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December 26, 2007

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Brain Food for the Holidays

Here are three books I hope you found under your Christmas tree. The first two are reprints, and while they are not gun-related, they are will cause you to lose track of time. Both are in print, and pretty widely available. The third book is brand spanking new.

The Forgotten Soldier, by Guy Sajer (a pen name) is the story of an Alsatian teenager who was drafted into the Wehrmacht and sent to fight in the Soviet Union. He managed to survive that disaster as well as the retreat to Germany. By a series of miracles he made it home, where he was presumed dead. Doubts have been raised about the book's authenticity, but the U.S. Army War College has it on their reading list, and that's good enough for me.

The Long Walk, by Slavomir Rawicz (his real name). The story of a Polish cavalry officer who was captured by the Soviet Army in 1940, taken for a spy, sent to Moscow and subjected to a year's fun and games with the NKVD. Shipped to a prison camp in Siberia, Rawicz and six fellow prisoners escaped in the dead of winter and, over two years, walked from Siberia, across the Gobi Desert, over the Himalayas, and into India, where they were rescued ed by the British Army.

If you'd like to find out just how much men can endure without going mad or giving up and dying, these two books are good sources.

The Field & Stream Hunting Optics Handbook, by Thomas McIntyre
It's hard to make the subject of optics comprehensible, much less interesting, so imagine a book on the subject that is actually entertaining. Tom Mcintyre, whose immense, hyper-educated brain is packed with all sorts of odd information (and who has done one hell of a lot of hunting), has managed to combine loads of useful knowledge and all kinds of weird but fascinating intel on optics-related subjects.

An example: At the massacre at Wounded Knee, the bodies of the Sioux were searched by 7th Cavalry troopers, and on one of the dead warriors was found the binoculars carried by Lt/Col George Armstrong Custer at The Colossal Miscalculation at the Little Bighorn. In 2005, these glasses were auctioned for $56,625, working out, as Tom puts it, to slightly less than $100 per life, counting both the Greasy Grass and Wounded Knee. If you can resist stuff like this you have a heart of stone, and maybe a brain of stone, too.
The book is $20. wwwLyonsPress.com


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Blue Ox

I remember hearing something about them guys in The Long Walk from a history teacher back in high school. Said something about eating whatever critters they could catch to survive. I had always wanted to know more about the story, and now I know what to look for.
Thanks much, Dave!

Ralph the Rifleman

Yes...all three books seem like a nice read.


Two books on the human spirit of perseverance,and one that could enhance the very limited optical knowledge of this blond with wit and humor? Three more books on my shelves,thank you for the delightful suggestions!




I read both the war books. It’s truly amazing feat to survive the heel of the conqueror in any age.

People nowadays don’t realize how many Europeans were dragooned into the German WW II military. I also don’t believe an actual Polish Officer survived the Nazi’s and Stalinism. i.e. I think there’s still conflict if the SS or the NKVD massacred some 30,000 Polish officers in one location. The SS wiped out 80% of the Polish Intelligentsia [those with high school education and above].

Presently I’m studying Michael Wood’s work “Conquistadors”. Today these Spanish adventurers would be referred as international terrorists. …Still, incredible feat of arms, organization, and will.

Black Rifle Addict

Cool web site

Ralph the Rifleman

Stalin had killed more people enforcing his purges, but it really gets very little study in schools.Does anyone know why this is, or has things changes since I've gone to school?


I didn't get any of those books but I did receive the new Nosler Reloading Manual #6 and Rifle Bullets for the Hunter: A Definitive Study so I think I did alright in the book department.


I can only talk about my college courses of 35-years ago, but I haven’t seen much to change those old notes.

Not much is known specific about the Stalin Purges of the 1930’s. Nor is much none of NKVD operations during WW II , nor post WW II. It’s really only strong rumors. Certainly the ranks of the Communist Party was purged as was the Soviet Officer Corps, but all is referred in hazy percentages. Any rough numbers of those days is reference by Yugoslav’s Tito’s conversation with Stalin.

Polish Intelligentsia is generally agreed to have been 80% to 97% destroyed by the Nazis. Soviets took care of any non-communist party Polish officials during WW II and in the 1945-52 period.

Most the Nazi operations are known because the West captured most gov’t archives.


I recently finished reading a book entitled "Sea Of Thunder" about that Pacific Theatre in WWII. It's written by Evan Thomas who put out a very good biography of John Paul Jones a few years ago. I highly recommend both books. I'm currently reading "Rise To Rebellion" by Jeff Shaara. I rarely branch out into historical novels/fiction, but we'll see. It's good so far.


Dave, I have the first edition of Long Walk published in 1956. It is amazing story. I am Polish origin and I am really touched that you have mentioned ordeal endured by Mr. Rawicz. Actually many Polish officers, like Mr. Rawicz, survived NKVD investigations and escaped from Soviet Union to Middle East. They helped form Polish army in exile and fought Nazis in Africa and Europe together with the Allies forces. The massacre of Polish officers by NKVD mentioned by Mark-1 is described in: Katyn - Stalin's massacre and the seeds of Polish resurection by Allen Paul. The book was published by Naval Institute Press.

But, my brain food for this Christmas holidays is The Thin Red Line by James Jones. I have read it many times and always enjoyed.

Clay Cooper

I find it interesting that there is one book called, "Hatcher's Notebook" that all sportsmen journalists totally ignore. They write about everything about internal and external ballistics and fall short of one book that I truly know about the one individual that became the Godfather of research of ballistics and cause and effect of. Most of you know that I know allot about ballistics and extreme shooting. It’s because what I read and whom I get my training from. Here is the link to the #1 book that will answer a lot of questions that all the journalists put together fall way short of answering.
An excerpt from the link.
I think "Hatcher's Notebook" is the finest accessible technical book
available to the enthusiast. The grapevine has it that Stackpole is just
now printing more of them up. Gen. Hatcher had a tremendous amount of
practical experience with firearms. He was also quite good on theory due
to so much exposure to it (theory).

"Hatcher's Notebook, get it and read it! It will change the way you think about shooting.

I’m surprised that Mr. Petzal hasn’t read this book or has He???


Remington has bought out Marlin. I will post a link to the story in a few minutes.



Here it is!


Dave...You've described Tom McIntyre pretty well. I've read two of his books, Dreaming the Lion & Seasons and Days. His style is unique and both very informative and entertaining. I'll be picking up his Optics book to help me through the long winter days.

tom warner

Hi Dave: Yes, I first read "The Long Walk" years ago and echo your sentiments exactly. One of the most amazing feats of endurance that I have ever read about. I have recommended it to many friends and given it as gifts to a few. May I point you to another incredible book? It is "The Bernal Diaz Chronicals" by the author of the same name. Diaz was a soldier with the army of Cortez and it is a eye-witness account of the conquest of Mexico and the Aztecs - the only one that I am aware of. Whatever you may think of that adventure, it is without doubt one of the most awesome tales that one can imagine. Those folks were truly "men of iron", people the like of which no longer exist, which is no doubt a good thing. I doubt that it is in print, but I imagine that it could be found without too much difficulty. I assure you that this book will find a place in your permanent library. A book never to be forgotten. Tom


Wow. My reading gift material this year was the collection of Mark Twain stories: Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn, etc. These are uniquely American stories. A Connecticut Yankee... is more cosmopolitan. All uplifting. Oh, and I can't forget the bright yellow badminton-racket-shaped insect taser I got as well. Happy New Year to all! I know what I'm going to do over summer vacation!
You never know...

Ralph the Rifleman

The Big Green monster is getting bigger! Well, at least Marlin manufactured products will remain on US soil.

Jackson Landers

Oh man, I just want to second that recommendation of 'The Long Walk.' That is easily one of the 3 best books I've read in the last year.

I was just thinking about that book this morning. It perfectly illustrates why the US did the right thing in fighting the cold war against the Soviet Union. We know why the Nazis were evil because our troops marched in and liberated the concentration camps, sometimes with a camera rolling. But nobody ever marched in to put a stop to what was going on in Soviet territory. We don't have any films of Stalin's torture chambers. Just accounts like this one that need to be read more.

What the people in this book did - including one American - was absolutely amazing. Crossing most of an entire continent on foot with practically no supplies while hiding almost the entire time. They ought to put the word 'badass' in the dictionary and have a picture of this author as the illustration.

Samuel White Swan-Perkins

As an American Indian Studies minor, its always interesting to me to hear a new story about our war history; thanks for sharing about those binocs.

I'm looking for some info and thought you might help.
I'm cleaning guns and there is a ring in each chamber. Is this normal?


Gee,if they are diamond rings,there may be more than cleaning guns in your future!

Thanks for the kind words Black Rifle Addict!



Jasonj Hinkle

While the troops like the respect for our sacrifices shown by discounted hotel rooms and the like, for the love of reason DO NOT engage in hero worship! We would be very happy if the John Q. Public would write their Congressmen and the President and the SECDEF and demand the following:

1) Adequate manpower levels to support the crushing and ever-increasing workload that is assigned to us. Suicide rates are up, and I wouldn't be surprised if divorce rates and spouse/child abuse goes up also. The military expects the troops to sacrifice family and personal life on the altar of the almighty military career. The Air Force has half the people and about five times the workload compared to when I joined 20 years ago. Good, experienced people are starting to leave like rats off a sinking ship...and many of them are NOT recommending a military career to our children, or anyone else's children, either.

2) Elect politicians who can actually behave responsibly and do not start pointless wars of choice, lie like dogs about the rationale for these wars, and then procedd to mis-plan or not to plan at all and fail miserably executing these wars at every turn. Our leaders at least need have some priorities: Every other sppeech is about a 'clash of civilizations' and a 'Long War', yet our military leaders seem equally interested in designing new dress uniforms and increasing the number of air shows that our over-strecthed aiman perform. If you want to see a God-Damned Air Show, log onto the web and look at pics of your airmen dropping bombs all over the place in the futile effort to kill the 'evil-doers' (and the collateral-damaged non-combatants).

3) Demand that the government start demanding sacrifice and ingenuity from all of our citizens. Since these wars are really about securing our access to oil, why don't we start financing the hideous costs with an immediate 15 bucks-a-barrel oil tax? Use the proceeeds to deveop wind, solar, and nuclear power, and to develop technologies to use energy much more efficiently. While you are at it, re-institute the draft, so that all people can share the honor of putting their lives on the line for cheap oil.

Put away your mindless little yellow ribbon support-the-troops magnets and actually start making sacrifices to use less energy and to finance our transition away from imported oil, to nuclear, wind, solar, geothermal, and much cleaner coal-fired elecricity generation. Sell off your show-boat 15-MPG monster trucks and SUVs and buy 40-MPG+ cars such as a VW Jetta TDI or a Prius. Put your money where your big fat mouths are. What, are you afraid you won't be able to afford that second big plasma/LCD TV for your bedroom?

You won't do a damn thing...you poseurs make me sick.


Nice try Jason Hinkle!
It would be great if we could implement any of your ideas. I think the problems are much deeper, however. When you suggest alternative energy, you run head on into nimbys. When you ask that the price of oil be raised, you run the risk of costing jobs. I know that people who depend on trucking, logging and construction are really hurting right now with the price of diesel fuel. We need a policy that first exploits the oil reserves here in America while diligently purues alternative energy sources. Think about it; we put people on the Moon within ten years of setting the goal! Also, we did it without any of the computer platforms that we have today. Yet, I don't here any of the politicians actually talking about this.
As far as the Military, isn't it perplexing that we can spend so much on hardware, flying shows, round the world cruises by task forces, and yet, when we need another division, we can't afford it. We can spend billions for something new and untried, but if the troops need a pay raise or R&R, that's a budget breaker.
FYI, I went from a 3/4 ton truck to a 1/2 ton hybrid. I think I might have lost at least 1 mpg. Conservation is a VERY complex issue.


The Long Walk, by Slavomir Rawicz is supposed to be BS. I read it years ago before I heard of it being discredited. I thought it may have been semi-truthful but the Yeti sighting really had my BS alarm flashing.


and or google

"slavomir Rawicz" discredited

Clay Cooper

Jasonj Hinkle
Man, what planet you been at when all of this happened! You can thank the Clinton administration for all of the shortfalls of the Military! Gee? I wonder how China got all those US Military secrets so easily and the guidance technology for the ICBM’s during the Clinton administration and how North Korea got all the nuclear fuel rods etc to make those nukes? Gee? I wonder why and how come everything went into the toilet during Jimmy Carter and why we lost Vietnam within 3 months of winning it! I find the blame America First Crowd should starting looking at themselves and dig into the past and research why in the hell are we in such trouble! During President Reagan, GOD BLESS THAT MAN AND THE PRESIDENT WE ALL IN THE MILITARY LOOKED UP AT AS A TRUE FATHER TO US that has the backbone and to give us the equipment, the parts to maintain them and the manpower to do so! And Clinton screwed us totally by cutting manpower, needed equipment and the parts to maintain them. To fly our F-15 and 16’s we had to swap engines and parts to keep flying thanks to Clinton! I find it sickening that individuals have to tune into CNN and MSNBC etc to get their marching orders! During the last election, I was told by people that Bush sucks! I would reply, why does Bush suck? The morons could not carry a single intellectual conversation with me and every one of them had a total meltdown and Vice President Gore gets a free pass allowing Russia to sale two soviet Kilo Class Subs to Iran capable of launching nukes! The media makes me sick and the God Father of radio I’m not giving him a pass either! Spineless wimp waits until 5 seconds at the end of the program to mention what I’ve been saying about Vietnam compared to today war in Iraq and the call screener tells me they cannot bring that subject up on the air!!! WHOS FRAGGING WHO HERE!!!!!

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