PositiveNew York Journal of BooksThe author writes with a sharp and absorbing style, turning what could be a fairly dry topic into a highly readable tale worthy of a cable miniseries with backstabbing characters, high drama, shady deals, and huge egos all clashing to determine the course of the new country. For anyone who thinks that gridlock and partisan machinations are a recent development, this book will quickly lay those misconceptions to rest.
PositiveNew York Journal of BooksWhere the author really begins to make his thesis for the book stand out is the analysis of the interwar years from 1919–1939 ... Kagan makes a compelling case that a deliberate use of American economic might, combined with some level of force backed diplomacy might have arrested the rise of fascism and ultimately Nazism in Europe.
RaveThe New York Journal of Books... a real tour de force on World War II ... Overy offers original insights into the colonial policies of each Axis power and how they tried to establish political control and conduct economic exploitation of their new conquests, with minimal success in most cases ... stands apart for its unique observations and analysis of the war, focusing much more on both its origins and effects while scrutinizing many under investigated aspects of its conduct. Although it is a mighty tome at over 800 pages of narrative, even for the most ardent student of the war, it offers a fresh perspective that makes it well worth the investment.
PositiveNew York Journal of BooksBruce Jones has written an excellent primer on the role of seaborne commerce in creating our global economy and the challenge of keeping the oceans a \'global commons\' open to the free transit of goods ... The author begins with a comprehensive historical examination of the relationship between global trade, sea power, and the rise of maritime hegemons like Great Britain and the United States. Jones then takes the reader around the globe to explain why freedom of the seas and secure global shipping is so important to sustaining not only the American economy but the entire international order ... Understanding the economic and political impacts of the complex mix of nationalism, environmental impacts, and economic pressures is crucial for recognizing the actions of major players such as China and the United States in this global commons.
RaveNew York Journal of BooksSteven Pressfield is back. The author of the bestselling novels of ancient Greece [...] turns his attention to ancient Rome in this page-turning new thriller ... As with any good novel, the characters draw you into the plot, and this book has a complex set of misfits, each with their own goals, motivations, and backstory yhay Mr. Pressfield teases out through most of the book ... What makes Mr. Pressfield’s novels so compelling is the depth of his research and his remarkable ability to drop the reader into the middle of a scene from 2,000 years ago ... If you are a fan of Mr. Pressfield’s previous works or enjoy great historical fiction, grab a copy of this book and be transported back to the Roman Empire circa 55 CE. You will soon smell the dust of the ancient Roman roads.
RaveThe New York Journal of BooksEvery once in a while a book comes along that can simultaneously educate, infuriate, and astound you as it upends everything you thought you know about a subject. Mr. McMeekin has written an astonishing recasting of World War II that truly revises some of the accepted historiography of that war ... Unlocking the secrets of Soviet, Russian, and Western archives, the author offers a harsh and overdue examination of the role Josef Stalin played in starting World War II, the brutal conquest by Stalin of his neighbors Poland and the Baltic States, and the complete duplicity of the Soviets in dealing with their erstwhile Western Allies in the fight against Hitler ... If you doubt that the American and British governments were thoroughly penetrated and influenced by Communist agents in the 1930s and 1940s, McMeekin will put those doubts to rest ... This book is revisionist history at its finest, offering a compelling narrative of the neglected factors that brought about the century’s bloodiest war, convincingly making the case that Stalin was nearly as culpable as Hitler in launching this conflict for his own reprehensible purposes.
Dennis C. Rasmussen
RaveThe New York Journal of Books... very timely ... This was a fascinating and completely new perspective on the Founders and their view of the country they helped create ... This entirely fresh look at the inner thoughts of our country’s early political titans is both highly engaging and thought provoking, showing the very human side of politics in early America.
RaveNew York Journal of BooksThis highly enlightening and at times disturbing book covers the last five years in that turbulent war, seamlessly blending a tight narrative of the strategic and political events of that time with an engrossing group of personal recollections of combat from Special Forces troops called upon to accomplish a nearly impossible task ... Beyond the author’s recounting of information not previously known about America’s covert combat operations of the last five years, she also shows the very human face of war ... America’s longest war is finally receiving its due from some fine books recounting the deeds of the brave troops who served under difficult conditions. This volume uncovers and narrates some uncomfortable facts not previously known to the American public in a straightforward manner, and is well worth reading [.]
David O. Stewart
RaveThe New York Journal of Books... examines in detail and with excellent analysis how Washington developed the political skills that would serve him during both war and peace ... What is particularly intriguing about this book is the attention the author pays to that crucial period of Washington’s life between 1759 and 1774 ... truly fresh look at one of the most chronicled figures in American history. Washington literally spent his entire life learning about politics and public service and his journey to becoming the irreplaceable man in America’s founding shows just how savvy he became in the often rough and tumble world of colonial politics. But in everything he did, he was always conscious of his duty to his fellow citizens and the greater public good, making him the eternal President to which all other presidents will inevitably be compared.
RaveNew York Journal of BooksCraig Fehrman, author of the bestseller Author in Chief: The Untold Story of Our Presidents and the Books They Wrote has collected some of the best presidential speeches, memoirs, and other writings to create both a valuable reference and a thought-provoking journey through American history. The author chooses writings from nearly every president, allowing the reader to discover first-hand how the office and role of the Chief Executive has evolved ... This volume is both an excellent historical narrative and reference volume of an exceptional selection of the top-quality writings of that unique institution that is the American presidency.
RaveThe New York Journal of BooksThe editor has cast a wide net to show the evolution of the essay as an enduring literary form ...With the ongoing transition from magazines to the internet the essay has also transformed, yet well written and insightful pieces can still generate commentary among the public and bring notoriety to the author. This is a marvelous volume that introduces the reader to the wide variety of American writing and literary thought of the last two centuries of our nation’s history.
PositiveThe New York Journal of Books... another page-turner ... Mr. Harris is a master of technical and historical detail, as evidenced by his extensive bibliography, and takes the reader effortlessly through several back stories throughout the book that add to the development of the two main characters ... The mood and setting of the time are also excellently capture by the author, from the tension of Londoners digging through the rubble of an attack while wondering where the next missile will strike to the live for today mentality of the German rocket troops who secretly know they are losing the war ... While the plot heads to a seeming crescendo, it almost seems like the author pulls his final punches and rather quickly heads into the somewhat anti-climactic post-script. There are several interesting side stories teased along about the eventual fate of the German rocket scientists as America and Russia rush to secure the remaining V-2s and all the associated plans and materials, including the scientists, but the remainder of the book doesn’t have a definitive conclusion ... Overall, with its attention to detail and swift narrative, fans of Mr. Harris’ previous historical novels will not be disappointed with this work that really captures the feeling of those last desperate months of World War II.
Martin J. Sherwin
RaveNew York Journal of BooksThe author provides a more detailed backstory to the crisis than any previous history ... The book also offers some surprising revelations ... This engrossing book should make everyone who reads it and was born after October 1962 extremely thankful to be alive, because if one or two key decisions by ordinary people or important leaders had been different, they very well might not be here.
Ian W. Toll
RaveThe New York Journal of BooksUsing meticulous research, including previously untapped primary sources, and a brisk narrative that combines strategic, operational, and personal perspectives, [Toll] presents a very balanced look at the critical decisions and actions on both sides that concluded the war ... Toll takes a very critical look at American leaders, particularly their strategic campaign planning and operational leadership. In particular, both General Douglas MacArthur and Admiral William Halsey get a great deal of deserved criticism for their failures of leadership ... Toll takes a more comprehensive look at the Japanese perspective of the last months of the war than many previous histories ... This volume brings the author’s truly epic trilogy to a close. Toll provides the perfect blend of strategic and operational detail of the military actions that covered nearly half the globe. He doesn’t neglect the logistical or home front either, showing how the industrial might of the United States doomed Japan to defeat in a war they could never win, yet their leaders considered inevitable.
PositiveNew York Journal of BooksThe author develops an interesting back story to America’s wartime Army ... Only the decisive action by statemen such as George Marshall enabled the Army to awaken from its interwar hibernation and begin the long road to becoming the mightiest Army in American history. This book tells this amazing and improbable journey with all the near disasters, hard choices, and missteps that had to be overcome to get the military prepared for that fateful Sunday morning in December 1941.
PositiveNew York Journal of Books... fascinating ... As the last of the World War II generation passes away, books like this are important to keep alive the immediacy of the time and show how great events are influenced by the actions of hundreds of ordinary people, good and evil.
PositiveNew York Journal of Books... a balanced and well-written account of not only the ground combat, but the offshore kamikaze campaign against the US Navy and the terrible toll on the island’s civilian population ... Using numerous Japanese sources, Joseph Whe[e]lan does an excellent job of presenting the view \'over the hill\' at the Japanese preparations and strategy for the campaign ... Whe[e]lan does a deft job of blending ground and naval actions with the Japanese accounts of the battle, writing a gripping and timely account in time for the 75th anniversary of the last campaign of the Pacific War.
PositiveNew York Journal of BooksHastings goes beyond a traditional unit history to not only tell the tale of the British engineers and aircrews, but the German civilians living below the dam and their tales of survival during the attack. His sympathetic weaving of all these individual experiences show the wide range of effects this battle had on the survivors from both sides ... Hastings provides a harrowing tale of the death and destruction metered out by the breached dams, with entire German villages virtually swept away ... This is truly an incredible tale of technology and heroism. More importantly, it is a story of combat and its effects on ordinary people trying to survive during the costliest air campaign of the 20th century.
Mary Beth Norton
RaveThe New York Journal of Books... refreshing ... Norton has taken a comprehensive look at the attitudes of the 13 colonies as they dealt with issues of political legitimacy, mob violence, representative government, and taxation in these critical months, in which both colonial and English attitudes hardened to the point that compromise became impossible, and England’s colonial authority began to wane ... a marvelous and thoughtful book, refuting many of the common myths about pre-Revolution colonial politics, showing that debates about loyalty to the crown and the entire concept of representative government were much more wide-spread than usually considered in American colonial history texts.
PositiveNew York Journal of BooksDarack incorporates many interviews with Marines in the unit to present a vivid picture of the daily stress of being under nearly constant fire while having to make life or death decisions ... Unit memoirs such as this are a staple of military history, conveying the immediacy of small unit action within the larger picture of an overall military campaign. Reading about the incredible bravery of American Marines, many not even 21 years old, shows that the long line of brave servicemen that answered their country’s call to service remains unbroken.
PositiveNew York Journal of Books...the book moves through a thematic outline that closely mirrors the chronology of the war. By examining what he calls the different stages of the revolution, Professor Breen is able to uncover consistent themes that helped not only maintain the colonists’ revolutionary commitment, but curb the potential excesses of revolutionary fervor ... The chapter on the reintegration of the Loyalists after peace was achieved in 1783 is particularly fascinating ... As a successor volume to his earlier work, American Insurgents, American Patriots: The Revolution of the People, Professor Breen has done an outstanding job of closing the loop on telling the untapped history of the average American’s role in deciding to throw off British rule and establish a new country.
PositiveThe New York Journal of Books... short but fascinating ... As an anthology, Leadership in War offers a fine, if not overly in-depth sampling of wartime leadership to show that successful wartime leadership is a rare commodity. All of these chosen individuals, good and malevolent, show that determination, vision, and a single-mindedness bordering on ruthlessness is needed in trying times. Of course, both Napoleon and Hitler show that ends and means must also be carefully weighed and measured in order to secure a successful conclusion to wars. As a quick introduction to this topic, it is thought-provoking without being overwhelming.
MixedThe New York Journal of Books... does an excellent job of portraying the mood of Nazi-occupied France, but never seems to build on that historical setting into a truly page-turning suspense story ... The author clearly knows his Parisian geography and history as he captures the dreary life of average citizens just trying to survive the daily grind of occupation. The dingy menace of rationing, shortages, Allied bombing, and the overshadowing presence of the German Gestapo are all vividly portrayed throughout the book ... However, the characters in this novel seem rather one-dimensional, and the author does not spend a lot of time developing either the inner conflict or their external development ... Alas, the few glimpses we have of Gestapo officers are short and fleeting, with no real menace or pursuit of our heroes, even when they have clearly begun espionage efforts. Historically, the average lifespan of a Resistance member was about six months as the Gestapo rolled up numerous networks across Europe during the war, yet Paul Ricard never seems in real danger and has little difficulty eluding the desultory efforts by the Germans to capture him ... The overall plot is written almost like a loose screenplay, with small vignettes of problems for Monsieur Ricard to solve, but there is only a loose connection between the various scenes, even when secondary characters reappear ... there are a few plot points that more than strain credulity ... Overall, this is a novel that has much unfulfilled promise. While it is historically spot on with the mood and atmosphere of occupied Paris, as a spy novel or mystery/thriller it never seems to quite meet its full potential. When the hero makes his final escape from France, the reader is left with neither satisfaction nor relief, just the feeling that there could have been much more.
PositiveThe New York Journal of BooksThe author does an excellent job of weaving together these four very different people into a fascinating account of spies and counter-spies during the Civil War. Weaving together the ground-breaking research on Civil War espionage by historians Edwin C. Fishel and William B. Feis with many new primary sources, the skullduggery waged on behalf of Abraham Lincoln and the Union is told with a flowing style that truly reads like a 19th century spy serial and is a welcome addition to any Civil War bookshelf.
John C. McManus
RaveNew York Journal of Books...truly stands out by covering an underserved topic ... John C. McManus has written the first of what will hopefully be a two-volume set providing a comprehensive and readable narrative of the Army’s critical role in achieving victory over Japan ... This book does a remarkable job of furnishing the rest of the story of America’s fight against the Empire of Japan ... What makes this volume stand out is that McManus covers the full range of subjects concerning the Army’s rebuilding and initial offensives in New Guinea and the Solomon Islands in 1942 and 1943 ... a long overdue book.
PositiveThe New York Journal of BooksKershaw does a marvelous job of making these stories seem fresh and real to a new generation of readers ... Kershaw’s book revives the story of these men and their bravery in battle that should never be forgotten.
M. Taylor Fravel
RaveNew York Journal of BooksIn this deep and insightful book Professor M. Taylor Fravel examines the last 70 years of China’s evolving military strategy and strategic thought using an analytic method that provides some fascinating assertions and conclusions ... This is a book for serious national security professionals or graduate students and the author assumes the reader has some background in strategy, political theory, military history, and basic military terminology ... The author concludes with an excellent summary of China’s likely future military strategies and missions ... This is truly a much needed volume for China watchers or any student of international affairs studying how both internal and external influencers can drive a country’s military strategy over time. Well written and comprehensive, it is highly recommended.
James M. Fenelon
PositiveNew York Journal of BooksThe author does an excellent job in interweaving personal histories and recollections with unit histories and after-action reports to give a good sense of the heavy fighting that occurred around the drop and landing zones ... The heroic tales of the fighting by both paratroopers and glider infantry to secure their objectives show the combat was just as intense as any airborne battle of the war.
RaveThe New York Journal of BooksThere have been a veritable library of popular histories written on D-Day, but this really extraordinary volume stands to become the new benchmark narrative, conveying both the scale and individual experiences of that momentous operation in a sharp and highly readable book impressively weighing-in at over 900 pages ... Caddick-Adams brings not only a historian’s skill of research and narrative, he also incorporates his experiences as a military officer and battlefield explorer to add vignettes on the veterans he’s personally met and interviewed, and a sort of battlefield archeology of the surviving monuments, bunkers, and other landmarks that still exist ... The author covers a wide variety of topics often left out of other D-Day narratives, especially the logistical and training needs of the dozens of divisions destined for service in France ... There will no doubt be many new books to commemorate the 75th Anniversary of D-Day. If you can only read one, make it this book. Although it is a real doorstop, it will be well worth your time, even if you’ve read previous one-volume narratives.
RaveThe New York Journal of BooksHolland has a brisk style that effortlessly combines narrative history with combat memoirs from both sides, creatively balancing the general’s and sergeant’s points of view of the daily grind of close quarters combat. Gratefully, this book is well stocked with excellent maps and well-chosen images to supplement the narrative and assist the reader in following the numerous operations of both armies ... In his sharp account Holland fearlessly wades into many of the myths and controversies surrounding the Normandy campaign, exercising a strong inclination to challenge many of the common historical views ... By taking the long view of D-Day as the beginning of a campaign and not just an isolated day in the war, Holland has composed a highly readable account of the Allied effort to not only get ashore on the continent of Europe, but stay ashore and liberate Europe. Well written and illustrated, with some outstanding maps, this book really does a marvelous job of showing the significance of D-day in the Great Crusade to liberate Europe and defeat Nazi Germany.
PositiveNew York Journal of BooksBrinkley does a masterful job of showing how Kennedy’s idealism, Cold War mentality, and political savvy combine to pledge the U.S. to a moon landing in his historical speech of May 25, 1961 ... If one man can be said to have gotten Americans to the moon, it was definitely John F. Kennedy, and this new book brings out the full story of that fateful pledge to \'land a man on the moon and return him safely to the Earth.\'
RaveNew York Journal of BooksBoth an educational and titillating look at [Rome’s most notable Emperors] in this highly readable work ... While he chose ten men to focus on, Professor Strauss provides excellent narrative continuity of the entire Roman Empire, particularly when decades occur between his chosen subjects ... A couple of remarkable themes emerge in this book that make it an even more fascinating and relevant read. First, each of these men was a complex mix of cruelty and generosity, intrigue and wisdom, and ego combined with virtue. Above all, their lives and actions confirm the truth that not much changes concerning human nature regardless of supposed civilizational or technological advancement ... More thought-provoking to modern readers will be learning about the outsized influence of women on Roman politics and the succession of emperors to the throne ... As the author winds down the book with a post-script describing the final days of the divided Roman Empire, the reader is left with a much better sense of how this fairly small and impoverished city was able to rise and rule the Mediterranean basin for over 1000 years. Each of these men played their part and their stories are fascinating case studies of politics, family drama, and ultimately, leadership, both good and bad.
RaveNew York Journal of BooksHighly readable and engrossing ... does a marvelous job of weaving together the strategic planning, technical details, personal recollections, and battle narratives to provide a grim tale of sacrifice on both sides ... Holland’s insightful analysis of the Allied air force commanders is really noteworthy.
RaveThe New York Journal of BooksMajestic ... astounding in both its narrative excellence and depth of research ... offers a number of illuminating case studies, some of them a bit Anglo-centric ... While written for a general audience, this book should be on the shelf of every student of diplomatic and military history. There are not a lot of books that can be said to change the historiography of events, but this stands as one of them. Any intelligence professional would also benefit from this book, which shows that even in the constantly changing world of espionage, we can still learn a great deal from our ancestors.
RaveThe New York Journal of BooksMagnificent ... Philbrick’s writing is just superb, and while he manages to incorporate many marvelous and little know stories and vignettes, the book reads almost like a Tom Clancy thriller, with political intrigue, international machinations, and suspense keeping the pages turning even if the reader is already basically familiar with the story ... this book will delight, educate, and entertain while it brings to light the genius, chance, and sacrifice that finally brought about America’s independence.
Charles B Rosenberg
MixedNew York Review of BooksIn this novel Charles Rosenberg dives into this era full steam ... The middle portion of the book lags a bit as the author introduces and integrates several new characters and subplots, but quickly gains steam as the trial begins and heads toward the climax of the book ... The author does a superior job of capturing his character, poise, and charisma that affect both his supporters and captors in England ... No spoilers here, but the book races toward an unexpected ending, albeit a somewhat less than completely satisfactory one, as the reader is left with almost a cliff-hanger conclusion ... If you have the patience to let the plot develop and start trying to decipher the seemingly random actions of some of the characters, this is a very enjoyable mystery/political thriller in an alternate history timeline.