About Me

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Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada
I am a lawyer in Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada who enjoys reading, especially mysteries. Since 2000 I have been writing personal book reviews. This blog includes my reviews, information on and interviews with authors and descriptions of mystery bookstores I have visited. I strive to review all Saskatchewan mysteries. Other Canadian mysteries are listed under the Rest of Canada. As a lawyer I am always interested in legal mysteries. I have a separate page for legal mysteries. Occasionally my reviews of legal mysteries comment on the legal reality of the mystery. You can follow the progression of my favourite authors with up to 15 reviews. Each year I select my favourites in "Bill's Best of ----". As well as current reviews I am posting reviews from 2000 to 2011. Below my most recent couple of posts are the posts of Saskatchewan mysteries I have reviewed alphabetically by author. If you only want a sentence or two description of the book and my recommendation when deciding whether to read the book look at the bold portion of the review. If you would like to email me the link to my email is on the profile page.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Forgotten Soldiers by Brian Moynahan

48. – 511.) Forgotten Soldiers by Brian Moynahan – The actions of individual soldiers which were pivotal in a battle or a campaign or even a war. Most war books deal with the actions and decisions of generals and civilian commanders. Moynahan, in vivid detail, portrays incredibly brave and skilful warriors making all the difference. The stories confirm the importance of sergeants and lieutenants – leaders of the front lines. Three 20th Century war stories illustrate the principle:

1.) German invasion of France in May of 1940 - Sturmpionier Sergeant Walter Rubarth was in the vanguard of the German army which had crashed through the Ardennes and looked to cross the Meuse at Sedan and break out. The first attempts to cross the river are unsuccessful. Time is critical as the French are bound to reinforce the area. Rubarth’s small boat is the only one to get across the river. With a squad he clears out French pillboxes and creates a bridgehead which the German army exploits to break out;

2.) Stalingrad – With the Red Army’s backs to the Volga, Sergeant Yakov Pavlov and a small unit occupy No. 61 Penzenskaya Street. Preventing a German line of advance Pavlov holds the “White House” against constant German attacks, day and night, for 58 days. The Germans see them as “not men, but cast-iron creatures”; and,
3.) Champagne Front in July of 1918 – With the Frency army uncertain when the Germans will launch an offensive Sergeant Joseph Darnand, with a small raiding party, is sent to infiltrate the German lines and bring back prisoners and intelligence. Penetrating past the first two German lines he returns with 24 prisoners and documentation showing the timing of the German attack. The Frency armies are withdrawn 4 kilometres and the intense German barrage falls upon empty trenches and what terms out to be the last major German offensive fails.

I was reminded of The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell in which major results can come from small actions at the right moment. The stories demonstrate why successful armies have large numbers of effective sergeants and lieutenants. When the bullets are flying armies are led by sergeants not generals. Excellent. (Dec. 10/09)


  1. Bill - You put that quite well. It really is the work of individual soldiers and groups of soldiers that determine the outcome of wars. And I think that's true of a lot of other areas of life, too. It's individuals and small groups of individuals who are in the proverbial trenches that end up making the difference.

  2. Margot: Thanks for the kind words. I am a Rotarian and our district governor this this Rotary year is emphasizing "The Power of One".

  3. Great post and some really useful tips there. I love resource lists like this. Have social bookmarked it in the hope that others can also benefit.