The 9 best nonfiction history audiobooks you can get right now - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY MOVIES

The 9 best nonfiction history audiobooks you can get right now

Finding the best nonfiction audiobooks available is no small task. Listeners run the risk of discovering, hours into their audiobook, that they haven’t absorbed any of the information — so, choosing an audiobook with an engaging story and narrator is key. These are some of the best history and nonfiction audiobooks we’ve found while listening.


1. The Greatest Generation, by Tom Brokaw

The 9 best nonfiction history audiobooks you can get right now

This book tells the stories of the individual men and women who made up one of the most tumultuous generations of America. These people made it through the Great Depression and World War II, then went on to help build modern America.

Written and narrated by journalist Tom Brokaw, The Greatest Generation pays a small tribute to the people who fought and paid the price to create a stronger and more lasting country that we all have the pleasure of living in today. If, like so many others, Brokaw’s voice was a soothing nightly presence in your household during his 20+ years on air, The Greatest Generation will bring you back to a different time in many ways.

2. SPQR, by Mary Beard

The 9 best nonfiction history audiobooks you can get right now

SPQR is the history of Rome unlike you’ve ever seen it before. Mary Beard’s sweeping examination of the birth and growth of an empire which remains at the forefront of history will leave readers speechless. She unearths centuries of unexplored narratives and sheds light on some of the most peculiar aspects of this history. Beard pays nuanced attention to individual stories, cultural struggles, and exposes groups of people who have been excluded from history for decades.

The title is an abbreviation for the Latin phrase which translates to “The Roman Senate and People” still used today as an emblem for Roman government. Beard focuses on an under-noticed aspect of the Roman empire — its growth, rather than its decline — to show just why Rome will never lose its grasp over history lovers.

3. Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption, Laura Hillenbrand

The 9 best nonfiction history audiobooks you can get right now

With his eyes set on the Olympics, Louis Zamperini never thought he’d be gearing up to join the war, and he certainly never imagined ending up drifting in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

Louis, often a problem child, learned to channel his less productive energy into running. Laura Hillenbrand tells of Louis’s legendary story of heroics, defiance, and bravery. He withstood all odds, and his is a story you won’t want to miss. Read by Edward Herrmann (Gilmore Girls), the audiobook is urgent and enthralling.

Also read: The 5 best military books of 2017

4. A History of the World, by Andrew Marr

The 9 best nonfiction history audiobooks you can get right now

In 2012, the BBC released an eight-part miniseries condensing the history of the world into a thrilling eight hours. Marr, a beloved historian in the UK, had previously written two best-selling histories of Great Britain. With A History of the World, and its accompanying book, Marr dives into the rest of the world, eschewing the typical Eurocentric approach.

Overflowing with vibrant language and a plethora of stories you’ve probably never heard, Marr manages to string together connections between seemingly completely unrelated stories in distant parts of the world. Renowned for his ability to make history accessible to the everyday reader, Marr will enchant listeners with this take on history.

5. Flags of Our Fathers, James Bradley

The 9 best nonfiction history audiobooks you can get right now

Flags of our Fathers tells the story of perhaps the most famous event in U.S. military history: the attack on Iwo Jima. He sheds light on the men who lived to tell their stories and those who didn’t. Bradley’s father was one of the six men who raised the flag now represented by a monument in the nation’s capital and one of the three of those men who survived the following battles.

The audiobook of Flags of Our Fathers is narrated by Stephen Hoye, a seasoned audiobook reader who has won a number of awards for his narrations. If you’re looking to encounter a classic WWII tale read by an expert narrator, this is the audiobook for you.

6. Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, by Yuval Noah Harari

The 9 best nonfiction history audiobooks you can get right now

Why did Homo sapiens emerge on top? How did our foraging ancestors grow to create the booming metropolis seen today? Dr. Yuval Noah Harari traces where humankind has been in an attempt to discover where we might go. He looks into everything from devastating catastrophes to monumental discoveries that changed the course of history. He dives deeper than the concrete facts, examining happiness, personalities, and ways of living. And perhaps most importantly, he tries to answer the overarching question: Is there anything we can do to change the future? Narrator Derek Perkins delivers Sapiens confidently and engagingly.

7. Island of the Lost: Shipwrecked at the Edge of the World, Joan Druett

The 9 best nonfiction history audiobooks you can get right now

Just 285 miles south of New Zealand sits Auckland Island. Because of its location, it suffers a year-round onslaught of violent storms. On a strange day in 1864, two separate ships crashed on opposite sides of the island, making for a confrontation never before seen in the history of the island. For most, being stranded on the island spells certain death, but these two crews had another idea.

Joan Druett examines the journals of the survivors and maritime historical records previously unseen to tell a story about leadership, trust, and betrayal. The engrossing audiobook will keep you listening for hours.

Related: 7 amazing war books written by the men who fought there

8. Horse Soldiers: The Extraordinary Story of a Band of US Soldiers Who Rode to Victory in Afghanistan, by Doug Stanton

The 9 best nonfiction history audiobooks you can get right now

After 9/11 left the country in a scramble for justice, peace, and safety, a small group of Special Forces secretly entered Afghanistan. With nothing but the clothes on their backs and a small amount of weaponry, they set out to defeat the Taliban on horse. After an epic journey spanning across rigorous terrain, a series of deadly battles, and the capture of Mazar-i-Sharif, a major Afghani city, the plan for an enemy surrender is underway.

While at first the Special Forces soldiers were welcomed as heroes, things quickly took an unexpected turn. Six hundred Taliban troops ambushed the Horse Soldiers and the POWs they’d rescued. Overpowered and outnumber in every way possible, they fought for their lives, and to avoid capture. About to hit theaters as 12 Strong, the audiobook of this tale is well worth the listen.

9. Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI, by David Grann

The 9 best nonfiction history audiobooks you can get right now

In the 1920s, the Osage became the richest people per capita in the world. This tiny Indian Nation in Oklahoma discovered oil beneath their land and turned it into massive profits. They rode in chauffeured vehicles, built mansions, and sent their children to study in Europe. Sadly, and seemingly unavoidably, people arose to take advantage of the tribe, once one of the largest American Indian nations in the area. Mollie Burkhart watched her entire family murdered, and her case was just the beginning of the reign of terror.

David Grann’s investigation into the case was one of our favorite nonfiction reads of 2017, and the audiobook, which features a narrator for each section of the story, is perfectly produced.

MIGHTY MOVIES

Tim Abell — From US Army Ranger to acting in Hollywood, this vet has lived a life of adventure

Actor and former Army Ranger Tim Abell brings a unique approach to his profession where he has worked with some of Hollywood’s finest producers and directors. Abell joined the Army on the Delayed Entry Program while still attending high school. After graduating Abell served 4 years active duty from December 1976 through December 1980 with the elite units of the 2/75th Ranger Bn (now the 75th Ranger Reg) and the 3rd US Infantry (The Old Guard) Caissons. He additionally served 3 years in the reserves while attending the University of Maryland College Park.He became skilled as a horseman through his duty with, “The Old Guard” where he portrayed General Robert E. Lee and President and former Major General Andrew Jackson in dramatic reenactments such as “History of the United States Torch Light Tattoo” and a longer version titlted “The Spirit of America.” He has since acted in films such as “We Were Soldiers”, “Substitute 2: Failure is Not an Option”, and on TV shows including Jerry Bruckheimer’s “Soldier of Fortune”, “JAG”, “Criminal Minds”, “CSI:Miami”, “CSI:NY”, and “Sons of Anarchy.” He continues his work in the industry as an actor, producer and providing voice over work as well. 

  1. Can you share about your family and your life growing up?

At the age of 8 his parents divorced. Tim, his sister Debbie and brother Jay chose to stay with their father. Tim’s sister soon married and moved away, and Tim and his brother Jay grew up as “Latch Key kids.” Their Dad worked long hours at the Cadillac dealership while Jay and Tim were given the responsibility of making their own meals, vacuuming, and dusting the house, washing their clothes, and all of the years’ work too. They spent most weekends with their grandparents Pappy & Granny Abell where they learned to cook. Pap Abell , a WWI veteran, also taught them how to catch herring with a bamboo rod and a treble hook, how to pitch good motor parts at the junk yard, how to find and pick wild Blackberries quickly and efficiently so Granny could make us Blackberry pie and how to truly laugh and have a good time!

Abell says he wouldn’t change a thing growing up but, believes kids should have both a Mom and Dad in the  growing up if possible… he often wonders what his childhood would’ve been like had his parents stayed together.

Abell became self-sufficient at an early age. While growing up he reluctantly helped his Dad and brother work on cars over the weekend which his Dad called “Shade Tree” work to make extra money. His brother Jay loved helping his Dad work on cars, but Abell’s real passions lie elsewhere. His mind was on building large battlefields with his plastic army men or cleaning his old shotgun and hunting with his buddies in the nearby woods. 

Abell does come from a family rich in military service where his grandfather served in World War I and his great, great grandfather was a blacksmith for the 49th Virginia Infantry on the Confederate side in the Civil War. He found even more history on his grandfather’s mother’s side where his great, great grandfather named Jerome Laurence fought for the 65th Volunteers from Pennsylvania, which was a part of the 5th Regiment on the Union side in the Civil War. He has relatives that served even in the Spanish-American War and the Revolutionary War, which Abell describes as “cool.” Surprisingly, his brother tried to talk Abell out of going into the military even with such a rich military history in the family. 

Abell’s brother Jay, whom he always idolized, became an outstanding carpenter and gifted woodworker. Abell recalls his father being an awesome father and role model, who taught him responsibility, integrity and respect for his elders.

Abell played trombone and trumpet in elementary school but never really put the time and effort required to learn because he was so much more interested in hunting, shooting, and fishing with his pals and with his hunting mentor his “Uncle Bruce” a former Marine during the Korean War.

In junior high school Abell faced a new reality…. he faced adversity stemming from the racial tensions on the time exacerbated by school bussing. Abell’s hatred of bullies came from that troubled time…. seeing 12-year-old  kids beaten, robbed and humiliated and enduring some of the same himself just because of the color of one’s skin made Abell grow up in a different way. It made him learn to fight back and not be a victim, especially when his father told him to deal with it himself. So many life lessons learned from that era… “…you just go screw it I am taking this shit anymore. I am not letting myself get beat up without taking a couple of guys down with me. You know, pay the price….it’s wasn’t just about black and white it’s also about bullies in general. People that are unsavory people that can pick on the weak. I learned that across the board. I took that same experience into the Army.”

He remembers a fellow private in the Army at boot camp that would get picked on because he was, “easy prey.” While at boot camp the private would get bullied and beat up all the time. Abell did not like this kind of behavior. He came across the private being beaten up while in the bathroom at the rifle range complex. He confronted the attackers and told them to stop. He sent the private out of the bathroom and broke up the fight. Later that night the assailants from the bathroom confronted Abell outside of the barracks while he was walking with his fellow soldiers back from the Post Exchange. A fight ensued that was eventually broken up by the drill sergeants. It came to light what was happening among the platoon where the drill sergeants put a stop to it. Abell recalls the volatility of the situations he was in and how racial tensions flared going through entry-level indoctrination in the Army. As new soldiers all the men were still learning their new Army identity and to work as a team regardless of skin color or ethnicity. 

The 9 best nonfiction history audiobooks you can get right now

Abell during his time in the Army. Photo courtesy of Tim Abell. 

  1. What made you want to become a Ranger and what was your experience like?

Abell attributes his desire to become a Ranger from his avid reading habit and loving military biographies where he read a book in his junior year of high school named “The Green Berets” by Robin Moore. The movie starring John Wayne titled “The Green Berets” is based on Moore’s book where Abell loves the film as well. He initially wanted to be a Green Beret where told the Army recruiter the same thing. He wanted to the join the Army to do something he could only do in the Army, “…like be a Special Forces guy.” The recruiter could get him a slot as a Ranger, but not as a Green Beret, so he went with going in the Army to be a Ranger. Abell wanted to be tested as a man and see if could he handle that stress. He says, “…I loved being in the Ranger Battalion.” He describes it as a “wonderful experience” in his life with “camaraderie” and enjoyed the “people he met” where he was “pushed to be his best.” 

The 9 best nonfiction history audiobooks you can get right now

Robin Moore’s book “The Green Berets.” Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.com.

He still remains close with his pals from that time period and he felt invincible as a young Ranger. Abell believes life is about testing yourself and finding out about what you are made of. He remains grateful of his success and his place in life the older he gets. Words of wisdom he lives by are, “How you perceive a situation influences how you respond to it.” He remains grateful in situations, even those that may seem arduous, which allows him to keep a level head. He goes by a phrase, “…embracing the suck,” when it comes to facing tough times on set or in life. 

The 9 best nonfiction history audiobooks you can get right now

Abell center of picture (to the left of the African American Ranger in the center) with his Ranger class RC 5-78. Photo courtesy of Tim Abell.

And Abell still embraces the Ranger Creed which he had to learn by heart as a Ranger.

The Ranger Creed

Recognizing that I volunteered as a Ranger, fully knowing the hazards of my chosen profession, I will always endeavor to uphold the prestige, honor, and high esprit de corps of the Rangers.

Acknowledging the fact that a Ranger is a more elite soldier who arrives at the cutting edge of battle by land, sea, or air, I accept the fact that as a Ranger my country expects me to move further, faster and fight harder than any other soldier.

Never shall I fail my comrades. I will always keep myself mentally alert, physically strong and morally straight and I will shoulder more than my share of the task whatever it may be, one hundred percent and then some.

Gallantly will I show the world that I am a specially selected and well-trained soldier. My courtesy to superior officers, neatness of dress and care of equipment shall set the example for others to follow.

Energetically will I meet the enemies of my country. I shall defeat them on the field of battle for I am better trained and will fight with all my might. Surrender is not a Ranger word. I will never leave a fallen comrade to fall into the hands of the enemy and under no circumstances will I ever embarrass my country.

Readily will I display the intestinal fortitude required to fight on to the Ranger objective and complete the mission though I be the lone survivor.

Rangers Lead The Way!!!

  1. What are you most proud of from your service in the Army?

What I’m most proud of stems from Gen Abrams and the Abrams Charter. The Abrams Charter stated that the obligation for Rangers is to “Lead the Way” for the entire Army. In the Ranger Bn., the more senior Rangers set the example for the younger Rangers who had just graduated  from RIP (Ranger Indoctrination Program) to follow. Always leading by example. The new Rangers learned very quickly what was expected of the in order to be a part of this elite group of Soldiers. To live up to the high standards and esprit de corps was not always an easy task. But more importantly the Abrams Charter spoke to those 75th Rangers who would set the example for the soldiers in the big Army after they left the Rangers.

So, when Abell was assigned to the 3rd US Infantry (The Old Guard) Caissons, he knew that he could be an asset as well as a role model to his fellow Old Guard soldiers. He was able to share his Ranger training and experience while being the NCOIC of the Expert Infantry Badge (EIB) Movement Under Direct Fire course at Ft. AP Hill. Abell’s station was a highlight of the EIB training due to the  rigorous and realistic training Abell put the Old Guard soldiers through.

The 9 best nonfiction history audiobooks you can get right now

Abell (center) in “Sniper: Special Ops.” Photo courtesy of IMDB.com.

  1. What values have you carried over from the Army into Hollywood? 

Abell is grateful for his life experiences…especially in the Army. He brought discipline over to his Hollywood career. W/O discipline he has seen people fall off into the abyss of drinking, drugs, partying and sex…. some with fatal consequences.

He believes good judgement is vital. Character integrity and leadership are important as well. Abell says as a civilian he always refers to the Ranger Creed in tough times, which helps carry him forward and stay on track.

Abell hosted the “Grateful Nation” tv series on the Outdoor Channel for 10 seasons where he helped tell the story of our returning war veterans…. many of whom needed to find a new Mission & Purpose in life after the military in order to find happiness… if not then it was a slippery slope for many veterans who find it too easy to just take their meds, drink a fifth of booze, play video games and start thinking stupid thoughts…. but Abell found that many veterans who found that new mission and purpose saved their own lives as well as inspiring other veterans to do the same.

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Abell (right) while serving with “The Old Guard.” Photo courtesy of Tim Abell.

  1. What project did you most enjoy doing while working in Hollywood?

Abell most enjoyed playing USMC Scout/Sniper SSG Benny Ray Riddle in Jerry Bruckheimer’s syndicated tv series “Soldier of Fortune inc.” It was a role where Abell could utilize all of his military and even use some of his old Ranger gear to bring and authenticity to Benny Ray whom was an amalgamation of more than a a few of the hardcore leaders he was led by as a young Ranger.

Abell also loved playing SFC Vic Mosby in the action film “Sniper Special Ops” starring Steven Seagal and Dale Dye, directed and written by his pal and  Navy Veteran Fred Olen Ray. This was a role the director had written specifically for Abell who was quite honored by his friends’ trust to carry his film in a starring role.

“ Circus Kane ” was Abells first foray into a feature length horror film directed by Navy Veteran Christopher Ray. Abell underwent 5 plus hours of prosthetics makeup to create Balthazar Kane. Abell felt like he was channeling Rob Zombie in a Circus of Horrors as the Ringmaster!  The director allowed Abell to use all of his creative abilities to bring Kane to life on the screen. 

And Soldier of God is still one of Abell’s favorite projects that he starred in and helped produce. He plays Rene’ a Knights Templar who is separated from his men after the Battle at The Horne\s of Hattin… Rene becomes a warrior

in search of a war… a warrior questioning his faith. It’s a film with so much beauty  yet so much darkness.

The 9 best nonfiction history audiobooks you can get right now

Abell in “Soldier of God.” Photo courtesy of IMDB.com.  

The 9 best nonfiction history audiobooks you can get right now

Abell as “Balthazar Kane” in “Circus Kane.” Photo courtesy of IMDB.com. 

The 9 best nonfiction history audiobooks you can get right now

Abell (far left) for MOH Dinner and Gala, with Special Agent Tim Clemente, MOH Col. Bruce Crandall, USA and with Matthew Mardsen. Photo courtesy of IMDB.com.

  1. What was it like working on such projects as We Were Soldiers, Soldiers of Fortune, JAG, NCIS, CSI:NY, CSI: Miami, Criminal Minds and the like? 

As Benny Ray Riddle in “Soldier of Fortune, Inc.” Abell played a USMC Scout/Sniper. Abell did extensive research for his character who was the quintessential sniper and Marine. A stoic man who loved his job and was the best at what he did . Navy SEAL Harry Humphries who was the Technical Advisor for SOF series linked Abell up with SEAL Steve Bailey at NSW Coronado for some training. Abell’s SF buddy, Matt Anderson, created Benny Ray’s Sniper Range book that Abell used on the show. It all came down to attention to detail in creating Benny Ray so that if military types watched the series Benny Ray would be believable and authentic to them. Abell recently did a short film called “Father and Sons” with pal Michael Broderick, Vernon Mortenson and Ryan Curtis. All veterans. The film was based on characters from author and Navy SEAL Jack Carr’s books. Abell says, “what is cool is Jack sent me a few of his books and sent a note saying he was a fan of the “Soldier of Fortune, Inc” series especially Benny Ray Riddle who was also a sniper like him! Jack said he and his pals would watch the show to get fired up!” That was a great compliment to hear from a SEAL sniper and operator like Jack Carr…. Abell’s preparation was not in vain.

Tim has played a member of every armed forces branch in film and tv …. he even played a Coast Guard pilot in a commercial. He finds a lot of similarities among military roles and in the research he has done. It is in the little differences between each branch he finds diversity. He supports veterans as a member of VME to help those new to the acting biz.

Abell loved working on “We Were Soldiers.” It was his first big studio film and working with Mel Gibson and Sam Elliott was a dream come true.

Working on JAG was an outstanding experience! Abell loved working with Jon Jackson and Catherine Bell!

Abell said, “Mark Harmon was a real pleasure to watch work and work with…. I’ve learned so much from working with and observing great actors like Joe Mantegna on “Criminal Minds” and Gary Sinise.”

The 9 best nonfiction history audiobooks you can get right now

Abell as “Benny Ray Riddle” in Jerry Bruckheimer’s “Soldier of Fortune, Inc” TV show.

The 9 best nonfiction history audiobooks you can get right now

Abell in “Angels and Fire.” Photo courtesy of IMDB.com.

  1. What leadership lessons in life and from the Army have helped you most in your career?

Abell has also brought a perspective of maturity over from the Rangers. If he auditions for a part and doesn’t get it, he moves on. He focuses on the positive, processes what he needs to, and refuses to let a rejection be a devastating blow to his career. When in acting classes, he takes notes from the acting teacher, integrates them as needed and moves forward. He won’t argue with the acting teacher over opinions or comments, he takes the note and stays professional. Same as would be done in training where constructive criticism is taken in stride and you improve your performance the next time around. He appreciates honesty and directness in his professional work. While studying acting at the Studio Theater in DC, he most appreciated the feedback from Joy Zinoman, who was one of the professors at the theater. He shies away from talking about his abilities on or off set, where he prefers to assess the situation and quietly lead by example where it counts. He sets a standard like how he did as an NCO in the Rangers in his work in Hollywood. 

He overlooks negative reviews where some of the critics have bad things to say about the projects he works on. He keeps complaints to himself and tries to find ways to fix challenges that are ahead. Abell wants to accomplish the mission on set. He still uses his military discipline in preparing for roles and in his work as an actor. He likes to ask the question to young actors on set, “What have you done today to be a better actor?” Where many times the young actors don’t have a coherent or logical reply to the question. Preparation is key to Abell’s success and stems from his upbringing and time in the service. Abell said, “…I take all those things I learned being in the military and being a Ranger. It’s like being prepared, not being a whiner, taking responsibility for myself, having a mission and purpose everyday when I wake up in the morning.”

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Abell (center, left) with his fellow castmates on “Soldier of Fortune, Inc.” Photo courtesy of Tim Abell.

  1. As a service, how do we get more veteran stories told in the Hollywood arena?

Abell believes having more writers with military experience are needed to get veteran stories told more in the industry. He relies on his belief that a person may be a veteran, but that does not preclude them to only writing stories on the military. They are an individual with military experience that can write anything they want to write. Writers with military experience have a vast life experience from which to draw upon, some of which may come from having served. Abell references fellow veteran and Army Ranger Brian Hanson’s film “The Black String” which is a horror film without any ties to the military. The film was produced by Grindstone and has been released on VOD and DVD starring Frankie Muniz from “Malcolm in the Middle” fame. Just because a writer is a veteran does not mean they are not capable of writing a story completely independent of the military.  

The 9 best nonfiction history audiobooks you can get right now

Abell (second from the left) and his squad mates training while serving with the 2nd Ranger Battalion on an artic field operation near the Canadian border. Photo courtesy of Tim Abell. 

  1. What would you like to do next in your career?

Abell says, “I would love to be on a network or HBO or Showtime series and get to play a character again for three, four or five years where you just get to develop that character over the long haul.” He wants to delve in and build a character with depth. He also looks forward to working on a series again with great people where they make a show that moves people. 

He recalls fan mail from across the world for his role on “Soldier of Fortune” where the show affected people’s lives. Abell has received fan mail that would be up to five pages long about how people were inspired by his character to become a sniper in the military in their country. People created a life based on a character Abell portrayed, which surprised him. Playing evil or hard characters are what most actors are remembered for where it is difficult to develop such characters and find redeeming traits to portray on screen in them. 

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Abell with MOH recipient SFC Leroy Petry, USA.

  1. What are you most proud of in life and your career?

Abell is proud of service to the United States to serve as a Ranger and serve with “The Old Guard.” He is proud of his children and their successes in life as well. He is grateful for having made men out of his boys and for the example they set today. He is proud of being an American as well. Abell says, “…I have been all over the world and this is the greatest country in the world…that we have so many young men and women that are willing to join the military and sign that blank check for their life… I applaud them all.”

MIGHTY MOVIES

Steven Seagal is Russia’s new envoy to the United States

Many Russia-watchers are questioning or making light of the Foreign Ministry’s surprise appointment of Steven Seagal as a special envoy for humanitarian ties with the United States — but not the action-film actor himself.

“I take this honour very seriously,” Seagal tweeted late on Aug 5, a day after the Russian Foreign Ministry announced the appointment on Facebook.


Seagal, who has warm ties with President Vladimir Putin and was granted Russian citizenship in 2016, said he was “deeply humbled and honoured” by the appointment.

“I hope we can strive for peace, harmony, and positive results in the world,” Seagal wrote.

Seagal, 66, starred in Hollywood action movies such as Above The Law (1988), Hard To Kill (1990), and Under Siege (1992). His films were popular in the Soviet Union and then in Russia and other ex-Soviet republics.

Seagal has vehemently defended Putin’s policies, including Moscow’s 2014 annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea Peninsula, along with criticizing the U.S. government.

Kyiv last year banned Seagal from entering Ukraine for five years, citing what it said were national security grounds.

The Russian Foreign Ministry statement said that Seagal’s task will be to “foster the further development of Russian-American relations in the humanitarian sphere, including interactions in… culture, the arts, public and youth exchanges, and so forth.”

The position is not paid and will be similar to the United Nations’ goodwill ambassador positions, the statement said.

This article originally appeared on Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Follow @RFERL on Twitter.

MIGHTY MOVIES

This Marine turned from scout sniper to singer songwriter

You know the old saying, “don’t judge a book by its cover”?  That’s precisely what you should remember when you meet singer-songwriter, Brandon Mills.


The six-foot-tall dirty blonde haired blue-eyed Mills isn’t just another pretty face; behind those blue eyes, there is a bad ass who was once known as Sergeant Brandon Lanham, Marine Corps reconnaissance scout sniper.

He goes by Mills because, as he puts it, “Mills is my middle name, all my favorite singer songwriter’s names are 3 syllables, not sure why but I think there is a method to their madness.”

Mills joined the Marine Corps with his brother and they attended boot camp together and were later reunited in the Recon community.

The 9 best nonfiction history audiobooks you can get right now
Photo courtesy of Brandon Mills.

Mills served his first tour in Afghanistan with Golf Co. 2nd Battalion 3rd Marines out of Hawaii. After some continued motivation from his brother, he took the leap, passed the requirements and indoctrination process, and got to 1st Recon Battalion, with whom he would deploy to his second tour in Iraq.

Also read: This musician and veteran invented Jell-O shots to beat base alcohol rules

All along the way, Mills was writing lyrics and honing his craft as a musician.

“I just wanted to travel and play music for everyone,” Mills said about his desire to perform.

“My youngest memory of recorded music is a Beach Boys greatest hits tape that I spent my lawn mowing money on,” reflects Mills as he explains his earliest passion for music that has stuck with him since playing the saxophone in school.

The love of music and the desire to create it has been a lifelong aspiration for Mills even before he joined, so it would make sense that he leave the Marine Corps and become a musician. Right?

The 9 best nonfiction history audiobooks you can get right now
(Photo courtesy of Brandon Mills)

Even after all his success and accolades in the Corps, Mills was not ready to aimlessly jump straight into the music scene when he left the Marines. He admits he was nervous — even scared — to chase the dream without a safety net, so he did what many Veterans do: he became a contractor.

Eventually, the bug bit harder and he found it impossible to not take the risk and pursue his true first love.

Now managing his own gigs, website, and social media, Mills has made his transition from Marine to musician rather successfully.

The 9 best nonfiction history audiobooks you can get right now
(Photo courtesy of Brandon Mills)

He has played shows all over the country, supporting non-profits like Intersections International, Force Blue, and Society of Artistic Veterans. He has recorded several tracks and even shot a few music videos of himself performing.

Recently Mills finished a residency at Umami burger in Brooklyn and Manhattan, “That was just me hustling, literally going from business to business asking, do you guys do live music? If not, why? If you do, how do I get involved?”

That’s the work ethic and resolve all warriors take to their tasks.

(Brandon Mills | YouTube)It might go without saying that the persistence, determination, and even stubbornness are strong character traits in most, if not all, of our elite warriors.

You don’t make it into our military’s special units without being resilient, steadfast, and dedicated — Mills without a doubt carries those same values and characteristics into his music career.

I asked Mills if the transition was hard, going from stone cold warrior to writing and performing love songs. I wondered if there was any identity crisis there and how he dealt with it.

Also read: 8 songs that are essential to any successful military convoy

He explained that it was difficult dealing with other ideas of masculinity and letting that warrior machismo block his flow, but he has learned to temper those instincts and allow himself to feel the positive vibes and let his creativity through, not worrying about what others think and only focusing on great storytelling through song.

I don’t think Brandon would mind the comparison of his sound being somewhere between John Mayer in his vocal delivery and Jack Johnson in his light-hearted muted acoustic.  Mills’ vocals have that bluesy, gravely register that urges the listener to lean in and feel the lyrics, while his guitar style is playful and rhythmic like a campfire sing-a-long.

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(Photo courtesy of Brandon Mills)

Mills isn’t commercially successful yet, or famous for that matter; however, he understands that it’s a long road in the music industry, requiring a ton of work — but he feels he has all that in him.

He wants to help veterans tell their stories through music and let them know that it’s okay to express themselves through art, using himself as an example. Brandon’s music is all about spreading positivity, uplifting spirits, and connecting people with passion.

“I hope that I can give some people what they need,” Mills said, when discussing his forthcoming album. “I’m so critical of myself, I know what I want — if it’s not good enough I will do it again.”

It’s relentless drive and focus like this that will push Mills into the spotlight, eventually.

The strength, tenacity, and perseverance saturated in his warrior spirit will undoubtedly meld with his passion and creativity to help Brandon Mills become a renowned singer-songwriter for years to come.

MIGHTY MOVIES

7 reasons ‘Top Gun’ should have been about Iceman

In 1986, Paramount released Top Gun, story about a hotshot Naval aviator named “Maverick” who had some extreme daddy issues. The film was action-packed with awesome dogfights and a classic rivalry.


Did you ever wonder how different Top Gun would have been if Iceman — Maverick’s only competition — was the star of the film?

We did and here are seven reasons why we think the movie should have been about Iceman.

1. We would have seen way more pen flipping.

There nothing more badass than a classic stare-down to start off an epic rivalry. But add in a slick gold pen being flipped through the fingers of a top-notch Naval aviator, and you have the coolest introduction to a character (pun intended).

2. There would have been way more classic insults.

Let’s face it, Maverick wasn’t known for his sh*t talking other than “flipping off” an enemy pilot while being inverted — but Iceman was pretty damn good at it.

“The plaque for the for the alternates is down in the ladies room.” — Iceman

3. Top Gun would have had way more sex scenes in it — and they wouldn’t have been in complete darkness.

Iceman wasn’t looking to hook up with an instructor — he was much more interested in every single girl that was near the base.

 

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Iceman wears sunglasses at night — and he totally pulls it off. (Source: Paramount/ Screenshot)

4. They would have finished the iconic volleyball game since Iceman is no quitter.

Need we say more?

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Iceman even makes spinning a volleyball look cool. (Source: Paramount/ Screenshot)

5. No one would have traumatized over Goose’s death.

It would have just been another accident from a “military exercise” resulting in a fatality. That is all.

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(Source: Paramount/ Screenshot)

6. Iceman and Maverick would have totally got into a fistfight.

Do you really think Maverick could have beaten Iceman in a brawl? Well, if Iceman was the star of the movie, we probably would have found out for sure.

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Iceman doesn’t back down from a fight unless it’s with the star of the movie. (Source: Paramount/ Screenshot)

7. The Top Gun graduation would have been shown since Iceman did beat out Maverick.

We think it would have been cool to know how he got the gold pen he was flipping around his fingers earlier — he might have told the story during his plaque presentation.

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Why is no one talking about the hot girl in the background? Oh that’s right, because Maverick needs attention. (Source: Paramount/ Screenshot)

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5 ‘Game of Thrones’ battles and massacres based on real history

Warning: “Game of Thrones” spoilers ahead.


  • HBO’s “Game of Thrones” includes numerous historical allusions.
  • Some of the references are more obvious than others.
  • “A Song of Ice and Fire” author George R.R. Martin has frequently expressed his own interest in history.

As they say, truth is often stranger than fiction.

That’s something that “A Song of Ice and Fire” author George R.R. Martin — whose work was adapted into HBO’s hit series “Game of Thrones — clearly understands.

Related: 7 reasons the Night’s Watch is basically the French Foreign Legion

In one interview with author Bernard Cornwell, Martin even said that “the historical novel and the epic fantasy are sisters under the skin.”

So it’s not surprising that his most famous work is chock full of historical allusions.

Here are just a few historical references included in “Game of Thrones”:

The fight between the Starks and the Lannisters should ring a bell for any medieval scholar

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HBO

The War of the Roses might not have a terribly intimidating name, but it was a bloody conflict that sent England spiraling into disunity and chaos during the latter part of the fifteenth century.

The war was primarily fought between the House of York and the House of Lancaster.

Sound familiar?

Like their fictional counterparts, the Lancaster faction won the war after much death and scheming.

However, ultimately, it was the House of Tudor that prevailed and won the throne. They adopted the Tudor rose as their emblem, a combination of the white rose of York and the red rose of Lancaster.

The Battle of the Bastards is a twist on a famous Carthaginian victory

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HBO

“The Battle of the Bastards,” which saw the noble-hearted Jon Snow face off against the wicked Ramsay Bolton, was one of the most raved-about episodes of season 6.

The numerous immersive, intense battle scenes kicked this episode into high gear for many viewers.

The whole thing also likely looked rather familiar to classical scholars.

That’s because the showrunners mirrored the whole clash on the Battle of Cannae, as Kristen Acuna wrote for Tech Insider.

That famous 216 CE battle is now regarded as one of the most impressive tactical victories of all time. After spending two years rampaging about the Italian peninsula, Carthaginian leader Hannibal Barca cemented his status as a military legend by surrounding and defeating his enemies with a much smaller force.

Ramsay’s forces used a similar pincer movement during the Battle of the Bastards. Jon was ultimately able to subvert the historical model and break free of Ramsay’s circle of death, with the help of reinforcements from the Eyrie.

In Hannibal’s case, the Roman legions were butchered, leaving up to 70,000 dead, including Roman consul Lucius Aemilius Paullus.

Paullus’ son-in-law Scipio Africanus would ultimately defeat Hannibal once and for all at Zama.

The Boltons share their habit of skinning people alive with an ancient regime

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HBO

Getting flayed alive is probably one of the worst ways to go out.

So it’s no surprise that skinning people was a favorite past-time of Ramsay Bolton — one of the worst characters to ever grace the small screen.

But this antagonist’s gruesome hobby didn’t simply come from the dark side of Martin’s imagination.

In fact, one ancient kingdom was famous for skinning its enemies.

According to the blog History Buff, the Assyrian King Ashurnasirpal II claimed to have “flayed as many nobles as had rebelled against me and draped their skins over the pile of corpses; some I spread out within the pile, some I erected on stakes upon the pile … I flayed many right through my land and draped their skins over the walls.”

Yikes.

Westeros’ colossal ice wall has a real-world counterpart

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HBO

Martin first thought of the Wall on a trip to Scotland.

“I stood on Hadrian’s Wall and tried to imagine what it would be like to be a Roman soldier sent here from Italy or Antioch,” Martin told the SF Site. “To stand here, to gaze off into the distance, not knowing what might emerge from the forest.”

Hadrian’s Wall was hardly an imposing ice wall. And it didn’t protect England from scary, winter zombies. Construction on it began in 122 CE, ostensibly to separate the Romans from the native Britons.

The blog “The History Behind Game of Thrones” explains that the Westerosi Wall and the initial treatment of the Wildlings mirrors “the Roman perception of the native Britons as the ‘Other’ — a distancing strategy employed to dehumanize, alienate, exclude and justify ill treatment of groups outside of one’s own.”

There have been several Red Wedding-style attacks throughout the centuries

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The Red Wedding traumatized fans, and will likely be remembered as the bloodiest, most harrowing party to ever grace television.

A strikingly similar attack took place in Ireland in 1574.

An Irish chieftain named Sir Brian mac Felim Ó Néill ruled over the kingdom of Clannabuidhe and had previously been knighted by the English Crown. When he lost the Queen’s favor, he began to fight against the English invaders. Eventually, however, he invited Walter Devereux, the Earl of Essex, to his castle to discuss peace terms over a Christmas feast, according to Wayne E. Lee’s “Barbarians and Brothers.”

At the Earl’s signal, Sir Brian, his wife, and the rest of his family were seized, while 200 of their followers were indiscriminately slaughtered.

Sir Brian Ó Néill and his family were all subsequently executed.

A similar situation occurred in Scotland, during the 1692 Massacre of Glencoe.

Captain Robert Campbell and 120 of his men were given hospitality at Clan MacDonalds’ castle. After two weeks, a message arrived ordering Campbell to attack, according to Britannica.

One winter’s night, the soldiers played cards with their victims and bid them pleasant dreams, as usual. Then they massacred all the MacDonald men they could find, including the chief.

Another Red Wedding-esque incident — the similarly-named Black Dinner — went down in Scotland in 1440. Advisers of the 10-year-old King James II grew concerned that Clan Douglas was growing too bold and powerful, according to the Week.

These advisers invited the 16-year-old Earl of Douglas and his younger brother to come over to Edinburgh Castle. The king and the Douglases had an enjoyable time. Nothing seemed amiss.

Then, at the end of the dinner, the severed head of a bull — a symbol of Clan Douglas — was tossed on the table. Like the “Rains of Castamere” at the Red Wedding, this was the signal. Much to the young king’s horror, his two friends were dragged outside, put through a mock trial, and decapitated.

MIGHTY MOVIES

We Are The Mighty screens ‘Kilo Two Bravo’ for enthusiastic crowd

“[Kilo Two Bravo is] less about the flag for which these men may die but the weary bravery they must summon to survive.”

Miami Herald, 4/5 stars


 

We Are The Mighty hosted a screening of the war film “Kilo Two Bravo” at the Lido theater in Newport, CA on November 10. Described as “the most honest and unflinching look at the reality and brutality of war”, the film was well received by the 200-some people in attendance.

“Kilo Two Bravo” tells the true story of a platoon on a mission to neutralize a Taliban roadblock in the Kajaki region of Afghanistan. While closing in on the insurgents, the unit find themselves marooned in the middle of a minefield, setting in motion a desperate rescue mission. This taut thriller tells the story of heroism, courage and survival and captures what war is like for those fighting it in the 21st Century.

“Kilo Two Bravo” is now in theaters and available on iTunes.

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The top 007 Reasons why James Bond is the worst spy ever

James Bond has long been the most famous “secret agent” out there. Everyone knows James Bond, and it is rare to meet someone who hasn’t seen at least one of the films. Like with most films of that kind, there are a lot of issues with the character and storylines in general. Take for instance the fact that they call him a “secret agent” when he is in fact an Intelligence Officer. Add to that he doesn’t have a line manager, but instead somehow reports directly to the head of MI-6. Then there is the reality that a “license to kill” doesn’t really exist. Despite these tiny issues with details, the films are actually quite good. However, there are many reasons that James Bond truly is the worst spy ever, even if he is a fictional character. Here are the top 007 reasons:


He carries a gun on airplanes

He walks on and off commercial flights with a shoulder holster on and is never once stopped by security. He strolls through the airport fully armed and no one seems to notice or be bothered by the fact that an armed man in a suit is boarding a flight. Even if he has it in his bag instead, it is still never questioned. In reality, he probably would have received a weapon when he arrived at his destination, not carry it on an airplane with him.

He constantly destroys or loses his equipment

He is regularly issued with equipment, weapons and vehicles that are worth millions. However, he never returns any of it, at least not in the same condition he gets it. You would think when given the highest levels of technological advancements in “spy gear,” weapons and cars, one would be inclined to take extra special care of it all.

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Okay, so “Q” knew this one wasn’t coming back. But still… (MGM)

He is always being captured and/or beaten up

Despite the fact that he is a highly trained intelligence officer, who is supposed to be aware of his surroundings at all times and the number one rule of intelligence is “never get caught,” Mr. Bond is constantly being captured by the baddies he is after. Even if he isn’t being captured, he is getting beaten up by any number of people associated with whichever villain he is chasing. Where is all that training he meant to have?

He never follows orders

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“It’s not cute anymore, James.” (MGM)

The intelligence world does leave some wiggle room to think on your feet, but a big part of it is also following the orders you are given. James Bond never does that. It doesn’t matter what anyone says or tells him to do, he does the opposite. He always feels that he is in the right and he does his own thing at all times, no matter the consequences.

He travels under his own name

Anyone who knows anything about intelligence knows that they absolutely never travel using their own identity whilst on operations. That is part of the whole point of what they do. However, James Bond who is supposed to be one of the best, always travels under his own name and with his own documents.

He always draws attention to himself

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Oh, wait… this getting very familiar all of a sudden

One of the biggest parts of intelligence training is how to never get noticed. For someone who is supposed to be a spy or secret agent or intelligence officer, depending on what you like, he draws an awful lot of attention to himself. He drives expensive cars, wears ridiculously expensive suits and stays at five-star hotels. Not to mention the fact that he is always blowing things up and firing his weapon in highly public places.

Everyone knows who he is 

The number one reason James Bond is the worst spy ever: Everyone knows exactly who he is. Every bad guy, every hotel receptionist, every bartender knows his name. He walks into a bar and is greeted with, “Good evening, Mr. Bond.” Plus, they know exactly what he drinks! Villains know his reputation and that he has a license to kill. They all know him on sight. To top it off they all know his 00 code number … His secret code number. The number of times an adversary uses 007 is absolutely astounding. This alone is enough to make James Bond the worst spy ever.

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WORST…
The 9 best nonfiction history audiobooks you can get right now
…SPY…
The 9 best nonfiction history audiobooks you can get right now
…EVER.
MIGHTY MOVIES

Comic-Con just dropped action-packed ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ trailer

The first trailer for “Top Gun: Maverick” dropped July 18, 2019, at Comic-Con in San Diego and in case there was ever any doubt, Tom Cruise proves that even at 57, he is still one of the most badass action stars on the planet.

We learn little about the actual plot but the trailer is able to give viewers a clear idea of the tone of the sequel, as the titular fighter pilot appears to be as talented, fearless, and reckless as he was when we last saw him over 33 years ago. As one of his superior officers — played by Ed Harris — lists off Maverick’s career accomplishments, we see Maverick has not lost his need for speed, as he flies through a desert at full-throttle before ascending up to the sky at nearly a 90-degree angle.


However, it is also made clear that Maverick’s loose canon persona has likely cost him in his career, as Harris’ character notes “you can’t get a promotion, won’t retire, and, despite your best efforts, you refuse to die.” Perhaps Maverick’s love for the sky has kept him from creating a successful five-year plan? Or maybe he just isn’t interested in getting a fancy title if it means giving up his seat in the cockpit. Only time will tell.

Top Gun: Maverick – Official Trailer (2020) – Paramount Pictures

www.youtube.com

The rest of the trailer is a lays on the nostalgia pretty thick while giving us brief glimpses of new characters. We see Maverick donning his signature aviators and leather jacket and he even hops on his motorcycle to ride alongside a couple of fighter planes. While Harris is the only new cast member featured prominently in the trailer, we do get to see a few new faces, including Jon Hamm, Monica Barbaro, and Glen Powell as one of the new hotshot pilots playing some shirtless volleyball. The cast also features Val Kilmer returning to reprise his role as Ice Man, Maverick’s frenemy, and Miles Teller, who will be playing the son of Maverick’s deceased co-pilot Goose.

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The sequel reportedly focuses on Maverick returning to Top Gun as an instructor, where he trains a group of young pilots, including Goose’s son. But, thankfully, the debut trailer lets viewers know that the film will still feature plenty of Cruise in the sky, which should not come as a surprise to anyone who has followed his career over the past three decades. We can’t wait to see Maverick back in action.

“Top Gun: Maverick” come to theaters on June 26, 2020.

This article originally appeared on Fatherly. Follow @FatherlyHQ on Twitter.

MIGHTY MOVIES

How ‘The Village’ will tackle life after the military

If you’re a fan of This is Us, make sure you check out The Village, a new NBC show premiering March 19th about a group of neighbors living in a New York apartment building who form an unlikely family. One of the main characters is Nick, a combat veteran and amputee who moves in during the pilot episode.

Played by Warren Christie, Nick is instantly recognizable as a vet: he’s a good wingman, he looks out for others, and he’s affected by war.

I had the chance to attend a screening, courtesy of the NBC Veterans Network, Veterans in Media and Entertainment, and of course We Are The Mighty, where I spoke with Executive Producers Jessica Rhoades and Mike Daniels, as well as Christie himself and I was not disappointed.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gsbDnLTz9Ms
THE VILLAGE | Official Trailer | Season 1

www.youtube.com

Watch the trailer:

I’ve heard many veterans complain that Hollywood only portrays broken veterans, and I’m happy to report that in the pilot at least, Nick is definitely not broken. He’s lost a limb, he’s shaken, but he’s connecting with a community — and a family — which is exactly what we want for our nation’s service members.

His scene with Enzo, who introduces himself as an Army Specialist (probably from the Korean War era) reminded me of moments I’ve had at my local American Legion post; it’s by connecting with our community that we find healing (because let’s face it — at a minimum, the military is a mind f***, but at it’s worst, it is traumatic).

And community is exactly what the creators of the show wanted to explore.

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From left to right: Warren Christie, Jessica Rhoades, Mike Daniels, Shannon Corbeil

Scott Angelhart/NBC

It was clear from talking with Rhoades, Daniels, and Christie that the whole cast and crew were committed to sharing a positive message here. Nick’s transition back to civilian life won’t always be easy, but this show will guide him through it with the feeling of hope.

Also, there’s a dog.

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Warren Christie and Magnum the German Shepherd.

(Photo courtesy of NBC)

Magnum plays ‘Jedi,’ Nick’s military working dog, who is also an amputee. On set, the two bonded quickly, though Christie shared that Magnum was not a trained ‘actor’ so there were moments where Christie was covered in peanut butter and liver to get the shot.

Show biz.

Christie, who worked with a military advisor, did say one thing that caught my attention. He said he felt a responsibility to convey “the strength and the struggle” of our nation’s service members. I loved that phrase. I’m lucky enough to work at a company that celebrates military victories and veterans’ successes, but veteran suicide statistics still clearly prove that we have a long way to go in caring for our troops.

Shows like this keep the conversation going. They introduce civilians to military stories and they show veterans a way forward. That’s the power of storytelling. I’m hopeful about where The Village will take Nick’s story.

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I’ve already seen a lot of comments about this moment from the trailer, and I had an immediate reaction to it, too. For all my civilian readers, I’ll fill you in: to my knowledge, no one in the U.S. military salutes with their palm facing outward, something vets will easily pick up on.

Moments like these are why I encourage filmmakers telling military stories to bring veterans on board in the process as early as possible. Shows like SEAL Team on CBS have really locked this in — from the writer’s room to production to on-set advising to casting vets for stunts and on-camera roles, hiring vets will ensure authenticity for TV and film.

The Village premieres on Tuesday, March 19th right after This Is Us — check it out and let us know what you think.

MIGHTY MOVIES

This is what Game of Thrones can teach you about squad composition

This article should probably start off with a spoiler warning. Then again, if you’re reading things about “Game of Thrones,” you are either caught up, have no intentions of watching the show, or don’t care about spoiler warnings.


If by some reason you aren’t any of those and wouldn’t want this week’s episodes spoiled, here’s an article about MREs.

The final shot of this week’s episode finished with Jon Snow, Gendry, Jorah, The Hound, Tormund, Beric, and Thoros all headed beyond the wall to capture a wight to prove that the dead are a threat.

One thing I noticed was how perfectly everyone in lined up with a modern unit composition.

(YouTube, Kristina R)

Substitute modern weaponry and medical supplies for swords, warhammers, and magic, and you can make an argument that Jon Snow’s team closely resembles that of Special Forces Operational Detachment Alpha.

Bear in mind, they are undermanned compared to an actual fire team, with only seven men out in the field, one garrisoned at Eastwatch, and another in Winterfell. A full SFOD-A team consists of twelve men on mission. Normally, there would also be two communications experts, a medical doc, and an engineering sergeant on the team.

In this exercise at least, all of the key positions are at least filled. Here’s how:

Detachment Commander (18A) — King Jon Snow

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Every team needs a dedicated leader. A voice everyone can rally behind. Someone with a clear vision of what the objective is and how to achieve it.

Being King of the North and the one who brought them all together definitely qualifies Jon Snow as the leader of this team.

Assistant Detachment Commander (180A) — Lord Beric Dondarrion

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The second in command needs to be a skilled warfighter. If the team separates, the second would step in to lead a group. They must also be willing to assume control of the whole unit if the worst happens to the commander.

Beric lead the Brotherhood Without Banners until they reached the Wall. If anything, he’s still in charge of both Thoros and The Hound.

Operations Sergeant (18Z) — Ser Davos Seaworth

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The Operations Sergeant is responsible for the overall organization and functionality of the team. They are also the senior most enlisted advisor on the team.

Although Davos didn’t join them beyond the wall, he was still pivotal in assembling the team and advising Jon Snow on how to carry out the mission.

Assistant Operations and Intelligence Sergeant (18F) — Tormund Giantsbane

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The Assistant Operations and Intelligence Sergeant ensures the team is war-fighting capable. They also gather and analyze all the mission-critical information.

Tormund lived his life Beyond the Wall. No one knows the area and the enemy better than him.

Weapons Sergeants (18B) — Sandor “The Hound” Clegane and Ser Jorah Mormont

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Weapons Sergeants must be experts in a wide variety of weapon systems. Any weapon they get their hands on can and will be used.

Both Sandor and Jorah are some of the best fighters in Westeros. They have each proven to be lethal no matter what weapon they had — and in any arena.

Engineering Sergeant (18C) — Gendry

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Engineering Sergeants are masters of construction and destruction. They can build a bridge just as flawlessly as they can destroy one.

Gendry trained many years under the greatest blacksmith in the series. If Valerian Steel weapons are needed to fight the dead, he’s ready. Afterall, he was trained under Mott (the guy that reforged Ned Stark’s sword into two more Valerian Steel swords.)

Medical Sergeant (18D) — Thoros of Myr

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Special Operations Medical Sergeants are experts in treating battlefield trauma. They are tasked with providing life-saving aid to the team.

The Lord of Light has brought back the dead many times in the books, making Thoros a handy guy to have around in battle. It’s not perfect, with each resurrection taking a part of the person that dies, but it is invaluable to keeping his men in the fight.

Communications Sergeant (18E) — Lord Bran Stark the “Three-Eyed Raven”

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The Communications Sergeant is the life blood between fire teams and command. They are required to maintain a constant flow of information between all troops.

In the show, Bran wasn’t seen joining the group. He’s still in Winterfell. But in the same episode the group was formed, he was flying around the enemy in raven form.

We may find out until next episode that he’ll be assisting Jon’s team.

All told, it was exciting to see this rag-tag group come together to go beyond the wall.

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‘Eye In The Sky’ is a thriller that challenges the ethics of drone warfare

Above: An exclusive clip from “Eye in the Sky.”


A group of terrorists huddle in a house in an al-Shabab controlled area of Kenya. Among them are high-value individuals who perpetuate terror attacks throughout East Africa. They pray and then rig their suicide vests. Drones overhead beam the scene to allied forces, but time is running out and there is potential for collateral damage and civilian casualties.

The new movie “Eye In The Sky” tackles this scenario. The allied mission commander, British Army Colonel Katherine Powell (Helen Mirren), orders a U.S. military drone strike on al-Shabab terrorist organizers and would-be suicide bombers, but her call is made more complicated by the fact that a little Kenyan girl (Aisha Takow) will likely be killed in the strike.

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The film, which premiered last year at the Toronto Film Festival, shows a unique vision of how calls are made in the heat of battle. From Col. Powell and the drone pilot, 2nd Lt. Steve Watts (Aaron Paul) to the highest rungs of the British and American governments, those watching the camera feeds decide the fates of the terrorists and the innocent bystander. They each make their own arguments in turn as the situation evolves.

The film shows a number of thought-provoking moral questions in the microcosm of this one drone strike. It weighs morality against the tactics of modern warfare. The characters try to minimize the damage done by drone strikes while suicide bombers prepare to kill as many people as possible. The film also questions the value of targeted killings over real human intelligence in the war on terror. But the moral calculus has to be figured out in a hurry. The clock is ticking on this potential strike. A decision must be reached before the terrorists are allowed to disappear into the sprawling city to carry out their suicide missions.

“Eye in the Sky” depicts the divide between civilian leaders and the men and women who conduct targeted operations. Civilian leaders want to achieve political goals but dislike the means by which they have to achieve them. The warfighters have to educate elected leaders on weighing the risks of collateral damage while the civilians have to remind the them about the propaganda value of targeted killings for the enemy. Neither side comes away clean as they argue over the fate of civilians who are otherwise going about their daily lives while this international debate unfolds.

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The film’s final scene features the late Alan Rickman in his final onscreen role as British Lt. Gen. Frank Benson. In one of his finest moments as an actor, he delivers a harsh rebuke to a civilian Member of Parliament: “Never tell a soldier he does not know the cost of war.”

“Eye In the Sky” is a thrilling nail-biter that also asks questions about the ethics of fighting a high-tech war.

 

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7 features that would make military games more realistic

Look, video games are awesome and military video games are doubly so. But video game companies are not even trying to capture real deployed life. As they continue bragging about their realistic sound effects and HD graphics, here are 9 features that would actually help gamers get a real combat experience.


1. Make players rehearse a mission four times and then send them on a different one.

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Photo: US Army Sgt. Joseph Guenther

The player is briefed on a mission to capture or kill a high-value target. They have to watch a rehearsal on a sand table, then practice in an open field, and finally they assault some fake buildings with their squad to be sure everyone is on the same page.

They climb onto the birds but halfway to the target are diverted to capture an undefended dam before terrorists can blow it up. The player’s squad defends it for three days against nothing before returning to base. A friendly engineer squad then blows up the dam.

2. All calls for fire take at least 10 minutes and miss the first three times.

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Rockets aim at objective B, hit objective B on the first try. I’m calling B-S. Photo: Youtube

Artillery units rarely hit their target on the first try in the real world and even airstrikes have trouble getting it right a lot of times. Yet video games which allow a player to call in an airstrike always show rounds cascading down on the exact spot the player asks for.

Instead, the player should have to adjust fire over three or four iterations before actually killing anything. They should also have to wait at least 10 minutes from the first call until the fire mission is fired and rounds begin falling on the target.

3. Random mistakes by other members of your team.

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Characters should fall over stuff like this guy did. But because they tripped, not because they died like this guy. Photo: Youtube

Every once in a while, a squad mate should get their gear stuck on a door handle, trip on their own rucksack strap, or slip on a wet spot in the ground and fall. The player has to decide whether to help their buddy or continue firing at the enemy while attempting to stifle their laughter.

4. Include a 40-lb haptic bodysuit that punches you when you’re shot.

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Photo: US Army Maj. Penny Zamora

When the player is going into battle, they’re usually wearing a hoodie, some boxers, and a fine layer of chip crumbs. But soldiers wear 40 pounds of armor plus whatever other gear they’re carrying at that moment. So, players should be given a vest that weighs as much as the armor.

As an added bonus, motors and weights could be used to punch the player where their character was just shot. And they could carry an 8-pound controller.

5. Your inventory always includes at least 3 items you’ll never use.

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Photo: YouTube

The player should have a limited inventory space, some of which is taken up with “just-in-case” items that never get used. It could be gas masks, backup batteries, whatever. If the player tries to throw them away, the items show up on later patrols as booby traps.

6. Weapon misfires

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Photo: US Army Spc. Marcus Floyd

Anytime the player crawls through mud or sand, it should increase the chance that their weapon misfires. Every 100 rounds without a cleaning should increase the chance of a misfire as well.

7. Can only level up after passing a PT test and reciting random facts from memory

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After the player completes a few missions while exhausted from the countless rehearsals in the heavy bodysuit, overcomes misfires at critical moments, and has proven their ability to carry around useless equipment, they should be given the opportunity to level up.

To get selected for the higher level, they just have to score in at least the 80th percentile on a physical training test and recite the muzzle velocities of at least three weapons. Otherwise, the player is sent back to the tent to study. It doesn’t matter what their kill-to-death ratio is. Side note: KTD ratios are not a thing either.

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