Saturday, February 28, 2009

ASR - Advanced Squad Reader

Concurrent with most wargamers' interests in waging paper wars is their interest in history. I think that's a safe bet -- without the interest in theme we might as well all be playing Euros.

So, I think I'll start chatting up some war history books I've been getting into that have some relevance to ASL players.

First, I want to point out that I've got a little "Currently Reading" link list in the sidebar. Usually I have at least one history book on the go. If you're looking to find something to peruse check that out as I rarely post something I don't like.

Here's a short list of stuff I really really like and have on the nightstand right now:

  1. Stalingrad by Antony Beevor. This is a beauty. It's a nice thick trade paperback that covers not only the most famous battle in WWII's eastern front but how the Germans got there and its impact and aftermath. Gritty as all hell. I finished it and am reading it again. There are some great chapters and passages about the tactical aspects of the battle that would be of particular interest to ASL players -- especially Red Barricades and Valor of the Guards players.

  2. An Army at Dawn by Rick Atkinson. I first got wind of this book through, of all things, a person's avatar on ConSimWorld. I checked it out at the local bookstore and the book is actually the first in the "Liberation Trilogy". Atkinson won the Pulitzer for this volume and it's well deserved. His primary thesis is that final victory for the Allies was laid from early experiences and blooding from North Africa onwards. I've not been the most interested of people in the North African campaign in WWII but An Army at Dawn really got the juices going. So far, there aren't any ASLSK scenarios for this theatre but of course full ASL players have a lot of choices here. Guess what!? Desert warfare wasn't always in the desert! Volume Two is already out and I'll be picking that up asap.

  3. Panzer Commander by Hans von Luck. This is a terrific little paperback written by Rommel's reconnaisance commander. The length and breadth of his experiences from the "other side" is very interesting. Now, as most ASL players know, scenarios are drawn mostly from existing historical sources and it appears that von Luck's memoirs are a key source. There's at least one SK and one full ASL scenario based on his "adventures" in WWII (and his pun-tastic name) so there's a direct corelation between this book and ASL. It's a great read overall. (See J60 Bad Luck, S28 Out of Luck)

  4. Stalingrad 1942 by Osprey Publishing. (Written by Peter Antill) Osprey should be a fairly well known imprint for those with an interest in military history. I find them good for being short, concise, colourful and excellent as an overview of their particular topics. Stalingrad 1942 is no exception and is recommended for those who are still plugging away at S2 War of the Rats.

Feel free to recommend some stuff in the comments.


Josh said...

Ok, since you insist, I'll add one that I finished on a plane ride back from a job interview.

Strategy by B.H. Liddel Hart

This guy's a freakin' genius. WWII section + the later chapters on Strategy and Grand Strategy are worth the whole price of the book (but the rest is good too...).

Andy said...

I read Life and Fate by Vasiliy Grossman last year. It's his big fat Russian novel about the lives of Russians through the battle of Stalingrad, and is well worth a read, if you have time to spare (it's LONG). Lot's of interesting stuff in Pavlov's House. Vasiliy himself shows up in Beevor's The Fall of Berlin 1945, as he was a reporter for the Red Army newspaper during the war. I only read Stalingrad once, a while back, and I don't remember if he showed up there.

scrub said...

I remember having to read Hart in a university course. I do not recall Strategy but I'll check it out.

Grossman was cited several times in Beevor -- though I got the feeling that the latter felt the former too much of a Soviet jingoist. Saw Grossman's book at Chapters so I'll pick it up one of these days too.

Thanks guys!

Andy said...

I can believe that Grossman was a jingoist at the time of Stalingrad, but it seems that the behaviour of the Red Army in the sack of Germany disillusioned him in a big way. Life and Fate was banned in the USSR for its critical stance.

scrub said...

Nothing like banning a book to make me want to read it!

Jeff said...

I'm currently reading "Brazen Chariots" by Major Robert Crisp. Crisp was a South African serving with the British in North Africa. The book is a first-hand account of Operation Crusader. A journalist before the war, Crisp is an excellent story teller, so this book is not the dry recitation of facts that some non-fiction becomes.

Another book I recently finished was "The Longest Battle" by Harry Yeide. You can get this book dirt cheap used on It covers the September 1944 to February 1945 time period from Aachen to the Roar River. It coveres several actions down to the company level that I found myself thinking would make good ASL scenarios. It's a bit drier that the Brazen Chariots book, but still a pretty good read.

JMcL63 said...

My 'to read' pile is currently grower faster than I can crop it. I've got to stay out of bookshops!

One book you mention scrub that I've read is von Luck's Panzer Commander. A good read indeed. I've got Beevor's Stalingrad too, but haven't read it yet. ;)

scrub said...

... and more books go in *my* pile!