Cowboy: interpreter, warlord, one more casualty


Since this is my website, it's only natural that December's pride of place goes to my latest book, Now Comes Theodora: A Story of the 1960s. It was also my first book, which Doubleday published in 1965 (and spelled my name wrong on the hardcover). The reviewers loved it: "A richly colorful novel" gushed Martin Levin in the New York Times. And of my quirky heroine and rebellious heroes, The New Yorker wrote: "It is impossible not to keep on watching them, simply because they are so human and so young and selfish and opinionated and anxious." But do you know what? When I read it again recently, I thought it was awfully wordy. So I chopped out 11,000 words and added a postscript to bring it up to date. So here is Theodora anew, in paperback and as an ebook. In 1965 it was a prophecy; today it's a period piece. Enjoy! (And note that if you buy the paperback on the US Amazon store, the Kindle edition is free.)

We think of the First World War as a slaughter, and the Second as comparatively mild, at least if you stayed away from the Eastern Front. But Bernard Montgomery's feckless plan to invade Germany through the Netherlands (and not incidentally to get American troops under his command) was a debacle as pointless as anything that happened in 1914-1918. The idea was to drop a British airborne division, reinforced by a brigade of Polish paratroops, deep in the Netherlands with the goal of capturing the Rhine bridges at Arnhem. Two American divisions would parachute onto Eindhoven and Nijmegen, capturing their bridges and securing the towns as stepping stones on the narrow, sixty-mile road to Arnhem. Then all Montgomery had to do was send his tanks rolling up this road and in two days capture a front from which he could invade Germany and end the war before Christmas. Of course the Germans turned out to be masters of resupply and reinforcement, creating new battalions from youngsters, oldsters, and convalescents, and sending new tanks from the factory to the front by "blitz transport." The Americans held their positions at considerable cost, but the British airborne division was all but destroyed. And the Dutch were left homeless and starving. The Battle of Arnhem: The Deadliest Airborne Operation of World War II is brilliant, detailed, and spares nobody's reputation.

Lords of the Desert is an interesting-but-irritating book. Again, the author is British. Mr Barr's argues that, from 1944 onward, the US was determined to abolish the British Empire so as to seize its oil and other riches for itself. He quotes, with evident approval, Ernest Bevin's declaration to the cabinet in Feruary 1947: "We still have to find a means of holding the Middle East." Holding meant ruling by military force against the wishes of the local population, in this case the Jews in Palestine -- which Britain, in the Balfour Declaration of 1917, had done so much to foster. Allowing a nation to free itself is hardly the same thing as seizing it by force, and much more admirable. Roosevelt and Truman certainly did their best to dismantle the British Empire, but they were, in the words of Barrack Obama, "on the right side of history." Though in the end the US did become something of an imperialist power, in the 1950s there was a considerable difference in the British and American approaches: the Brits by stationing combat troops on foreign soil, the Yanks by deploying spies, money, and military aid. Blue skies! — Dan Ford

A Vision So Noble

Daniel Ford's books:

Cowboy: Interpreter, Soldier, Warlord, and One More Casualty of Our War in Vietnam
The Only War We've Got: Early Days in South Vietnam
Flying Tigers: Claire Chennault & His American Volunteers, 1941-1942
Tales of the Flying Tigers (think of it as a lengthy appendix to the history)
The Lady and the Tigers (Olga Greenlaw)
Poland's Daughter: How I Learned About Love, War, and Exile
Glen Edwards: Diary of a Bomber Pilot
A Vision So Noble: John Boyd, the OODA Loop, and America's War on Terror
The Country Northward: A Hiker's Journal
The Greater America: An Epic Journey Through a Vibrant New Country (Ralph Paine)
~ ~ ~ ~
Michael's War: A Story of the Irish Republican Army
Remains: A Story of the Flying Tigers
Incident at Muc Wa: A Story of the Vietnam War
The High Country Illuminator: A Tale of Light and Darkness and the Ski Bums of Avalon

And a close-out sale

Over the years, I've accumulated a pile of books now out-of-print or just bought in too-large quantities. I'm selling them off for $5 each. Add $5 for Media Mail postage in the United States (only), no matter how many books your order. They include three novels: Now Comes Theodora: A Story of the 1960s, The High Country Illuminator: The Ski Bums of Avalon, and Remains: A Story of the Flying Tigers. For non-fiction, there's the 2007 HarperCollins edition of Flying Tigers: Claire Chennault and His American Volunteers, A Vision So Noble: John Boyd, the OODA Loop, and the War on Terror, the Smithsonian hardcover of Glen Edwards: Diary of a Bomber Pilot, and The Country Northward: A Hiker's Journal.

They'll be autographed and mailed straightaway, as long as they last. Media Mail takes about a week in the Lower Forty-Eight. Get the order blank here. Blue skies! — Daniel Ford

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Question? Comment? Newsletter? Send me an email. Blue skies! — Dan Ford

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Posted December 2018. Websites © 1997-2018 Daniel Ford. All rights reserved.