Book Review: The Color of War: How One Battle Broke Japan and the Other Changed America by James Campbell

[FULL DISCLOSURE: I received my copy of this book free from the publisher for purposes of reviewing it. I was not paid for this review and the opinion expressed is purely my own] The Color of War is one of those strange history books that seems both bipolar and unified at the same time.   It is the story of the invasion of Saipan and the Port Chicago naval disaster told mostly convergently.   At first the somewhat bi-polar nature of the way the story was told was off-putting but the more I read the book the more the method made sense.   The two different but temporally convergent narratives … More after the Jump…

Book Review: Road to Valor by Aili & Andres McConnon

[FULL DISCLOSURE: I received my copy of this book free from the publisher for purposes of reviewing it. I was not paid for this review and the opinion expressed is purely my own] Road to Valor is the story of one of the many unsung and unremembered heroes of World War II. Gino Bartali was a prewar Italian racing champion and winner of the Tour de France.   Just about everyone has heard of Oskar Schindler and his List due to the 1993 Spielberg movie or Anne Frank.   What is less known are the thousands of others across occupied Europe that worked trying to help Jews and others that … More after the Jump…

The Marian Legion

I haven’t touched on anything about antiquity for a while so I thought I would put this up as I have been thinking about this for the last week or two. This is the Marian Legion or the Reforms of Marius, whichever you choose to call it. These reforms are important because they set the stage for the Legion of the period of the Civil War and early Imperium, especially the time of the Pax Romana.   These reforms are probably not a direct result of the genius of Gaius Marius, he just gets credit for implementing them.   That being said, he is the one who implemented them and … More after the Jump…

The German Way of War?

Is there such a thing? That question hit me this morning as I was reading a book review in an old copy of the Journal of Military History. The book in question was Death of the Wehrmacht: The German Campaigns of 1942 (Modern War Studies), by Robert M. Citino and it was reviewed in the January 2009 issue of the Journal. The reviewer made mention that one of the prevalent theories about the German army is that in World War II they fought a completely different war than the one they were designed for and that goes far to explaining the ultimate German defeat. The argument is that the German … More after the Jump…

Ancient Roman Military Organization according to Polybius

From reading Polybius, I gather that the basic unit of the Roman Army was not the Legion, at least not in the days of the Republic during Polybius’ lifetime. Instead, it was the Consular Army, which consisted of two Legions. A Legion was commanded by a Consul, who was elected by the people and served for a one-year term. The Consuls each appointed twelve Tribunes who served directly under the Consuls. The Tribunes were distributed six to a Legion. Then began the enrollment process whereby the actual men who would serve in each the Legion were selected by lots from among the tribes and assigned by a rotating order to … More after the Jump…


This is a curious word and does not mean today what it meant to the Ancient Romans who coined the term. Merriam-Webster defines decimate as:

DECIMATE; transitive verb
1: to select by lot and kill every tenth man of
2: to exact a tax of 10 percent from
3a : to reduce drastically especially in number
b : to cause great destruction or harm to

It is 3a and b that is more commonly used today however, it is definition one where the word came from. Specifically the Roman military practice of decimation in which mutinous or cowardly units were sentenced to be decimated. This was never a common punishment, most extreme punishments are only effective if they are both extreme and rare. There are a few instances in recorded sources of a unit being decimated one of which is the Legio III Augusta which was decimated in A.D. 18 after allowing one of its subunits to be annihilated in battle.

More after the Jump…Decimation