Expert! That’s us. Certified by the Weaponsman Board of Experts.
We put books into five categories:
- Read It Even if you Gotta Buy It;
- Get it at the Library;
- Read it if You’re a Specialist;
- Don’t Waste Your Time Reading It. And, last but not least:
- We read it, but we’re still not sure.
We also try to sneak in an online bonus reading suggestion or two, sometimes.
We link the titles to the book on Amazon; as a rule of thumb we link to the most economical option. We’re not yet an Amazon affiliate, though.
Read It Even if you Gotta Buy It
Monster Hunter Memoirs: Grunge by John Ringo and Larry Correia. This is the latest in the Monster Hunter series, but it’s also the first of a new series, a collaboration between the productive John Ringo and series originaror Larry Correia. It introduces new characters and a new period, the 1980s in Seattle. It’s very different in tone from Larry’s novels, but it’s an absolute blast, and the more of the 80s you remember, the more you’ll like it.
Of course, maybe stories of humans blowing away (And if you like Grunge, you’ll like its sequel, Monster Hunter Memoirs: Sinners, too; it’s set in New Orleans). Note that links are to the Kindle editions; we read them in the more expensive hardcover, and the paperbacks won’t be out till midsummer 2017.
Get it at the Library
Voyage by Stephen Baxter. Before there was Andy Weir and The Martian, there already was a serious story about journey to Mars, Stephen Baxter’s The Voyage. It’s an “alternate history” in which Nixon decided to cut Apollo moon flights a lot and build towards an Apollo-based mission to Mars in the 1980s, instead of cut Apollo a little and build the Space Shuttle. (The latter is what happened in the real-world timeline). We’ve linked to the Kindle version, but we read a library-surplus hardcover that we bought for $1 from a library thrift store. If there is a better entertainment value than used books, we surely can’t think of what it is.
No, it’s got nothing about weapons (although it breaks from our timeline by twisting the Kennedy assassination), but it’s got all kinds of cool retro tech. Like Weir’s The Martian, Voyage is an aspie’s delight of deep immersion in the problems of interplanetary travel and some of their solutions. Unbeknownst to us, this book was the first of a trilogy. We’re looking forward to reading the others.
Mr Mercedes by Steven King. Yes, King is a lefty who hates us gun-owners all. He’s also a novelist of staggering talent and considerable work ethic who has produced interesting works, mostly in the horror genre, for a lifetime. You don’t have to agree with the artist to appreciate the art, do you?
Mr Mercedes is a King entry in a genre not usually associated with him, the police procedural. He takes stock characters: the crazed killer; the retired, over-the-hill cop with one last job in him; and infuses them with three-dimensional reality. He even makes a stock character of current fiction — the black computer genius — believable, even to guys who have worked in tech.
He’s so good at getting inside the head of weirdos who kill people, that we worry about the guy, sometimes. But he’s also good at getting inside the head of weirdos who do good, and one of the most interesting characters in Mr Mercedes is a mentally fragile, medicated woman.
The book is the first in a trilogy; each begins with the same horrifying mass murder from the viewpoint of a different set of victims or responders. In keeping with modern publishing, they’re very overpriced, but used copies can be had for much less (buying them from Amazon usually incurs a $4 postage charge, though, even if the book only sells for a penny).
Read it if You’re a Specialist
Johnson Rifles and Machine Guns by Bruce N. Canfield. Anything of Canfield’s that we have read is enjoyable reading for the gun geek, and packed with carefully curated information. This book, which is at once a commercial and technical history of one of the most-discussed (and least-used) US weapons systems of World War II, is valuable to the Johnson collector or fan. It has a great deal of information about Melvin Johnson’s invention, industrial efforts, and his long and quixotic battle to get his rifle and machine gun adopted or even tested by the United States military.
Johnson’s efforts at winning Government approval fell short, but thanks to the care the US Marine Corps took with their ex-Dutch Johnson M1941 rifles, the majority of these arms survived to be prized by today’s collectors.
Civil War Firearms: Their Historical Background and Tactical Use by Joseph G. Bilby. Bilby is a unique combination of shooter, collector and historian, so if you are any of those things, or generally interested in the arms of the American Civil War, this book is very worthwhile for you. The weapons used by Union and Confederate forces were varied in type, operating system, combat utility and nation of origin, and Bilby is the perfect guy to explain them to readers with an interest and any level of prior knowledge, from zero to expert.
Note that while we linked to the current paperback edition for those that want a new book, we got a perfect-condition used hardcover for less money, including shipping.
Don’t Waste Your Time Reading It
Black Friday by William W. Johnstone with J.A. Johnstone. We were disappointed by the novel Black Friday, which is credited to prolific Western writer William Johnstone, who was born in 1938 and has been dead since 2005, and his niece J.A. Johnstone, who has a publication schedule (about a novel a month) that makes one suspect a small army of ghostwriters is at work.
The story is the classic hadji-terrorist-in-a-shopping-mall yarn, and it’s been better done before, notably in Stephen Hunter’s 2011 Soft Target.
The Kindle edition is overpriced, which is the publisher’s fault, not the authors’.
Charlie Mike: A True Story Of Heroes Who Brought Their Mission Home by Joe Klein. This book seems to have been one of several attempts by the Acela Corridor Media establishment to launch the political career of a former SEAL officer named Eric Greitens, who actually never served as an operational SEAL; in a temporary assignment as a SWCC commander he turned in some sailors and an officer who were using and selling drugs, and this act of conscience, which ensured his unit’s integrity, got the Blue Falcon label applied to Greitens, fairly or not. Even by SEAL standards, Greitens is monumentally ambitious and spotlight-seeking. Joe Klein tells the story of Greitens’s and others’ forays into the world of public service, but you are always left with the slightly uncomfortable feeling that everything, to Greitens, is solely valued based on its utility to his career. In the end, an attempted hagiography wound up putting this reader off. What we don’t need is more camera-chasing professional veterans pimping a “vets are damaged goods” narrative.
Greitens is the Governor-Elect of Missouri, after a 2015 party change to Republican (one wonders what Klein, who was so eager to promote him when he was a Democrat, thinks of that), and we’re told that news reports there have said he favors waiting periods for firearms.
We Read It, But We’re Still Not Sure
Nothing in this category this time out. We had put Klein’s Charlie Mike in there, but we reconsidered it and demoted it to the don’t-bother bin. The price of both Kindle and paperback being an unreasonable $12-13 was the deciding factor. Overpriced for its quality by an order of magnitude.
To the Readers:
Our objective had been to do two of these in an average month. But we got off schedule; this one is overdue by ages. Our last, Weaponsman Expert Book Reviews Nº 4, ran months ago. We not only think this is a better thing to post than a When Guns are Outlawed on Christmas Eve, we also really want to live up to that, going forward, or at least do one a month. We’ll see, eh?
In the New Year, we plan to become an Amazon affiliate so that if you buy a book from one of our links, it throws us a few cents.
For previous capsule reviews:
- 19 February 16. Weaponsman Expert Book Reviews Nº 1. Link.
- 08 March 16. Weaponsman Expert Book Reviews Nº 2. Link.
- 24 March 16. Weaponsman Expert Book Reviews Nº 3. Link.
- 19 April 16. Weaponsman Expert Book Reviews Nº 4. Link.