Fifteen Flags – Ric Hardman

A Chief-Executive War Half-Century Before Vietnam

[They didn’t come back even when it was over, over there]

Sometimes we get lucky and a fiction work sets us off on a journey of discovery.  For me, this was such a work.  Fifteen Flags was a launchpad.

One of the defining events of the 20th Century was the Russian Revolution.  The International response, both in diplomacy and military intervention set the tone for the next seven decades of Soviet interactions with Europe and the US, and to a lesser degree, Japan.

I’d done a lot of reading years ago about the US troop involvement at the time of the Russo-Japanese War and  had a vague background of reading about the International forces guarding the railroads while the White Russians fought the Trotsky forces.  I even knew US forces were involved.

But what Ric Hardman managed to do with this tome was to broaden the scope of what happened there in my own perception enough to cause me to want to know more.  Hardman’s characters, whether they’re US troops, Japanese cooperating in the International venture to guard the railways, Chinese, Czech, or German POWs trying to survive being prisoners awaiting release in a time of military chaos and famine:  “Life is cheap.”

If I had to make a one sentence summary of this book, this set of events, this episode in world history I suppose no better words exist.

WWI — Russia

Allied intervention in the Russian Civil War

Polar Bear Expedition

American Expeditionary Force Siberia


Book Reviews:
Do you enjoy reading reviews of books as a part of planning what you’d like to read?  Jeanne, the lady who administers this blog, is a library employee  in KS, and tells me about books, sometimes calls me when she’s picking through boxes of books in an auction parking lot waiting to be hauled to the dump after an auction, to find out if I’d like to own them.

But Jeanne also put me on to this newsletter library people evidently read:

Shelf Awareness

Full of reviews of books soon to be published.


How to sell your war to the cannon fodder:

Cagney/Cohan, “Over There”, from Yankee Doodle Dandy [WWI] (1942)

2 responses to “Fifteen Flags – Ric Hardman

  1. I had an old freind who was a painter, Paul, he was in the concentration camps in Germany… he told me of how the Germans went through his home town like a parade, proud and rumbled past. The next months they straggled back, one by one, two by two, walking all bandaged up. The bear got’em, he’d say (meaning russia) I wrote a poem called; “the lucky ones,” after hearing this old man’s tale… history and story tellers are a rare ‘jewel’….(grin)


  2. Morning Art. Yeah, they are. I used to know the son of a man who’d been a Czech tank commander on the eastern front, was captured before they started shooting officer prisoners, sent back to the front and injured, sent home and then to Germany where he and his wife managed to surrender to US forces. He’d been a member of the NAZI party, so he disguised himself as a woman to get out of the prisoner camp, escaped to South America. Couldn’t return to Czechoslavakia because he was wanted as a war criminal.

    I met him once and got to talk to him a while. I think sometime I’ll do a blog entry about him. Interesting fellow. Gracias, Jules

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