The NYMAS Newsletter.
A Publication of The New York Military Affairs Symposium
No. 25, Autumn 2002
© 2002 NYMAS & The Authors
Lawrence H. Suid’s
Guts and Glory: The Making of
the American Military Image in Film,
reviewed by Kathleen Broome Williams,
Bronx Community College
A number of adjectives immediately suggest themselves to describe Lawrence Suid's Guts and Glory: sweeping, comprehensive, detailed, revealing. The book is always interesting, occasionally surprising, and sometimes amusing. Suid has set out to analyze the making of American war movies from the earliest days of film at the beginning of the Twentieth Century—before there was a Hollywood—to this year's Black Hawk Down and We Were Soldiers. In the preface Suid explains that he deals with both war movies about combat situations and military movies about the military experience in peacetime. His focus is on what he refers to as the "symbiotic" relationship between the film industry and the armed forces. The unifying theme is the degree to which the military cooperated or withheld support from the production of war movies, and the influence this had on the final product. What this reveals is a century-long dialogue between moviemakers and military personnel that, Suid argues persuasively, led to a collaboration advantageous to each.
In the case of war films, what Suid refers to as the "usual complicated path" (p.109) of a movie from inception to completion is further complicated by the additional factor of military involvement. While Congress mandated that the military should have public relations operations, the guidelines for cooperation with the film industry were broad and general. Each decision about the nature, type, and amount of assistance to be rendered was affected by the availability of resources, financial constraints, and political and social, and—in wartime especially—morale considerations. The armed forces could influence the ultimate product by reviewing the script and on that basis giving or withholding technical and logistical support. While the military had no ability to censor movies it disliked, very frequently, moviemakers agreed to script changes in order to secure the use of military vessels and vehicles, facilities, action footage, and even personnel. Since it was in the interest of the military to encourage war movies, the only real concern for each service was that the movie portray it in a positive light. For the film industry, the artistic ambitions of writers, producers, and directors notwithstanding, the concern was to make pictures that sold, and the cooperation of the armed forces has been vital to the success of war movies. Through extensive research in primary sources and hundreds of interviews with civilians and military personnel, Suid uncovers the sometimes-contentious process of accommodation between these two motives.
Among the more than 220 movies Suid discusses are such familiar ones as Birth of a Nation, Wings, Battleground, The Story of G. I. Joe, Command Decision, Dr. Strangelove, On the Beach, Full Metal Jacket, Stripes, Top Gun, Lone Star, and Saving Private Ryan. For those as unskilled as this moviegoer at distinguishing real combat footage from special effects and mock-ups, Suid presents an engrossing deconstruction of the way the films were made. Skill at integrating combat footage with the rest of the film marks many of the best movies, particularly of World War II. As well as Suid's own assessment of each film he also notes contemporary reviews, the opinions of civilians and military involved in the production, and the reception of the film by military personnel and by the general public.
Perhaps most interesting of all is when Suid grapples with such fundamental questions as the effect of war movies on society's view of the military. This, he notes, is particularly significant during wartime and also during lean years in peacetime when the armed forces struggle for military appropriations. Suid also examines the power of war movies to evoke patriotism and spur support (or in the case of Vietnam, criticism) for a war effort; the enduring fascination of the American public with films about war; and the significance of historical accuracy in filmmaking. He deals with this last topic particularly cogently and such recent travesties as Pearl Harbor suffer accordingly.
This is one of those rare books that need not be read from one end to the other but can be dipped into at will. A good index and an appendix listing all the cited movies make it easy for the reader to check out a favorite film, actor, director or even a favorite war. Both movie buffs and anyone interested in the American military will find this a most rewarding read.
Those who teach military, social, or cultural history will find endless material, anecdotes, and examples with which to illustrate themes and trends in twentieth century American society. It is a pleasure to recommend what one authority has described as the "definitive study of the relationship between Hollywood and the U. S. military" (p. xvii).
Guts and Glory: The Making of the American Military Image in Film, by Lawrence H. Suid. Revised and expanded edition. Lexington: The University Press of Kentucky, 2002. Pp. xvii, 748. Illus., append., notes, biblio., index. $50.00 cloth, ISBN 0-8131-2225-2; $29.95 paper, ISBN 0-8131-9018-5.
Webmaster, Bob Rowen
Angel in the Whirlwind: The Triumph of the American Revolution
By Benson Bobrick
If one were to search for a model for a short survey history, I would recommend Benson Bobrick's extremely fine Angel in the Whirlwind, which The New York Times considers a "Notable Book."
The book is notable, not just for its information, but its crafting. Enough background and context is given on each subject--not one is drawn out too long. Events, including battles, are clearly explained in terms of chronology, significance, and meaning. The reportorial questions--who, what, when, where, and why--are answered. Each important historical figure is provided biographical information. Both land and naval events are covered. Timetables and maps introduce the two sections of the book, the American Revolution in the North and the South. The cover and artistic details of the book are also impressive.
The narrative begins with an overview of events leading up to Jonathan Mayhew's publication in 1750 of Discourse Concerning Unlimited Submission, which Bobrick, quoting John Adams, takes as the beginning of the Revolution. In this, the French and Indian War is largely covered. The next introductory chapter covers the socio-cultural clime: "The Colonial World." A chapter on politics discusses "King, Parliament, Inherited Rights." The "Revolt" begins with the battles at Lexington and Concord in 1775. The remaining major events are well-known.
Bobrick's rendition is not just good history, it is great narrative. The real delight to the reader comes from two sources: he provides wonderful detail and he makes the men and women of the Revolution come alive through substantial quotes from primary sources, along with an ample supply of personal facts. (Perhaps I make an association with Washington's teeth here, but I find most writers on the Revolution create wooden historical figures.) For instance in the chapter on the colonial world we learn: 1) metheglin is a drink made from fermented honey and rum; 2) the juice of horehound and plantain comprised a snakebite antidote; 3) street performers and exhibitors included one that featured a pickled pirate's head in a jar. As for personalities, after relieving Countess, Lady Selkirk's British coastal mansion of its silver, John Paul Jones sent the mistress of the house a letter of apology and promised to return the silver after the war which he did. Henry Knox wrote of Nathanael Greene, "His knowledge was intuitive. He came to us the rawest and most untutored being I ever met with, but in less than twelve months he was equal in military knowledge to any general officer in the army and very superior to most."
My only quibble with Bobrick's rendition is in his politics. I agree that the battle over the powers of Parliament and King in the colonies was the focus of conflict. However, as Kevin Phillips in his book, Cousins Wars, demonstrates the political groundwork for the war had been laid during the English Civil War of the previous century. The religious (demographic) alignments in the Revolution were basically the same as those during the English Civil War with the Congregationalists in New England and the Presbyterians in Pennsylvania and the South largely leading the fray against Anglican and Catholic forces. In many areas local politics also played a role such as those of the Regulator movement in the Carolinas. Although these could not have been fully covered, a bit more mention might have been made. It's also unfortunate material on some of the partisan leaders such as Francis Marion and Andrew Pickens was not provided.
The most memorable scenes are those that describe the privations of the men in camp, battle, and prison. Unfortunately, the image of bloody footprints in the snow, left by men wearing rags as footwear, has become something of a candy caricature when indeed it was a reality. As Greene wrote in 1779, "I have more embarrassment than it is proper to disclose to the world . . . . At the battle of Eutaw Springs, hundreds of my men were naked as they were born. The bare loins of many were galled by their cartridge boxes, while a folded rag or a tuft of moss alone protected their shoulders from being chafed by their guns." The disgraceful conduct of Congress in not making greater efforts to pay and provision the army is also made clear.
Perhaps the best scene in the book is Bobrick's description of the receipt of the news of Cornwallis's defeat at Yorktown. Lt. Col. Tench Tilgham was the dispatch rider who conveyed the message to Congress, reaching Philadelphia around midnight on October 24, 1781. An elderly German watchman escorted him to the home of Thomas McKean, president of the Congress. Following this the watchman resumed his nightly round, but then proclaiming, "Basht dree o'glock, und Gorn-wal-lis isht da-ken." In Paris all bourgeois residents were directed to hang lanterns outside their homes. Benjamin Franklin attended a diplomatic dinner at Versailles and after being subjected to toasts to the two kings that equated them with the sun and the moon, Franklin toasted George Washington who he compared with Joshua of old who commanded both the sun and the moon. When Lord North was given the news at Downing Street, he flung his arms in desolation and paced back and forth, exclaiming, "Oh, God! Oh, God! It is over! It is all over!!
In the end, one recalls a line from a World War II movie that went something like, "Where did we find such men?"
Angel in the Whirlwind: The Triumph of the American Revolution, by Benson Bobrick. New York: Penguin, Putnam, 1997.
Pp. 553. Illus, maps, notes, biblio., index. $15.95- paper. ISBN: 0-14027-500-2 --C. Kay Larson, NYMAS
Henry Lloyd and the Military Enlightenment of Eighteenth Century Europe,by Patrick J. Speelman. Westport, Ct.: Greenwood Press, 2002. Pp. xv, 219. Maps, diagr., append., notes, biblio., index. $66.95. ISBN: 0-313-32160-4.
One of the numerous international adventurers who characterized the military life of the eighteenth century, the Welshman Henry Lloyd (c. 1729-1783) served variously in a half-dozen or so armies (French, Jacobite, Prussian, Dutch, etc.), serving as a soldier and engineer at Fontenoy, Prestonpans, Bergen-op-Zoom, Silistria, and a number of other places, all across Europe, from the Scottish lowlands to the Balkans. Between commissions, Lloyd made a name for himself as a military writer and reformer – albeit one little known in his native Britain – while seeking to find a comfortable niche in society.
In this volume, Prof. Speelman (of the College of Charleston, Charleston, S.C.), has combined an account of Lloyd’s often colorful military career with a look at his development as a military thinker and reformer, against the background of the intellectual ferment of his times, terming Lloyd a "central figure, a philosophe, of the Military Enlightenment." However, Speelman probably overstates his case. While Lloyd did produce several useful analytical and historical works, most notably the List of the Forces of the Sovereigns of Europe (1761) and History of the Late War in Germany (1766), his theoretical efforts, embodied in his posthumous and oft-reprinted A Political and Military Rhapsody on the Invasion and Defence of Great Britain and Ireland (1790), were seem to have had little impact on the military developments of the age, though he was well regarded by some more prominent thinkers and commanders, including Napoleon himself.
A very useful work for anyone interested in the military life of the eighteenth century.
--A.A. Nofi, CNO SSG, Newport.
Over Seas: U.S. Army Maritime Operations, 1898 Through the Fall of the Philippines, by Charles Dana Gibson with E. Kay Gibson. Camden, Me.: Ensign Press, 2002. Pp. xvii, 474. Illus., maps, tables, append., glossary, notes, biblio., index. $49.95. ISBN: 0-9608996-6-9.
On one level, this volume is "merely" another in the author’s series on the "Army’s navy," ships owned or operated by the Army from colonial times into the twentieth century. In those terms, Over Seas is fully in keeping with the high standards of the earlier volumes in the series.
But it is much more than that.
Over Seas provides the fullest treatment yet seen of efforts to resupply the defenders of Bataan and Corregidor during the dark days of the winter and spring of 1942. Devoting fully half the work to the subject, the authors demolish quite handily the claims of MacArthurites that no efforts were made to succor the besieged troops. The treatment of the effort to organize blockade running missions is very detailed. The number of missions attempted – some of them under the most trying of circumstances – is quite surprising, and even more impressive is the number that succeeded. They focus particularly on the dedication and courage of the crews, who almost uniformly refused any special bonuses in favor of generous life insurance arrangements.
Over Seas is a valuable contribution to the literature of the Pacific War. --A.A. Nofi, CNO SSG, Newport.
Arabs at War: Military Effectiveness, 1948-1991,by Kenneth M. Pollack. Lincoln, Neb.: University of Nebraska Press, 2002. Pp. xvii, 698. Maps, tables, notes, biblio., index. $49.95. ISBN: 0-8032-3733-2.
Arabs at War is an extremely ambitious, and largely successful effort, to look at the military performance of the principal Arab armies – Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Libya, and Saudi Arabia – over the latter half of the twentieth century, a period dominated by the repeated clashes with Israel.
The book goes into considerable detail, from the recruitment and training of both enlisted men and officers, to political and social constraints and strengths, and on to weapons, organization, tactics, operations, and strategy. Although critical, the work gives credit where credit is due, and the picture that emerges is a complex one. Pollack points out that the principal Arab armies have on the whole performed better than their reputation would have us believe, while the performance of their opponents – principally the Israelis, but also various insurgent factions and even other Arab armies – has not always been of the highest standards either.
An immensely valuable work for anyone interested in the Middle East. --A.A. Nofi, CNO SSG, Newport
The Paraguayan War, Vol. I, Causes and Early Conduct, by Thomas L. Whigham. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2002. Pp. xx, 520. Illus., maps, notes, index. $75.00. ISBN: 08032-4786-9.
Focused on the background and first year of the protracted war (1864-1870) that was Uruguay, Argentina, and Brazil fighting Paraguay, L. Whigham’s The Paraguayan War is by far the most comprehensive book ever published – in any language – about what was perhaps the bloodiest struggle in the history of the Americas, one that left only 25-percent of the Paraguayan people alive.
The author, Professor of History at the University of Georgia, has drawn from documentary sources in all of the belligerent countries, and from other repositories as well, something no previous writer on the subject has ever done. He tells not only the story of the war itself – known variously as the Paraguayan War or the War of the Triple Alliance or the Lopez War (after the Paraguayan dictator-president who was instrumental in bringing it about) – but delves deeply into the background, demonstrating that of the four belligerents, Paraguay had the strongest claim to be a coherent nation-state, which helped account for the remarkable resilience its people displayed in the face of overwhelming odds. He presents one of the clearest explanations yet seen for how the war came about, sifting the calculations and miscalculations, the understandings and misunderstandings of all sides developed over decades of near chaos in the region.
Whigham provides a very good look at the several armies involved, has many excellent profiles of military and political leaders, and tells of some rattling good fights, often against great odds.
And immensely valuable contribution to the literature. --A.A. Nofi, CNO SSG, Newport.
Slavery and Rebellion in the Roman World, 140 B.C.-70 B.C.,by Keith R. Bradley. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1998. Pp. xvi, 186. Maps, append., notes, biblio., index. $14.95 paper. ISBN: 0-253-21169-7.
Originally published in 1989, this revised work takes a fresh, and comprehensive look the bout of slave rebellions that plagued the Roman world during the Late Republic. As the author points out, the three principal outbreaks (Sicily, c. 140-130 and 104 B.C., and the Spartacus Rebellion, 73-70 B.C.) were virtually unique in history for their scale and duration. But there’s more to this work than a mere rehashing of some well trodden ground, particularly in the case of Spartacus.
Prof. Bradley discusses not only the conditions of slave life that sparked these rebellions, but the numerous smaller outbreaks that seem to have been a persistent feature of life in the period. He also discusses why similar events did not recur after the defeat of the Spartacists. Perhaps most importantly, he makes an important contribution to the study of slavery in the Roman world by drawing upon the vast literature concerning slavery in more recent times, notably in Latin America, the United States, the Caribbean, and elsewhere, to suggest important parallels that have perhaps been overlooked.
There are some problems with Prof. Bradley’s treatment. A more detailed look at the "military" side of the rebellions might have been useful – for example, there is no mention of the fact that Spartacus’ army seems to have been armed and organized on Roman lines and employed Roman tactics, gladiatorial equipment and tactics being unsuited to genuine military operations. And he errs in saying that in terms of scale and duration, the only comparable slave insurrection in history was the Haitian Rebellion, thus overlooking the protracted and highly successful Zanj Rebellion in medieval Iraq.
--A.A. Nofi, CNO SSG, Newport.
NYMAS Lecture Series
Tentative Winter-Spring, 2003 Calendar *
Jan. 10 "The Bush Doctrine and the War on Terrorism and Iraq," James Dingman, NYMAS
Jan. 17 "Cornwallis and the Slaves of Virginia: A New Look at the Yorktown Campaign," Gregory Urwin, Temple University
Jan. 24 Screening and Discussion, We Were in it Too: American Jewish Women Veterans Remember World War II," Debora Duerksen, Filmmaker
Jan. 31 "Joseph Johnston and the Defense of Richmond," Steven W. Newton, Delaware State University
Feb. 7 "Eisenhower, Arms Control and the Cold War," Maj. Ben Greene, USMA
Feb. 14 "Draft Resistance during the Vietnam War: Confronting the War Machine," Michael S. Foley, College of Staten Island
Feb. 21 "War in the Arctic," Eugene Feit, NYMAS
Feb. 28 "Culture and the Great War," George Robb, William Paterson University
Mar. 7 "Encounter at the Triangular Field: the 124th New York and the 1st Texas, 2 July 1863," Maj. Charles Bowery, USMA
Mar. 14-15 NYMAS Spring Conference, "War Guilt" -- details to follow
Mar. 21 "Not Going Home Alone," Capt. James Kirschke, USMC (Ret.), Villanova
Mar. 28 "The British Army and the Conduct of the War of the Western Front," Ian Becket, Quantico
Apr. 4 "Swords into Plowshares into Swords: The Evolution and Failure of U.S. Intervention in Somalia, 1992-1994," Maj. Frank Sobchak, USMA
Apr. 11, "Maj. Gen. John Millikin's Role in the Relief of Bastogne: A Preliminary Assessment," Hal Winton, Air University
Apr. 18, "Gray and Black Radio Propaganda against Nazi Germany," Robert Rowen, NYMAS
Apr. 25, "Oiling the Gears of War with Blood: A Case Study of the American Individual Replacement System during World War II," Maj. Mike Runey, USMA
May 2, "War, Technology, and the Rise of the West, 1453-2003, Reconsidered," Jeremy Black, Executer University
May 9, "Between France and Germany: the Formation of Belgian Defense Policy, 1932," Jonathan Epstein, NYMAS
May 16 "What Wins Battles?" Don Bittner, USMC Command & Staff College
May 23 "The Evolution of French Strategy during the Battle of the Marne (1914), Col. Robert Doughty, USMA
May 30 "Bataan and its Aftermath," Maj. Richard Gordon, USA (Ret.)
Jun. 6 "Life Magazine and the Vietnam War," Carol Wilder, New School University Jun. 13 "The Japanese Occupation of the Dutch East Indies, Jan Krancher, Author
June 13 "The Japanese Occupation of the Dutch East Indies," Jan Krancher, Author
Jun. 20 "The Role of Women in the French Resistance," Rita Kramer, Author
Jun. 27 To be announced
Unless otherwise noted, talks are held on Friday evenings at the new CUNY Graduate Center, at 365 Fifth Avenue, between 34th and 35th Streets, from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Friday lectures are usually held in Room 6-495, but confirmation of the location should be obtained from the security desk at building entrance.
Talks are sponsored by NYMAS in conjunction with the CUNY Conference on History and Politics, Dr. George D. Schwab, Director. Support is also provided by the CUNY Military History and Defense affairs Symposium and the CUNY Veterans Affairs Office. NYMAS is associated with the Society for Military History (Region 2).
*Consult the NYMAS Website for additions and changes
Letters from the Fallen
Perhaps the most moving literature from a war that produced an unusual flood of notable writing, are letters from the troops who fought and died in the trenches between 1914 and 1918. In 2002 the University of Pennsylvania republished two collection of these letters. With forewords by Jay Winter, who attempts to put the letters into perspective for the twenty-first century reader, the two volumes are certain to be of considerable interest to students of the Great War.
War Letters of Fallen Englishmen, edited by Laurence Housman. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2002. Pp. xxx, 318. $15.95 paper. ISBN: 0-8122-1815-9
Originally published in 1930, War Letters of Fallen Englishmen, is precisely that, excerpts from the letters and diaries of British and Commonwealth personnel, mostly upper class, including a few women, who died in the First World War. The letters range from the idealistic to the cynical, and provide a broad spectrum of reactions to the reality of war.
German Students’ War Letters,edited by Phillipp Witkop. Translated by A.F. Wedd. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2002. Pp. xxxviii, 376. $15.95 paper. ISBN: 0-8122-1816-7.
German Students’ War Letters is rather different then War Letters of Fallen Englishmen. The first edition of this work was actually published during the war, with the object of demonstrating the devotion and idealism of the young men of Germany. It was followed by an expanded edition shortly after the war, and a much longer final edition in 1928, with 131 letters, from which this English edition of 95 letters was issued the following year. As with the English volume, the voices heard are largely upper and middle class, and well-educated. The translator, Ms. Annie F. Wedd, made her selection with an eye towards humanizing the erstwhile German enemy, so the perspective of this volume is far more idealistic than that of the English one, though the horror of war still emerges.
A Gentle Reminder:
Dues are Due.
NYMAS memberships run from September through August. A number of members are still in arrears. We will begin purging the mailing list shortly.
Reviews: The World Wars
Helmuth von Moltke and the Origins of the First World War,by Annika Mombauer. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002. Pp. xviii, 324. Illus., maps, notes, biblio., index. $55.00. ISBN: 0-521-79101-4.
The reputation of the "Younger" Moltke, Chief of the German General Staff at the outbreak of World War I, has been slowly reviving in scholarly circles. For decades, German nationalist historians – and foreign historians too careless to take a closer look – have blamed Moltke for "tampering" with Alfred von Schlieffen’s "perfect plan" for war against France. Although the first blows in Moltke’s defense were struck many years ago, notably in Gerhard Ritter’s important 1956 work, The Schlieffen Plan, Critique of a Myth, his reputation as a capable soldier has yet to be restored.
In the present volume, Annika Mombauer takes a long stride towards clearing the air. She points out that by the time Moltke replaced Schlieffen as head of the general staff, the latter had been physically unfit for service – even desk service – for many years, and had probably lost touch with the political and military realities of the times. Mombauer does a fairly good job of detailing Moltke’s strengths, and makes a good case that he was clearly the best choice that could be made for Chief of the Great General Staff given the "talent" available. Mombauer points out that he stood up to Kaiser Wilhelm, ending the farce long permitted by Schlieffen which required that the Emperor win the annual maneuvers, however inept his performance in the field might have been. Mombauer explains that Moltke did not merely "change" Schlieffen’s plan, but actually evolved a new, albeit similar plan. She also demonstrates that far from losing his head during the opening operations against the French, Moltke was perhaps the most clear-headed of any of the senior German commanders, being among the first to realize that the French were not beaten, but merely retreating in the days before the Battle of the Marne.
Mombauer could have done a better job of outlining the flaws in Schlieffen’s grand plan. For example, she does not clearly demonstrate that as written the plan included more troops than Germany actually could field, and she barely mentions the impact of the Italian alliance on the balance of forces in the west, given that Schlieffen assumed an entire Italian Army would be transported to Alsace, to anchor the German left, thus releasing forces to "keep the right wing strong." Moreover, she fails to give than a cursory look at Moltke’s "changes" in the plan, which actually increased the proportion of deployable troops on the German right.
A valuable contribution to the literature of the First World War. --A.A. Nofi, CNO SSG, Newport.
Quest for Decisive Victory: From Stalemate to Blitzkrieg in Europe, 1899-1940,by Robert M. Citino. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2002. Pp. xix, 372. Illus., maps, notes, biblio., index. $39.95. ISBN: 0-7006-1050-2
By examining the major wars from the end of the nineteenth century to World War II, the author is able to put what might be termed the fall and rise of the operational art. Citino examines the South African, the Russo-Japanese, First World War, the Russo-Polish War, the Chaco, Ethiopia, and the Spanish Civil War, some of which have been largely overlooked by most historians, as well as theoretical and experimental work done in the interwar period, and concludes with a look at the early part of World War II. He also makes occasional reference to some of the minor conflicts in the period, and even earlier ones, such as the Civil War, Franco-Prussian War, and Russo-Turkish Wars. He uses the evidence accumulated to derive lessons learned in a discussion of overall developments in the conduct of operations. However, it is perhaps in terms of the lessons "not learned" that his analysis is of particular value, notably so with regard to the Spanish Civil War, a most misunderstood conflict.
In keeping with recent trends in scholarship, Citino is less harsh on the Great War commanders than some, and comes down hard on the mendacity that characterized much of the later writings of J.F.C. Fuller, B.H. Liddell Hart, and Heinz Guderian, to demonstrate that the alleged "reactionaries" of the interwar period were not necessarily blind imbeciles. He also makes some surprising conclusions, such as that the Italian decision to go to a "binary" infantry division (i.e., with only two regiments), was not as foolish when proposed as it turned out in practice, based on certain assumptions as to how armies would fight. One might quibble about some conclusions; Citino misses the importance of railroads in the 1859 Lombardy War, is perhaps overly generous to Field Marshal Montgomery-Massingbird, and misses the point about the notion that "the bomber will always get through," which at the time it was said, was probably true.
Nevertheless, a very worthwhile read for anyone with an interest in the world wars or the evolution of the conduct of war in the twentieth century.
--A.A. Nofi, CNO SSG, Newport.
European Neutrals and Non-Belligerents during the Second World War,edited by Neville Wylie. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2002. Pp. xii, 368. Notes, index. $70.00. ISBN: 0-521-64358-9
Following a thoughtful introduction on the nature of neutrality and non-belligerence during World War II, are fourteen country-specific essays divided into three broad categories. "The ‘Phony War’ Neutrals" deals with those countries that truly wished to remain neutral but were dragged into the war by German invasion (Denmark, Norway, The Netherlands, and Belgium). "The ‘Wait and See’ Neutrals" covers the countries that held out until they could jump – or were dragged in – at the propitious moment (Italy, by former NYMAS President Brian Sullivan, Hungary, Romanian, Bulgaria, and Yugoslavia). The final section, "The ‘Long-Haul’ Neutrals" deals with those countries that managed – however great the pressures or temptation – to keep out of the war (Spain, Portugal, Ireland, Sweden, and Switzerland).
The essays are not all of even quality. While several are very incisive (e.g., all of the "Phony War" ones, as well as Italy and Hungary), a couple seem to reflect an ideological slant (e.g., Spain), and some (e.g., Switzerland and Sweden) are perhaps less critical than one might expect. The absence of Turkey from the volume is also a flaw.
A useful read for anyone interested in the diplomatic dynamics of the Second World War.
--A.A. Nofi, CNO SSG, Newport.
Facing Fearful Odds: The Siege of Wake Island,by Gregory J. W. Urwin. Lincoln, Neb.: University of Nebraska Press, 2002. Pp. xxvi, 727. Illus., maps, diagr., append., notes, biblio., index. $29.95 paper. ISBN: 0-8032-9562-6.
An extremely detailed, through treatment of the defense of Wake Island. The author, a professor of history at Temple, actually begins his account with a look at the role of Wake Island in building American morale in the dark days of defeat following Pearl Harbor. He then goes back literally ages, to set the stage for the events of December 1941. This permits a deep look at the evolution of American strategy in the Pacific, the unique difficulties of converting so barren an atoll as Wake into a base, and the men who became the backbone of the defense, the Marines of the 1st Defense Battalion and VMF-211, as well as the Navy, Army, and civilian personnel on the island at the outbreak of the war.
The actual defense of the island takes up a little less than half the volume, and is treated in considerable detail, with substantial attention paid to the Japanese side, within the limits of available documentation. There is a very thoughtful account of the abortive attempts to relieve Wake, providing the best analysis of this controversial episode that this reviewer has yet seen. A final chapter deals a concluding chapter on the fate of the men taken. An epilogue discusses post-war controversy between the Island’s Navy and Marine commanders.
Based on Extensive interviews with survivors, including several Japanese participants, Facing Fearful Odds is a valuable contribution to the literature of the Pacific War.
NYMAS Spring Conference
March 14-15, 2002
For details consult the NYMAS website.
Admission to the Conference is free. It will be at the CUNY Graduate Center, 365 Fifth Avenue, at 34th Streets, 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. The room will be available at the building entrance.
For further information, consult NYMAS at, http://.nymas.org.
Short Rounds: American Military History
Theodore Roosevelt, Jr.: The Life of a War Hero,by Paul Jeffers. Novato, Ca.: Presidio Press, 2002. Pp. vii, 282. Illus., maps, biblio., index. $27.95. ISBN: 0-89141-739-7.
"Ted" Roosevelt was a son worthy of but overshadowed by his presidential father. A soldier several times wounded who earned every decoration awarded for ground combat by the United States, an explorer, and a distinguished public official (for a time Assistant Secretary of the Navy as well as Governor of Puerto and the Philippines), he was also a politician of some accomplishment who didn’t quite make it into the presidential sweepstakes. Paul Jeffer’s book does an excellent job of following Ted’s career, and, not incidentally, that of his younger brothers, wife, and sister, not to mention a few miscellaneous offspring. And excellent and long overdo biography, limited only by its lack of formal documentation.
Sam Houston,"by James L. Haley. Norman, Ok: University of Oklahoma Press, 2001. Pp. xxii, 512. Illus., notes, biblio., index. $39.95. ISBN: 0-8061-3405-4.
Providing some excellent insights into the nature of America during the first half of the nineteenth century, Sam Houston is a very solid biography of one of the most complex characters in American history. While not neglecting Houston’s important The author usefully devotes about a quarter of his treatment to Houston’s life before he went to Texas. In addition, there nearly as much coverage devoted to the events after the annexation of Texas by the U.S., with a particularly good look at Houston’s later life, and his forlorn attempt to keep Texas from joining the Confederacy. An excellent book.
Shay’s Rebellion: The American Revolution’s Final Battle,by Leonard L. Richards. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania, 2001. Pp. x, 104. Illus., tables, maps, notes, biblio., index. $24.95. ISBN: 0-8122-3669-6.
Surprisingly, this volume seems to be the first ever comprehensive look at the 1786-1787 rebellion in rural far western Massachusetts, which can be seen as potentially far more threatening to the survival of the infant United States than has usually been portrayed. Richards begins with a short, clear narrative account of the "operational" side of the outbreak. Then he delves deeply into the social, economic, political, and even personal, roots of the insurrection, and its implications for the future of the United States, with a particular focus on how it helped further the creation of the Constitution of 1787. An important read for anyone interested in the formative years of the Republic and in American radicalism.
Generous Enemies: Patriots and Loyalists in Revolutionary New York,by Judith L. Van Buskirk. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2002. Pp. 258. Illus., maps, notes, biblio., index. $35.00. ISBN: 0-8122-3675-0.
An account of the Revolutionary War in and about New York City. The author provides a look into the often convoluted relationships between local Loyalists and Patriots, as the interacted with each other, the enormous numbers of British and American troops in the region (over 50,000 at times, both sides together), and the politics of family, social class, romance, and revolution, in the modest town that was already showing signs of becoming the "Big Apple." A really good book.
The NYMAS Fall Conference, "Celluloid Wars: American Feature Films and the Experience of War," held November 15-16, was a great success. Close to 60 people attended the Friday night round table, resulting in some very lively discussion. On Saturday, there was a healthy turn-out for the screening and discussion of A Walk in the Sun. The three scheduled speakers, Prof. Frank Wetta of Ocean County College, Lawrence Suid, author of Guts and Glory: The Making of the American Military Image in Film, and Martin Novelli, were joined by Andrew Melomet, a media reviewer, for a very lively and informative session.
On September 11, 2002, Boardmember Dr. Albert A. Nofi took part in a conference on "The Future of Warfare" at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, Quantico, Virginia, speaking on "Past Futures of War." He is currently working on a book about the U.S. Navy’s fleet problems between 1923 and 1940.
Boardmember Prof. Richard L. DiNardo addressed the CNO Strategic Studies Group, in Newport, R.I., on "Blitzkrieg: The RMA that Wasn’t" on November 14, 2002.
Member James F. Dunnigan’s most recent book, The Next War Zone: Confronting the Global Threat of Cyberterrorism, was published by The Citadel Press in October. On October 28th Mr. Dunnigan addressed the CNO Strategic Studies Group on "Dirty Little Military Secrets of the 21st Century."
Website of Interest
Bluejacket.com: A Sea Service History and Graphics Site
Bluejacket.comhas departments devoted to history, pictures, insignia, reunions, humor, and more, all on the theme of the sea services -- the Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard. An interesting, often amusing site for anyone with an interest in naval history.
Short Rounds: Ancient Warfare
Cavalry Operations in the Ancient Greek World,by Robert F. Baebel. Norman, Ok.: University of Oklahoma Press, 2002. Pp. xiv, 345. Illus., maps, plans, append., notes, biblio., index. $34.95. ISBN: 0-8061-3365-1.
A comprehensive survey of the use of cavalry by the Greeks. Although focused on the classical period of Greek culture, from the Persian Wars through Alexander, the book has excellent background on the use of the horse in warfare in earlier periods and in other cultures. There is a useful chapter discussing the Greek horse, and another on the influence of Greek – and notably Alexander’s cavalry – in the Hellenistic period, with occasional references to even later events, such as the American Civil War. Although worthwhile reading for anyone interested in military history, this book will particularly appeal to those with a concern for ancient warfare.
The Roman Art of the War,by C. M. Gilliver. Charleston: Tempus, 2001. Pp. 192. Illus., maps, diagr., tables, notes, append., biblio., index. $26.99 paper. ISBN: 0-7524-1939-0
A good general survey of the current state of understanding of the Roman Army. Focused on the period from the Hannibalic War through the mid-second century, the work not only draws upon the vast corpus of contemporary scholarship on the subject, but also takes a fresh look at some of the ancient sources, including a number not traditionally mined for information on Roman military practice. The illustrations, maps, and diagrams have been well chosen to further the points being made in the text. Of particular value to the novice, this work will be of use to anyone with an interest in Roman Army.
War and Society in the Ancient and Medieval Worlds: Asia, the Mediterranean, Europe, and Mesoamerica,edited by Kurt Raaflaub and Nathan Rosenstein. Cambridge, Ma.: Center for Hellenic Studies/Harvard University Press, 1999. Pp. viii, 484. Illus., maps, notes, biblio., index. $19.50 paper. ISBN: 0-6740-0659-3.
An introduction explaining the origins of the work, is followed by thirteen essays each dealing with the interrelationship between war and society in particular pre-modern civilization, from Ancient China through pre-Conquest Mesoamerica. All the essays are by noted scholars, such as Wayne Farris ("Japan to 1300"), Brian Campbell ("The Roman Empire") and Bernard Bachrach on ("Early Medieval Europe"). Although the essays naturally deal with the unique differences in the relationship between war and society in each of the cultures examined, they nevertheless also demonstrate some surprising commonalities that suggest what R. Brian Fergusson, in the antepenultimate essay, terms "A Paradigm for the Study of War and Society," a theme further developed in an "Epilogue" by Victor Davis Hanson and Barry S. Strauss. Valuable reading for those interested in any of the civilizations studied as well as for students of the history of warfare.
Trajan, Optimus Princeps, by Julian Bennett. Bloomington, Indiana University Press, 2001. Pp. xviii, 329. Illus., maps, append., notes, biblio., index. $24.95 paper. ISBN: 0-253-21435-1
More than a mere biography, Trajan is a "life and times," with considerable attention paid to the strategic and military structure of the Roman world. Trajan’s family background is covered in considerable depth, as well as his early career and his rise to the purple. Military matters are well treated, but the administrative side of the emperor’s life is by no means neglected. Of considerable interest is the author’s look at the image of Trajan down through the centuries, even discussing how his favorable "press" sparked considerable debate in early Medieval Christian circles as to the fate of his soul. The book is porously documented, with many readable notes and a valuable appendix.
The Roman-Judaeo War of 66-74 A.D.: A Military Analysis,by James Bloom. Rochester, N.Y.: SAGA Publications, 2002. Pp. 132. Illus., maps, diagr., append., biblio.
Drawing upon all of the available evidence, the author provides a thorough look at the background, forces, personalities, and events of the "Jewish Revolt," which led to the destruction of the Second Temple and the beginnings of the Jewish Diaspora. The treatment is critical, analytic, and quite readable. [May be ordered fromwww.saga-publishing.com.]
Ancient Siege Warfare,by Paul Bentley Kern. Bloomington: University of Indiana Press, 1999. Pp. 419. Illus., maps, notes, biblio., index. $35.00. ISBN: 0-253-33546-9.
A very detailed survey of the current state of knowledge of the art of the siege from the dimmest past through the later Roman Empire. There’s a lot here, and much of it is new, culled not only from recent work in archaeology and ancient history, but also from older, neglected work. The author makes a number of valuable conclusions, notably on how various techniques developed and spread, which often put events in an unusual perspective. An important book for those interested in ancient military history.
Stackpole Books’ Frontier Classics Series.
A new venture by Stackpole, The Frontier Classics Series makes available in relatively inexpensive editions a number of long out-of-print but very valuable works on the frontier that have often fetched enormous sums on the rare book market. Each volume is provided with an introduction by a scholar of some repute in the subject, who discusses the work and its author in some detail.
Some recent current offerings in the series are noted here.
Short Rounds: Naval History
The Nelson Encyclopedia: People, Places, Battles, Ships, Myths, Mistresses, Memorials, and Memorabilia,by Colin White. Mechanicsville, Pa.: Stackpole, 2002. Pp. 288. Illus., maps, append., chron., biblio., index. $39.95. ISBN: 0-8117-0013-5.
A profuously illustrated, extremely comprehensive handbook of Nelson history and lore. It would be difficult to list all the different types of entries which appear in this work. There are, of course, extensive entries dealing with Nelson and the people close to him or important in his life and career, including opposing commanders. But there are also often quite detailed entries on "minor" matters and persons, ranging from Cardinal Ruffo, who commanded the Neapolitan rebels in 1799, on the history of Bronte, the Sicilian fief which was granted to Nelson, and even entries on what might be termed "Nelson collectibles." The Nelson Encyclopedia is an indispensable resource for anyone with an interest in Nelson or the naval side of the Revolutionary and Napoleonic period.
The Royal Navy and the Capital Ship in the Interwar Period: An Operational Perspective, by Joseph Moretz. London: Frank Cass/Portland, Ore., International Specialized Book Services, 2002. Pp. xxi, 292. Illus., append., notes, biblio., index. $59.50. ISBN: 0-7146-5196-6.
A detailed look at the Royal Navy’s operational and tactical experience with battleships and battlecruisers between the world wars. By using a contemporary perspective, rather than a post-war "I told you so" viewpoint, the author demonstrates that the Royal Navy was surprisingly innovative, given the limitations a parsimonious Parliament and the RAF’s domination of naval aviation, to its on its disadvantage. An important book for anyone interested in the naval history of the twentieth century.
American Naval History: An Illustrated Chronology of the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps, 1775-Present, Third Edition. Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 2002. Pp. xiv, 386. Illus., maps, glossary, biblio., index. $$38.95 paper. ISBN: 1-55750-430-X.
The latest edition of what has become the standard handbook on the history of the Navy and Marine Corps adds material on developments since the 1991 version, corrects some minor errors, and has a good many new illustrations and maps. Very valuable for anyone interested in naval history.
The Naval War in the Mediterranean, 1940-1943,by Jack Greene and Alessandro Massignani. London: Chatham Publishing/Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 1998. Pp. 352. Illus., maps, diagr., tables, notes, biblio., index. $21.95 paper. ISBN: 1-86176-190-2.
A thorough operational account of naval activities in the Mediterranean. By drawing upon sources in many languages, the authors provide a fuller picture of the activities of the Italian Navy, which has long suffered from wartime British propaganda. The work has an enormous amount of detail, and the footnotes are particularly rich, A valuable read for anyone interested in the Second World War.
The Royal Marines, 1664 to the Present, by Richard Brooks. Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 2002. Pp. x, 240. Illus., map, append., glossary, notes, biblio., index. $34.95. ISBN: 1-55750-007-X.
A readable survey history with a strong focus on operations, rather than organization and doctrine, The Royal Marines is a worthwhile read for anyone interested in maritime history or marines.
Sea Life in Nelson’s Time, by John Masefield. Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 2002. Pp. 192. Illus., bibliographic append., index. $32.95. ISBN: 1-55750-012-6.
A reprint of Masefield’s pioneering 1905 work on the daily life of the British sailors and marines during the Napoleonic era. Although more recent works have dealt with the social history of the Royal Navy in far great depth than Masefield, this work nevertheless remains a valuable read for anyone with an interest in naval warfare.
Lost Subs: From theHunley to the Kursk, the Greatest Submarines Ever Lost – and Found, by Spencer Dunmore. New York: Da Capo, 2002. Pp. 178. Illus, maps, diagr., biblio., index. $35.00. ISBN: 0-306-81140-5.
A porously illustrated (photographs, paintings, drawings, and diagrams), and very engaging look at the history of submarines and submarine warfare, seen through the medium of boats lost, and then located, either to be salvaged and returned to service or to be preserved as relics. Although the two vessels mentioned in the title are certainly the most famous of these, the number of submarines included is long. The book has many valuable asides, such as the early history of submarines and the development of the technology of submarine rescue systems. A valuable book for anyone interested in undersea warfare or marine archaeology.
Unsung Sailors: The Naval Armed Guard in World War II,by Justin F. Gleichauf. Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 2002. Pp. xvi, 432. Illus., map, notes, biblio., index. $19.95 paper. ISBN: 1-55750-420-2.
An account of the more than 140,000 American sailors who served as "armed guards" aboard merchant ships in the Atlantic during World War II, of whom over 1,800 died in the defense of their ships. Although the author says Unsung Sailors is "not a history book," but a "highly personal story" of the young men who served in the Naval Armed Guard, it is in fact an excellent and valuable account of an obscure aspect of the Battle of the Atlantic.
Ships and Seamen of the American Revolution,by Jack Coggins. Mineola, N.Y.: Dover, 2002. Pp. 224. Illus, maps, diagr., tables, chron., biblio., index. $17.95 paper. ISBN: 0-486-42072-8.
Since its first appearance in 1969, the long out of print Ships and Seamen of the American Revolution is a valuable history and reference guide to the naval service, providing a look not only at the events of the maritime struggle during the Revolutionary War, but also at the seaman’s life, tactics, construction, and more.
Nelson’s Ships: A History of the Vessels in Which He Served, 1771-1805,by Peter Goodwin. Mechanicsburg, Pa.: Stackpole, 2002. Pp. 321. Illus, maps, plans, diagr., tables, notes, biblio., index. $39/95. ISBN: 0-8117-1007-6.
A staggeringly impressive, populously illustrated work providing extensive information on all 36 ships in which Nelson served, from merchantmen and bomb vessels to frigates and ships-of-the-line. For each ship, Goodwin, curator of HMS Victory, provides details on design and construction, including not only costs, dimensions, armament, and dates of construction, but also the amount and type of timber which went into her. There is also an often quite detailed history of each ship’s services, put in the context of the wars in which she served, information on refits, details on manning, a list of captains, and ultimate fate. The work is extensively documented, and likely to serve as a standard reference not only for Nelson’s ships, but for the Royal Navy as a whole. Highly recommended for anyone interested in the age of sail.
Fighting Sail on Lake Huron and Georgian Bay: The War of 1812 and its Aftermath,by Barry Gough. Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 2002. Pp. xxi, 215. Illus., maps, append., notes, biblio., index. $32.95. ISBN: 1-55750-314-1.
Although strategically operations on Lake Erie were of far greater importance (and arguably Lake Ontario, where weak commanders failed to conduct operation, was even more important than Lake Erie), Barry Gough’s book is a welcome addition to the literature on the War of 1812, which has been enjoying a revival of interest in recent years. Himself an amateur sailor in the very areas about which he writes, Gough – like many writers on the events of 1814-1814 a Canadian – provides an excellent account not only of operations on the water of the title, but also on the adjacent land masses. A good book, worth reading for anyone with an interest in the War of 1812.
Cochrane: Britannia’s Sea Wolf,by Donald Thomas. Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 2002. Pp. 383. Illus., maps, notes, biblio., index. $18.95 paper. ISBN: 1-55750-808-9.
Originally published in 1978, this is a very lively, thorough biography of Thomas Cochrane (1775-1860), rightly described by the author as having a life "more far-fetched then . . . Horatio Hornblower." The book takes a look at Cochrane’s family background, and then follows his career in the Royal Navy during the Napoleonic Wars, from which he was expelled in disgrace in 1814. It then traces his extraordinary experiences in the service of revolutionary regimes in South America and Greece, and then on to his restoration with honors to the Royal Navy, while dabbling in inventions (such as poison gas) and a taste for "radical" politics. Unlike many biographies, Cochrane does not end with its subject’s death, but provides a substantial analysis of the his character and personality, as well as an interesting look at the problems his heirs faced in trying to finalize his exoneration.
Jeremy Black on the Military History of the Western World, 1775-1975
Over the past few years the prolific Jeremy Black, has been producing a series of volumes that, taken together, constitute a survey of the military history of the western world. Among these are European Warfare, 1453-1815 (1999), European Warfare, 1815-2000 (2001), European Warfare, 1494-1660 (2002), and The Rise of the European Powers, 1697-1793 (2002), with War and the World: Military Power and the Fate of Continents, 1450-2000 (2002), neatly tying the story in with that of the military history of the rest of the planet.
The two most recent works in the series, which to some extent overlap some of the earlier volumes, are worthy of note.
Both volumes are essentially surveys of the basic trends in the military practice of the Western World from the late eighteenth through the late twentieth centuries. This is not to say that they are superficial. Indeed, despite the surprising absence of maps, the are often quite detailed. But the author is dealing with patterns, and the works might best be suited for use in a survey course on the history of modern warfare, as they have no real competition in the literature.
Each volumes deals, often in some detail, with the evolution of military policy, strategy, and tactics, as well as the impact of technology in its particular period of concern. They provide a good framework for an outline history of the major– and sometimes not so major – military events of the times, within their political, strategic, and sometimes even cultural framework.
Worth considering for use as supplementary texts in an introductory course in military history.
NYMAS Member Profile
One of the founding members of NYMAS, Al was for 30 years a teacher and administrator in experimental programs in the New York City public school system, and has taught at every level from 5th grade through graduate seminars. In the same period he was also an independent scholar and game designer, and is the author or editor of over 30 volumes in military history as well as the proverbial "slim volume of poetry," has written scores of articles, essays, and reviews, the designer or co-designer of over a dozen wargames, including The Hundred Years' War, running online atwww.hyw.com, and is a former sea cook.
A former assistant editor of Strategy & Tactics magazine, Al an associate editor of the 40-volume series War and Society in East Central Europe, 1740-1920, from Atlantic Research/Columbia University Press, and is currently an editor of the series Great Campaigns of Military History. Al contributes regular columns in military history to North & South and StrategyPage, is an Associate Fellow of the U.S. Civil War Center, at Louisiana State University, an occasional contributor to the History Channel.
Since 1999 employed by the Center for Naval Analyses, in Alexandria, Virginia, Al is currently the CNA Field Representative to the CNO’s Strategic Studies Group, in Newport, Rhode Island, where he helps invent the future.
Al holds a B.A. (1965) and M.A. (1967) in history from Fordham University, and an M. Phil (1985) and Ph.D. (1991) in military history from the City University of New York. He has a website under construction at www.nofi.nu.
Just for Fun
"What Do You Do With a Drunken Sailor?" Unexpurgated Sea Chanties,edited by Douglas Morgan. Pomfret, Ct.: Swordsmith Books, 2002. Pp. xii, 124. Illus. $9.95 paper. ISBN: 1-931013-09-8.
Over two dozen sea chanties, some of quite hoary vintage and others relatively new, with annotations that discuss not only their prurient content but also explains the different types of chanties, which varied depending upon the work to be done. In addition, the book provides a lot of explanation about the many technical references in the chanties to the details of seafaring life that are no longer common. An enjoyable read for anyone with an interest in the sea, though don’t leave it lying around where it might be found by the children.
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NYMAS is a tax exempt, not-for-profit membership corporation chartered under the laws of the State of New York. Donations are deductible from both Federal and New York State taxes. Membership dues are $35.00 a year, payable in September. Checks should be made out to "NYMAS" and mailed to the Bronxville address. Items for The Newsletter should be sent to Albert A. Nofi, Editor, NYMAS Newsletter, 66 Girard Ave (#321), Newport, R.I., 02840, or via email to email@example.com.
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