Things That Matter

Things That Matter CoverKrauthammer is sometimes brilliant but too often a bit too dark.. However, I loved the part where he describes his transition from liberal to conservative. Food for thought and a new dimension to his viewpoints and character.

The rest of the book is a collection of columns, to be consumated in smaller portions.. to maintain a positive mood and outlook on life 🙂



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The turning point of WWII.

Stalingrad_map_2515562bIn the summer of 1942 the attack on the Soviet Union was mainly focused on the strategically important oil fields in the Caucasus region.

But the siege of Stalingrad quickly turned into a sudden nightmare for the Germans in November 1942, when their big pride the 6th Army was unexpectedly encircled by General Zhukov and 1 million Soviet troops.

The Soviets surrounded them and cut off their supplies, and then let them slowly starve and freeze to death over a period of a couple of months.. while bombing and killing them every now and then.

This brutal death machine was soon nicknamed “The Kettle”, and became the first big decisive loss for the Germans and where WWII reached its turning point.

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Attacking the Soviet Union.

operation-barbarossa-mapThis whole attack on the Soviet Union is still boggling.. also as it seems so poorly thought through, as many German generals pointed out at the time.

The numbers are staggering too, with the Germans sending in over 4 million troops to the Union, divided in three parts. After some struggles in the south the middle part thrust towards Moscow is stalled/diverted for a while – with angry protests from the commanders – and when winter then arrives in November they are all slowly starting to freeze to death.

One of the most surprising things that stand out is how bad Hitler seems at military strategy. He makes very incoherent and emotional decisions, and at the first major resistance and defeat outside Moscow he fires his Commander in Chief and 35 senior officers.

Another thing is the arbitrary and often reckless treatment of human lives in these giant war theatres. A division here, a division there, ooops – tens of thousands killed. And in the end millions.

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Stalingrad, by Antony Beevor.

9780141032405The opening of this book is stunning.. describing the first military and operational steps of operation Barbarossa. They’ve set the date for the invasion of the Soviet Union to June 22nd 1941, against the outspoken and clear protests and opinions of several German high-ranking officials including Ribbentrop (the architect of the non-aggression pact between Germany and Stalin) and German Ambassador to Soviet Schulenberg – who calls the attack an act of “madness” by Hitler.

Stalin is taken by surprise and even considers giving concessions and areas to Hitler as appeasement, just to avoid the prospect of an all-out war.

He is quickly talked away from this by his advisors, among others ambassador Stamenov who claims they could retreat to the Ural Mountains and still win the war.

Within 9 hours Luftwaffe crushes 1.200 Soviet airplanes.

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Hard Choices, Part I.

hillary19n-1-webHaving read a third of the new book from Hillary, a couple of things stand out already:

  • She makes the case for a presidential candidacy in the very first few pages laying out a broad-strokes world view with a couple of big-sized policy priorities that she would support and promote.
  • She seems very loyal. She supports Obama faithfully and puts country before personal ego.
  • She still comes across as… ineffectual. Between the lines of her detailed accounts of her projects and years as Secretary of State, there still lacks a clear sense of her own personal determination and her active role in the shaping of developments.
  • The book often becomes too long-winded and too descriptive to keep the attention of the reader.

More coming up…

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pikettyWe read this book some time back – but its simple thesis makes it very easy to quote and very easy to understand; money and real estate grow faster than wages. So even if the whole cake is growing – capital (and political power) will concentrate in ever fewer hands.

He builds the case with data for the last two centuries – pointing to how the WWII crashed this development – but how it’s now back and stronger than ever before.

Piketty also starts out with warnings about earlier predicitions about socities and economics that were wrong, f.ex the fear of the trajectory of over-population.

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