For the second part of this year’s military history roundup (for the first, see LJ 10/1/11, p. 88), LJ has called on a number of its subject experts to review in the seven categories below. This year marks the sesquicentennial of the start of the Civil War. Next year will be the bicentennial of the start of one of those wars readers have all heard of but don’t necessarily understand; now is the time to discover the importance of the War of 1812. There are titles in every category below that draw on new sources, whether from previously closed archives or private materials‚ or the long-processed remembrances of those who went to war.
WAR OF 1812
Daughan, George C. 1812: The Navy’s War. Basic Bks: Perseus. Oct. 2011. c.512p. illus. maps. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780465020461. $32.50. HIST
In a compelling sequel to his award- winning If By Sea: The Forging of the American Navy‚ from the Revolution to the War of 1812, Daughan narrates the story of the War of 1812, focusing on the tiny, 20-ship U.S. Navy. In doing so, from the poorly conducted chase of HMS Belvidera by Commodore John Rogers in June 1812 to the capture of HMS Penguin by USS Hornet in March 1815, Daughan also traces the development of the U.S. Navy. He concludes with a brief discussion of Commodore Stephen Decatur’s successful ventures against the Barbary pirates in late 1815. Daughan also analyzes the land war, from the fiasco of the invasion of Canada and the embarrassment of the burning of Washington, DC, to the final victory at New Orleans a couple of weeks after the signing of the Treaty of Ghent. VERDICT Albeit with nothing new to present, Daughan offers a rousing retelling of the war, strongly recommended for general readers, high school students, and lower classmen.‚ David Lee Poremba, Windermere, FL
Eshelman, Ralph E. A Travel Guide to the War of 1812 in the Chesapeake: Eighteen Tours in Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia. Johns Hopkins. 2011. 296p. illus. maps. index. ISBN 9780801898372. pap. $24.95. trav
The Chesapeake Bay area was a theater of war for the latter years of the War of 1812, i.e., 1813‚ 14. This book offers two types of tours, either by the actual historic routes (Part 1), or by particular sites (Part 2). For example, in the first part, readers can trace the invading British forces or follow James and Dolley Madison as they fled Washington. Walking, biking, and boating are covered. Part 2 offers 13 city, town, and regional tours. VERDICT Throughout, useful sidebars present detailed information on operating hours, fees, parking, and more; however, there is no listing for eating or overnight accommodations, and the maps are outdated. Despite these detriments, this will be a useful part of a larger toolkit for traveling the war.‚ D.L.P.
Grant, John & Ray Jones. The War of 1812: A Guide to Battlefields and Historic Sites. Turner. Oct. 2011. c.185p. illus. maps. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781596528307. pap. $24.95. HIST
Grant, executive producer of the companion two-hour PBS documentary premiering this month, and Jones (The Lighthouse Encyclopedia) divide this large-format paperback chronologically by theaters of war: the Northwestern, Niagara, Ontario, St. Lawrence/Champlain, Northeastern, Chesapeake, and Southern theater. A lengthy introduction sets the stage, discussing events leading up to the declaration of war, such as Royal Navy impressment of American sailors and merchantmen and clashes with Native American tribes in Illinois and Indiana territories. The chapters then narrate the conflict as it unfolded, copiously illustrating principal battle sites on land, sea, and lake. A running section throughout, What You’ll See Today, discusses memorials, museums, reconstructed forts, and marked battlefields for those wishing to visit war sites. VERDICT With its accessible narrative and color illustrations, both historical and photographic, this will bring the conflict to life for all readers. Highly recommended.‚ D.L.P.
Howard, Hugh. Mr. and Mrs. Madison’s War: America’s First Couple and the Second War of Independence. Bloomsbury Pr., dist. by Macmillan. Jan. 2012. c.384p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781608190713. $30. HIST
Here is the story of the War of 1812 not from the military, but the personal perspective of James Madison‚ the first U.S. President to declare the country at war‚ and the beloved Dolley Madison. Readers get a feeling for the period beyond the political and military contexts and gain salient new information. For example, Dolley Madison’s social gatherings at the White House on Wednesday evenings did much to ease political differences between parties. In the midst of the war, President Madison was deathly ill with bilious fever and wasn’t able to travel until early August 1813. With the British in the Chesapeake Bay region, committing depredations up and down the coast, a President’s travel plans were kept secret for the first time. At the British devastation of the capitol in 1814, the Madisons had to flee. VERDICT Howard’s descriptions, e.g., of the burning of Washington, are superb, as is his use of primary sources throughout. Highly recommended to all readers on this war’s bicentennial.‚ D.L.P.
Craughwell, Thomas J. The Greatest Brigade: How the Irish Brigade Cleared the Way to Victory in the American Civil War. Fair Winds: Quayside. 2011. 240p. illus. maps. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781592334780. pap. $19.99. HIST
The Irish Brigade played an important role in many key clashes of the Civil War, including Antietam, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, and Petersburg. Craughwell (Stealing Lincoln’s Body) recounts both the larger picture of each engagement and its significance to the war as a whole and the particular role played by the Irish Brigade. He also intersperses personal stories that reflect the challenges faced by Irish Catholics in their new country, which was in many ways xenophobic and anti-Catholic. VERDICT This engrossing book will appeal both to Civil War buffs and to those interested in the Irish American experience.‚ Michael Farrell, Reformed Theological Seminary Lib., Oviedo, FL
Graham, Martin F. A Pocket History of the Civil War: Citizen Soldiers, Bloody Battles, and the Fight for America’s Future. Osprey. 2011. c.256p. illus. maps. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781849085472. $15.95. HIST
In a handily sized volume dense with details and deep with information but never lacking readability or narrative flow, Graham (former associate editor, Blue & Gray magazine) provides snapshots of Civil War detail from soldiers’ uniforms and how they spent their day to key battles, prisons, and fascinating characters. Organized chronologically, the immense amount of information is made even more attractive through the illustrations, maps, innumerable charts, and sidebars, not to mention a quiz after each section. VERDICT Concise and jam-packed but still leavening history‚ as the best teachers do‚ by projecting a sense of curiosity with aplomb. Good for both the pop-in or a longer stay. Highly recommended.‚ Ben Malczewski, Ypsilanti Dist. Lib., MI
Lause, Mark A. A Secret Society History of the Civil War. Univ. of Illinois. Dec. 2011. c.248p. illus. index. ISBN 9780252036552. $35. HIST
Lause (history, Univ. of Cincinnati) aims to present a scholarly account of the role played by secret societies leading up to and during the Civil War. Tracing American secret societies from their European origins through the latter stages of the war, he concludes that those societies with the most notoriety, such as the Knights of the Golden Circle, were actually less influential than lesser-known organizations such as secret black abolitionist groups, developed with their own private rituals and trappings and distinct from the regular underground abolitionist movement. VERDICT This book will appeal more to those interested in the history of secret societies and activist groups than to readers wanting to learn about the Civil War; the conflict itself is barely mentioned.‚ M.F.
Marvel, William. Tarnished Victory: Finishing Lincoln’s War. Houghton Harcourt. Nov. 2011. c.480p. illus. maps. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780547428062. $35. HIST
This title concludes Marvel’s four-volume revisionist history of the Civil War; his thesis is that the war was brought about by the North, that the cost was not worth any benefit derived, and that Northern society was despotic, corrupt, and made miserable by Lincoln. According to Marvel, Union generals were drunkards, inept and ruthless butchers of their own men as well as innocent Southerners. He is quite selective, focusing on the blunders of Union generals that only hindsight could reveal while minimizing the equally baffling blunders of Confederate generals. He criticizes the draft in the North but hardly mentions it in the South and points out horrific POW conditions in the South but blames the Northern policy of refusing to exchange prisoners. Marvel ruthlessly criticizes Lincoln’s administration but fails to show how Davis’s was any better. VERDICT While present-day supporters of the Lost Cause may enjoy this, those seeking a more balanced approach should consult James McPherson’s Battle Cry of Freedom.‚ M.F.
Robertson, James. The Untold Civil War: Exploring the Human Side of War. National Geographic, dist. by Random. Oct. 2011. c.352p. ed. by Neil Kagan. illus. index. ISBN 9781426208126. $40. HIST
Beautifully illustrated and engagingly written, this thematically arranged book reveals the human side of America’s bloodiest war. While the generals, battles, and politicians are given their place, Robertson (Alumni Distinguished Professor in History, Virginia Polytechnic Inst. and State Univ.) spends more time discussing the smaller, everyday experiences of soldiers and civilians. Photographs, cartoons, and other illustrations make up more than half of the content, with accompanying captions formulated so that one need not even read all the text to appreciate the book and learn from it. VERDICT This book is meant more for browsing, but it would also be an excellent resource for anyone seeking a visually driven history or even examples of Civil War illustration. [Also available in a deluxe edition.‚ Ed.]‚ M.F.
Jonas, Raymond. The Battle of Adwa: African Victory in the Age of Empire. Belknap: Harvard Univ. Nov. 2011. c.412p. illus. maps. index. ISBN 9780674052741. $29.95. HIST
According to Jonas (history, Univ. of Washington), the 1896 Ethiopian victory over the invading Italians at Adwa was a momentous event that both ended an Italian war of conquest and called into question the inevitability of a European conquest of Africa. Jonas’s lucidly woven account masterfully repositions the role of contingency in the unfolding of history and uses the little-known battle to stand for the audacious imperial quest for glory unleashed by Western powers in the scramble for Africa. VERDICT While Jonas may overplay the importance of his subject, his remarkable cast of characters and insightful prose will be of interest to scholars of African history and issues related to counterinsurgency.‚ Brian Odom, Pelham P.L., AL
WORLD WAR I
Englund, Peter. The Beauty and the Sorrow: An Intimate History of the First World War. Knopf. Nov. 2011. c.512p. tr. from Swedish by Peter Graves. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780307593863. $35. HIST
Englund (The Battle That Shook Europe), a Swedish historian, gives us an intimate anti-history generated from the feelings, experiences, and moods of 20 men and women of widely ranging nationalities, ages, and wartime occupations, selected from available published primary sources. The narrative reads chronologically, often paraphrasing the individuals’ words, but with actual quotations as well. The effect is riveting, as the entries‚ contrived from letters, diaries, and memoirs‚ offer glimpses into the daily lives of schoolchildren, mothers, nurses, infantrymen, pilots, and civilians as they subjectively process events across the whole theater of war and survival. VERDICT Englund adds a rich representation of voice and an opportunity for empathy not found in most studies of World War I. Although the stories seem stacked too dramatically, this is still a rewarding read.‚ Ben Malczewski, Ypsilanti Dist. Lib., MI
Hart, Peter. Gallipoli. Oxford Univ. Oct. 2011. c.560p. index. ISBN 9780199836864. $34.95. HIST
World War I’s Battle of Gallipoli changed the Middle East, built and ruined reputations, swallowed enormous Allied resources, and marked Australia’s and New Zealand’s emergence as nations on the world stage. It developed into a bloody sinkhole that wasted lives without discernible strategic benefit owing to British arrogance, incompetent leadership, and stiff Turkish resistance. Churchill lost his job, but Mustafa Kemal (later known as Atatürk) established himself as the founder of modern Turkey. Hart (oral historian, Imperial War Museum; The Somme) brings many unpublished first-person accounts and official records into focus with scathing assessment of the planners, from the cabinet down, and descriptions of soldiers trapped in an unforgiving nightmare. VERDICT An important reevaluation, largely from the Allied point of view. An excellent summary of an iconic campaign, offering many lessons for war planners. Readable but most accessible to specialists.‚ Edwin B. Burgess, U.S. Army Combined Arms Research Lib., Fort Leavenworth, KS
Stevenson, David. With Our Backs to the Wall: Victory and Defeat in 1918. Belknap: Harvard Univ. 2011. c.670p. illus. maps. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780674062269. $35. HIST
While most accounts of World War I focus on the precipitating events at the beginning, with the complex network of entangled alliances, Stevenson (international history, London Sch. of Economics; Cataclysm: The First World War as Political Tragedy) instead offers a comprehensive investigation into the final year of the war. He presents readers with an account that judiciously balances narrative and analysis, beginning not with Russian/Austrian posturing in the Balkans, but with offensive maneuvering on both sides in 1918. Stevenson also considers events on the home fronts, technological innovations that industrialized mass slaughter, and the economies of scale that withstood the strains produced by war. VERDICT This is a monumental study deserving of a wide readership by scholars and generalists alike.‚ Brian Odom, Pelham P.L., AL
WORLD WAR II
Collins, Michael & Martin King. Voices of the Bulge: Untold Stories from Veterans of the Battle of the Bulge. Zenith. 2011. 320p. photogs. maps. index. ISBN 9780760340332. $29 with DVD. HIST
This day-by-day account of the Battle of the Bulge takes the personal stories of servicemen to give a trench-level view of the combat. The book and companion DVD documentary are based on interviews conducted by filmmakers Collins and King, who provide some framing narrative and profiles of the prominent commanders of the battle. The bulk of the text is composed of the GIs’ individual and unit stories. VERDICT For those unfamiliar with the battle, this may not provide sufficient overall context, but for readers who know the battle history, and those‚ teens and adults alike‚ who enjoy works such as Stephen Ambrose’s Band of Brothers, it is recommended.‚ Brian DeLuca, Enoch Pratt Free Lib., Baltimore
Corrigan, Gordon. The Second World War: A Military History. Thomas Dunne: St. Martin’s. Nov. 2011. c.672p. photogs. maps. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780312577094. $35. MILITARY HISTory
This conventional operational history of the war focuses on high-level leaders and movements of military units. Corrigan (Brigade of Gurkhas, retired; Mud, Blood and Poppycock) utilizes previously published sources to retell the familiar epic story. He gives a lot of attention to the British army (as might be expected from one of its former officers), as well as the Germans, who he thinks were the best fighters. His criticisms of commanders and decisions are deserved but sometimes come across as a little smug, which perhaps comes from the vantage of hindsight. VERDICT Easy to read for all readers but not presenting anything really new, this is best for those unfamiliar with the subject. An optional purchase. [See Prepub Alert, 5/23/11.]‚ Daniel K. Blewett, Coll. of DuPage Lib., Glen Ellyn, IL
Hastings, Max. Inferno: The World at War, 1939‚ 1945. Knopf. Nov. 2011. c.752p. photogs. maps. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780307273598. $35. HIST
Former UK journalist Hastings (Retribution: The Battle for Japan, 1944‚ 45), a popular war historian who has covered World War II from many perspectives, here relates what individuals in the armed forces and the home fronts on all sides experienced. He employs excerpts from mostly contemporary diaries and letters illustrating the shortages, sufferings, destruction, fear, and death that permeated lives violently upended by the all-consuming conflict. There are also passages that bring readers back to the big picture and what various leaders were doing, but it’s the stories of what ordinary people experienced at such great cost that make this an engrossing book. VERDICT This well-written history is recommended for all readers and libraries. (Photos, maps, and index not seen.)‚ D.K.B.
McLynn, Frank. The Burma Campaign: Disaster into Triumph, 1942‚ 45. Yale Univ.(Library of Military History). Oct. 2011. c.544p. illus. maps. index. ISBN 9780300171624. $35. MILITARY HISTORY
Prodigious biographer and military historian McLynn (Captain Cook: Master of the Seas) has turned his attention to what he considers one of the great epics of British imperial history, the World War II campaign in Burma against the Japanese. McLynn recounts the struggle for Burma from the viewpoint of four larger-than-life personalities: William Slim, Louis Mountbatten, Orde Wingate, and the American Joseph Stilwell. VERDICT While McLynn extends his scope beyond the conflict itself to the larger issues of Japanese aggression, American miscalculations, and Churchill’s greatness, this is a personalized account of warfare that fans of E.B. Sledge’s With the Old Breed: At Peleliu and Okinawa will enjoy.‚ Brian Odom, Pelham P.L., AL
Okerstrom, Dennis R. The Final Mission of Bottoms Up : A World War II Pilot’s Story. Univ. of Missouri.(American Military Experience). Oct. 2011. c.260p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780826219480. $29.95. HIST
Over 65 years after the end of World War II and with thousands of books on its every angle, Okerstrom (English, Park Univ.; Peace, War, and Terrorism) adds a unique gem to the body of work on the war. Starting with the 1944 shooting down over Italy of the B-24 Bottoms Up, in which Lieutenant Lee Lamar was copilot, Okerstrom follows three distinct paths: the story of Lamar’s capture and imprisonment as a POW, the fuller story of Lamar and the Bottoms Up crew, and the eventual identification of the Bottoms Up wreckage 60 years later by a Croatian archaeologist, followed by Okerstrom and Lamar’s subsequent remarkable journey back to Croatia. VERDICT Akin to Laura Hillenbrand’s Unbroken, with shades of Robert Kurson’s Shadow Divers, this is the perfect book for the adult reader who thinks there is nothing new under the sun in World War II histories.‚ B.D.
A People’s History of World War II: The World’s Most Destructive Conflict, as Told by the People Who Lived Through It. New Pr., dist. by Perseus. (People’s History). Nov. 2011. c.288p. ed. by Marc Favreau. illus.ISBN 9781595581662. pap. $18.95. HIST
This book very much follows the philosophy of the late editor of the series, Howard Zinn. Favreau (editorial director, New Pr.) presents a thematic arrangement of previously published vignettes from authors such as John Dower, Studs Terkel, and Eric Hobsbawn. The results are not your typical overview of World War II. The pieces are picked to show different viewpoints of ordinary citizens, including the women who undertook factory jobs, African American soldiers from the Jim Crow South, a Japanese soldier facing the American military in the Pacific, interned Japanese Americans, residents of occupied Paris, and more. It’s an absorbing and eclectic volume. VERDICT While possibly difficult to follow by those new to studying the war, the thematic arrangement makes it perfect for students, high school and up, and those with knowledge of the war looking for unexplored tidbits.‚ B.D.
Thompson, Julian. Dunkirk: Retreat to Victory. Arcade: Skyhorse. Oct. 2011. c.352p. photogs. maps. index. ISBN 9781611453140. $24.95. MILITARY HISTORY
It’s tempting to compare Thompson’s book to Barbara W. Tuchman’s great The Guns of August, but that misses the point. Each follows the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) at the start of a world war, relating the trials of a small, determined force outnumbered by the sledgehammer of a larger foe. While Guns focuses on the big picture, Thompson is focused on the tactical angles and a BEF that is much different from that fielded in 1914. As a former general, Thompson (The Royal Marines) has the rare ability to translate the importance of movements, tactics, and minutiae for the layperson and make it exciting. He unblinkingly examines the strengths and failings of all combatants. VERDICT It’s a rare thing to know the outcome of an event yet still feel suspense, frustration, and the gaining of new insight. A brilliant book, perfect for informed readers looking for the next great World War II history.‚ B.D.
Barnes, H. Lee. When We Walked Above the Clouds: A Memoir of Vietnam. Univ. of Nebraska. 2011. c.320p. ISBN 9780803234482. $29.95. MILITARY HISTORY
Novelist Barnes (English, Coll. of Southern Nevada) presents a memoir of his Vietnam War experience. This is a vivid testament to the disillusionment, boredom, fear, banality of death, and friendships that are hard for those who were not there to understand without books like this. A young man lacking direction but seeking a place in the world where he could excel, Barnes enlisted in the army and completed Special Forces training and served in the Tra Bong camp, his days filled with cleaning latrines, guard shifts, and obtaining water. His patrols with the much respected Montagnards provided relief from the monotony. Images of dead friends’ corpses still haunt him. Despite all, Barnes writes that he would trade all his years since to return to that time to share again the hardship and rare moments of laughter. VERDICT This joins Philip Caputo’s A Rumor of War as a haunting and beautifully written book. Readers may find it difficult to read but also difficult to put down. Highly recommended.‚ Patti McCall, Pratt Inst. Lib., Brooklyn, NY
Lomperis, Timothy J. The Vietnam War from the Rear Echelon: An Intelligence Officer’s Memoir, 1972‚ 1973. Univ. Pr. of Kansas. 2011. c.272p. photogs. maps. index. ISBN 9780700618095. $34.95. MILITARY HISTORY
Lomperis (political science, Saint Louis Univ.; The War Everyone Lost‚ and Won), who has published previously on the Vietnam War, here writes a combination memoir, history, and political analysis of the war, providing insight into how it was waged from the Military Assistance Command Vietnam (MACV) boardrooms of Saigon. He served as an intelligence officer at the MACV, as a rear echelon soldier, applying Washington policy to the battlefield, and ended his time in country as civilian intelligence liaison officer until 1973. Rear echelon soldiers were apparently no less prone to disillusionment than those in the thick of it. Lomperis spent his postwar years studying the war in depth, trying to come to terms with his conflicted feelings. VERDICT Lomperis’s conclusions offer refreshing perspectives, making this essential for serious readers in this subject. A valuable contribution on a little understood part of the war.‚ P.M.
McKenna, Thomas P. Kontum: The Battle To Save South Vietnam. Univ. Pr. of Kentucky. (Battles and Campaigns). 2011. photogs. maps. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780813133980. $34.95. MILITARY HISTORY
In 1972, in what became known as the Easter Invasion, North Vietnam launched attacks against the South Vietnamese provincial capital of Kontum. McKenna was a lieutenant colonel serving in South Vietnam as an adviser to the 23rd Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN). In this detailed account, he makes use of interviews, primary documents, and personal experience of how the 23rd successfully defended against three North Vietnamese divisions of superior numerical strength with the help of U.S. advisers and air power (almost all of the American forces had been withdrawn from Vietnam by this point). VERDICT Little has been written about the battle off Kontum. This book will be of particular interest to military historians as well as those studying the Vietnam War.‚ P.M.
Marlantes, Karl. What It Is Like To Go to War. Atlantic Monthly. 2011. c.224p. ISBN 9780802119926. $25. MILITARY HISTORY
Writing primarily to come to terms with his own experience in combat, Marlantes (Matterhorn) delivers an excruciatingly honest and insightful reflection of how a soldier subjectively processes war, death, killing, and surviving. We follow his narrative and self-examination from the Vietnamese jungle, where he fought as a marine, to coming home to a public reception as a soldier and an inward acceptance as an individual engaged in the timeless human battle. Not seeking acceptance of conflict and destruction, not a raw account bent on preaching pacifism as a substitute for war, his book instead urges us to recognize the feeling of transcendence and the psychological and spiritual intensity of war and to develop an awareness of its costs. VERDICT A gutting look into the psyche of a soldier, adding flesh to the often flat and stereotyped personage. Humanizing, empathetic, and wise, this reading experience will light corners in the human experience often judged dark.‚ Ben Malczewski, Ypsilanti Dist. Lib., MI
Sorley, Lewis. Westmoreland: The General Who Lost Vietnam. Houghton Harcourt. Oct. 2011. c.416p. photogs. maps. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780547518268. $30. BIOG
Sorley, a Vietnam vet and former academic, paints General Westmoreland as a stubborn man, promoted beyond his competence, who refused to change the course of the war despite all the evidence calling for change, squandered the trust of a nation, and spent his remaining days refuting critics. Sorley argues that he persisted in waging a war of attrition, ignoring the plight of the South Vietnamese people, paying lip service to morale while remaining oblivious to the human element, and seeking photo opportunities. His downfall was selling his optimism to an American people who were no longer buying it after the Tet Offensive in 1968. A micromanager, Westmoreland claimed to be a student of military history but was ignorant of significant facts of World War II. VERDICT This is an engrossing portrait and analysis of how the decisions of one military leader could impact the lives of so many. [See Prepub Alert, 4/11/11.]‚ P.M.
France, John. Perilous Glory: The Rise of Western Military Power. Yale Univ. Nov. 2011. c.448p. illus. maps. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780300120745. $35. HIST
Eschewing the dominant thesis about Western military history, as seen in Victor Davis Hanson’s The Western Way of War, that Western military supremacy springs from cultural and democratic origins, France (history & classics, emeritus, Swansea Univ.) takes a geographically comparative approach that spans from the third millennium B.C.E. to the Gulf War and in the process exposes both modernity’s misconceptions of martial power and the tenuous nature of Western military supremacy. VERDICT Whether discussing hoplite (armored infantry) battle in ancient Greece, the conflict between Islam and Christianity in the medieval crucible, or the industrialized killing of modern warfare, France has given both scholars and general readers alike a fantastic overview that will fit nicely in both undergraduate courses and public libraries.‚ Brian Odom, Pelham P.L., AL
Johnson, Rob. Outnumbered, Outgunned, Undeterred: Twenty Battles Against All Odds. Thames & Hudson, dist. by Norton. Oct. 2011. 208p. illus. maps. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780500251874. $27.95. MILITARY HISTORY
Johnson (lecturer in the history of war, Univ. of Oxford) contextualizes and strategically maps 20 battles and military struggles, including Simón Bolívar in South America, Christiaan de Wet and Boer Resistance, the epic struggle for Stalingrad, and the battle of Wanat, Afghanistan. Unfortunately, Johnson is fond of clichés such as resilient human spirit, personal sacrifice, heroic virtue, and cunning leadership. However, his skillful analysis of the battles and struggles, their contributing conditions, and the guts and spirit of ordinary people in extraordinary circumstance speak inspiration well enough without his purple prose. VERDICT Marginally recommended.‚ Ben Malczewski, Ypsilanti Dist. Lib., MI
Rashba, Gary L. Holy Wars: 3000 Years of Battles in the Holy Land. Casemate. 2011. c.288p. illus. maps. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781612000084. $32.95. HIST
Beginning with the fall of Jericho and ending with the Lebanon War of 1982, independent scholar Rashba examines the tactics employed by various armies during the myriad crucial battles that have taken place in what is now modern Israel. Employing a variety of sources from the Old Testament to modern scholarly works, Rashba presents a compelling tale of how this spiritually and politically charged area of the globe has long been a place of pivotal battles. VERDICT The style is a bit rushed and none of the clashes is thoroughly detailed, but this work does serve as a starting point by which to understand the military history of the Holy Land.‚ Brian Renvall, Mesalands Community Coll., Tucumcari, NM