of Apaches during the fights with both the United States and Mexico. He and the Apaches following him surrendered and moved on to reservations, breaking out on three occasions due to disease, lack of rations, and the desire to return to their traditional lives: 1878, 1881, and 1885. K7T  commemorates the capture of Geronimo after the 1885 breakout. After the 1885 breakout, Geronimo and his followers were pursued by B Troop, 4th Cavalry under Captain Henry Lawton and 1st Lieutenant Charles Gatewood; the Troopers eventually wore down Geronimo’s group in Mexico and returned them to the United States on 4 September 1886, where they surrendered to General George Crook for the final time at Skeleton Canyon near Douglas, AZ. K7T will be operating SSB on 7.200 and 14.250, CW on 7.040 and 14.040, PSK on 7.070 and 14.070, and FT-8 on 7.074 and 14.074. QSL via email to qsl@tucsonhamradio.org.

The Rockwell Collins Amateur Radio Club, W0CXX, will be operating a special event station on 22/23 September in commemoration of the 85th Anniversary of the Collins Radio Company. Founded in 1933 by Arthur Collins, Initially, Collins manufactured Shortwave and AM equipment, but after providing communications equipment for the Byrd South Pole expedition, the company quickly became the preferred radio manufacturer of the US Military before and during World War II. After World War II, Collins expanded its horizons, moving into satellite and space communications and provided for programs such as Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo. Collins also played a key role in amateur radio, perhaps most notably the S-Line receivers, transmitters, and accessories. Considered some of the best equipment available, Collins and then Rockwell Collins continued to manufacture the S-Line from 1958-1978. Bought by Rockwell in 1973, Rockwell Collins continues to manufacture communications equipment, primarily for commercial, government, and defense users. While they still produce mechanical filters that are available to the public, they no longer produce radios for amateur radio or general public use. Look for W0CXX on or around 14.245, 14.045, 7.195, and 7.045. QSL via W0CXX, 1157 Highway 965 NW, Cedar Rapids, IA 52404. 

Book Review: Peter the Great: His Life and World by Robert K. Massie

Peter the Great: His Life and WorldPeter the Great: His Life and World by Robert K. Massie

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I bought Peter the Great: His Life and World by Robert K. Massie at the same time I bought his biography of Catherine the Great, Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman. I thoroughly enjoyed reading Catherine the Great and expected no less from Peter the Great given my previous experiences with books by Massie. I wasn’t disappointed; in fact, I enjoyed reading Peter the Great more than I did reading Catherine the Great.

Part of my enjoyment stemmed from Massie’s magnificent writing; he really does breathe life into the personalities in his books, not just the primary personalities but others as well. He doesn’t just tell you what they did, he tells you what made them tick and why they made the decisions and why they acted in certain ways.

The other reason I enjoyed the book so much is that Peter is such a fascinating historical figure. I knew of Peter and knew that he worked to modernize Russia, but I didn’t know his personality and I didn’t have a good understanding of what he did to modernize Russia. Peter was a complex personality; he reinforces my belief that all historical figures are flawed in some way but that in some, their positive characteristics outshine their negative characteristics. Peter had a violent temper and was capable of great brutality (perhaps not surprising given what he experienced in his childhood), but he also was aware of his temper and could be capable of mercy. He lacked a good education but knew and regretted that he did and lived with curiosity, pursuing knowledge throughout his lifetime. He put a great strain on the people of his country through taxation and forced change on them, but at the same time, he dragged Russia kicking and screaming out of its feudal age.

Peter the Great is easily one of the best books I’ve read recently and just as Massie’s biography of Catherine the Great did, expanded my knowledge of Russian and Eastern European History. It’s a long book, almost 1000 pages, but I often found it hard to put down because it was such compelling reading. Once again, Massie has proven that history books don’t have to be dull and boring, Peter the Great: His Life and World is a brilliant and interesting five-star book.

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