All posts by Machine Trooper

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The Mystery of Dunkirk

Why on Earth was the British Expeditionary Force allowed to escape in 1940?

That is the question everyone with a modicum of military savvy has to ask when examining the story of Dunkirk. (Well at least after coming down from your outrage due to underrepresentation in the film of Pygmy hermaphrodites, transgender unicorns, and Badass Warrior Womyn in front-line combat formations.) One positive side effect of the recent movie I’ve noticed is that some folks are indeed asking that question.

The Wermacht steamrolled over Poland and France despite the disparity of numbers, displaying a functional combined arms doctrine the world had never seen before… and yet allowed Britain’s army a second chance to fight them (when they inevitably returned with a more powerful ally), despite being poised to cut them off from the sea and destroy their ability to fight.

Not every fan of history knows the reason Dunkirk was allowed to succeed. Historians usually explain it away with one dubious claim or another. When I found out the truth, I just had to shake my head. And yet…it made sense.

A British historian spent the post war period interviewing the German high command, and its field marshals. The book he wrote clears up this and many other curiosities about WWII in the European Theater. I highly recommend it.

An added bonus is the reactions you’ll receive just toting the paperback around. On the cover is an image of a Nazi-era German flag, which happens to have a swastika on it. Rabid SJW thought police will be triggered, while public-educated FaceBorg junkies will often just run away. It’s Wolfenstein 3D all over again–but without intrusion into your gaming fun!

 

 

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Proelium Veritas by John Murphy

The sequel to Mission Veritas is finally out. I haven’t yet had a chance to start this dystopian military sci-fi novel (my categorization–not necessarily the author’s), but will post a review once I’ve consumed it. Meanwhile, here’s the skinny:

 

Vaughn Killian knows two things: what brutal combat is really like, and that the Carthenogens are anything but benevolent.

The good news is he’s completed the elite Black Saber training and is ready to deploy. The bad news is he’s being held back from assignment due to a technicality. When disaster strikes, he helps plan a counterattack, only to wind up adrift in space, stranded half a galaxy away from Earth, where his skills are needed most.

The people of Earth are still under the Carthenogens’ utopian delusion. The Global Alliance does their bidding, carving up city after city in a grand relocation plan, but most relocated people never arrive. Instead, they’re disappearing somewhere by the interstellar boatload. But the media mentions none of that. The population is kept in the dark, and the only ones who can stop them are all but vanquished. How can one isolated fighter help his fellow citizens from the cold vacuum of space?

My Lonely Room – A Review

This book is a prequel to The Vandals. As such, it has inspired me to go back and read it again. And although classified “Y.A.,” I consider My Lonely Room a fine, worthwhile read for men or boys of any age.

The setting is Queens, New York, at the dawn of the rock & roll era. A young outcast lives in partially self-imposed exile due to selfish parents; a sadistic landlady; cliquish kids doing what kids do (only worse, in the big city); and social ineptitude deriving from arrested development.

You don’t have to be Polish, a baby-boomer, or from the Big Apple, to relate to Jimmy Yadenik. Those details merge to form a fascinating backdrop for this tale of a boy becoming a young man, and learning to play the cards he was dealt.

I should clear something up: 1950s street gangs are not to be confused with biker gangs. The latter began as clubs made up of drunken, brawling WWII vets out to have fun and abuse their newly attained civilian freedoms. Later they evolved into something uglier, but that’s another story.

Nor are 1950s street gangs to be confused with later gangs, which were more like fiefdoms in the feudal drug trade, where life is a perpetual nightmare for everyone involved–or even just in proximity.

The gang members of the 1950s were teenagers, mostly. A gang was comprised of kids from the same neighborhood, and was not envisioned as a criminal enterprise by the founders. The members often shared interests (rock & roll, for instance; girls; maybe cars), but what united them was a mutual need for protection. Protection from what? Other kids, mostly.

It’s amazing to me, but a lot of big city folks spend their entire lives in a single neighborhood. It’s been that way for a while. Kids like Jimmy Yadenik didn’t look for trouble; but when they strayed into a different ‘hood, they often found it.

Kids behave like pack animals anywhere, but stack them like sardines in tenaments, and the violence multiplies. Faced with this situation, it’s only natural kids would seek safety in numbers. Or, as the Jets sang in West Side Story:

When you’re a Jet let ‘em do what they can

You got brothers around; you’re a family man.

You’re never alone; you’re never disconnected.

You’re home with your own when company’s expected.

You’re well protected.

Sometimes a gang from the next ‘hood would invade yours. Sometimes there were two gangs in the same ‘hood. This is how turf wars got started.

Also, don’t confuse this subculture with the pampered Baby Boomer generation as a whole. Yes, midwestern James Dean wannabes dressed like thugs and tried to act tough during these years, but their “rebellion” came from petulance. No other generation in history had it so easy; had been given everything on a silver platter (except discipline); or had so little to be angry about. “Rebel without a cause” is an apt description for most of them. Or, as Marlon Brando’s character put it in The Wild One when asked what he was rebelling against: “What have ya got?”

But in the asphalt jungle, teenagers weren’t coddled, and didn’t enjoy lives of largesse. Jimmy Yadenik has a father who never bothered to teach him anything at all, much less how to be a man. The father is absent physically and emotionally. The only worth he recognizes in his son is the labor potential, so Jimmy can contribute to the weekly beer fund and the parties at the Polish Club. Jimmy’s mother is a little more humane, but still a lot more take than give. Case in point: they put Jimmy in a foster home so he wouldn’t be an inconvenience to them. As the story begins, Jimmy has just recently come to live with them again.

Perhaps the saddest part of Jimmy’s story is the way he latches onto some advice from a teacher. She gives him a truly underwhelming sample of generic, non-commital social worker talk, and it motivates him. It’s evidently the most encouragement he’s ever received from any adult in his life.

Not especially charismatic or athletic, how is Jimmy supposed to make friends with angry, messed-up kids from other dysfuntional families at school or in the neighborhood?

He acquires a girlfriend who does most of the heavy lifting for him in Love’s Learning Curve, for one thing. (If only all girlfriends could be so straightforward and accomodating.)

Secondly, he finds brotherhood (of sorts) via some streetwise boys who take him under their wings, and help him along in his journey. (If only all de facto orphans could find this kind of peer support.)

It’s certainly not the best path to manhood a boy could take, but it beats the azimuth set for him by his parents and teachers.

If you were born some time within the last half-century, you will probably find something in My Lonely Room that resonates with you.

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The Last Kingdom (Seasons 1, 2) – a Review

I almost didn’t even give this series a chance. Hollywood and television have me so gunshy, I doubted they could produce anything that won’t nauseate me. And the BBC, from what little I know, is brimming over with cultural Marxixts just like every other long-established media/entertainment organization. To trust them with anything even remotely historical? Forget it.

Then I found out it was based on Bernard Cornwell’s Saxon Tales. I’ve read some of Cornwell’s fiction (Agincourt and a few of the Sharpe novels). He’s a competent storyteller and he doesn’t butcher historical flow or details enough for me to take exception. So, “Once more into the breach,” sez I.

I guess you could say I semi-binge-watched the first two seasons on Netflix–finishing them in about a week or so.

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The Premise:

In the late 9th Century, a Saxon noble and his heir are slain by a band of Danes a’viking through Bebbanburg in Northumbria. The lone surviving son was baptized and named Uhtred before being captured by the Danes.

Earl Ragnar spares the boy’s life, respecting his courage and truculence, and raises him as a Dane along with a Saxon girl named Brita. After growing into a man, and losing his adopted family (via treachery from other Danes), he becomes a vassal of Alfred, king of Wessex…”the last kingdom.” (Vikings have run roughshod over all other kingdoms in the British isles.)

Relevance:

With all the current brouhaha by the “alt-right” about race, immigration/invasion and “Magic Dirt” vs. “Magic DNA,” this series couldn’t be more timely. Genetically, Uhtred is a Saxon; yet his attitude, disposition, customs, etc. are decidedly Danish. This duality makes him an outsider in both worlds (not because everyone on both sides reject him out-of-hand, but because his ambition to rule Beddanburg causes him to side against the invaders; while his Danish weltanshuang motivates a contemptuous disdain for the Saxons and their ways.) Though he wields completely different weapons for a completely different type of warfare, Uhtred during the viking expeditions is not unlike Thomas Sowell during the USA’s present Cold Civil War, in that they are both slogging through similar conundrums–their demographic profile contradicting their deeply-rooted belief system.

The Religious Aspect:

Although Islam and other religions get a pass, Christianity is universally hated by the string-pullers with the monopoly on resources in the entertainment industry. It would be foolish to assume Christianity would get a fair shake in this series–especially given the behavior of the Roman Catholic Church through history. And, the historical backdrop for Last Kingdom smacks of religious conflict. The peoples of present-day Great Britain were Catholic during the period depicted, while the Northmen were still unmitigated pagans. How could you tell a story in this setting that ignored the religious aspect?

So of course the series takes cheap shots at Christianity, through the nominally Christian characters. But it is usually understated enough to ignore.

Historical Accuracy:

Alfred of Wessex and some other characters are real historical figures, while Uhtred and many others are fictional. Historians know a lot about Alfred because his life is very well-documented for the time. But as for the rest…well, it was the Dark Ages, folks. We are familiar with some generalities of the period…that the Vikings were raising hell in western Europe, for instance (and allegedly are the culprits who made London Bridge fall down); that the Catholic Church was growing in power; that the traditions of Roman civilization had given way to the early stages of feudalism…but there are just too many big, gaping holes in the historical record to ascertain specifics about much of what went on.

It wasn’t a question of if, but when the creative team would unleash their arsenal of ludicrous Grrrl Power tropes in the series. Surprisingly, the obligatory butt-kicking Womyn Warriors didn’t rear their preposterous heads until late in the First Season. Even more surprising: this revisionist hogwash was dialed down quickly enough to prevent me from giving up on the series. I truly am curious what caused the correction, but relieved nonetheless.

The series creators brought a technique to the screen I consider ingenious: When revealing geographic locations via subtitles, the ancient name is displayed first, then it transforms into the name it is known by today. As someone fascinated by the evolution of language, I really appreciate this gimmick.

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Other Stuff:

I’m not an expert on Dark Ages melee techniques, but it seems to me when you have a shield and your enemy is swinging a sword or axe at you, you would use the shield to block or deflect the blow. Evidently, though, the shield is just an ornament, and you block a swinging sword with your own sword. Nevermind that banging two metal blades together repeatedly converts both of them to crude, dull saws–this is what BBC fight correographers have decided is the logical tactic.

It’s easy to identify the important characters on this show, because they don’t wear helmets, even in combat. I’ve remarked before about the wisdom of refusing to protect your head when weapons will be streaking toward it, so I won’t completely rehash it here.

Suffice it to say that Uhtred’s brain usually operates like somebody’s who has fought in many a melee without a helmet. Watching him navigate the ethno-political waters of 9th Century Britain is like watching the Johnson Administration navigate through the Vietnam conflict…in slow motion. For the entire first season, it’s a safe bet that in any given situation, Uhtred will choose the most  idiotic course of action possible, then follow-up with a rash decision to make matters even worse. In the second season he seems to have learned a little self-discipline, thankfully, and dramatic conflict is generated in other ways.

I almost titled this post Mascara Kingdom because, for a few episodes, several of the male actors were painted with black eye shadow. It stuck out like a mosh pit at a royal ball. Seems like one character in Game of Thrones was made up that way too, if I remember correctly. Don’t know what the purpose is, but I’m glad they seem to have given up on that effort–it looked pretty stupid.

I might watch a third season of Daredevil if it comes to Netflix, but no other TV show has proven worth my time in several years. This show I plan to watch more of–and might even read the books it was based on, if that tells you anything.

 

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Slaughter City: The Sergeant #6 – a Review

When we last left Master Sergeant Mahoney and Corporal Cranepool, Patton had tried to force Eisenhower’s hand to get the war blazing along the Moselle River, so he could drive on to Berlin. But Ike called his bluff and the 33rd “Hammerhead” Division was left caught between Perdition and the deep blue sea.

Well, a deep river, anyway, and more brown than blue. With no artillery support or air cover and little in the way of supplies, the Hammerheads were thrown back across the river even though the defenders are hardly Germany’s finest.

But now, Patton has scrounged up some support, and is driving his boot into the 4th points of his subordinates to make the attack work this time.

Here’s an excerpt from a scene where Patton comes to motivate the troops personally, down at company level:

 “Now listen here, men,” Patton growled, “I know what you went through last night. A lot of your buddies were killed, and all of you nearly got killed yourselves. Now we all know that it’s no fun to lose a battle because Americans aren’t losers. By nature, we are winners. Given half a chance, we will win any battle in which we are placed. That’s because we’re tough and strong and because we love to fight. Yes, by God, we love to fight.”

Patton made a fist and held it up in the air. “We love to beat the shit out of our enemies and step on his face afterwards. We love to rip open his belly and tear his guts out. We pray for the chance to kick him in the balls and split his head open. Is there any man out here who doesn’t feel that way?”
Nobody said a word, just as Patton knew they wouldn’t.
“Good,” Patton said. “I knew there weren’t any cowards or queers in this company. I knew because you’re all good, red-blooded Americans. I know you’re just itching to get across that river over there and lay your hands on those Germans. By God, I feel sorry for those Germans when I just think about it. I really do because I can imagine what you’re going to do to them.”

Patton pointed to the Moselle River. “You’re going to make that river over there run red with their blood for what they did to you last night. There’ll be so many dead Germans over there you won’t be able to put your foot down without stepping on one of their noses. I feel bad that I have to hold you back until midnight because I know you want to go over there right now. But you have to wait just a little while longer, and I want you to use that extra time to clean your weapons and cover them with a light film of oil so they won’t get rusty. If you have some extra time after that, you can sharpen your bayonets so they’ll cut deeper into those Hun bastards over there. You might want to make sure your canteens are filled with water because you’re gonna get thirsty while you’re killing all those bastards. And as we all know, tonight is going to be much different from last night because tonight you’ll have plenty of artillery preparation and support. By the time you get across that river, those g****mn kraut-eating bastards won’t know where the hell they are. Their eardrums will be bleeding, and their brains will be upside-down in their heads. The poor bastards will probably try to run away from you, but I want you to go right after them and kill them like the dogs that they are. And I don’t want you to shoot over their heads or at their legs. I want you to aim directly for the center of their backs and bring them down. We’re not going to play with them after what they did to us last night. And they probably know it. I’ll bet they’re shitting their pants over there right now because they know they’ve made us mad, and a mad American soldier is a fearsome thing.”

There’s a lot else happening in this book, including an SS death squad using a seductress to kill GIs; a panty-raid at a USO show; both Mahoney and once-innocent farmboy Cranepool wounded in action; shooting a locomotive with bazookas, and some down & dirty urban house-to-house combat.

After a relatively slow-paced departure in the last book, Len Levinson is back on the offensive in Slaughter City, and in fine blood-splattered form.

The Situation is “Dire” for Trump

Alex Jones interviews Mike Cernovich, who reports that Trump is about to fall via frame-up if he doesn’t act fast.

I don’t know that much about the minutia of everyday details at the White House, but I did wish Trump had fired all the Deep State operatives on Day One.

Certain voices have been calling for his impeachment since before he even took office. Once he is completely surrounded by backstabbers, all that is needed is the manufacture of some sort of new scandal to take him down, if Cernovich is right.

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Defining Pulp Fiction–a Guest Post by Len Levinson

Anyone who has visited either Virtual Pulp, or my old Two-Fisted Blog very much, knows that I’ve been a fan of Len Levinson’s work going way back. I’m honored to have him as a guest blogger today.

- Hank

After attending the Windy City Pulp & Paper Convention on 4/23/2017, I found myself wondering what exactly is pulp fiction anyway.

I’ve written 83 published novels under 22 pseudonyms. All generally are considered pulp fiction so I should know what it is by now, but never thought much about definitions or codifications before.

When the expression “pulp fiction” first was used, it referred to cheap paper used in magazines publishing that kind of fiction. But precisely what kind of fiction was it? What is the difference between pulp fiction and ordinary fiction?

Raymond Chandler said, “I guess maybe there are two kinds of writers: writers who write stories and writers who write writing.”

First and foremost, pulp fiction tells stories. That means they require plots. But not just any old plots. Pulp fiction requires gripping plots. Something vital must be at stake in every story. Suspense is the name of the game. Pulp fiction is not about people sitting around having extended erudite conversations about Heidegger’s theory of being. Pulp fiction usually is about life or death situations, or the possible destruction of a city, or even the vaporization of the entire planet by an evil genius.

Villains must be truly villainous, not nice guys confused about moral issues, although villains certainly can be multi-dimensional. Heroes or anti-heroes must be brave, tough and resourceful, despite occasional human failings. There are exceptions to every rule but exceptions do not invalidate rules.

All characters must be finely etched and real. They should come to life and jump off the page into the reader’s lap. Their dialogue should snap, crackle and pop like Rice Krispies. No meandering pointless conversations allowed. Every word must advance the plot.

Regarding locales, the reader should feel that s/he just parachuted into a scene which s/he can vividly see, smell, hear and feel.. S/he must know precisely what’s happening at all times. But scene description must not be overdone. Good pulp fiction strikes the balance between too much and too little.

Pulp fiction should grab the reader by the throat with the first sentence, not on page 31 after lengthy scholarly expositions. Pulp fiction writing must have momentum, not meander lazily along like the Swanee River. The reader should feel as if s/he just stepped onto a fast-moving train. Ideally, the reader will become so immersed in the story, s/he will feel disoriented and won’t know where s/he is when looking up from the page.

Pulp fiction can be hard-boiled crime investigations, visionary sci-fi extravaganzas, sinister spy thrillers, supernatural fantasy melodramas, sword-swinging pirate bloodbaths, shoot-em-up westerns, bone-chilling horror tales, razzle dazzle action-adventure sagas, bloody exploding war novels, and even desperately passionate Harlequin-type romances. I suppose pulp fiction can be about anything, the weirder the better.

But the stories have got to move. They’ve must be humanly real no matter how offbeat the story. They’ve got to draw in the reader. They’ve got to totally fascinate or enchant.

I don’t intend to denigrate regular fiction. I’ve read and enjoyed most of the classics. But pulp fiction is like a punch in the mouth. It’s got to knock you out. You shouldn’t be able to put a pulp fiction book away and go to bed at night like a normal, decent person. It should excite your imagination and make you forget about going to bed. It should turn you on.

That’s pulp fiction in my opinion, folks. At least that’s how I’ve always tried to write it.

LEN LEVINSON is the author of 83 novels written under 22 pseudonyms, published originally by Bantam, Dell, Fawcett, Harper, Jove, Charter Diamond, Zebra, Belmont-Tower, and Signet, among others.  He has been acclaimed a “Trash Genius” by Paperback Fanatic magazine, and his books have sold an estimated two-and-one-half million copies.  Many of his novels presently are available as ebooks by Len Levinson.

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Street Fighting Man

Because we have let the leftist long march through our institutions (public and private) go unchecked for so long, now that some on the right seem finally ready to push back, the irony and absurdity in our culture has been stripped naked for most to see.

Of those actions Trump has taken that would benefit Americans, the most momentous are being obstructed by Marxists who swore to uphold the law, but do so selectively at best. And, of course,  they ignore the rights of American citizens they are paid to protect, in order to champion the causes of foreign interests they obviously consider more important.

This surprises nobody who’s been paying attention.  Same with the Soros-backed crybullies who call themselves “anti-fascist” while demanding absolute conformity of thought and speech, and cold-cocking, pepper spraying, or throwing bottles at anyone with the audacity to debunk their Narrative.

From speech, to state-controlled compulsory indoctrination, to state-controlled industry, to progressive, graduated income tax, to civilian disarmament, these “anti-fascists” are in ideological lockstep with Mussolini’s blackshirts (and Hitler’s brownshirts too, in case you were wondering), but are too ignorant to realize it and too fanatically Dunning-Krugered to ever honestly examine the pertinent facts. (They even dress like Il Duce’s goons.)

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It’s no big chore to identify leftist hypocrisy in any arena, so I’ll skip over most of those to the post-Obama riots that seem to be the new fad.

Even before the election,  rabid SJW mobs incited violence with impunity at pro-Trump rallies, and successfully blamed their victims, with the collusion of the lapdog media. But now, for the first time in their cancerous existence, these pampered, privileged, entitled cowards are encountering significant resistance.

Their outrage is as delicious as their ineptitude. Now that they’re getting their asses kicked on the streets,  what can they do? Scream “fascist!” and “racist!” and “Nazi!”even louder and more often? Ooh, ouchy. We’ve never had to weather such a devastating onslaught before. Guess we’ll have to surrender.

Actually, what they’ll do is rely on Soros and their other sugar daddies to exert pressure, via the politicians and courts, to rig the system even worse than they already have, eradicating the 1st Amendment at gunpoint.

If we let them.

In places like Berkley it’s already plain to see the police have been weaponized to do the left’s bidding via the typical selective enforcement of the law, “making examples” of those who defend themselves while ignoring the crimes of the  provocateurs who instigate the violence.

This absurd theater is wonderfully personified by the commie skank porn actress who bragged on social media what a badass she is and all the scalps she would take at Berkeley. But to paraphrase  Apollo Creed’s corner man, her would-be victims didn’t know it was a show; they thought it was a fight. At least, one of them did.

Moldilocks has obviously watched too many action movies (as has everyone who thinks women in combat is a good idea), assuming the pixie-fu fighting skills she inherited by osmosis from the Great Social Justice Spirit would allow her to vanquish any puny male who got in her way, because vagina.

moldilockspatriarchyThe meme material she provided us is rich and deep. Her heroic quest for equality ended upon her first taste of a knuckle sandwich, and she quickly fell back on her true Grrrrl Power. That’s right: she concocted a narrative to make herself sound like an innocent victim of rabid male aggression, assuming white knights both inside government and out will come rushing in from all directions to protect her from the consequences of her actions and punish the man who took her pretensions of equality at face value. A woman’s true inherent superpower is the ability to get men to fight her battles–even when her war is against men in general.

If you run into an SJW going forward, remember to analyze how they compare with Fascists/Nazis on major policies like speech, “gun control,” public education, taxes, state regulation of businesses, etc. Because, as they are so insistently informing us, unprovoked violent attacks are perfectly acceptable  as long as you define the victim as a “Nazi.”

"And anybody who disagrees with us is a fascist!"
“And anybody who disagrees with us is a fascist!”

 

The recent escalation in organized violence has led some to finally realize that the United States of America is in a Cold Civil War. Just as the Cold War never resulted in an atomic Holocaust with the Soviets, so this Civil War may never turn hot. But that’s an extremely optimistic assumption. Prepare yourselves accordingly.

Doom River: The Sergeant #5 – a Review

Due mostly to my schedule, my blogged reviews of this blood’n’guts war series stopped at #4. But my negligence stops, now!

Master Sergeant Mahoney and Corporal Cranepool have just returned from their attachment to a French unit liberating Paris. It was supposed to be cushy duty, but only the end of it was cushy–in the arms of some French floozies in a fancy hotel.

doomriverpaperbackThe Sergeant and his sidekick are back just in time to meet Charlie Company’s new C.O. Captain Anderson is a young, inexperienced officer, but one of the good ones (a rare combo, in my day). They’re also just in time for one of Patton’s “recon in force” missions, to push across the Moselle and keep the pressure on the Germans.

Patton is out of gas for his tanks, and frightfully low on artillery, ammo and supplies. He assumes if he is able to stir up some action, Ike will be forced to send him what he needs, so Patton can push on to Berlin and finish the war before Christmas. But Ike isn’t having it–all the supplies will be diverted to Field Marshal Montgomery, who is tasked with taking Antwerp.

(Historical note: Yes, Patton’s 3rd Army could have reached Berlin and ended the war before Christmas of ’44 if their supplies hadn’t been cut off. Also true that all those resources were given to Monty–somewhat less than a daring or decisive general–for Operation Market Garden (of A Bridge Too Far fame), which had less chance of success and, even if successful, would have had a lesser impact on the grand strategic situation. Most likely, Patton’s onslaught was intentionally delayed in order to give the Red Army time to capture the half of Europe which had been promised to Stalin by FDR at the Yalta conferences.)

So the 33rd “Hammerhead” Division conducts a river crossing at great cost, since they didn’t have much in the way of artillery support, and their men and boats are chewed up pretty bad by the German defenders. Still, they now have a beachhead from which the Wermacht has to throw them. Mahoney’s regiment bears the brunt of this counterattack.doomriverebook

The Americans are in a bad position, but Patton doesn’t like surrendering ground once he’s taken it.

This installment in the series could launch a character study on the sort of men who populate the officer corps of an army. Whether a commander wants to make a name for himself, or simply doesn’t want a sub-par evaluation, it is their troops who are used like cannon  fodder to enhance or maintain their egos.

Mahoney himself has some moments in this book in which he demonstrates more humanity than is normal for him. (Also, in this one we are introduced to PFC Butsko. I can’t help but notice the similarities between him and the platoon sergeant of The RatBastards–also named Butsko.) Still, this is a transitional phase for Mahoney, and the real plot dynamics focus on other characters.

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Speed Week Plus: Cobra – a Review

The centerpiece of NASCAR’s Speed Week–the Daytona 500–just took place. We’re considering a Speed Week of our own right here. Or maybe a Speed Month, anyway.

I have been informed that Virtual Pulp is lacking a review of Cobra, and this simply will not do. So without further ado…here it is:

I would call this action movie a “guilty pleasure”…but I’m really not all that guilty about liking it. When it first hit theaters in 1986 I watched it for every weekend pass while it was still showing at the Cross Creek Mall in Fayetteville. As soon as it came to video I bought a copy, too.

Cobra has a lot in common with the prototype renegade cop flick Dirty Harry. Obviously they’re both about cops who teeter on the edge of vigilantism, ridding civilization of scum that the inept “justice” bureaucracy lets terrorize decent people. But it goes even further than that. Both Harry Callahan and Marion Cobretti have the same partner…at least he’s played by the same actor. Last name is Gonzales in one, Garcia in the other. Remember the villain from Dirty Harry? Same actor plays Cobretti’s nemesis inside the police force in Cobra.

And now for what, more than anything else, made me a fan of this classic action adventure cop movie: Cobra’s ride–a chopped and channeled ’50 Merc lead sled. This is my kind of cop.

“I know what you’re thinkin’: ‘Did he drop two gears or only one?’ Well, to tell you the truth, in all this excitement I kinda’ lost track myself. But seein’ as how this is an American V8, the most powerful engine in the world, and would blow your doors clean off, you’ve got to ask yourself one question: ‘Do I feel lucky?’ Well, do ya, punk?”

Okay, we can all pick this scene apart if we choose to. There are continuity errors throughout–bulletholes in the trunk that disappear in the next shot; cars doing over 110 MPH on the freeway in one shot, doing 15 on a back street in the next… Obliteration of the laws of physics: a burst from a submachinegun causes a pickup truck to flip bed-over-cab and explode… And in typical Hollywood fashion the best car in the movie is needlessly destroyed. But it’s still fun while it lasts. (Despite some continuity problems of its own, the best car chase ever filmed is probably in another cop flick called Bullitt.)

Another similarity to Dirty Harry is in the blatant attempt to generate memorable lines. Cobra has a few of them, but not all of them are as bad as its reputation suggests.

Now, I agree that “I don’t like lousy shots” isn’t terribly noteworthy (and there is some even worse dialog at the end). But “Go ahead–I don’t shop here,” is hilarious. Stallone even pulled off “You’re a disease, and I’m the cure.” It’s when the marketing people decided to put it on the posters that it became groan-worthy. “Crime is a disease. He’s the cure.” Ugh. Puke.

Did you catch that Sly said, “Drop it!” right before ventilating the ugly psycho at the grocery store? Me neither, the first time. Bang! Bang! Bang! “Stop, or I’ll shoot!”

Trivia note: When Sly Stallone began working on the treatment that was later developed into the Cobra script, the title was Beverly Hills Cop. The suits wanted a comedy though, and the ideas diverged from that point.