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Glarry GST Electric Guitar   —   guitar review
[Disclaimer:  I have not received as a promotion any guitar or music related product, nor am I mentioning anything in this post to secure compensation / income for myself or the manufacturers of the products mentioned.  I am only posting about these items because I personally purchased them and am excited to be learning about music and playing guitar.    —    KMAB]
Way back on 19 March 2021, I posted I had purchased and received my second guitar.  (Going Into The Deep End)  I also mentioned in a 25 May 2021 post (More Changes) that I would be getting around to reviewing that guitar.  Well, yesterday I did the review for my first guitar (Reviewing Austen), so here’s the review of my second: a Glarry GST Electric Guitar (Green)…
Background:  Since deciding to learn how to play guitar, I’ve been watching hours and hours of YouTube videos on guitar reviews and beginning guitar lessons / topics.  There seems to be a lot of discussion about what type of guitar someone should start out learning on (acoustic versus electric) and then what type of model beyond that.  Knowing next to nothing about guitars (okay, knowing absolutely nothing about guitars), I struggled to decide what type to purchase first.
Being retired, I have a significant price point versus life time (mine) limitation.  I didn’t want to spend four or five months (or years) saving up for a “real” brand name guitar.  I wanted to get my hands on a playable instrument as quickly as possible in order to channel my enthusiasm.  As mentioned yesterday, I settled on a “new-name” guitar brand “Orangewood” and one of their least expensive models (“Austen“), which was reviewed very well against several of the bigger names bottom end / starter guitars.  It turned out I thoroughly enjoyed my first guitar and wanted to see what all the fuss was about.
At roughly the same time, I got a $100 Amazon credit which I could apply to the purchase price (a hair under $120 with tax and free delivery), so my net “investment” was only $20 for a new guitar and a starter (20 watt) amplifier. Without the amp, the guitar runs for just under $90.  I also received an Allen wrench, a pick, a strap and a “gig-bag.”
Start of review:
Delivery: on ordering, the site says it can take up to two weeks for delivery.  I received the guitar in a little over 50 hours.  I could not make up my mind which color I wanted (blue or sunburst), so I settled on green – because it was Saint Patrick’s Day.  On delivery, the box was punctured and partially peeled back.  Fortunately, there was no damage to either the guitar or to the amp.  So far, so good…
What you get:
(Specifications)
Guitar Brand:  Glarry
Orientation:  Right handed
Guitar Color:  Green
Guitar Amplifier Power:  20W
Number of frets:  22
Nut width:  1.656 in.
Scale length:  25.5″
Number of strings:  6
Pick-up Style:  Single-Single-Single
Guitar Bridge System:  Tremolo
Controls:  5-switch, 1 x Volume, 1 x Tone
Body Material:  Basswood
Neck Material:  Maple
Fingerboard Material:  Maple
Tuning Peg Material:  Metal
Nut Material:  Plastic
Bridge Material:  Metal
String Winder Peg Tool:  Enclosed Machine Head
Guitar Dimensions:  (39.17 x 12.99 x 2.36)”(L x W x H)
Weight: 13.89lbs
(Package Includes)
1 x Guitar
1 x AMP
1 x Guitar Bag
1 x Strap
1 x Plectrum
1 x Tremolo Bar
1 x Connecting Wire
1 x Spanner Tool
First impression: right out of the box, the guitar has a beautiful, dark, rich green body.  It is thin (particularly after playing a dreadnought acoustic for a month) and feels light and almost toy-like.  The neck is a nice off-setting clear (not white) maple wood.  I run my left hand up and down the neck.   Mostly smooth, but there are a couple of patches which could do with some minor sanding / smoothing.  The edges of the fret board are TERRIBLE!  The metal fret are visibly past the edge of the neck and they are sharp(!) on the side and not rounded on the top.  I make a mental note to self:  DO NOT run your hand up and down this neck quickly or you WILL cut yourself.  Fortunately, many of the YouTube reviews of inexpensive (“cheap”) guitars have this problem, so I’ve been warned in advance.
I KNOW I will have to sand the frets down and round the tops, but that will be for a later day.  YouTube also cautions to wait an “appropriate” period to let your guitar adjust to its new home.  In the end, after about a week, some of the frets barely stick out.  They all still need to be rounded, but they won’t need any extensive sanding down.
Visual checklist:
• neck – straight, flat and not visibly warped or bent;
• nut – minor plastic shavings at the string channels, but otherwise, it looks fine (not that I’d really know what “something wrong” would look like)
• strings – strum…  not in tune, but string ends are not excessively long or wrapped around the tuning pegs
• body – again, beautiful color and shiny finish
• controls – the switch is responsive without being resistant, the volume and tone both turn smoothly.  I am able to hear the differences between the pickups on the switch (after it’s plugged in and the amp is turned on)
• tuning pegs – three seem to have “gaps” in action before turning them kicks in (both directions)
• tremolo bar – in package, not attached for shipping.  I screwed it on.  It flexes, but doesn’t seem to “do” much.  I take it back off.
• strap – feels like some cheap plastic woven material with fake leather ends.  It also isn’t really long enough for my large (obese) frame.  It’s also kind of narrow and biting on my neck / shoulder area.  But it works until I can get something better.
• pick (“plectrum”) – no name plastic.  A missed marketing opportunity by Glarry.
• action and intonation – the strings “look” high, but they don’t feel bad on my fingertips.  Too excited to really check intonation – and I can’t do it until I’ve tuned it.
• “gig-bag” – this is CHEAP plastic dust cover.  And, it stinks! I took it outside for a couple of hours of airing out, before using it to store the guitar.  I left both (the guitar stored in the bag) in the front room of my house, so I wouldn’t have to smell the bag for the first few days.
Strum… the strings are all loose and there is no hope this is tune “out of the box”.  I am not confident enough to use my A-440 tuning fork, so I attach my Snark tuner and tune the guitar.  Nothing significant to report – except as mentioned, several of the pegs have loose areas when turning.  After the initial tuning, I check the harmonics at the twelfth fret.  All six strings sound good to go!  I’m a happy camper…
I plug in the amplifier and plug the cable into it and into the guitar.  Both connections seem solid enough.  I turn on the amp and increase the volume on both the guitar and the amp.  All the knobs on the amp and the guitar seem to work.  They kind of change the sound, but I really don’t know what I’m doing or what they should sound like, so I set everything but the volume back to “0”.  The volume is MORE than enough for me to play in my bedroom.  I’m still a happy camper…
Strum… I play for a few minutes – chords and scales.  The neck is thinner so it seems it will be more difficult to play / strum chords.  Ouch!!  The thin strings are much thinner than the strings on my acoustic even though both guitars are “steel-string”.  Anyway, everything has more or less checked out and I’ve spent ten minutes “playing” guitar, so I decide to pack it in for the evening.
And then I hit my first “issue”.  The end piece where the cable goes into the guitar is loose.  It turns when I try to remove the cable.  It turns again when I re-insert the cable.  I try to tighten the part by hand.  No joy.  Okay, something else to “fix”.  (That makes three: frets, tuners and input plug.)
So… despite the tuners “slipping”, the strings don’t go out of tune overnight.  Well, they do, but it’s slight and not an issue.  The next day, I break out my tools.  A quick twist of the screwdriver and the tuners are fine.  No more gaps.  A quick twist of my socket wrench and the input plug is secure (and it has remained stable for several weeks now).  And, as mentioned above, the neck wood is acclimated after a week and the frets are no visibly sticking out.  They DO stick out “to the touch” and the tops are not rounded, so both fret issues remain outstanding.  I will correct at some future point.
What’s happened since then?
Well, I went out and bought replacement strings.  I haven’t installed them yet.  I haven’t rounded or finished the frets.  I replaced the strap on my acoustic with a much nicer leather / padded strap, so the Glarry has inherited the original “Austen” strap.  It’s much more comfortable; so, it’s a win-win.  I bought another gig-bag for the Glarry.  It was $25, with tax and shipping.  It’s padded (but not much – maybe 8 – 10 mm).  And, it doesn’t stink.  The original bag and strap are resting comfortably on a shelf in a storage room.  (I really need to stop hoarding.)  I have watched some videos on using the A-440 tuning fork and now can use either the Snark or the fork on both guitars.  I ordered a second fork to keep with the Glarry, but I wasn’t paying attention and ordered an “E” instead of an “A”.  No big deal.  I just use the “open” “E” string instead of the “open” “A” string and the “E” frets instead of the “A” frets on the other strings.  Interestingly (probably only to me), but I can’t hear the tuning fork on the “high-E” string.  I can feel it change in vibration (at the harmonic fret points) between my fingertip and thumb, but I can’t hear it.  I’m fine with the other five strings.  I can only assume my mis-spent youth firing howitzers in defense of our country has affected my hearing in my old age.
And of course I’ve established a loose rotation schedule to ensure I continue to get comfortable with both the acoustic and the electric.  I will do a separate post about things (differences) I’ve noticed at some point…
Final Recommendation:  Are you kidding me?  Not counting the replacement bits I’ve purchased, I’m out of pocket $20 for a brand new electric guitar and amp.  Yes!  I’d do it again.  Also, despite the fairly minor issues, this seems to me to very good value for money.  If you price a body and neck, you will be hard pressed to find both (of any quality) for less than $100.  IF I happened to have the Amazon credit prior to the purchase of my acoustic, I’m not sure this would not have been my first choice.  I believe if I spend another $200 on better bits – electronics, pickups and tuners – I’d have an instrument which sounds nearly as good as any $400 -$500 guitar.  Plus I’d have the hands on experience of “mod-ing” a guitar.  To anyone reading this:  please don’t think you will EVER get that much back if you try to resell it.  I’m just saying it would play and sound near as good as any at twice the price.
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On This Day In:
2020 Role Reversal
Time To Defend The Constitution (Part I)
Time To Defend The Constitution (Part II)
2019 Right Or Wrong
2018 Open Doors
2017 When It Deserves It
2016 Expiation For Rest
2015 You’ll Get Through It
2014 A Special Kind Of Fall
2013 Very Rewarding
2012 MIB3 – The Team Is Closer Than Ever
Yet
2011 Little By Little

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Orangewood:  Austen  —  guitar review
[DISCLAIMER:  This product is being reviewed without compensation of any sort by the manufacturer.  I purchased the guitar with my own personal funds.  Also, nothing I say should be taken as anything but my personal opinion / observation, as I have VERY little knowledge of music or musical instruments.  —  KMAB]
Background:  I have owned numerous musical instruments in my lifetime including two acoustic guitars.  I never learned to play any of the instruments (including the two guitars) and have remained fairly certain / convinced I lack musical ability / rhythm / ear.  My latest effort was about five years ago and involved the purchase of a recorder.  I only ever learned one song: “Taps“; never learned to read sheet music; and, despite practicing the song practically every day for almost two years, only played it “well” (to my ear anyway) once.  I have no recollection of what happened to any of my earlier instruments.  I don’t remember selling any instrument, so I probably gave them to the first person who expressed any interest in them.  (Or they got lost in the sands of time…)
In December of 2020, I decided I wanted to write three songs for my wife: a love song, a sad song and a funny song.  In order to have a chance to be able to sing the songs I need to play something other than the recorder.  Somehow, I settled on a guitar or a piano (keyboard).  I’m still not sure why, but after a week of watching video reviews and reading articles about various guitars, I decided an acoustic guitar.  This was mainly because, I didn’t want too expensive an initial investment outlay and because I thought learning about electric guitars (tone, volume, amplifiers, etc.) would just add an extra layer of complexity which would confuse my simple brain.  There was also the very real possibility I would lose interest in a few days / weeks, and I’d have another in a long line of “forgotten” hobbies.
Start of review:
So, this (Orangewood Austen) was the first guitar I purchased this year.  WAAAYYY back in January.  It was ordered online and the expected delivery was one to two weeks.  It arrived after a week and a day, so that was an initial good impression.  The box had a 6 – 8 inch slice in it, so that was a negative, but did not necessarily have anything to do with the manufacturer / seller, so it’s merely a comment on delivery status.
I should mention that because I knew I would be utterly unable to tune the guitar myself, I purchased an “A” tuning fork and a “Snark” electrical tuner in advance of the guitar purchase / receipt.  The tuning fork because I wanted to be able to train my ear and the Snark because I wanted its ease of use.  (I will be doing reviews of these items separately.)
Per their site (https://orangewoodguitars.com), this is what I got for $218 all-in (including tax and shipping).  (Note: the base price on the site is now $225.)
Features
• Body Shape:  Dreadnought  (I have BIG stubby fingers, so I thought having a large guitar would be better initially.)
• Top Wood:  Solid Spruce  (The YouTube reviewers all say “solid” spruce produces the best sound.)
• Back / Sides: Layered Mahogany (“Layered” means it’s a laminate.)
• Neck: Mahogany
• Fretboard: Rosewood (sonokeling) (“sonokeling” is a type of rosewood from Indonesia.)
• Bridge: Rosewood (sonokeling)
• Pickguard: Included (Optional) (“Optional” means you put it on yourself if you want it.  If you do, you void the 30 return policy.  I have not installed mine and am not sure I will.)
• Gig Bag: Included (This bag is actually quite nice.  It’s at least 10mm thick and the exterior seems tough, but not waterproof.  The zippers look and feel sturdy.  There is also a large zippered pouch on the front of the bag with “Orangewood” embroidered on it.  (It’s kind of a classy touch.)  The bag is sufficient for most carrying about.  It has a sturdy handle and padded / adjustable shoulder straps, but I would not use this for checked-in airline travel.)
Not mentioned on the site:
• they give you a single orange – green plaid medium grade (weight?) pic.
• they give you an Allen wrench to adjust the truss rod which runs through the guitar’s neck.  I have not felt the need to try to adjust the neck.  It’s straight; not bowed one way or the other.
• the guitar comes with two strap bolts, but no strap.  I ended up buying one fairly soon, which I then upgraded.
Specifications
• Strings:  Ernie Ball Earthwood Medium Light  (When I bought my strap, I picked up a set of replacement strings.  Almost all the YouTube reviewers say when you buy and “inexpensive” / “cheap” guitar, replace your strings immediately.  I have not felt the need to do this, but I have the set for when I need it.)
• Electronics:  N/A
• Tuners:  Chrome Die-Cast
• Neck Shape: C
• Scale:  25.5″
• Nut / Saddle:  Bone (Occasionally, when making minor tuning adjustments, the strings will “ping”.  This means I need to “lube / graphite” the nut a little when I get around to changing the strings.)
• Nut Width: 44mm
• Bracing: Scalloped X
• Finish: Natural Satin  (I think the guitar “feels” natural without the “plastic” / lacquered feel of my later guitars.  I have two more, now.)
Dimensions
• Overall Length: 40 9/16″
• Body Length: 19 13/16″
• Body Depth: 4 11/16″
• Upper Bout: 11 3/8″
• Middle Bout: 10 1/2″
• Lower Bout: 15 1/4″
First reaction:  The guitar is beautiful!
Strum…  Sounds okay to me.  (Remember, at this time I have no idea what “in key” or “in tune” means.)  The guitar is BIG, but surprising light.  To my mind it feels like balsa wood.  Recall I owned two guitars back in my late teens / early twenties, which is probably the last time I held one, and this guitar feels lighter than my memories.  It feels awkward against my stomach and under my right arm.  I put both of these down to my personal obesity and not to the fault of the guitar.  I recall this (size of a dreadnought) is something multiple reviewers commented / cautioned on for newbies and their first guitar.  Being honest, I fear the guitar may be too delicate for me, so I handle it with care the first couple of weeks.
Strum…  Run my left hand up and down the neck.  Absolutely no, sharp fret ends sticking out and they all feel well rounded / smooth.  The fretboard doesn’t look dry and in need of oiling.  The neck appears straight and neither twisted or bowed and feels smooth.  There are no scratches anywhere on the body or neck.  The finish / polish appears smooth to the eye and to the touch.  I look in the sound hole to verify the top is solid and not veneer or laminate.  It looks to be solid.  I am going through a mental checklist developed from watching YouTube videos.  I “really” don’t know what I’m doing…
Strum…  Okay, attach the Snark and let’s see if the guitar is shipped in tune.  No.  At least not all of the strings, but the Snark helps me resolve that.  In a couple of minutes, it’s in tune and I’m strumming away.  I don’t know any chords to play, or notes, or where they are, so I am literally starting my adventure from scratch.
Strum…  After about five minutes, my finger tips are starting to hurt so I decide to pack it in for the first day…
Two final points:  Action and Intonation.  Action is the height of the strings above the frets.  I’m still not 100% sure what intonation is but it appears to be how well a guitar carries its notes up an down the neck on the same string.  If the “action” is too high, it is hard to press the string down at some locations.  This leads to you pressing harder and being painful – particularly for beginners – on your fingertips.  If the “action” is to low, you will get “buzzing” on multiple frets.  Problems with intonation turn up as incorrect notes as you move up and down the fretboard (neck).
I don’t really know enough about either topic to go into much depth as a reviewer.  I started off playing multiple (usually three) five(5) minute sessions a day for the first two weeks, and I stopped when my fingertips began to hurt.  The first week, I was very strict on the five minute time limit.  The second and third weeks was five (maybe ten) minutes.  After that another few weeks of thirty (30) minutes, but only once a day.  Now, I do mainly one session of an hour, but sometimes longer and sometimes (a couple of times) an hour multiple times in a day.  I stop when I tire, when I start to lose concentration, or when my fingers hurt.  Eventually, I will need (want) to buy a ruler (string gauge) to judge string height, but I seem to be okay for now.
I really can’t comment about intonation except to say the Snark likes the notes up and down the neck and the harmonics work at the 12th, 9th and 7th frets, so I think it (the intonation) must be pretty spot on.  If I learn more, I’ll revisit this…
So, there you have it.  My first impression and hardware review.  From here on, I watch A LOT more videos on looking at new kit, chords, scales, etc., but all of that will come later.  For the first day, I’m dead chuffed with my new toy!
It’s interesting how not knowing if ANY thing is terrible, bad, good or great really effects your attitude about an object.  Because I had no idea what to expect, the fact the guitar arrived early, and looks and sounds great, means I’m very happy with my “relatively” inexpensive first guitar.
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On This Day In:
2020 A Better Synthesis
2019 It’s Only Funny If You’re Old Enough To Know What “Film” Was
2018 Bourne Wicked Blonde
First Things First
2017 This Explains A Lot
2016 Me Too
2015 A Proper Price
2014 Well Hard
2013 Because I Can
Eloquence, n.
2012 Why Bother?
2011 Peculiar Notions

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[Disclaimer:  I have not received as a promotion any guitar or music related product, nor am I mentioning anything in this post to secure compensation / income for myself or the manufacturers of the products mentioned.  I am only posting about these items because I personally purchased them and am excited to be learning about music and playing guitar.   —    KMAB]
As I’ve posted a couple of times, I’ve decided to try to learn how to play a musical instrument and the one I’ve chosen is the guitar.  I’ve now completed just over four full months of learning / practice and I’ve missed a grand total of five days of practice.  (Full disclosure:  most of the first month was only 15 – 20 minutes a day to break in my fingertips.)
In January I bought my acoustic guitar (Orangewood: Austen).  It took about five days for delivery.  They actually promised two weeks delivery, so I was very happy with the speedy receipt.
I liked the guitar, but I was surprised by it.  It felt almost too light and too bulky.  I put it down to being inexpensive and me being overweight.  I bought what I thought would be a “starter” guitar for just under $200, in case (as my wife predicted) I was just going through another of my fads.
I soon noticed most of the YouTube videos I was watching to learn from were being taught on electric guitars.  So, I thought maybe I should see if I could pick up an inexpensive one of those as well.  It turns out, at just that time, I earned a $100 Amazon credit for taking some online surveys.  I watched a bunch of video recommendations and settled on a Glarry electric guitar (with gig bag, cable and amplifier) for $120 – including taxes and free shipping.  I ordered it on St. Patrick’s Day and received it two days later.  (There were / are some outstanding issues which I’ll cover in a later review / post.)
After the waiting period of our second vaccine shots, my wife and I visited our oldest daughter and her fiancé and he had JUST bought a banjo to learn how to play.  I noticed he had a small guitar standing in a corner and I asked: “What’s up with that?”  He replied it was a childhood present from his grand-father and he never learned how to play it.  I picked it up and noticed it was missing two strings.  He said it was okay because it was just a family gift which he carried around his whole life to remind him of his grand-dad.  I offered to re-string it for him if he loaned it to me.  And so I began learning about nylon string acoustic guitars…
I watched a bunch of videos and learned about nylon strings vs steel strings and how to restring a nylon.  I picked up some new strings and I also picked up some files to trim the frets – which were badly jutting out the sides and were quite sharp.  I tuned and stretched, tuned and stretched, tuned and stretched…  and eventually the strings got to the point where they were stable enough to stay in tune for more than a few minutes.  I then had to do this again for a few days.  Finally, I was able to pick up the guitar and it was near tune.  A quick tune, and it could be played.
What I discovered was the nylon strings were extremely forgiving for longer (over one hour) playing sessions and this guitar generated a vibration which was similar to the electric, but FAR more so.  It was almost sensory overload on my hands, arms, legs and chest.  You could FEEL this guitar!  It wasn’t just sound.  I decided right then, I had to have one just like it.
So, earlier this month I bought my third guitar.  I ordered it on 14 May around 4pm and received it the NEXT day before 2pm!!  It was not in tune, but I took care of that and within a few days it too had settled down into a playable instrument.  (I will also do a fuller review of this guitar in a later post.)
And, below is a picture of the guitar (and “gig” bag).  This guitar is “normally” $64, but it was on sale and I got an additional discount which brought my cost plus tax down to $42!!
Monoprice_Idyllwild_3-4_Classical_Nylon_Guitar_With_Gig_Bag
The guitar is “made” by Idyllwild, but “sold” by Monoprice – which is some kind of manufacturing / sales conglomerate.  It is a 3/4 size “classical” style guitar.  It is not quite the same as the one I re-strung, but it does have the marvelous “feel”.  Once it settled in (only a few days), I was able to play it for well over two hours with very little loss of tuning.
What does all this have to do with “changes”?  Well, I’ve decided “in for a penny, in for a pound” and I’m going to add some posts and pages to my blog chronicling my reviews and what I’m learning.  I don’t image much of this will be of use to anyone, but I am interested in how far along a rank beginner with NO musical training can get by learning off of YouTube as inexpensively as is practicable – and as an exercise, I’d like to share this experience via my blogging.  So, in a bit, I’ll be adding a “guitar” / music page to my menu to cover all things related to my learning guitar:  guitars, prices, classes / videos / books, accessories, (minor) luthiering / repairs, etc.
I hope some of you will be able to share some of my excitement in this discovery and learning process.  I feel as if a whole world is opening up before my eyes and at my fingertips!  Stay tuned…
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On This Day In:
2020 Remembering…
You KNEW That Man Was Trippin’
2019 Kingslanding
2018 I’d Bet On Taxes
Ooops! I Spoke Too Soon
2017 A Cautionary Wish
2016 Slogging
It’s About…
Man / Man
2015 Memorial Day – 2015
Content People Love To Share
2014 I Resemble That Remark
2013 Long Range Exploration
2012 UBI
2011 Opportunity

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2034: A Novel of the Next World War”  (2021©)  —  book review
The book subject to today’s review was written by Elliot Ackerman, James Stavridis Admiral USN (ret.).  Ackerman is a former White House Fellow and decorated Marine veteran.  Stavridis is, of course, best known as a four-star Admiral and former Supreme Allied Commander of NATO.  Ackerman is a working journalist / opinion writer and both are authors of multiple books.  That’s pretty much their bonafides for writing a “future – history” about world war / combat.
This novel is set thirteen years in the future.  Putin is still in charge of Russia.  The U.S. has a female President from an Independent party.  And, we don’t really know much about anyone else in charge around the world.  We know China is pushing its claims in the northern Pacific, yet Taiwan remains an independent “nation” state.  India has somehow “resolved” the Pakistan issue in its favor, but we don’t know what that means for either India or Pakistan.  NATO is in disarray without strong U.S. leadership.  And, finally, Iran has had some success against Israel.  What isn’t exactly made clear, except Iran has somehow “freed” the Golan Heights.
Background:  The first third of this book was published as a special “full dedicated issue” recently in Wired magazine, which I subscribe to.  I have read EVERY issue of the magazine since inception back in 1993.  The company I worked for back in 2000 had all of the back issues on a shelf and I would “borrow” them one at a time, read cover to cover and then bring them back.  As far as I know, no one else EVER read any of them, as once I was hired, I kept the current ones on my desk and no one ever asked for them.  Shortly before leaving the company, I got a personal subscription and have continued reading them for the last 20 years.  Anyway, Wired‘s issue left you hanging with the promise of a future novel publication in March 2021.  My review is of the full publication.  This book was one of two I received as a birthday present from my wife.
And,…  This book is about a military conflict between China and the United States.  Supposedly, China is an ascending world power and the U.S. is a descending / failing world power.  China stages a confrontation in order to demonstrate its military superiority – and the world slips into war.
Is the book interesting?  Informative?  Entertaining?  Accurate – technologically, politically or militarily?  Is it worth the time to read it?  To be honest, the magazine promised more than the book delivered.  The answer to all five of those questions is mostly so-so…
It is a fast read at barely over 300 pages.  The problem is there isn’t much there – there.  I don’t know how much (if any) current military capability Ackerman has access to.  It is a given (to me) that Stavridis would have had nearly unlimited access (pre-retirement anyway).  The problem is, of course, the book would have had to be submitted to and cleared through State and DOD before it was published and neither agencies (nor the authors) would have been inclined to offer much useful information in a novel.
With nothing but the most general capabilities described we get a lot of implausible “magic” technology under the guise of “AI” (Artificial Intelligence) which seems to work perfectly and then not at all.  We get very poor strategic decisions / action by the U.S.; we get some oversimplification of other technologies (overseas internet cabling);  side tracks by Russia and Iran, which seem to have been added to make the conflict global rather than China vs. U.S.;  and then we get a couple of miracles at the end by India to conclude the novel / war.  That pretty much covers the “informative and accuracy” portion of this review.
What about interesting and entertaining?  Again, so-so…  There are five main characters: female American Admiral, male American fighter pilot, male American (Indian immigrant) NSC advisor, male Iranian officer (he ends up with various ranks), and the main Chinese (half-American) Admiral.  The story is told from each of their viewpoints.  (Yes, there are also another handful of secondary but important characters, but this is really about the big five.)
The problem I had was the number of characters made for a long, deep story which developed each character to the point where you cared about them without giving away too much plot / ending.  Unfortunately, this book is neither long nor deep, which meant you almost cared, but not quite.  And, again unfortunately, it was almost entirely predictable and therefore, while I finished feeling entertained, I didn’t feel satisfied – emotionally or intellectually.
Then is it worth your time, then?  Yes!  It raises the interesting question if military technology is useful if it is subject to (can be negated by) a less expensive counter-measure.  In this case, the apparent answer is that if the elephant is blinded, it is still an elephant and not easily overwhelmed.
Final recommendation: moderate to strong.  This is not Tom Clancy or Sir John Hackett level political, military or strategy writing, but I did find it entertaining even if not informative or militarily consistent.  I’m grateful to have received it as a present, because I’d have waited for the paperback or a very reduced price before buying it myself.  So I got to read something almost literally hot off the presses…
Final disclaimer:  I purchased this book at normal / sale price and no compensation has been provided to me by anyone for my opinions in this review.
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On This Day In:
2020 First Buds
To Fly
2019 What If Nobody Believes Them Either
2018 It’s About Heart Not Skill
2017 Winning So Much I’m Already Tired Of It (Not)
2016 Punishing Red Binge
2015 Bits In The Soup
2014 More Beef, Less Bull
2013 Where Are Your Mountains
2012 Spherical Knowledge Of Hamsters
2011 Taking Stock Over Time

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