The Shot Heard ‘Round the Bedroom

Bayard & Holmes

~ Jay Holmes

For history buffs, “The Shot Heard ‘Round the World” refers to one of two significant dates.

For American History buffs and American English majors, the distinction refers to a phrase from Ralph Waldo Emerson’s “Concord Hymn.” When Emerson was writing the Concord Hymn in 1837, he lived in an old family house thirty yards away from North Bridge in Concord, Massachusetts, where American patriots are reputed to have first fired their rifles at British soldiers in organized resistance on April 19, 1775.

 

The Battle of Lexington, 1775 Emmet Collection of Manuscripts Public domain, wikimedia commons

The Battle of Lexington, 1775
Emmet Collection of Manuscripts
Public domain, wikimedia commons

 

On the other hand, those in Lexington, Massachusetts will point out that before the American Minutemen defeated that British force at Concord, shots had already been fired at Lexington. Concord proponents claim that the Lexington skirmish was not an organized battle conducted by militia, but rather an impromptu act of resistance that led to the slaughter of the Americans. Emerson might not have been thorough enough in his research for the tastes of the folks in Lexington but his point was valid. It’s fair to say that all the shots fired in Massachusetts on April 19, 1775 were indeed noticed around the world.

For most Europeans, “The Shot Heard ‘Round the World” refers to the June 28, 1914 assassination of Austrian Archduke Ferdinand in Sarajevo.

That assassination is generally accepted as the spark that ignited the hellish tragedy known as “The First World War.” If that particular Archduke had never been born, the war would have occurred any way. The Austro-Hungarian establishment was hungry for an excuse to embark on what they were certain was to be a quick and easy land grab from Serbia. It generally takes at least a few chapters to summarize the causes of that war, but quotes of sixty thousand or more words are never popular, so Europeans prefer to remember the assassination of an otherwise unloved Duke as “The Shot Heard ‘Round the World.”

For fans of the New York Giants baseball team, “The Shot Heard ‘Round the World” refers to a Home Run hit by New York Giants third baseman/outfielder Bobby Thomson on October 3, 1951.

In early August of that year, the Brooklyn Dodgers had a commanding 13 ½ game lead over the Giants, and the pennant race appeared to be no race at all. Then the Giants surged, and the Dodgers faltered. They ended the season tied for the National League Pennant.

 

New York Giants Bobby Thomson Image by Bowman Gum, 1948

New York Giants Bobby Thomson
Image by Bowman Gum, 1948

 

The Dodgers and the Giants then played a three game series to decide break the tie. They each won one of the first two games. In the bottom of the ninth inning of the third game, the Dodgers held a 4-1 lead. The Giants scored a run, and Thomson came to bat with two men on base. He hit a line drive home run into the left field seats. Overjoyed Giants fans christened Thomson’s home run “The Shot Heard ‘Round the World.”

Which of the three aforementioned events deserves to be remembered as “The Shot Heard ‘Round the World” is a matter of personal perspective. Perhaps it’s fair to say that two shots were heard ‘round the world, and one was heard ‘round the baseball world.

On February 28, 1844 another important shot was fired. While it was not “Heard ‘Round the World,” it was heard by several hundred notable American politicians and dignitaries, and it led to a marriage bed.

The USS Princeton had been launched on September 5, 1843. Like every expensive Naval vessel both then and now, it was presented as a “state-of-the-art” warship. The USS Princeton created quite a stir in the USA because it was the first ship to use a screw propeller propulsion system, and it was considered to be the best-armed ship in the US Navy. Along with a variety of smaller guns, the Princeton carried two long-barreled cannons named the “Oregon” and the “Peacemaker.” The Peacemaker’s twelve-inch bore made it the largest naval gun yet created.

The USS Princeton sailed to Alexandria, Virginia in 1844 for a publicity visit. Its visit was the social event of the year for politicians and the American social set.

On February 28, US President John Tyler was the guest of honor at a party onboard, along with US Secretary of the Navy Thomas Gilmer and US Secretary of State Abel Upshur. One of President Tyler’s guests was his close friend David Gardiner and Gardiner’s two daughters. The fifty-four year old President was a widower and had set his eye on twenty-four year old daughter Julia. Julia had thus far declined President Tyler’s advances. Based on Tyler’s portraits, even on his best days, he was as ugly as a mud fence. Against that, he had power, wealth, and prestige going for him. Julia Gardiner remained unimpressed.

In the excitement of the moment, US Navy Secretary Thomas asked the Princeton’s Captain Robert Stockton to fire salutes from the massive Peacemaker.

Stockton agreed and had two shots fired. The roar of the Peacemaker appropriately awed the crowd, and most of them returned below decks for more free food and booze.

As the toasts continued below, Navy Secretary Gilmer grew prouder and more emotional about the marvelous Princeton and her massive Peacemaker gun. Gilmer asked Captain Stockton to please fire another salute. Captain Stockton thought that it was unwise to risk more shots with a crowd of civilians on board since the Peacemaker had not yet undergone proper testing. Why Stockton was reluctant to fire a third shot is a bit of a mystery.

However, with President Tyler’s coaxing and Secretary Gilmer’s insistence Captain Stockton finally ordered that another salute should be fired.

 

Explosion aboard US Steam Frigate Princeton Image by N. Currier, public domain

Explosion aboard US Steam Frigate Princeton
Image by N. Currier, public domain

 

Toasting guests delayed President Tyler below decks. When he began climbing the ladder* to the main deck, the Peacemaker fired a third time. The cannon exploded.

Six people on the main deck, including the Secretary of the Navy, the Secretary of State, and the President’s friend David Gardiner, were killed. When Julia arrived on the main deck with the President’s entourage, she saw her dead father and fainted. President Tyler whisked her away in his carriage. The incident apparently affected Julia to such a degree that she then saw President Tyler in a new light. She agreed to marry him. Hence, “The Shot Heard ‘Round the Bedroom.” Fortunately for all concerned, any details about their honeymoon remain mercifully mysterious.

Tyler lived happily with Julia until his death, eighteen years later. Julia survived him and died in 1889 at the age of 69. They remain forever together at Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond, Virginia.

*Your house has “stairs;” our ships have “ladders.”

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Intelligence Fail–Operation Barbarossa, the Soviet View

Bayard & Holmes

~ Jay Holmes

In our last post, we discussed the intelligence lesson to be learned by Hitler’s choice to invade the Soviet Union in Operation Barbarossa. On the other side, the Soviet Union’s reaction to that invasion provides us with one of history’s most glaring examples of bad intelligence assessments.

Intelligence professionals that read this series should be aware that I use the term “assessment” in the generic English sense rather than in the technical professional sense. All intelligence agencies have their own requirements and rules for what an “intelligence assessment” should look like. We are not following any of those requirements other than the ones that coincide with the researching and writing of history.

To understand the Soviet Union’s failure to adequately prepare for the German invasion of June 22, 1941, it’s important to consider the decision making process of the Soviet Union.

 

Josef Stalin in Berlin, 1945 Image from US Library of Congress,  public domain.

Josef Stalin in Berlin, 1945
Image from US Library of Congress,
public domain.

 

Josef Stalin was a dictator that only nominally reported to the Communist Party of the USSR. In reality, the Communist Party lacked the will or practical authority to oppose any decisions taken by Stalin.

By 1941, everyone in the USSR understood that disagreeing with Stalin about anything was likely to lead to arrest, torture, and possible execution. Not surprisingly, Stalin had grown accustomed to people agreeing with him. While he may have enjoyed his success in bending the entire USSR to his will, it had an isolating effect that would prove disastrous.

Even though Hitler vastly underestimated the war fighting capability of the USSR, he understood that the USSR had a much larger military than did Poland or France. Accordingly, he instructed the German military to move approximately 3.8 million troops into position to invade the USSR. Some of those troops were not for employment in the spearheads of the invasion, and, therefore, did not need to be kept close to the Soviet borders. Still, even in the pre-satellite age, it was difficult to disguise German troop buildups.

 

The six lines of attack comprising Operation Barbarossa on June 22, 1941. From The Battle of Russia, the fifth film in the Why We Fight series by US Govt. public domain

The six lines of attack comprising Operation Barbarossa on June 22, 1941.
From The Battle of Russia, the fifth film in the Why We Fight series by US Govt.
public domain

 

So how did Stalin manage to ignore the massive German buildup leading to Operation Barbarossa?

There are various opinions about the details of how and why Stalin failed to anticipate a German invasion, but some aspects are nearly universally accepted. One might assume that the Soviet NKVD (the precursor to the KGB) and military intelligence forces were inadequate or perhaps nearly blind to all evidence. This was clearly not the case.

The Soviet Union leadership considered itself to be in a perpetual state of war with the rest of the world. From their point of view, the character and intensity of that war varied, but there was no such thing as real “peace” with Western nations. The Soviet State also operated on the assumption that it was and would always be in a state of war with a significant portion of its own citizens.

These two fundamental assumptions caused the USSR to invest heavily in intelligence efforts. Both the NKVD and Soviet military intelligence accurately assessed that Hitler was planning an invasion of the USSR. They had done an excellent job of penetrating Hitler’s Foreign Office, intelligence services, military staffs, and industry. They were receiving more than enough information from a variety of independent sources to be certain that Operation Barbarossa was imminent.

In addition to its direct sources in Germany, Stalin’s intelligence community was aware of US and UK assessments of Hitler’s intentions.

When diplomats from the US and the UK informed Stalin of German plans to invade the USSR, Stalin had already heard this from his spies in the UK and the US. He assumed that all the warnings coming from the Western nations were part of a Western conspiracy to force him to go to war with Hitler prematurely. Stalin preferred to let the West demolish itself, and he planned to step into a convenient power vacuum of a destroyed Western Europe.

Opinions vary about precisely how, in the face of so much corroborative information, Stalin failed to anticipate the German invasion. In one sense, he didn’t.

Just as Hitler understood that carving up Poland with the USSR would in no way appease Stalin’s long term goal of annihilating Western nations and governments, Stalin clearly understood that Germany would try to attack the USSR. Stalin’s basic reaction to that reality was to attempt to outsmart the Western nations.

Remember, from Stalin’s point of view, the UK, France, and other Western enemies were as much a threat to the Soviet system and Soviet ambitions as was Germany. All Westerners were Stalin’s enemies, and all of them needed to be accounted for in the Soviet geopolitical calculus of the day.

In addition to considering the threat from his Western neighbors, Stalin had to consider the very real threat of invasion by the Japanese military to the east. Japan had already conquered vast swaths of China, and it could not be completely ignored.

Stalin responded to the threats that surrounded him by using his vast NKVD resources to try to maneuver Western countries into war with themselves and by counting on the Japanese to continue being strategically diverted with their slaughter of the Chinese. From Stalin’s point of view, Hitler’s invasion of his Western neighbors perfectly fit into his plans.

 

Wehrmacht troops cross the USSR borders in Operation Barbarossa, June 22, 1941. public domain

Wehrmacht troops cross the USSR borders in Operation Barbarossa,
June 22, 1941.
public domain

 

Stalin never doubted that Hitler would invade the USSR, but since Germany was still busy dealing with the undefeated UK, he was certain that Hitler would not make the mistake of throwing Germany into the same sort of two-front war that brought that country to ruin in 1918.

When Stalin’s magnificent intelligence services explained to him that Hitler was not going to wait for the fall of the UK to invade the USSR, his megalomaniacal personality enabled him to ignore them. When anyone in his intelligence, diplomatic, or military organizations foolishly attempted to argue the point with him, he accused them of being enemy agents and had them murdered or banished to labor camps.

Since June 22, 1941, Stalin’s miserable intelligence assessment of German intentions has been a popular topic of study. As more files have been obtained from the now defunct USSR, more explanations are offered as to precisely how Stalin managed to deceive himself.

 

German soldiers in Soviet Union, Operation Barbarossa, June 1941. Image from German Federal Archives, wikimedia commons.

German soldiers in Soviet Union, Operation Barbarossa,
June 1941.
Image from German Federal Archives, wikimedia commons.

 

Thus far, the various theories and occasional new evidence have not changed the essential facts of the case.

Stalin failed to prepare for Operation Barbarossa because he refused to acknowledge that anyone might understand the strategic situation as well as or better than he could. The results of his grand miscalculation were devastating for the USSR. We cannot assume that the best possible preparations by the USSR would have completely and bloodlessly defeated the German invasion, but it is reasonable to assume that the USSR would have suffered far fewer casualties in halting the German advances.

There is one other “what if” that we usually ignore when examining Stalin’s grotesque mismanagement of the Soviet military machine. If indeed Stalin had been able to defeat Hitler’s invasion more efficiently, then Soviet forces likely would have advanced further west before the Allied Forces reached the same positions. Then the post-war division of European nations might have left even more European nations enslaved by Soviet occupation.

Stalin’s horrendous failure to anticipate Operation Barbarossa reinforces the lesson that even the best intelligence is only useful when leaders use it effectively. Stalin’s failure in 1941 also demonstrates another important lesson from Intelligence history . . .

Nations and their leaders should be aware that their own plans and ambitions can blind them to their enemies’ intentions.

In our next segment we will consider an oft-ignored intelligence wild card in Operation Barbarossa.

Turkey’s Tug of War–The Changing Face of US-Middle East Relations, Part Two

By Jay Holmes

The basic relationship between Turkey and the US was founded on post-WWII Cold War realities. Since then, there has been a tug of war between Western-leaning Turkish political factions and pro-Islamist contingents. To understand current US-Turkey relations, we need to also understand the fundamental internal shifts that Turkish politics and society have undergone over time.

 

Canstock 2015 March Tug of War

 

Traditionally, Turkey and Russia have been imperial rivals since the 1700s. Conflicts between Turkish kingdoms and Russian kingdoms date back to ancient times and were originally a product of the location and size of these two empires.

In 1952, Turkey faced a hostile, nuclear-armed USSR, and it quickly made the decision to join NATO.

From the point of view of Europe, Turkey was the crossroads between Eastern and Western civilization. From NATO’s perspective, Turkey was vulnerable to attack by the numerically and technically superior forces of the USSR. Nonetheless, Turkey was a valuable ally for two critical reasons. First, because it allowed NATO to station air forces and nuclear missiles on the USSR’s southern border. Second, because Turkey sits astride the narrow Bosporus and Dardanelles Straits that separate the Black and Mediterranean Seas, respectively. This gave NATO forces a strong double “bottle cork” for containing Soviet naval forces in the Black Sea if war were to break out between the USSR and NATO.

 

Aerial view of Istanbul and the Bosphorus Strait, which connects the Black and Mediterranean Seas. Image by NASA, public domain.

Aerial view of Istanbul and the Bosphorus Strait, which connects the Black and Mediterranean Seas.
Image by NASA, public domain.

 

NATO membership also played a practical role in preventing Turkey and Greece from descending into armed conflict over their various territorial disagreements.

In 1974, Turkey invaded Cypress on the premise that it was protecting Turkish Cypriots from Greek oppression. That conflict stretched US-Turkey relations thin, but in the end, the larger issue of the Soviet military threat forced the Greeks and Turks to localize and limit their conflict.

In November of 1979, the Iranian Shia Islamic coup, followed by the invasion of the US Embassy in Tehran, had the side effect of forcing Sunni Muslim Turkey and the US to improve their relations. Then, when the Kurdish separatist PKK launched attacks in southeastern Turkey in 1984, it was an easy decision for the US to condemn the PKK as a terrorist group.

In 1987, Turkey took a major step toward the West by applying for European Economic Community membership. This was a clear and significant financial alignment with the West, and the minority Islamists in Turkey were solidly against the move.

Also in the late 1980s, concerns grew over Iraq’s use of chemical weapons against Iran and against its own citizens. The US and other Western nations became interested in the Kurdish minority in northern Iraq. The fact that NATO member Turkey was simultaneously fighting an internal war with the Kurdish PKK complicated US decisions to establish a relationship with Iraqi Kurds. The Iraqi Kurds had been some of the primary victims of Saddam Hussein’s chemical weapons. However, from the Turkish point of view, chemical weapons in Iraq were worrisome, but not quite as worrisome as the PKK.

 

Family graves of Iraqi Kurds killed in chemical attack by Saddam Hussein in 1988. Image by Adam Jones, Ph.D., wikimedia commons.

Family graves of Iraqi Kurds killed in Saddam Hussein’s chemical attack on Halabja in 1988.
Image by Adam Jones, Ph.D., wikimedia commons.

 

When Iraq invaded Kuwait and threatened Saudi Arabia in August of 1990, Turkey again took on greater importance to the US and NATO.

Turkey allowed the US-led coalition to use Turkish airbases to launch air strikes against Saddam Hussein’s military. The US and other coalition members had hoped for Turkey to take a more significant role in the war against Iraq, but internal politics in Turkey were unstable, and the Turkish government declined to become more involved.

By January of 1991, the US and its allies accepted that the UN would not take meaningful action against Iraq. In January and February of that year, the coalition attacked Iraq and liberated Kuwait. Coalition forces dealt a decisive and one-sided blow to the Iraqi military, but did not invade central or northern Iraq.

Against the wishes of the US and NATO, Turkey sent 20,000 heavily armed troops into the Kurdish region of Iraq in 1992, supposedly to strike PKK terror bases.

Many observers speculated that large, untapped oil reserves in Kurdish Iraq were a stronger motivator for the Turkish invasion. Under Western pressure, Turkey withdrew most of its forces within a week. With permission from Saddam Hussein, smaller Turkish incursions into the Kurdish Iraq continued until 2003, when a US-led coalition invaded Iraq and toppled the Hussein regime.

 

US President Clinton and Turkish PM Tansu Çiller at the White House in 1995. Image by US govt. employee, public domain, wikimedia commons.

US President Clinton and Turkish PM Tansu Çiller at the White House in 1995.
Image by US govt. employee, public domain.

 

In 1993, Tansu Çiller became the first female Prime Minister of Turkey.

She formed a fragile coalition government with centrist and right wing parties against the opposition of Sunni Islamic fundamentalists. Two years later, Turkey again invaded Kurdish Iraq with 35,000 troops. Again, under heavy pressure from the West, the troops were withdrawn. Tansu Çiller’s coalition government collapsed.

In the political vacuum, a united front of pro-Islamist groups under the Welfare Party banner won elections, but they lacked a majority to form a government. Instead, moderate and right-wing political groups formed an anti-Islamist coalition government. Amidst the political turmoil, Turkey took a strong pro-Western step by entering the European Customs Union.

In 1996, Turkey reversed directions.

The center-right coalition collapsed, and the pro-Islamist Welfare Party formed the first Islamic government in Turkey since 1923. The Welfare Party’s rise to power signaled a shift away from the West and the US. Under pressure from the Turkish military, this Islamist coalition government resigned in 1997, and a center-right coalition took power once more.

The following year, the Turkish government banned the Welfare Party on the grounds that it was plotting an anti-constitutional/anti-secular takeover. The pro-Islamic members of the Welfare Party stepped back and reorganized as the Virtue Party.

 

Virtue Party (pink) held 111 of the 550 seats in Turkish Parliament after 1999 elections. Image by T.C. Ataturkiye, wikimedia commons.

Virtue Party (pink) held 111 of the 550 seats in Turkish Parliament after 1999 elections.
Image by T.C. Ataturkiye, wikimedia commons.

 

In 1999, a devastating earthquake killed 17,000 people in northwest Turkey. In response, the UK pledged £50,000 pounds sterling, and the US pledged US$1 Billion dollars for disaster relief.

In June 2001, the Turkish Constitutional Court banned the opposition pro-Islamic Virtue Party due to its anti-secular/anti-constitutional activities. Apparently the Virtue Party’s principal “virtue” was the destruction of freedom and progress in Turkey.

The following month, the members of the banned Virtue Party formed the pro-Islamist Saadet party.

Saadet morphed into the Justice and Development Party when it realized it could bring in a larger following by pretending to emphasize justice and development. This pro-Islamist party won elections in 2002.

 

President Obama and Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan Image by US govt. employee, public domain.

President Obama and Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan
Image by US govt. employee, public domain.

 

Current Turkish dictator Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was a principal founder of the Justice and Development Party. The continued rise to power of Erdoğan and his pro-Islamist party quickly caused serious complications to US-Turkey relations. Next week, we will look at those complications and the current state of US-Turkey relations.

Frozen Bitch Face — What You Need To Know

By Piper Bayard

Everyone’s face freezes at forty-five.

Seriously. At forty-five, give or take a year or two, Frosty the Face Freezer breathes on us at an unpredictable instant, and the expression we are wearing on our face at that moment is frozen there. Forever.

This is great for people who laugh and smile on a regular basis no matter how Life has tried to eat them alive. Frosty catches them mid-mirth and leaves them with Frozen Happy Face. They are blessed with a reputation for kindness and wisdom throughout their old age. They get to be the Cool Old Farts that everyone goes to for advice and humor and fights to sit next to at the Thanksgiving table.

I can hear your question now. What happens if Frosty comes in to freeze my face when I’m frowning?

I’m sorry to be the one to break it to you, but that will result in the dreaded . . .

Frozen Bitch Face.

Frozen Bitch Face is that grumpy look that some people have etched on their faces in the form of permanent frowns and/or butt-shaped wrinkles between their eyebrows.

 

Note the ass between his brows. You see it, don't you? Image from CanstockPhoto.

Note the ass between his brows.
You see it, don’t you?
Image from CanstockPhoto.

 

You’ve seen Frosty’s victims. The Grumpy Old Farts who glare from their porches at children playing ball. The aging women in the grocery stores who pick up each perfect apple and frown before complaining to the produce stockers. And—ugh!—the people on Facebook who can’t stop beating us around the head and shoulders with bad news and warnings about everything from political conspiracies to the zombie apocalypse.

I hear your next question, too. We all have bad days. So what if I’m having a random bad day when Frosty comes?

Fear not! There are mitigating factors to minimize bad days and their long term effects on our faces.

The Effit Fairy

The first mitigating factor is called the Effit Fairy. The Effit Fairy can be Peter Pan or a seven-year-old girl with wings, whichever you choose, or both. I won’t judge.

 

My Effit Fairy Image from CanstockPhoto.

My Effit Fairy
Image from CanstockPhoto.

 

She visits on our fortieth birthday—well ahead of Frosty’s ambush—to remind us that life is short, and no one else is living it for us. She reawakens the child inside each of us who is too young to give a damn what other people think. She enlightens us to the fact that yoga pants in public are actually a classy fashion statement. And best of all, she encourages us to stop giving a crap if other people are “disappointed” in us. Instead, she teaches us to say EFFIT! Because no one else is paying our mortgage, or dealing with our boss, or feeling the pain of that ski injury on our behalf.

So listening to your Effit Fairy is the first and most important thing you can do to avoid Frozen Bitch Face.

Other things that mitigate your chance of having Frozen Bitch Face:

  1. Seek out laughter. Every time you laugh, you increase your chances that Frosty will freeze you with Happy Face.
  2. Find something to like about the people you don’t like, even if it’s only liking the fact that they live in another state.
  3. If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all—also known as the Thumper Rule, since the rabbit in Bambi said it first. If Frosty catches you when you’re bitching about people, you will definitely get stuck with Frozen Bitch Face.
  4. Take time for romance. Let’s face it. People who enjoy the hunka-hunka as often as they can are far more likely to be smiling and relaxed when they get frozen.
  5. Find something to be grateful for every day. A grateful heart is a happy heart, and a happy heart makes for eventual Frozen Happy Face.

But what if I’m not approaching forty?

Easy. It’s never too early to practice. Trust me. You’ll need the practice. This positive outlook crap gets harder once arthritis sets in.

 

She got stuck. Image from CanstockPhoto.

She got stuck.
Image from CanstockPhoto.

 

But what if I’m over forty, and I’m already stuck with Frozen Bitch Face?

Take heart. All is not lost. Another Fairy comes to visit at fifty. She’s the Effoff Fairy. She makes it easy for you to tell anyone who doesn’t like your Frozen Bitch Face to Effoff, and that will make you smile. 🙂

So what are you doing to prevent or mitigate Frozen Bitch Face? Have you learned to say Effit yet, or are you already to the Effoff stage? I’d love to hear about your journey.

 

The Spy Bride Challenge and a New Release!

It’s a big week here at Bayard & Holmes!

We are proud to announce the release of our first novella, THE SPY BRIDE, in the Bestsellers’ Collection RISKY BRIDES. Bayard & Holmes are honored to join USA Today Bestsellers Vicki Hinze, Rita Herron, Donna Fletcher, Peggy Webb, and Kathy Carmichael, and veteran authors Kimberly Llewellyn and Tara Randel as we each share our unique take on what it means to be a risky bride.

8 novels and novellas. 8 genres. 8 risky brides.

The Spy Bride Risky Brides Boxed Set final Cover

To celebrate, we’re having two contests!

The Spy Bride Blogger Challenge

We are inviting all bloggers to write a post about absolutely anything espionage or wedding related. Link back to this post to be entered in a contest for a $25 Amazon card and a copy of RISKY BRIDES.

Write about your favorite Bond movie, your favorite historical spook, or how you used to spy on your siblings. Tell us about your wildest bachelor party, you favorite wedding, or your worst bridesmaid’s dress. If you manage to write about both spooks and weddings in the same post, you’ll have your name entered twice.

Be sure to link back to the post at our web site so we see your entry!

The winner will be chosen on Thanksgiving Day. I will attach the names of all entries to a shooting target. Then I will blindfold my lovely daughter, DD, and she will shoot the target. The name that is shot will be the winner of the coveted Amazon gift card.

DD ready to determine the winner.

DD ready to determine the winner.

And for our awesome readers . . .

We have some wonderful prizes for you, as well. Sign up for the Bayard & Holmes Newsletter and be automatically entered to win a Secret Decoder Ring, a stash of Ghirardelli chocolate, or a bottle of sparkling wine from Mumm Napa vineyard.

Bayard & Holmes Newsletter Link–Click Here to Enter

Feel free to enter both contests!

Best of luck to all of you. Can’t wait to see your entries!

 

 RISKY BRIDES

 

 

RISKY BRIDES is on sale for a limited time at only $.99 and is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBookstore, and Kobo.

 

THE SPY BRIDE by Bayard & Holmes — Spy Thriller Quick Read

With her wedding only days away, a CIA operative and her mother must thwart a top-level traitor before he delivers computer technology to international crime cartels, allowing them to hack US security systems and target thousands of innocents for slaughter.

THE MARKED BRIDE by Vicki Hinze — Romantic Thriller Novel

Nine months after breaking their engagement, Mandy sends Tim, a private security consultant and former Shadow Watcher (spies who spy on spies), an SOS. She’s in trouble. NINA caused the breakup and, though Mandy and Tim have been apart, NINA has struck—targeting Mandy.

THERE GOES THE GROOM by Rita Herron — Romantic Suspense Novel

A jilted bride is arrested for her fiancé’s crimes when he goes on the lam!

THE IRISH DEVIL by Donna Fletcher — Historical Romance Novel

The infamous warrior the Irish Devil was promised a bride by the King of Ireland for services rendered. Faith is as kind as she is beautiful and wants no part of marrying the fierce warrior, but has no choice, and once wed she discovers just how sinful the devil is.

ELVIS AND THE BURIED BRIDES by Peggy Webb — Cozy Mystery Quick Read

Bad boy Jack Jones is finally retying the marital knot! But where is the bride? When Callie and cousin Lovie both go missing, everybody is crying in the chapel. Can canine sleuth Elvis and the Valentine gang find them in time to croon “Love Me Tender” at the wedding?

SOMETHING BORROWED, SOMETHING DEADLY by Kathy Carmichael — Mystery Quick Read

When the groom is found murdered hours before the wedding, can bridesmaid and owner of the Skullduggery Inn, Ashley Sands, clear the bride from imminent arrest? With numerous suspects, all with strong motives, Ash must figure out who-dun-it before the murderer strikes again.

LOVE AT THE SWEETHEART INN by Tara Randel — Sweet Romance Novel

Wedding planner Kara Delaney has had her heart broken too many times to expect a wedding of her own. Lucas Winfield can’t promise forever to any woman. As they work together on a wedding, the attraction is undeniable, but can they overcome their pasts to have a future together?

ALMOST A BRIDE by Kimberly Llewellyn — Sexy Romance Novel

After getting dumped at the altar, Ivy Hammond enters a sexy research study with one rule: don’t fall in love. But with each sizzling assignment, her hot research partner, Kip Lockehart, convinces her some rules were made to be broken.

Spy Truth & Fiction–Are Silencers Silent?

By Piper Bayard & Jay Holmes

Movies and books would convince us that any firearm can be silenced down to a tiny pfftzing sound when fired. Not so!

 

From top: IMI Uzi with Companion Shooting Supplies (Vector Arms) Model 2000, 9mm. RRA AR-15 with Advanced Armament Corporation (AAC) Omni, .223. HK USP Tactical with AAC Evolution-45. Beretta 92FS with AAC Evolution-9. SIG Mosquito with AAC Pilot, .22. image by Cortland, public domain, wikimedia commons

From top:
IMI Uzi with Companion Shooting Supplies (Vector Arms) Model 2000, 9mm.
RRA AR-15 with Advanced Armament Corporation (AAC) Omni, .223.
HK USP Tactical with AAC Evolution-45.
Beretta 92FS with AAC Evolution-9.
SIG Mosquito with AAC Pilot, .22.
image by Cortland, public domain, wikimedia commons

 

For simplicity’s sake, we will use the terms “suppressor” and “silencer” interchangeably.

The purpose of most silencers is not to achieve complete silence, but to reduce the noise of a shot enough to prevent potential witnesses from recognizing that they heard a gunshot. 

In most cases, the shooter doesn’t care if someone hears the shot as long as they don’t recognize it as a shot and then dial up 911, scream for help, or return fire. People will normally ignore noises that they hear but don’t associate with gunshots or other dangers. Because of this human tendency, the level of “silencing” needed depends on the situation. If the shooter intends to walk into a steel mill and shoot someone, he doesn’t need much. On the other hand, if the shooter wants to shoot someone in a library without being noticed, he had better have a high degree of silencing.

The .380 semi-automatic pistol is a very popular weapon to use with a suppressor. (See Spy Truth & Fiction—Automatics, Semi-Automatics, and Revolvers.) The cartridge provides enough energy for close up assassination, but it is relatively easy and inexpensive to effectively silence a weapon that uses the .380 ammunition. James Bond’s Walther PPK is the most famous example of one of these weapons.

Something fiction rarely addresses is the fact that, with each shot, an unlocked semi-automatic slide cycles and ejects a brass shell.

It is impossible to silence the noise of an unlocked semi-automatic slide. It is also impossible to silence the sound of falling brass unless the weapon is equipped with a brass catcher. However, in the movies, a shooter frequently fires two or three shots in close succession from a “silenced” weapon without any noise being made by the cycling slide or the falling brass. Such scenes are complete and utter fiction.

The .380 semi-automatic is available in “straight blowback” design weapons. (Larger auto-loading pistols use “delayed blowback” designs.) A straight blowback design pistol can be modified to manually lock the slide in a closed position so that the weapon can fire without causing the cartridges to jam. The locked slide prevents the noise of the slide operation along with the noise that escapes the ejection port when the pistol cycles. When a “locked” pistol is used with a suppressor attached to its mussel, the combination allows for the highest level of “suppression,” hence the least noise.

Unlike the movies, to fire successive shots in real life, a shooter must manually unlock the slide, cycle out the cartridge, and then relock the slide before taking a second shot. Locking and unlocking is accomplished with a small lever that would resemble the safety lever on a slide. With a bit of practice it can be operated quickly without much effort.

The Makarov .380 is the most powerful mass produced auto-loading pistol that can be effectively silenced with ease and at low cost.

It is basically a knockoff of James Bond’s Walther .380 on steroids. With a bullet slightly wider and heavier than that of the standard .380, the Makarov has the maximum energy of any sub-sonic cartridge that the Soviet firearms specialists could put into a straight blowback semi-automatic design. The term “sub sonic” is important when discussing silencers or suppressors because a bullet traveling faster than the speed of sound makes a loud noise. Sub-sonic cartridges are, therefore, more practical for silenced firearms.

While a pistol with a manual slide lock does not allow for the quickest successive shots, it can be very quiet and thus ideal for some situations. If, for example, the shooter intended to assassinate an individual who was walking home on his usual route after work, she could easily get a close up headshot on a side street. The noise would be low enough that someone walking twenty yards ahead of the victim would not notice it. Another example is if the shooter could gain access to the target when the target was alone in his hotel room, home, or office. In such circumstances, a trained shooter could easily take the time to deliver a second “insurance” shot on a high value target without a hotel maid in the hallway or people in the next room hearing anything.

.380s without manual slide locks installed are also popular to use with modern liquid filled suppressors.

Such arrangements make more noise than a locked Makarov or locked .380 but still far less noise than a .22 short cartridge fired from a .22 rifle. If the shooter were alone with the target inside a closed hotel room, office, home etc., the noise level would still be acceptable. A pedestrian twenty yards away on a quiet street might recognize the sound as a gunshot, but a pedestrian standing or walking around the corner of a city block would not notice the sound of this type of suppressed weapon.

With precision machining and greater expense, larger handguns can be suppressed, but not to the same degree as the .380 or the .380 Makarov.

During the 1970s, one of the most popular handguns in movies was the attractive Colt Python .357 magnum revolver. We often saw scenes with “silenced” Pythons being fired with more than a mild pfftz sound being generated. The revolver mechanics somehow made no noise at all. Magically, the gas that escaped from between the cylinder and the barrel made no noise, either. That only happens in movies. Suppressors can be used on revolvers, but with much less effect than can be achieved with an auto-loading pistol with a locked slide.

Currently the most popular suppressed handguns in the movies are the 9mm autoloader and the .45 ACP autoloader. With modern suppressors, they can be partially silenced. When a shooter doesn’t want to wake up people in a neighboring apartment or alert police on the next block, those weapons are effective, but unlike in the movies, a guard standing 10 yards away is definitely going to notice the sound of the pistol—not to mention the sound of the falling body. Nonetheless, if a shooter ever had to fire an unsuppressed 9mm or similar pistol from inside of a car, his first thought would be, “Ouch, my ears really hurt.” His second thought would be, “I wish I had a suppressor on this thing.”

Another popular “silenced” weapon is Hollywood is the high power sniper rifle.

We love seeing “silenced” 30-06 rifles in movies. We wish we had one that works like they do. In real life, a suppressor can partially reduce the noise made by a high-powered rifle, but as long as that rifle is firing a supersonic bullet, it’s not going to be anything like “quiet.” Less noisy? Yes. Unnoticed downrange? Not likely. The only advantage in suppressing a high power rifle that fires supersonic bullets is that the shots would alert people over a smaller radius than if a suppressor were not used.

But there’s good news for Hollywood and for snipers.

In recent years, high power cartridges have been developed to fire heavier bullets at subsonic velocities. One example would be the .300 Whisper. These cartridges lack the flatter trajectories of supersonic bullets, but they also lack the loud sonic “crack” generated by supersonic bullets.

So the next time you hear a massive Dirty Harry revolver or an auto-loading pistol silenced down to a pfftz on the screen? The next time you see a shooter take successive shots with a silenced weapon without manually cycling the slide? Label it fiction.

Thank you to Julie Glover for this week’s question about silencers. What are your Spy Truth & Fiction questions?

*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *

 RISKY BRIDES

Limited Time Edition Now Available for Pre-Order!

Bayard & Holmes debut novella, THE SPY BRIDE, in this multi-genre

bestsellers’ collection.

The Spy Bride Risky Brides Boxed Set final Cover

8 Risky Brides — 8 Novels & Novellas

Looking for your next must-read author? You’ll find him or her in this limited-time-only collection. USA Today Bestsellers, (Vicki Hinze, Rita Herron, Donna Fletcher, Peggy Webb, Kathy Carmichael) veteran authors, (Kimberly Llewellyn and Tara Randel) and dynamic newcomers, (Bayard & Holmes)—all share their unique take on what it means to be a risky bride.

Spy Truth & Fiction — Automatics, Semi-Automatics, and Revolvers

By Piper Bayard & Jay Holmes

There are basically three types of handguns—the revolver, the semi-automatic, and the automatic. All three are commonly misnamed or misrepresented in fiction.

 

Gunner's Mate 1st Class Montrell Dorsey with M240B automatic weapon Image by US Navy, public domain

Gunner’s Mate 1st Class Montrell Dorsey with
M240B automatic weapon
Image by US Navy, public domain

 

With an automatic weapon, the cartridges load into a removable magazine. It’s called automatic because when you pull the trigger, it automatically fires repeated bullets until you take your finger off of the trigger. As the shooter fires, the brass shells of the cartridges are ejected from the weapon.

 

Smith & Wesson Bodyguard .380 semi-automatic Image by Avicennasis, wikimedia commons.

Smith & Wesson Bodyguard .380 semi-automatic
Image by Avicennasis, wikimedia commons.

 

A semi-automatic also has cartridges that load into a removable magazine, which, in a pistol such as this one, fits into the handle of the gun. However, one trigger pull equals one shot, and the brass shell from each cartridge is automatically ejected. The weapon does not automatically keep firing.

It’s very common for a semi-automatic to be inaccurately referred to throughout media, movies, and TV as an “automatic” weapon. No matter how hot the journalist, movie star, or soap opera star might be, don’t believe it just because they say it.

 

Piper in the remake of Dirty Harry

Piper in the remake of Dirty Harry

 

A revolver is so called because the cartirdges reside in a revolving cylinder. Like the semi-automatic, one trigger pull equals one shot. However, the brass shells are not ejected automatically. A shooter must open the cylinder and eject all of the shells simultaneously.

Not to knock one of Piper’s favorites, The Walking Dead, but if you listen closely when Rick fires his Colt Python .357, you will sometimes hear the sound of ejected brass hitting the floor with each shot—something only semi-automatics and automatics do. Total audio fiction.

Now it’s your turn. What Spy Truth & Fiction questions do you have for us?

 

*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *

 RISKY BRIDES

Limited Time Edition Now Available for Pre-Order!

Bayard & Holmes debut novella, THE SPY BRIDE, in this multi-genre

bestsellers’ collection.

The Spy Bride Risky Brides Boxed Set final Cover

8 Risky Brides — 8 Novels & Novellas

Looking for your next must-read author? You’ll find him or her in this limited-time-only collection. USA Today Bestsellers, (Vicki Hinze, Rita Herron, Donna Fletcher, Peggy Webb, Kathy Carmichael) veteran authors, (Kimberly Llewellyn and Tara Randel) and dynamic newcomers, (Bayard & Holmes)—all share their unique take on what it means to be a risky bride.