5 New Military History Books Worth Reading

The Long March

Yesterday the New York Times Book Review ran my new survey of books about military history. Here are some highlights:


  • Nathaniel Philbrick argues in The Hurricane’s Eye that by 1781, the Americans had lost the War for Independence and that we were bailed out by French guns, funds, ships and troops.
  • In Learning War, Trent Hone tells the interesting tale of how the U.S. Navy invented the combat information center, starting in late 1942. My verdict: “Hone’s history is good as it goes, but it would have been better had he also addressed the Navy’s clear failures of the time.”

  • African American Officers in Liberia, a history of the U.S. Army’s forgotten deployment there in the early 20th century “is instructive in the multiple hazards and difficulties of foreign training missions.” 
  • The Viking Wars reminded me of that BBC comedy series “The Detectorists.” I liked it.
  • I was surprised at how much I liked After Combat, a composite oral history of the experience of American soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. The approach worked. Also, I’d never heard of “mortar bingo,” in which soldiers which bet on what grid in their base would next be hit by a shell.

And much, much more!

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Known for acting on impulse, President Donald Trump has adopted an uncharacteristically go-slow approach to whether to hold Iran responsible for attacks on Saudi oil facilities, showing little enthusiasm for confrontation as he seeks re-election next year.

After state-owned Saudi Aramco's plants were struck on Saturday, Trump didn't wait long to fire off a tweet that the United States was "locked and loaded" to respond, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo blamed Iran.

But four days later, Trump has no timetable for action. Instead, he wants to wait and see the results of investigations into what happened and is sending Pompeo to consult counterparts in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates this week.

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That sound you're hearing is Army senior leaders exhaling a sigh of relief, because the Army has surpassed its recruiting goal for the year.

After failing to meet recruiting goals in 2018, the Army put the pedal to the metal and "did some soul searching," said Acting Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy, to ensure that they'd meet their 2019 goal. It must have paid off — the service announced on Tuesday that more than 68,000 recruits have signed on as active-duty soldiers, and more soldiers have stuck around than they expected.

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Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein transformed into the Cigarette Smoking Man from "The X-Files" on Tuesday when explaining why UFO enthusiasts should avoid storming the mythical Area 51 installation in Nevada.

"All joking aside, we're taking it very seriously," Goldfein told reporters during the Air Force Association's annual Air, Space, and Cyber Conference. "Our nation has secrets, and those secrets deserve to be protected. The people deserve to have our nation's secrets protected."

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Paul Szoldra/Task & Purpose

SAN DIEGO — A San Diego-based Navy SEAL acquitted of murder in a closely watched war crimes trial this summer has filed a lawsuit against two of his former attorneys and a military legal defense nonprofit, according to a complaint filed in federal court in Texas on Friday.

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NATIONAL HARBOR, Maryland — The Air Force is reviewing whether some airmen's valor awards deserve to be upgraded to the Medal of Honor, Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein said on Tuesday.

Goldfein revealed that several airmen are being considered for the nation's highest military award during a press conference at the Air Force Association's annual Air, Space, and Cyber Conference. He declined to say exactly who could receive the Medal of Honor, pending the outcome of the review process.

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