Robert Bruce, through mostly vignettes of the interactions between President Lincoln, the military officers responsible for testing and purchasing new weapons, and the inventors and backers of the many schemes for new weapons weaves a fascinating story. The President, with an open mind and a Let's Try attitude, the inventors mostly earnest and patriotic though often "odd", the backers many painted as unscrupulous, and the military who ran the gamut from progressives to stalwart conservative who would have used the weapons of their fathers if given the chance.
Bruce shows that the time was one of immense technological advancement. Among the many "modern" weapons getting a first look were the machine gun, the breechloading rifle, the rifled cannon, the submarine, and the torpedo. Lincoln had two notable successes in his dealings with the Ordnance chiefs - the introduction of the machine gun and the acceptance of breechloading rifles. He pushed many weapons which ended dubiously and the machine gun that was ordered, the Coffee Mill Gun, did poorly in the field but it lead to the much-improved Gatling gun which faced none of the largest hurdles to service acceptance.
The author introduces enough background on each of the characters to give the reader a good grounding of the events then related in the vignette. He also makes sure to complete each story so that the reader is left satisfied that each small story is complete.
While not a book about the great decisions of Lincoln, the battles, or the campaigns and generals, this is a fascinating look at the technological and bureaucratic end of warmaking, at a time of rapid technological advance. It paints a side of Lincoln, the mechanic, the tinkerer, not often seen.
John Goldstein and Joel Krenis have created a fantastic photo collection of the incredible diversity of India. Fabulous color photos with clear, insightful, and personal text tell a story of India, for Americans, that carries the complex picture that is India.
John and Joel have traveled extensively and are both excellent photographers and excellent observers of what they are photographing. They give you not only the image, but the story behind the image, what is really going on, what is being portrayed, which is often much more than one can see on a superficial glance.
The book opens with chapters on the People, the Architecture, and the Animals of the subcontinent to provide a general understanding. Then they take the reader on a series of in-depth adventures - to a camel fair, to the Taj Mahal, and a series of the city of Jaipur from the perspective of a hot air balloon. The book finishes with chapters on the sacred traditions of India and then three chapters of tourist adventures - the view from the road, several unique hotels, and the Palace on Wheels train.
John and Joel self-published with Blurb.
Me as a critic (be careful! the harshness will be well concealed!)