New book highlights pivotal days in military history

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New book: Tales of War: Great Stories from Military History for Every Day of the Year, by W.B. Marsh ’58 and Bruce Carrick ’58 (Icon Books Ltd.)

The authors: Drawing on their love of history and a knack for creating snapshots of interesting people and events, ’58 classmates W.B. Marsh and Bruce Carrick have collected vignettes describing episodes in history for several books in a “365″ series for the publisher Icon Books. The authors of 365: Your Date With History (2004), which highlights events such as births, deaths, coronations, assassinations, convocations, scandals, battles, and treaties that have occurred on every day of the calendar year sometime in human history, Marsh and Carrick recently completed their latest book focused on military history. Marsh was an officer in the U.S. Marine Corps and worked in advertising. Carrick served in the U.S. Army and worked in publishing.

The book: For every day of the year, the authors provide the story of a significant or gripping military event or the actions of a great commander or of an unsung hero. Spanning 3,500 years, the book covers about 50 different wars, 250 battles, and 30 sieges. The earliest event featured is a victory by Egypt’s Pharaoh Thutmose III over Canaanite rebels at Megiddo (located in what today is Israel) in 1479 B.C. (May 15). The most recent entry covers the heroic actions of Private Johnson Beharry, the driver of a mini-tank leading a platoon through ambushes in Iraq, for which he was awarded the Victoria Cross (June 11). The authors also weave in quotations by commanders and national leaders, from Caesar’s “Veni, vidi, vici” in 47 B.C. (May 21) to Churchill’s 1940 statement: “I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears, and sweat” (May 13).

Opening lines from January 1:1945 Two weeks earlier Nazi Germany had unleashed the Ardennes offensive, a last desperate gamble to regain the initiative in the war in Europe, but even this titanic effort would not be enough, as American tanks had broken through at Bastogne. … Now, like a wounded animal, cornered but still deadly dangerous, Germany launched Unternehmen Bodenplatte (Operation Groundplate), a massive air strike intended to cripple Allied air power in the Low Countries and France.”

Review: “There are many good tales to be found within,” wrote a critic from warbooksreview.com. “Tales of War would make a good Christmas gift to someone with an interest in military history — or, better still, as a birthday present with the appropriate day flagged for the recipient.”

By Katherine Federici Greenwood