Book Review: The Revenge of Geography by Robert D. Kaplan

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In line with my current grad program pursuing an MA in International relations I have been reading a lot of books about current or semi current events. The Revenge of Geography: What the Map Tells Us About Coming Conflicts and the Battle Against Fate by Robert Kaplan is one of these books.  The book is an examination of geopolitics.  That is, it takes a look at politics through the lens of geography.  The thesis being that while regimes may change the places people live and the terrain of those places generally does not and thus to a large extent geography has a somewhat deterministic effect on politics.  This is actually a … Read more…

Book Review: Death Dealer-The Memoirs of the SS Kommandant at Auschwitz by Rudolph Höss

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In my office at home I have one shelf on my bookshelf full of books with sticky tabs on the back indicating that I want to read them but have not yet found the time.  When I get the chance I take one down and read it.  Some are books I have had for years and some are new.  This is one of those books. I think like every aspiring historian, I went through a WWII phase in my youth where I read every book about WWII and all its aspects I could find.  Death Dealer: The Memoirs of the SS Kommandant at Auschwitz by Rudolph Höss has sat on my … Read more…

Book Review: The Accidental Superpower by Peter Zeihan

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I picked up Peter Zeihan’s The Accidental Superpower because I thought the title was interesting. I did not expect it to be as excellent a book as it is. I actually expected a dry dissertation on geopolitics. It is a dissertation on geopolitics but it is anything but dry. The book itself is 354 pages of text including appendices and includes an introduction, epilogue, and index. It is separated into 15 thematic chapters. The first eight chapters describe the impact of geography on the human settlement and political organization. They also go over how that impact has determined which modern countries and peoples are winners and which are losers. The … Read more…

Book Review: Ring of Steel by Alexander Watson

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[FULL DISCLOSURE: I received my copy of this book free from the author and/or publisher. I was not paid for this review and the opinion expressed is purely my own] Ring of Steel: Germany and Austria-Hungary in World War I does for the Germany and Austria-Hungary what Niall Ferguson’s The Pity Of War did for the Allies in WWI.  It explains the war through the lens of the people that participated both at home and at the front and explores the ways in which the experience of war shaped the perception of the war and led to the dissolution of both empires. The book itself is a hefty tome at first … Read more…

Book Review: The Longest Afternoon by Brendan Simms

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[FULL DISCLOSURE: I received my copy of this book free from the author and/or publisher. I was not paid for this review and the opinion expressed is purely my own] There have been hundreds of books written about the battle of Waterloo in the last two centuries.  Most acknowledge that the defense of the two farms at La Haye Saint and Hougemont were decisive in the allied victory.  Curiously, to my knowledge there has not been a microhistory written of the actions in and around the farmhouse of La Haye Saint.  Brendan Simms has rectified that era in his new work The Longest Afternoon: The 400 Men Who Decided the … Read more…

CSA PRL Book Review: The Utility of Force by Rupert Smith

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The new 2014 US Army Chief of Staff Professional Reading List (PRL) was released in the Summer of 2014 and I was relieved in the extreme to see that there was only one novel on the list, Once an Eagle by Anton Myrer.  The list is different than earlier lists because it is organized topically instead of by position as earlier lists were.  I have read many of the books on the list already and decided to read the ones I have not and post my thoughts on the books on the list.  This review is the third in that series. The Utility of Force: The Art of War in the Modern World is … Read more…

Book Review: Old Soldiers by David Weber

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Old Soldiers is an older book but one I just got around to reading.  It is another foray by David Weber into the Concordiat universe created by Keith Laumer and populated by the sentient AI tanks known as BOLOs. I you have read Weber’s earlier book Bolo! then you will understand the back story of the two main characters.  Menaka Trevor and the BOLO Lazarus.  Both were featured in a novella in that anthology.  This book picks up after the events in BOLO! with what the Concordiat does with Trevor and Lazarus after they are the only survivors f their battalion following the defense of the planet Chartres against a Melconian attack. Spoilers below!

Book Review: The Death of Money-The Coming Collapse of the International Monetary System by James Rickards

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The Death of Money: The Coming Collapse of the International Monetary System is one of those topical books that come along every once in a while just at the time you are starting to think about the subject at hand.  I must admit that I probably have a little bit of confirmation bias in my review of this book because I was already thinking much of what he says, I just did not have the hard data to back it up as he does. The book is 302 pages of text separated into three topical parts consisting of eleven chapters and a conclusion.  There are also 18 pages of notes and … Read more…

Book Review: The Month That Changed the World: July 1914 by Gordon Martel

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[FULL DISCLOSURE: I received my copy of this book free from the author. I was not paid for this review and the opinion expressed is purely my own] Given that 2014 is the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of World War I, there has been a virtual flood of new books and scholarship on the war in the past few years. A flood that I sincerely hope does not stop anytime soon as the renewed emphasis on the war is starting to change the traditional view of the war. One area that has gotten particular emphasis this year is the Origins Controversy, as in, what really caused the war and … Read more…

Book Review: A Doctor in the Great War by Andrew Davidson

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[FULL DISCLOSURE: I received my copy of this book free from the author and/or publisher. I was not paid for this review and the opinion expressed is purely my own] Andrew Davidson’s A Doctor in The Great War: Unseen Photographs of Life in the Trenches is part photographic memoir and part unit history. It catalogs the life of his grandfather, Frederick Davidson, as a Royal Army Medical Corps doctor with the 1st Battalion of the regiment of Cameronians (Scottish Rifles) as the battalion medical officer. What makes the book special is that it contains over 250 pictures taken by the author’s grandfather and other officers of the battalion both before and during … Read more…