The NYMAS Newsletter.
No. 18, Autumn 2000
A Publication of
The New York Military Affairs Symposium
© 2000 NYMAS & The Authors
Geoffrey P. Megargee’s
Inside Hitler’s High Command
Inside Hitler’s High Command is a study of the German High Command. But it differs markedly from many other such studies, which often focus on Hitler and one or two other major personalities. Instead, Megargee casts his net much more broadly, covering a much wider set of personalities and just as importantly, the processes by which Hitler, the Armed Forces High Command (OKW) and the Army High Command (OKH) conducted the war on a day-to-day basis. The results are most impressive.
Megargee traces the history of the German High Command during the tenure of the Nazi regime. One of the critical junctures here is Hitler’s creation of an Armed Forces Command Staff in 1935, which became OKW in the spring of 1938. Although smaller than OKH, its existence and position with Hitler served to dilute the power previously held by the Army General Staff. Megargee shows Hitler to be a very shrewd political operator here in that these changes, while major in nature, went almost unnoticed by those who would be effected the most. As time went on, the command system would be dominated by the struggle between OKH and OKW, with OKH fighting a losing battle against the steadily expanding OKW. Even then, Germany never developed an institution that could conduct joint planning. Instead, after 1941 OKH was confined to the eastern front, while OKW was concerned with the other theaters.
The book has lively and penetrating descriptions of the leading personalities in both OKW and OKH. Not only does Megargee deal with the standard subjects, such as Keitel, Jodl and Halder, but also lesser known but important individuals such as Rudolf Schmundt, Adolf Heusinger and Kurt Zeitzler. Equally important, Megargee delves into the personal relationships between these men and their individual dealings with Hitler. Finally, Megargee provides a careful and detailed discussion of how information was collected, processed and channeled through and between both headquarters.
From all of this, Megargee comes to several broad conclusions. The first is that the disagreements between Hitler and his generals were more over matters of form than substance. All agreed with the Führer’s goals to varying degrees. Even Ludwig Beck, long held up as a courageous resister to Hitler, disagreed with Hitler not over Germany’s rearmament, only its pace. Likewise Beck’s disagreement with Hitler over Czechoslovakia, which led to his resignation, was more about the timing of the planned attack as opposed to Hitler’s stated goals.
Megargee’s second conclusion is also of interest. While fairly critical of Hitler as a strategist, Megargee argues that the Führer had plenty of company in his lack of strategic acumen. Not one of Germany’s military leaders in either OKW or OKH emerged with even a decent grasp of strategy. Here the author lays the blame on the German system of professional military education, with its overly narrow, almost exclusively operational focus, and on the German General Staff’s traditional outlook on war fighting going back to the 19th century.
Megargee’s final major conclusion will be of interest more to professional military officers and observers of contemporary military affairs. A long time criticism of American military practice is that American staffs are too big and cumbersome, and this often makes them unwieldy and inefficient instruments for executing a commander’s wishes. Megargee argues that the German staffs were too small. There were simply too few officers to shoulder an ever-increasing work load, and this contributed to breakdowns in command, especially during periods of crisis.
Like all books, this one does have its flaws. In his discussion of the logistical preparations for Barbarossa, for example, Megargee concentrates on matters such as rail space, motor vehicles and fuel. Almost nowhere mentioned is the matter of horses, which was the major means of transport for the German Army. Given that the German Army entered the Soviet Union with about 750,000 horses, this is a serious omission. Another area that Megargee could have explored was coalition warfare, especially on the eastern front. Here also there was considerable interplay between OKW and OKH, given the confusing lines of authority.
The flaws, however, are comparatively minor within the context of the whole book. The book is marked throughout by impeccable research in a wide range of primary sources. The book is also well written, and Megargee has included a number of excellent portrait photos, which are especially useful for some of the lesser known figures. Taken all together, this is a splendid addition to the literature on the Wehrmacht. It is an absolute must for anyone interested in the workings of the German High Command in World War II.
Inside Hitler’s High Command, by Geoffrey P. Megargee,. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2000. Pp. xxi, 327. Index, bibliography, illus., charts. $34.95. ISBN: 0-7006-1015-4.
--R.L. DiNardo, USMC C&SC
The NYMAS website, managed by members James Dingman and Robert Rowen, has proven to be a great success, with an enormous number of "hits" per day, and has even been listed as a reference for several university military history courses.
In addition to the most up-to-date schedule of NYMAS conferences and lectures, as well as a complete file of back issues of The NYMAS Newsletter, the site includes very extensive links to websites dealing with current and historical matters of military, strategic, and policy interest.
Victor Brooks, The Fredericksburg Campaign. Conshohocken, Pa.: Combined Publishing, 2000. Pp. 185, illus., maps, sidebars, appendix, index. $27.95. ISBN: 1-58097-033-8.
This book is another in Combined Publishing’s long running campaign series. It’s welcome in one sense, as the author correctly points out, that of all the campaigns fought in the Civil War that of Fredericks-burg campaign is one of the least studied. Brooks’ study attempts to fill the gap, but it succeeds only in a partial sense.
Brooks begins his study logically enough, with the aftermath of the Antietam campaign, and the failure of George B. McClellan to make any aggressive move against Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia. This eventually resulted in Lincoln’s second and final firing of McClellan and the appointment of Ambrose Burnside as his successor. There then follows a fairly standard description of the campaign as it unfolded in November 1862, culminating in Burnside’s decision to force a crossing of the Rappahannock River on December 11 and the unsuccessful Union assaults against Lee’s positions along Marye’s Heights two days later. Brooks closes the volume with a brief description of the disastrous "Mud March" of January 1863, which led to Burnside’s replacement by Joseph Hooker.
Although the book is somewhat heavy with description, Brooks does have some interesting arguments to make. His contention that Burnside’s decision to make the crossing at Fredericksburg was reasonable is actually well-founded. Given the relatively scattered nature of Jackson’s dispositions because of his mission to guard crossings downstream, a rapid crossing in force could well have found Lee’s right flank lightly defended. The execution of the crossing and the manner in which the army crossed the river are, however, different matters. Brooks’ contention that had William B. Franklin’s attack also utilized the VI Corps he might have achieved greater success against Jackson is true, but overstated. Although the presence of VI Corps (the army’s largest) would have caused Jackson more serious problems, for decisive success such an attack required the unique tactical talents of a Longstreet, Hancock, or Hooker. Such abilities were beyond Franklin, who was further hamstrung by the confused nature of Burnside’s orders.
The greatest deficiencies in the book are its omissions, most notably the absence of notes. This makes it difficult to judge exactly what sources Brooks used, and how judiciously he used them. Likewise, his bibliographical essay does not include several good works on the battle, most notably Frank O’Reilly’s very good scholarly analysis of the fighting at Prospect Hill. Finally, an analysis of Jackson’s dispositions, especially his decision to cover the entire portion of his front with A.P. Hill’s Division would have been useful.
Taken all together, this book is certainly a step in the right direction. We still await, however, a full scholarly study of the battle. --R.L. DiNardo, USMC C&SC
Sword of the Border: Major General Jacob Jennings Brown, 1775-1828, by John D. Morris. Kent, Oh.: Kent State University Press, 2000. Pp. xviii, 348. Illus, maps, notes, biblio., index. $35.00. ISBN: 0-87338-659-0.
A New York militia general who passed into the Regular Army, during the War of 1812 Jacob Brown won four of the nine American land victories, more than any other US general in the war, after which he became one of only two major generals on active duty (the other was Andrew Jackson), and spent a decade as the general-in-chief. Amazingly, this enormously effective officer was soon virtually forgotten; For example, he is not listed in The Oxford Companion to American Military History. In fact, Prof. Morris’ book is the first proper biography of Brown.
And an excellent book it is too. Sword of the Border is a genuine biography, weaving personal, political, military, business, and medical problems into a readable account of Brown’s life and works. There are a number of good word-portraits of various interesting people, from the pusillanimous Maj. Gen. James Wilkinson to the gallant Brig. Gen. Winfield Scott and, many more, including, surprisingly, even Napoleon’s hapless Emmanuel Grouchy.
The battle pieces, of which there are many, are well and critically done, and demonstrate an adequate understanding of the conduct of war in the period.
A worthwhile read for anyone interested in American military history. –A.A. Nofi
The Law of Information Confect: National Security Law in Cyberspace, by Thomas C. Wingfield. Falls Church, Va.: Aegis Research, 2000. Pp. xxiv, 497. Tables, diagr., notes, glossary, append., index. No price given. ISBN: 0-9670326-1-X.
A ground-breaking look at how the law of war will have to be modified to take into account "information warfare." Unlike other recent attempts to codify the law of war with regard to information operations, Wingfield roots his work squarely in the historical record, deriving ideas from the existing law of war, which is substantially more applicable to the subject than is generally regarded. The book has a number of useful insights, perhaps the most important of which is that the law of war needs relatively little alteration to be applied to cyberwar.
The book is also a handy introduction to the law of war, providing an outline survey of the evolution of international law on the subject from earliest times.
A worthwhile read for anyone concerned with the problems of war in the so-called information age.
From Pusan to Panmunjom: Wartime Memoirs of the Republic of Korea’s First Four-Star General, by Paik Sun Yap. McLean: Brassey’s 1999. Pp. xvi, 269. Illus, maps, index. $17.95 paper. ISBN: 1-57488-202-3.
General Paik, who commanded the ROK 1st Division for most of the early part of the war, and then went on to command a corps and eventually become chief-of-staff of the ROK army, has written a different kind of account of the Korean War, one which puts the Koreans at the heart. Most of the troops who defended the Republic of Korean in 1950-1953, were South Koreans, who did much better than one would think from the standard accounts of the war, which always devote most of their space to American forces, and certainly more to the Turks or the British than to the Koreans.
From Pusan to Panmunjom is a combat history. Paik tells the story of his men and their war, men who, according to the Red Chinese, displayed "more fighting spirit" than did the Americans. It’s an important story, and Paik tells it quite well. Although extremely valuable for anyone with an interest in the Korean War, this volume is likely to be of value to anyone with an interest in military history. --A.A. Nofi
The Nazis’ March to Chaos: The Hitler Era Through the Lenses of Chaos-Complexity Theory, by Roger Beaumont. Westport, Ct.: Praeger, 2000. Pp. x, 213. Diagr., notes, index. $59.95. ISBN: 0-275-96708-5.
An interesting idea, but a flawed effort. While Beaumont does stress the rather disorganized character of the Hitler regime, a not un-common feature of most dictatorships, he is on shakier ground when he argues that Allied warmaking efforts were similarly chaotic; In any undertaking as enormous as a world war a certain amount of waste and duplication is going to be inevitable, particularly given the enormous lack of preparation on the part of the western powers.
The author seems to lack any sense of the complexities of the American military establishment, when he argues that the nation’s failure to mobilize the 300-some divisions envisioned in pre-war plans demonstrates a certain lack of will; Aside from naval and air forces that together were larger than the Soviet Armed Forces, the U.S. maintained non-divisional combat forces that were actually about as numerous as the 96 divisions it actually mobilized.
About 15-percent of the book is devoted to the issue of why the Allies did not use their military resources against the instrumentalities of the Holocaust, which does not further his arguments about the Nazi regime, and is, in any case, employs arguments already for the most part refuted in other treatments of the subject. Beaumont twice mentions Hitler’s use of television as part of his propaganda effort, which is positively silly. —A. A. Nofi
Words of Wisdom
"Thinking deeply about the future of war requires careful reflection on its past."
-- Robert F. Baumann,
Some Recent Works on World War I
With the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the Great War not fifteen years off, interest is rising in the conflict that more than any other shaped the twentieth century, as can be seen by the increasing number of works that have been appearing in recent years.
The First World War, by John Keegan. New York: Vintage/Random House, 2000. Pp. xvi, 475. Illus, maps, notes, biblio., index. $16.00 paper. ISBN: 0-375-70045-5.
The paperback edition of Keegan’s 1998 best seller, The First World War is a solid introduction to the events of 1914-1918, set within their diplomatic, political, and social framework, as well as with appropriate attention to military and technological matters, not to mention a number of excellent word-portraits of some of the notables of the day and a surprising amount of material from the common soldiers’ perspective.
Granted, some specialists will undoubtedly quibble about various matters. For example, Keegan has certainly not done his homework about the scale of the Anglo-French contribution to the Italian victories in 1918, and he perhaps passes over the American role a mite too quickly. However it’s a big story, and one not easily confined within the covers a single volume.
There’s quite a lot here which should not be missed, including a very insightful exploration of the political and diplomatic events that ensued between the assassination of Franz Ferdinand and the actual outbreak of the war. --A.A. Nofi
Seeking Victory on the Western Front: The British Army and Chemical Warfare in World War I, by Albert Palazzo. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2000. Pp. 288. $50.00 ISBN: 0803237251.
This is a new academic history of the British use of chemical weapons in World War I. Over the past few years, there has been a resurgence in interest in World War I in Britain and elsewhere in Europe, with a new generation of younger scholars revisiting the controversies of eighty years ago. Chemical warfare has always been a difficult subject to examine due to the emotional distaste for the subject even amongst military historians.
Palazzo attempts to reexamine the British experience with gas weapons in the context of other British attempts to use technology to overcome the problems of the stalemate of trench warfare. He argues convincingly that the prevalent view of the British tactical practices as nothing more than unending, mindless attrition is not the case. Using the example of chemical warfare, Palazzo argues that the British Army was successful in adapting to the new technologies of warfare, and indeed that gas was central to their success in 1918. This is an intriguing study for anyone interested in the new attempts to re-examine some of the key issues of World War I military history. –Steve Zaloga
A Peripheral Weapon? The Production and Employment of British Tanks in the First World War, by David J. Childs. Westport, Ct.: Greenwood Press, 1999. Pp. xviii, 210. Illus, maps, tables, notes, biblio., index. $57.95. ISBN: 0-313-30-838-2.
There have been many accounts devoted to the development and combat employment of tanks by the British Army in the First World War. Childs has revisited this often examined subject in the light of recent British scholarship on tactical and technical innovation and through examination of new archival material. He argues that tanks never could have been a war-winning weapon in World War I, but that the reasons for this had less to do with the conservative outlook of the senior commanders than with the serious mechanical limitations of the early armored vehicles. The book is a fresh look at an old subject, but one that will be of considerable interest both to those interested in the history of armored warfare and those interested in new scholarship on the First World War. -- Steve Zaloga
Sir John Fisher’s Naval Revolution, by Nicholas A. Lambert. Columbia, S.C.: University of South Carolina Press, 1999. Pp. xviii, 410. Append., notes, biblio., index. $49.95. ISBN: 1-57003-277-7. A history of the Royal Navy from the late 1890s through the outbreak of World War I, during which Sir John Fisher was its principal professional officer. In the course of doing this, and doing it well, the author provides a very good explanation of the administrative structure of the Royal Navy (the various "Lords of the Admiralty"), the importance of many of Fisher’s reforms, such as the scrapping of the numerous older vessels, which released men and money for newer ships, Fisher’s forward-looking and obsessive concern for new technologies, and his understanding that in the future naval wars would be less likely to be decided by one or two great clashes than by steady pressure on the enemy’s economic system. –A.A. Nofi
Weapons of the Trench War 1914-1918, by Anthony Saunders. London: Sutton, 1999. Pp. 192. $35.95. ISBN: 0750918187.
This is an interesting and well illustrated book about the weapons unique to trench warfare in World War I. Rather than focusing on the more conventional and well-covered subjects of World War I small arms and artillery, Saunders looks at the improvised and innovative new weapons developed in response to the trench stalemate. He covers early attempts at hand grenades, trench mortars, catapults, rifle grenades, grenade launchers, Stokes mortars, and finally, flame and gas projectors. The author uses his professional background with patents to use this unmined source for a great deal of new information on this subject. As a result, the coverage of British devices is somewhat more thorough than for other combatants. This is an interesting book for those interested in unconventional weapons as well as those intrigued by the nitty-gritty of trench warfare tactics. – Steve Zaloga
Doughboy War: The American Expeditionary Force in World War I, edited by James H. Hallas. Boulder, Co.: Lynne Rienner, 2000. Illus, map, notes, biblio., index. $55.00. ISBN: 1-55587-855-5.
Doughboy War is essentially the story of the troops, rather than a genuine history of the A.E.F. in action, told in the form of literally hundreds of excerpts from letters, memoirs, and diaries, with occasional bridges provided by the editor to provide background and hard data. The pieces are at times quite good, and often insightful. Unfortunately, the editor has failed to provide critical notes, so that many erroneous statements are left uncorrected.
Although it does not surpass Laurence Stalling’s classic The Doughboys, Hallas’s work is worth reading for anyone interested in the U.S. in the First World War. --A.A. Nofi
Victory in the East: The Rise and Fall of the Imperial German Army, by Michael P. Kihntopf. Shippensburg, Pa.: White Mane, 2000. Pp. vii, 99. Illus, maps, tables, append., notes, biblio., index. $19.95. ISBN: 1-57249-148-5.
Considering its length, Victory in the East is a surprisingly good, rather comprehensive treatment of the Eastern Front from 1914 through 1919, including not only operations between the Central Powers and Russia, but also operations in Serbia and on the Salonika front.
Although the emphasis is on the German Army, from basic policy through operations, the author does not neglect events in which the Germans did not take part, and provides some coverage of Germany’s allies and enemies; Indeed, the Russian Army is rather more favorably treated than is usually the case.
There are a number of errors in the book. For example, it’s highly unlikely that the German Army learned anything from the American Civil War. Nevertheless, Victory in the East is worthwhile reading for anyone interested in World War I, and the notes ought not to be neglected. –A.A. Nofi
Soissons, 1918, by Douglas V. Johnson II and Rolfe L. Hillman, Jr. College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1999. Pp. xvii, 213. Illus, maps, diagr., plans, append., notes, biblio., index. $29.95. ISBN: 0-89096-893-4.
Soissons,1918 provides a comprehensive account of one of the critical early battles of the AEF, in which the U.S. Army demonstrated its increasing ability to wage modern war. The book is particularly useful for its look at how the operation was set in motion, with stress on the strategic, staff, and organizational aspects of the battle. It’s rather less good at getting into the trenches and mixing things up with the troops.
Nevertheless, Soissons, 1918 is worthwhile reading for anyone interested in World War I, and certainly a necessity for anyone interested in the AEF.
--A. A. Nofi
Recent French Accounts of American Operations in World War II
Although largely unnoticed in the US, there is a copious, usually interesting, and occasionally insightful body of non-English literature on the Second World War in Europe that bears upon the American experience in battle. Steve Zaloga, himself a noted author in military matters and a long-time NYMAS member, takes a look at some of these.
L'armee Patton dans l'Aube: Aout 1944, by Hubert Mazure. (Maison de Boulanger, 1999) Fr. 130 francs, c. $21.00.
For those interested in the history of the US Army in the campaign in France in 1944, French regional histories offer a little known and often untapped source. Mazure's recent account is one of the better examples of this type. It is about the fighting by the US 4th Armored Division in the Aube region, especially the liberation of the city of Troyes. The author has used the usual US sources, but has also tapped regional archives to produce a very detailed account of several days of fighting during the pursuit phase after the Normandy break-out. This provides a very fine level of detail at the tactical level that is often missing from American accounts. Surprisingly, there has yet to be written a decent history of what was arguably America's best armored division in the war, and Patton's spearhead, the 4th Armored Division. This volume is a useful addition until a more comprehensive account is available.
La liberation de Marolles les Braults, by Fabrice Avoie (Couilleaux, 1999) Fr. 120 francs, c. $20.00.
Another example of some of the better regional French military history, though even more narrowly focused than the Mazure book. La liveration de Marolles les Braults covers the fighting between the US 5th Armored Division and the German 9.Panzer Division in the north Sarthe area in August 1944. This well-illustrated account is based on interviews with survivors from both sides, and examines the small unit actions by US and German tank units down to an individual vehicle level.
Pierre Mangin, L'Armee Patton a l'assault des forts de Metz,Octobre-Decembre 1944 (Typo-Lorraine, 2000). c. $40.00.
Dr. Mangin's new illustrated account of the assault on the Metz fortresses by Patton's Third Army in the autumn of 1944 is another example of a French regional history on the US Army. This well-illustrated account provides a straight-forward description of the fighting. While the text will provide little new to American readers with access to the US Army "Green-book" official histories, the extensive illustrations and maps provide a useful reference for anyone interested in this atypical siege battle. A more scholarly and professional account is also available in General Pierre Denis' book La liberation de Metz (Serpenoise, 1994, Fr. 248, c. $40) which is one of the most detailed accounts of the battles in any language.
Brest dans la guerre, by Philippe Lamarque, (Editions CMD, 2000) Fr. 149, c. $24.00.
A beautifully printed soft-cover from the publishers of a large series of illustrated histories of the Brittany region in France during the war. The book contains a short history of the famous seaport, with the main focus being on the siege of the trapped German garrison in the summer of 1944 by Patton's Third Army. The book's main interest for American readers is an excellent selection of photographs and illustrations showing the formidable bunker complexes and fortifications that shaped the conduct of the siege.
The Napoleonic Wars
Most Secret and Confidential: Intelligence in the Age of Nelson, by Steven E. Maffeo. Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 2000. Pp. xxviii, 355. Illus, maps, append., notes, biblio., index. $no price given. ISBN: 1-55750-545-4
A ground-breaking look at a very neglected subject, the practice of intelligence in naval warfare during the Age of Sail. The author deals with a wide range of subjects, from "The British National Intelligence Effort," which proves to have been extremely effective, to signals technology, deception, reconnaissance, and, in what is perhaps the most valuable portion of the book, the role of the commander.
Maffeo points out that senior naval officers were their own chiefs of intelligence, a task at which some were better than others. He particularly singles out Nelson as an extremely able intelligence manager, using numerous examples of his surprisingly incisive logical approach to matters of intelligence. The book concludes with three examples of British naval intelligence successes, Pulo-Aur in the Indian Ocean in 1804, Copenhagen in 1801, and the campaign of the Nile in 1798, respectively on a tactical, operational, and strategic level. Most Secret and Confidential, which is not afraid to use references to the well-researched treatments of such fictionally famous admirals as Hornblower and Aubrey, would make useful reading for anyone interested in sea power in the age of sail, the wars of the French Revolution and Napoleon, and the history of intelligence.
Wellington: A Personal History, by Christopher Hibbert. Reading, Ma.: Perseus/Harper Collins, 1999. Pp. xvi, 460. Illus, maps, notes, sources, index. $18.00 paper. ISBN: 0-7382-0148-0.
Primarily a general biography of Wellington, Hibbert’s book gives the reader a look into the Iron Duke’s social and personal life, while not neglecting his military career. There are sufficient unusual or surprising items in Wellington, even military ones, to satisfy most readers interested in the Napoleonic period.
In the Shadow of Nelson: The Naval Leadership of Admiral Sir Charles Cotton, 1753-1812, by Paul C. Krajeski. Westport, Ct.: Greenwood Press, 2000. Pp. xx, 219. Illus, maps, diagr, notes, biblio., index. $62.95. ISBN: 0-313-31038-4. Sir Charles Cotton had a varied and interesting career from the American Revolution until his death in the midst of the Napoleonic Wars, including successive command of the Mediterranean and Channel Fleets. However, in the course of his rather unique career "He never did anything brilliant . . ." nor "committed any notable blunders," and thus is largely forgotten today. A useful book for anyone interesting naval warfare during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.
Jerome Bonaparte: The War Years, 1800-1815, by Glenn J. Lamar. Westport, Ct.: Greenwood Press, 2000. Pp. xii, 136. Illus, maps, notes, index. $55.00. ISBN: 0-313-30997-3.
The youngest of the Bonaparte brothers, Jerome emerges from this biography as a considerably more capable and interesting person than has generally been the consensus of history. Albeit by no means as competent and intelligent as his elder brothers, Jerome seems to have performed ably on a number of occasions. Lamar particularly points out that Jerome proved a highly capable naval officer, a career for which he seems to have had a natural bent. To be sure his imperial brother provided him opportunities during his year or so of naval service, that were hardly available to men of less exalted kindred, but he nevertheless did perform with considerable skill. When Napoleon tried to make him a general, Jerome proved much less able. A valuable addition to the literature of the Bonapartes.
The Pen & Ink Sailor: Charles Middleton and the King’s Navy, 1778-1813, by John E. Talbot. London.: Frank Cass, 1998. Pp. xvi, 172. Illus., notes, biblio., index. $24.50 paper. ISBN: 0-7146-4452-8.
This is an interesting, insightful biography of a largely forgotten man who, though a veteran sea dogs with a distinguished record as a ship’s captain, was a particularly capable administrator. Middleton – later Lord Barham – served in various administrative posts, rising to First Lord of the Admiralty during one of the most trying periods in the history of the Royal Navy, the wars of the American and French Revolutions and of Napoleon. In addition to remarkable administrative and strategic abilities, Middleton was also instrumental in getting the Royal Navy to adopt carronades and coppered hulls. A valuable book for anyone interested in the Royal Navy or war at sea.
NYMAS Membership News
Executive Secretary Prof. Kathleen Broome Williams’ new book, Improbably Warriors: Women Scientists and the U.S. Navy in WWII has been accepted for publication by the Naval Institute Press.
Member Prof. Ted Cook, will be speaking November 16th at the Lyndon B. Johnson Library in Austin, Texas, on "The Battle of Midway: The Possibilities for Disaster". Prof. Cook has just completed two years as Visiting Scholar, Edwin O. Reischauer Institute for Japanese Studies, John K. Fairbank Center for East Asian Research, Harvard University, and in June was appointed a Reischauer Institute Associate.
Short Rounds: General
Spies & Commandos: How America Lost the Secret War in Vietnam, by Kenneth Conboy and Dale Andrade. Lawrence, Ks.: University Press of Kansas, 2000. Pp. x, 347. Illus, maps, notes, biblio., index. $34.95. ISBN: 0-7006-1002-2.
Despite it’s sub-title, Spies & Commandos is actually about secret American and South Vietnamese efforts to conduct a secret war in North Vietnam. Spies & Commandos is an account of those unsuccessful Allied efforts to establish an internal resistance in the north. Since the extent to which those efforts were seriously intended to do more than divert enemy attention from the South, rather than establish a genuine underground in the North, remains unclear, the work is not entirely satisfactory.
Insurgent Cuba: Race, Nation, and Revolution, 1868-1898, by Ada Ferrer. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1999. Pp. xi, 273. Illus, notes, biblio., index. $$18.95 paper. ISBN: 0-8078-4783-6.
A study of the Cuban revolutionary army, which in the interests of victory attempted – and to a large extent succeeded – in creating a racially integrated force. Although a good study of the social and political aspects of the revolutionary army, the book is unsatisfactory when it comes to organization, doctrine, tactics, and operations. There’s a lot of silly "PC" terminology, such as the use of "enslaved" for "slave," and the few times combat impinges on the discussion the author relies excessively on wholly unconfirmed accounts by revolutionaries. In addition, the author betrays considerable lack of familiarity with things military, expressing some surprise that the revolutionary army usually made officers of the more educated people. To her credit, Ferrer concedes that the revolutionaries were as much responsible for the suffering of the rural poor as were the Spaniards, and accepts the fact that the war had been lost by the time the U.S. became involved. Despite its flaws, a good book, and the footnotes are worth reading.
Venona: Decoding Soviet Espionage in America, by John Earl Haynes and Harvey Klehr. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1999. xiii, 487 pp. Illus, glossary, append, notes, index. $30.00. ISBN: 0-300-07771-8.
Venona is but latest in a series of works revealing the extent of Soviet intelligence operations in the U.S. and the complicity of the CPUSA in those operations. The work deals particularly with "Venona," a highly secret service that during the Cold War successfully decrypted thousands of messages between the KGB intelligence service and Soviet agents in the U.S. Although Venona and a number of other similar revelatory works have now firmly established the guilt of the Rosenbergs and Alger Hiss, among others, while identifying numerous other agents, and confirming the deep involvement of the CPUSA in espionage, it goes without saying that true believers and their apologists will not be convinced. Invaluable for anyone interested in the Cold War.
Hamburger Hill: The Brutal Battle for Dong Ap Bia, May 11-20, 1969, by Samuel Zaffiri. Novato, Ca.: Presidio, 2000. Pp. x, 304. Illus, maps, biblio., index. $19.95 paper. ISBN: 0-89141-706-0.
A paperback reprint of Zaffiri’s 1988 classic work on one of the toughest and most controversial battles of the Vietnam War. Worth reading for anyone interested in that conflict, or of men in battle.
The Eyes of Orion: Five Tank Lieutenants in the Persian Gulf War, by Alex Vernon, with Neal Creighton, Jr., Greg Downey, Rob Holmes, and Rave Trybula. Kent, Oh.: Kent State University Press, 1999. Pp. xxiv, 330. Illus, maps, diagr., append., notes, biblio., index. $32.95. ISBN: 0-87338-633-7.
An unusual, but effective collective memoir by five tank officers who served in the 24th Infantry Division during the 1990-1991 Gulf War. Although less than 80 pages are actually devoted to ground operations, the work will be of value to anyone interested in armored operations. The footnotes should not be missed, as they contain a number of useful observations and comments.
Thomas ap Catesby Jones: Commodore of Manifest Destiny, by Gene A. Smith. Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 2000. Pp. xx, 223. Illus, chron., notes, biblio., index. $34.95. ISBN: 1-5575-848-8.
Although the Naval Institute’s series "Library of Naval Biography" includes treatments of some of the heavy hitters of American naval history, it has also provided looks at some lesser known, often even obscure officers, who made significant contributions to the development of the U.S. Navy. Thomas ap Catesby Jones, who served from his appointment as a 15-year old midshipman in 1805 until retirement 50 years later as a commodore, was such an officer, with a rich and varied career in peace and war, both afloat and ashore. Worth reading for anyone interested in the history of the Navy.
The Cold War at Sea: High-Seas Confrontation between the United States and the Soviet Union, by David F. Winkler. Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 2000. Pp. ix, 263. Illus, chron, notes, biblio., index. $38.95. ISBN: 1-55750-955-7.
This volume – which has an unfortunately deceptive title –actually provides a survey history of the numerous "incidents" at sea between the U.S. and Soviet Navies which led the "Incidents at Sea Agreement between the two nations in 1972, the workings of which are then traced through to the end of the Cold War. A useful book, but by no means a definitive history of the Cold War at sea.
The African Rank-and-File: Social Implications of Colonial Military Service in the King’s African Rifles, 1902-1964, by Timothy H. Parsons. Portsmouth, N.H.: Heinemann, 1999. Pp. xviii, 302. Illus, map, tables, append., notes, biblio., index. $no price paper. ISBN: 0-325-00140-5.
The military reputation of the King’s African Rifles, built in two world wars, belies the fact that the corps was for most of its career essentially a constabulary intended to support Britain’s rule in its East African colonies. The African Rank-and-File is a well written, readable social history of the KAR. Although there is some operational material in the volume, it concentrates on ethnic composition, recruiting policies, and similar administrative and political aspects of the KAR, rather than on its military exploits. Worth reading for anyone interested in the military history of Africa.
America and Guerrilla Warfare, by Anthony James Joes. Lexington, Kt.: University Press of Kentucky, 2000. Pp. xiv, 418. Maps, notes, biblio., index. $30.00. ISBN: 0-8131-2181-7.
Billed as explaining "How America wages guerrilla wars," this volume is in fact rather disappointing. The overall treatment is not very sophisticated. Moreover, it is quite uneven. There is no coverage of the colonial wars, nor of the Indian Wars, nor anything about guerrilla and counter-guerrilla operations during the War of 1812, the Mexican War, and the Philippines in World War II. Indeed, a great deal of space is devoted to guerrilla wars in which the U.S., though it did play a role, did not fight: Greece, Huks, El Salvador, and Afghanistan. Although at times the author has some useful insights, the work has too many shortcomings to be recommended to anyone but the most serious student of irregular warfare.
Isaac Shelby: A Driving Force in America’s Struggle for Independence, by S. Roger Keller. Shippensburg, Pa: Burd Street Press, 2000. Pp. xii, 120. Illus., maps, append., biblio., index. $12.95 paper. ISBN: 1-57249-184-1.
A short biography of an interesting and largely forgotten American citizen-soldier, who commanded other citizen-soldiers at King’s Mountain during the Revolutionary War, and again later in Canada during the War of 1812. A useful book, although sometimes rather hyperbolic.
Morals Under the Gun: The Cardinal Virtues, Military Ethics, and American Society, by James H. Toner. Lexington, Ky.: University Press of Kentucky, 2000. Pp. xviii, 215. Notes, biblio., index. $29.95. ISBN: 0-8131-2159-0.
A timely work given public concern over the purported "gap" between the military and society, Morals Under the Gun examines the centrality of the cardinal virtues to the military ethic. Discussing the relationship between soldier and civilian in America, Toner observes that the problems besetting the military are essentially those that trouble society at large.
The Book of War: 25 Centuries of Great War Writing, edited by John Keegan. New York: Penguin, 2000. Pp. xx, 492. Biblio., index. $17.00 paper. ISBN: 0-14-029655-7.
An anthology of selections from first-hand accounts, fiction, memoirs, newspapers, and histories, sprinkled with an occasional poem, all relating to the subject of war. There are some great bits in here. Unfortunately, once the reader gets out of the first chapter, which covers everything through the French Revolution, almost all of the selections are by Anglo-American writers, though there is a sprinkling of Germans in the third chapter, on the twentieth century. Hemmingway did this better with his Men at War, particularly if you can find the original hardcover edition.
A Notable Reprint
Those Damned Rebels: The American Revolution as Seen through British Eyes, by Michael Pearson. New York: DaCapo, 2000. Pp. 446. Illus., maps, notes, biblio., index. $18.00 paper. ISBN: 0-306-80983-4.
Hailed as a notable contribution to the historiography of the American Revolution when it was first published, in 1972, Those Damned Rebels is still a work of considerable interest, providing the loser’s perspective on the momentous struggle.
Special Book Offer to NYMAS Members
Combined Publishing has made the 300 page hard cover volume James Longstreet: The Man, the Soldier, the Controversy, edited by Richard L. DiNardo and Albert A. Nofi, available to NYMAS members at a reduced price.
The work embodies the proceedings of the 1993 NYMAS Military History Conference, regularly sells for $29.95. NYMAS members can get it for only $25.00, plus $3.00 shipping and handling. All proceeds going to the Longstreet Memorial Fund and NYMAS.
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Short Rounds: World War II
Fascist and Liberal Visions of War: Fuller, Liddell Hart, Douhet, and Other Modernists, by Azar Gat. Oxford: The Clarendon Press, 1998. Pp. xiv, 334. Notes, biblio., index. $85.00. ISBN: 0-19-820715-8.
The third in a series of volumes tracing the evolution of modern military thought (the previous ones are The Origins of Military Thought: From the Enlightenment to Clausewitz and The Development of Military Thought: The Nineteenth Century), Fascist and Liberal Visions of War deals with what might be termed the divergence of military that developed between the world wars, into a between those who focused on technology for the clash of forces – which Gat suggests had strong ties to fascism (though he perhaps might better have used totalitarianism), which led to World War II, and a more liberal approach which stressed economic and political conflict of protracted duration, that is a "cold war," the origins of which he traces to the 1930s, when it failed, only to succeed later. An interesting, insightful, and thought-provoking work.
Kharkov 1942: Anatomy of a Military Disaster, by David M. Glantz. Rockville Centre, N.Y.: Sarpedon 1998. Pp. 288. Illus, maps, tables, diagr., notes, biblio., index. $29.95. ISBN: 1-885119-54-2.
In Kharkov, Col. Glantz has managed to weave his own account of the disastrous Soviet offensive together with a frank staff history of the operation produced by the Soviet Army in the early 1950s. Although the integration of the materials is not completely seamless, the approach works, given Col. Glantz’ extraordinary mastery of the material. There’s a lot here, including mini-biographies of most of the Soviet commanders, and annotated orders-of-battle, as well as discussions of the actual course of operations. A valuable book for anyone interested in the Eastern Front.
With Alex at War: From the Irrawaddy to the Po, 1941-1945, by Rupert Clarke. Barnsley, S. York.: Leo Cooper, 2000. Pp. xiv, 242. Illus, maps, append., index. $36.95. ISBN: 0-85052-71. An interesting look at the career of an often neglected commander, Harold Alexander, by a former aide, with many personal insights.
The Making of a Professional: Manton S. Eddy, U.S.A., by Henry Gerard Phillips. Westport, Ct.: Greenwood, 2000. Pp. xx, 246. Illus, maps, notes, biblio., index. $65.00. ISBN: 0-313-31183-8.
A solid biography of one of the best American division and corps commanders in the ETO during World War II, and one of the few who did not have the "advantages" of a higher education. There is a particularly valuable critical analysis of Eddy’s strengths and weaknesses. Important reading for anyone interested in the U.S. Army in World War II.
The Italian Navy and Fascist Expansionism, 1935-1940, by Robert Mallett. London/Portland, Ore.: Frank Cass, 1998. Pp. xiv, 240. Illus, maps, tables, gloss., append., notes, biblio., index. $26.50 paper. ISBN: 0-7146-4432-3.
A very readable look at changing the role and influence of the Italian Navy in Mussolini’s plans for a new Roman Empire. Mallett attempts to refute – not entirely successfully – some recent attempts to portray Mussolini’s expansionism as purely an extension of traditional Italian ambitions, and – somewhat more successfully – the notion that the Regia Marina was "apolitical" and led by "apolitical" officers. He provides an interesting insight not only into Il Duce’s objectives, but the extraordinary degree of confusion, deception, self-delusion, and irresponsibility that characterized Italian strategic and military thought under Fascism.
After D-Day: Operation Cobra and the Normandy Breakout, by James Jay Carafano. Boulder, Co.: Lynne Rienner, 2000. Pp. ix, 295. Maps, notes, biblio., index. No price given. ISBN: 1-555-87-885-7.
An effective operational and tactical account of the sweep out of the Normandy bridgehead and across France in the summer and early autumn of 1944, After D-Day, is marred by a number of silly errors (e.g., Harry S Truman was not vice-president in 1944, and the North African Campaign was not "over two years" before Cobra, but barely 22 months). Despite these, there are some good battle pieces, and an occasional flash of insight which make it worthwhile reading for anyone interested in the campaign in Northwestern Europe.
Inside the Afrika Korps: The Crusader Battles, 1941-1942, by Col. Rainer Kriebel and the U.S. Army Intelligence Service, edited with an introduction by Bruce I. Gudmundsson. London/Mechanicsburg, Pa.: Greenhill Books/Stackpole, 1999. Maps, diagr, biblio., index. $34.95. ISBN: 1-85367-322-6.
A compilation of a post-war report by Col. Rainer Kriebel, erstwhile staff officer in the Afrika Korps, on the Crusader battles, and two documents produced by U.S. Army intelligence on German employment of artillery and the evolution of German defensive tactics in North Africa. Kriebel’s contribution is particularly valuable, as it is a fairly unvarnished account, which points out many of the weaknesses of the German warmaking in North Africa, and provides some interesting insights into Rommel as a commander. Useful reading for anyone with an interest in the North African Campaign.
Inside Fortress Norway: Bjorn West – Norwegian Guerrilla Base, 1944-1945, by Thomas Nielsen. Manhattan, Ks.: Sunflower University Press, 2000. Pp. x, 310. Illus., maps, append., biblio., index. $24.95 paper. ISBN: 0-89745-245-3.
The story of the Norwegian resistance during the final months of World War II, told by a veteran of who had some interesting experience. Although the work is a memoir, there is a great deal about organization and operations beyond what Nielsen personally experienced. Since accounts of the Norwegian resistance are rare in English, Nielsen’s memoir is an important work for anyone interested in the anti-Nazi underground movements.
Website of Note
The Federation of American Scientists
Military Analysis WebPages
The Federation of American Scientists is a "peace" organization. Unlike most such, it is neither strident nor ignorant, and attempts a sober analysis of issues. Their Military Analysis webpages are particularly valuable, containing information not merely on contemporary weapons, organization, and operations, but also on some of the more important operations in the past, and contains a useful "handbook" on major current conflicts, though it tends to accord legitimacy to the many criminal organizations masquerading as revolutionary movements.
Another flaw in the presentation is that the FAR tends to omit comparative analysis and does not attempt to address the basic questions of national interest, which shapes defense policy, which in turn drives the organization, equipping, and employment of the armed forces.
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