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GUNS Magazine January 2013 Digital Edition - Page 78
WhEn thE north Wind BloWs PuT anoTher log on The fire and a BooK in your laP…. John Connor unning his pen over the 2013 schedule, Big Cheese Editor Jeff John paused—I thought, dramatically—tapped the paper and intoned, “So, you’re doing these book reviews kinda annually, huh?” Ever the articulate orator, I replied, “Yup.” His eyebrows arched, signaling, “Something epic this way comes.” “So,” sez he, “Why don’tcha do ’em, like, mid-winter, when people actually have more time to read books?” Not wishing to appear less than intellectual, I tried to look thoughtful, quickly gave that up, and finally responded with, “Umm… Duh…” And here we are, snowbound bibliophiles! This one’s going to be a little different, because first, I’m not gonna tell you what’s in the book. Second, you’ll have to hunt for it, because it was last printed in 1948. (Hint: I found copies available on Amazon and bought two for $4.95 and $9, one for a gift and one to keep.) irregular Gentleman, by James Warner Bellah stories and articles tell only part of his tale. Throughout his life, he would take a world map, blindly stick a pin in it— and go there, by whatever means. Irregular Gentleman forms those chronicles, written by a master wordsmith whose scene-setting and character depictions rival the best work of Joseph Conrad. Find it! the river war Gordon of Khartoum. Kitchener at Omdurman. Dongola, Kordofan, Darfur and Berber; the confluence of the Blue Nile and the White, and the fabled cataracts beyond which lie its mysterious headwaters, running from the darkest, most impenetrable jungles to parched and forbiddingly desolate deserts. The names, the words alone stir the imagination and set a vast stage for death and glory. The Sudan of the 1880s and ’90s, impoverished by and ravaged under brutal Ottoman and Egyptian overlords, boils up and rises around the failed and shoeless cleric Muhammad Ahmad, who declares himself to be the prophesied Mahdi, the redeemer of the Islamic world. Hunger and hate form a powerful fuel, and the hordes of the sword and spear-wielding Dervish Army appear unstoppable, killing all in their path. If you read Churchill’s Story of the Malakand Field Force, you know at the conclusion of the Afghanistan mountain campaign, young Winston dashed off to England, having heard of an One Second After, by William R. Forstchen R If you recognize the author’s name, it is probably as the man whose short stories became iconic John Ford movies including Fort Apache, She Wore a Yellow Ribbon and Rio Grande, and as co-writer of the screenplay for The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. But there’s a lot more. Born in New York in 1899, young James Warner Bellah couldn’t wait for the US to enter World War I, running off to enlist in the Canadian Army. He wound up flying against the Boche as a pilot in Britain’s Royal Flying Corps. Fast forward to WWII, James kicks off as a lieutenant in the infantry, leaps to the General Staff Corps, then to the inner circle of Admiral Lord Mountbatten in Southeast Asia; fights in Burma with the legendary Orde Wingate and his Chindits, then serves with no less than General “Vinegar Joe” Stillwell and Phillip Cochran, the daring CO of the 1st Air Commando. James ended the war as a colonel and one of the most colorfully and eclectically experienced officers of any army. Fourteen novels, innumerable short The River War, by Sir Winston S. Churchill 78 W W W. G U N S M AG A Z I N E . C O M • JA N UA RY 2 0 1 3