Book Review – The Great War: A Combat History of the First World War by Peter Hart

Since 2014 there have been a whole slew of books released dealing with World War I in conjunction with the 100th anniversary of the war.  This volume is one of them.  In The Great War Peter Hart has produced a book that should have been written half a century ago at a minimum. The stats: the book is 476 pages of text separated into 16 chronologically arranged thematic chapters with maps, notes, and a preface. This book does what few other books I have read about manage.  That is, it examines World War I combat from the perspective of what was achievable at the time instead of criticizing commanders for … More after the Jump…

Book Review: Hannibal’s Road: The Second Punic War in Italy 213-203 B.C. by Mike Roberts

[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] Hannibal’s Road covers a period in history that is often only briefly described, if not glossed over entirely.  That period is the 10 years between 213-203 B.C. after his stunning victories at Trebia, Trasimene, and Cannae until his evacuation of the Italian peninsula. The stats.  There are 249 pages of text divided into an introduction, 11 chapters, and an epilogue.  There are also several maps, notes, a bibliography, and an index. The period between the Roman defeats at Trebia, Trasimene, … More after the Jump…

Book Review: Mortal Wounds: The Human Skeleton as Evidence for Conflict in the Past by Martin Smith

[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] As interesting books go Mortal Wounds is way up there. I will admit that when I first saw the title on a list of potential books for review I was skeptical but then the title and description made it somewhat intriguing. I am pleased to say that I am happy I decided to review this work as it is infinitely more interesting than the title implies. First the facts. The book is 248 pages of text divided into an introduction, … More after the Jump…

Terror and Counterinsurgency

I thought that the victory laps the press and others are doing about the supposed defeat of ISIS in Iraq was a good time to post this. Apparently the leaders of the West and most of the Western population has decided that several hundred dead and wounded every year due to terrorism is acceptable as the West collectively is unwilling to exert the effort to effectively defeat terrorism. It can be defeated if we are willing to be realistic and understand that you can only defeat terror by out-terroring the terrorists. Now three questions about insurgency and counterinsurgency please reply in the comments: How many people have heard of the … More after the Jump…

Book Review: The Battlefields of the First World War: The Unseen Panoramas of the Western Front by Peter Barton

The Battlefields of the First World War: The Unseen Panoramas of the Western Front by Peter Barton is one of the most visually stunning books about WWI I have ever read.  This work is more than just a history of British participation on the Western Front.  It makes use of officially produced trench panoramas to illuminate conditions of trench warfare better than almost any other pictorial record of WWI I have run across. The book itself is 358 pages in length with a bibliography, picture credits, list of further reading, and index.  In addition, and one of the things that makes this book outstanding it includes two CD-ROMs that contain … More after the Jump…

Book Review: At the Edge of the World: The Heroic Century of the French Foreign Legion by Jean-Vincent Blanchard

[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] I would hazard to guess that when most people think of the French Foreign Legion they think of hard faced mercenaries doing France’s dirty work, the idealized Beau Geste bringing civilization to the North African Desert or legionnaires fighting to the last man at Camerone.  At the Edge of the World  by Jean-Vincent Blanchard tells the real story of the French Foreign Legion and it needs no embellishment. The stats: the book is 222 pages of text separated into two … More after the Jump…

Book Review: The Thai Way of Counterinsurgency by Jeff M. Moore PhD

[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] Anybody who has read this blog over the past few years will know that I am not a big fan of COIN doctrine as currently espoused by the US Army.  My objections to COIN are mainly that it doesn’t work, not because the US gets it wrong but because the US is the wrong vehicle to execute the COIN fight in a foreign land.  Foreigners are automatically hamstrung in implementing a successful COIN strategy by the fact that they are … More after the Jump…

The Limes – Relics of an Empire

Many people have heard of Hadrian’s Wall in the UK and same have even heard of the Antonine Wall a little farther north.  What many people have never heard of or if they have heard of do not know where they are located are the Roman Limes(pronounced leem-ez) that stretched around the entire periphery of the ancient Roman Empire.  In many places the Limes ran along rivers or inaccessible mountains but in places where this was not possible the Romans built and garrisoned physical fortifications to mark the extent of their territory and prevent outside invaders from getting in an attacking or raiding within Roman territory. Because my wife and … More after the Jump…

Book Review: To the Gates of Stalingrad by David Glantz

David Glantz’s To the Gates of Stalingrad is the first of a three book trilogy that catalogs the intense German-Soviet battle for Stalingrad in 1942-43. The book details the failed Soviet offensive toward Kharkov in spring 1942, the German spring offensive (Fall Blau, or Case Blue), and the German 6th Army advance to Stalingrad. The book is in line with Glantz’s other works that attempt to prove his common thesis: that the Eastern Front was the decisive theater of the World War II. The book represents Glantz’s unmatched ability to chronicle the battles for the Eastern Front from strategic, all the way to the tactical level. One paragraph might detail … More after the Jump…

D-Day 73rd Anniversary

This is an annual tradition at Battles and Book Reviews.  This year is the 73rd anniversary of the Allied Landings at Normandy in France during WWII. Just a reminder for everyone to stop today and take a moment to reflect on the events that happened 68 years ago today on the shores of Normandy in France.  This year, the text of General Dwight Eisenhower’s message to the troops of the Allied invasion force the morning of the invasion. Soldiers, Sailors, and Airmen of the Allied Expeditionary Force: You are about to embark upon the Great Crusade, toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are … More after the Jump…

Book Review: Knights of Jerusalem: The Crusading Order of Hospitallers 1100–1565 (World of the Warrior) by David Nicolle

Knights of Jerusalem is not the book you would expect to read about one of the Crusading orders, it is not a list and description of battles the order fought, with blow by blow accounts of the most famous of these battles such as the Horns of Hattin or the Great Siege of Malta.  This is a history of how the order came into existence and how it operated and even continues to operate almost 1,000 years later when so many of its fellow orders in the Church Militant have disappeared.  The book focuses on the history of the order from its founding until the end of the Crusading era … More after the Jump…

Book Review: An Iron Wind-Europe Under Hitler by Peter Fritzsche

[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] Peter Fritzsche’s book An Iron Wind-Europe Under Hitler is “new history” of the best sort.  Instead of being a war book about battles and campaigns it tries to capture the experience of World War II of the people of Europe.  How did the average civilian who the fighting swirled past and who lived under German occupation experience the war?  That is the question this book tries to answer and does a good job of doing so. First, the numbers.  There … More after the Jump…

Why Does the West Seem Incapable of Winning Wars Anymore? – Part 7

A reluctance to follow traditional, pre-world wars law of war. This point harks back to point #1 and is both a result of and reaction to the high cost of the two 20th century world wars.  In the contemporary world the traditional laws of war, that is the agreed upon rules that predate Geneva are considered too harsh.  It has apparently never occurred to an academic that the laws of war are harsh for a reason, as though war is supposed to be some collegial contest like a sporting event.  They substituted ideals for a realistic appraisal of effectiveness. Let’s use an example. Traditionally, when a city or other fortified … More after the Jump…

Book Review: The Devil’s General: The Life of Hyazinth Graf von Strachwitz, “The Panzer Graf” by Raymond Bagdonas

[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 are numerous biographies of German officers and soldiers from World War II and The Devil’s General: The Life of Hyazinth Graf von Strachwitz, “The Panzer Graf” by Raymond Bagdonas is yet another. I cannot quite make up my mind if this is a good book or not. I lean towards yes but something is lacking to make this a truly great biography. The numbers; there are 338 pages of text making up an introduction, 23 chronological chapters and 6 appendices. … More after the Jump…