Book Review: The Face of Battle by John Keegan

I have to caveat this review somewhat.   I wrote this book review for an undergrad military history course I took almost six-years ago.   I still think that the The Face of Battle is an excellent book.   I have modified my opinion of Keegan as a historian somewhat though.   I think he is somewhat overrated and he tends to simplistic British-centric judgements in his analysis of military history.   He is a good historian, but sometimes his interpretations of events are not all they could be. “The Face of Battle” by John Keegan has become a classic in the thirty years since it was published.   The … More after the Jump…

Book Review: Live Free or Die by John Ringo

The first John Ringo book I ever read was A Hymn Before Battle, the first book in the Posleen War series. He immediately entered my list of authors that I will read anything they write. This book starts another series by Ringo that so far runs to 3 books and looks like it will continue. It is the story of earth gaining freedom from alien domination. The thing I like the most about this book and all of Ringo’s work is that while the end is clear(humans win), the way they do it is endlessly surprising. You may think you know what the next plot twist is or should be, … More after the Jump…

Book Review: The Stars at War

The Stars at War is actually three books in one volume; Insurrection, Crusade, and In Death Ground. I first read these about 10 years ago and loved them then. I have since reread them several times and they are well worth it. The story is exciting and never goes where you think it will. It is space opera on a grand scale. Essentially what happens is that the human race has expanded to the stars through a series of warp points and they have discovered that not only is the universe not empty, it is not full of peace loving aliens singing kumbaya either.   In fact, the opposite is … More after the Jump…

Book Review: The German Way of War by Robert M. Citino

This book is an interesting read to say the least, Dr. Citino makes the case that there is a specifically German “way of war”. That way, is what he calls operational maneuver. He traces the development of this “way of war” from the 17th century battles of the Frederick William I, the “Great Elector” of electoral Brandenburg and scion of the Hohenzollern Dynasty through to the end of World War II and the final defeat of Nazi Germany. I am not myself so convinced that the discussion should end there based on my experience talking to current German soldiers about war and battle during partnership exercises while I have been … More after the Jump…

Book Review: Panzer Battles by F.W. von Mellenthin

This is one of the most influential memoirs written by a former German Officer. The cover of the copy I own highlights that it “was the book on General Schwarzkopf’s desk during the Gulf War.” I found it to be a well written book with some pretty good accounts of the battles von Mellenthin participated in as a staff officer as well as some battles he did not participate in. I would not go so far as to say that this book is a definitive account of German tank warfare in World War II but it comes very close. Mellenthin does an outstanding job of describing the operational and sometimes … More after the Jump…

Book Review: The Storm of Steel by Ernst Junger

Just about everyone has heard of Erich Maria Remarque’s All Quiet on the Western Front, it is the work of fiction about World War I. It has been made into a movie several times and is supposed to represent the inhumanity of the war and the hopelessness felt by its participants in the trenches. Ernst Jünger’s, The Storm of Steel by contrast, is a different sort of World War I book entirely. Where Remarque wrote an anti-war novel based on his experiences in the war, Jünger not only did not write an anti-war account of the war he positively relished his time in the trenches. Jünger was wounded six times during … More after the Jump…

Samual Huntington’s “The Clash of Civilizations”

Samuel P. Huntington, The Clash of Civilizations?, Foreign Affairs, Summer 1993, pp. 22-49 This article set off a debate in academia that continues to this day. What Huntington argues in the paper is that after the fall of communism in 1989, the world is no longer looking at a standoff between ideologies but that the world will revert to clashes between civilizations. The basic thesis is that the ideological struggle between liberal democracy and communism covered over or subsumed the natural differences between civilizations. He argues that prior to the end of the Cold War the conflicts that shaped history were primarily Western and have gone through three phases since … More after the Jump…

Book Review: Soldat: Reflections of German Soldier, 1936-1949 by Sigfried Knappe

Book Review: Soldat: Reflections of  German Soldier, 1936-1949 by Sigfried Knappe and Ted Brusaw

I realized this morning that it has been a while since I posted a book review and I just finished re-reading this book yesterday and thought I would post a review of it.

This is a ghost-written account of Major Knappe’s time in the Wehrmacht between 1936 and his release from Russian captivity in 1949.   I first read this book in the mid-90s when it was first released.   At the time, I was very much into reading about World War II and thought that reading a book from the German perspective would be enlightening.   I was not disappointed with this book.

More after the Jump…Book Review: Soldat: Reflections of German Soldier, 1936-1949 by Sigfried Knappe

Book Review: Frederick the Great On The Art of War

Jay Luvaas is a professor at the U.S. Army War College in Carlisle Pa.; he coauthored a series of Battlefield Guides of U.S. Civil War battlefields that became almost instant classics. He has authored several books of military history such as “The Military Legacy of the Civil War: The European Inheritance”, “The Civil War: In the Writings of Col. G.F.R. Henderson”, and “Napoleon on the Art of War”. He has also authored many articles in peer-reviewed journals such as Parameters, the Journal of the U.S. Army War College and the Civil War Times Illustrated. Professor Luvaas prefaces his work by pointing out that the book is not a straight chronological … More after the Jump…

Book Review: Bernard Porter, The Absent-Minded Imperialists: Empire, Society, and Culture in Britain

Porter’s book is in many ways an eye-opener.   It was a surprise to discover that Britain’s empire was not a topic of national discussion until the latter portion of the imperial period.   If porter’s thesis is correct and the people of Britain were by and large ignorant of the empire and willfully so as he makes clear in his introduction then that makes a hash out of most of the post-colonialist arguments he is criticizing.[1] It is Porter’s position that Britain was not “steeped” in imperialism even for the segment of society from which most imperial administrators were drawn until comparatively late in the imperial period itself.The Absent-Minded Imperialists has much to tell us about the way in the British Empire was perceived in Britain itself during the imperial period.   Porter makes an excellent argument that while the empire materially affected the lives of many Englishmen through such things as raw materials, some culinary habits, and trade; these things did not necessarily mean that the average Englishman was consciously aware of the extent of Britain’s empire on a day to day basis.   He also demonstrates why this could be so.   Once he really delves into the ways in which the British Empire affected the British home culture he proves his point quite well.

More after the Jump…Book Review: Bernard Porter, The Absent-Minded Imperialists: Empire, Society, and Culture in Britain

Book Review: The Oxford Illustrated History of the First World War, edited by Hew Strachan


The Oxford Illustrated History of the First World War

The Oxford Illustrated History of the First World War, edited by Hew Strachan,  is one of those rare history books that manages to be both readable scholarly at the same time.   Indeed, it is an even rarer breed of book because it is an anthology and not by a single author.   Where many history books are written for the specialist historical crowd and there is an element of haughtiness in the writing, that condescension is entirely missing here.   This history book does not assume knowledge on the part of the reader, but at the same time does not present its material in such a way that the non-historian would be put off by it.

More after the Jump…Book Review: The Oxford Illustrated History of the First World War, edited by Hew Strachan

Book Review: Decisions for War, 1914-1917


Decisions for War, 1914-1917

In Decisions for War, 1914-1917, Richard Hamilton and Holger Herwig present a new thesis for the origins of World War I.   They argue that in all the belligerent countries the decision for war was made by a one person or at most a small group of individuals regardless of the type of government.   Given the wealth of material written about the origins of the First World War it seems incredible to me that this possibility has, if not been overlooked in all previous scholarship, then certainly ignored, as the authors claim[1].   While Hamilton and Herwig do not entirely discount that other factors than pure national self-interest on the part of the leaders played a role in the decision for war, they do contend that this was the overriding concern in most if not all of the wars belligerents.

            I found the book to be a fairly easy to read, the writing style was not as dry as might be expected given the topic of discussion.   Even though I do not necessarily agree with the authors, the book was fun and captivating to read.   They write with a style similar to what I try to achieve in my own writing.   It is written such that it is simultaneously engaging, factual, and descriptive, just a good read.   I do not have to agree with a book to enjoy it, and the authors certainly made reading this enjoyable.   It was laid out well and the chapters flowed in a logical progression, discussing each country in the order in which it declared war.  

More after the Jump…Book Review: Decisions for War, 1914-1917

BOOK REVIEW: Moltke on the Art of War: Selected Writings

This is the first of a series of book reviews I will put on my blog. Not necessarily because I think anybody cares what I think about a book. The commenters on Amazon certainly don’t. But rather because I think it is helpful for my readers to get an idea of where my knowledge comes from and also because I hope to highlight some great books that are out there that I don’t think a lot of people have read, even history buffs. Most will be good reviews but I do have some books I absolutely think are worthless or despise. I will put those up too. The bottom line … More after the Jump…