August 16, 2012

WWII studies -- the prize

I'm not a big one for one-upsmanship, but today I can't resist. Wonderduck boasts that he's made the acquisition of all acquisitions. But I've got something better.

Powell's Book Store has become famous now, but back in the late 1970's it was just a single store in downtown Portland, locally famous as having the best used book stack in the city. One time I was browsing the military history section, and saw a two-volume set that was pretty cool. They were priced $70, and I passed them by.

But on my drive home I was already cursing myself for not buying them, and that evening I decided I'd go back the next day and pick them up.

And if they had sold in the mean time, I knew I'd hate myself for the rest of my life. Fortunately, they hadn't, and I brought them home with me.

What were these books? "The West Point Atlas of American Wars" (through 1953) published in 1959. The first volume began with the revolutionary war and ended with the Spanish American War. The second volume was WWI, WWII, and Korea.


They're folio size, 10 inches tall and 14 inches wide. Every right-side page is a map, with the left side being commentary. Here's the map showing the plan for the Normandy invasion:


Here's a large version of that picture.

This map has always boggled me: it shows where all the American paratroopers landed. Green dots each represent one "stick" (one plane load) from the 101st and green crosses are sticks from the 82nd.


And here's a big version.

I can't tell you how many hours I've spent on these two volumes, but it's a lot. One of the best purchases I've ever made. I've surely gotten more than $70 worth of enjoyment out of them.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in Weird World at 10:21 AM | Comments (11) | Add Comment
Post contains 306 words, total size 2 kb.

1 I can only give you my highest praise for those acquisitions:  I hate both of you.   

Posted by: ubu at August 16, 2012 10:49 AM (r3aaK)

2 It looks like revised editions were published in the Nineties: volume 1, volume 2 on Amazon. 


Posted by: J Greely at August 16, 2012 12:08 PM (fpXGN)

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at August 16, 2012 12:10 PM (+rSRq)

4 Ah, different set, but the out-of-print WWII versions are on Amazon as well.


Posted by: J Greely at August 16, 2012 12:10 PM (fpXGN)

5 Y'know, huge tomes like these would be just about perfect for E-versions.

Posted by: BigD at August 16, 2012 12:15 PM (qLkdZ)


I don't think they would work on something like the Kindle. The maps would look terrible unless enormous care was put into digitizing them -- and based on my experience with Kindle editions of books, they don't put much care into them at all. (I find typos all over the place.)

I bought a copy of The Codebreakers, which has pictures. You can double-tap a picture and it comes up alone on the screen. You can use the two-finger slide to expand them. But the resolution isn't all that great, and if you look close you can see the pixellation. It isn't really worth doing.

A 10x14 map really would require a lot of care -- and a lot of bits -- to digitize properly. Would it get it? I seriously have my doubts.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at August 16, 2012 12:23 PM (+rSRq)


By the way, I think there may be some limits on the Kindle Fire itself. I transferred in a few pictures which were 3500x2333 and took a look at them on the Fire's screen.

I know how they look zoomed in, but they don't look that good on the Fire when zoomed in. It looked to me like the Fire rendered the image to a smaller resolution, and then zoomed in on that rather than rerendering. The result was quite blurry.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at August 16, 2012 12:28 PM (+rSRq)

8 I just looked at this page using my Fire, and loaded one of the big versions of those pictures and zoomed in on it. It looked like crap.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at August 16, 2012 12:32 PM (+rSRq)

9 I've generally found that large, picture-heavy books convert poorly to digital format.  Either you end up with unreadable text, or you end up with pages that scroll and load too slowly to be usable.

Posted by: metaphysician at August 16, 2012 01:34 PM (3GCAl)

10 The other problem is that, with maps, you don't get the whole picture (pardon the pun) when you're looking at a tiny screen.  I mean, look at that paratrooper map... if you were looking at that on a tiny screen, you'd see absolutely nothing.  If you zoom in, great... but then you're missing the sheer drama of the thing.  Look at those lone dots and crosses on the very left side of the map... you could zoom in on them, sure, but then you wouldn't be able to see just how screwed they really are.

It's a great acquisition, Steven.  It'd be nice in my collection, but its focus is outside of my specialty (Pacific War)... I'm a ship geek. 

Shall we agree that our respective titles are both awesome?

Posted by: Wonderduck at August 16, 2012 06:03 PM (djyNz)

11 Well, it covers the Pacific War, too, but from the point of view of the Army and the Marines, not the Navy. But yeah, we'll call it a draw.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at August 16, 2012 06:12 PM (+rSRq)

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