Book Reviews

From Parameters, Winter 2003-04, pp. 149-78.

Reconstructing Eden: A Comprehensive Plan for the Post-War Political and Economic Development of Iraq. By Thomas E. White, Robert C. Kelly, John M. Cape, and Denise Youngblood Coleman. Houston, Tex.: CountryWatch, 2003. 380 pages. $29.95. Reviewed by Jeffrey Record, former professional staff member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and author of Dark Victory, America’s Second War Against Iraq (forthcoming).

That the Bush Administration, and more specifically the civilian leadership of the Pentagon, made faulty assumptions about postwar Iraq and failed to plan properly for Iraq’s reconstruction are no longer matters of opinion.

The “liberation” scenario peddled by the Defense Department’s neoconservative naifs before the war assumed swift and clean decapitation of the Ba’athist leadership, inheritance of functioning government ministries and police forces, rapidly restorable oil production and electric power, and a perpetually grateful Iraqi people all yearning to be Madisonians. It seems never to have occurred to the “neocons” that Operation Iraqi Freedom might morph into open-ended counterinsurgency warfare and even end up transforming Iraq into a new Mecca for every Islamist jihadist seeking to spill American blood. It certainly never occurred to them that ground force levels sufficient to overthrow Saddam Hussein (apparently still alive and as defiant as ever) would be insufficient to control Iraq after major combat operations ceased. (MacArthur entered Japan in 1945 with 500,000 troops and the authority of the Emperor behind him; during the subsequent seven years of US military rule, there was not a single act of politically motivated violence against American occupation forces.)

In Reconstructing Eden, former Secretary of the Army Thomas White, assisted by three coauthors from CountryWatch, Inc., which provides strategic overviews and macroeconomic forecasts on each of the world’s 192 countries, offers a comprehensive, step-by-step, and often imaginative plan for transforming Iraq into a prosperous democracy. The book’s starting point is that “the United States’ advantage on the battlefield does not necessarily extend to nation-building,” and that the situation in Iraq “threatens to turn what was a major military victory into a potential humanitarian, political, and economic disaster.”

Though too much of the book is devoted to a recitation of Iraq’s history and the diplomatic run-up to the war, White et al. have a clear and consistent vision of Iraq’s future and how to get from here to there. They would restore Iraq’s economy via reconstruction and expansion of its oil sector (including pulling the country out of OPEC in order to maximize Iraqi production); create an Iraqi National Oil Company with shares equally distributed to every Iraqi citizen; repudiate much of Iraq’s crushing debt; and form a federal government that would permit considerable local and sectarian autonomy. They would also guarantee Iraq’s future security by essentially converting the country into a US military protectorate; US bases and


forces would be retained in Iraq, and an Iraqi army dependent on US training and equipment would be created.

One can take issue with some of the particulars of the plan, especially the retention of a US garrison in Iraq. But Reconstructing Eden, like a pre-war US Army War College study (Conrad C. Crane and W. Andrew Terrill, Reconstructing Iraq: Insights, Challenges, and Missions for Military Forces in a Post-Conflict Scenario, February 2003), underscores the presence in the United States of enormous expertise on both Iraq and nation-building. Why was this expertise not tapped early on and in depth by the civilians at the Pentagon who were pushing for war? Because they were charmed by the self-serving claims of ambitious Iraqi exiles in the United States? Because the liberation scenario seemingly precluded the need for any comprehensive planning for postwar Iraq? Because of a conviction that the US armed services “don’t do windows”?

Certainly in retrospect, designating the Defense Department to be the lead agency in postwar Iraq appears to have been a serious mistake. The State Department started earlier and spent a lot more time and energy on planning, anticipating many of the very problems the United States has encountered in postwar Iraq that have caught the Pentagon so off guard. But the State Department was ignored—yet one more piece of evidence of the growing militarization of US foreign policy.

Unfortunately, neither White’s plan nor any other reconstruction plan has much hope of enduring success in the absence of military security and the provision of such basic public services as electricity, potable water, and police protection. Power and drinking water are slowly being restored, but security remains dangerously problematic. In a country of easy access to vast quantities of military small arms and ammunition, the combination of exploding crime, rapidly forming sectarian militias, and growing irregular warfare directed against Americans, collaborating Iraqis, economic infrastructure, and United Nations personnel brings to mind Lebanon of the early 1980s, from which US forces were humiliatingly driven. (To be sure, US interests and force strength in Iraq are far greater than they ever were in Lebanon.)

Even if security were not a problem in Iraq, however, White’s plan would stand no chance of official adoption. As Secretary of the Army, White managed to get on the wrong side of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, who subsequently forced White out of office.

Reconstructing Eden is an informative and worthwhile addition to the burgeoning literature on America’s challenges in postwar Iraq.

The Future of Freedom: Illiberal Democracy at Home and Abroad. By Fareed Zakaria. New York: W. W. Norton, 2003. 286 pages. $24.95. Reviewed by Joseph R. Cerami, Bush School of Government and Public Service, Texas A&M University.

Fareed Zakaria is an important and usually critical observer of the current Administration’s foreign policy. As editor of Newsweek International and former editor of the prestigious journal Foreign Affairs, he has a privileged vantage point on the writings of journalists and scholars. As a regular member of the roundtable on


the Sunday ABC News show This Week, he provides an internationalist counterpoint to the more nationalistic commentary of George Will. In short, Zakaria’s ideas and insights matter.

In The Future of Freedom, Zakaria provides a whirlwind and world-wide tour of political history and theory. His broad sweep reaches back to the classical Greeks and Romans and examines current politics in Russia, China, and the Arab world; it even extends to California politics, which he cites as a US case of democracy being too much of a good thing. The book’s opening chapter provides his overall critique of the enthusiastic post-Cold War commentaries on the emergence of a new democratic wave. Instead of the initial promises of peace dividends and a world order based on democratic self-government, Zakaria points out the trend toward what he terms the dark side of this period of democratic transformation. While democratic in name, many of the political forces let loose provide more chaos than freedom or democracy.

Zakaria’s purpose is to educate the reader on the broad history of democratic theory. He calls for a new balance in thinking about democracy. Zakaria’s view is that democracy, as power-down populism, has gone too far in its political, economic, and even cultural manifestations. He argues for a return to “self control” and balanced thinking with respect to the concepts of democracy and liberty and their practical applications for governing. The book’s main purpose is to draw attention to the history of “illiberal” or constitutional liberalism—that is, political systems that balance individual liberty and freedom with illiberal, representative governing institutions. In addition to free and fair elections, illiberal governing includes the rule of law and separation of powers, as well as the basic liberal freedoms of speech, religion, assembly, and property. In short, Zakaria provides a civics lesson for his readers in the context of current events and current challenges for governing institutions in all reaches of the globe.

The author goes beyond abstract political philosophy. He is not above tongue-in-cheek advice to Chinese leaders to read Marx and realize the inevitable clash coming between the forces of capitalism and communism. He provides an especially blunt account of government corruption in his native India, referred to ironically as the world’s largest democracy (no model there). He notes the conflicts in so-called “moderate” Arab states, such as Egypt, where autocrats rule with a heavy hand while claiming to offer a better model than the alternatives. His chapter on the “Islamic Exception” notes the failures of Muslim theocratic governing institutions and movements in light of the forces of economic and technological globalization. Zakaria writes of the lure of Islamic fundamentalism, especially in important US regional allies such as Pakistan and Turkey, as well as in Iran, but judges that they do not provide workable alternatives for governing in the modern era. It is doubtful that the Bin Ladens of the world will read Zakaria’s book or take his very Western ideas to heart. Deep questions remain as to the appropriate diplomatic tools needed to inform and convince the Muslim world of the benefits of democratic governance.

At the end of the book, in the Notes section, Zakaria points out that “this is not a work of historical scholarship.” Instead, the author intends the book as a “contribution to the debate,” of value for “its ideas and argument.” Fair enough. Most interna-


tional political analysts know that without legitimate governing institutions, either democratic or autocratic, chaos is the order of the day. More scholars should build on Zakaria’s ideas to develop a deep understanding of the conditions necessary for transitioning from the current flawed state of affairs to democratic government-building, if not nation-building. One hopes the ongoing lessons in the important work of creating governing institutions in current hot spots will be forthcoming from the pens of statesman, soldiers, and scholars alike. In the meantime, as soldiers continue to lay their lives on the line in the either “democratizing” or “ungovernable” states of Iraq, Afghanistan, Bosnia, Kosovo, and Liberia, the intellectual community, from history and all the social sciences, should be encouraged to focus its guns on what Alexander George refers to as generic knowledge—that is, political theory for policymakers. What are the scholars’ practical insights for the great debate on how to proceed in building viable, legitimate governments, especially in states without democratic traditions? In the many centuries of human experience with democratic theory and government, what are the relevant insights for bridging the gap between theory and practice in establishing democratic forms of governance in a wide variety of cultural settings?

Fareed Zakaria’s rising status—he is perhaps even in contention to become the Walter Lippmann of his generation (in competition with the likes of Thomas Friedman, Francis Fukuyama, and the many disciples of Samuel Huntington)—deserves notice in the defense intellectual community. Military leaders at all stages of the professional education experience, and especially at the senior service college level, should be exposed to the ideas and arguments of international scholars such as Zakaria. Military relationships with serious opinion leaders are essential for the mutual educational processes for both groups. The Future of Freedom is a significant book that provides a sound foundation for balanced political thinking. Both the book and its author deserve our attention as strategic theorists, practitioners, and leaders continue to wrestle with the thorny issues of governance in this age of globalization and terrorism and, let us hope, an age of democracy as well.

Defense’s Nuclear Agency, 1947-1997. Defense Threat Reduction Agency, US Department of Defense. Washington: Defense Threat Reduction Agency, 2002. 458 pages. Reviewed by George H. Quester, Professor of Government and Politics, University of Maryland, author of Nuclear Monopoly.

This book serves as an official history for 50 years of a series of organizations charged with handling nuclear weapons for the US military, but it amounts to considerably more, and it will be essential reading for anyone working on the role of such weapons since World War II.

Commencing with the 1946 passage of the McMahon Act, which wrapped up the Manhattan Project and the Manhattan Engineering District to establish a civilian Atomic Energy Commission, the history covers the Armed Forces Special Weapons Project from 1947 to 1959, the Defense Atomic Support Agency from 1959 to 1971, the Defense Nuclear Agency from 1971 to 1996, and the Defense Special Weapons Agency from 1996 to 1998, which became a component of the De-


fense Threat Reduction Agency in 1998. As with other such official histories, the book is replete with organizational charts and photographs of commanding officers. But it also gives a tremendous amount of detail on the ups and downs of the nuclear arsenal upon which so much has depended, ever since Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and it offers descriptions and critical judgments of the personalities involved, the bureaucratic contests that played an important role decade after decade, and the mid-level policy choices that were made.

The viewpoint of the descriptions and critical analyses offered is pitched, very appropriately, at the level of the particular niche being described—i.e., the military structures charged with being ready to take control of the nuclear weapons that were held under “civilian custody” for the first five years after World War II, and then were made more immediately available thereafter. The authors who assembled this history thus take mostly as a given the broad national choices made at higher levels about what threat was faced from the Soviet Union, before and after Stalin acquired his own atomic bomb in 1949, and then on through the Cold War, when for a time the Soviets had seemed not just to have undone the American nuclear monopoly, but to have surged into a sort of “nuclear superiority” of their own, in terms of numbers of missiles and sizes of thermonuclear warheads.

Rather than repeating the grand debates on whether it was appropriate or necessary to develop the H-bomb, or to worry about Soviet “bomber gaps” and “missile gaps,” or to rely on “extended nuclear deterrence” rather than “conventional deterrence” for the protection of Western Europe and South Korea, the book instead delves into the specific decisions made on weapons development and production, and on the choices made with regard to nuclear tests. Clearly laid out are the step-by-step improvements in the safety, weight, and yield of American nuclear weapons, and in their readiness for use. With regard to the nuclear test detonations, the book offers analyses of what each test was intended to achieve. Accounts of the evolution in bureaucratic structure are interspersed with descriptions of the developments in weapon size and reliability, and with discussions of the debates about civilian vs. military control, the Air Force vs. Navy role, and so forth, including valuable vignettes of the people involved. The personalities discussed include figures as well-known as General Leslie Groves and Atomic Energy Commission Chairman David Lilienthal, but also a great number of other key players.

It would be difficult to find another book that pulls together so much unclassified detail on the exact size and state of readiness of the US nuclear arsenal during its short-lived monopoly, and then on the step-by-step expansion and enhancement of this arsenal, set against the background of the assessments of national needs made at a more senior level. While the book officially spans the period forward from 1947, it presents a very useful analysis of the winding down of the Manhattan Project in 1945 and 1946, and of why so many key personnel left the project so quickly, with a resultant hollowing-out of the American “nuclear monopoly.”

The book is arranged chronologically and is extremely well-written, with the authors ready to offer judgments without coming across as tendentious or opinionated. Some readers will be most intrigued by the earliest portions, when nuclear weapons were new and only the United States possessed them (a very few of them),


with the book indeed noting some early American fears of what an adventurous Stalin might have undertaken as a preemptive attack against this arsenal and its keepers, and also outlining the bureaucratic and human-personality portions of the explanation for why the arsenal had been allowed to become so small. The latter portions of the book, covering when the nuclear arms race had matured to offer massive overkill for each side of the Cold War confrontation, is also terribly important, of course, and ably recounted, but may not have as much drama as the years from 1945 to 1949, or at least up to the “missile gap” at the end of the 1950s.

Perhaps because of the supreme importance of nuclear weapons, this is an official history that is far more gripping than most.

Diem’s Final Failure: Prelude to America’s War in Vietnam. By Philip E. Catton. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2002. 220 pages. $34.95. Reviewed by Colonel Stuart A. Herrington, USA Ret., author of Stalking the Vietcong: Inside Operation Phoenix, Peace with Honor: An American Reports on Vietnam: 1973-1975, and Traitors Among Us: Inside the Spy Catcher’s World.

Like many former soldiers with a few years of his life invested in Vietnam, I learned over the years to avoid most books about Vietnam. For years, the marketplace was inundated with “oral histories” that purported to tell it like it was in “Nam,” books that all too often showcased vivid and suspect war stories, contributed little to our understanding of the war, and reinforced mythology and prejudice. (One wonders how many five year-old Vietnamese children really handed a live grenade to an American soldier, or how much spit could really have been rained down on returning GIs in America’s airports.) At the other end of the spectrum are books authored by university professors whose purely academic credentials deny them the authenticity that comes from having helped make the history that goes between the covers. Add to the equation a book originally written as a graduate dissertation, and the prospects for a good read plummet.

This said, Philip E. Catton, an assistant professor of history at Stephen F. Austin State University, has made a fine contribution to the serious literature of the Vietnam War in Diem’s Final Failure: Prelude to America’s War in Vietnam.

The first clue that Catton’s work might be worth reading comes in the Preface and Acknowledgments, where the reader learns that the author made extensive use of Vietnamese documents, which he can read, that he traveled to Vietnam and conducted research in archives and libraries in Saigon, and that he interviewed Vietnamese sources. For years after the painful debacle of April 1975, the way Americans wrote about the war mirrored the way we tried to fight it. If linguistic-cultural barriers, historical ignorance, and a dose of arrogance kept us from really understanding our Vietnamese allies during the war, in the wake of our defeat we seemed equally incapable of including the Vietnamese perspective in the histories and memoirs we produced. By the early 1980s, Vietnam books were flooding the market, most of which paid scant attention to what the Vietnamese could have told us about the war that cost them their country. Not until ten years after the fall of Saigon did we see quality works that


offered readers the Vietnamese perspective. Jerrold L. Schecter and Nguyen Tien Hung’s The Palace File conveyed fascinating insights of the South Vietnamese perspective during the final years, while author David Chanoff’s three remarkable works, Portrait of the Enemy, A Vietcong Memoir, and The Vietnamese Gulag, enabled readers to see the war through the prisms of the former enemy.

Author Catton has taken an important step by including among his sources Vietnamese documents and interviews with Vietnamese actors, some of whom made the history he writes about. Catton makes clear in his Introduction that, in the words of Vietnamese author Huynh Kim Khanh, the time has passed when histories of the Vietnam War should treat the Vietnamese as “passive bystanders in a historical process engineered elsewhere.” Plumbing the archives, Catton has unearthed primary documents from both Vietnamese sides of the conflict and availed himself extensively of extant oral history testimonies of key American players. Catton’s focus is the period between the defeat and withdrawal of the French, when Ngo Dinh Diem, an idealistic, exiled anti-communist and nationalist politician, returned to his country to assume the reins of political power.

A common treatment of the Diem era, which ended tragically with the assassination of President Diem and his brother, Ngo Dinh Nhu, scant weeks before Lee Harvey Oswald ended the life of President John F. Kennedy, is to treat Diem as a naïve, out-of-touch, Catholic bureaucrat, ensnared between Washington and Hanoi, whose regime was marked by various ill-advised schemes to counter the communist insurgency, the most infamous of which was the strategic hamlet program. Diem is characterized as distant, difficult for his American contacts to read, afraid of his own military, insensitive to Vietnam’s Buddhist majority, and handicapped by the heavy-handed advice and machinations of his brother and his femme fatale sister-in-law, the infamous Madame Nhu. Diem’s burdens, the story goes, made him incapable of mobilizing his nation to fight the burgeoning insurgency masterminded by Hanoi, and resulted in the Kennedy Administration’s decision to abandon him to the fate of a military coup in 1963.

Professor Catton’s take on Diem is, not surprisingly, somewhat different. While acknowledging Diem’s ineffective leadership style, and without claiming that Diem could have succeeded in stemming the tide of the communist onslaught, Catton puts forth a persuasive case that the Americans simply did not understand Diem, whom he characterizes as a nationalist with a firm determination to ward off Hanoi’s aggression with a Vietnamese solution. Diem, Catton points out, believed that to defeat the insurgency, he would have to modernize Vietnam. While recognizing intellectually that American assistance was vital, Diem knew that a greater American role intruded on Vietnamese sovereignty and exposed him to the communist charge that he was a puppet of Washington.

In 1980, as I was completing my first book on the Vietnam insurgency, I had lunch with retired Brigadier General Edward Lansdale. Lansdale, a legendary character in the Vietnamese drama, and a former close confidant of Diem, told me with some bitterness that Washington had “never understood Diem,” and that the 1963 assassination of Diem and his brother was the beginning of the end for South Vietnam. At the time, I didn’t grasp the full meaning of Lansdale’s lament. Professor


Catton’s work sheds light on the Diem era, and, one suspects, would have Lansdale nodding in agreement as Catton describes how Diem and various senior American functionaries could talk past one another. Diem’s stubborn insistence that the Vietnamese had to fashion a Vietnamese solution to the communist threat might have made more sense to US Ambassador Lodge, for example, were Hanoi not being lavishly armed and supported by both Moscow and Beijing, and if Diem’s poorly trained and equipped forces were not suffering repeated defeats each time they engaged the increasingly bolder communist units in 1963.

Professor Catton’s portrait of Diem, one senses, is probably far closer to the truth than other treatments of the same subject. As Americans, however pure our motives, we tend not to excel when we must function in distant places, among people whose language, history, and culture we know little of. One is reminded of Hanoi’s 1972 Easter Offensive, after fallen North Vietnamese army (NVA) tankers were found chained inside their T-54s. Many Americans quickly crowed that Hanoi was in deep trouble if NVA commanders had to resort to chains to get their tank crews to fight. (Reality was that high-spirited NVA tankers chained themselves to their tanks to show their determination to fight to the death.) In reminding readers of our tendency not to understand the forces at work in situations like Vietnam, Professor Catton has served up a lesson that is most relevant to the times, as American forces and administrators struggle mightily to exploit military success in tribal environments like Afghanistan and Iraq.

The African Stakes of the Congo War. Edited by John F. Clark. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2002. 249 pages. $55.00. Reviewed by Dr. Dan Henk, Associate Professor of Leadership and Ethics, Air War College.

As this review is written, the civil war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo—one of the most complex and bloody conflicts in recent African history— appears to be edging slowly to an end. The conflict has roots in a sordid colonial legacy and the unresolved regional baggage of the Cold War. But it also reflects pathologies of instability and insecurity attributable more to contemporary African actors than to European villains of the past. In fact, so many diverse individuals and groups have been involved in the conflict that it is difficult for the casual observer to make sense of it all.

Clark’s book is an effort to explain the Congo conflict, with emphasis (in Clark’s own words) on “the motivations and strategies of the many actors” and on “the consequences of the war for ordinary citizens, regimes, and states.” The book itself is a collection of essays, most of which were first aired in a conference in Kampala, Uganda, in July 2000. Its origins give the work a unique strength and some unfortunate weaknesses. But one clear intention of the author was to offer a product as appealing to the interested layman as to the scholar, and in this he largely succeeds. This is a significant contribution to the literature of conflict in contemporary Africa and fills a role not currently duplicated by any other work.

The book starts with an examination of the regional and national context, beginning with an excellent treatment (by the eminent Africanist Crawford Young) of the


evolution of the African security environment over the past three decades. There is then a chapter describing the Congolese regimes of Laurent and Joseph Kabila. This is followed by discussions of the motivations and actions of selected actors in one of three categories: those that have supported the Kabila regimes (Angola and Zimbabwe), those that have opposed the Kabila regimes (internal oppositionists, Rwanda, and Uganda), and those that are interested but ambivalent (South Africa). The book concludes with several issues relevant to the conflict: regional arms proliferation, the regional economic impact, and the Central African refugee crisis.

One of the commendable attributes of the book is the diversity of its contributors. These include 12 scholars from the United States, United Kingdom, and Africa, ranging from well-known and widely published Africanists to relatively younger, lesser-known scholars. Clark does a good job of blending the differing perspectives and academic traditions, and their inclusion gives the work an authenticity that would be hard for a single author to achieve.

There are, however, some downsides to the diversity in this work. One is that it may not go far enough. There is a surprising absence of contributors from Congo itself, despite a distinguished intellectual tradition. True enough, the issues of travel to and from Congo and the prospect of conducting the initial conference in both French and English may have been daunting. But a number of outstanding Congolese scholars (like Dibwe dia Mwembo at the University of Lubumbashi) could have provided insider perspectives about the Congo conflict unavailable to other conferees. Likewise, the range of disciplines represented in the book seems a bit narrow, heavily anchored as it is in political science and international relations. This focus detracts somewhat from the ability to understand the individual human actors who actually make decisions and the networks of elite insiders who implement them. It would have been useful to offer psychological profiling of key African decisionmakers involved in the Congo conflict. By the same token, it would have been useful to offer an anthropological or sociological examination of competing groups within the Congo and of the evolution of Congolese civil society under the pressures of war. In other words, Clark does a good job of dealing with the ramifications of the conflict for regimes and states, but relatively less so for the individuals and small groups involved.

The diversity of the contributors also is reflected in some variance in analytical quality. The large number of authors means that there are differences in the style and rigor of the component chapters. For instance, Turner’s analysis of the Angolan intervention in the Congo conflict is more comprehensive and evenhanded than Rupiya’s analysis of the Zimbabwean intervention. (In all fairness, Rupiya’s paper may have pulled some punches because the author lives and works in Zimbabwe and faces the threat of retribution for any real or apparent criticism of a coercive regime.) But despite the variance in quality, each author makes a useful contribution and the sum of the whole is impressive.

Although Clark cannot be faulted for failing to anticipate the future, the book obviously does not cover significant events that transpired in Central Africa in 2002, so it already is a bit out of date. The first tentative steps to Congolese national reconciliation have occurred and may prove successful. It now is possible to visualize a regional peace with more confidence than was true at the time of the Kampala


conference in 2000. With that in mind, it would have been useful to include a chapter that explored steps that external actors (including the Western powers and the international organizations) should take—or should avoid—to facilitate peace and stability in Central Africa.

These criticisms aside, John F. Clark has provided a very readable and incisive treatment of the Congo conflict. His book should find a ready audience among Africanists and others interested in the ambiguous conflicts likely to characterize the 21st century.

Disjointed War: Military Operations in Kosovo, 1999. By Bruce R. Nardulli, Walter L. Perry, Bruce Pirnie, John Gordon IV, and John G. McGinn. Santa Monica, Calif.: RAND, 2002. 147 pages. $20.00. Reviewed by Ryan C. Hendrickson, Assistant Professor of Political Science, Eastern Illinois University.

As the literature continues to grow on NATO’s air strikes in Yugoslavia in 1999, Bruce R. Nardulli et al. add yet another useful study to the array of existing research. The authors are interested primarily in the US Army’s role during the conflict and focus mostly upon the American ground troop activities in neighboring Albania, specifically Task Force Hawk, which was stationed in Albania. The title of their book, Disjointed War, reflects their principal thesis: that the US Army played an important though distant role in the conflict due to NATO’s expressed desire to not use ground troops during the war.

The authors begin by providing an overview of the events that led up to the crisis in Kosovo and NATO’s eventual intervention. They follow with a detailed assessment of the military hardware possessed by the Serbian military. I know of no other work that so succinctly and comprehensively provides such a detailed overview of the Serbs’ military capabilities. The authors analyze the bombing campaign’s effectiveness, concluding that “catastrophic” damage was done, but also admitting that different measurement standards provide different conclusions.

The book’s primary contribution is its discussion of Task Force Hawk—the deployment of approximately 1,800 American troops to northern Albania. Task Force Hawk got off to a terrible start, in part because of the Macedonian government’s decision to rescind its offer to host these forces, which made Albania the only real alternative. Plagued with exceptionally poor airport facilities and bad weather, Task Force Hawk faced serious problems in the initial deployment of its forces.

The authors conducted numerous interviews with Task Force Hawk participants, and they use previously unpublished NATO documents to discuss the specific issues surrounding the deployment. They also make frequent references to the published memoir of these events by NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander, General Wesley Clark. It is now well known that General Clark faced considerable political hurdles during the bombing campaign, and especially stiff resistance from the Pentagon regarding his request for the use of Apache helicopters, which were part of Task Force Hawk. General Clark maintained that the Apaches would have dealt a serious blow to the Serb military forces, especially those involved in the ethnic cleans-


ing of the Kosovo Albanians. Many in the Pentagon felt otherwise. The authors decided not to address these meaningful differences in views, but instead politely note that “Washington’s support for Apaches seems to have eroded” after two training accidents involving the aircraft. Readers of this book will not get the political story and heated debates that took place within the Pentagon surrounding this important part of Task Force Hawk’s history.

Nardulli et al. maintain that the US Army did contribute to NATO’s success in Kosovo by protecting the Albanian government. The authors also note that Army’s use of the Q-37 Firefinder radars provided critical intelligence data for NATO on Serb military positions. Without offering their own views, the authors make reference to General Clark’s feeling that the ground forces conveyed a “powerful image” to Slobodan Milosevic, and likely helped escalate NATO’s threat against the Serb military.

The authors conclude with a short discussion of the Kosovo Protection Force, NATO’s peacekeeping operation in Kosovo. Again, the theme of being “disjointed” becomes apparent as the five peacekeeping sectors operating within Kosovo appear to operate somewhat independently, despite NATO’s overall responsibility for the mission.

Disjointed War provides excellent coverage of the problems faced by Task Force Hawk. The logistical difficulties were considerable in Albania, and the authors do an outstanding job of revealing these problems. At the same time, the book’s focus is quite narrow. The authors do not examine the impact of NATO’s deployment on the political situation in Albania, which was struggling with its own democratic transition. They give little attention to the humanitarian role played by the US Army deployed to Albania. Moreover, as noted above, the political debate between General Clark, the Secretary of Defense, and the Joint Chiefs of Staff—especially the Army Chief of Staff—is not examined. These criticisms, however, should not detract from the other important contributions this book makes to the existing literature.

Medieval Naval Warfare, 1000-1500. By Susan Rose. Warfare and History series. Jeremy Black, general editor. New York: Routledge, 2002. 136 pages. $80.00 ($24.95 paper). Reviewed by Dr. J. Boone Bartholomees, Jr., Professor of Military History, US Army War College.

Susan Rose has written an important work on a neglected era of naval history. The years from 1000 to 1500 witnessed a critical transformation in the way western navies organized, equipped, and fought—Rose chronicles that transformation. The primary warships during this period progressed gradually from oared galleys to sailing vessels. It was during these years that northern European nations adopted the concept of a standing national navy—an institution that predates the period in the eastern Mediterranean and the major seafaring Italian city-states like Venice, but which was slow to gain acceptance elsewhere. Naval administration and logistics likewise progressed steadily. Tactics developed from boarding and hand-to-hand combat between crews to reliance on cannons, which made their debut as primary naval weapons


at the very end of the period. Thus, virtually every aspect of naval warfare and administration changed during this five-hundred-year period. Because Rose deals systematically with both Mediterranean (eastern and western) and North Atlantic regions, she exposes the reader to a variety of systems and examples. Her chronological organization superimposed on the geographical keeps the confusion of medieval political structures to a minimum, although the ever-changing cast of states will inevitably remain mystifying to the nonspecialist. Rose works hard to show the similarities and differences in naval tactics and administration that emerged naturally in the various regions and at different times.

Medieval Naval Warfare is refreshing in that it does not try to prove either too much capability for medieval navies or make too much of their impact on the history of the time. The author is hardnosed about her material, tough on her evidence, and critical of some earlier interpretations of the period. For example, Rose is skeptical about descriptions of untrained galley fleets, with virtually no ship-to-ship communications, conducting complicated maneuvers like feigned retreats that flowed smoothly into the orderly formation of crescent-shaped lines abreast and then progressed to simultaneous, coordinated counterattacks. Those sound like good tactics, and surviving Roman sources recommended them, so they crept into accounts of sea battles whether they matched reality or not. Similarly, she discounts assertions that admirals lashed all the vessels of their fleets together to form huge floating islands for combat. Although that technique may have been used by smaller parts of fleets, the loss of mobility and steerage (particularly close to shore where most engagements occurred) would not have been worth any potential benefit of such a tactic on a mass scale.

Perhaps as interesting is Rose’s discussion of naval administration. She finds that cities like Venice and Genoa developed different methods to build, man, and equip fleets, but that in each case there was a recognizable system. Venice built a state-owned naval fleet and rented it out for commercial ventures. Conversely, Genoa rented privately-owned vessels, some specifically designed as warships, when it needed a fleet. Venice’s dependence on a state-owned fleet naturally led to state-owned and state-operated shipyards and later logistics facilities. That, of course, did not occur in Genoa. Northern European states—primarily England and France—were slow to develop any system for naval administration. It was easier and cheaper for them to ignore navies until actually needed. There were frequently fleets, especially of galleys that were increasingly less common in northern waters, available for hire. Alternatively, because there was little difference between a merchantman and a military vessel, one could always use the traditional expedient of seizing foreign belligerent merchantmen in friendly ports and using them as the basis for one’s navy. Monarchs might build a warship or even several, but they were often primarily ceremonial and only infrequently numerous enough to be militarily effective. In at least one case (that of Henry V of England) most of the navy was sold to the highest bidder on the king’s death. Even when royal vessels became more common and plentiful, both hiring mercenary fleets and impressing merchantmen coexisted throughout the period. France was actually more advanced in naval administration than England. The French crown maintained an increasingly sophisticated royal shipyard at Rouen from about 1295. The facility faced varying fortunes


but survived throughout the period and represented a continuing commitment to naval logistics matters that the British seemed unwilling to make.

The dust-jacket promise of discussions on medieval naval strategy was what attracted me to the book, and I must say that Susan Rose worked valiantly to bring that subject out of limited available material. In sum, Rose concludes that the concept of control of the sea meant little in the context of medieval capabilities, and rulers made increasingly sophisticated use of naval assets—usually for recognizable political objectives, but without necessarily fitting them into a grand strategic scheme. Thus we see navies used to transport settlers or invasion forces; to support or to relieve sieges of coastal cities; to serve as auxiliary forces; to transport men, materiel, or supplies; to raid coastal towns or commerce; as political weapons in civil or religious warfare; to conduct attacks on enemy fleets; and to contest or protect control of lucrative trade routes. When the goal was primarily naval, such as control of trade routes, navies often produced significant results. They also were significant in limited tactical actions close to the shore such as the prosecution or relief of sieges. Medieval seapower had difficulty affecting events inland and was seldom the ultimate arbiter of major political issues. All that is reasonable, and Rose presents persuasive arguments to support her assertions.

Overall, Medieval Naval Warfare is well researched, well written, and convincing. I doubt it will ever make a best-seller list or even a professional reading list, but if you have an interest in naval or medieval warfare, you will find it worth your time.

The Vietnam War on Trial. By Michal R. Belknap. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2002. 312 pages. $35.00 ($15.95 paper). Reviewed by Colonel Zane E. Finkelstein, USA Ret., former Staff Judge Advocate, 1st Cavalry Division, Vietnam; Judge, USCMR; Legal Advisor, CJCS; and holder of the D. D. Eisenhower Chair of International Security Studies, USAWC.

When I was asked to review this book, the Elizabeth Taylor-seventh husband parable immediately came to mind. What was Professor Belknap going to say about the Vietnam War that was different, let alone interesting? To some extent The Vietnam War on Trial is different and, to a lesser extent, interesting. The most valuable part of book is illustrated by two sentences: “Rusty Calley should never have been a lieutenant. He might have served the Army well as a clerk, but nothing . . . suggests he should [have been] an officer.” Other than insulting supply personnel, these two sentences are illustrated, proven, and well reported. Likewise, two other sentences clearly represent the worst and dullest of the undertaking: “The Calley court-martial was a trial of the Army that fought the Vietnam War and ultimately of that war itself. The evidence presented in a Fort Benning courtroom condemned them both.” It is unlikely that anyone with significant knowledge of the Army or the late unpleasantness in Southeast Asia, upon reading these two sentences, would respond other than with a scatological barnyard expletive or some more genteel utterance representing the same level of acceptance.


No useful purpose would be served by developing an exhaustive catalogue of issues of fact and law raised by this book, which is part of a series, “Landmark Law Cases and American Society,” edited by Peter Charles Hoofer and N. E. H. Hull. Suffice it to say the editors set the azimuth in the preface: “The cover-up or at least the minimization of the events reached to the highest levels of the army . . .”; “[the United States] was complicit in the slaughter,” and the nation was “intervening in a civil war abroad.” There is no probative evidence here or elsewhere that there is innocent My Lai blood on the hands of anyone other than Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 20th Infantry, and no one engaged in any cover-up or minimizing of the offenses other than a limited number of officers in the 11th Light Infantry Brigade and the 24th Division. Above the 24th Division were three echelons of command in Vietnam and four other echelons between the 24th and the President outside the country. There is not a scintilla of evidence here or elsewhere that the Field Force Commander, US Army, Vietnam; Military Assistance Command, Vietnam (MACV); or any higher officer had any role in the cover-up.

Someday there will be someone who will be able to clearly draw the important distinction between a crime in war (My Lai) and a war crime (a take-no-prisoners order). If a Harvard Law School professor “borrows” from his trust fund, would you say, “Harvard University is complicit in larceny”? No, you would not. So? The US Army was a victim of Calley’s appalling violation of the duty owed to captives in his hands. He profaned his country and the profession of arms; we were not complicit.

The “intervening in a civil war” canard deserves little attention. Had it not been for French intervention in our Revolution, where would we be? (In light of international events in the past year, it hurts to write this truth.) On 21 July 1954 the Geneva Conference established two political entities on the Vietnam Peninsula, one north and the other south of the 17th parallel. The nations of the world recognized one or both of these entities. In 1959 the North infiltrated 90,000 troops and attacked the South. This is aggression, not a civil war. Repeatedly calling it a civil war does not make it so.

There are three other things that should be mentioned:

First is the assertion that Seymour Hersh exposed the massacre. The murders occurred on 16 March 1968. The Secretary of Defense was advised on 4 April 1969; an Army staff officer, Robert L. Schwitzer, forwarded it to the Army and in the Secretary’s name asked for an investigation, which was conducted by Colonel William Wilson of the Inspector General’s office and Chief Warrant Officer Andre C. R. Fisher of the Criminal Investigation Division. On 5 September 1969, Brigadier General Oscar E. Davis, former Assistant Commander of the 1st Cavalry Division, ordered that Calley be retained on active duty so he could be tried. All this occurred a month and a half before Hersh’s so-called exposure.

Second is the reference to “a free-fire zone” as an area where American troops were “essentially authorized to kill anything that moved,” repeating a pejorative misrepresentation of the Rules of Engagement. Vietnam was unique for US forces. It was fought almost entirely within the Republic of Vietnam, with control of areas often changing with the setting sun—sometimes with a change of command, and sometimes by the outcome of search-and-clear operations. In areas under the political control of the South and its Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN)


forces, clearance to fire from Vietnamese authorities was required; in other areas it was not. The latter areas were labeled, with an overabundance of military testosterone, “free-fire zones.” These areas were not legal jungles. The Geneva Conventions, the Haig Rules, and the US Army’s Rules of Engagement were as applicable in a “free-fire zone” as they were in the most developed, set-piece battle area. It is not difficult to understand why this is so consistently misrepresented.

Third, it was at the time of the incident the role of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (CJCS), then Admiral Thomas Moorer, to give military advice to the President and strategic direction to the armed forces. The chain of command ran from the President and the Secretary of Defense through the CJCS to the unified commanders. Admiral Moorer had no directive authority over the Secretary of the Army or the Chief of Staff of the Army and no role to play in Army discipline. Yet, it is clearly depicted by Professor Belknap how Nixon bypassed the Secretary of Defense and involved the CJCS in an Army disciplinary process. Where does the 500-pound gorilla sleep in the jungle? Anywhere he wants. The role of the President in the Calley affair is better organized and presented here than in any other account I have seen.

Two small facts and an opinion may be of interest in this regard. The matter was of so little note to Admiral Moorer that he never mentioned it to me after I reported as his legal advisor a week or so later, nor is it mentioned in the draft of his memoirs. Also, this was the first of a series of significant presidential actions which cut out the Secretary of Defense, including the initial planning to mine the harbor in Haiphong. Most of us working for the CJCS were sure that it was not because of a lack of confidence in Secretary Melvin Laird, who never lost a floor vote in either the House or Senate, but because of a distrust of some on his staff. Laird was, in my opinion, the third most effective Secretary of Defense we have ever had.

All the sisters are virtuous and all the brothers valiant, but the trial of Lieutenant Calley was the trial of an inept, cowardly, soldier wannabe who should never have been an officer. The title of this book and its major thrust are insults to those who died there, those who fought there, and those who sent us there. This well-written book is also marred by the trendy but almost useless bibliographical essay format in lieu of footnotes, providing more than the casual reader wants and too little for the serious researcher. Should the military professional read this book? I don’t think so, but that depends on what the other choices are.

Crossroads of Freedom: Antietam, The Battle that Changed the Course of the Civil War. By James M. McPherson. New York: Oxford University Press, 2002. 203 pages. $26.00. Reviewed by Dr. Samuel Watson, Assistant Professor, Department of History, US Military Academy.

To most people the battle of Antietam is an example of the hesitancy that got George McClellan fired six weeks afterward. To some students of the Civil War it is the battle that permitted the promulgation of the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation (22 September 1862). To many more (judging by personal conversations) it was a tactical draw, noteworthy primarily for being the bloodiest single day


in American history. For some it is an example of Robert E. Lee’s ability to hold off greatly superior forces; for others, an example of Lee’s confidence and willingness to take casualties, perhaps unwisely given the danger his army faced that day.

To James McPherson, the nation’s most eminent scholar of the Civil War, it is much more. As his textbook Ordeal by Fire (3d ed.; Boston: McGraw-Hill, 2001) indicates, it was the “first turning point” of the war, a battle whose political and diplomatic consequences far outweighed those around the Bloody Lane. This is not, therefore, a detailed battle narrative, for which readers should still turn to Stephen Sears’ Landscape Turned Red (New York: Ticknor and Fields, 1983) or John Michael Priest’s microstudy Antietam: The Soldiers’ Battle (Shippensburg, Pa.: White Mane, 1989). It is, rather, a comprehensive account of politics, war aims, national and military strategy, and their interaction with public opinion: the story of two nations at war, of national moods, and of the influence of military action on those moods through the first two years of the war. Causally, the emphasis is on expectations, perceptions, and the demand for momentum (making a stimulating comparison as I read this book during the first days of Operation Iraqi Freedom). Its best quality is its integrated treatment of political, military, diplomatic, and social-cultural history, particularly through the many quotations from primary sources, which give a strong sense of the variation, shifts, and fluctuations in national moods.

Militarily, McPherson provides little relief to admirers of McClellan, observing that “he would take no initiative without ‘absolute assurance of success’— which rarely if ever exists in any human endeavor, much less in war.” Yet he also concludes that, despite the general’s hatred for those in command over him, “nothing in McClellan’s tenure of command became him like the leaving of it,” as he discouraged talk of military coups and attempted to buoy support for his successor. Lee, on the other hand, was unable to resume the offensive (or “offensive-defensive”) strategy he had begun in the Seven Days’ Battles for eight months.

The Union failed to take advantage of Lee’s losses, minimizing the operational consequences of the battle, and this hurt public support for the administration in the North. Yet McPherson points out that Republican losses in the fall elections were far fewer than anticipated, that they gained five Senate seats (making a two-thirds majority there), and were the first administration party in a generation not to lose control of the House in the mid-term elections. He argues persuasively that the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation, followed ever more decisively by a shift in national war aims and policy in favor of emancipation and some degree of equality—particularly in the employment of African-American troops in combat—made European recognition of the Confederacy impossible. While I have long doubted that recognition would have led to armed intervention, or any real change in the course of the war, many Confederates certainly looked to recognition as crucial to their independence, and Antietam frustrated those hopes. In effect, Antietam rather than Gettysburg was the “high water mark of the Confederacy.” In emphasizing the question of recognition, McPherson also reminds us just how widespread antagonism toward republican institutions was among European government elites, who were engaged in their own imperial ventures and hoped to contain the growth of American power, and that European support for the Confederacy had nothing to do with states’ rights or liberty, and every-


thing to do with an abiding hatred of democracy. Fortunately, European public opinion was much more sympathetic to the cause of freedom.

McPherson’s Antietam will enlighten military and civilian readers at all levels. At only 150 pages of text, it can easily be assigned at any level of professional education, and its many choice quotations will be of tremendous value for the instructor or staff ride leader. Above all, Antietam provides a balanced, integrated account of the links between all the levels of war—between public opinion, objectives, and action—reminding us both of the contingencies that affect human affairs and the need for determined leadership to work through those contingencies.

Of Paradise and Power: America and Europe in the New World Order. By Robert Kagan. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2003. 103 pages. $18.00. Reviewed by Colonel Alan G. Stolberg, Director of European Studies, US Army War College.

In the great 1952 Hollywood classic High Noon, Gary Cooper in the role of the sheriff is unable to obtain the support of any townspeople, inhabitants of the same town that he had been protecting for years, when he is threatened by a former outlaw coming back to settle a score. Cooper’s sheriff, the man with the gun in a town to which he had almost single-handedly brought peace, is forced to unilaterally take it upon himself to protect the town. The townspeople are unwilling to help because they don’t see the outlaw as a direct threat to themselves. To a certain degree, the town’s inhabitants may have held that view because, as Robert Kagan describes in his assessment of the chasm that has emerged between the United States and Europe in the 21st century, outlaws typically shoot sheriffs, not saloonkeepers. The perception of the threat as well as what to do about it is very different depending on how a people or a nation views its place in the world.

Kagan, a Senior Associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and a noted analyst of American strategy and diplomacy in the post-Cold War period, has written a seminal work in the tradition of Fukuyama’s The End of History, Huntington’s Clash of Civilizations, and Kaplan’s The Coming Anarchy, in an attempt to explain the world, or parts of it, that emerged after the 1989 fall of the Berlin Wall. The paradise and power that are referred to in the title represent a view of the European and American places and roles in the 21st-century world. The United States exists in a world defined by the 17th-century English philosopher Thomas Hobbes as one characterized by anarchy, with man in constant conflict with his fellow man, and requiring the continued use of power, including military force, to maintain a stable and governable world. In today’s world, as defined by Kagan, it’s America in the Gary Cooper role that must take on the role of the international sheriff to defend the townspeople and keep the peace. Because the United States has both the political will and military capability to serve as the sheriff, the European nations—in the role of the townspeople—are able to reside in a type of paradise as laid out by the 18th-century Prussian philosopher Immanuel Kant. Writing his classic essay Perpetual Peace in 1795, Kant described an ideal vision of the international system that featured a decline in power of individual nations, with a world at


peace that was governed by a “League of Nations.” Kagan maintains that today’s Europe has a similar view of its new millennium position. So long as the sheriff is in town, life is good, protected, and at peace.

The global role for each party changed during the course of 20th century. Until the late 1940s, much of Europe was committed to policing parts of the world in their own behalf. Empires such as those of Great Britain, France, Germany, Italy, and Spain were dominating players on the world scene, and to a large extent their roles were that of ensuring the security of their imperial domains for their global interests. However, Kagan demonstrates how the wars of the 20th century, with their ravaging of the European continent, created an apparently permanent (with the exception of the UK) trend toward refraining from the use of military power. Believing that the Franco-German rapprochement which came about after the end of the Second World War was the result of diplomacy, negotiations, international law, economic ties, patience, and an indirect approach, by the 1990s most European nations began to believe that these tools of power were the only appropriate ones for the future. This thinking was applied with a renewed economic and social emphasis for the budgets of each nation, to the detriment of military expenditures.

Concurrently, Kagan argues, the United States began to assume a post-World War II hegemonic role that actually was nothing new for the relatively young state. The author maintains that the traditional concept of American isolationism has always been a myth. In fact, he believes that despite George Washington’s famous farewell address warning of foreign entanglements, the Founding Fathers saw a role for the country on the world stage. As the 21st century begins, we are witnessing what may be a long era of American hegemony, with the United States possessing the most powerful military in history and the political will to employ it when necessary.

So the stage is set for what is potentially an irreversible trend, at least in the near to mid term, for the existence of a considerable gap in power and will between the United States and the European continent. In a world where power is applied to maintain security and stability, fighting foes ranging from al Qaeda to Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, the United States has demonstrated the will to use force wherever and whenever it believes force to be necessary. This is Hobbes’s world where power and force are the primary tools. In contrast, the dominant strategic culture on today’s European continent (again, excepting the UK) is one that rejects power politics and, in fact, relies on the United States to be the sheriff for its populace. They can thus continue to live in Kant’s universe of perpetual peace.

Perhaps the most significant reason to read this brilliant work is not simply for what it says about the United States and Europe, but what may be implied or inferred about American relations with the rest of the world in general. If America is without the majority of its most traditional and powerful allies as it goes forth to “protect the townspeople” in this new century, does that imply that the world will be a much more dangerous and lonely place for the world’s policeman? Is this simply a necessary evil that comes with the territory of being the baddest guy on the block, or is there a more inherent concern—that America is wrongly out of step with much of the rest of the world? Read the book and give it some thought, since it will be a classic for years to come.


Vanguard of American Atomic Deterrence: The Sandia Pioneers, 1946-1949. By James L. Abrahamson and Paul H. Carew. Westport, Conn.: Praeger, 2002. 181 pages. $64.95. Reviewed by Dr. Henry G. Gole (Colonel, USA Ret.) author of Road to Rainbow: Army Planning for Global War, 1934-1940 and a frequent Parameters reviewer and contributor.

To put the story of atomic deterrence in perspective and context, let us recall the geopolitical backdrop to the period immediately after World War II. In 1945 total US Army strength peaked at over eight million men; in 1947 it stood at fewer than one million; by 1950 it was below 600,000. This dramatic reduction took place as Winston Churchill announced that an iron curtain had fallen between east and west Europe, Czechoslovakia went communist, the Berlin Airlift responded to the Soviet Berlin Blockade, and the most powerful force between the White Cliffs of Dover and the white snows of the Urals was the Red Army. In Asia, devolution of European empires created areas of east-west competition, the Communists drove the Nationalists from the Chinese mainland in 1949, and in 1950 Soviet-trained North Korean troops attacked south to initiate the Korean War.

At the conclusion of World War II the distinguished scientists who had given the United States the atomic bomb returned to their laboratories and universities. Similarly, after 15 years of depression and war, Americans were prepared to return to personal pursuits symbolized by big cars with very big tail fins, private houses in Levittown, and the GI Bill. It was time to let the good times roll. After all, the United States was protected by the atomic bomb and unmatched air power. But who would mind the atomic bomb store?

In Vanguard of American Deterrence, James Abrahamson, a retired Army colonel and a veteran teacher and writer, and Paul Carew, a long-time Defense Department executive, describe for the general reader how Colonel Gilbert M. Dorland and his “Sandia Pioneers” responded to the challenge of General Leslie Groves of Manhattan Project fame.

As noted in the Foreword, “The esoteric nature of nuclear physics and the mystique that wartime secrecy built around the Manhattan Project created the popular impression that nuclear physics was something that only scientists could understand, and that only they could build the atomic bomb.” But, to his great credit, General Groves believed that Army engineers and technicians had the skills to take on the staggering task of building the stockpile of ready nuclear weapons required to deter Soviet attack of Western Europe during the Cold War. He dispatched 63 officers, many of them junior officers fresh from service in World War II, to the New Mexico desert in the summer of 1946. They tested new weapon designs and built the complex infrastructure that made possible the assembly and delivery of ready weapons in any part of the world.

Richard G. Hewlett says in his Foreword that without the accomplishments of the Pioneers the United States would not have had nuclear weapons at the ready so soon. Only recently have many of the details of weapons technology been declassified, enabling our authors to make an authoritative account of the Pioneers’


project accessible to the public. Essentially, the task was to create a system for the assembly of many bombs to replace the handcrafting adequate to assemble the original bombs used in the recent war.

The authors go beyond the purely technical to capture the flavor of the times from reminiscences and reflections by the Pioneers and their families. Many of the implied tasks were quite mundane. A livable military base had to be built on a “scrubby piece of desert mesa” to support the families of the men facing the technical challenges. With a base built and the essentials of the job mastered, the Pioneers discovered a great demand for their unique expertise. The school to train Army bomb commanders and weaponeers would soon also train Navy and Air Force crews of atomic-capable aircraft. Involvement in the atomic tests at Eniwetok Atoll in 1948 and the establishment of enough additional assembly teams to establish a credible deterrent—hastened by the 1948 Berlin Crisis—were among the milestones to maturity.

The authors assert that maturity was achieved in 1949. The United States then had the ability to deter Soviet attacks on American overseas interests, an achievement they credit to the foresight of General Groves and to the skill and dedication of the Sandia Pioneers.

Later, as subsequent weapon tests led to the industrial production of atomic weapons suitable for military use, there was no need for a large number of special teams trained in the testing and careful hand assembly of bombs that were just a short step from being laboratory devices. The Pioneers had, in fact, worked themselves out of a job. In doing so, the reservations regarding the ability of young Army engineers to perform functions previously executed by world-class physicists were overcome. The title of this book is carefully chosen. The Sandia Pioneers of 1946-1949 were indeed the Vanguard of American Atomic Deterrence.

The authors have filled a gap in our understanding of the evolution of deterrence. And, to their great credit, they did so in a literate manner without burying the layman in technical detail. Well done! Your reviewer commends the book to the reader of these pages.

The Great Tax Wars: Lincoln to Wilson—The Fierce Battles over Money and Power that Transformed the Nation. By Steven R. Weisman. New York: Simon and Shuster, 2002. 419 pages. $27.00. Reviewed by Michael J. Fratantuono, Associate Professor, Department of International Studies, Business & Management, Dickinson College; Adjunct Professor, US Army War College.

While there are many public policy issues that elicit passionate debate, none is more fundamental to the American experience than taxes. Taxes were central to the birth of our nation. Indeed, Article 1, Section 2 of the US Constitution stipulates that “direct taxes” on citizens “shall be apportioned among the several states . . . according to their respective numbers [of people].” Furthermore, they embody the interdependence between citizens and the state and they reflect important social categories, such as status and affluence, and social institutions, such as property rights and legal identity.


In flowing journalistic style, Steven R. Weisman traces the evolution of the progressive income tax, the cornerstone of today’s US tax system, from the years 1860 to 1920—an extraordinary period of history in which the United States overcame internal divisions and financial crises, matured as a nation, consolidated power in a strong central government, emerged as the world’s foremost economic power, and reluctantly became enmeshed in a global conflict. He skillfully relates the struggles over taxes to general historical developments, to the economic and political interests of groups of citizens, and to the philosophical and personal views of leading actors.

In those six decades, the US Congress actually legislated a progressive federal income tax on three occasions. In 1863, it created the first such tax to help finance the costs of the Civil War. To circumvent the language of Article 1, legislators referred to taxes on income as “indirect” taxes. While the debate over taxes was intense, given the plight of the country, no party in the North challenged the constitutionality of the legislation. Following the war, opponents gained the upper hand and Congress repealed the tax in 1872. (In contrast, the Confederate Congress primarily relied on borrowing and printing money to finance the South’s war efforts.)

In 1894, Congress resurrected the income tax. Legislators were swayed by the devastating economic hardships and federal deficits associated with the Panic of 1893 and the increasing political influence of the Populist Movement. This time, however, opponents of the income tax argued that since the wealthiest citizens were concentrated in a few states, the tax violated the notion of proportionality found in Article 1. The Supreme Court upheld this interpretation and in 1895 struck down the Tax Act of 1893.

Over the next 18 years, the American public became increasingly wary of large concentrations of political, economic, and financial power, and eager for greater degrees of social equality. Those changing sentiments were given expression in the Progressive Movement, and culminated in 1912 with the approval by a supermajority of state legislatures of Amendment XV of the Constitution, giving Congress “the power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several states, and without regard to any census enumeration.” The Amendment cleared the way for the legislation in 1913 that established the foundation for the current US income tax.

The battles in each of these episodes were contentious, for a few reasons. First, in all the debates, the income tax as a source of revenue was inseparable from the tariff, which played a crucial role in government finances and US economic development. Tariffs, a duty imposed on imports entering the United States, accounted for about 90 percent of central government revenue for most of the pre-Civil War era, and roughly 50 percent of revenue from 1860 to 1912. Furthermore, tariffs— which raise the price not only of imports, but also, due to the dynamics of markets, the prices of similar domestically produced goods—were the device of choice of the federal government to protect domestic industries. By the latter half of the 19th century, protection for manufactured goods had been adopted as a key component of Republican Party ideology.

Second, much of the antagonism over the income tax was grounded in sectional differences. As the 19th century unfolded, the United States increasingly con-


sisted of two different economies: the rural, land-based economy of the south and the west, where income generated by selling and exporting agricultural commodities was used to buy manufactured items; and the urban, capital-intensive, industrial and financial economy of the northeast, which had been energized by the Civil War and prospered behind protectionist walls. Although economic growth had generated rising real incomes for all participants for much of the 1800s, by the end of the century, while farmers and ranch workers were experiencing absolute declines in their standard of living, industrialists were enjoying rapidly increasing fortunes. To make matters worse, tariffs created a disproportionate burden on the common family, particularly when placed on basic necessities. Thus, farmers and workers were essentially an anti-tariff, pro-income-tax group. Predictably, industrialists were a pro-tariff and anti-income-tax lot.

Finally, and most important, during the same era two fundamental yet competing values were at the heart of the debate on taxes: “virtue” and “justice.” Virtue refers to the view that high incomes and large amounts of accumulated wealth are the result of inherent ability and hard work. From this vantage, disproportionately high taxes on wealth and income will undermine incentives, stifle creativity, and hurt the overall prospects for economic growth. Justice, on the other hand, refers to a sense of fairness and the assertion that the financial support of citizens for government initiatives should be based on ability to pay. The notion derives from the belief that government has created the framework which makes accumulation of wealth possible and that heavier tax burdens on the wealthy help generate a more equitable balance of social benefits and sacrifices.

While the calls for free-trade versus protection are more muted and the lines between sectional differences more blurred, the tension between virtue and justice certainly remains relevant to debates about taxes at the dawn of the 21st century. This very readable and worthwhile book, which sheds light on a critical aspect of contemporary civic life in America, is equally appropriate for the blanket on the beach, the desktop in the college dorm room, or the bookshelf in the corner office.

The Great War: Perspectives on the First World War. Edited by Robert Cowley. New York: Random House, 2003. 416 pages. $27.50. Reviewed by Colonel Robert A. Doughty, Professor and Head, Department of History, US Military Academy.

After 85 years historians finally have begun taking a critical look at the conduct of World War I. Even before the bullets stopped flying, news reporters and analysts took a serious look at the origins of the war, and a fierce debate about responsibility for the war resulted in the felling of many trees and the printing of many books. Except for biographies of the major military leaders and detailed looks at specific events such as Jutland, however, a diligent effort to examine the conduct of the war did not begin for many years. Fortunately for professional soldiers, as well as for serious scholars, historians have begun doing archival research on the conduct of this war and slowly but surely have stopped parroting books and articles published shortly after the war ended.


Robert Cowley’s new book, The Great War, provides a useful way of examining the state of scholarship on the conduct of World War I. Cowley is an avid scholar of the war, as well as the founding editor of MHQ: The Quarterly Journal of Military History. Under his leadership MHQ published numerous articles about the war and made available some of the new scholarship. Cowley published several articles, for example, by Bruce Gudmundsson on the Germans in World War I, most of which focus on tactical aspects of the war. He also published the work of Douglas Porch, one of our nation’s most successful and talented historians of the French. Both Gudmundsson and Porch have contributed interesting and useful pieces in Cowley’s new book that provide us fresh insights into the Great War.

Other well-known scholars also have contributed pieces to Cowley’s book. The work of Jamie H. Cockfield, for example, adds a dimension not only to Cowley’s book but also to our understanding of the breadth of this war. In his case, he writes persuasively about the Brusilov offensive of 1916. Another scholar whose work is included in Cowley’s book and who has contributed new ideas to our thinking about the Great War is Tim Travers. Perhaps more than any other scholar, he has shed new light onto the conduct of the war, primarily by carefully examining the British effort. Travers’ conclusion (in a different book) that Haig “doctored” his diary so historians would view him favorably has raised serious concerns about numerous works that have unquestioningly accepted Haig’s interpretation. Travers’ piece in Cowley’s book is especially interesting and useful because it provides a coherent explanation of Ottoman actions during the Gallipoli campaign.

Yet Cowley’s book also includes pieces that repeat time-worn ideas which are little more than warmed-up versions of James E. Edmonds’ comments in the British official history. The best example of that is the piece by John Keegan. Justifiably renowned as a wonderful writer and talented analyst, Keegan’s piece dismisses the French contribution to the war in 1917 when he notes the mutinies of that year and says, “The British would have to fight alone.” He also portrays Pétain’s strategy as being nothing more than a “succession of small attacks.” Yet Keegan later notes that Pétain achieved more that year in his four-day attack on the Chemin des Dames than the British did in 99 days at Passchendaele. Had Keegan investigated French operations more diligently, he could have learned of Pétain’s sharp criticism of Haig’s methods and his advising the British marshal not to continue a succession of attacks at Passchendaele but instead to launch a series of limited attacks, each on a different part of the front. He also could have rephrased his sentence abut the British having to “fight alone.”

Another example of the need to examine the conduct of the war more critically and to use other than English-language sources pertains to the piece written by Cowley on the “last 140 days” of the Somme offensive. Most histories of the Somme, which usually are published in London, misunderstand the contribution of the French. In Cowley’s case he misses the connection between the Brusilov offensive and Joffre’s decision to continue the attack on the Somme. After the disastrous attack of 1 July, the British reverted to small attacks and left the Germans free to aid the tottering Austrians by moving forces from the Western to the Eastern Front. The several French offensives did not seek a breakthrough. Instead, Joffre, who viewed


the war more broadly than any of the British leaders, sought to aid the Russians with a series of “partial” offensives that tied down German forces on the Western Front. In the broadest sense, Joffre’s multi-front strategy made more sense than Haig’s.

These criticisms of Cowley’s book are not intended to question the overall merit of the work. Slowly but surely, historians are examining many of the fundamental verities of this war. Their revisions will compel us as professional soldiers to reexamine our thinking about how war was waged in the 20th century and how military leaders in the past have worked their way through incredibly complicated issues. Their new scholarship also could lead us to conclude that a great war in the future may resemble the one of 1914-1918 more than it will the one of 1939-1945. In the meantime, reading Robert Cowley’s book is a useful place to begin rethinking the Great War.

Environmental Security and Global Stability: Problems and Responses. Edited by Max G. Manwaring. Lanham, Md.: Lexington Books, 2002. 210 pages. $65.00. Reviewed by Ambassador Ambler H. Moss, Jr., Director, Dante B. Fascell North-South Center and Professor of International Studies, University of Miami.

During the Cold War, policymakers all knew, or thought they did, what security and stability meant. In the West, at least, the two concepts had to do with containment of the Soviet Union and its allies, alias the “evil empire,” and with the reduction of threats, largely nuclear, which could annihilate mankind. Their subject matter and focus were largely military, following historical tradition. Now, in the “new world disorder,” the concept of security itself is the subject of debate and doubt. In everyone’s mind, including within the concerns of military planners and strategists, any definition of security is certainly far broader than it ever has been.

Moreover, the actors involved in security issues are no longer limited to nation-states. If we did not appreciate that fact earlier, it was certainly brought home on 11 September 2001. A terrorist movement not easily defined or located wreaked more havoc within the territory of the United States than any foreign power had done.

But is the newest perspective of stability and peace so broad that it includes the environment as a security issue? Professor Max G. Manwaring of the US Army War College thinks so. In this book, he has compiled a succinct volume of expertise, including his own, which makes the case solidly. Among those convinced by its argument is Vice Admiral Paul G. Gaffney II, the former President of National Defense University, who says in the book’s Foreword: “Well, pay attention now. . . . This subject will increasingly consume the national security debate.”

The ways in which environment and security are related, however, are not easily summed up. In one sense, we are talking about the internal security and governability of countries that are suffering the severe depletion of their water supply and other resources and the contamination of the air their people breathe. Environmental degradation almost inevitably leads to the progressive disappearance of available food resources. These are life-and-death issues for populations. They are also a potential source of conflicts across boundaries; future wars in the Middle East likely will have more to do with water than with oil. All over the world, severely de-


pleted fisheries already have led to conflict and certainly will bring more as this food source disappears from continued overfishing.

This book is a tour de force in identifying specific and typical problems and flashpoints. The chapters on Asia and Latin America are ably handled by Ambassador Frank McNeil, a diplomat and area expert who is also well versed in environmental and security policy. Pertinent chapters by area experts on the Middle East and West Africa evaluate problems in those regions. A common denominator throughout the book’s chapters is the prevalence of many of the same environmental problems in virtually every region of the world today, and these threaten global stability. Environmental degradation is frequently a key intervening variable in security dilemmas, not simply an incidental issue.

In his masterful concluding chapter, Professor Manwaring brings to a head the specific causal links between environmental degradation, instability, and conflict. Taking us from beginnings, such as essential resource shortages, he shows us how such phenomena, if left uncorrected, will lead ultimately to major threats. The solutions to these problems are largely nonmilitary. The military, however, can bring attention to them. A complete response will require a new, comprehensive architecture for a “global security campaign plan” or “blueprint for thinking and action.” Manwaring sees what is needed as being something akin to George Kennan’s containment theory of engagement with the expansionist Soviet Union, which guided the West’s policy over nearly half a century. Where would the West have been without those guiding principles? Of course, in many ways the contemporary challenge to stability is more difficult. Professor Manwaring is right, but what he proposes involves a level of international cooperation and an ability to engage in long-term analysis, planning, and implementation that is not characteristic of the world we live in. Yet, that is not a fault of the book. Consciousness-raising has to start somewhere, and it is no good to dismiss Professor Manwaring’s prescriptions as unrealistic.

This book has tremendous value for both civilian and military planners at high levels. It is alarming in its predictions and irrefutable in its logic. At the same time, it is readable, not loaded with academic jargon and not overly lengthy. Is furnishes the right basis for discussion of what is to be done in an insecure world before it is too late. Admiral Gaffney summed it up well with those two words: “pay attention.”

The Age of Sacred Terror. By Daniel Benjamin and Steven Simon. New York: Random House, 2002. 490 pages. $25.95. Reviewed by Colonel Robert B. Killebrew, USA Ret., who served in Special Forces, mechanized, air assault, and airborne infantry units, and held a variety of planning and operational assignments, during his 30-year Army career.

The Age of Sacred Terror should rank high on the reading list of anyone interested in national security, and in particular the military reader. The authors, both former National Security Council staffers in the Clinton Administration, have sound backgrounds in academia, government, and journalism. The book’s broad sweep includes the history of militant Islam, contemporary terrorist operations, and


an insider’s look into the administrations of three Presidents as they, and the nation, grappled with fundamental shifts in national security. It is a measure of the authors’ disciplined prose and tight focus that they have managed to cover so wide a swath and still produce a dense, thoughtful, and very readable book.

Knowing one’s enemy is vital. So a substantial part of Sacred Terror deals with the history of militant Islam, beginning with the medieval preacher Taqi al-Din ibn Taymiyya, a near-contemporary of Martin Luther, who spread a fundamentalist version of Islam with Luther-like intensity. A central part of ibn Taymiyya’s teaching was the affirmation of religious—Koranic—law over secular, so at a time when the West was beginning to separate church and state, ibn Taymiyya was pushing Islam in the opposite direction. “To obey a leader who violated the precepts of Islam would be to reject the word of God and be guilty of apostasy oneself,” he wrote.

Ibn Taymiyya was followed, several centuries later, by (among others) Muhammad ibn Abd Al-Wahhab, the founder of the Wahhabi branch of Sunni Islam, who formed an alliance of convenience with Muhammad ibn Saud, the progenitor of the current Saudi ruling family. In the 20th century, the widespread writings of fundamentalists like Sayyid Qutb (hanged by Nasser in 1965) spread widely the belief that only God’s laws are legitimate, and human rule is apostate—more heretical even than unbelievers—and a legitimate target for jihad. From this philosophical and legal basis comes “the blind sheikh” Omas Abdel Rahman, spiritual counselor in the assassination of the apostate Anwar Sadat and the first attack on the World Trade Center, and, of course, Osama bin Laden. Rahman’s acquittal on a technicality by an Egyptian court in the aftermath of Sadat’s assassination—he was found to have only preached generally that apostate rulers should be overthrown—sent a signal, the authors say: “The lesson of Rahman’s acquittal . . . is that there is a strong connection between the subculture of terrorism and a broader culture in which the basis for terrorist violence is well established and legally unassailable.”

As the theological and legal basis for jihad has matured, the Islamic terrorist campaign against apostate and Western regimes also has been growing, abetted by the Islamic diaspora in Europe and the United States. Terrorism, of course, had been a threat to US interests for decades, and the authors correctly point out that only Israel had in place tougher counterterrorism policies. Still, terrorism in the 1970s and 1980s was only a second- or third-level concern, and not a strategic threat. So as the fundamentalist threat began to grow in the late 1990s, counterterrorism policymakers faced two problems.

First, the terrorist model to which the United States had become accustomed had changed, and the nature of the change was not understood. Previously, groups like Hamas or the IRA had conducted terrorist acts to achieve relatively tactical political leverage. Increasingly, though, Islamic terrorism was (to Western eyes) nihilistic, conducted as an offering to God, and demanded by religious law as taught to millions of young Muslims in religious schools around the world. This change did, in fact, make jihad a strategic threat, as we learned on 9/11.

Second, the US government was not organized to deal with terrorism on a large scale: “In many agencies, offices handling counterterrorism were bureaucratic backwaters, their managers carrying none of the heft of colleagues who dealt with geo-


graphic regions or high-profile issues such as arms control.” This was acutely true in the FBI, the authors contend, which in fact continuously refused to cooperate in White House-directed efforts to coordinate intelligence or counter domestic terrorism.

The second part of the book continues a detailed and painful history of three administrations’ attempts to make sense of it all, to mount a strategy, and to coordinate the government’s responses as attacks proliferated worldwide—the USS Cole and American embassy bombings, Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia, and elsewhere. With the reader’s foreknowledge of the events of 11 September 2001, this is hard reading. Tragically, as the authors point out, at a time when effective response was required, the executive branch’s attention was distracted by the Monica Lewinsky affair and subsequent impeachment process that preoccupied top policymakers and severely constrained the executive’s ability to act decisively within the government and against outside foes. This is an absorbing account of the problems of practical policymaking at the highest levels, and the authors present an appropriately objective account of events in which they were participants.

The book concludes with a view of events in Afghanistan, the authors’ own conclusions about fighting and winning the war on terrorism over the long term (requiring engagement with the Islamic world), and their own musings about the dangers of cult-inspired terrorist acts beyond the Islamic variety that attack the separation of faith and secular rule. “Hope resides not only in greater vigilance,” they conclude, “but also in greater ambition” to build a new equilibrium between the state and religious rule. The Age of Sacred Terror is an informative, arresting book, and a useful addition to the soldier’s library.

Rethinking the Korean War. By William Stueck. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2002. 285 pages. $22.95. Reviewed by Colonel Donald W. Boose, Jr., USA Ret., who served with the Military Armistice Commission in Korea; as Assistant Chief of Staff for Strategic Plans and Policy, US Forces, Japan; and as the US Army War College Director of Asian Studies. He currently teaches in the USAWC Department of Distance Education.

William Stueck, a highly respected diplomatic historian, previously published two important books on the Korean War. The Road to Confrontation (Univ. of North Carolina Press, 1981) provided a thorough description and analysis of US policy toward China and Korea in the years leading up to the Korean War. The Korean War: An International History (Princeton Univ. Press, 1995) focused on the role of the major powers outside of Korea concerning the origins, conduct, and termination of the war. Both books are essential reading for anyone trying to understand the strategic and political aspects of the war. In Rethinking the Korean War: A New Diplomatic and Strategic History, Stueck addresses some of those aspects, taking into consideration evidence that has come to light since his last book.

In the first section of the book, Stueck examines the post-World War II division of Korea and the policies of the United States and the Soviet Union that, in conjunction with the internal social, political, and economic dynamics of Korea, led


to war. Stueck sees the origins of the war in the US-Soviet agreement to divide Korea at the 38th Parallel in 1945, their failure to eliminate that boundary, and the failure of the Koreans to unite against the division. He argues that in the absence of “extraordinary patience and trust on all sides,” the United States and the Soviet Union were incapable of devising a plan for reunification that would protect both their interests, while the Koreans themselves, deeply divided by class and ideology and having failed to liberate themselves, lacked the power to control their future. Stueck believes that neither the United States nor the Soviet Union sought war over Korea and “so long as both maintained troops there, all-out war remained unlikely.” But by 1950, both powers had withdrawn forces from Korea and two competing states had been established. A series of events (including Communist success in the Chinese Civil War, conclusion of a Sino-Soviet alliance, Soviet acquisition of the atomic bomb, and the failure of the United States to provide sufficient support for South Korea to deter attack) then led Joseph Stalin to support North Korean leader Kim Il-sung’s desire to attempt reunification by military force.

In that regard, Stueck weighs in on whether the United States intervened in a Korean civil war or responded to an international conflict supported by the USSR. This controversy was explained lucidly in the Spring 1998 issue of Parameters by James I. Matray, another premier Korean War historian, in his article, “Korea’s Partition: Soviet-American Pursuit of Reunification, 1945-1948.” Stueck’s argument is that the “unrest in South Korea grew in part out of local conditions, but neither its origins nor its course can be understood without devoting heavy attention to activities originating in the North or to actions heavily influenced by the Soviet and American presence on the peninsula. The local, national, and international forces blended together in a manner that would have made the actual course of events largely unrecognizable with the elimination of any of the three.” The term “Korean War” is imprecise, says Stueck, because it does not recognize the international dimensions of the conflict, but it is more accurate than the term “Korean Civil War,” which is a “clear-cut distortion of reality.”

In the second section of the book, Stueck traces the course of the war, devoting one chapter to the Chinese intervention, another to the question of why the war did not expand beyond the peninsula, and a third to the long and tortuous course of the Armistice negotiations. The final section of the book examines the effects of the war on the US-Korea relationship and the interrelationship between the war and American democracy.

Rethinking the Korean War is a valuable addition to the short list of reliable and authoritative politico-military histories of the Korean War. Its shortcomings are few. There are a few trivial spelling mistakes and two typographical errors of more substance: Maxwell Taylor is identified in a photo caption simply as “Lieutenant General Maxwell” and, disconcertingly, Colonel General Teretii F. Shtykov, the head of the Soviet occupation of North Korea, is identified throughout the text and in the index as “Shytkov.” Reflecting his own views on the nature of the war, Stueck’s greater emphasis is on the international aspects, although he provides enough information on the internal political dynamics of Korea to demonstrate the “civil war” aspects as well. There is no traditional bibliography, but information on


his sources is set forth in the endnotes and in a list, with full publication data, of the abbreviations he uses for the most frequently cited works.

For specialists and those already familiar with the issues, Stueck provides a cogent summary of the current scholarship, a clear explanation of his own views, and thought-provoking arguments that will stimulate further debate and research. In the process, Stueck sets forth a systematic and coherent overview of the background to the war, the major military operations, the long process of the Truce Talks, and the consequences of the war. Thus, his book can also be read with profit as an introductory text and a basis for further reading. Parameters readers will find this short, content-rich book worthwhile and illuminating.

Tuxedo Park: A Wall Street Tycoon and the Secret Palace of Science that Changed the Course of World War II. By Jennet Conant. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2002. 330 pages. $26.00. Reviewed by Colonel Arthur C. Winn, USA Ret., former member of the Strategic Studies Institute, US Army War College.

The “Wall Street Tycoon” in the title refers to the millionaire Alfred Lee Loomis. The “Secret Palace of Science” was his private laboratory of science at his mansion in Tuxedo Park, 40 miles northwest of New York City. It was a meeting place for the most visionary minds of the 20th century. The Loomis laboratory operated from 1926 to the winter of 1940 and played a significant role in the development of radar technology and in nuclear research credited with changing the course of World War II. President Truman awarded Loomis the Presidential Medal of Merit, the highest civilian award, for his contribution as “one of the leading scientific generals of the war.” The King of Great Britain awarded him the British Medal for Service in the Cause of Freedom. Loomis was a lawyer, businessman, investment banker, physicist, inventor, and philanthropist. His true passion was science. A listing of his scientific publications and patents follows the book’s epilogue.

The author’s great-uncle William Richards, an accomplished chemist, had worked for 14 years at the laboratory. His suicide in 1940 on the eve of the publication of his novel, Brain Waves and Death, created a mystery for his family. Richards’ book, written under a pseudonym, was a thinly veiled account of the scientific laboratory at Tuxedo Park and of the scientists who worked there. The novel and an unpublished short story found in the effects of William Richards about a scientist working to create the first atomic bomb were confiscated by James B. Conant, Richards’ brother-in-law and Jennet Conant’s grandfather, on the grounds that they were too close to the truth. Through the influence of both James B. Conant and Loomis, the novel quickly dropped out of sight, since it was personally embarrassing to both families (it hinted at an extramarital affair by Loomis) and highly sensitive from a national security perspective.

Jennet Conant’s book draws on private, unpublished papers and photographs from the Loomis and Conant families, as well as from the archives of other key scientists and government officials. Part biography, part history of science, part family memoir, it is a tale of the way America brought together the scientific resources to help fight and win World War II.


When war broke out in 1939, Loomis recognized that radar technology would be crucial to the outcome. But in 1940, the Army had ignored radar’s potential for defensive action and could not be interested in sponsoring any research. The Navy had developed its own detection devices, but was woefully short of funds to do further research. Through his close relationship with Vannevar Bush, former Vice President of MIT and head of the Carnegie Institution in Washington, D.C., and with his first cousin Henry Stimson, who would serve as President Franklin Roosevelt’s Secretary of War, Loomis was invited to attend top-secret meetings with representatives of the British government. In the fall of 1940, at a conclave at Tuxedo Park, a British delegation, known as the Tizard Mission, demonstrated that they were considerably farther ahead in radar research than the Americans. But in the midst of a battle for survival against the Nazis, the British desperately needed American help to develop and manufacture the new technology.

In November 1940, Loomis shut down his lab in Tuxedo Park and moved his operation to MIT in Cambridge, Mass., where on 11 November 1940 the MIT Radiation Laboratory—the “Rad Lab”—opened to establish the feasibility of microwave radar. With the help of his friend Ernest Lawrence of the University of California, who had already won a Nobel Prize for inventing the atom smasher, Loomis assembled a team of the nation’s most gifted young physicists. They helped develop radar devices that helped save London from the blitz, eliminated the threat to North Atlantic shipping from German submarines, and later were effectively used against the German V1 rockets.

By the fall of 1942, when Bush, Conant, and General Leslie Groves took steps to form the highly secret atomic bomb development program, which was then known as the Manhattan Engineering District (later the Manhattan Project), they had to look no further than Loomis’s Rad Lab for a readily available pool of brilliant minds to draw on. The author’s grandfather, James B. Conant, the president of Harvard University, became the administrator of the Manhattan Project. Loomis took charge of coordinating the radar division. The Rad Lab formally closed on 31 December 1945. It had produced over a hundred distinct radar systems. Most of the physicists returned to their university jobs and resumed their careers as professors and research scientists.

The book’s Epilogue highlights the subsequent activities of Loomis and many of his key associates. One wishes the author also had included a list of acronyms and abbreviations, as well as a “family tree” showing the affiliations and relationships of the personnel discussed in the book, which would have made this well-researched, well-documented book a bit easier to follow.

History buffs will enjoy reading this relatively unknown story of the role Alfred Lee Loomis, Wall Street tycoon and amateur physicist, played in financing and mobilizing civilian scientists. Their development of radar systems and work on the atomic bomb played a key role in winning World War II. Additionally, this reviewer especially recommends the book to today’s industrialists, research scientists, physicists, and engineers who work with and for the military services and the Defense Department, including members of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, and to those elements of the military services responsible for considering technology applications to service needs and requirements. Tuxedo Park will be of interest to a variety of readers.

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Reviewed 24 November 2003. Please send comments or corrections to