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!

GENEVA/DUBAI (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump said he was prepared to take military action to stop Tehran from getting a nuclear bomb but left open whether he would back the use of force to protect Gulf oil supplies that Washington fears may be under threat by Iran.

Worries about a confrontation between Iran and the United States have mounted since attacks last week on two oil tankers near the strategic Strait of Hormuz shipping lane at the entrance to the Gulf. Washington blamed long-time foe Iran for the incidents.

Tehran denies responsibility but the attacks, and similar ones in May, have further soured relations that have plummeted since Trump pulled the United States out of a landmark international nuclear deal with Iran in May 2018.

Trump has restored and extended U.S. economic sanctions on Iran. That has forced countries around the world to boycott Iranian oil or face sanctions of their own.

But in an interview with Time magazine, Trump, striking a different tone from some Republican lawmakers who have urged a military approach to Iran, said last week's tanker attacks in the Gulf of Oman had only a "very minor" impact so far.

Asked if he would consider military action to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons or to ensure the free flow of oil through the Gulf, Trump said: "I would certainly go over nuclear weapons and I would keep the other a question mark."

Read More Show Less
(Lockheed Martin photo)

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz said Tuesday he is appalled by a state DFL Party staff member's tweet referring to the recently-launched USS Minneapolis-Saint Paul as a "murder boat."

"Certainly, the disrespect shown is beyond the pale," said Walz, who served in the Army National Guard.

William Davis, who has been the DFL Party's research director and deputy communications director, made the controversial comment in response to a tweet about the launch of a new Navy combat ship in Wisconsin: "But actually, I think it's gross they're using the name of our fine cities for a murder boat," Davis wrote on Twitter over the weekend.

Read More Show Less
(U.S. Air Force/TSgt. Dana Flamer)

TAMPA — Minutes before the Acting Secretary of Defense withdrew Tuesday from his confirmation process, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke at MacDill Air Force Base about the need to coordinate "diplomatic and defense efforts'' to address rising tensions with Iran.

Pompeo, who arrived in Tampa on Monday, met with Marine Gen. Kenneth McKenzie Jr. and Army Gen. Richard Clarke, commanders of U.S. Central Command and U.S. Special Operations Command respectively, to align the Government's efforts in the Middle East, according to Central Command.

Read More Show Less
Paul Szoldra/Task & Purpose

NAVAL BASE SAN DIEGO — The trial of Navy SEAL Chief Eddie Gallagher officially kicked off on Tuesday with the completion of jury selection, opening statements, and witness testimony indicating that drinking alcohol on the front lines of Mosul, Iraq in 2017 seemed to be a common occurrence for members of SEAL Team 7 Alpha Platoon.

Government prosecutors characterized Gallagher as a knife-wielding murderer who not only killed a wounded ISIS fighter but shot indiscriminately at innocent civilians, while the defense argued that those allegations were falsehoods spread by Gallagher's angry subordinates, with attorney Tim Parlatore telling the jury that "this trial is not about murder. It's about mutiny."

Read More Show Less

President Donald Trump announced on Tuesday that Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan will "not to go forward with his confirmation process."

Trump said that Army Secretary Mark Esper will now serve as acting defense secretary.

Read More Show Less