For all men and women on the ground without time to "train the brain" : This thread could be interesting for you.
You will find some summaries of books with military related topics. found online.
My two cents
Patrick O'Donnell. We Were One: Shoulder to Shoulder with the Marines Who Took Fallujah. Cambridge: Da Capo Press, 2006. xxii + 244 pp. Illustrations, maps, photographs, chronology, notes, index. (cloth), ISBN 978-0-306-81469-3.
Reviewed for H-War by Rick Baillergeon, Tactics Department, U.S. > Army Command and General Staff College
Portraying the Human Dimension of War
Over the past months numerous books relating to the war in Iraq have been published. The quality of these books has certainly been mixed. The greatest weakness in most has been the inability of authors to depict truly the human dimension of war. This is a glaring omission because individual and small unit actions characterize the war in Iraq. It is not a war fought with long-range weapons systems and pure technology.
Patrick O'Donnell's new volume, _We Were One: Shoulder to Shoulder with
the Marines Who Took Fallujah_, superbly captures the human dimension of war that is missing in so many books of this genre. _We Were One_ details the raw emotions, the ultimate highs and dramatic lows, the supreme personal sacrifices, and the bonding and unbreakable friendships resulting from intense combat. It is an extremely powerful and personal volume that will dramatically impact both those who have experienced combat and those who have not.
O'Donnell should be familiar to many. His previous efforts were _Beyond Valor: World War II's Ranger and Airborne Veterans Reveal the Heart of Combat_ (2001), which was the winner of the prestigious William E. Colby
award for Outstanding Military History; _Operatives, Spies, and Saboteurs: The Unknown Story of World War II's OSS_ (2006); and _Into the Rising Sun: In Their Own Words, World War II's Pacific Veterans Reveal the Heart of Combat_ (2003). Superb writing, exhaustive research, and the ability to quickly gain and maintain a reader's interest characterized these books. Following the same formula, _We Were One_ takes these characteristics to a higher level.
In four parts, O'Donnell tells the story of the marines through the First Platoon, Lima Company, Third Battalion, First Marine Regiment. First, he describes the platoon's initial formation while platoon members executed predeployment training in Camp Pendleton, California, in March 2004. Second, he examines the platoon's arrival in Kuwait in June 2004, and their initial months in Iraq. Third, he details the platoon's participation in the fierce Battle for Fallujah in November 2004. He concludes by examining the physical, emotional, and mental effects the battle had on these marines.
The Battle for Fallujah (Operation Al-Fajr, or New Dawn) is the focal point of the book. Coalition forces (led by over ten thousand American troops) began their assault of the city on November 8. Their mission was to regain control of Fallujah by the January 2005 elections in order to assist in making the elections reality. Defending the city (almost completely evacuated by civilians) was a combination of well entrenched and heavily armed two thousand to three thousand insurgents, Jihadists, and terrorists. For the next two weeks, coalition forces (including First Platoon, Lima Company) engaged in brutal urban fighting. Finally, after intense fighting and significant casualties, coalition forces took control of the city.
How does O'Donnell succeed in depicting the human dimension of war?
First, from the book's opening pages, he begins to humanize the marines
of the First Platoon. He describes their personalities, includes short biographies on each marine, and provides brief vignettes on most platoon
members. By the time the First Platoon enters Fallujah, readers will
feel they know these marines personally. This sets the conditions for
O'Donnell to portray the human dimension during the Battle for Fallujah.
The second reason why the author is successful is because he spent the Battle for Fallujah with the First Platoon. O'Donnell volunteered to go
to Iraq (one of the first civilian historians in-country) and observed
combat operations directly. This has obviously enabled him to gain
valuable insight and the "feel for the battle" that authors utilizing
interviews after the fact cannot hope to obtain. In writing books such
as this, there is nothing that can take the place of being there. Certainly, the adage, "you must walk the walk to talk the talk" is relevant here.
Readers will find numerous strengths in _We Were One_. Inserted throughout the book are excellent, detailed, and easy to read maps. These maps greatly assist readers in visualizing the terrain in which the battle took place. The author includes over forty photographs (many taken personally), which vividly depict the operations in Fallujah and further humanize the members of the platoon. These images perfectly complement the author's written words. O'Donnell's writing style is fast paced and descriptive. Consequently, many will find _We Were One_to be one of those rareone-sitting books. Readers will not want to put it down.
The book's biggest strength is O'Donnell's ability to convey the personal aspect of combat. Throughout the book, the author highlights the emotional and mental hurdles that each marine faced. Among the areas the author addresses are how individual marines dealt with their fears of combat, the interaction between veteran marines and those taking part in combat for the first time, the emotions marines felt when they had killed their first person in combat, and how marines individually and collectively handled the deaths of their fellow marines in combat (the First Platoon lost seven marines during the battle). These combine to portray the human dimension of war better than any book I have recently read.
However, those expecting a broader view of the second Battle for Fallujah will not be satisfied with this volume. The author offers just enough of the operational and strategic context of the operation to put the small unit actions in perspective. For those in search of this broader perspective, Bing West's equally outstanding _No True Glory_ (2006) is highly recommended.
In his preface, the author tells the story about a marine (who had just
experienced the death of his close friend) who asked O'Donnell what he
would write about regarding his experience in Iraq. O'Donnell answered,
"That I was with a band of heroes and I am going to tell the truth about
what happened here" (p. ix). O'Donnell has clearly done both in _We Were
One_. Those who seek to gain understanding of the human dimension of war and the type of fighting our marines and soldiers conduct daily must read _We Were One_.
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Eric Herring and Glen Rangwala. Iraq in Fragments: The Occupation and Its Legacy. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2006. 354 pp. Notes, index. (cloth), ISBN 978-0-8014-4457-9.
Reviewed for H-War by Bianka J. Adams, Defense Threat Reduction Agency, Ft. Belvoir, Virginia
The U.S. Occupation of Iraq
Just in the last two years, the list of books on the U.S. led invasion and occupation of Iraq has grown by leaps and bounds. They include George Packer's _The Assassin's Gate: America in Iraq_ (2005), Michael R. Gordon's and Bernard E. Trainor's _Cobra II: The Inside Story of the Invasion and Occupation of Iraq_ (2006), Rajiv Chanderasekaran's _Imperial Life in the Emerald Green City: Inside Iraq's Green Zone_ (2006), Thomas E. Ricks's _Fiasco: The American > Military Adventure in Iraq_ (2006), L. Paul Bremer's and Malcom > McConnell's _My Year in Iraq: The Struggle to Build a Future of Hope_ (2006), and Bob Woodward's _State of Denial: Bush at War, Part 3_ (2006), to name but the most popular.
With the American occupation of Iraq in its fifth year, two British lecturers in politics, from the universities of Bristol and Cambridge respectively, have contributed their interpretation of events in Iraq. Eric Herring and Glen Rangwala's _Iraq in Fragments_ is an attempt to "describe and explain the U.S. state-building project and its legacy in the context of local, regional and global politics" (p.1). They based their analysis on extensive study of secondary sources such as published U.S. government papers and reports; British, American, and Arabic newspaper articles; think tank papers and databases; and interviews with a few "anonymous" primary sources who previously worked for Ambassador Paul Bremer's Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA).
Herring and Rangwala divided the book into five chapters followed by a conclusion. A lengthy introductory chapter acquaints the > reader with their basic concepts of analysis. The second chapter, entitled "The State," deals with the "fragmentation of political authority." In it, the authors argue that the CPA failed in its attempt to build a strong central government for Iraq because it was not prepared to relinquish control of state affairs to an indigenous government (p. 83). The unintended consequence of the CPA holding on too tightly was a fragmentation of power among different groups at the center and along the periphery.
In the next chapter on "Governance" the authors expand upon their fragmentation of power theory. They contend that the structure of the CPA exacerbated the centrifugal trend in Iraqi politics. The authority's regional offices acted independently of the central office in Baghdad and formed alliances with local tribes. As evidence the authors cite retroactive recognitions that the CPA granted for the appointments (by tribal leaders) of governors and police chiefs in Al-Anbar, Karbala, and Basra (p. 113). In the absence of a strong political center, Herring and Rangwala assert that patrimonial, neo-patrimonial, sectarian, and party relationship bonds further accelerated the devolution of political power not only to regions and tribes, but also to religious leaders and political parties.
In chapter 4, the authors tackle the thorny topic of insurgency and counterinsurgency. According to their analysis, the insurgency is made up of a mixture of Baathist, terrorist, and sectarian groups that share a common goal of wrecking U.S. attempts at state building (p. 170). Responding to the insurgents' challenge, the Coalition forces had a choice between coercion and what Herring and Rangwala termed "legitimation." The Coalition chose coercion and alienated the Iraqi civilian population in the process. While the authors acknowledge that U.S. Army doctrine writers learned from mistakes and incorporated the lessons in a new counterinsurgency manual, they state that the Army still defaults to employing coercion in response to attacks (p. 178). In asserting that opinion, the authors have effectively dismissed any notion that the Iraqi Interim Government can exert meaningful influence over coalition military operations.
The volume's fifth chapter deals with the reconstruction of the Iraqi economy. Here, as in the chapter on state building, the authors opine that the United States was unwilling to cede control to the Iraqis. Hence, large U.S. corporations received the majority of lucrative rebuilding contracts and American dominated reconstruction institutions ensured that that practice continued (pp. 218-222). Unfortunately, the Iraqi business communities' ability to realistically participate (considering that nation's culture of graft and corruption, the physical damage caused by the war, and a decade of economic sanctions) is not adequately examined. The authors point out, however, that U.S. policies designed to open up the Iraqi economy and integrate it into the global market at least partially succeeded (p. 234). Iraq's integration into "informal" global trading of weapons, oil, pornography, and illegal drugs, on the other hand, was quite complete (p. 216).
In the concluding chapter, Herring and Rangwala offer their analysis of the legacy of the occupation. They assess it by measuring the occupation's impact on the Iraqi state's functional scope, institutional capacity, domestic and international autonomy, identity, and coherence. The authors make a case that, while Coalition revived enough of the state's functions to keep it from failing, the occupation's principal legacy in Iraq is the fragmentation of political authority.
Herring and Rangwala's _Iraq in Fragments_ differs substantially from the previously mentioned publications about Iraq because it is strictly an analysis of the U.S. led occupation. As such, the book is best suited for readers who are already familiar with the events > in Iraq and who are interested in how political scientists categorize and assess them. The authors attempt to do both with varying degrees of success. The analytical concepts they introduce for measuring the impact of the occupation on the state and on governance allow readers to thread their way through a bewildering labyrinth of tribal loyalties, familial bonds, political parties, foreign influences, and patrimonial relationships. By comparison, the chapters on the insurgency and the economy are ineffective and at times confusing. On the whole, I found the book thought provoking and worth reading.
. The views expressed in this review are solely those of the author. They do not necessarily reflect official positions or the views of the Defense Threat Reduction Agency or the Department of Defense.
Robert M. Citino. Blitzkrieg to Desert Storm: The Evolution of Operational Warfare. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2004. x + 424 pp. Illustrations, photographs, maps, notes, bibliography, index. (cloth), ISBN 0-7006-1300-5.
Reviewed for H-War by William Shane Story, U.S. Army Center of Military History
Multiple Awards, Great Reviews, and Fundamental Flaws
The collapse of Saddam Hussein’s regime in 2003 stunned military historians. At a crucial moment, in the weeks and months after Saddam’s fall when the invasion was becoming the occupation, accomplished historians suspended critical analysis of the situation to publish glowing accounts of the campaign. Culminating their stories on April 9, 2003 (the high water mark for the invasion when Saddam fled the American onslaught), these authors discounted the occupation’s mounting challenges to recount a historic triumph. In Blitzkrieg to Desert Storm: The Evolution of Operational Warfare, Robert M. Citino joins those who toasted success in lieu of weighing what it meant to invade a desert and occupy an Arab country riven by sectarian strife. Citino has long emphasized the importance of context, the difficulty of applying a model of previous successes to new situations, and the often-frustrating legacies of so-called victories. In most of Blitzkrieg to Desert Storm, Citino continues to develop those same themes in analyzing far-flung conflicts and synthesizing theory and doctrine. His sixty pages of notes attest to quality work, and make valuable reading in their own right. In the final two chapters, however, the book points to isolated combats as proof of scientific progress in the profession of American arms. Citino closes his work with an error-filled description of the march to Baghdad that validates General Tommy Franks’s declaration of a “fast and final” campaign.
The first five chapters are Clausewitzian surveys of miscalculation and chance in which military success is so occasional that it demands the greatest of care and imposes humility on any who would take it for granted. Chapter 1 abridges Citino’s earlier examinations of interwar German Army doctrine and training, and modern armies’ disappointing attempts to fight industrialized wars efficiently, studies that launched his well-deserved reputation for brilliant analysis.  For decades, decisive victory was a chimera; but Heinz Guderian and other German generals solved the quandaries posed by new technologies to reap triumphs between 1939 and 1941. In chapter 2, the Wehrmacht’s success united Hitler’s enemies and led to larger difficulties that sapped German strength and initiative with catastrophic results. Citino turns to Allied tactics in chapter 3, considering how British, Russian, and American commanders tried to replicate the Wehrmacht’s campaigns. Repeatedly, national circumstances shaped each country’s military efforts more than the notion of blitzkrieg, and the price of victory was a war of attrition.
After 1945, the Wehrmacht’s early performance remained the grail of professional excellence, and would-be Guderians have ever since imagined themselves leading unstoppable armored columns to martial glory. In practice, even victories have often been Pyrrhic due to war’s exorbitant costs. In chapter 4, Citino turns to Korea—a stalemate—as an under-appreciated example of how armies fight, what war is, and what it yields. The 1953 ceasefire’s ambiguous non-victory left the belligerents uncertain what lessons to draw from the bloodshed. On the other hand, Korea’s dramatic reversals; complex operations; infantry tactics; fast movements; alternatively strained and abundant logistics; hard fighting and slow diplomacy offer considerable material for studying modern war. Moreover, Korea’s unresolved division underscores the limits of what operational warfare can achieve.
As in Korea, military success in the Arab-Israeli wars was less than definitive, and the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s was a futile curse. In 1971, however, India’s campaign against Pakistan was decisive and quick. Contemporary observers extolled India’s “blitzkrieg” tactics, but Citino argues persuasively that policy, strategy, timing, planning, and execution cumulatively made a decisive victory not only possible, but likely. Without taking anything away from the Indian accomplishment, the result turned on India’s numerous advantages overwhelming Pakistan’s numerous disadvantages. Perhaps most important, Pakistan preferred India’s limited object—East Pakistani independence—to continued fighting. In Citino’s view, India’s 1971 success deserves study, but singular circumstances make the operation a case study, not a model.
Given the prudence that permeates Citino’s writings, his philosophical transformation in the last two chapters is an enigma. It begins with an inexplicable passage in which Citino sets up a straw man and calls it Russell Weigley, attributing ideas to the eminent historian that Weigley explicitly rejected. According to Citino, Weigley’s mistakes were common ones. For example, Weigley reduced American strategy to “gathering overwhelming force,” destroying enemy armies, and forcing the enemy’s unconditional surrender (p. 226). Further, Citino says, Weigley misinterpreted Ulysses S. Grant as an unsubtle butcher (p. 227). Citino lays himself the task of correcting these and others of Weigley’s mistakes. The problem with Citino’s assertions is that Weigley argued, in his seminal American Way of War, (that multiple tensions have roiled Americans’ efforts to define coherent strategies. As the nation grew and its enemies and the worldchanged, many American strategists desired and sought the enemy’s unconditional surrender as the sine qua non of victory. In practice, warfare’s tremendous costs and risks served to limit its use and its power of decision. In discussing Grant, Weigley argued that the general’s reputation as a butcher was misconceived, and he praised Grant’s operational brilliance, his ability to “master the flow of a long series of events,” and the 1863 Vicksburg campaign as a masterpiece of maneuver that spared lives.  Weigley’s analysis and Citino’s comments on it are irreconcilable.
The missteps continue as Citino considers Vietnam, Desert Storm, American strategy in the 1990s, and the march on Baghdad. He begins by dismissing context and complications, and instead plotting a handful of events as points on a grand trajectory of upward progress. He turns Vietnam into an operational success by focusing on the American response to the Tet offensive, which entailed ten weeks of combat in 1968. Desert Storm validated the Army’s operational development, but positive trends came under threat in the 1990s when Army doctrine writers introduced Operations Other Than War and the Army became bogged down in Balkan peacekeeping missions. It was a time when policy-makers and generals were muddling through responses to new world disorders, but Citino berates their efforts while ignoring their problems. Citino continues to evoke Clausewitz, but he embraces certainty, lamenting the Army’s “post-1991 wrong turn” of promoting stability operations at the expense of heavy forces. Regarding humanitarian crises and the anarchy they spawn, Citino asserts “there are plenty of other organizations that do that sort of work, and probably do it better than the army” (p. 294).
Citino closes with a victorious rendering of the Third Infantry Division’s march on Baghdad in 2003 as the most recent proof of what operational warfare and armored forces can accomplish. Using superlatives and hyperbole for effect, he offers the qualification that the victory’s meaning is not yet clear. Some things, however, were clear immediately after Saddam fell: American supply lines were tenuous, American forces were exhausted, and American strategy lacked direction. In Quest for Decisive Victory, Citino cited such problems as the reasons armies frequently fail to pursue routed enemies to their final destruction. An observer schooled in Citino’s canon would have seen Saddam’s fall as a moment of dangerous opportunity, but Citino welcomed progress triumphant.
Despite these criticisms, Blitzkrieg is a valuable survey of wars and military theory, and I recommend it to historians and officers seeking a concise recounting of diverse conflicts. Citino offers insight, useful comparisons, and points of departure for vigorous debates on the structuring and use of military force, and a case study on how examining the past may not illuminate the present.
. See, John Keegan, The Iraq War (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2004); and Williamson Murray and Robert H. Scales Jr., The Iraq War: A Military History (Cambridge: Belknap Press, 2003).
. Robert M. Citino, The Path to Blitzkrieg: Doctrine and Training in the German Army, 1920-1939 (Boulder: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 1999); and Quest for Decisive Victory: From Stalemate to Blitzkrieg in Europe, 1899-1940 (Kansas: University of Kansas Press, 2002).
 Russell F. Weigley, The American Way of War: A History of United States Military Strategy and Policy (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1973), p. 139.
Alex Vernon. Most Succinctly Bred. Kent: Kent State University Press, 2006. xii + 100 pp. Index. (cloth), ISBN 0-87338-855-0.
Reviewed for H-War by Bradford Wineman, Department of Military History, U.S. Army Command and General Staff College
The Academic’s Gulf War Syndrome
This book, with its title drawn from an E.E. Cummings poem, presents a collection of essays written over the course of ten years (although published previously in other works). The essays are arranged roughly in the chronological order of the events on which the author muses. Vernon’s style and structure borrows heavily from his literary heroes, Ernest Hemingway and Tim O’Brien (occasionally to the point of distraction for students of these works), using simplistic yet poignant wording in introspective stories that reveal the inner-musings of the author and capture complex human emotion through the otherwise unsophisticated method of storytelling. As a student of literature, Vernon also draws from other great works, ranging from the classics to his contemporaries, to draw perspective and context.
The selections take the reader through the author’s ordinary yet unique life, from growing up in late 1980s Cold War, middle America; to attending West Point, deploying and returning from the first Gulf War; to observing the coming second Gulf War as an academic. His journey is an unusual one, in which he wades in the ethical ambiguity of his cadetship, embracing many of the Academy’s values but morally rebelling against much of its conformity by experimenting with Wicca and witchcraft to create an emotional location within himself that the Army could never intrude upon.
However, Vernon’s contractual commitment to the Army eventually takes him to the sands of Saudi Arabia for Operation Desert Shield, where he reflects on the uncertainties of the impending “Mother of All Battles,” much in the same manner as fellow Gulf War veteran turned pensive author Anthony Swofford. Upon his return from the war, Vernon took advantage of the major Department of Defense draw-down and left the military for graduate school and a career as a professor of literature. He also reflects on the contradictions of being a soldier in the freethinking, anti-military “ivory tower” of a liberal arts college. Drawing from his own war experience and the inspiration of fellow literati, Vernon’s final essays explore his feelings on September 11, and his fears regarding the impending war with Iraq, overlapping with the fears of his new fatherhood.
After he addressed an audience of Army ROTC cadets about his combat experiences, many of the students thanked Vernon profusely for adding a human dimension to the military experience that their ultra-technological and doctrinal training had lacked. It is this theme—the dichotomy between the human and the machinistic, the feeling versus the unfeeling—that drives his narrative. Whether writing of his experience as a literature major in West Point’s engineering curriculum, as the hardened combat veteran in a stereotypically non-conformist liberal arts department, or of the absence of visible human suffering in the surgical air strikes of the Gulf War, Vernon’s essays reveal a constant struggle between these two paradigms.
This dichotomy occasionally presents problems for the author. Vernon depicts himself as the misplaced academic or poet lost in the maelstrom of the military’s warrior culture (à la Hemingway, O’Brien and to a lesser extent, Swofford). He questions his choice of career while a West Point cadet, weeps openly before a chaplain before the war fearing the death of his soldiers, and declares himself a “a soldier, not a warrior” and professes to “abhor violence” (pp. 50, 70). He is, self-admittedly, the reluctant soldier. But in his chapter “The Gulf War and Post-Modern Memory,” he lambastes post-modern theorists and pundits who disavow the overall significance of the Gulf War because of its unexpected short duration and nearly bloodless result. Vernon vehemently contends that the conflict was not a video game or a television drama, but a real shooting-killing nightmare for him and his fellow soldiers who put their lives on the line against one of the world’s most dangerous armies. Now, he demands the respect and attention for service as a warrior in an otherwise forgotten war. He curses war but bristles with insult when the war he himself condemned is not remembered correctly or mocked for its irrelevance.
Within the American warrior culture, the veterans of Operation Desert Storm find themselves lost in a sea of heroic obscurity crammed awkwardly amongst the Greatest Generation of World War II, the bloodied Vietnam generation, and the new heroes of the Iraq War and Global War on Terrorism. Regardless, Vernon essentially asserts, Americans need to acknowledge the forgotten human element of the conflict instead of being blinded by the success of the cold arithmetic of technology’s overplayed role. Unfortunately, technology did ultimately win the Gulf War and made it the bloodless, Hollywood-like victory portrayed on CNN. This war was not waged by the triumph of human spirit or the courage of the individual soldier like the other conflicts of the last half-century. In the end, this plastic perception of the war does undermine the small number of servicemen who lost their lives and the scores of others who returned home with various physical and mental conditions. Nevertheless, Vernon’s quest for Homeric catharsis at times lacks historical perspective.
Despite this one quibble, the author’s use of paradox to frame events around him as well as his own character make these essays remarkably engaging. Vernon’s musings bounce between the world of the real and the tangible (the Academy, his tank platoon, graduate school), and the intellectual and hyper-imaginative reveries attempting to find perspective in the chaotic world around him. Vernon splashes each essay with narratives of his experiences, soul-searching monologues, literature excerpts, socio-political commentary, and anecdotal stories all woven together into thematically tight packages placing his personal story in the broader context of history and the human condition. Most Succinctly Bred provides a worthwhile and meditative read for those within and outside of the military.
David J. Danelo. Blood Stripes: The Grunts View of the War in Iraq. Mechanicsburg: Stackpole Books, 2006. xiv + 345 pp. Photographs, glossary, index. (paper), ISBN 0-8117-0164-6.
Reviewed for H-War by Paul Westermeyer, History Division, Marine > Corps University.
The 2003 invasion and subsequent occupation of Iraq by the United States and its allies will be fiercely debated by historians for decades to come. The conflict has created or exposed deep political divisions within American society and across the globe. There is, and will likely remain, deep disagreement between scholars over many of the most basic facts about the causes and conduct of this war. It is likely that shelves will groan for decades to come under the weight of books attempting to explain every aspect of this conflict. David Danelo's Blood Stripes_ is just such a book.
In 2004, many of the Marine Corps' units which had participated in the invasion of 2003 returned to Iraq as part of the pacification campaign.
They found that the enemy they now faced was more determined, better hidden, and somewhat more effective than the Iraqi army they had defeated in 2003. Urban counter-insurrection is one of the most difficult missions a military unit can undertake; the environment surrounds the soldier or Marine with vulnerable non-combatants and impenetrable terrain, since every building is potentially a fortress. In this sort of warfare the juniornon-commissioned officer's judgment and discretion have a profound impact on the course of the war.
Blood Stripes: The Grunt's View of the War in Iraq_ attempts to tell the story of these junior non-commissioned officers (NCOs), primarily sergeants and corporals, whose daily decisions are helping to determine the outcome of the conflict. It follows the stories of a small handful of Marines during the critical occupation period of February-September 2004. The book includes a forward by Steven Pressfield, author of the historical novel _Gates of Fire_ (1999). David Danelo is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy with seven years of service as a Marine infantry officer. He served in Iraq during the same period this book covers, though he does not note any personal observations from his service and does not include interviews from any of the junior NCOs who served under his own command.
Danelo follows the standard canon format for such books, describing his
subjects' lives prior to their arrival in Iraq in 2003, their participation in operations in and near Fallujah in the summer of 2004, and their subsequent return to the United States that fall. Obligatory scenes with loved ones and dependents are sprinkled throughout the book. Danelo carefully skirts the politics, in large part because his subjects appear reluctant to express opinions on the topic.
Danelo is at his best when describing specific events; he has a talent for bringing the sand and smells of Mesopotamia alive to his readers. His primary stories revolve not around the action, however, but around the various leadership problems the young NCOs faced and then overcame.
With the exception of Corporal "Shady" Stevens, his primary subjects are infantry NCOs involved in leading combat patrols. The sections dealing with Stevens's headquarters' adventures feel detached and unconnected to the rest of the narrative.
The book is written in a clear, journalistic prose, with an omniscient authorial voice, rather than the more dispassionate historical style. Unfortunately, the book lacks footnotes or endnotes, and Danelo paraphrases his interviewees rather than quoting them. This makes it essentially impossible to tell when one is reading the words and thoughts of an interviewee, and when we are reading Danelo's editorial comments. His work is far less useful to scholars than it might have been, as it has very little value as a reliable historical document.
Danelo's obsession with the "Spartan Way" and Pressfield's _Gates of Fire_ further exacerbates this problem. Danelo is clearly a great admirer of Pressfield's work, and of the Spartans as Pressfield > presents them, but it seems unlikely that all of the Marines Danelo interviews are equally as enamored with Pressfield's work. The book is on the reading list of the Marine Corps Professional Reading Program for Corporals and Sergeants, but it is only one of ten books on that list. Even if the young NCOs have all read the book, it seems doubtful they would use the phrase the "Spartan way" or subscribe to Pressfield's theories of Spartan society.
What seems more likely is that Danelo has internalized this concept as an ideal, and sees his ideal illustrated in these Marines. As a unifying structure for his book the "Spartan Way" works. Yet, because Danelo does not allow his subjects to speak for themselves, its relevance remains suspect. _Blood Stripes_ is fairly typical of its genre, providing a window into the world of the junior enlisted infantry Marine. It is an extremely readable and well-organized book for the general public, but its lack of citations and clearly delineated quotations make it of questionable usefulness for the academic reader.
Sasha Lezhnev. Crafting Peace: Strategies to Deal with Warlords in Collapsing States. Foreword by John Prendergast. Plymouth: Lexington Books, 2005. xv + 119 pp. Chronology of events, notes, bibliography, index. $60.00 (cloth), ISBN 978-0-7391-0957-1; (paper), ISBN 978-0-7391-1765-1.
Reviewed for H-War by Iavor Rangelov, Department of Government, > London School of Economics and Political Science
Warlords, Practitioners, and Scholars
Books written for practitioners must offer straightforward solutions to problems that scholars often identify as intractable. Sasha Lezhnev's project--to articulate guidelines for countering warlords in failing state--is more ambitious. The book takes a comparative approach to the subject, drawing on two case studies: Sierra Leone and Tajikistan. Furthermore, the author's template for analysis implicitly incorporates some key lessons distilled from the academic literature. Nevertheless, this study will resonate better in policy circles rather than in academic ones, since at times the narrative moves too quickly from evidence to prescription and leaves important issues and arguments under-theorized.
The narrative unfolds by offering a definition of warlordism in a globalized framework, then zooms out to consider the success of various efforts pursued in the context of the two cases, and closes with recommendations for designing strategies to deal with warlords. The author breaks down the definition of warlords by looking at their motivations and social make-up; the weak state environment that allows them to flourish; the methods that warlords employ (converging on assaults on civilians); and the organizational structures that enable effective mobilization and > control. Sierra Leone and Tajikistan are then analyzed to illustrate the definition, emphasizing the degrees of warlordism (the former being closer to the ideal type than the latter), and are used to sift through evidence of what works and what fails in eliminating warlords. Important differences, for example pertaining to identity politics and the nature of the collapsing state regime, are briefly mentioned but not integrated in an overall framework.
The book emphasizes that sustainable peace requires efforts to dislodge warlords and to transform the broader political and security environment, arguing for alternatives to the standard approach that incorporates warlords in power-sharing structures in exchange for peace. Lezhnev's solution is a mix of short-term strategies of coercion to deal with intransigent warlords, and longer-term strategies of state-building to transform political incentives. Coercive options include imposing "smart" sanctions that are resource-sensitive and have a global reach; deploying internal, international or "transnational" (mixed) force; prosecuting warlords under international criminal law; and establishing programs for disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration. State-building policies involve undermining the power of warlords by supporting alternative sources of authority; promoting democratization; fostering economics reconstruction and employment; and, as a last resort, conducting structured peace negotiations that may provide for warlord reintegration.
The study is driven by a problem-solving imperative and moves swiftly from empirical analysis to policy recommendations. This sleek structure, however, comes at a price. Most of the key arguments are constructed at the interface of the Sierra Leone and Tajikistan cases, but in order to generalize them coherently the author needs a broader framework that is often missing. The field > of ethnic conflict studies has moved to conceptualize the role of identity in recent conflicts and the dynamics of peace-building in such settings. Research on ollapsing state structures, violence against civilians, and the globalized war economy has made rapid advances in the last years and is well integrated in the "new wars" literature. Similarly, the mushrooming literature on human security has developed the principles of multilateralism, regional focus, and rebuilding legitimate political authority in responses to warlord-driven conflict. Lack of deeper engagement with these bodies of scholarship will be puzzling for some academic readers. To be sure, however, the strategies to deal with warlords offered by Lezhnev are persuasive and relevant, even if they often reflect the underlying problem without capturing it explicitly. Since the book is addressed primarily to practitioners and olicymakers, its target audience will be rewarded for picking it up.
Chester A. Crocker, Fen Osler Hampson, and Pamela R. Aall, eds. Leashing the Dogs of War: Conflict Management in a Divided World. Washington, D.C.: United States Institute of Peace Press, 2007. xviii + 726 pp. Tables, notes, index. (cloth), ISBN 1-929223-97-8; (paper), ISBN 1-929223-96-X.
Reviewed for H-War by Ralph Hitchens, Independent Scholar Farewell, Westphalia!
This massive collection of thirty-seven essays offers wide-ranging analysis of the "end of history" era in which we find ourselves, although if the authors are united on one idea, it is that Francis Fukuyama got it wrong (_End of History and the Last Man_ ). Be that as it may, we are surely at the end of a major historical epoch in which conflict between nation-states was the default frame of reference for politicians and historians. Mohammed Ayoob's essay "State Making, State Breaking, and State Failure" echoes what I first heard from a senior CIA analyst more than one decade ago, that the "Westphalian model" was passing from the scene. Ayoob maintains that we cannot accept the transcendence of this hallowed geopolitical construct, but rather must work to strengthen it. In analytical terms, this involves reaching back to identify common ground between European states in their formative era and today's failing states in the third world, a difficult prospect for historians and near-impossible for policymakers. Still, Ayoob does make the case that the root problem is widespread inadequacy of state authority in the developing world, not (as it so often seems) the excessive use of state power against one's own citizens.
For a narrative and statistical overview of conflict in the present, the reader should jump to chapter 29, Andrew Mack's "Successes and Challenges in Conflict Management." Mack shows that despite the ubiquitous chaos and violence that besets mankind at the start of the twenty-first century, things actually seem to be getting better in many respects. An essay with particular appeal for historians is "Turbulent Transitions" by Edward D. Mansfield and Jack Snyder. The authors might be criticized for using too many examples from nineteenth- and early twentieth-century European history applied to less-mature polities in the twenty-first-century third world, but they draw their examples with insightful economy. Their argument is at once coherent and somewhat frustrating for American policymakers. Mansfield and Snyder contend that "states are especially war prone when they start making a transition toward democracy before the requisite institutions are in place" (p.
172). South Africa, they note, has done reasonably well evolving into a
mass democracy; other African states, like Burundi, have not done so
well. The authors convincingly refute the neo-Wilsonian thrust of the Bush administration, where all the rhetoric is about democracy and elections with less said about an independent judiciary or a free press. They are not the first to note that within most Islamic states in particular, "the institutional preparations for democracy are > weak" (p.173).
Economist Paul Collier has some interesting thoughts on the economic
imperatives of revolutionary groups, seeing such entities "not as the
ultimate protest groups but as the ultimate manifestation of organized crime" (p. 198). Of course rebel groups, unlike ordinary criminal organizations, must "develop a discourse of grievance," but what ultimately matters is whether the group can sustain itself financially (p. 199). He concludes that "rebellion is unrelated to objective circumstances or grievance while being caused by the feasibility of predation" (p. 199). Logically, then, states should respond to an insurgency by reducing opportunities for predation rather than addressing grievances. Post-conflict settlement is also a stark economic issue. In Mozambique, for example, Renamo was able to become a nonviolent political party in large part because foreign aid donors were able to offset its income from extortion and theft; and in Angola, UNITA (National Union for the Total Independence of Angola) acquired so much wealth from diamonds that foreign aid donors had no impact and the conflict could not be easily terminated. In contrast to Collier, Frances Stewart and Graham Brown look in more traditional fashion at broader socioeconomic issues, calling for efforts to correct "horizontal inequalities" in both economic and political spheres as the best formula to resolve or prevent conflict in weak states (p. 222). Might these two approaches not work in parallel?
Lawrence Freedman examines the relevance of humanitarian intervention into the war on terror. The failure of the current administration to appreciate this linkage has, he argues, complicated U.S. efforts in both Afghanistan and Iraq. "Peace support," he notes, is historically problematic for the U.S. military and our experience in the 1990s was not encouraging (p. 248). In particular, growing casualty-intolerance and our obsession with an "exit strategy" in every intervention cannot help but prolong insurgencies. Alas, the long U.S. learning process in dealing with instability and insurgencies in the current era has been cut short by the war on terror. Among the many lessons we have yet to internalize is the "battle of the narrative" preeminent in this age of ubiquitous media presence and, God help us, the Internet (p. 259). The good news Freedman offers echoes what Mack and other contributors point out--declining conflict statistics worldwide. Only international terrorism, it seems, is on the rise.
Brian Urquhart, a longtime senior U.N. official and surely one of the most experienced "blue helmet" soldiers around, has some counterintuitive advice on the use of force in humanitarian interventions. He shows that when it comes to stabilizing a chaotic situation, rapid deployment is more important than staff preparation or troop training. Bruce Jentleson tackles the question of "never again"--the legacy of humanitarian disasters like Ruanda, where intervention was either aborted or came too late. Military force, he argues, must be "something more than a last resort" (p. 292). Robert J. Art and Patrick Cronin examine the difficult issue of coercive diplomacy, reaching the unsurprising conclusion that in face-off situations the stakes are high for the target as well as the coercer, and it is not easy to find the correct balance between threat and inducement. (Munich, it seems, may still be relevant.) It is a relief to get down to brass tacks with Michael O'Hanlon, who recommends that the international community build a peacekeeping and stabilization force on the order of six hundred thousand troops, enabling sequential and even simultaneous intervention deployments of up to two hundred thousand troops to be fielded.
There is much else of interest here: Joseph Nye reminding us (as we urgently need to be reminded) about "soft power" (pp. 390-391); Marina Ottaway on the unsurprising failure of "coercive democratization" (p. 603); and Kimberly Martin on the intriguing similarities between today's humanitarian interventions and late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century imperialism--not the brutal variant practiced by King Leopold or the kaiser, but American and British liberal democratic imperialism based on the Kiplingesque "white man's burden" (p. 625). (Today's implementation, it seems, lacks the resources or political will to succeed.) Space precludes a full inventory of this collection, but certainly the book contains a wealth of thoughtful analysis for the contemporary historian and policy wonk alike. I wonder, though, why the United States Institute of Peace opted for a huge, expensive volume that will scarcely be seen outside the halls of academia. Why not instead beef up their website with even more high-profile content? Why not become a favored bookmark of the policy elite (assuming members of said elite use their computers for anything apart from e-mail)? If we are taking a fresh look at the "Westphalian model," why not reexamine other legacy structures? Is a book reviewer raising this question "shooting the messenger" after a fashion?
Richard E. Rupp. NATO after 9/11: An Alliance in Continuing Decline. New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 2006. xiv + 282 pp. Tables, charts, notes, bibliography, index. (cloth), ISBN 978-1-4039-7188-3.
Reviewed for H-War by Jonathan Reed Winkler, Department of History, Wright State University
The Long Slow Sunset
Strategic alliances are among the most complex of historical subjects. The tradeoffs, compromises, pressures, and rewards inherent in these bargains have fascinated scholars since Thucydides first chronicled the collapse of the Delian League into the Athenian Empire.
Now Richard Rupp, a political scientist at Purdue University-Calumet, offers his views on the incipient collapse of that most powerful of recent alliances, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, or NATO. In NATO after 9/11 , Rupp argues that "NATO's days as a coherent, effectively functioning military alliance are waning" (p. 2). He suggests that the lack of a common menace to members' vital interests, compounded by growing differences between the United States and the rest of the alliance, means NATO will become ever less valuable to its members (p. 3). While acknowledging the repeated claims since the end of the Cold War that NATO was in decline, Rupp suggests that the successive efforts to revitalize NATO have not worked, and that the problems related to Afghanistan and Iraq make this manifest. In his view, NATO is no longer an effective alliance or a credible military threat. While both the United States and Europe share the blame for this decline, no amount of reform will fix NATO. Instead, a new security regime must emerge.
Rupp develops this argument through a chronological analysis of the alliance, focusing primarily on the period after the Cold War when NATO members searched for a new shared mission. In his first chapter, he lays out the theoretical framework for the study, and seeks to identify the national interests of the participating nations, in order to clarify the differences that the United States and other members have over contemporary threat perception. The current threats that NATO members identify, ranging from economic or environmental problems to terrorism and weapons proliferation, are nowhere nearly as galvanizing as the Soviet threat was during the Cold War. The alliance that came into being during the Cold War was about collective defense, oriented against a common foe, and not about collective security, oriented towards a region and varying, evolving threats. The collapse of the Eastern threat, then, posed significant existential questions for the alliance. But rather than go out of business, the alliance changed its focus and even expanded.
The 1990s are the subject of chapter 2, in which he examines the formative transformation of the alliance from one of collective defense to collective security. This is the most interesting and important part of the book. Supporters of NATO saw the deployment of forces to the Balkans as proof that the alliance had found a new, successful reason for being. But, Rupp argues that the more significant story was that this period saw the beginning of divergence over policy, threat perception, and military capabilities among the alliance members, differences that would only continue to grow. The United States and European members began to see differently on a number of issues which, though unrelated to NATO, complicated efforts to reform NATO. Changing threat perceptions, driven by the different regional and global outlooks of the partners, as well as varying domestic priorities, compounded this. Also important was the fact that the United States' continuing maintenance of a military second to none created a "free rider" problem, allowed the European NATO members to eschew military spending for social spending, and compound the growing military capabilities gap between the United States and the other members. If NATO does cease to exist, Rupp has made a good case that the 1990s, and not the post-9/11 period, are where historians should look for the real causes of the alliance's decline.
The subsequent three chapters cover NATO since the terrorist attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001. Here, Rupp makes his major point that 9/11 failed to galvanize the alliance or repair the weakening that had occurred in the 1990s. Immediately after the attacks, NATO members invoked Article V, but Rupp is careful to note that there was not unanimous support for this, and he explores the problems that the nature of this conflict posed to the alliance. NATO had been about large, mechanized armed forces and threats from nation-states. But al Qaeda represented something else, and the location, duration, and style of this conflict was not entirely clear. What Rupp then reminds us is that the Bush administration specifically chose not to use the alliance's military forces in general but those of members in particular (the "coalition of the willing" model), in large part because of the capabilities gap revealed during the 1990s. This, together with the subsequent disagreements over the United States' attention to Iraq in 2002-2003, led to real divisions within the alliance's members that culminated in outright efforts by France and Germany to stop the United States in the Security Council in 2003. Rather than rest only on Iraq, however, Rupp is careful to explain that NATO's growing role in Afghanistan has been of critical importance to the alliance. If NATO can pull off a successful out-of-area operation, it might well prove to its members as well as others in the Eurasian landmass that it is a viable military alliance that can project power effectively for publicly acceptable missions. What Rupp notes, however, is that by 2006 (when the book went to press) the operations were less aggressive than NATO, the United States or the Afghanis wanted. Inadequate numbers of soldiers, limited equipment, and a hesitancy to engage in potentially difficult combat has weakened NATO's mission there. This may yet change, and so Rupp is careful to end his book not speculating on Afghanistan so much as ruminating on the likely further decline in NATO's relevance. Rupp's work is clear, concise, fair, and certainly timely. But it is not without methodological and interpretive issues that raised questions for this reviewer, who is, it should be noted, a historian and not a political scientist. Some problems stem from the need to compress a large amount of material into a short analysis. For example, Rupp does not mention the French withdrawal from NATO military planning in 1966, even though this would suggest a major precedent for how the alliance might come apart. When discussing the run-up to the Iraq invasion, Rupp does not mention the Turkish rejection of the pass-through of the U.S. 4th Infantry Division, which occurred despite NATO's significant guarantee of Turkish security days earlier. One would have thought that this would have been a much more visible example of the alliance's problems in 2003 (it actually affected the invasion) than the refusal of the European allies to allow overflights or equipment transfers in support of the war.
A broader concern, however, was that the work was largely Amero-centric in its analysis and based on English-language sources. Rupp discusses the Europeans in a unitary fashion, in a manner suggesting that the different countries held largely the same view on all things. A notable exception to this is his discussion of the pre-Iraq wrangling by "old" and "new" Europe, but this exception illustrates the rule. While examining each member might have posed monumental analytical problems, even a modest effort was warranted in light of the political shifts across the continent over the last two years. Moreover, poor Canada is shunted aside. Neither American nor European, its views on policy matters in this period (Kyoto, the International Criminal Court, Iraq) often were similar to those of many European governments, but Rupp casts the issue more as a division between the United States and Europe. The book's sourcing was also problematic, but in a way that does not reflect negatively on the author so much as on all such works of contemporary history. Rupp relied upon secondary literature, mostly newspaper and wire press accounts in English, journals (academic and policy), interviews with U.S. and European officials (mostly unattributed), and a few primary source documents. Because significant primary source material will not be available to scholars for some time to come, any work such as the one under review here must necessarily rest upon a broad base of secondary material. But we need to be more cautious about how we use newspaper accounts, particularly on hotly contested geopolitical debates. Indeed, the relative absence of continental European news sources, in an electronic age where much is available online, in this work on the major alliance in Europe struck this reviewer as surprising.
NATO after 9/11_ also raises questions that should be of great importance for historians and political scientists as we begin to analyze the "Long War" and make sense of its significance. Rupp's argument is that the prosecution of this war has compounded significant preexisting faults with the result that NATO as a military alliance has been severely weakened. But this inherently requires that we view what has occurred since 9/11 as a conventional military event, one that NATO members had, prior to 9/11 envisioned as the purpose of the alliance. With that kind of an approach, the events after 9/11 in Afghanistan and then Iraq appear to be an inadequate use of NATO's military power and the strengths of the alliance. By this approach, and there is much merit to it, the United States is a unilateral actor and the alliance the victim of diverging viewpoints of its members. We should not let this approach narrow our understanding of what this alliance is or can do.
As scholars of military affairs, we must be careful not to assume that conventional military operations (however adapted to new civil affairs or counterinsurgency roles) are the only thing going on during this event. Indeed,in retrospect it may actually be a lesser (though nonetheless important)part of what is going on. However much the alliance appears to have weakened from this, we must ask whether the military institution of NATO, organized towards state-supported large mechanized armed forces, is relevant to this kind of war. The most important parts of the war are hidden behind very high levels of secrecy (just as ULTRA--intelligence gained from decryption of German communications was during World War Two) and include very complex financial, informational and clandestine Special Operations aspects that will not become public for some time. There may in fact be levels of cooperation within NATO that, while not organized around conventional combat arms, are nonetheless important. This may, in fact, mean that NATO will continue to transform but into something other than what it has been in the years since its founding. What Rupp's work reminds us, then, is that we must pay attention to other levels of analysis besides simply the largest, systemic ones, such as personnel, doctrine, force structure, and policy. To take one example, so long as the U.S. military considers an officer's tour through NATO command a benefit rather than a detriment to his or her career, NATO will be important to the United States. When NATO is no longer a choice billet but a backwater for retiring officers, then the alliance will be dead.
Throughout history, alliances have been fickle creations, ones that rarely lasted beyond the immediacy of the crises that spawned them. Some collapsed suddenly (such as NATO's opponent, the Warsaw Pact), while others drifted on into irrelevance and eventual death (such as the Rio Pact). Others have simply transformed into new organizations altogether. As individual Greek city-states found it easier to contribute money rather than ships to the Delian League's navy, the alliance transformed and so was born the Athenian Empire. Richard Rupp has shown us that while we should find it remarkable that NATO lasted as long as it has, there is reason to be concerned about its future. Whether it will turn out as he has argued, in the face of a nuclear-armed Iran or a revived Russia, only time will show.
David R. Woodward. Hell in the Holy Land: World War I in the Middle East. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2006. xiv + 253 pp. Photographs, maps, index. (cloth), ISBN 978-0-8131-2383-7.
Reviewed for H-War by Nikolas Gardner, Air War College
Soldiers of the Egyptian Expeditionary Force
Often hailed as "forgotten" or "lost" by hyperbolic publishers, the experiences of ordinary British soldiers are actually quite well represented in the historical literature on the First World War. Thousands of diaries, letters, and memoirs produced by participants in the conflict have appeared in print since 1918. There also exist numerous compilations of soldiers' accounts. Authors such as Lyn Macdonald and Peter Hart have chronicled the major campaigns of the conflict through the eyes of ordinary participants. In 2005, two different authors published books claiming to contain the last reminiscences of Britain's few surviving veterans of the conflict. While these accounts are often insightful and poignant, a large majority are set in France and Belgium. Thus, the world of the common soldier on the Western Front has become a familiar one, but the conditions faced by his counterparts in other theaters remain more obscure. Hell in the Holy Land, David Woodward's recent study of the war in the Middle East, casts new light on the experiences of soldiers that, in relative terms, really have been "forgotten." In the process, the book underlines the global character of the First World War.
Woodward chronicles British operations in Egypt and Palestine from early 1916 until the fall of 1918, focusing primarily on "the personal and individual side of this campaign" (p. xi). He begins by relating the experiences of British soldiers under U-boat attack in the Mediterranean en route to Egypt, as well as their first impressions of the Middle East. Personal letters and diaries offer numerous insights into their attitudes toward an unfamiliar culture as well as the illicit diversions that beckoned, among them alcohol, drugs, belly dancers, and prostitutes. Succumbing to such temptations could have damaging consequences. As Woodward notes, "British soldiers in Egypt in 1916 were contracting venereal disease at a rate four times greater than those in France" (pp. 29-30). Soldiers' correspondence also contains evidence of the many relationships destroyed by long-term deployment to the Middle East.
The book is not simply a collection of anecdotes. Woodward has written previously on the conduct of the British war effort at the strategic level. Drawing on this background, he places the stories of individual soldiers in a broader context by introducing the principal British commanders and explaining their conduct of operations. He notes that the theater "represented a return to Napoleonic warfare in which a great captain of war might impose his genius and personality on the outcome of a battle" (p. 57). Archibald Murray fell short of this ideal. Woodward credits the first commander of the Egyptian Expeditionary Force (EEF) with suppressing the Senussi revolt, securing the Sinai, and orchestrating an advance to the borders of Palestine. He is > critical of Murray's leadership at the First Battle of Gaza, however, and accuses him of "Monday morning quarterbacking" in its aftermath. Woodward also offers a balanced assessment of Edmund Allenby, Murray's more celebrated successor. Famously ill-tempered and gruff, Allenby nonetheless brought a new energy to the campaign. Just as importantly, Woodward notes that Allenby "had advantages possessed by no British general in France: a massive superiority in men and material, and an open flank to attack" (p. 100). Allenby used this relative strength to win a series of victories, culminating in the capture of Jerusalem in December 1917. His dynamic leadership became increasingly reckless, however, as he continued to push into Jordan in 1918 despite reductions to his force. Rather than articulating a central argument, Woodward is content to let the soldiers' accounts speak for themselves. Nevertheless, several themes emerge from this study. First, Woodward shows that service in the EEF was not necessarily an easy assignment compared to the Western Front. Soldiers were more likely to survive the war in the Middle East, where battles were smaller and shorter, but mobile warfare and a hostile climate contributed to acute shortages of food and water as well as a high prevalence of disease. Moreover, the possibility of home leave was exceedingly remote. According to Woodward, "when the war ended, the EEF contained a sizeable number of men who had been in Egypt since 1914-1915" (p. 208). Secondly, Woodward emphasizes the extent to which the EEF was a multinational force. In the summer of 1918, only one of its eleven divisions was entirely British, with units from "Armenia, Britain, Burma, Algeria, Australia, New Zealand, India, South Africa, Italy, France, Singapore, Hong Kong, the West Indies, and Egypt" (p. 181). Three battalions of Jewish soldiers also served with Allenby.
Finally, the book touches on the racial and religious tensions that permeated the war in the Middle East. The accounts of British soldiers reveal negative stereotypes of the local Arab population as well as harsh treatment of the _fellahin_, the Egyptian laborers on whom the EEF relied. In addition, Woodward notes that Allenby hesitated to characterize the campaign as a "Crusade" out of concern for the morale of the thousands of Muslims under his command. Many of his subordinates, however, had no compunction about emphasizing its religious connotations to the British soldiers, who responded positively. Given the multiethnic composition of the EEF and the religious issues raised by a campaign in the Holy Land, it is unfortunate that the book is based solely on the diaries and correspondence of British soldiers. Records produced by non-European participants in the campaign are certainly less abundant, but they can be unearthed. Censor's reports held in the British Library's Oriental and India Office Collection, for example, provide some inkling of the impressions of Indian sepoys regarding the war in the Middle East. Examining such material would have enabled Woodward to provide a fuller picture of the experiences of ordinary soldiers in the EEF. That said, Hell in the Holy Land provides a welcome look at the experiences of soldiers in the Middle East from 1916-1918. It also sheds light on a campaign that has been dismissed as a sideshow, but had consequences that continue to reverberate today.
William Thomas Allison. Military Justice in Vietnam: The Rule of Law in American Law. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2007. xv + 230 pp. Notes, tables, bibliography, index.(cloth), ISBN 978-0-7006-1460-8.
Reviewed for H-War by Michael Noone, The Columbus School of Law, The Catholic University of America
An Introduction to Military Lawyers in Vietnam
The April 1968 issue of the Federal Bar Association's News reported that sixty members attended the Vietnam Chapter's luncheon meeting at the Rex Hotel in Saigon. How those lawyers spent their professional time is William Thomas Allison's theme. He says in his preface, "My primary purpose is to explain the variety of military legal activities in Vietnam, evaluate them, and share the human side of those activities, all in the context of the war itself. The broader purpose is to expose readers to the complicated nature of military law and military justice in a democratic society as well as to show how difficult it is to include military justice and legal affairs in the vanguard of nation-building operations that include spreading U.S. values as a political objective." He achieves his goals in 186 pages of extremely readable text by keeping a tight focus on Vietnam. Nothing is said about contemporaneous legal activities of the Air Force in Thailand and Okinawa, nor of the Navy's activities in the Gulf. Very little is said about the role of each service's supervising legal authorities outside Vietnam, or of the role played by lawyers and policy makers at the Commander-In-Chief, Pacific; the Joint Chiefs of Staff; and the Office of the Secretary of Defense. Law enforcement personnel fare slightly better. Lawyers in Vietnam relied on them to make the cases which could be prosecuted, so there is some discussion of the problems faced by military police and investigators. The author's definition of American military justice in Vietnam does not extend to its products, the prisoners at the notorious Long Binh Jail, the site of a murderous race riot in 1968. This is legal history experienced in country by captains, majors, and lieutenant colonels, nearly all of them judge advocates.
That vantage point makes the book particularly useful as supplementary reading for a course on the war in Vietnam. Its chapters on the drug problem, the black market, currency manipulation and corruption, violations of the laws of war, and criminal justice issues illuminate each topic by giving examples. The case of Captain Archie Kuntze, USN ("The American Mayor of Saigon"), who, according to one witness at his court-martial, had over $23 million stashed in an icebox, illustrates the difficulties prosecutors faced in proving corruption cases. Each chapter is replete with similar examples, some of them, like the My Lai cases, well known. Other cases, like the prosecution of PFC Michael McInnis for attempted murder of a superior officer and related offenses, were forgotten until the author resurrected them from the files of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). The author's use of source material is exemplary. He relies primarily on secondary sources and, in doing so, offers an exceptional bibliography of law-related materials which would aid students in their own research. Primary materials, from NARA and the military history centers of the Army and Air Force, are used to enrich the text. The National Archives holds the research files created by Marine Lt. Col. Gary Solis as he wrote the definitive legal history of the Marines in Vietnam, Marines and Military Law in Vietnam: Trial by Fire (1989), which Allison mined particularly effectively. His work can serve as a model for researchers revisiting the sources of earlier official histories.
What of the general reader? A former CIA historian once categorized military history as either strategic, tactical, or anecdotal. This book works wonderfully as an anecdotal history of U.S. military lawyers in a particular time and place, enlivened by the reminiscences of veterans whose letters to the author recapture emotions and experiences now forty years past. This is the way the war must have been for the lawyers who participated in it. Their stories, and those of their clients, are a first-class read. At the tactical level, the book faces fierce competition from two books covering the same period and many of the same themes: Solis on the Marines and Maj. Gen. George Prugh on Army lawyers, Law at War, Vietnam 1964-1973 (1975). I have not read Col. Frederic L. Borch's _Judge Advocates in Vietnam: Army Lawyers in Southeast Asia 1959-1975_ (2004). Both traditional institutional histories cover events and individuals in more detail and perforce with less verve than Allison, who, with the exception of the chapter on corrupt practices, does not attempt the same level of analysis and chronology. This book is preferred as a readable brief introduction to the daily legal problems faced by military lawyers in Vietnam.
At the strategic level, the author's ambitions--if any--are unclear. Chapter 1, "A New Code for a Different Kind of War," attempts to describe, in twenty pages, developments in U.S. military criminal justice between 1765 and 1968 without a strong narrative line. There are strategic themes available: evolving notions of "due process," (a slippery term) and the extent to which the criminal justice revolution created by the Warren Supreme Court in the early 1960s should be extended to what the Supreme Court has described as "the separate community" of the armed forces; changing demographics in the armed forces; and the consequences of changes in the Uniform Code of Military Justice in 1968. The chapter ends on that note, but the author makes no effort in the following chapters to distinguish pre- and post-1968 developments. Instead, he extends his coverage to the role of military lawyers in country building in Vietnam, without making any judgments about their success or failure.
The conclusion, chapter 8, "Still in the Vanguard," does not succeed as a coda. It starts by describing the last of the Vietnam courts-martial of the turncoat Marine Robert Garwood, then briefly summarizes the 1970s debate over efficacy of the post-1968 military justice system in wartime. Chapter 8 could offer a rich opportunity to comment on recent experience in Iraq and Afghanistan, where investigations of war crimes allegedly committed on patrol require a separate lawyer for each patrol member, and where testimony and physical evidence must be collected, according to strict U.S. due process requirements, under circumstances never imagined by the Supreme Court. The author instead gives a brief, typically one paragraph, description of judge advocates' activities in selected U.S. military operations, such as Urgent Fury (Grenada 1983), Just Cause (Panama 1989), Desert Shield and Desert Storm (Kuwait, 1990-91) and several others, including recent operations in Bosnia, Afghanistan and Iraq. Inexplicably, Allison does not mention Operations Provide Relief and Restore Hope (Somalia 1992-95). His concluding paragraph, referring to judge advocates' role in nation building, is disappointingly bland and non-judgmental. Perhaps the author had no strategic goal to use U.S. legal experiences in Vietnam as an opportunity to reflect on our experiences in Afghanistan and Iraq. If that is the case, then we can hope that his undoubted research and writing skills will lead to a sequel.
David Carment, Patrick James and Zeynep Taydas. Who Intervenes? Ethnic Conflict and Interstate Crisis. Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 2006. 264 pp. Figures, maps, notes, works cited, index. (cloth), ISBN 0-8142-1013-9.
Reviewed for H-War by Emma J. Stewart, Department of European Studies and Modern Languages, University of Bath, UK. Labyrinthine Lessons in Classifying Conflict
This book draws on a tradition of studies in crisis behavior and conflict resolution theory concerned primarily with developing a systematic approach to the study of international conflict. > Carment, James, and Taydas's study is a worthy contribution to this genre; it attempts to understand why some domestic ethnic conflicts lead to interstate crises, and it examines factors impacting on the behavior and intervention strategies of neighboring or regional state actors in ethnic conflict. Contrary to the title, then, this is not an investigation into who intervenes in interstate ethnic conflict. Rather, it is primarily a study of state intervention, in contrast to Carment's other work on international organizations and conflict prevention.
The focus is the interstate dimension of international ethnic conflict. The authors' primary concern is why some ethnic conflicts lead to interstate crisis while others do not. Chapter 1 sets out a convincing case for the study of the neglected interstate dimension of ethnic conflict. Ethnic conflict with state-to-state interactions is increasingly internationalized, often more violent, can involve more coercive crisis management techniques, and can be more protracted (p. 2). The argument carefully debunks common myths about ethnic conflict. Interstate ethnic conflict is _not_ inevitable; external states may intervene purposefully in ethnic conflict for a variety of > political and material reasons (intervention is rarely, for example, triggered by historical ethnic hatred). Interstate ethnic conflict is not simply a post-Cold War phenomenon (in fact, an increase in ethnic conflict is discernible from the 1960s), and the end of the Cold War was not a significant trigger in the escalation of ethnic conflict. Wary of the limitations associated with labeling conflicts as "ethnic," the authors are careful to stress that "ethnic conflict refers to the form the conflict takes, not its causes" (p. 6).
The framework developed in chapter 2 classifies states intervening in ethnic conflicts as "types," with particular characteristics and strategic objectives, and then tests the propositions about each type against a series of case studies (chapters 3 to 7): the Indo-Sri Lankan crisis of 1983-96; Somalia's post-1960 quest for a "Greater Somalia"; the separatist ambitions of the Malay in southern Thailand; the breakup of Yugoslavia in the early 1990s; and the Cyprus conflict. The framework of analysis is outlined, including a typology of intervening states (four types are identified) and a series of propositions about interstate ethnic conflict and crisis to be tested in the case studies. This is a necessary exercise in a priori reasoning, but it is (at least for this reader), often overly complex and impenetrable. The approach and style puts it firmly in a specialist category; one wonders how much use readers outside the conflict resolution field can glean from it.
The five case studies are chosen as examples of complex irredentist or secessionist interstate crises. The study seeks to be comprehensive by its global choice of case studies and its inclusion of a variety of different cultures and religions. Many of the cases span several decades or more, and the authors draw broad conclusions rather than narrowly focusing on one interstate crisis in each case. Unfortunately, the case study chapters are not particularly accessible to the general reader interested in any of the cases. It is a pity that they struggle to stand alone as readable accounts of these crises, since some of the cases are not widely known or studied.
The concluding chapter assesses the framework, summarizes and reaches conclusions on the propositions tested in the case studies, and outlines the policy implications of the results. The authors find support in the case studies for the propositions set out earlier in the study. The theoretical approach taken limits the number of variables and, like all research, makes assumptions about the political world. One key (and problematic) assumption is that state actors and elites behave rationally when intervening in ethnic conflict. This allows the authors to create an ordered account of crisis behavior, and complete the jigsaw by neatly fitting each state into an a priori identified type. While the theoretical approach contributes to the understanding of interstate ethnic intervention, it contributes less to finding solutions to manage or prevent it. This role clearly falls to regional or international organizations, actors whose impact is conspicuously absent throughout the study. The authors admit this as a shortcoming, but the validity of the conclusions would have been greatly increased if the role of other key actors had been integrated into the framework. It is difficult to reconcile the claim to comprehensiveness with this oversight; surely this is a key variable impacting how government leaders behave (for example, in former Yugoslavia, where the decisions of the European Union had a huge effect on how the conflict developed, and the decisions made by leaders).
The concluding chapter, at less than ten pages, is short for a book covering five case studies. More conclusions, as well as detailed policy implications and recommendations, would have been welcome. Nevertheless, overall the book presents a well-constructed thesis on an underresearched topic. It is not, however, particularly accessible to a wide readership, and can be difficult to follow at times. It is debatable, in the end, whether the theoretical model adopted contributes to the comprehensive approach to ethnic conflict that the book advocates. While too many variables may muddy the water, the omission of key ones limits the validity of the conclusions. We come back to the problem faced by all political and social scientists: how do we make sense of, and create order, in the political world without misrepresenting its complexity?
. In particular the work of Ted Robert Gurr. See also C. F. Hermann, ed., International Crises: Insights from Behavioural Research (New York: The Free Press, 1972); and Graham T. Allison's classic study of crisis decision-making, Essence of Decision: Explaining the Cuban Missile Crisis (Boston: Little, Brown, 1971).
. For example, David Carment and Albrecht Schnabel, eds., Conflict Prevention: Path to Peace or Grand Illusion (Tokyo and New York: United Nations University Press, 2003).
Jan Rüger. The Great Naval Game: Britain and Germany in the Age of Empire. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007. xv + 337 pp. Illustrations, notes, bibliography, index. (cloth), ISBN 978-0-521-87576-9.
Reviewed for H-Albion by Jeremy Black, Department of History, University of Exeter
Showing the Fleet
"The maintenance of naval supremacy is our whole foundation. Upon it stands not the Empire only, not merely the great commercial prosperity of our people, not merely a fine place in the world's affairs. Upon our naval supremacy stands our lives and the freedom we have guarded for nearly a thousand years." Winston Churchill's remarks, as First Lord of the Admiralty, at the Lord Mayor's Banquet on November 9, 1911 would have surprised few of his listeners. The sea and ships offered potent images of national mission and strength. Henry Newbolt's popular collections of poetry Admirals All and Others Verses (1897) and The Island Race (1898) linked maritime destiny with manly patriotism, as did Alfred, Lord Tennyson's The Revenge (1880). Rudyard Kipling in his Seven Seas (1896) and A Fleet in Being (1899) displayed a shift in interest away from India and towards a maritime concept of empire. Less poetically, over 2.5 million visitors thronged the naval exhibition on the Thames embankment in London in May to October 1891. Three years later, the Navy League was formed in order to orchestrate public pressure for naval strength.
This was part of the competitive navalism of the period, and Rüger, lecturer in history at Birkbeck College, London, is skillful in bringing out the navalism and the competition between Britain and Germany. He focuses on the rituals of fleet reviews and warship launches, and on discussing this staging of power in terms of the definition of national identity in a competitive forging. Thus, alongside practical points about naval development, this is a book about ritual, identity, and the imagination of "the other," one in which consumption, entertainment, and leisure are as significant and causative as government policy. Rüger indeed is particularly good at capturing the way in which the public celebration of the naval power was both forum and force for identity. As he points out, Charles Urban, one of the leading figures in the early British film industry, claimed in 1897 that naval topics ranked highly amongst the most popular subjects in cinematography, with pictures of "naval demonstrations" and the "launching of war vessels" in especially high demand. Cinema, like the press, helped ensure that such occasions could be seen by mass audiences, and helped to make them pubic occasions. Indeed, in 1911, Wilhelm II and the German naval leadership openly acknowledged the extent to which their fleet reviews had changed due to the influence of commercial and media forces, by giving a prominent role to press and pleasure boats.
In Britain, the staging of unity involved much reference to the notion of the island nation. The navy was presented as the natural boundary, spectacle, and defense for this nation. Rüger also shows how the naval stage played an important role in the construction of the empire, with fleet reviews, ship launches, and a range of other displays celebrating the navy as a symbol of imperial unity and strength. This naval staging of the empire expanded greatly from the 1880s, with an increasing frequency and scale of displays, their greater costs, and the transformation of old, and invention of new, ceremonies designed to foster imperial sentiment.
Rüger goes on to argue that this political theater was designed to display power and deterrence. He presents the Anglo-German antagonism as a dramatic game in which important culture issues were bound up with strategic and diplomatic developments. This is a profitable approach and this section is worthy of particular consideration. A lengthy epilogue discusses the fate of British fleet reviews from 1914. The pressures under which the theatre of naval power operated are discussed. More could have been made of the situation since the major fleet review of 1953. Hopefully Rüger will continue the subject in further work.
Zeev Maoz. Defending the Holy Land: A Critical Analysis of Israel's Security and Foreign Policy. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2006. xii + 714 pp. Graphs, maps, notes, bibliography, index. (cloth), ISBN 0-472-11540-5.
Reviewed for H-War by Eyal Ben-Ari, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Hebrew University of Jerusalem
On the Blindness of Hubris and the Folly of Aggression
In a scathing analysis that combines history, theory, and criticism, Defending the Holy Land_ charts the fundamental assumptions underlying Israel's flawed security and foreign policies. It also carefully examines how implementing these policies has, time and again, led to mistakes that have maintained and escalated, rather than reduced, the armed conflicts in which Israel has participated since its inception. In this monumental volume, Zeev Maoz, who teaches at the University of California, Davis, systematically analyzes the mistakes, self-fulfilling prophecies, and appalling judgments that characterize the history of Israeli security operations and foreign policy.
In his preface, Maoz states that he was led to writing Defending the Holy Land because of the persistent failure of Israel's community of policymakers to learn from their mistakes and the uncritical treatment of most Israelis of the foundations of the country's national security doctrine. The overall argument is that Israel's foreign policy is derivative of its security policy so that considerations centering on military power, a deterrent stance toward the Arabs, and the internal domestic importance of supporting tough measures have come to dominate almost all thinking about accommodation with the country's neighbors. Throughout the volume, and especially towards its end, Maoz makes prescriptive comments and suggestions about how to improve policymaking in the country and develop the institutional ability of decision makers to understand the political reality of the Middle East.
The volume, as a whole, is well written (if lengthy) and marked by a systematic and fair attempt to tackle conventional, scholarly, and political wisdom about security matters and foreign affairs issues. Moreover, time and again, Maoz carefully introduces a wealth of empirical data, presents alternative explanations to his own, and offers balanced summaries of all of these contentions. Many arguments that Maoz makes have been made before, but the great strength of Defending the Holy Land_ lies in bringing together and integrating previous scholarship in a succinct and piercing manner. The volume is thus the most comprehensive analysis to date of Israel's national security and foreign policy from the inception of the state of Israel to the present.
Defending the Holy Land engages four interrelated strands of scholarship. First, it examines the ideological literature (going back to David Ben-Gurion but now including such politicians as Shimon Peres or Benjamin Nethanyahu). Next, it engages historical studies that include both conventional treatises and tomes produced by the "new" historians and sociologists. Third, the book assays analytic studies based within the disciplines of political science and international relations. And, finally, Maoz discusses prescriptive studies centered on improving policymaking in Israel. This kind of exceptionally broad-based engagement with the scholarly literature allows Maoz to accomplish a number of tasks. First, he initiates an approach that evaluates the extent to which security and foreign policy have been served by existing doctrines, decisions, and actions. Maoz then uses a critical perspective that challenges many of the fundamental assumptions underlying these policies. And, he integrates hitherto disparate fields into a common frame that links history, theory, policy, and methodology.
Perhaps more broadly, in sociological terms the book's engagement with Israeli history reflects a change in the country's academic generations (which only partially overlap with the wider transformation of social generations). The so-called new historians and sociologists have initiated and developed much of the rethinking of the country's history. These scholars have centered much of their attention on the early years of Israel and the place of the military and security concerns in the processes of nation and state building. While developing his contentions upon the arguments of many of these scholars, Maoz does not uncritically adopt their scholastic jargon or the value judgments underlying many of their treatises. Rather, the tone of Defending the Holy Land is that of a committed but highly critical observer and sometime participant, and is especially evident in the volume's prescriptive parts. Along these lines, Maoz is careful to note that his book is about the Israeli and not the Arab side. He attributes responsibility to the Arabs for the failures to make peace or to work towards accommodation, but makes a convincing case for the shortcomings of Israel. Maoz uses an impressive array of analyses from the whole spectrum of political views, but subjects them all to careful, systematic, and critical readings. And finally, he uses models and frames from the mainstream of political science, international relations, and security studies to carefully examine the case of security and foreign policy.
Defending the Holy Land is divided into five main parts covering fourteen chapters. The different sections often overlap in terms of empirical content, but in each the data is evaluated through different analytical or theoretical prisms. Part 1 outlines the book's analytical foundations by situating it within its scholarly context. This is followed by an outline of the assumptions at the base of the country's security and foreign policy. Part 2 centers on how Israel has used military force over the course of its existence as an independent state. Maoz thus charts the various wars and Israel's experience in Low Intensity Conflict (LIC). Here, the major thrust of the argument is that most of the country's conflicts were the result of deliberately aggressive designs, faulty decision making, or flawed conflict management strategies. Yet despite these developments, Maoz argues that no systematic critical self-reflection has taken place regarding Israeli security policy. One important chapter focuses on the overlooked War of Attrition that occurred between Israel and Egypt between the full- scale engagements of 1967 and 1973. This "forgotten war" was initiated by Gamal Abdel Nasser, and none of its lessons--such as the determination and fortitude of the Egyptian army and its ability to carry out simple maneuvers--were learned by Israeli policymakers. Rather, the War of Attrition was understood through the hubris that overtook the country and its leaders after the victory of 1967.
Part 3 examines Israel's nuclear policy and takes issue with the overwhelming majority of scholars and commentators who have seen it as a success. Marshalling careful empirical data, Maoz, in contrast, argues that this policy was actually not successful since it had a number of adverse side effects, such as accelerating the conventional arms race in the Middle East. Part 4 comprises two chapters focusing on repeated failed attempts by Israel to intervene in the internal affairs of its neighbors for its own strategic ends and the long series of missed opportunities for peace diplomacy. The chapter on interventions in internal Arab affairs--for example, Israel's central role in encouraging the emergence of Hizbulla and Hamas and its fiasco in supporting local Palestinian elections in the 1970s--smack of deep-rooted assumptions held by Israeli leaders that one could chart out and socially engineer developments among Arab social and political entities. This view involves, in part, as Maoz argues in other parts of the book, a simplistic understanding of societies and polities that derives from the fact that most experts in Arab affairs within the country's security establishments have been educated in the history of the Middle East--in Israel, they are called "Orientalists"--rather than in one of the relevant social sciences. Part 5 is a brilliant analysis of the dominance of the security establishment in Israeli political affairs, and argues that no real shift will occur in policy unless the structure of the policymaking machinery is changed. Accordingly, one of Maoz's cutting conclusions is that, except for the war in 1948, all of Israel's wars were the result of deliberate aggressive designs or flawed conflict management strategies orchestrated by leaders marked by militaristic thinking. The various conflicts were thus essentially all wars of choice.
Let me underscore two wider implications of Defending the Holy Land that may interest readers of this review. First, Maoz's analysis reveals that Israel's war strategy was not developed systematically but emerged in piecemeal fashion. Maoz does an excellent job of tracing out the main elements of this set of policies and the assumptions undergirding them.
But, he shows time and again that it was an emergent product rather than an orderly analysis of the reality of Israel, a systematic process of drawing conclusions from this analysis, or a logical procedure for deriving concrete guidelines for action from them. For example, he shows how the process of aggressive responses to Arab activity favored by many in the security community that loose coalition of politicians, administrators, senior commanders, and security experts within and outside of academia often led to the escalation of conflicts and tended to reinforce the communal consensus about the importance of military means to achieve political ends.
Second, Defending the Holy Land bears serious implications for the civilian control of the military and more broadly of the security establishments. Here, Maoz's argument goes beyond the contention that security policy drives foreign policy. He focuses on the politics, bureaucracy, and social structure of the security community to explain the lack of oversight that characterizes Israel, and which is so important because it is the cause of so much folly and the failure to learn from mistakes. Maoz explains this situation through reference to a number of factors, including the overwhelming preponderance of the security community in terms of size, capability, and effectiveness over other (competing) bodies; the weakness of the foreign and diplomatic community and civilian institutions that may offer alternatives to the sole emphasis on military solutions to international conflicts; the significant infusion of security personnel into politics and policymaking bodies and the consequent infiltration of military oriented worldviews into these arenas, and the utter weakness of the legislature and the judiciary in limiting the security community. It is no surprise then that this situation is characterized by what Maoz terms structural militarization or securitization of policymaking in security and foreign affairs.
If I have one criticism of Defending the Holy Land it is that it is too long. At over seven hundred pages, the volume could have easily been edited down to two-thirds of its length. More specifically, in many chapters, Maoz tends to provide empirical details that he supplies in earlier sections. The advantage of this kind of text is that it allows readers to peruse each chapter independently of others. The great disadvantage for someone who reads the whole volume is that it unnecessarily replicates whole sections.
Defending the Holy Land is a very impressive and successful attempt to examine the foundations, guiding principles, and operational expression of Israel's security and foreign policies. It is systematic, integrative, clearly written, empirically based, and theoretically informed. It will become a must read for anyone interested in the conflicts of the Middle East.
Robert M. S. McDonald. Thomas Jefferson's Military Academy: Founding West Point. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2004. 233 pp. Notes, bibliography, index. (cloth), ISBN 978-0-8139-2298-0.
Reviewed for H-USA by Jason Stacy, Department of Historical Studies, Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville
America’s sphinx, Thomas Jefferson, is well known for his cryptic statements and contradictory actions. The owner of slaves who enunciated American independence with an appeal to universal human rights, the agriculturalist who built a nail factory at Monticello, the strict constitutionalist who stretched the elasticity of the Constitution to double the size of the republic with a real estate deal he justified as a treaty, all these examples make Jefferson a founder with whom just about any ideal or inclination can feel at home. His complexity was well documented and infamous to political allies and enemies alike. But militarist? Jefferson is remembered as the governor of Virginia who fled his home state during the British invasion of 1781. His reduction of the armed forces and building of a "mosquito navy" after his inauguration seemed in line with his suspicion of large standing armies, especially those built under the direction of the Federalists Hamilton and Adams. His ideal of the citizen soldier seemed to exclude his advocacy of an American martial culture.
Theodore Crackel undermined this version of Jefferson with his seminal work on the subject, Mr. Jefferson's Army (1987). For Crackel, Jefferson, remembered as a founder of the republic and the University of Virginia, was also the forgotten founder of the American tradition of a republican military culture of professionalism and merit.
Robert M. S. McDonald and the authors of Thomas Jefferson's Military Academy further explore Crackel's thesis with great success. According to Don Higginbotham in his chapter "Military Education Before West Point" the foundation of a professional American officer corps was established during the American Revolution. Following a European trend of greater interest in artillery and fortifications, both skills that lent themselves to the engineer's craft, officers in the Continental Army traded European publications with titles like Military Instructions for Officers Detached in the Field (1775) and Manoeuvres, Or Practical Observations on the Art of War (1770). In fact, a Prussian officer, Johann Ewald, upon investigating captured American haversacks, observed "the most excellent military books. . . . ", including many homemade manuals that officers distributed to their peers (p. 35). American reading habits did not make for a republican military academy, however.
Jefferson's founding of the United States Military Academy was undertaken for reasons more political than ideological. The Military Peace Act, initiated by Jefferson and signed into law in 1802, led to the establishment of the officer's academy at West Point, New York and the restructuring of the military along lines advantageous to Jefferson. In his chapter "The Military Academy in the Context of Jeffersonian Reform", Theodore Crackel argues that the establishment of West Point was part of a broader program by Jefferson to purge the effects of the previous three Federalist administrations and create an officer corps faithful to his Republican ideals (p. 111).
These ideals were inculcated by redefining European concepts of military honor. In the chapter entitled "West Point and the Struggle to Render the Officer Corps Safe for America, 1802-1833," Samuel Watson argues that Jefferson's legacy, via West Point, is that of a civic-minded military. According to Watson, West Point alumni were "an administrative cadre more akin to a national . . . managerial class than any other American social or occupational group prior to the Civil War" (p. 155). This was due largely to Jefferson's appointment of the first superintendent of the academy, Colonel Jonathan Williams. Williams, the chief engineer and inspector of fortifications of the army, established the Corps of Engineers as an elite group within West Point and, therein, inaugurated a culture of technical skill and meritorious advancement in opposition to a European military culture that emphasized individual glory and flamboyant posturing (p. 158). Sylvanus Thayer, who studied at West Point under Williams' tutelage and was the longest-serving superintendent of the academy (1817-1833), is considered the founder of the West Point of popular memory. Thayer, for example, coined the academy's motto "Duty, Honor, Country." During his tenure, these traditional military ideals took on a meaning in line with Jefferson and Williams's republican vision for West Point. According to Watson, duty meant serving civilian authority under the dictates of the Constitution; even when civilian direction ran counter to military good sense. Honor, rather than representing the essential and easily affronted identity of officer-gentlemen, stood for performing one's duties selflessly. One's honor was established through integrity and dedication to the civic whole. Country, then, provided the "focal point" that "concentrated and legitimated graduates' efforts to perform their duties" (p. 169). By professionalizing the officer corps and dedicating it to the very Jeffersonian ideals of merit, technical skill, and dedication to the republic, Thayer completed the process of producing a particularly republican type of military culture.
What, then, accounts for Jefferson's forgotten reputation as the founder of America's premier military academy? Ironically, West Point's institutional amnesia began this forgetting. Robert M. S. McDonald, in a chapter entitled "West Point's Lost Founder," traces the strange story. It began with the removal of Sylvanus Thayer in 1833 as superintendent of the academy by president Andrew Jackson. Jackson perceived the training at West Point to be autocratic and, when a cadet, H. Ariel Norris, placed a hickory pole (a symbol of Jackson) in the middle of the parade ground and was punished by Thayer, Jackson found his excuse to end the "tyranny" of the superintendent. "[T]he autocracy of the Russias couldn't exercise more power!" Jackson exclaimed upon hearing of the cadet's plight (p. 186).
So firmly had Jackson established his Democratic Party as the inheritor of Jeffersonian ideals, Thayer's removal inspired an antipathy toward Jackson that expunged Jefferson from institutional memory. Thereafter, officers like Winfield Scott and Robert E. Lee, both Whigs, perpetuated the myth that the academy was, at least in spirit, founded by George Washington and Henry Knox. In Lee's case, this revision of West Point's origins also had a personal dimension as the Lees and the Jefferson had a rivalry that went back to 1809 when "Light-Horse" Henry Lee was thrown in debtors' prison and blamed his bankruptcy on Jefferson's Embargo Act of 1807. Jefferson's reputation at West Point reached its nadir in the nineteenth century when Alfred Thayer Mahan declared that Jefferson's military policies guaranteed "a minimum of military usefulness at a maximum of pecuniary outlay" (pp. 192-193). Jefferson's revival began with the New Deal and the second Roosevelt's egalitarian rhetoric. President Truman, likewise, in support of his Cold War policies, appealed to Jefferson's "hardheaded common sense" in military matters (p. 196). By the late twentieth century, historians like Stephen Ambrose, Thomas Fleming, and Theodore Crackel began to reestablish Jefferson's place in American military history .
Thomas Jefferson's Military Academy is a useful book not only for military historians, but also for cultural historians interested in the advent of a very particular American military outlook and the ways in which the U.S. has sought to balance military and civic culture. If I had one request, it would be for a greater analysis of the effect of Jefferson's military academy on American civic culture itself. The authors of this collection do a fine job analyzing the ways in which West Point cadets and officers sought to engage American civic traditions within military training and tradition. It would be worthwhile to analyze the process working in the opposite direction.
However, this might make for another very good book.
 Stephen Ambrose, Duty, Honor, Country: A History of West Point, (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2000); Theodore Crackel,
West Point: A Bicentennial History, (Lawrence: The University of Press Kansas, 2003) and Mr Jefferson's Army: Political and Social Reform of the Military Establishment, 1801-1809, (New York: New York University Press, 1987); Thomas Fleming, West Point: The Men and Times of the United States Military Academy, (New York: William Morrow, 1969).
Irwin M. Wall. Les États-Unis et la guerre d’Algérie, préface de Georges-Henri Soutou, traduit de l’anglais par Philippe-Étienne Raviart. 464 pp. Paris: Éditions Soleb, October 2006. ISBN: 978-2952372619.
Reviewed by Kim Munholland, University of Minnesota, Emeritus
Published by H-Diplo on 10 January 2008
Originally published in 2001 by the University of California Press as France, the United States, and the Algerian War, Irwin Wall’s book was immediately hailed as an important, revisionist account of the war by placing what the French preferred to consider an internal matter into an international context with emphasis upon the crucial relationship between France and the United States. Previous accounts had dealt with the war’s impact on French society, producing a domestic political crisis that ended the Fourth Republic and brought Charles de Gaulle to power. While this national drama and its memory continues to inspire a number of important studies that focus upon the way the war has shaped contemporary French identity, the internationalization of the war was innovative and marked a new dimension to the conflict seen in other contemporary studies that emphasized the significance of the Algerian war for international history.1 In a military sense the French Army had won the battle but they lost the war, due to pressure from the international community, the United Nations, and persistent demands from the United States. Wall argues that American policy was more important than a growing domestic disillusion with the war or protests by intellectuals against the use of torture in convincing de Gaulle to abandon the effort to retain l’Algérie française, but he did so at the cost of his own objectives at the time of his coming to power.
Wall began his research intending to follow up his earlier study, The United States and the Making of Postwar France, 1945-1954. While the sequel under review confirmed his earlier argument about the significance of American influence in shaping postwar France, his research in the archives caused him to revise certain assumptions or hypotheses that he had developed about the way in which the Fourth Republic collapsed as a result of a colonial war and the way de Gaulle’s return would skillfully guide France out of its imbroglio in Algeria. Evidence from the American and recently published French documents challenged these hypotheses.
French documents revealed the extent to which the Algerian conflict dominated French diplomacy from 1954 to 1962, dwarfing all other concerns including the formation of NATO and security in Europe. The Algerian conflict and the French view that Nasser’s support for the FLN was a major obstacle to the French attempt to pacify Algeria led to French engagement in the Suez crisis, which severely tested the recently created NATO alliance. A second issue had to do with the domestic problems and political rivalries that paralyzed the Fourth Republic and prevented it from resolving the Algerian war despite the military success during the 1957 battle of Algiers. As a result the Americans lost interest in preserving the Fourth Republic and actually favored the return of de Gaulle to power, despite the difficult wartime relationship with de Gaulle.
Perhaps the most important of Wall’s revisionist positions was a rethinking of de Gaulle’s policy, particularly during his first two years in office from 1958 to 1960. Until his excursion into American archives and French documents Wall shared the view of Gaullists, who argued that his adroit maneuvers saved France a second time by ending the Algerian conflict, which he intended to do from the moment he came to power, despite the uprising of military officers and colons who had made his return possible and were determined to hold onto Algeria whatever the costs. Many of us, this reviewer included, explained de Gaulle in admiring terms for the way he moved gradually from the Delphic ambiguities of his “Je vous ai compris” speech in Algiers shortly after taking power that was followed by greater concessions leading to his granting independence four years later---to the fury of certain generals and the European settlers, who then tried to assassinate him. Wall argues that de Gaulle was not misleading the crowd in Algiers that day. He agreed with its message of keeping Algeria French. In taking this position, Irwin Wall challenged a generation of Gaullist scholarship that portrays the General in a prescient, heroic mode. In Wall’s account de Gaulle was forced to change his policy once the Americans refused to buy into his grand designs for France in the postwar world.
The reason for de Gaulle’s commitment to a French Algeria, or at least an Algeria closely tied to metropolitan France, was that Algeria was the key to a pan-African and Mediterranean role for France in a world of international politics. As part of this grand design de Gaulle would use France’s African presence to claim a stronger role in the councils of the Anglo-Saxon world, particularly his desire to have France the third partner in a triumvirate within NATO but obviously looking beyond that horizon as well. The Algerian Sahara provided the testing ground for development of nuclear weapons, a program begun under the Fourth Republic. Recent oil discoveries made the Sahara doubly appealing for French military and economic interests. De Gaulle’s Algerian policy, then, represented a continuation of the Fourth Republic’s, not a break at least until 1960. To sustain French Algeria de Gaulle, no less than the Fourth Republic, relied upon American military and economic aid, but the price of this assistance was American pressure upon de Gaulle to begin a liberalization of French policies in Algeria. Instead, de Gaulle allowed the French Army the free hand it wanted to continue its counter-revolutionary war, employing the methods of torture, roundups, resettlement of Muslim populations, and crackdowns upon dissidents and anti-war protesters in France and Algeria.
In his last years in office Eisenhower tried to ease de Gaulle away from preserving Algeria at any cost, and he showed some sympathy for de Gaulle’s desire to speak on equal terms with his Anglo-Saxon partners. But both Kennedy, who was far more determined to see France get out of Algeria, and Eisenhower refused to give de Gaulle any cooperation in the development of nuclear weapons. When de Gaulle realized that he could expect no aid from the United States, only exhortations to relent on Algeria, he decided that he would have to grant Algeria its independence, but then he would pursue a policy of French independence laced with a good dose of anti-Americanism. From the ruins of his grand designs de Gaulle would fashion a course that would lead France out of NATO’s military command in 1966, thus getting some revenge on the Americans who believed that the Algerian war was draining French ability to strengthen NATO in Europe. Wall does not go very far, however, beyond 1962 and the granting of independence on terms that fell far short of what de Gaulle hoped to achieve, leading to tragedy for all concerned: a flight of Europeans from Algiers and a bitter hostility toward France among Algerians. De Gaulle pulled out of Algeria not because of a military defeat—the FLN was reduced to some 15,000 guerilla fighters still in the field—but as a result of international pressures from the United States and international opinion that had turned against France as early as the 1958 Sakiet episode. Although Wall does not make this a central argument, the FLN successfully played its hand in the public relations war that it fought in parallel with the anti-colonial struggle on the ground.
These revisionist points were made in the English version and widely recognized in several reviews in Anglo-American literature. What did the French make of all this? Getting Anglo-American scholarship on France translated into French has been something of a challenge, particularly for those of Irwin Wall’s generation, which was initially under the influence of mentors who argued that American scholars did not have the opportunity that French historians had in gaining access to original, archival sources and therefore could not contribute to basic research on French history. Beginning in the 1960s the separate spheres of French and Anglo-American scholarship began to break down. Transatlantic travel became cheaper and support for research for historians improved. Scholarly exchanges grew, and American works on France reached an interested audience among French scholars. These exchanges were valuable in many fields, but particularly for International relations as Americans combed French archives and French scholars came to America. Still, translation into French or into English for French scholars remained limited. Irwin Wall has been among those American historians of France who have had an influence as a result of translations of his work. His L’influence Américaine sur la politique française 1945-1954 (also translated by Philippe-Étienne Ravieart) appeared before the English version, The United States and the Making of Postwar France, 1945-1954. It took Wall longer to get the French translation of his book on the Algerian War, evidence of the publishing industry’s reluctance to invest in translations of topics that they consider to have limited audience appeal, but at least the author was successful, thanks to the entrepreneurial spirit of a young publishing company, Éditions Soleb..
The translation is an elegant job that remains faithful to the original. However, in the interim between the American and French version a number of events have intervened, notably the emergence of a more critical literature on de Gaulle2 and, of course, the war in Iraq, which produced a crisis in French-American relations. For the French edition Irwin Wall has added a postscript “Fifty Years Later” that discusses French-American differences in light of the Iraq war and French opposition to a precipitous American invasion, which several commentators on both sides of the Atlantic have seen to be a deep and perhaps fatal crisis for the relationship. Wall brings some perspective to this argument by noting that despite an alliance in two world wars, the relationship has always been difficult, and the blowup over Iraq in 2003 was not appreciably worse than, say, relations at the end of the Fourth Republic when American disgust with the instability of the regime was matched by French anti-Americanism and resentment. At this point Wall states that relations could hardly have become worse. (111)
The comparison between the Algerian and Iraq wars reveals both parallels and divergences. Both could be considered occupations of Muslim lands that produced violent reactions against Western forces. Both occupying forces had recourse to torture to defeat terrorism but without success in ending resistance to the occupations. Chirac, as de Gaulle before him with Vietnam, tried to warn the Americans by citing the French experience. Bush and his advisors were aware of the French experiences but drew the wrong lessons. The differences are also instructive and reveal the ways in which international politics has changed during the past fifty years. In Algeria the French had the support of the Europeans, who constituted one-tenth of a population of some nine million inhabitants and an army of elite troops plus draftees totaling over 500,000 troops. The American invasion force never surpassed 160,000, plus British support and troops sent by the ‘coalition of the willing’ to maintain security in a population of 25 million Iraqis. There were no colons to support the American-led invasion. The French argued that they were preserving a colony, which they insisted was part of France, whereas the Americans were invading a sovereign state.
The Algerian war came in the midst of the Cold War when the French were still dependent upon an American nuclear umbrella. In addition, the Americans financed eighty percent of the French war in Algeria with supplies and equipment that otherwise might have been used to strengthen NATO. By the time of Iraq the bipolar world was gone for over a decade with the emergence of American military dominance and American actions that became increasingly unipolar and indifferent to international opinion. Chirac noted with some regret that ‘l’Amérique du Papa’ was gone. In many ways the French and American roles were reversed, at least from the time of the Suez crisis in which Eisenhower opposed the Suez venture in favor of multilateralism at the UN and an appeal to a respect for the rule of international law to force the Israeli, British and French troops to withdraw. At Suez the French were fighting Arab nationalism and Nasser’s support for the FLN. The French wanted regime change in the ways that the Americans, among other less plausible arguments, were seeking to topple Saddam Hussein. In Suez the Americans won their point at the UN and stopped France and Great Britain. In the buildup to the Iraq war France tried but failed to deter the United States even with the support of Germany, Russia and China. France’s position was that war should only be a last resort, not a preventive strike, and like Eisenhower in 1956 Chirac mobilized international opinion against the United States. Nevertheless the American plunge into Iraq went forward, revealing the contours of the new rules of international behavior as defined in Washington.
How, then, did the French respond to the critique of de Gaulle and, in the post face, the contrasts in roles played by the United States and France in the Algerian conflict and in the Iraq war? The answer is that Les États-Unis et la guerre d’Algerie has caught their attention at least in the revisionism on de Gaulle’s role in ending the conflict and his subsequent decision to regain French independence and room to oppose the United States. Among the reviews of Irwin Wall’s book in French was a favorable notice by Éric Roussel in Le Figaro that appreciated the contribution of Wall’s revisionism and his willingness to challenge orthodox opinion, whether on Algeria or Iraq. American and French scholars have discovered that when it comes to bilateral relations or international history, they have much to offer each other, whether or not statesmen are prepared to pay attention to what they have to say.
Author’s Response by Irwin Wall, Professor Emeritus, University of California, Riverside and Visiting Scholar, NYU Published by H-Diplo on 10 January 2008
There is little an author can do, other than say thank you, when a reviewer summarizes his work with admirable clarity and accepts for the most part its conclusions, however controversial. And so in these few words I will neither nitpick with Kim Munholland’s wonderful job nor blow my own horn any further than he has done. He did raise the issue of
the reception of the book in France, however, and that raises some interesting additional questions that I thought H-Diplo readers might find of interest. The book was reviewed extremely favorably here and in England when it came out in 2001, with most scholars accepting its conclusions. Ditto for Matt Connelly’s book, A Diplomatic Revolution, which came out a year later, and took a similar view of de Gaulle. The dissenters in my case were Stanley Hoffmann, in Foreign Affairs, not surprising, since I questioned his view of de Gaulle as consummate political artist, rather depicting him as a stubborn pursuer of failed policies, and Richard Vinen in the TLS, who thought I had little new to say, or rather that I said what he knew all the time. The most enthusiastic favorable reviewer was the H-Diplo reviewer then, Bill Irvine, and I invite readers to check his review out along with that of Kim Munholland.3
I did not expect the same reception in France, where I was taking on some strongly-held beliefs and where the de Gaulle reverence has assumed the status of a national myth. Indeed, I had a foretaste: H-France gave the book to Romain Souillac of the University of Bordeaux, and he took me to task for over-emphasizing the importance the American attitude toward the war in France, and neglecting the strong evidence that indicates that de Gaulle intended all along to emancipate Algeria from French rule. In short Souillac ably defended the existing
historiography.4 In a review of the American edition in the Revue d’Histoire Moderne et Contemporaine, Anne-Marie Duranton-Crabol also complimented my scholarship, and then argued similarly that de Gaulle intended to leave Algeria. I expected more of the same therefore from the appearance of the French edition. When the French edition came out I held my breath, and I read with great pleasure the review of Eric Roussel, which Munholland mentions, in Le Figaro Littéraire. Roussel was willing to admit that I had perhaps made my case based on the archival materials thus far; but he thought that not everything was in the
archives. Hopefully more will one day be uncovered, especially when the General’s papers see the light of day, but it is hard for me to imagine that something other than what appears in French diplomatic documents with regard to Algeria will emerge; but until then I think my argument can stand. There was also a mention of my book by Jean Daniel, in an editorial in Le Nouvel Observateur, but he did not address Algeria, rather my postscript on Iraq, finding there confirmation of evolving opposition to the American war there by American opinion (hardly representative, alas, in my case). But for the rest of the French media, which generously reviewed my earlier book, The United States and the Making of Postwar France in its French version, there has been stony silence. Not for lack of my publishers trying; we hosted a luncheon for the major publications, and most of them did send reporters to hear what I had to say. They seem to have been unimpressed, by me and by the book. I get two explanations from French colleagues: that the Gaullist myth is so widely believed that contrary views are rejected out of hand as unworthy of notice, and that worse, the major press, in crisis, no longer devotes as much space as before to reviewing academic books. Even the Communist newspaper L’Humanité, which enthusiastically reviewed my earlier book, ignored this one; I was told by someone highly placed that the Gaullist myth holds sway even there.
In fact the sole favorable review of the book in French (and the very best one) is not a review; it is the introduction to the French edition by Georges-Henri Soutou. On the other hand there was a very lengthy diatribe in an obscure publication the politics of which I find it hard to discern: De Defensa, which is published in Belgium. The reviewer, whom I assume was the editor, accuses me of being a spokesman for the American system which I objectify into the incarnation of virtue and use live up to Washington’s expectations. In fact I am the inventor of a new kind of history, partisan “Americanist” history and values objectified, “le parti-pris objectif ou l’objectivation partisan,” which I take to mean the imposition of American—indeed pro-American government—standards and views upon the world. The same reviewer dismisses my comparison of the Iraq and Algeria wars and the contrasting roles France and the United States as unworthy of notice, although I make it perfectly clear that I identify with the French policy during the Iraq war, not the American. I can only express my astonishment; being an apologist for American imperialism is the last thing of which I ever thought anyone would accuse me, but I did write a book in which Eisenhower, during a crisis over decolonization, despite his limitations, comes off better than de Gaulle.
I await the academic reviews in France which will take more time. In the meantime the lesson I take from all this is that the Franco-American divide, in diplomacy and in Weltanschauung, exists as well in scholarship, at least with regard to de Gaulle.
1 Martin Thomas, The French North African Crisis: Colonial Breakdown and Anglo-French Relations, 1945-1962 (New York: Palgrave, 2001); Mathew Connelly, A Diplomatic Revolution: Algeria’s Fight for Independence and the Origins of the Post-Cold War Era (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002); and an important volume of essays edited by Martin Alexander and J.F.V. Keiger, France and the Algerian War, 1954-1962 (London: Frank Cass, 2002).
2 See, for example, Éric Roussel, Charles de Gaulle (Paris, Gallimard, 2002).
I'm a little confused by the title of this thread. The books you've listed are all published in the US.
Is this a required reading list of books in your military? If so, is it possible to put the entire list in one post without the reviews?
Are they books you found illuminating/interesting? Is so, could you post your own reviews instead of someone else's? Personally, I'd appreciate your own words rather than a professional review. As a librarian, here are my personal feelings about professional reviews - they are designed to sell a book, nothing more. I like to see reviews on mil boards that are the members own words, as you guys are on the ground and in the suck - your impressions could vary considerably from the pro reviews.
I'm a little confused by the title of this thread. The books you've listed are all published in the US.
the title is just a funny title as I could chose "the cave of the french grunt" or the "gold tavern" nothing more.
Is this a required reading list of books in your military? If so, is it possible to put the entire list in one post without the reviews?
It isn't. I receive this summaries by newsletter. I thought it could be useful for anyone to glance at this summuries en order to have a general idea of the book.
I only posted the english reviews for obvious reasons. I could edit french reading list if you are really interested in.
I'm not sure that everyone could read the french and our reading list is not so exciting. Books are dealing with strategic problems not tactics one. So there aren't so much lessons learned turned in books from the french military. the few are based on first and second world war.
Our military reading list is divided into four main threads
Art of war
Man and war
Society and war
Sciences and war
Into those four threads you will find all those following books. In theory those books should be the basis of the French officers military knowledge. Actually french commissioned officers aren’t ought to read all of them, only some of them in depend of their decision levels.
Sorry for my english level
You already know some of them because this is only translating books for France (Creveld, Keegan, Grau...)
Principes fondamentaux de la stratégie, Carl von Clausewitz, Edition Mille et une nuits, 2006 (ISBN 2-84205-971-9) ;
Pour une éthique du métier des armes, vaincre la violence, général Bachelet. Editions Vuibert (ISBN 2 7117 7297 2) ;
Counterinsurgency warfare, theory and practice, Patrick Galula ( ISBN-10 : 027 599 3108 ; ISBN-13 : 978-0275993108);
Théorie du combat, Carl von Clausewitz, Economica (ISBN 2-7178-3736-1) ;
La guerre des Boers, Bernard Lugan, Perrin (ISBN 2-2620-0712-8) ;
La bataille des monts Nementcha (Algérie 1954-1962) un cas concret de guerre subversive et contre-subversive, Dominique Farale, Economica ;
Alger – été 1957 : une victoire sur le terrorisme, Général Maurice Schmitt, L’Harmattan, 2002 (ISBN 2-7475-1977-5) ;
The bear went over the mountain, Lester W. Grau Frank Cass, London, Portland – Oregon 1998 (ISBN 071464413-7);
Na San, la Victoire oubliée (1952-1953), Base aéroterrestre au Tonkin », Jacques Favreau – Nicolas Dufour, Economica, collection « Campagnes et stratégie », 1999 (réimpression 2000) ;
Robert H. Ferrell. America's Deadliest Battle: Meuse-Argonne, 1918. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2007. xii + 195 pp. Illustrations, maps, notes, bibliography, index. (cloth), ISBN 978-0-7006-1499-8.
Reviewed for H-War by Mark E. Grotelueschen, Department of History, U.S. Air Force Academy
Blundering to Victory
In the past decade or so the distinguished American historian Robert H. Ferrell has turned his attention to World War I, writing at least three monographs on the U.S. war effort and editing at least that many volumes of recently discovered soldiers' memoirs. America's Deadliest Battle is the latest product of this prolificacy, and this volume may be the capstone to this impressive contribution to the scholarly investigation of one of America's less studied wars. As Ferrell points out, although the Meuse-Argonne was the scene of one of the longest (47 days and bloodiest (26, 277 killed) of all American battles, few scholars have taken the time to research and tell the story of this enormous, horrific, and ultimately victorious campaign. Beyond Frederick Palmer's early but substantial Our Greatest Battle (1919), we have thus far only had Paul Braim's thin _The Test of Battle: The American Expeditionary Forces in the Meuse-Argonne Campaign (1987), which was a less detailed examination of the campaign than the title suggested. All this goes to show that if there is something to be gained from thorough histories of campaigns and battles (and I suspect most readers of H-War agree that there is), the Meuse-Argonne was long overdue for a good scholarly examination.
Ferrell attempts to accomplish two important tasks in this work. First, well aware of the apparent lack of interest in and knowledge of this tremendous battle, Ferrell has organized and written this book in a way that seems geared toward the general reader rather than the World War I scholar. In less than 160 pages, Ferrell tells the story of this massive campaign. He includes two brief introductory chapters--one on the inefficient U.S. mobilization effort and another on American Expeditionary Forces' (AEF) operations prior to the Meuse-Argonne--but carefully connects those discussions to the great battle that helped end the war. The remaining seven chapters move through the battle more or less chronologically and geographically, and are filled with personal sketches of important people and vignettes of individual soldiers and units, some of which will be familiar to many (the Lost Battalion, Alvin York) while others will be almost certainly new to all. He touches on the logistical effort, medical operations, air support, unit training, communications capabilities, weapons usage, command styles, controversies between commanders, and the common soldier's experience. Whether or not they agree that the five-day ordeal of the 35th Division at the start of the offensive warrants an entire chapter, most readers unfamiliar with the battle and the AEF will find the story interesting and well told.
The second task Ferrell sets out to accomplish is to explain why the battle was so deadly for the AEF. His conclusions are generally reasonable and well supported, although perhaps not as thorough or comprehensive as more informed readers would like. Ferrell concludes that among the factors external to the AEF, Woodrow Wilson's poor management of the mobilization effort (especially the ship-building campaign) and the War Department's poor management of the unit mobilization and training effort led to numerous problems in the battle. Within the AEF, Ferrell notes that numerous soldiers suffered due to poor leadership at various levels (from young inexperienced officers, to poor division commanders such as the 79th's Joseph Kuhn and the 35th's Peter Traub, right on up to AEF Commander-in-Chief General John Pershing). Others were the victims of poor tactics, especially regarding artillery employment and the failure to use gas. The battle also turned into a bloodbath at times due to inadequate attention to logistical, transportation, and communication requirements. Although most readers will be convinced that Ferrell's conclusions are correct, those more familiar with the AEF may also suspect there is more to the story.
In his haste to keep the story moving briskly, Ferrell rarely dwells on issues that seem to warrant further discussion. One such issue is the nature and extent of the training soldiers and units received in the United States and in Europe. Ferrell discusses the inadequate training of a few units and the scandalous lack of training given to some individual replacements, but he does not discuss the general War Department or AEF training programs sufficiently. The general failures of these programs, both in the quantity and the quality of the training given to practically every AEF unit and soldier, warrant more thorough discussion in any explanation of the troubles experienced in the battle. Similarly, although Ferrell begins to explain the impact of Pershing's fateful agreement with Allied generalissimo Ferdinand Foch in early September to initiate both the St. Mihiel battle on 12 September and the Meuse-Argonne offensive less than two weeks later, much more could be said about this. Pershing's willingness to attempt to fight two enormous battles in two different sectors of the line with the same field army, all within a two-week period, and with only a few weeks to accomplish all the planning, organizing, and preparing necessary to make the latter attack come off at all, much less succeed, had a tremendous impact on the battle.
World War I scholars may also be disappointed with Ferrell's neglect of some other factors that certainly influenced the battle, and especially the numbers of American casualties, such as the incredibly aggressive nature of the initial attack plan and the extent of the German resistance. Nowhere does Ferrell mention that the plan for the initial assault of September 26 demanded that the attacking units break through the German lines faster, and carry their attacks further, than any Allied units had proven able to do thus far in the war. Pershing and his staff demanded this, despite the requirement to push the attack through terrain much more difficult than anything the AEF had yet seen, terrain that the Germans had spent years turning into a veritable fortress and were determined to defend. This latter point--the German defense--is a second subject Ferrell leaves out of his story. With the exception of a good discussion of the German artillery that pounded American soldiers from the heights of the Meuse and the Argonne, this account rarely examines the German half of the battle.
Despite these criticisms, Robert Ferrell's book has much to recommend it. It is an interesting, informative, and briskly written story that should appeal to anyone interested in military history who wants to know more about this neglected but important battle. It will also be of great use to World War I scholars. Ferrell has mined an impressive array of archival records and personal papers, and provided readers with the best-researched account of the battle yet written. If scholars come away wishing the book was twice as long and contained more detailed analysis of some key issues (as I did), then they can thank Ferrell for beginning a scholarly historiography of an important event that is long overdue, and take his apparent omissions as a charge to continue down the path he has finally, at long last, laid down as the challenge for other scholars to follow.