The NYMAS Newsletter.    

 

No. 16, Spring 2000

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A Publication of

The New York Military Affairs Symposium

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© 2000  NYMAS & The Authors


1999 Book Award

 

Richard B. Frank’s

Downfall: The End of the Imperial Japanese Empire

 

Instituted in 1991, the Arthur Goodzeit Award,  named after the late Arthur Goodzeit, a founding member of NYMAS and the first editor of the Newsletter, is given annually to an original work in military history which the members of the NYMAS editorial committee consider to be of unusual value. 

Downfall: The End of the Imperial Japanese Empire, by Richard B. Frank.  New York: Random House, 1999.  Pp. xix, 484.  Illus, maps, append, notes, biblio., index.  $35.00.  ISBN: 067941424X

A complete list of Arthur Goodzeit Award books can be found on the NYMAS website.

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Feature Review

Anticipating Total War: The German and American Experiences, 1871-1914

Edited by Manfred F. Boemeke, Roger Chickering, and Stig Förster

 

The second in a series of volumes that began with On the Road to Total War, Anticipating Total War is a clear improvement over the earlier book, largely because the theme of this volume runs through all of its articles much more strongly than in the earlier one.  There are four parts.  A general introductory section is followed by sections on war and society, memory and war, and finally the experience of war.

The opening essay by Roger Chickering examines the concept of “total war.”  This alone makes the book worth reading.  Chickering thoughtfully considers not only the concept itself, but also how, like so many other ideas, it has been abused.  There follows an interesting comparative piece by Irmgard Steinisch covering the U.S. and Germany in terms of imperialism and militarism during the last half of the 19th century.

The rest of the book has its share of articles that are, by and large, quite interesting.  Of  particularly worth are David Trask’s article on military imagination in the United States, which deals with what the U.S. Army and American military writers believed war would look like in the future, and Stig Förster’s similar piece about German perspectives on the future.  Alfred Kelly’s piece on memory and the Franco-Prussian (or Franco-German, as he puts it) War is most interesting in several ways.  In 1903 a young doctor named Ernst Rodenwaldt tested the educational level of a number of Silesian working class Army recruits.  For comparatively poorly educated men, the results should give many pause over the present state of American education.  In connection with the Kelly article, it might have been a good idea to include an essay by Carol Reardon, whose book on Pickett’s Charge and “memory” has become a classic of the genre.

Taken all together, Anticipating Total War is a considerable improvement over its predecessor.  While not as fully comparative as this reviewer would prefer, it takes a long stride in the right direction.  This trend should continue with the next three projected volumes, which will deal with the world wars and the inter-war period.

Anticipating Total War: The German and American Experiences, 1871-1914, edited by Manfred F. Boemeke, Roger Chickering,  and Stig Förster.   Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999.  Pp. 496.   Index.  $59.95. ISBN: 0-521-62294-8.                               --R. L. DiNardo

USMC C&S College

 

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Oops!

 

On Dec. 19, 1999, The New York Times Book Review ran a piece by Carlo D'Este on Robert Remini's recent book The Battle of New Orleans.

One line is quite interesting:

 

 

Arrayed against [the rag-tag forces of Maj. Gen. Andrew Jackson] were the mighty British Navy and the most elite regiments of  the Duke of Wellington's victorious army, fresh from their defeat of Napoleon at Waterloo.

 

 

Unfortunately, the Battle of New Orleans was fought on Jan. 8, 1815, while Waterloo took place 161 days later, on June 18th.

Unless, of course, the Brits were using a time machine.                                          --Eugene Feit

 

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Reviews

 

 

The Philippine War, 1899-1902, by Brian McAllister Linn.  Lawrence, Ks.: University Press of Kansas, 2000.  Pp. xiv, 427.  Illus, maps, notes, biblio., index.  $39.95.  ISBN:  0-7006-0990-3.

The “Philippine Insurrection” is one of the most controversial of America’s wars.  Most treatments have lacked grounding in serious research and have invariably been based on a priori partisan assumptions.  As a result they have glossed over unpleasant realities, either to depict the American war effort as a noble cause, nobly conducted or to indict the U.S. for conducting a campaign of criminality hardly equaled until the Nazi darkness.   In that regard The Philippine War is different.  Well-grounded in original documents, including the letters and diaries of soldiers from both sides, the book does not take a Manichean “good vs. evil” look at the war, but tries to sort the truth from the enormous weight of fabrication and myth that have long dominated treatments of the struggle.

The Philippine War provides a solid operational treatment of the struggle, putting it into its political framework.  It follows events from the initial contacts between representatives of the U.S. and of the exiled insurgents, on the eve of the Spanish-American War, to the collapse of resistance following Emilio Aguinaldo’s oath of allegiance to the United States. 

In a remarkably even-handed treatment, myths, heroes, and villains fall by the wayside.  Neither Arthur MacArthur nor Emilio Aguinaldo come off with reputations intact, the former stubborn and inflexible, and the latter inept, brutal, and treacherous.  The famous Marine expedition across Samar (“Stand, gentlemen, he served on Samar.”) is depicted for what it really was, a poorly-conceived, ill-planned, and badly led undertaking that turned what should have been a “walk in the sun” into a disaster despite the fact that there was virtually no fighting.  Linn also points out that while there was little unity on the Filipino side, the resistance was not merely confined to the Tagalog-speaking community in the archipelago

The book has many effective word portraits of  people and events, including a number of good battle pieces. 

There are some lapses in The Philippine War.  Linn says little about military organization on either side.  In discussing the volunteer troops who bore the brunt of the fighting, Linn makes the interesting assertion that they were among the best-trained soldiers the U.S. has ever sent into action, a claim which might have been subject to a more detailed explanation.  Although he occasionally mentions Spanish prisoners-of-war, who were sometimes found in the Filipino ranks, Linn omits what was one of the most impressive feats of arms in Spanish military history, the 335-day defense by a small garrison of the town of Baler, on the east coast of Luzon, against overwhelming Filipino forces.  Arguably, these are minor failings, given the complexity of the subject.  But one omission is of considerable importance.

Although he mentions that civilian casualties in the islands were by no means as high as has traditionally been depicted in leftist treatments, in which figures approaching a million have been bandied about, Linn does so en passant, and makes no either to cite what he considers a more realistic figure, or, in fact, to discuss the subject at any length.

Despite this, The Philippine War is the most important book so far on the “Philippine Insurrection.”                                                                                                                      --A.A.  Nofi

 

The Code Book: The Evolution of Secrecy from Mary, Queen of Scots, to Quantum Cryptography, by Simon Singh.  New York: Doubleday, 1999.  Pp. xiv, 402 pp.  Illus, tables, diagr., append., glossary, biblio., index.  $24.95.  ISBN:  0-385-49531-5.

The Code Book is one of the best popular treatments of the history of codes and ciphers this reviewer has ever encountered.  Despite its subtitle, the work actually deals with the subject from the earliest evidence of secret writing to the present, using the story of how Mary, Queen of Scots, was done in by the timely decipherment of a message as the “peg” on which to hang the rest of the tale.

And what a tale it is, as Singh takes the reader on a 5000 year journey from ancient Egypt into the near future.  Along the way he gives the reader a series of simple, clearly understandable explanations of the many different types of secret writing, including a side-trip into the decipherment of several “lost” languages.  Various types of codes and ciphers are discussed, along with the techniques by which they were developed and cracked.  As is natural, the story gets more complex as technology and advanced mathematics come into use in recent decades, but the author manages to explain most developments simply, often using clever analogies.  A numerous collection of appendices helps illustrate or explain particular points in greater detail.

In his well-written work, Singh does not neglect the people behind the development and solutions of various codes and ciphers, and is usually careful to explain the importance of each development.

As is necessarily the case in a work of such scope, there are a number of omissions from The Code Book.  The most notable is the failure to mention the “Sacred Three” codebreakers of the U.S. Military Telegraph during the Civil War, and the Union’s amazingly successful use of  “route ciphers,” which are nowhere mentioned in the work in any context.   Despite these omissions, The Code Book is worth reading.                                                                                                 --A.A. Nofi

 

American and British Aircraft Carrier Development, 1919-1941, by Thomas C. Home, Norman Friedman, and Mark D. Mandeles.  Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 2000.  Pp. xii, 248.  Illus, append., notes, biblio., index.  $39.95.  ISBN:  1-55750-382-6.

This work is essentially a discussion of the reasons why Britain and the U.S. developed different approaches to the design and employment aircraft carriers during the 1920s and 1930s, focusing on the ideas about the operational employment of carriers, rather than providing a detailed technological treatment of the evolution of the respective carrier forces.  It’s particularly good on the institutional factors that fostered or impeded the development of carriers and carrier aviation in the two countries.  Taking the heat off the allegedly nefarious “battleship admirals,” the authors observe that in the U.S. it was the extreme advocates of aviation, such as Billy Mitchell, who hampered carrier development, while in Britain it was a combination of the lack of interest in carriers on the part of the R.A.F., combined with a lack of vision in the Royal Navy, not to mention the restrictions imposed by the various naval limitations treaties, which made it difficult for both navies to built adequate numbers of carriers, a sine qua non for the development of sounder doctrine.

Despite the fact that the book is relatively short, it covers an enormous amount of ground, including a short appendix on the evolution of the Japanese carrier force..  For example, the authors point out that the full flowering of carrier doctrine was not possible until carriers became relatively numerous, radar became sufficiently sophisticated as to permit adequate defense of carriers from air attack, and auxiliary vessels – tankers, ammunition ships, stores ships, and the like – were available in sufficient numbers to permit the formation of mobile fleet replenishment squadrons, factors not present until 1943-1944, at which point American carrier aviation finally demonstrated what could be done.  Nor did the fact that the U.S. did not enter World War II until the end of 1941 hurt the evolution of American carrier doctrine, which seems to have benefited greatly from observing British experience in the first two years of the war. 

Of course, there’s much more in American and British Aircraft Carrier Development than can readily be summarized here.  A good book, worth reading.                                             --A.A. Nofi

 

Iron Knights: The United States 66th Armored Regiment, by Gordon A. Blaker.  Shippensburg, Pa.: Burd Street Press, 1999.  xxii, 411 pp.  Illus, table, maps, notes, biblio., index.  $39.95.  ISBN:  1-57249-122-1.

A very good history of the oldest U.S. tank unit, founded in World War I.  The 66th Armored played an important role in the development of tanks and mechanized doctrine in the U.S. Army between the world wars, and later served with distinction in the 2nd Armored Division.  The book, which is profusely illustrated and well mapped, wisely spends a lot of time on the regiment’s activities in the immediate pre-World War II period, and there are a number of valuable chapters dealing with the numerous pre-war maneuvers, most of which did not get the press those in Louisiana got.  The book then goes on to give a solid account of the regiment’s activities during World War II. 

In a recent essay on new works about the U.S. Army in World War II, NYMAS Boardmember Steve Zaloga said Iron Knights, “. . . combines extensive interviews as well as archival research to provide both an intimate portrait of the fighting from the tanker's perspective as well as the big picture of the regiment's role in the campaigns of the U.S. Army in France and Germany.  I found the book to be a good read with many interesting vignettes, and would recommend the book highly. “             --A.A. Nofi

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World War II: Eastern Front

 

Grand Delusion: Stalin and the German Invasion of Russia, by Gabriel Gorodetsky.  New Haven: Yale University Press, 1999.  Pp. xvi, 408.  Illus, maps, notes, biblio., index.  $29.95.  ISBN: 0-300-07792-0.

A very scholarly inquiry into what John Erickson terms “the great conundrum of 1941,” why Stalin did nothing in the face of mounting evidence that Hitler was preparing to invade Russia.  After a short essay on the basic assumptions of Stalin’s foreign policy, Gorodetsky focuses on the 22 months between the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact and Operation Barbarossa.  He touches a lot of bases, including the possibility of a lasting Soviet-German alliance, the state of the Red Army’s preparations for war, and Stalin’s psychological state.  In the process he refutes the claim that Stalin was about to attack Hitler when the latter unleashed his hordes on the Soviet Union in June of 1941.  A valuable work for anyone interested in the Second World War, and particularly on the war in the east.

 

Soviet Blitzkrieg: The Battle for White Russia, 1944, by Walter S. Dunn, Jr.,  Boulder, Co.: Lynne Rienner, 2000.  Pp. xii, 248.  Maps, tables, diagr., append, notes, biblio., index.  $55,00.  ISBN:  1-55587-880-6

Despite more than 50 years of historiography, Soviet Blitzkrieg is the first scholarly look at the destruction of Germany’s Army Group Center by the Red Army in the summer of 1944, an event which is apparently the greatest pitched battle in history.  This is a strictly operational look at this battle.  As a result, while deals with details such as the production of tanks and other weapons, or the availability of reserves, it never looks at events on the tactical level, nor directly focuses on the concerns of the front line troops on either side.   Despite this, a work likely to be of interest to anyone concerned with the Second World War on the Eastern Front.

 

In Deadly Combat: A German Soldier’s Memoir of the Eastern Front, by Gottlob Herbert Bidermann, translated and edited by Derek S. Zumbro.  Lawrence, Ks.: University Press of Kansas, 2000.  Pp.  xiv, 330.  Illus, map, append, glossary.  $34.95.  ISBN:  0-7006-1016-2

Bidermann rose from Landser to lieutenant in the 132nd Infantry Division, one of the un-sung “leg and hoof” divisions that formed the backbone of the German Army during World War II.  The division served on the Eastern Front throughout the war, until it surrendered in Courland.   The account is a purely military one, largely from the perspective of the common front line soldier.  Although Bidermann occasionally refers to prisoners-of-war and civilian refugees, he largely glosses over the less pleasant side of the Russo-German War.  Despite this, In Deadly Combat is a useful contribution to the literature on the war in the east.

 

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World War II: U.S.

 

The Greatest War: Americans in Combat, 1941-1945, by Gerald Astor.  Novato, Ca.: Presidio Press, 1999.  ix, 1033 pp.  Illus, append., biblio., index.   $39.95.  ISBN:  0-89141-695-1

The Greatest War is an attempt to tell, in one volume, the story America’s soldiers, sailors, marines, and airmen had to tell about the Second World War.  Despite an occasional minor error, the author has done a remarkable job of weaving together an extraordinary amount of oral evidence with more traditional narrative, turning  out a quite readable seamless treatment of the war.  Although not a scholarly treatment, The Greatest War is a valuable addition to the literature of the war.

 

Patton at Bay: The Lorraine Campaign, September to December, 1944,  by John Nelson Rickard.  Westport, Ct.: Praeger, 1999.  Pp. xx, 295 pp.  Illus, maps, tables, append, notes, biblio., index.  $45.00.  ISBN:  0-275-96354-3.

   A rather detailed look at Patton’s unsuccessful attempt to take Metz.  Although the book is good, it fails to deal effectively with the suggestion that the operation was a mistake on Patton’s part, bogging him down in an essentially positional battle which, arguably, he might have lost were it not for the necessity of breaking off the attack when the Germans unleashed the Battle of the Bulge.

 

“Noting Friendly in the Vicinity . . . .” My Patrols on the Submarine USS Guardfish During World War II, by Claude C. Conner.  Mechanicsburg, Pa.: Savas/Stackpole, 1999.  Pp. viii, 230.  Illus, maps, append., biblio., index.  $24.95.  ISBN:  1-882810-55-X.

A memoir by an enlisted man who spent most of World War II aboard the submarine Guardfish.  Although the book provides an good look a the operations during the war from a unique perspective, it is particularly valuable for what is it’s primary focus, Guardfish’s “friendly fire” sinking of the American salvage vessel Extractor near the Marianas on January 3, 1945.

 

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Ancient Warfare

 

Rome and the Enemy: Imperial Strategy in the Principate, by Susan P. Mattern.  Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999.  xx, 259 pp.  Maps, table, notes, biblio., index.  $.35.00.  ISBN:  0-520-21166-9

Observing that modern scholars looking at the military policy and grand strategy of the Roman Empire generally use modern concepts in reaching their conclusions, Prof. Mattern proceeds to demonstrate that the Romans did not necessarily view matters in quite the same way, due to the limitations of their concepts of geography, politics, strategy, and other cultures,  As a result, Rome and the Enemy is a ground-breaking work.  It covers a broad range of topics, from the Roman understanding of geography, which differed greatly from modern, map-centric views, to their perceptions of the character of foreign peoples.  Worth reading for anyone interested in Roman military and political history.

 

Warfare in the Classical World: War and the Ancient Civilizations of Greece and Rome, by John Warry.  London: Salamander, 1998.  302 pp.  Notes, index.   Paper - no price given. ISBN:  1-84065-004-4

A good general look at the art of war in the Classical Antiquity, from the Homeric period through the fall of Rome.  The book is well written, accurate, and has occasionally valuable insights.  Although marred by a total lack of maps, Warfare in the Classical World is certainly a very good introduction to the subject.\

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Some New References

 

Soviet Casualties and Combat Losses in the Twentieth Century, edited by G. F.. Krivosheev.  London: Greenhill/ Mechanicsburg, Pa.: Stackpole, 1997.  Pp. xiv, 290.  Tables, notes.  $39.95.  ISBN:  1-85367-280-7.

One of the most valuable books to have appeared on the history of the Soviet Union, Soviet Casualties and Combat Losses in the Twentieth Century is an extraordinary mass of hitherto unavailable statistics culled from the archives of the former Soviet Union.  Although it does not cover losses from the genocides, purges, and political murders of the Soviet regime, it does include losses during military operations from the Russian Civil War through Afghanistan, including Cold War casualties.  The book also includes analyses of strength figures at various periods, which have themselves been quite elusive.  The total combat losses during the approximately 70 years of Soviet rule approach ten million dead and 30 million non-fatal casualties.  An indispensable reference for anyone with a serious interest in the history of the twentieth century.

 

Blood on the Sea: American Destroyers Lost in World War II, by Robert Sinclair Parking.  New York: Sarpedon, 1996.  Pp. xiv, 360.  Illus, maps, tables, append, glossary, biblio., notes.  $29.95.  ISBN:  1-885119-17-8.

This work treats every American destroyer loss in the war in considerable detail.  Each ship has a short, separate chapter, which covers the origins of the ship’s name, a couple of pages detailing the circumstances of her loss, and then information her class and technical details, sponsor, commanding officers, and battle honors.  Not only is this an indispensable reference to anyone interested in the U.S. Navy in World War II, but it happens to make excellent reading as well.  Recommended.

 

The Official Chronology of the U.S. Navy in World War II, by Robert J. Cressman.  Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 2000.  Pp. xii, 367.  Illus, append., notes, glossary, index.  $45.00.  ISBN:  1-55750-149-1.
   
    An immensely valuable reference work, marred by the complete absence of maps and a tendency for the amount of detail to fall-off as the intensity of the war deepened.   There are also a number of minor errors, such as the description of a naval gun as a ‘4”/.50’ rather than a ‘4”/50’ (p. 184) and the misdesignation of the U.S. Fifth Army as the “Third Army” (p. 206).  But these are minor quibbles.  The work deserves a place on any reference shelf devoted to the Second World War.

 

The Oxford Companion to American Military History, edited by John Whiteclay Chambers II.  New York: Oxford University Press, 1999.  Pp. xxxiv, 916.  Maps, append, index.  $60.00.  ISBN:  0-19-507198-0.

A major dictionary-style reference of American military institutions and history, with contributions by some notable scholars, such as Stephen Ambrose, Martin Blumenson, Donn Starry, and William Piston.   Some of the essays are excellent.  Unfortunately, the quality is uneven.   There are numerous errors (e.g., Civil War casualty figures are wrong, and omit civilian losses entirely, the percentage of troops in Vietnam who were black is overstated, and the book repeats S.L.A. Marshall’s long-refuted claim to have earned a commission in France during World War I), there are many omissions (e.g., James Wilkinson or Jacob Brown, the principal senior officers in the for the first quarter of the nineteenth century, are missing, as is Little Turtle, the  most effective of all Indian commanders, while Catholic chaplains are not mentioned in the entry on the Chaplaincy, which is actually titled “Religion in the Military), odd priorities (e.g., Pat Schroeder merits more space than Benedict Arnold or William F. Halsey, and there is actually an entry for pro-communist “pacifisit” Paul Robeson), much duplication (e.g., women and African-Americans in the service are each treated in two separate essays, with much overlap), and many typos that ought to have been caught by proper editing (e.g., “agreed” where “argued” is clearly intended, in the entry on James Longstreet).

Useful, if used with caution.

 

The German Order of Battle: Panzers and Artillery in World War II, by George F. Nafziger.  Greenhill: London/Stackpole, Mechanicsburg, Pa., 1999.  463 pp.  Biblio.  $59.95.  ISBN: 1-85367-359-5

Although not as complete as the famous Tessin series on the German order of battle in World War II, this is much less expensive and much easier to use.  As always in such works there are occasional errors (e.g., the Reichswehr was limited by the Treaty of Versailles to three cavalry divisions, not to a single cavalry brigade, as stated).  In addition, the book could have benefited from the use of tables, which would have made it much easier to compare the ways in which unit structure and equipment allocations changed over the life of the Third Reich.

 

 

Words of Wisdom

“It is just as legitimate to fight an enemy in the rear as in the front.”

--John Singleton Mosby

 

Economics and War

 

Planning War, Pursuing Peace: The Political Economy of American Warfare, 1920-1939, by Paul A.C. Koistinen.  Lawrence, Ks: University Press of Kansas, 1998.  xix, 432 pp.  Notes, biblio., index.  No price given.  ISBN:  0-7006-0890-7 

This is the third and least satisfactory volume in a series of five that will treat the “Political Economy of American Warfare” from 1606 to the present.  The work focuses on American economic mobilization planning during World War I, the Depression, and 1930s.   The book is virtually devoid of statistics, concentrating instead on organizational planning.  Moreover, the author does not correlate economic and industrial mobilization planning with war plans, so that the reader gains no notion of the scale of forces that were being considered.  In addition, Koistinen makes virtually no mention of the ways in which F.D.R. used anti-Depression legislation to promote the expansion of the armed forces.  More seriously, he betrays a certain sympathy for the anti-readiness faction in American politics, with considerable attention given to the shakier conclusions of the Nye Commission, which investigated the alleged machinations of the “Merchants of Death.”

A poor book.

 

The Economics of World War II: Six Great Powers in Industrial Competition, edited by Mark Harrison.  Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998.  xxiii, 307 pp.  Tables, figures, notes, references, index.  $49.95.  ISBN:  0-521-62046-5.

A serious look at the industrial side of World War II.  Following a very useful introductory essay that reviews the economic resources and achievements of the collective Allied and Axis powers, a series of essays examines each of the major powers – Britain, the U.S., the U.S.S.R., Germany, Japan, and Italy – in some detail.  The work includes an enormous volume of statistical data, some of which is rather surprising (e.g., Italy had a higher per capita GDP than Japan).  Unfortunately this very wealth of data sometimes makes the book difficult going, particularly since the individual essays are not all structured in the same way, nor do they convert money figures into one standard currency, which often makes direct comparisons difficult.  Nevertheless, valuable for anyone interested in industrial mobilization and the grand strategy of the war.

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The Conduct of War

 

War in the Early Modern World, 1450-1815, edited by Jeremy Black.  Boulder: Westview Press, 1999.  Pp. xi, 268.   Notes, biblio., index.  $28.00 paper.  ISBN:  0-8133-3611-2.

Although short, the introduction and nine essays in War in the Early Modern World provide a surprisingly solid overview of the different ways in which various societies conducted war during the period of European expansion.   Individual essays focus on the conduct of war in various regions – Japan, China, India, North America, Africa, and so forth – with a particularly insightful treatment of the Spanish conquest of Mexico.  Most of the essays take a non-European perspective, and for the most part are well reasoned, and rooted in serious scholarship, though there are occasional dubious conclusion (e.g., acceptance of the Aztec oral tradition that says Montezuma was slain by the Spanish – how would they know?).  Valuable for anyone interested in military history.

 

European and Native American Warfare, 1675-1815, by Armstrong Starkey.  Norman, Ok.: University of Oklahoma Press, 1998.  Pp. vii, 208.  Notes, biblio., index.  $17.95 paper.  ISBN:  0-8061-3075-X.

This is a revisionist look at the nature of war in North America, but it is not a strident one.  Starkey refutes a lot of the myths on both sides, such as the “sharpshooting yeoman farmer”  as well as the equally stereotyped “noble” and “ignoble savage.”   Recognizing the limits of the evidence on Indian practices, he nevertheless rejects falling back on unconfirmed “oral tradition,” which is often of recent invention.    Although there are occasional minor errors of fact, such as putting Fallen Timbers in 1813, nearly 20 years too late, but overall a useful work.

 

Newsletter

Mailing Address

 

Submissions for The Newsletter should be sent directly to the editor, at

 

A. A. Nofi

NYMAS

4901 Seminary Rd (#1606)

Alexandria, Va., 22311

 

or by email, to

anofi@aol.com

 

 

Air Warfare

Dark Sky, Black Sea: Aircraft Carrier Night and All-Weather Operations, by Charles H. Brown. Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 1999. Pp. x, 252.  Illus, diagr., append., notes, biblio., index.  $34.95.  ISBN:  1-55750185-8.

A history of the night and all-weather carrier operations from the first experiments on the old Langley in the mid-1920s to 1991 Gulf War.  Although the work is somewhat on the thin side when it comes to technical matters, it provides an adequate survey of the subject.  Worth reading for students of naval aviation.

 

Battle of Britain Day: 15 September 1940, by Alfred Price.  London: Greenhill Books/Mechanicsburg, Pa.: Stackpole Books, 1999.  xi, 180 pp.  Illus, maps, append., biblio., index.  $34.95.  ISBN:  1-85367-375-7.

When originally published, in 1990, Battle of Britain Day, was, surprisingly, the first treatment of that momentous occasion which was based on a thorough examination and comparison of both British and German documents.   Liberally seasoned with interviews of common citizens as well as pilots, this ground-breaking work remains the best treatment of the day’s events.  Of particular value is the final chapter, in which the author summarizes some of the main points of the book by posing and answering a series of questions (“How many German aircraft were shot down . . . ,” “What role did Ultra play . . . ,” and so forth).  A very valuable work for anyone interested in air power or the Battle of Britain.

 

American Airpower Strategy in Korea, 1950-1953, by Conrad C. Crane.  Lawrence, Ks.: University of Kansas Press, 2000.  x, 252 pp.  Illus, maps, notes, biblio., index.  $35.00.  ISBN:  0-7006-0991-1

A general survey of American air operations in Korea, with some particularly valuable chapters on personnel and technical problems.  There is a thoughtful section on the well-orchestrated Communist “disinformation” campaign about the use of chemical and biological weapons, which includes a critical look at American capabilities in those areas, to support the argument that such were not used.  The books’ principal flaw is that although when it treats naval and marine aviation it does so honestly, it fails to accord them appropriate coverage – in the opening weeks of the war, U.S. and British carriers provided close to half the tactical air coverage available to the U.N. command – which thus suggesting that naval aviation was of marginal importance.

 

Hot Shots: An Oral History of the Air Force Combat Pilots of the Korean War, edited by Jennie Ethell Chancey and William R. Forstchen.  New York: William Morrow, 2000.  Pp. ix, 240.  Illus, map.  $25.00.  ISBN: 0-688-16455-2.

Drawing upon the first-hand accounts of a couple of dozen Air Force fighter and bomber pilots, the editors manage to weave a readable, coherent tale of the air war over Korea.  Of particular importance are the treatments of the very earliest days of the war, the often difficult transition from piston to jet aircraft, and the complexities introduced by restrictive rules of engagement.  In a timely note, there are several references to the problems created by the North Korean penchant for attempting to infiltrate U.N. lines hidden among masses of refugees.  A good book for air enthusiasts.

 

Destined for Glory: Dive Bombing, Midway, and the Evolution of Carrier Airpower, by Thomas Wildenberg.  Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 1998.  Pp. xvi, 258.  Illus, diagr., tables, notes, biblio., index. $34.95.  ISBN:  1-55750-947-6.

A well-written, readable look at the introduction and development of the dive bombing in the U.S. Navy.  The author effectively weaves a lot of technical information about aircraft design trends in with the evolution of the dive bombing tactic and the development of naval carrier doctrine.   Worth reading for anyone interested in the Pacific War or naval aviation.

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Short Rounds: Some Recent Books of Interest

 

Thucydides on War and National Character, by Robert D. Luginbill.  Boulder: Westview Press, 1999.  Pp. vii, 232.  Notes, biblio., index.  $55.00.  ISBN:  0-8133-3644-9.

A philosophical inquiry into Thucydides’ notion of “national character” and how it shaped the development of his history.  Valuable reading for anyone interested in the Peloponnesian War.

 

Arms and Armour of the Crusading Era, 1050-1350, Western Europe and the Crusader States, by David Nicole.  London: Greenhill/Mechanicsburg, Pa.: Stackpole, 1999.  636 pp.  Illus, maps, glossary, notes, biblio., index.  $49.95.  ISBN:  1-85367-347-1.

Using over 2,400 contemporary illustrations, drawn from manuscripts, monuments, tapestries, and so forth, the author provides a comprehensive look at European arms and armor during the crusading era.  This large (8-inch by 10-inch) volume is of particular value for anyone interested in the Crusades, Medieval Europe, or the evolution of arms and armor. 

This one part of a two volume work, the other dealing with Islam, Eastern Europe, and Asia, ISBN:  1-85367-369-2).

 

Marching to the Drums: Eyewitness Accounts of War from the Kabul Massacre to the Siege of Mafeking, by Ian Knight. London: Greenhill/ Mechanicsburg, Pa.: Stackpole, 1999.  Pp. 303.  Illus, maps, biblio., index.  $34.95.  ISBN: 1-85367-372-2

Marching to the Drums tells the story of some of the wars and expeditions of the British Empire during in the mid- and late-nineteenth century, from the First Afghan War to the South African War, using the personal testimony of “the ordinary British soldier.”  The 30 entries, some of which are rather gripping, derive from a series of interviews with veterans that were published in The Royal Magazine between 1905 and 1911.  A useful book for anyone interested in British military history or the common soldier in war.

 

Black Hawk Down: A Story of Modern War, by Mark Bowden.  New York: Penguin-Putnam, 2000.  Pp. vi, 392.  Illus, maps, notes, biblio., index.  $13.95 paper.  ISBN:  0-14-028850-3.

The paperback edition of Bowden’s well-received account of the disastrous October 3, 1993 firefight in Mogadisciu, that wrote finish to international efforts to stabilize conditions in Somalia.  Well written, often gripping.

 

The Grand Illusion: The Prussianizatin of the Chilean Army, by William F. Sater and Holger H. Herwig.  Lincoln, Nb.: University of Nebraska Press, 1999.  Pp. xiv, 247.  Illus, tables, notes, biblio., index.  $50.00.  ISBN:  0-8032-2393-5.

An interesting look at the ultimately unsuccessful Chilean effort to create a “prussianized” army in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and the ways in which the army’s German commander, Emil Korner, attempted to shape Chilean policy in support of that of his mother country.  A worthwhile read for anyone interested in Latin American military history, or in the problems of raising and maintain armed forces in smaller, poorer countries.

 

A History of the U.S. Army Nurse Corps, by Mary T. Sarnecky.  Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania, 1999.  xiv, 518 pp.  Illus, notes, index.  $55.00.  ISBN:  0-8122-3502-9.

Beginning by examining provisions for nursing wounded and sick soldiers in the long period before the formal founding of the Army Nurse Corps at the beginning of the Twentieth Century, Col. Starnecky has provided a readable, in depth study.  The range of the work is excellent, and well documented.   Specific chapters deal with particular periods in the history of the ANC (there are two for World War II), making the book a valuable read for anyone interested in the history of the Army or America’s wars.

 

The Battle of New Orleans: Andrew Jackson and America’s First Military Victory, by Robert V. Remini.  New York: Viking, 1999.  xiv, 226 pp.  Maps, chron., notes, biblio., index.  $24.95.  ISBN:  0-670-88551-7

A well written narrative treatment of the campaign of New Orleans in late 1814, which culminated in the disastrous British defeat before that city in early 1815.  The author, who won a Pulitzer for his Andrew Jackson, has a good story to tell, and does it well.  Although Remini overstates the importance of the battle, he does make a number of interesting observations about it, which makes his treatment of it valuable.  Worth reading.

 

The Roots of Nazi Psychology: Hitler’s Utopian Barbarism, by Jay Y. Gonen.  Lexington, Ky.: University Press of Kentucky, 2000.  Pp. ix, 224.  Biblio., index.  $25.00.  ISBN:  0-8131-2154-X

A very serious inquiry into the many ideas – some rational and intelligible, others illogical and crackpot – that helped shape Hitler’s weird ideology.  Interesting reading for serious students of World War II. 

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Membership Notes

 

NYMAS Executive Secretary Prof. Kathleen Broome Williams has recently presented three papers; "Mathematics at War: Grace Hopper and the Harvard Computation Lab in WWII,"  before the North American Society of Oceanic History Point Clear, Alabama, 6-9 April 2000, "Civilians in the Service"  at the annual Siena University Conference, 1-2 June 2000, and “A Marine 'By Inclination and By Training': A Virginia Lawyer Goes to War," at the Society for Military History Annual Meeting, 27-30 April 2000. 

Member Ted Cook has recently returned from a stint as Visiting Professor, School of History, Australian Defence Force Academy and the University of New South Wales in Canberra.   While in Australia he also delivered a lecture at the Australian War Memorial on "Japan's War in Living Memory and Beyond."  On June 3rd he addressed the Gunjishi Gakkai (The Japanese Military History Association) Conference on "Asia at War in the 20th Century" held  at Keio .

University in Tokyo, on the subject "Avoiding Death in China: A Japanese Soldier's Experience of War.”  This summer he plans to complete research on the Japanese soldier’s war, in Japan, supported by the Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation

Boardmember Steve Zaloga’s recent books include U.S. Half-tracks in Combat 1941-1945 (Concord), and Russia's T-80U Main Battle Tank (Concord); The M3Stuart Light Tank 1940-45 (Osprey New Vanguard).  Due later this year include are Lorraine 1944: Patton vs. Manteuffel (Osprey Campaign),  The M26/M46 Pershing Tank (Osprey New Vanguard), US Amtracs at War 1942-45 (Concord); US Light Tanks at War 1941-45 (Concord), and Scud: the History of the World's Most Infamous Missile (Darlington). 
    
Steve’s current book project is
The Kremlin's Nuclear Sword: Russian Strategic Nuclear Weapons, 1945-2000, to be published by the Smithsonian Institution Press.  He continues to write for many defense journals including recent articles on the exaggeration of the cruise missile threat (Jane's Intelligence Review) and on recent trends in the air defense missile threat in light of Kosovo (Journal of Electronic Defense).

On June 2nd, NYMAS Boardmember Dr. Albert A. Nofi addressed the Civil War Round Table of Northern Illinois on “The Military Experiences of  Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis.”  His “Pompey the Great and the Campaign of 49 B.C.” was recently published online on StrategyPage.  Al’s “Schlieffen’s  Italian Connection: An Overlooked Flaw in German Military Planning on the Eve of World War I,” will be published shortly by Strategy & Tactics.  He continues to contribute regular columns to both StrategyPage  and North & South.  Al’s currently working on An Informal Military History of the American People, and Warriors in the White House: The Military Experiences of the Presidents, both intended for younger readers.

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Website of Note:

Regiments and Corps of the British Empire and Commonwealth

 

http://regiments.org/milhist/regts.htm

      Using numerous pages, this site deals with the organization, history, and current status of the historic regiments and corps not only of the British Army, but also of many of the former colonies, the Dominions, and the other members of the British Commonwealth, such as India and Pakistan, which are very well covered.

Depending upon the country, coverage can be very extensive.  In some cases not only does this site direct the net surfer to regimental sites, but also sites of related historical interest, re-enactment companies, museums, biographies, and much more.

A site worth looking into by anyone interested in the history of the British Empire and its military forces.


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