Book Reviews

From Parameters,  Spring 2008, pp. 105-29.

Corps Commanders of the Bulge: Six American Generals and Victory in the Ardennes. By Harold R. Winton. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2007. 504 pages. $39.95. Reviewed by Professor Eugenia C. Kiesling, Professor of History, US Military Academy.

Readers may receive Professor Harold Winton’s explanation for offering a corps-level study of the American effort in the Battle of the Bulge with some suspicion. Did he really see the corps as interesting and important, or were the more desirable subjects—platoons, armies, logistics, and the accouterments of German Volksgrenadier units—already taken? Corps, it turns out, are very interesting indeed, and Corps Commanders of the Bulge is excellent both as campaign narrative and as a study of command. For those interested in how armies go about fighting wars, Corps Commanders offers instructive insights into how armies move, fight, and supply themselves. The book provides enough tactical detail to explain the results of the actual fighting, but making corps the key actors ensures that every local engagement occurs in an operational context.

As the title suggests, the book focuses on the major generals who commanded the six US corps engaged in the Battle of the Bulge. Winton uses the battle as a laboratory for a detailed, thoughtful, and sympathetic study of command. His study illuminates the technical skills involved in handling a corps comprising as many as five combat divisions, the personal qualities involved in often fraught relations with superiors, fellow corps commanders, staffs, and subordinate commanders, and the emotional demands of decisionmaking in the largest battle ever fought by the US Army. So many studies have examined the strains at the top of the SHAEF hierarchy that it is a relief to move down to the level at which the opposition is wearing Feldgrau rather than khaki, to study combat command rather than inter-Allied quarrels.

Winton’s verdict on the American commanders is almost wholly positive— “it was fortunate that six men of such generally high competence were in command at the corps level in what was arguably the US Army’s most desperate struggle of the Second World War.” By emphasizing both US competence and the seriousness of the German threat in the Ardennes, Winton strikes a blow in the long-running dispute about the relative qualities of the Wehrmacht and the US Army. The former, though much battered by December 1944, was still a good army, the latter in every important respect a better one.

Winton’s project is to not only demonstrate the effectiveness of the US Army but to explain it in terms of the professional development of the officers of the interwar army and the process of selection for command. He wants to identify the experiences that prepared these men for success and the selection process that brought them to the right job at the right time. To answer these questions, Corps Commanders begins with a brief survey of the interwar Army’s school system, giving high marks to the effectiveness of the Command and General Staff College


(CGSC) and the Army War College at disseminating an American philosophy of command. Winton then sketches the careers of the six future corps commanders: Troy H. Middleton, Leonard T. Gerow, J. Lawton Collins, Manton S. Eddy, John Millikin, and Matthew B. Ridgway. As most of these men spent a significant part of their careers studying and teaching at these two institutions, Winton concludes that the US Army performed well in its greatest test because it emphasized professional education and chose the products of this education system for key commands.

The argument that successful products of the Army school system were promoted and proved worthy of the commands given them is plausible and contributes to the larger argument that the US Army was not lacking in professionalism. But the analysis makes one beg to know more. Winton emphasizes that most of his six corps commanders graduated high in their classes at the Command and General Staff College and that all except Manton Eddy attended the War College as well, but it would be interesting to see a systematic study of the relationship between class rank at the CGSC and future promotion and performance. At the very least, the devil’s advocate would like to know where the worst six corps commanders in World War II graduated. It would also be interesting to know more about the men who were the “runners-up” in the competition to command the corps that fought in the Bulge. Is there reason to believe that US success at the corps level resulted from picking the right men from a pool of varied quality or was the pool a uniformly competent product of the professional education system?

Assessments of military performance easily degenerate into hagiographic platitudes, counterfactual fantasies, or Monday morning quarterbacking, but Winton does his job as professionally as the commanders he studies. Each phase of the battle ends with a brief but thoughtful and sympathetic appraisal of the commanders’ handling of the resources at their disposal. Anyone whose appreciation for adjectives has been jaded by the hyperbole endemic in the Army’s Officer Efficiency Report (OER) system will appreciate Winton’s judicious vocabulary. Corps commanders are “commendable,” “prudent,” “cautious,” “strong-willed,” and “capable.” Sometimes they are “fortunate,” sometimes “sensible;” at others they are responsible for “egregious failure.” Winton did not find such evaluations as Milliken “performed credibly, competently, and with a nice touch of imagination” in a manual for writing letters of recommendation; though he does tend to elide his favorite encomium “creditable” into “credible.”

This reviewer cannot fault Winton’s preference for the more charitable interpretation of controversial actions, but he may be a bit too sanguine in down playing the role of “personal connections and timing” in accounting for some officers’ successes in comparison to their peers. Anyone having significant experience with Army personnel decisions may suspect that Millikin’s arbitrary relief by Courtney Hodges and the various examples of command influence in the award of decorations were not aberrations. Winton may be right that the Army identified and promoted talent much of the time, but the system had its victims.

Winton’s carefully crafted sentences are a pleasure to read and a demonstration of how history ought to be written. Sadly, many nice bits appear in the endnotes, where readers will overlook them. The most glaring mistake, a reference


to Marlborough’s remark about Waterloo brings solace to those of us who regularly commit worse slips of the pen.

Professor Winton has written an excellent study of command in battle. It can profitably be read by students of the American Army in World War II, those interested in the problem of assessing military performance, and anyone who appreciates excellent historical prose.

Blue and Gray Navies: The Civil War Afloat. By Spencer C. Tucker. Annapolis, Md.: US Naval Institute Press, 2006. 464 pages. $34.95. Reviewed by Dr. Kevin J. Weddle, Professor of Military Theory and Strategy, US Army War College, and author of Lincoln’s Tragic Admiral: The Life of Samuel Francis Du Pont.

In the 143 years since its bloody conclusion, the American Civil War has produced a virtual blizzard of books, often of widely varying quality. Of these thousands of volumes only a small percentage addresses the war at sea. Fortunately over the past ten years scholars have been redressing the balance. A series of excellent biographies and specialized studies on naval technology, strategy, the blockade, and other nautical topics has appeared over the past decade and has done much to shed light on the importance of the naval aspects of the war.

A welcome addition to the resurgence of naval scholarship is Spencer Tucker’s survey of the Civil War’s war at sea, Blue and Gray Navies: The Civil War Afloat. Tucker, as well as being an outstanding scholar of the Civil War in general, is one of the finest naval historians of that war. His recent award-winning biography of Union naval leader Andrew Foote is a testament to his considerable expertise. In Blue and Gray Navies, Tucker has mined his deep knowledge of the naval war and the result is simply the best available one-volume history of the American Civil War at sea.

When one thinks of the naval war, the ironclads and the blockade almost always spring to mind. Tucker describes how both sides embraced the new ironclad technology with the Confederates initially taking the lead. Faced with a shortage of almost every resource that a modern navy required, Confederate Secretary of the Navy Stephen R. Mallory actively supported any technological advantage he could find. The ironclad was just one of these technological advances, which also included torpedoes and submarines. Once Union Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles decided to embark on an ironclad building program emphasizing the monitor style of ships, the Union quickly gained the upper hand. Although the author rightly criticizes the fact that Welles and his assistant Gustavus Fox succumbed to “monitor fever,” he lauds Union and Confederate naval leadership—both civilian and uniformed—as being highly professional and capable.

Tucker also takes on perhaps the most persistent historical controversy of the naval war: Was or was not the Union naval blockade against the Confederate ports and commerce effective? In a masterful chapter discussing the blockade, Tucker answers with a qualified yes. Not permitting himself to be distracted by statistics showing the number of Confederate vessels that entered and departed ports,


Tucker emphasizes the considerable second- and third-order impacts of the blockade. It was primarily these effects that made the blockade worth the effort. Tucker convincingly argues that the disruption of the Confederate intercoastal trade and the sixfold increase in the price of cotton and other commodities, along with other debilitating impacts of the blockade, meant that the “Union blockade of the South appears to have been an effective use of resources.”

While the blockade and the ironclads are admirably addressed, Tucker does not ignore other critical aspects of the naval war. The brown-water war gets its due with outstanding chapters on “Early Union Riverine Warfare in the West,” “Union Riverine Warfare Continued: Vicksburg,” and “The Red River Operation.” Equally important are chapters on the South’s commerce raiders and Union attempts to counter their very real economic, psychological, and diplomatic impact on the overall war effort. Tucker rightly identifies Charleston, South Carolina, as one of the Union Navy Department’s key objectives. Welles and Fox, searching for a spectacular all-navy victory and eschewing joint operations with the army, pushed Admirals Samuel F. Du Pont and John Dahlgren, successive commanders of the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron, to take Charleston, the birthplace of the rebellion. Failing to heed the advice of his admirals, Welles would ultimately see Charleston fall to Sherman’s army and not the US Navy.

Naval organization, strategy, warship characteristics, leadership, ordnance, and many other key aspects of the naval war are well addressed. Tucker notes that neither side was particularly adept at joint operational planning and execution. Cooperation with the army was usually dependent on the personalities of the respective commanders. If the commanders got along, such as Grant and Foote or Grant and Porter, joint operations went well. More often than not, however, clashes of service cultures and interservice rivalries prevented adequate operational teamwork.

In the end, Tucker argues, “Union Navy activities shortened the war.” The author concludes that while both sides benefited from effective leadership, exploited new technology, and developed good strategies, “the overwhelming advantages enjoyed by the North in industrial might, population, organization, and logistics proved the difference on both land and sea.”

Blue and Gray Navies has it all. The book is well-written, the maps are uncluttered and highly effective, and the research is impressive. In short, this is one of the best books on the Civil War to appear in recent years. It deserves a place on the bookshelves of anyone interested in the Civil War, the naval history of the Civil War, and military history in general.

Urban Guerrilla Warfare. By Anthony James Joes. Lexington: The University Press of Kentucky, 2007. 232 pages. $35.00. Reviewed by Frank L. Jones, Professor of Security Studies, US Army War College.

“The worst policy is to attack cities,” admonished the ancient Chinese theorist of war, Sun Tzu, “attack cities only when there is no alternative.” Urban warfare in all its varieties is as brutish and nasty as any other terrain in which to fight. As


Anthony Joes, author of several books on insurgency, points out, urban guerrilla warfare can be especially pernicious. The urban guerrilla does not wear a uniform, but blends in with the city’s population to attain secrecy and anonymity; he matches his tactics to the topography of brick and mortar: every doorway becomes a firing point and every sewer a line of communication. For the government’s security forces to win, they must adapt more rapidly than the guerrilla and overcome conventional thinking and bureaucratic repertoires. Accurate intelligence becomes the coin of the realm, and as Joes points out, soldiers sometimes willingly cast aside their scruples and risk dishonor to obtain it. His instructive book tells the story of these fighters, their obsessions and passions, and much more.

Joes examines seven case studies of urban guerrilla warfare beginning with the battle between Polish partisans, German soldiers, and the SS during the Warsaw Uprising, in the declining days of the short-lived 1,000-year Reich. It ends with the Russian and Chechen guerrillas’ battle over Grozny, a city that the Russians besieged with infantry, artillery, tanks, and reported indiscriminate killing. As the author accurately describes, by the end of the fighting, the city’s inhabitants knew all four horsemen of the Apocalypse intimately.

A virtue of this book is that Joes introduces each case with explanatory information so the reader can appreciate the parties and triggering events. This approach is particularly helpful for lesser-known guerrilla actions of South American cities, as well as Northern Ireland where “The Troubles” lasted nearly three decades. All of the chapters are quite interesting and informative, but two are noteworthy.

Forty years ago, on 30 January 1968, the Vietnamese ushered in their New Year, Tet, during a holiday ceasefire agreed to by the warring parties, the South Vietnamese and their US allies, and the Communist regime in North Vietnam. A few hours after midnight, the Communist regime broke the pledge, directing its Viet Cong guerrillas in the south to attack the South Vietnamese capital of Saigon as well as 38 of the 44 province capitals. In this chapter, Joes has produced what is arguably the best succinct scholarly treatment of that offensive. He covers all the major points—the events leading to the attack, the failure of intelligence on both sides, and the fighting. Joes describes how the US press reacted to the event, which then ran like an electric current through the American body politic. Although the United States and South Vietnam’s counterattack in Saigon and elsewhere mauled the Viet Cong, it was a psychological victory for the Communists.

The other striking chapter concerns the Battle of Algiers. Joes uses the standard sources such as Alistair Horne, but has added to the discourse, incorporating such recent publications as the memoirs of General Paul Aussaresses, head of French intelligence efforts against the terrorists, and several other scholarly articles. This well-crafted chapter covers important issues such as the politico-military environment in which the French army found itself at home and abroad, the insurgents’ turn to urban terror tactics, the use of torture by the French, and the sad fate of the Algerian Muslims who remained loyal to France.

Ultimately, this book is a story of failures—operational and theoretical. Joes captures the latter deftly in his discussion of Carlos Marighella, a 1960s leftist intellectual smitten by Castro’s revolutionary success. As Joes demonstrates, Marighella’s


Minimanual of the Urban Guerrilla proved to be an impractical gospel for disciples and himself—Brazilian security forces shot him in the streets of Sao Paulo.

Some may criticize Joes’s analysis as too laden with Communist examples, referring to his discussion of Mao in the introduction. But just as it is unthinkable for artists not to study the old masters, it is no less true for those who seek to study the strategic art. Mao’s theory is crucial to a basic understanding of guerrilla warfare. The value of Joes’s book is his evenhanded selection of cases, from which students of insurgency and conventional warfare will benefit, as well as professors searching for a text to enrich their students’ understanding.

Russia and Postmodern Deterrence: Military Power and Its Challenges for Security. By Stephen J. Cimbala and Peter Jacob Rainow. Dulles, Va.: Potomac Books, 2007. 192 pages. $48.00 ($24.00 paper). Reviewed by Dr. Stephen J. Blank, Professor of National Security Studies, Strategic Studies Institute, US Army War College.

Russia, as its leaders regularly point out, faces an increasingly threatening strategic environment that is further complicated by the failure to reform the Soviet and Russian Army almost 20 years after Gorbachev. Thanks to the accumulation of unprecedented energy receipts and eight years of solid economic growth Russia is now engaged in an attempt to regain its status and capability as a major military power in a new and wholly transformed strategic environment. Given the scope of the tasks the Russian government and armed forces must perform to achieve success in this endeavor, more than one book is needed to cover the requisite topics. Accordingly the authors, accomplished specialists in the field, have sought to write a book devoted to specific topics rather than an all-encompassing work on the totality of Russian defense policy.

Chapter 1 focuses on the strategic legacy of the Soviet military and what the authors term “the ghost of Barbarossa.” This ghost addresses the likelihood of Russia again being victimized by a surprise attack at the hands of an advanced technological power or coalition. Inasmuch as Russia’s military-political elite regularly point to NATO and the United States as the most likely enemy, the authors’ analysis is timely given the current discord between East and West. The next three chapters examine how Russia has adapted to earlier transformations, namely the advent of nuclear weapons. But these chapters also point out that Russia faces challenges given problems with the command and control of these weapons and the even greater issues associated with the new offensive ICBMs and SLBMs that it is bringing on board. Equally as timely is the discussion in Chapter 4 of the dilemmas posed by American missile defenses. This presentation is particularly opportune given the fact that Russian responses have been twofold, even Janus-faced. On the one hand the military and political leadership loudly and repeatedly claim now that the movement of these weapon systems to Europe is a threat because eventually they will be integrated into a continental system deployed against Russia. Such a threat is seen as an attempt to neutralize its first-strike deterrent and confront Russia with the negation of its deterrent, leaving it with little


means of defending against American conventional or nuclear threats. On the other hand these leaders also regularly proclaim that the new missiles being produced by Russia are capable of ensuring its ability to deter threats until 2030, and penetrate or spoof any conceivable missile defenses.

Chapter 5 examines the strategic consequences of nuclear proliferation from the Russian perspective. Here again we find a Russia torn between its desire to support regional challengers to America, while at the same time deflecting North Korea and Iran from undermining its strategic interests, a posture that has created a nuclear Frankenstein. Russia has shown amazing forbearance until now vis--vis Tehran and Pyongyang yet its leaders are now saying they need to leave the INF-treaty because various nations, i.e. China, are developing intermediate-range ballistic missiles while it is barred from doing so. Its military views nuclear weapons as the only actionable deterrent against the continuing modernization of NATO, an inherent threat. In other words Russia has not resolved its ambivalence about regional proliferation and the potential threat it poses to itself or others in today’s strategic environment.

Finally, Chapter 6 examines the problem of Chechnya and the issues it raises related to deterring terrorist and unconventional threats. The authors observe that this experience and the evolving threats should serve as rationale underpinning new command and control arrangements, operational concepts, and the reorganization of force structure packages. But in fact there have only been limited restructurings of the military and its C4I (command, control, communications, computers, and intelligence), nothing of the magnitude of new operational concepts envisioned or advertised.

As the authors highlight, the Russian military has an enduring Achilles’ heel; its failure to move to a truly professional army and to modernize the functioning of the state. Without such initiatives Russia will never be able to build a modern army due to its archaic state government and deficient technological sector. This concluding point is the critical factor that ties everything together. Ultimately, it is the state and its economy that must support and drive the creation of a transformed military capable of meeting the requirements of contemporary deterrence. Without these innovations no military program can reasonably be expected to succeed. It is precisely because Russia has not grasped the requirements for this transition that analysts remain skeptical that Russia will ever be truly capable of meeting its contemporary defense requirements.

The Utility of Force: The Art of War in the Modern World. By Rupert Smith. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2007. 415 pages. $30.00. Reviewed by Colonel Glenn Alexander Crowther, Research Professor of National Security Studies, Strategic Studies Institute, US Army War College.

General Rupert Smith has produced an excellent analysis of the changed nature of conflict and the utility of force in the twenty-first century. General Smith provides a groundbreaking concept: that war as we conceptualize it no longer exists. Starting with the end of the Cold War, US investment in military capability has produced a military against whom no one can stand in conventional state-on-state


warfare—so they won’t. Instead, the author points out that we will face proud warriors who come from cultures that inspire them with centuries of martial tradition.

The book is divided into three sections. It opens with a number of chapters addressing the history of “Interstate Industrial War” from Napoleon to the World Wars. The second section of the book contains three chapters outlining “The Cold War Confrontation” and analyzing how conflict had changed during the last half of the twentieth century. In the third section, General Smith examines “War Amongst the People,” with chapters on “Our Modern Operations,” “Setting the Purpose for the Use of Force,” and “Using Force Amongst the People.” Many of the details outlined in these chapters are based on events in the Bosnian campaign, where the author was a senior commander.

Smith postulates that the idea that war is a “massive deciding event in a dispute in international affairs” has been overtaken by events. War has evolved from a “War of the People” as exemplified during the Napoleonic period, to “War on the People” of the industrial state-on-state era, and finally recognized today as “War Among the People.” General Smith identifies this latest classification of warfare as “the antithesis to the paradigm of interstate industrial war.”

It is this lack of utility of force in the war among the people that the author refers to in his title. Smith’s thesis is captured in the belief that since the end of the Cold War, “force has been used time and time again, yet failed to achieve the result expected: it has been misapplied, while in other cases leaders have shrunk from applying it because they could not see its utility.” He goes on to analyze current trends, saying that war among the people “is one in which the political and military are both parts of the same continuum, often working together—with the main difference being that the civilian agencies do not take part in military action, although military representatives may be part of the political and diplomatic negotiations.”

It is in his conceptualization of war among the people where General Smith captures the essence of modern warfare. He articulates the need to transform the various forces to make them more utilitarian in an effort to meet the demands of modern conflict. He successfully articulates the changing nature of conflict, where differing groups fight for a variety of reasons, and the rationale underpinning such conflicts never appears to go away. The author believes this type of conflict can only be addressed, never solved, through a combination of all the elements of national power. The military is only one tool in the toolbox and, as Smith points out, one with limited utility.

In his discussion of “War Amongst the People” General Smith identifies six major trends: The ends for which individuals fight are constantly changing; combat takes place amongst the people; conflicts tend to be timeless; militaries fight so as not to lose their forces; on each occasion of combat new uses are found for old weapons; and the combatants are mostly nonstate actors. With this quick list, he provides individuals who are preparing for deployment and those in leadership positions with a useful paradigm to analyze future challenges.

If there is a weakness in this book it is that the author does not strongly articulate a major dichotomy facing today’s military powers: The existence of the modern military has made industrial war irrelevant, while at the same time, states


must continue to maintain conventional force capability in an effort to ensure that industrial war remains irrelevant. Once the militaries of the developed world decrease in size or capability, the actors who refuse to engage on the conventional field of battle will no longer be reluctant, again leading to large-scale conventional war.

As those responsible for applying military power to address these evolving challenges, senior political and military leaders should read this book. Students at the seven US Senior Service Colleges as well as their counterparts from other countries that traditionally support international deployments should also find this book invaluable. Probably the most important audience for this work is the senior legislative leaders from the House and Senate Armed Services Committees, Service Secretaries, and Service Chiefs. It is these individuals responsible for addressing the lack of utility that modern military forces currently present.

The Tao of Deception: Unorthodox Warfare in Historic and Modern China. By Ralph D. Sawyer. New York: Basic Books, 2007. 449 pages. $29.95. Reviewed by Dr. J. Boone Bartholomees, Jr., Professor of Military History, US Army War College.

Ralph Sawyer continues his long career as a leading expert on ancient Chinese warfare with the publication of The Tao of Deception. Sawyer is the authoritative English translator of virtually all the important ancient Chinese military texts including Sun Tzu’s Art of War, Sun Pin’s Military Methods, The Seven Military Classics of Ancient China, and One Hundred Unorthodox Strategies. Sawyer has begun reprocessing all that translated text into interpretative books that exploit his familiarity with the subject, language, and culture. The Tao of Deception is one such work. In one sense the book is a sifting, filtering, reordering, and re-presentation of material already done; however, it is also more than that. The Tao of Deception has distinct merits of its own. The primary of these is the subject itself.

The tao (or way) of deception has to do primarily not with what a western soldier would think of as deception, but with a much broader concept expressed in Chinese as chi. Like many Chinese words, chi has myriad potential translations that have accumulated and mutated over centuries of use. Years ago, Sawyer introduced the translation of chi as “unorthodox,” a translation that has become widely but not universally accepted. Thus, the subtitle of his book is actually a more clear indication of its contents than the title in that the book is really a study of the history of the Chinese concept of unorthodox warfare. This is an important subject. In fact, if China has a distinct way of war—and it is clear that cultural factors do influence why, when, and how nations fight—it probably has chi at its center. As China rises to the top of everybody’s list of potential rivals, understanding the tao of deception becomes increasingly significant.

Sawyer traces the idea of chi through centuries from the most ancient texts to today, where he finds it in both modern military and mass culture (movies, books, comics, etc.). He demonstrates convincingly that the concept of chi has been consistently present in and a major part of Chinese theoretical writings since Sun Tzu, whom Chinese theorists of all ages reference repeatedly, although the specific


meaning of the word has changed somewhat over the years. Basically, Sawyer interprets the tao of deception as doing everything imaginable to put your enemy in the most disadvantageous position possible before fighting. Some later proponents have taken that broad concept and restricted it to narrow interpretations such as designating specific units or set percentages of armies as unorthodox forces. Regardless of the scope or interpretation of the concept, there is general agreement among Chinese theorists with Sun Tzu’s assertion that one fights with the orthodox but wins with the unorthodox. Additionally, some acts—such as ambushes or feigned retreats— have become so standard over the years that they have essentially become orthodox, although they are still labeled otherwise. This, of course, is not a new insight. Edward Luttwak recognized that a danger of what he famously calls the paradoxical logic of war is that the paradoxical becomes expected if repeated too often. There are also some deceptions that lose their value once employed; the Trojan horse will never work again in exactly the same manner in which the Greeks first used it.

If Sawyer’s book disappoints, it is in the comparative scarcity of its analysis of modern Chinese military thought. Less than 30 pages deal directly with the subject—although there are scattered modern references throughout the book. Nevertheless, The Tao of Deception is a great analysis of an important theoretical concept and practical component of Chinese warfare.

Bioethics and Armed Conflict: Moral Dilemmas of Medicine and War. By Michael L. Gross. Cambridge, Mass.: The MIT Press, 2006. 384 pages. $65.00 ($26.00 paper). Reviewed by Dr. David L. Perry, Professor of Ethics and General Maxwell Taylor Chair of the Profession of Arms, US Army War College.

This book represents an original contribution to the scholarly literature in normative ethics. Michael Gross exhibits competence in both biomedical ethics and military ethics, and generally wise discernment among moral alternatives. He writes in a style that does justice to the complexity of his subject but is nonetheless accessible.

Gross examines an extraordinarily comprehensive range of ethical topics in military medicine, five of which are highlighted here:

Whether bioethics and military ethics share any common principles. Gross devotes his second chapter to defending and explaining four such principles: (a) the right to life, which he associates with a right to medical care; (b) autonomy, which he connects with informed consent and confidentiality; (c) dignity, entailing respect for personhood, freedom from torture and degrading treatment, etc.; and (d) utility. The author explains that none of those four principles should be seen as absolute, and notes that they sometimes conflict in bioethical realms in both war and peace.

Whether the rights of soldiers as patients are restricted by military utility. Gross points out in Chapters 3 and 5 that medical triage in combat can differ dramatically from ways in which scarce medical resources are typically distributed in the civilian world. Military goals and constraints sometimes compel physicians to deny treatment to gravely wounded soldiers—even if their lives might be saved—in order to


“salvage” those less seriously injured to return them to combat. Although civilian doctors are also faced on occasion with insufficient resources to treat all who need them, priority is usually given to those in greatest need.

In the fourth chapter, Gross argues that a competent patient’s right to informed consent—which entails a right to refuse vaccines and life-sustaining treatment—is greatly limited for soldiers, in contrast to its virtually sacrosanct status in civilian medicine. But the author is troubled by instances in the past where soldiers were clearly abused as experimental subjects, and urges that their informed consent be respected whenever possible.

Whether wounded enemy soldiers, civilians, or insurgents must be treated by our military’s medical personnel. The author’s views on this are intriguing: “[P]hysicians would like to treat all their patients as best they can without regard to a patient’s status as friend or foe. . . . While one may kill [enemy] soldiers [in combat], one generally may not allow them to die of their wounds.” Not even insurgents or terrorists can legitimately be denied needed medical care, in his view. But Gross also contends, “When resources are scarce, any attempt to provide civilians or POWs with the same medical facilities one provides military personnel is, at the very least, counterproductive.” The immunity from direct attack accorded to medical personnel under the laws of armed conflict does not require them to be completely impartial in distributing medical resources.

Whether and to what extent physicians may ethically participate in detainee interrogations. Gross reminds us that doctors are strictly forbidden under international law and professional codes from conducting torture or standing by silently as others engage in it. He nonetheless devotes a significant portion of Chapter 7 to the ethical question of whether torture can ever be justified.

Unfortunately the author’s analysis bogs down on the issue of whether a terrorist’s actions cause him/her to forfeit a right not to be tortured. Gross seems to argue that “criminal acts are fundamentally different from acts of terror. However heinous, crimes against persons fall within the framework of recognizable human interaction, so that the net of human dignity protects both perpetrators and victims.” Hence, a criminal can never forfeit his/her right not to be tortured. “The terrorist,” on the other hand, “who recognizes no intrinsic value to the life of his victim, who takes advantage and intentionally abuses his victim’s innocence for his own purposes, forfeits his own moral status as a human being.” But later the author suggests that heinous criminals may in some cases not be categorically different from terrorists, so it’s not obvious which view he is really advocating.

Battlefield euthanasia. If soldiers are fatally wounded in battle and cannot be saved, is it ethical for military physicians to end their lives directly? Most US physicians tend in surveys to say that their professional oath and calling prohibit any direct and intentional killing of patients.

But Gross offers some intriguing counterarguments in Chapter 4. One is an appeal to military necessity, in cases where caring for one’s own wounded would put an important military mission at risk, e.g., delaying a strategic retreat. Another of Gross’s claims is that soldiers incapacitated by wounds have ceased being combatants, and thus regain rights they had as civilians, including a right to refuse


life-sustaining treatment. But then, no US civilian has a legal right to obtain active euthanasia, in spite of their constitutional right to refuse all life-sustaining treatment. (Oregon alone among the states permits physician-assisted suicide, but not active/direct killing.) So the question becomes, do some patients (such as mortally wounded soldiers) have a moral right to be euthanized, in spite of legal and professional prohibitions?

Gross implies that there is no inherent moral difference between passive and active euthanasia, and further that it might be justified to euthanize wounded soldiers who are about to be overrun by an enemy who will surely torture them. But it’s therefore unclear why Gross stops short of permitting active euthanasia when soldiers are likely to die of their wounds in severe suffering. This reviewer is also puzzled by the author’s claim, “Killing on request is still murder,” in part because Gross has previously alluded to the fact that withholding life-sustaining treatment on request is not murder, but also because acceding to the rational request of a competent adult to kill them is obviously unlike murder in that respect.

On balance, though, this book has many strengths and very few weaknesses. Gross helps us to understand what’s at stake in public debates about what may ethically be done to and by our government servants on our behalf.

Oil, Profits, and Peace: Does Business Have a Role in Peacemaking? By Jill Shankleman. Washington: USIP Press, 2007. 235 pages. $35.00 ($14.95 paper). Reviewed by Michael J. Fratantuono, Associate Professor, Department of International Studies, Business & Management, Dickinson College; Adjunct Professor, US Army War College.

During the past two decades the increasing interdependence among state and nonstate actors in the global system, along with corresponding changes in the structure of the system, have prompted professionals from both the business and national security arenas to think in broader terms. Chief executive officers of many multinational enterprises now recognize that in order to maximize long-run profits in underdeveloped areas, their companies will have to invest in social-infrastructure projects and otherwise be good corporate citizens. Those responsible for formulating and implementing national strategy assert that instability in any one of a variety of regions poses a threat to US national interests; as a counterweight, they advocate sustainable development, a process which simultaneously generates favorable economic, social, and environmental outcomes for local people.

In her relevant, useful, clearly written, concise, and extremely well-researched book—the bibliography contains more than 50 sources, the endnotes nearly 400 entries—sociologist, consultant, and researcher Jill Shankleman operates at the intersection of those two arenas of concern. In particular, she investigates whether companies involved in oil production in underdeveloped countries can, in conjunction with other actors, take socially responsible actions that will help prevent the outbreak of hostilities or reduce the intensity of existing conflict. When all is said and done, she offers a qualified, “Yes.” As the author works toward this end,


she first creates a general framework of analysis and then provides detailed case studies of historical developments and current conditions in Azerbaijan, Angola, and Sudan.

Oil is a commodity of enormous geopolitical significance. While the majority of the world’s known reserves are located in the Middle East, rising demand has stimulated further exploration and production in countries with otherwise underdeveloped economies. The industry has a complex structure, consisting of three categories of companies. The first includes the majors—actually five super-majors (ExxonMobil, BP, Shell, Total, and Chevron) and 15 or so other firms—involved in all phases of supply, exploration, extraction, refining, distribution, and marketing. The second includes hundreds of lesser known independents that are engaged in exploration and production, but do not have their own branded outlets or refineries. The third is comprised of companies that are either fully or partially owned by central governments and are guided by a combination of commercial and foreign policy objectives.

Numerous studies suggest a positive correlation between the presence of oil and the existence of conflict in developing nations. The discovery of reserves in one part of a country can exacerbate separatist sentiments. Exploration and construction of platforms and pipelines can disrupt the way of life of indigenous populations and elevate local tensions. Most important, with production under way, revenue streams channeled to elites can result in income inequality, extravagant consumption, disregard of the need for investments in human capital and social welfare, expenditures on weapon systems, or funding of ongoing wars.

Those outcomes were not solely the result of corporate actions—for example, to create buffer zones around oil-related projects, some governments drove locals from tribal lands via military force or scorched-earth polices. Nonetheless, charges by various stakeholders against oil companies—especially the super-majors—were damning: companies damaged the environment; destroyed local communities; abused worker rights; and propped up authoritarian and corrupt governments. Furthermore, those claims came in an era when various stakeholders were raising the bar of acceptable behavior for business executives from all industries: strong financial performance and philanthropy were no longer sufficient; companies were increasingly expected to demonstrate good behavior on environmental and social fronts.

In those circumstances, leaders of the major oil companies, cognizant of the instrumental value of a good reputation and the benefits associated with operating in a lower-political-risk environment, charted a new course. They engaged in dialogue with representatives of governments, other businesses, nongovernmental organizations, and intergovernmental organizations including the International Monetary Fund and World Bank, and made progress in two general areas: management of revenue and management of local community impact. In the area of revenue management, global guidelines today exist for transparency in tracking revenue streams, and there is a growing consensus regarding how host governments might better deploy oil-related proceeds. To better manage local impacts, companies now routinely perform thorough environmental and social assessments and engage in conversations with a range of stakeholders before exploration or construction of new facilities.


While those innovations and practices should help reduce the probability of future conflict, the prospects for more dramatic initiatives are limited, for at least three reasons. First, it will be up to government officials to decide how much national sovereignty they are willing to sacrifice when they negotiate Production Sharing Agreements with oil companies—agreements which spell out geographic boundaries for a company’s exploration and production rights; contract duration; revenue-sharing arrangements; and expectations about the employment practices, social re-investment initiatives, and environmental safeguards that should be implemented by the company. Second, while independents tend to fly below the radar of public perception and therefore have less incentive to be good corporate citizens, state-owned enterprises from China and other countries remain eager to fill the void if national governments and majors cannot come to terms. Third, while some scholars have pressed corporations to be even more proactive—for example by creating proprietary conflict prevention policies and programs and by being first-hand participants in forums dedicated to peacemaking and global governance—corporate officers have remained skeptical about those suggestions, questioning whether their companies have appropriate skill sets to engage in that fashion and wondering if those activities would indeed be mission consistent. Thus, absent an unforeseen crisis, the existing balance of interests suggests the status quo will prevail for the intermediate-run.

A South Divided: Portraits of Dissent in the Confederacy. By David C. Downing. Nashville, Tenn.: Cumberland House, 2007. 240 pages. $22.95. Reviewed by Major Brit K. Erslev, Instructor, Department of History, US Military Academy.

A great deal of today’s literature, increasingly in the field of military history, addresses the internal divisions that plagued the Confederate States of America and their effects on the outcome of the Civil War. David C. Downing’s A South Divided draws on the existing literature to devise several vignettes illustrating the diversity of dissent across the Confederacy.

Downing, an English professor at Elizabethtown College and self-described Civil War enthusiast, writes for an audience with an appreciation for the unique stories of groups and individuals who did not always support the idea of secession. He purposely uses the term dissident, versus traitor, Unionist, or loyalist, for its generic, less ideological connotation, allowing for the inclusion of disparate examples. Beginning with cases of dissent before 1861, Downing works his way chronologically through the war, concluding that the aggregate of individual acts of resistance may have contributed to Confederate defeat.

The author first discusses Southerners who objected to slavery in the decades before the Civil War, specifically the abolitionist Grimk sisters of Charleston, South Carolina, and the Louisiana planter John McDonough, who took a comparatively enlightened (by contemporary standards) view in letting his slaves pay off their bondage. Downing then moves on to discuss two famous examples of Southern-born


officers who remained with the Union, David Glasgow Farragut of the Navy and George H. Thomas of the Army. Before he earned the nickname “Rock of Chickamauga,” Thomas, a Virginian, continually dealt with questions about his loyalty to the United States. His sisters who remained in Norfolk refused to ever see him again. Downing summarizes Thomas’s various command positions to demonstrate the increased regard with which he was held in the Union high command. The author considers Thomas representative of the quality of officers that declined to join the Confederacy.

The next two chapters revisit the familiar subjects of West Virginia’s quest for statehood and the struggle between Unionists and Confederate sympathizers in eastern Tennessee. Focusing on William G. Brownlow, “The Fighting Parson” and staunch Unionist editor of the Knoxville Whig, Downing also relates the lesser-known story of Daniel Ellis, a guide who led potential Union enlistees north through the Appalachian Mountains, eluding Confederate cavalry patrols. The theme of military dissent continues with examples of deserters, Unionists, and guerillas from other Confederate states such as North Carolina, Alabama, Mississippi, and Texas. Downing narrates the interesting story of a group of recently emigrated German Unionists who attempted to escape Texas for Mexico, only to be chased down by Confederate conscription agents convinced that the German-Americans were moving south of the border en route to Union lines.

The author devotes a chapter to those Native Americans who sided with either the Union or Confederacy in Indian Territory, and the resulting guerilla war in Oklahoma and Kansas. This is a topic with which most readers will not be familiar, and the author does an excellent job describing the enmity that developed between full- and mixed-blood Native Americans over which government to support. Downing then turns his attention to former slaves who fought for the North, and the period up through 1863 when Union leadership responded to and changed the policy regarding the use of “contraband” and black enlistees. He concentrates on those officers who advocated using African-American soldiers and highlights the achievements of Robert Smalls, the steamship pilot who escaped enslavement and eventually returned to become state representative and senator from South Carolina.

Downing’s final chapter summarizes the contributions and opinions of women who lived in the Confederacy and opposed the war. While many women practiced indirect methods of protest such as encouraging their husbands to desert, Richmond socialite Elizabeth van Lew brazenly provided intelligence to Union officials through her spy network and assisted captured soldiers in Libby Prison. Van Lew has been the subject of several recent publications, and Downing draws on these to illustrate how a woman of strong conviction aided others and dealt with recrimination in the decades following the war.

Those who are familiar with military and social histories of the Civil War will not find much new material in Downing’s book or his contentious conclusions, but the author does write with a clarity and enthusiasm that should appeal to the reader. The overall chronological structure of the book assists in linking the different topics, and each chapter provides an easily digestible snapshot of a single form of dissent. This characteristic is also in one sense a weakness, as Downing is forced


to curtail discussion of more familiar topics, such as African-American Union enlistees, to keep a balanced format with his lesser known subjects. Synthesizing items from the best of classic and current scholarship on Confederate dissent, Downing’s work is a handy reference for scholars as well as a fascinating introduction for those who want to know more about the internal conflict behind the larger war.

Charge! History’s Greatest Military Speeches. Edited by Steve Israel. Annapolis, Md.: Naval Institute Press, 2007. 300 pages. $32.95. Reviewed by Dr. Bruce Fleming, Professor of English, US Naval Academy.

Every year the English Department at the Naval Academy, where I’ve taught for more than two decades, puts out a T-shirt with a slogan. One year it was simply “The pen is mightier.” Than the sword, of course. This good-natured kickback from the scribbling classes comes as a response to the louder saber-rattling the military in general, and the Academy in particular, engages in as a default. Still, it implies the sword and the pen are in competition. Congressman Steve Israel’s collection of “Greatest Military Speeches” reminds us they aren’t, though it opens with the same pen vs. sword quote the English Department was drawing on— written by the novelist Edward Bulwer-Lytton, from 1839. In the collection itself, both pen and sword in fact point in the same direction, their thrusts reinforcing each other.

Indeed, in this book the pen virtually becomes the sword. Charge! is a collection, for interested amateurs rather than scholars, of some of the most inspirational words ever written for use before, during, and after combat: words that, in some cases at least, actually determined the course of the events that inspired them. It casts a wide historical net, opening (the section called “Distant Echoes”) with versions of speeches by the likes of Moses and the Empress Theodora. It passes through speeches of the Age of Enlightenment on its way to many famous exhortations from World War II and ends with the slightly less heroic present age (Richard Nixon “asking for patience in Vietnam”) and George W. Bush’s response to the attack on the World Trade Center on 9/11.

In each case a leader has used the pen like a sword—or a rifle, with morale and dedication of his or her troops and people rising as a result. Charge! makes clear that our fighting leaders need both pens and swords, words and guns—and that the emphasis on either one to the exclusion of the other is a mistake for which we are likely to pay dearly in the long run.

One of the speeches included here, from Woodrow Wilson, was in fact the 1914 graduation address to the Naval Academy. His point, made with respect to the Navy, then in Vera Cruz, resonates today as we weigh the effects of our initial style of intervention in Iraq. Wilson praises the US sailors and officers sent to Mexico because “they are ready and diligent to make the place they went fitter to live in than they found it; . . . they regarded other people’s rights; . . . they did not strut and bluster, but went quietly, like self-respecting gentlemen, about their legitimate work.”


The lion’s share of the collection is devoted to World War II speeches by the Allies. That is the book’s greatest strength, since some of the leaders were genuinely great stylists of the English language. Churchill, after all, won the Nobel Prize for literature, and though Roosevelt was helped by an army of speechwriters, he altered phrases himself and put his own stamp on his works. Yet the editor’s weakness for recent and eloquent Allied leaders engaged in a clearly just war makes clear the fundamental weakness of this collection. Its scholarly premises are weak, and it ends up suggesting that eloquence always aids victory, and in a good cause. It’s the intellectual equivalent of a Hollywood movie in which reality is rewritten to make a good story, and the good guy, not coincidentally played by the best-looking dude around, always wins.

Both the beginning and the end of this book are weak. The speeches from the mists of history that comprise the book’s opening are questionable examples of the pen abetting the sword for several reasons. In many cases, they’re not “real” speeches at all, but imaginary renderings by writers after the fact: what the historical personage might have said if he or she had been a writer, and if things had been as clear to him (or her) as they later became from an historical perspective. It was Thucydides who wrote the speeches ascribed in this book to Pericles, for example; and though the famous “band of brothers” speech from Shakespeare’s Henry V is ascribed to the author rather than the character, Shakespeare wasn’t trying to get anyone to win the Battle of Agincourt, only invoking it. Most of the early speeches too are anachronistic translations: Moses “speaks” (his words are an imaginary rendering well after the fact by unknown writers) in “Biblical English.” At the other end of the temporal spectrum, the most recent political utterances are in their entirety the work of paid pensmen, merely delivered by the politicians reading from a TelePrompTer. They’re not examples of martial leadership through words, but only savvy marketing. As the fellow in the ad says: they’re not doctors, they just play them on TV.

Most troubling, though understandable (a book has to be marketed too, after all) is the fact that the view of the value of words it offers is simply false. Because this book privileges the good guys and the motivational cause, it obscures the unpleasant truth that words are morally neutral: bad guys can talk pretty too, move men into battle, and keep the home folks motivated under bombs. (Hitler was plenty eloquent, but there’s nothing from him.) Frequently too, divinely inspired eloquence falls on deaf ears and doesn’t rally anybody, or falls victim to circumstances. If you’re outnumbered, you’re outnumbered, and you’re probably going to die. History being written by the victors, however, it’s not likely anyone will print your leader’s attempts to prevent that.

Charge! is thus what the Marine Corps would call an “oohrah” collection, consisting largely of motivational high points, feel-good mixtures of fact and fiction “based on real events,” and associated with people we admire. The few speeches that (at least from this reviewer’s view) depart from this norm are jarring. I can’t read the narrow-minded exhortations to Crusade of Bernard of Clairvaux without a raised eyebrow (Israel admits the Second Crusade was a failure, but at least St. Bernard got half of Europe to go): he explains the fall of Jerusalem to the Muslims in words that echo Pat Robertson’s explanation of 9/11 (God is punishing His people for immorality).


And sometimes Israel’s love of a good line obscures his historic sense. I’m at a loss to explain how the speeches to the troops of the Emperor Napoleon I, one of history’s bloodiest expansionists who tried to subjugate most of the known world by the sword (history estimates half a million people died as a result of his horrifying invasion of Russia alone), are filed under the rubric of “Liberty or Death,” right after speeches by Patrick Henry and Abraham Lincoln. Me, I like the French, but their continued devotion to “L’Empereur” remains as puzzling to me as it still does to the English, the Russians, the Spaniards, and practically everybody else but the French.

Still, if you want to be reminded that words can (though need not) change the world in the service of good, this is the book for you. In any case, it’s a pleasure to have the words themselves, whoever wrote them and however unrepresentative of all battle rhetoric they may be. Within a few pages of each other we move from Roosevelt’s beautiful aristocratic cadences, full of imbedded clauses, to such air-cleaning assertions as Patton’s that “Every man is scared in his first battle. If he says he’s not, he’s a goddamn liar.”

Patton, by the way, wrote his own speeches. I say, “Oohrah!”

Bitter Friends, Bosom Enemies: Iran, the U.S., and the Twisted Path to Confrontation. By Barbara Slavin. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2007. 258 pages. $24.95. Reviewed by W. Andrew Terrill, General Douglas MacArthur Professor of National Security Affairs, Strategic Studies Institute, US Army War College.

Bitter Friends, Bosom Enemies is an examination of key aspects of the Iranian political system with special emphasis given to the factors influencing US-Iranian relations. The study is authored by USA Today journalist Barbara Slavin who has a long history of reporting from Iran. It includes examinations of Iranian security concerns, the reform movement, the Revolutionary Guards, the clerical leadership, the Iranian government and opposition, and most especially, US-Iranian relations. Rather colorfully, Slavin suggests that Iran and the United States are like a formerly married couple that has gone through a bitter divorce with a particularly personal kind of bitterness on both sides dominating the relationship. Additionally, the author suggests that it is especially difficult for the United States and Iran to reconcile since the anger and distrust of each country’s leadership has permeated the domestic politics of both nations.

The first major issue that Slavin considers is the Iranian nuclear program. She strongly asserts that Iran is struggling to build its own nuclear weapons and blames the Bush Administration for dramatically accelerating the program by feeding an Iranian fear that they would be the next target of an American attack after Iraq. Slavin also states that the US intelligence community sounded a clear warning that an attack on Iraq would drive Tehran’s nuclear program forward unless the United States also attempted to calm Iranian fears about American power in the Middle East. She does not doubt the Iranian determination to achieve a nuclear weapons capability, but suggests that such a capability may be a long way off. A possible gap in the book is that the author does not examine strategic nuclear weapons-


related issues such as how to deter reckless action by a nuclear-armed Iran should such an entity emerge. Likewise, while noting Iran’s commitment to the Palestinians, she does not suggest how Iranian nuclear planning might be influenced by the probable deaths of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians in any successful Iranian nuclear strike against Israel.

Slavin does not view Iranian President Ahmadinejad as the fanatical and diabolical Middle Eastern Hitler presented by some neoconservatives. Rather, she sees him as a populist, right-wing politician who while narrow and bombastic has in no way lost track of reality in a mental sea of religious obscurantism (as some critics charge). She states that the role of his office is mostly administrative and notes that he has no formal powers to command the military despite his posturing as Iran’s chief defender. Slavin also calls him a “publicity hound” who has used incendiary rhetoric against Israel and the United States to distract from his incompetence in administering the Iranian economy. The closest analogy she comes up with is Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. Chavez is an Ahmadinejad friend and ally despite the Venezuelan leader’s commitment to Marxism and lack of religious devotion. Slavin further notes Ahmadinejad’s lack of preparation for high office including his lack of travel, his advanced degree in the narrow field of traffic engineering, and even his education at a second-rate Iranian university. Her prose drips with contempt for the Iranian president whom she does not view as an adequate leader or even someone that Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei takes very seriously.

Slavin concludes her study with a hard look at US foreign policy toward Iran in the last three US administrations. She does, however, give some credit to both George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton for various efforts to improve relations in ways that were seldom met with an enthusiastic response from Tehran. Slavin also suggests that both governments have to struggle with domestic politics (sometimes not involving each other) in ways that often prevent them from assuming the political cost of reaching out to the other.

Yet, if Slavin’s evaluations of the elder George Bush and Bill Clinton are mixed, her view of George W. Bush is withering. She puts forward a history of the then-secret talks that occurred between the United States and Iran in 2003 noting that the Iranians were on the defensive and desperate for an agreement that would establish normal and businesslike relations between the two countries. She also recognizes that under President Khatami (who remained in office until 2005), President Bush had a moderate partner for negotiations who had already demonstrated a willingness to cooperate with the United States by providing invaluable support for the US efforts in Afghanistan. According to Slavin none of this mattered to the most influential members of the Bush Administration. Concessions from Iran were considered meaningless no matter how sweeping they might be on issues such as terrorism and nuclear weapons. Instead, according to Slavin, Administration hardliners viewed policy toward Iran through the “prism of a successful Iraq war” and “democratic domino theory.” Slavin believes that this misguided view continued long after events on the ground in Iraq could possibly be seen as justifying it. Moreover, as the Iranians grasped the magnitude of America’s difficulties in Iraq, they became less


inclined to make concessions and even more deeply interested in opposing US policies in the region.

The study concludes by noting that the American-Iranian relationship is at one of the worst points in its history and that the current Administration “appeared to be building a case for military action [against Iran] on the same issues it had used against Saddam Hussein: weapons of mass destruction, support for terrorism, and repression of human rights.” Fortunately, since the time of this book’s publication the danger of a US-Iranian war appears to have receded for a number of reasons. Nevertheless, Slavin’s study suggests that in the absence of creative diplomacy and good will on both sides, a US-Iranian rapprochement is unlikely in the foreseeable future.

God and Gold: Britain, America, and the Making of the Modern World. By Walter Russell Mead. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2007. 449 pages. $27.95. Reviewed by John W. Coffey, retired Foreign Affairs Officer at the State Department.

The meaning of American power for world history forms the spacious theme of this ambitious book by Walter Russell Mead. The American project, he maintains, has been to make the world a more dynamic place where accelerating technological change and expanding markets propel us to an end we cannot foresee. Mead weaves a large, complex tapestry limning the sources, consequences, and limits of this unparalleled position. The author examines why, after three centuries of unbroken victory in war and unprecedented global hegemony, Anglo-Americans have persistently erred in their utopian expectation that the march of technology, commerce, and democracy would establish universal peace. Mead’s synoptic grasp of history and politics, his gift for synthesis, and felicitous prose make this book as pleasurable to read as it is rich in insight.

For 300 years Anglo-Americans have pursued a grand strategy for global power adopted from the seventeenth-century Dutch, the use of sea power to forge a global maritime order of trade and power. To this strategy Britain added a balance of power in Europe, which America globalized after World War II. The mobility of the seas enabled the Anglo-Americans to control the architecture of disparate world theaters, binding them together through economic and military links.

The creation of a vibrant “Anglosphere” in the English-speaking world and a powerful financial infrastructure, Anglo-Saxon industry and inventiveness, and an ardent embrace of rugged capitalism strengthened the maritime system, transforming the world’s landscape. What Mead terms “dynamic religion,” a deep urge for ever-expanding openness and change, together with the watery latitudinarianism of the Church of England, turned religion itself into an instrument of capitalist development and social change. These cultural currents, the pervasive intellectual influence of Adam Smith’s “invisible hand,” and the “Whig narrative” of history combined to convince Anglo-Americans that, despite the harsh lessons of the twentieth century, the end of history was at hand. Why were they repeatedly mistaken?

The answer, according to Mead, lies in progressivism’s failure to appreciate the importance of political culture. Like today’s neoconservatives, Anglo-American


Whigs have been oblivious to why so many foreigners despise democratic capitalism and how its export entails baneful consequences for other societies, which see the United States as “the new and terrible Babylon.” We forget the long, hard road we traveled to build our system and fail to recognize that other countries today must adapt under far more adverse circumstances than we faced. What made the Anglo-American ascendancy possible, Mead writes, “is the mentality and habits of the nation at large. These are peoples accustomed to governing themselves, accustomed to promoting enterprise, ready to join in spontaneous and private activities of all kinds, but also accustomed to an ordered liberty whose roots are now many centuries old.”

Mead underestimates the primacy of political culture in his discussion of radical Islam. He holds the sanguine belief that radical Islam, like seventeenth-century Puritanism, can be reconciled with liberal society and that a more adroit “diplomacy of civilizations,” paying due recognition to others’ historical experiences and legitimate interests, can foster this benign evolution. Yet he offers no evidence for this assertion and overlooks the seeds of democracy contained within Puritan covenantal theology.

When Mead assesses the meaning of the Anglo-American project, he abandons history for a radical leap of faith. The meaning of the Anglo-American project, he maintains, lies not in its material abundance, but in a quest to fulfill the human instinct for change by means of which we touch “the transcendent and divine.” This project, springing from a “Promethean” drive to acquire and do and transform all, aims at a “permanent revolution” of endless change to an unknown and unknowable end. This, the author believes, marks “the end of history . . . this peace of God.”

Mead’s mystical paean to capitalism ironically says little about the soul of the Anglo-American project: government by consent under the rule of law. This, not the ancillary benefits of capitalism, is what commends that project to the decent respect of mankind. Why should men care a fig about Anglo-Americans’ “Promethean” urges? Men’s most fundamental desire is not to be kicked around by their neighbors or government, and government by consent under the rule of law offers the best guarantee of that. Lincoln defined the “sheet anchor of American republicanism” as the principle that “no man is good enough to govern another man, without the other’s consent.” The Founders, Lincoln said, “did not intend to declare all men equal in all respects,” but rather equal only in “certain inalienable rights, among which are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” This profound political meaning of the Anglo-American project is why Lincoln called America “the last best, hope of earth.”

Fortnight of Infamy: The Collapse of Allied Airpower West of Pearl Harbor. By John Burton. Annapolis, Md.: Naval Institute Press, 2006. 351 pages. $32.95. Reviewed by Dr. Paul J. Springer, US Military Academy.

John Burton examines the overwhelming success enjoyed by the Japanese war machine in advances throughout the Pacific Theater in December 1941, with an emphasis on the destruction of American and British air capability in the region. The author argues that while the raid on Pearl Harbor was a devastating blow to American naval power in the Pacific, “the really important military actions in De-


cember 1941 actually took place on the other side of the international date line, in Malaya, Singapore, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Guam, the Philippines, and Wake Island.” In each of these locations, aerial capability proved to be the decisive factor in the outcome of the Japanese invasions.

Burton is at his best when outlining the relative merits of American, British, and Japanese aircraft. He has an intuitive grasp of the capabilities of each airplane and incorporates eyewitness accounts of pilots who engaged in aerial combat throughout the Pacific. Burton’s bibliography and notes are filled with technical references and official reports about each aircraft, and his narrative maintains the reader’s interest with anecdotal descriptions of the machines’ performance in combat. The author is exceptionally adept at distilling their performance into comprehensible descriptions useful to the lay reader. At times, his comparisons of the speed, thrust, and armament of the air forces possessed by each belligerent stray toward technological determinism, or the belief that the disparity in numbers of aircraft involved led to the inevitable result of early Allied failures. This approach ignores the key human aspect of aerial combat, and with the exception of brief discussions of training programs, Burton remains rooted in the technical aspects of combat.

While Burton provides a well-researched narrative of what happened to the air forces of each belligerent, he struggles mightily with the question of why such a colossal failure by the Allied leadership was allowed to occur. In large part, this is due to a relatively limited research agenda. Some of the seminal works concerned with Allied preparations for war in the Pacific are completely ignored. Missing are such works as Brian Linn’s Guardians of Empire, which examined the US Army’s approach to the defense of the Pacific from 1902 to 1940, Ronald Spector’s Eagle Against the Sun, arguably the best comprehensive study of World War II in the Pacific, and Michael Sherry’s The Rise of American Airpower, which detailed many of the early decisions in America to focus upon strategic bombers rather than fighter or dive-bomber aircraft.

Burton organizes his work geographically as well as chronologically, shifting back and forth between attacks on American and British possessions. Thus the attacks on Kota Bharu (Malaya) and Luzon (Philippines) are discussed separately, with little opportunity to link the events. This approach has the benefit of providing a succinct explanation of each engagement, but also makes it much more difficult to discern the importance of key communications between the locations.

A strong aspect of this work is the integration of eyewitness accounts to describe the events that unfolded in December 1941. Burton relies upon a comparatively small number of firsthand accounts and primary documents, limiting the number of perspectives offered in the narrative. In particular, Japanese accounts of the aerial engagements are lacking, leading to a relatively one-sided account of most battles.

Burton paints a bleak picture of Allied preparedness for war in the Pacific. He identifies a number of poor decisions, often made by incompetent, arrogant leaders, which contributed to the poor performance of Allied air units at the outbreak of the war. Burton does not credit Japanese audacity and aggression as much as other historians, usually he is content to focus on Allied technological and leadership failures. He reserves his most scathing criticism for the lack of leadership demonstrated


by General Douglas MacArthur and Air Chief Marshal Robert Brooke-Popham, who he believes knew well in advance that the Japanese would attack. Strangely, Burton did not utilize sources, published or otherwise, produced by either leader or their staff officers. In fact, his archival research is limited to two memoranda in the National Archives and a single report from the Public Records Office. Likewise, his investigation of articles, some of the best recent research in the field, results in only two entries in the bibliography.

This work’s technical and tactical analyses are strong and merit examination by any individual interested in airpower in the Pacific Theater during World War II. His work is an excellent introduction to the first month of the Pacific air war, worthy of attention from the general reader and specialist alike. At times, his almost obsessive desire to document the detailed capability of the objects of his study distracts from the thrust of his argument. But the author does an excellent job of convincing the reader of the vital role played by airpower in the Japanese advance across the Pacific. It is a good introduction to Allied airpower failures in the Pacific, but should not be considered the final word.

Dunkirk: Fight to the Last Man. By Hugh Sebag-Montefiore. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2006. 701 pages. $35.00. Reviewed by Colonel James R. Oman, Chairman, Department of Command, Leadership, and Management, US Army War College.

Dunkirk; for many, the very name evokes the heroic actions undertaken by the British Royal Navy and the massive flotilla of privately owned “small boats” that was pressed into service to evacuate the battered Allied forces. Nearly 300,000 soldiers, the majority of which were members of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF), were taken off the European Continent in the waning days of May and early June 1940. While most studies of Dunkirk have focused on the beachhead operations and subsequent Herculean maritime efforts, British author Hugh Sebag-Montefiore’s Dunkirk: Fight to the Last Man deviates from this practice. Notably, he explores the crucial decisions and decisive land actions that “bought time” for the ground forces thereby making the evacuation possible.

Largely overlooked until now, Sebag-Montefiore’s extensive research centers on official reports, files, diaries, letters, and interviews to describe the “forgotten heroes of Dunkirk and their exploits, those that remained in the front line until it was too late to flee, and were either killed or captured at their posts.”

Sebag-Montefiore’s stated objective is to correct history’s omission of these overlooked heroes and their many exploits. The author graphically describes numerous heroic deeds along with the corresponding personal sacrifices. In so doing, he amplifies the human cost for those at the tip of the spear fighting in the front lines surrounding Dunkirk. The actions of these soldiers and units undeniably saved critical remnants of the BEF. The survivors were an invaluable resource for England and provided a nucleus for future rebuilding. Much of this animated book is focused on the tactical fight which the author successfully brings to life through a multitude of vi-


gnettes. By deftly including the strategic political intrigues and military actions or the “rest of the story,” the author provides context to the tactical fight. In so doing, Sebag-Montefiore moves what some may dismiss as only a collection of tactical fights or “merely noise without a tie or meaning to the big picture” into a consequential epic far greater in sum than its individual components. His judicious examination of the political and military actions, along with the miscalculations and misjudgments at the strategic level provides additional background, depth, and meaning.

The following exchange between the new English Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, and the French national leadership in their meeting at the French Foreign Ministry in Paris on 16 May 1940 portrays the disastrous military situation and provides the strategic context for the fight at Dunkirk. As Churchill observes the burning of wheelbarrows full of government files all the while noting the raw human emotions bordering on collapse, he asks the Commander-in-Chief of all Allied troops, French General Maurice Gamelin, about the status of the strategic reserve and is told acune—“none.” Churchill records in his memoirs, “What were we to think of the great French Army and its highest chief?” . . . commenting on his disbelief, “This was one of the greatest surprises I have had in my life.”

Sebag-Montefiore provides insight into what Churchill had disbelievingly foreseen. Through extensive research he confidently addresses French errors and their failure to adjust the Allied defensive strategy to the realities on the ground. All of which led to the Allied collapse in the second half of May 1940. Yet as valuable as this review and understanding of the big picture is, it is merely a prelude to his central theme of dissecting the close combat action of the tactical fights around Dunkirk. This analysis combined with the author’s lavish use of firsthand accounts illustrates the experience of the frontline soldier struggling against overwhelming odds. This insight is what sets this book apart and makes it memorable.

The author has masterfully included 21 extremely detailed maps that when combined with his extensive endnotes round out the story and contribute to the reader’s understanding of the battle and the actions of those charged with ”holding the line.” Sebag-Montefiore offers fresh insight into an oft-studied topic; one buttressed by comprehensive research focused on a select group of men, their leaders, and their collective actions. Dunkirk: Fight to the Last Man is a welcome addition to the study of the early campaigns of WWII.

John Warden and the Renaissance of American Air Power. By John Andreas Olsen. Dulles, Va.: Potomac Press, 2007. 348 pages. $32.95. Reviewed by Dr. Antulio J. Echevarria II, Director of Research, Strategic Studies Institute, US Army War College.

Historians have a love-hate relationship with mavericks. On the one hand, we extol them as champions who fight doggedly against seemingly overwhelming odds to demolish obsolete, yet entrenched, ways of thinking. On the other hand, we condemn them for being too self-aggrandizing, for taking too much credit for fundamental changes that were already in the making, or were energetically pushed forward by a host of parties. Both views are eminently defensible whether the maverick


in question is the dubious author of German tank doctrine, Heinz Guderian, or the controversial hero of American airpower, Billy Mitchell. Both sides of the proverbial coin capture the essential personality traits of mavericks: a boundless ego and self-assurance, combined with an unshakeable conviction that any good idea was theirs from the start.

John Andreas Olsen, a Norwegian colonel and Dean of the Norwegian Defense College, has authored an excellent book that presents both the love and hate sides of controversial airpower theorist, John Warden. Based on a wealth of printed and unprinted sources, including personal interviews of Warden, Olsen has given us a broad view of Warden’s contributions to the renaissance of American airpower. On the one hand, it is clear that Warden helped rejuvenate airpower theory, adding the aim of achieving strategic paralysis to the doctrine of strategic bombing, a doctrine that owes its intellectual origins (whether or not it wants to admit it) as much to works of fiction, such as H. G. Wells’s War in the Air, as it does to Guilio Douhet’s Command of the Air. On the other hand, it is also true that Warden helped make contemporary airpower theory more myopic, more self-aggrandizing, and fundamentally less joint. Thus, both sides of the equation are present and accounted for.

Because it is a well-researched story that is as much about an individual as it is an institution and a culture, John Warden and the Renaissance of American Air Power is an important contribution to the history of American airpower. It is also, fortunately, well-suited for use in the classroom. Superbly written, it is a quick read for students with an already heavy load and, most critical, it raises numerous issues that are essential for military professionals and others to discuss. For instance: How and when should service doctrines be transformed? What role should military theory play in officer education? Are mavericks desirable in a military profession, and how should they be treated? Such questions get at issues of enduring value to any military service, not just air personnel, and will make this book desirable to readers and educators with interests extending beyond airpower theory.

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Reviewed 27 March 2008. Please send comments or corrections to