SWJ Blog – The Generals… Readable but Flawed?
In his groundbreaking 1976 book The Face of Battle, eminent historian John Keegan argued that the history of battle should focus on more than the generals and their decisions.
Keegan had grown weary of military histories explaining the outcome of battles and wars singularly on what generals decided. Instead, Keegan emphasized the complexity of battle, its chaos, and most importantly the role contingent factors played in the outcome of battles and wars.
Keegan’s book helped popularize what would become known as the “new military history” that sought to explain and understand warfare not solely through the eyes of the general, but from myriad other military, social, cultural, and political factors.
Tom Ricks’s new book The Generals regresses from Keegan and takes us back to a less complicated form of military storytelling in which wars’ outcomes were determined solely by the performance of army commanders.
A few months ago I learned that best selling author, Alex Kershaw, was about to publish a new book about World War II. Alex, had already gained a reputation for his accurate portrayal of war in three earlier best selling books. When his latest, The Liberator arrived, it immediately went to the top of my growing must read pile. where within a fortnight; I settled down to read about one man’s 511 day and 2000 mile journey across the blood stained surface of Nazi held Europe. The story is more than one mans journey, but describes in moving detail, the men of the 3rd Battalion, 157th Regt. of the 45th Infantry Division, who fought from the beaches of Sicily, on to Salerno, and Anzio, then into the belly of Vichy France and into the deadly forests of Vosges; and finally ending inside the hell of Dachau, where to a man, they reached their breaking point.
The Glittering Eye – How Not to Negotiate
….My understanding is that the president’s proposals rest on three legs:
- Raise taxes on the highest income earners while leaving the remainder of the “Bush tax cuts” intact.
- Leave Social Security and Medicare alone.
- Make raising the debt ceiling automatic.
I wasn’t entirely surprised at Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s reaction (he broke out laughing). My immediate reaction was that the president had opened with the insult price.
Milpub (Seydlitz89) –Fall 1942 – The Turning Point of the War in Europe
….One gets the impression that the Russian Front was not seen as a single theater, but rather as five separate fronts: Finland, Army Group North facing Leningrad, Army Group Center facing Moscow, Army Group B at Stalingrad, and Army Group A in the Caucasus. Thus each individual front competed individually with those in the West and keeping Italy in the war was Hitler’s priority towards the end of 1942. This possible perspective regards only the operational decisions, not those involving logistics, production, genocides, and other matters that Hitler reserved for himself. That the situation with Army Group B was dangerous was recognized relatively early on with the 20 November order to establish Army Group Don from the staff of the 11th Army under the command of Field Marshall von Manstein to take command of Army Group B and other forces coming in. This headquarters was to be tasked with reestablishing the front on the Don/Volga. This distinction is important, it was not first to reestablish contact with Stalingrad, but to re-establish the front as it had existed prior to the Soviet offensive, it was assumed that those forces in Stalingrad would remain in place. A withdrawal from Stalingrad and the Volga was never seriously considered until it was too late. Manstein and his staff were at Vitebsk and due to the weather and rail conditions were unable to arrive in theater until 24 November.
….Whaley had written specialized studies of deception for the Central Intelligence Agency (later declassified and published as Codeword Barbarossa and Stratagem: Deception and Surprise in War) as well as books on magic (Encyclopedic Dictionary of Magic, Who’s Who In Magic). Bell was a painter and art critic who’d started writing about terrorism during the 1960s, especially as practiced by the Provisional Irish Republican Army. Whaley and Bell had direct experience of fields where deception was the coin of the realm. They’d picked up more experience during their fruitless efforts to get academia and government to properly study deception.
As a side-effect of their experience as well as their target audience, Cheating and Deception discusses many of the manifestations deception can take on in everyday life. It includes specific explorations of the role of deception in magic, warfare, gambling, sports, business, science, and art. True to the spirit of their topic, Whaley and Bell even manage to sneak their more scholarly theory of deception into Chapter 2.
They claim their theory is the only general theory of deception ever devised.
Gene Expression –TreeMix: Who were the West Eurasian ancestors of Ethiopians?
Lions of Judah?
Thomas P.M. Barnett- Lesson in eBook marketing
The Agonist (Kattenburg)-Writerly Reads
New York Times Review of Books – The Jihadis of Yemen
The Wilson Quarterly –Bloody New World
Scientific American– Why Is it Impossible to Stop Thinking, to Render the Mind a Complete Blank?