Archive for September 3rd, 2019

Book Review – A Soldier’s Story by General Omar Nelson Bradley

September 3, 2019

In the Navy – an Officer is supposed to be a “jack of all trades and master of one”

The one trade in which you are supposed to be a “master” is your professional job at sea – but beyond that – you can be tasked with anything and everything – including “bum jobs”.

Hence – during my career in the Navy – I had to do a lot of “bum jobs” – like Mess Secretary, Wine Secretary, Food and Snack Bar Manager, Canteen Manager, Club Manager, Officer in Charge Poultry and Piggery, Officer in Charge of Dairy Farms and Grow More Food Agricultural Farms, Sports Manager, Audit and Accounts, Librarian, Event Manager and Organizer of all sorts of events ranging from Social Parties and Dance Balls to Navy Melas (fêtes and carnivals) and Fleet Family Days – you name it – we did it.

These jobs were in addition to our professional work – and we were expected to excel in both our professional and extra-curricular duties.

But one of the jobs – which I will certainly not call a “bum job” – was instructional duties.

Yes – once in a while – the Navy asked me to Teach and Train.

And – maybe I was good at Teaching and Training (and I liked it too) – because the Navy repeatedly appointed me on teaching, training and academic assignments.

One of the things I insisted my students do was “BOOK REVIEWS” – wherever I taught, whoever I trained – they had to review one book per week.

I learnt one thing in the Navy – before you ask your subordinates to do anything, you must be able to do it yourself.

So – I reviewed books myself – before I asked my students to do so.

Here is my review of my favourite military autobiography – A Soldier’s Story by General Omar Nelson Bradley.

I wrote this review around 27 years ago, in the early 1990’s, when I was a “Professor” at IAT Pune.

MY FAVOURITE MILITARY AUTOBIOGRAPHY

A Soldier’s Story by General Omar N. Bradley

BOOK REVIEW by VIKRAM KARVE

Book Details

Title: A Soldiers Story

Author: Omar Nelson Bradley

ISBN: 0375754210

ISBN-13: 9780375754210, 978-0375754210

Binding: Paperback

Publishing Date: First Published 1951 (Latest Paperback Edition 1999 by Random House Publishing Group)

Book Review By Vikram Karve

AN INSPIRING MILITARY AUTOBIOGRAPHY and A Classic on THE ART OF LEADERSHIP

I love reading autobiographies.

There is nothing more inspiring and authentic than learning about the life, times, thoughts and views of a great person in his own words.

I browse through my bookshelves and pick out the book:

A Soldier’s Story by General Omar Nelson Bradley

This book is one of my favourite autobiographies.

And certainly this book is my all time favourite military autobiography.

Come Dear Reader, sit with me for a while, and let’s leaf through and peruse this fascinating book.

General Bradley (1893-1981) known for his calm and resolute leadership and affectionately called the “Soldier’s General” commanded the largest American combat force in history and rose to be the first Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff.

At the beginning of his autobiography A Soldier’s Story, General Bradley states:

“This is a story, not of my life, but of a campaign … I have sought … to tell a story of how generals live and work at their chosen profession …”

and then he goes on to tell us his memoirs which focus on his participation in World War II.

Candidly written with remarkable humility in beautiful expressive language, this is a wonderful memoir embellished with interesting episodes and lucid characterizations of many renowned military personalities.

In the preface General Bradley says:

“In this book I have tried to achieve one purpose:

To explain how war is waged on the field from the field command post …

To tell a story of how and why we chose to do what we did, no one can ignore the personalities and characteristics of those individuals engaged in making decisions…

Where there are people, there is pride and ambition, prejudice and conflict.

In generals, as in all other men, capabilities cannot always obscure weaknesses, nor can talents hide faults …

I could not conscientiously expurgate this book to make it more palatable …

if this story is to be told, it must be told honestly and candidly …”

The author writes in a wonderfully readable storytelling style and starts his riveting narrative on September 2, 1943, driving to Messina along the north coast of Sicily when, suddenly, General Eisenhower summoned him to tell him that he had been selected to command the American Army in the biggest invasion of the war – the liberation of Europe from the Germans.

He then goes back in time and starts his story with vignettes from his early formative days of soldiering.

General Bradley vividly describes how, from General Marshall, he learnt the rudiments of effective command which he himself applied throughout the war:

“When an officer performed as I expected him to, I gave him a free hand.

When he hesitated, I tried to help him.

And when he failed, I relieved him”

I am sure this leadership lesson is valid even in today’s world, the new IT driven world, where delegation seems to be taking a back seat and excessive micro-management, monitoring, interference and intervention seem to be on the rise.

Rather than encourage yes-men, ego-massage, sycophancy and groupthink, General Marshal sought contrary opinions:

“When you carry a paper in here, I want you to give me every reason you can think of why I should not approve it.

If, in spite of your objections, my decision is to still go ahead, then I’ll know I’m right”.

When it was suggested to General Marshall that a corps commander who had an arthritic disability in the knee be sent home rather than be given command of a corps in the field in war, he opined:

“I would rather have a man with arthritis in the knee than one with arthritis in the head. Keep him there”.

General Bradley writes on his assignment overseas in February 1943 to act as Eisenhower’s “eyes and ears” among American troops on the Tunisian front in North Africa:

“For the first time in 32 years as a soldier, I was off to a war”

He vividly describes the chaos after the American defeat at Kasserine, the arrival of General George S Patton on the scene who growled:

“I am not going to have any goddam spies running around in my headquarters”

Then Patton immediately appointed Bradley as his deputy.

This was the defining moment of Bradley’s illustrious combat career.

This is easily the best book on Patton’s stellar role in World War II.

A Soldier’s Story complements General Patton’s Memoirs: War As I Knew Itand the popular biography of General Patton – Patton: Ordeal and Triumph by Ladislas Farago

These three books are a must for any student of military history who wants to study General Patton.

Though his admiration for Patton is evident, General Bradley writes about his long association with Patton with fairness and honesty and reveals unique and remarkable facets of Patton’s leadership style and character.

Sample this:

“Precisely at 7 Patton boomed in to breakfast. His vigour was always infectious, his wit barbed, his conversation a mixture of obscenity and good humour. He was at once stimulating and overbearing. George was a magnificent soldier.

Can there be a better description of General Patton…?

Bradley vividly describes how Patton transformed the slovenly and demoralized II Corps into a fighting fit formation:

“The news of Patton’s coming fell like a bombshell on Djebel Kouif. With sirens shrieking Patton’s arrival, a procession of armoured scout cars and half-tracks wheeled into the dingy square opposite the schoolhouse headquarters of II Corps …

In the lead car Patton stood like a charioteer … scowling into the wind and his jaw strained against the web strap of a two-starred steel helmet.”

General Bradley writes superbly, as he describes how Patton stamped his personality upon his men and by his outstanding charismatic leadership rejuvenated the jaded, slovenly, worn-out, defeated and demoralized II Corps and transformed it into a vibrant, disciplined, fighting fit organization that never looked back and went on winning victory after victory in most difficult circumstances and against all odds.

There are bits of delightful humour in this book.

Commenting on the ingenuity and improvisation abilities of Patton’s staff, the author writes:

“ … Indeed had Patton been named an Admiral in the Turkish Navy, his aides could probably dipped into their haversacks and come up with the appropriate badges of rank …”

Though, at times, the author appears to be in awe of and enamoured by Patton’s larger than life charisma, he is candid, dispassionate and, at times, critical when he describes how he was bewildered by the contradictions in Patton’s character and concludes:

“At times I felt that Patton, however successful he was as a corps commander, had not yet learned how to command himself.”

Their techniques of command varied with their contrasting personalities.

While the soft-spoken unassuming Bradley preferred to lead by suggestion and example – the flamboyant Patton chose to drive his subordinates by bombast and threats, employing imperious mannerisms and profane expletives with startling originality; and both achieved spectacular results.

Many of us are at a loss for words when asked to qualitatively appraise our subordinates.

Yes, fair and objective performance appraisal, bringing out both the strengths and weaknesses of individuals in a dispassionate and balanced manner is a difficult task, especially while putting your appraisal down on paper.

See how easily General Bradley lucidly evaluates his division commanders, bringing out their salient qualities, in so few words with elegant simplicity and succinctness:

“ … To command a corps of four divisions, toughness alone is not enough.

The corps commander must know his division commanders, he must thoroughly understand their problems, respect their judgment, and be tolerant of their limitations …

Among the division commanders in Tunisia, none excelled the unpredictable Terry Allen in the leadership of troops … but in looking out for his own division, Allen tended to belittle the role of others

… Ryder had confirmed his reputation as that of a skilled tactician … his weakness, however, lay in the contentment with which he tolerated mediocrity

… the profane and hot-tempered Harmon brought to the corps the rare combination of sound tactical judgment and boldness

… none was better balanced nor more cooperative than Manton Eddy … though not timid, neither was he bold; Manton liked to count his steps carefully before he took them.”

Isn’t the author’s understanding of his subordinates profound, his observation thorough and fair, and his communication and articulation skills precise and remarkable?

Throughout the book, we find honest, frank and incisive appraisals of characters in this story – superiors, peers and subordinates – most of them renowned and famous personalities.

He writes with candour about the problems of command during the planning of the invasion of Europe.

From then on the story gathers speed and moves in such a captivating and engrossing manner that you are is spellbound as you read the author fluently narrate the events of the campaign with remarkable preciseness and detail, and you realize what an engaging and compelling book this is – it is simply unputdownable.

All important events, turning points, and personalities are vividly described with the aid of maps, charts, pictures and appendices – from D Day (the Normandy Invasion) to the surrender of the German forces, the whole story is recounted vivdly.

Towards the end of his memoirs General Bradley reflects:

“Only five years before … as a Lieutenant Colonel in civilian clothes, I had ridden a bus down Connecticut Avenue to my desk in old Munitions Building …

I opened the map-board and smoothed out the tabs of the 43 US divisions now under my command … stretched across a 640-mile front of the 12th Army Group …

I wrote in the new date: D plus 335 …

Outside the sun was climbing in the sky. The war in Europe had ended…”

I feel that this autobiography is a “must read” for military men and students of military history.

I am am sure it will benefit management students and professionals for it is an incisive treatise on Soft Skills encompassing aspects of Leadership, Communications, and most importantly, the Art of Human Relations Management in the extremely complex and highly stressful scenario of War where achievement of success (victory) is inescapably paramount.

It is a primer, a treasury of distilled wisdom, on all aspects of management, especially human resource management.

One can learn many inspirational, motivational and management lessons from this book.

Nothing can surpass the experience of learning history first hand from a man who lived and created it rather than a historian who merely records it.

The Art of Leadership is better learnt from studying Leaders, their lives, their writings, rather than reading management textbooks pontificating on the leadership and giving how-to-do laundry lists.

The Art and Science of Business Management owes its genesis and evolution to the military.

Modern Management Theories, Concepts, Techniques and Practices emerged from the experiences and lessons learnt during World War II (particularly in The United States of America).

It is ironic that the reverse is happening today and the military is trying to relearn management from civilians – and military men are running to business schools to acquire MBA degrees.

It was the military that gave modern management principles to the civilian corporate world.

And today we see the amusing spectacle of military officers running to civilian management institutes to “learn” management – and to acquire the coveted MBA degree which is the sine qua non and all important passport for entry into the corporate world.

I love reading stories, all kinds of stories, fiction, fantasy, parables, fables, slice of life.

I like Life Stories, Biographies, particularly Autobiographies, as there is nothing more credible, convincing and stimulating than learning about the life, times and thoughts of a great person, especially from his own writings.

It’s called verisimilitude, I think.

A Soldier’s Story is a magnificent book.

It is a unique masterpiece, a classic…!!!

This autobiography is enjoyable, engrossing, illuminating and inspiring.

Dear Reader, I commend this superb book.

Do read it.

I am sure you will learn a lot about the art of leadership and human resource management and feel inspired by this engrossing life story.

VIKRAM KARVE

Copyright © Vikram Karve
1. If you share this post, please give due credit to the author Vikram Karve
2. Please DO NOT PLAGIARIZE. Please DO NOT Cut/Copy/Paste this post
© vikram karve., all rights reserved.

Disclaimer:

All Stories in this Blog are a work of fiction. Events, Places, Settings and Incidents narrated in the stories are a figment of my imagination. The characters do not exist and are purely imaginary. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

Copyright Notice:

No part of this Blog may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical including photocopying or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the Blog Author Vikram Karve who holds the copyright.

Copyright © Vikram Karve (all rights reserved)

Link to my original post in my Blog Academic and Creative Writing Journal Vikram Karve: http://karvediat.blogspot.in/2017/04/book-review-soldiers-story.html

© vikram karve., all rights reserved.

This is a Revised Abridged and Updated Version of My Book Review written 27 years ago in the year 1992 and earlier posted online by me Vikram Karve in my Academic and Creative Writing Journal Blog and other Blogs a number of times including at urls: http://karvediat.blogspot.in/2008/12/art-of-leadership.html and http://karvediat.blogspot.in/2013/01/a-soldiers-story-classic-military.html and http://karvediat.blogspot.in/2014/12/book-review-my-favourite-military.html and http://karvediat.blogspot.in/2013/04/a-soldiers-story-book-review-inspiring.html andhttp://karvediat.blogspot.com/2012/10/a-classic-military-autobiography.html and http://creative.sulekha.com/book-review-a-soldier-s-story_183174_blog and http://karvediat.blogspot.in/2011/12/classic-on-art-of-leadership-soldiers.html etc

A Food Date

September 3, 2019

A FOOD DATE

Fiction Short Story By Vikram Karve

My mobile phone gave a notification sound.

It was a “WhatsApp” Message from my wife:

“Call when you are free…”

I called my wife immediately.

“Is your “date” over…?” my wife asked me.

“No. She has gone to the washroom…” I said.

“I saw the pictures on Facebook. She seems very beautiful…” my wife said.

“Yes. She is much more beautiful in real life than in her pictures…” I said.

“Why did you take her to that Biryani joint…?” my wife said, “you should have treated her to a lavish lunch in a 5-Star hotel…”

“She insisted on going there…” I said, “she is a Biryani lover and wanted to eat “authentic” Biryani…”

“Did she like the Biryani…?” my wife asked.

“Yes…” I said, “she loved the Biryani – and the Kebabs too…”

“That’s good…” my wife said, “what are your plans now…?”

“I’ll drop her home…” I said.

“It’s only 2 o’clock. Take her shopping to the mall, or for a movie – or – the monsoon weather is so lovely – why don’t you take her for a “romantic” drive to some picturesque place – Tamhini, Sinhagad, Lonavala – and enjoy the sunset view together. Ask her what she wants to do…” my wife said.

“Thanks…” I said to my wife, “I’ll ask her…”

“By the way – I really liked the “selfie” you took with her…” my wife said.

“You liked the “selfie” – I am so happy to hear that. I am still learning how to take good “selfies”. I had to hold her really tight and close while taking this one…” I said.

“Yes…” my wife said, “tight and close – quite an intimate “selfie”…!!!”

Suddenly – I saw that my “date” had come out of the washroom and was walking towards me.

“She is coming…” I said to my wife.

“Okay. All the Best with your “date”…” my wife said and disconnected the phone.

As my “date” came closer – I was surprised to see that she was giving me an “angry” look.

I smiled to greet her – but – she did not smile back at me.

Instead – she seemed to become even more livid.

She did not sit down – but remained standing.

So – I rose from my seat.

“Are you crazy…?” my “date” shouted at me.

“Why…? What happened…?” I said, surprised.

“Why have you uploaded our pictures all over the Social Media…?” she said angrily.

“The photos were so good…” I said.

“Oh Yes…” she interrupted, “the photos are “too good” – especially that “selfie” where you seem to be rubbing your cheeks on mine…”

“You didn’t like our “selfie”…?” I asked.

“Well – my sister-in-law has certainly “liked” it…” she said with sarcasm in her voice.

“Sister-in-Law…?” I asked.

“My husband’s sister – who hates me…” my “date” said.

“Oh…” I mumbled.

“And – by now – I am sure my bitchy sister-in-law has shared that “selfie” with everyone – all over the social media…” my “date” said, with anxiety in her voice.

“Oh – she saw it…?” I said, “But your sister-in-law is not my “friend”. How did she see the “selfie”…?”

“Because you “tagged” me – you fool. And – my sister-in-law is my “friend” on Facebook. Why the hell did you “tag” me…?” she said.

“I thought…” I mumbled.

“You should have asked my permission…” she said, angrily.

“I asked you before taking the “selfie”…” I said.

“I thought you are taking it as remembrance – for our private viewing…” she said, “I never imagined that you would publicly share our pictures with the whole world on the social media…”

“I am sorry if I have annoyed you…” I said to her, “Okay. I’ll cheer you up – let’s go on a long drive to some nice place – Tamhini, Sinhagad, Lonavala – wherever you want – and we can see sunset together…”

“Are you mad or something…? Do you think I am going to stay for even a single minute with you after what you have done…?” my “date” said angrily to me.

Suddenly – there was a notification sound on her mobile phone – so – she looked at her phone.

“Oh My God…” she said, “it’s my husband. He wants me to call him urgently.”

“But – it must be midnight over there…” I said.

“I am sure my sister-in-law has shown these pictures to my mother-in-law – especially that scandalous looking “selfie” – and my devious mother-in-law must have called up my husband immediately…” she said.

“Or maybe – he has seen the selfie” on Facebook – or Twitter – or Instagram – all my Social Media Accounts are connected – once I post a picture – it gets shared everywhere …” I said.

“You just shut up…!!! Let me figure out what I should say to my husband…” she said.

“You haven’t told your husband about this “date” with me…?” I said, curious.

“Of Course Not…!” she said, “have you told your wife…?”

“Yes. I tell my wife everything. In fact – she is the one who told me to ask you out for a “date” after seeing our Tweets, DMs and Facebook Messages to each other…” I said.

“What…? You share private messages with each other…? You people seem to be real weirdos…” she said, scornfully.

“I’ll delete the photos…” I said, contrite.

“It’s too late now – the damage is already done. But still – you please delete all those pictures – especially the “selfie”. I only hope my sister-in-law hasn’t taken a “screenshot”…!!!” she said.

“Okay. I will delete all pictures and status updates of our “date”…” I said, “But – you don’t worry – nothing will happen – if you want – I will talk to your husband – and mother-in-law…” I said.

“Please – you have done “enough” for the day. I am going now. And – I never want to see your face again – so – don’t try to contact me – online or offline. In any case – I am blocking you everywhere…” she said, angrily.

And – she walked away – out of the restaurant.

EPILOGUE

I went home – and – I told me wife everything.

“Don’t feel sad…” my wife said to me, “you have so many friends on the Social Media – we’ll find someone good for your next date…”

“It’s strange…” I said, “she hadn’t told her husband that she was having a “date” with me. Aren’t husbands and wives supposed to tell each other everything…? Don’t I tell you everything…?”

“Everyone is not “You”…” my wife said – and she gave me a loving hug.

VIKRAM KARVE

Copyright © Vikram Karve
1. If you share this post, please give due credit to the author Vikram Karve
2. Please DO NOT PLAGIARIZE. Please DO NOT Cut/Copy/Paste this post
© vikram karve., all rights reserved.

Disclaimer:

  1. This story is a fictional spoof, satire, pure fiction, just for fun and humor, no offence is meant to anyone, so take it with a pinch of salt and have a laugh.
  2. All stories in this blog are a work of fiction. Events, Places, Settings and Incidents narrated in the stories are a figment of my imagination. The characters do not exist and are purely imaginary. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

Copyright Notice:

No part of this Blog may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical including photocopying or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the Blog Author Vikram Karve who holds the copyright.

Copyright © Vikram Karve (All Rights Reserved) 

Link to my original post in my Blog Academic and Creative Writing Journal Vikram Karve:  https://karvediat.blogspot.com/2019/09/food-date.html

© vikram karve., all rights reserved.

%d bloggers like this: