Book Review: The Square and the Tower: Networks and Power, from the Freemasons to Facebook by Niall Ferguson

Niall Ferguson has made somewhat of a reputation for coming up with novel ways to look at history. The Square and the Tower: Networks and Power, from the Freemasons to Facebook continues that tradition. First, the stats. The book is 432 pages of text in IX parts and 60 chapters arranged both chronologically and thematically. It includes an appendix, 54 pages of notes and a 44 page bibliography.  The main focus of the book is analyzing history from a network centric viewpoint. This is actually a fairly interesting take on things. This is especially so given the usual big-man view of most history. The first several chapters are an in-depth explanation … More after the Jump…

Book Review: Blitzed: Drugs in the Third Reich by Norman Ohler

In this captivating account of drug use in the Third Reich, author Norman Ohler takes us on a journey through the history of Germany and explains how, and why, it became a center of pharmaceutical research. Although the National Socialist Party presented themselves as clean cut, and Hitler praised abstinence, it is clear that much of the Nazi hierarchy, including Hitler himself, were very reliant on drugs and, indeed, that their use was widespread both in the armed forces and in civilian life. In 1925 the immensely powerful chemical and pharmaceutical corporation I.G. Farben was created out of an amalgamation of many different companies. In the following year German exports … More after the Jump…

Book Review: Carnage and Culture: Landmark Battles in the Rise to Western Power by Victor Davis Hanson

I have been a fan of Dr. Hanson’s work since I first read The Western Way of War: Infantry Battle in Classical Greece years ago while pursuing my undergrad degree in Military History.  Carnage and Culture: Landmark Battles in the Rise of Western Power is almost 20 years old at this point and I wish I had read it back then.  Since I did not, let me review it now. First the facts: the book is 464 pages of text divided into ten topical chapters with a preface, epilogue, and afterword.  There is a glossary, further reading section, and index as well. The book is an examination of nine land … More after the Jump…

Book Review: Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future by Martin Ford

The Rise of the Robots is not history, in fact it is a forward looking book but so interesting that I am going to review it.  As regular readers know I do not always review only history books, I also review current events, contemporary politics, and some fiction.  I essentially write reviews for all the books I like to read in the hopes that they give value to my readers.  I picked this book off the shelf at my local library because it seemed interesting and I was not disappointed. First the facts.  The book is 284 pages of text separated into 10 chapters with an introduction, conclusion, index, and … More after the Jump…

Book Review: The Future of Land Warfare by Michael O’Hanlon

There is no end of speculation among policymakers and think tanks about what the future of warfare will look like and what the future US military should look like.  The Future of Land Warfare is another entry in that speculation. The facts.  The book is 202 pages of text divided into six topical chapters with a couple of appendices plus extensive notes and an index. The layout of this book is pretty straightforward and it almost reads as a slightly less dry White Paper.  O’Hanlon starts out by examining the historical context of US force structure and chapter 2 examines potential and likely adversaries in the coming decades.  The analysis … More after the Jump…

Book Review: Spaceport Earth: The Reinvention of Spaceflight by Joe Pappalardo

There is no doubt that private space companies have reinvigorating American efforts to return to space on US systems since the unceremonious lapse of American manned launch capabilities with the retirement of the Space Shuttle in 2011.  Spaceport Earth is more about that reinvigoration in the US than about global launch capability although it does touch on that. First the facts.  The book is 218 pages of text divided into 10 topical chapters and an epilogue.  A source list, acknowledgements, and an index. The book essentially covers developments in private space since the first flight of Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipOne in 2003 through to the book’s publication last year.  Many things … More after the Jump…

Book Review: Intervention in Russia: 1918-1920, A Cautionary Tale

Intervention in Russia: 1918-1920, A Cautionary Tale, is a very well written account of a little known part of the First World War.   Mr. Hudson writes in the style that I find to be the most readable and enjoyable.   Perhaps it is because he is British.   I have always found that British historians have a more lyrical and artistic writing style as compared to American historians.   Most of my favorite historians are British, whereas Americans tend to make history books dry and boring; the British, and Australians for that matter, can make the most boring subject interesting simply by the style with which they write. The … More after the Jump…

Book Review: Introduction to cyber-warfare: A multidisciplinary approach by Paulo Shakarian, Jana Shakarian, and Andrew Ruef

All leaders in the United States military should be required to read Introduction to cyber-warfare: A multidisciplinary approach.[1]  Paulo Shakarian, Jana Shakarian, and Andrew Ruef authored this book to address the need for knowledge and an understanding of the complexity of Cyber warfare from more than a computer science or information technology perspective.  The authors examine key areas of Cyber warfare that are extremely important for a leader in the United States military to understand from more than a military application alone.  As stated in the title, the book uses a multidisciplinary approach to explaining Cyber warfare by using case studies, technical information, as well as the military, political, scientific, … More after the Jump…

Book Review – The Last Battle: Victory, Defeat, and the End of World War I by Peter Hart

The Last Battle is the latest of the excellent histories of World War I that Peter Hart has produced.  This book is an account of the last year of World War I on the Western Front with an emphasis on the final Allied campaign known now as The 100 Days. My copy is a pre-publication review copy so some of this can change.  The facts: there are 395 pages of text divided into 12 chronological chapters. Like his earlier work this is an excellently written history that does not indulge in the blame games so many histories of World War I engage in.  Peter Hart presents a narrative account of … More after the Jump…

Book Review: D-Day Through German Eyes edited by Holger Eckhertz

An often overlooked aspect of World War II is the war as seen from the enemy side.  There have been a plethora of books published about the snail’s eye view of the war from the Allied side from intimate unit histories like “Band of Brothers” to collections of oral histories. There is an absolute dearth of such works on the side of the Axis powers in English but also in their native tongue at least as far as German goes to my knowledge. The facts: the book is 320 pages of text split between two books and 13 chapters with an introduction and postscript for each book. D-Day Through German … More after the Jump…

Book Review: Goodbye To All That by Robert Graves

In the interwar years of the 1920s and 1930s several books about World War I came out that have become seminal works in their own right.  Among these is Goodbye To All That by Robert Graves, his autobiography written and published in 1929 that mainly covers his time as a British officer in the Royal Welch Fusiliers on the Western Front during the war. As opposed to other memoirs or semi-autobiographical accounts of the war such as Storm of Steel or All Quiet on the Western Front, Goodbye To All That is essentially an unvarnished account of what the war was like for an unconventional English gentleman.  Graves was from … More after the Jump…

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: Sea Power: The History and Geopolitics of the World’s Oceans by ADM James Stavridis

Sea Power is a book that takes a fresh twenty-first century look at the world’s oceans and the geopolitical challenges facing the United States in the century ahead. As always, the stats.  There are 343 pages of texts divided into 9 topical chapters with an index and recommended reading/sources list.  The chapters cover an introduction to ocean geography and a detailed treatment of each ocean and the history and current challenges associated with it for the United States.  The final chapter is a look and a recommendation for what America’s maritime strategy should be going forward. The book is well written and while ADM Stavridis is no Robert Kagan in … 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…