New Books in Military History
The was the website for New Books in Military History series, described as “discussions with military historians about their new books.”
Content is from the site's 2013 - 2015 archived pages.
About the hosts:
Jay Lockenour, Associate Professor of History, Temple University
Jay Lockenour received his B.A. degree from the University of California in 1989 and his Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania in 1995. He is the author Soldiers as Citizens, Former Wehrmacht Officers in the Federal Republic of Germany, 1945-1955 (Nebraska, 2001) and is currently at work on a biography of the German general and right-wing politician, Erich Ludendorff entitled Dragonslayer, the Life and Legend of Erich Ludendorff. Dr. Lockenour has received grants from the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), the Mellon Foundation, and the Fulbright Commission and participated in workshops and panels at the U.S. Army War College, the George Bush School of Government and Public Service, and numerous American and German universities. Dr. Lockenour has received three teaching awards at Temple and served as the Director of the College of Liberal Arts’ Awareness of Teaching and Teaching Improvement Center (ATTIC). Dr. Lockenour is the past President of Temple’s Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa and Faculty Expert for the Center for the Study of Force and Diplomacy (CENFAD).
Bobby Wintermute, Assistant Professor of History, Queens College – City University of New York
Bob Wintermute received his B.A. degree from Montclair State University in 1991, his M.A. degree from East Stroudsburg University in 1997, and his Ph.D. from Temple University in 2006. He is the author of Public Health and the U.S. Military: A History of The Army Medical Department, 1818-1917 (Routledge, 2011) and is currently at work on a survey history of race and gender issues in American military history. Wintermute has received grants from the U.S. Army Center of Military History, the College of Physicians of Philadelphia, the Rockefeller Archive Center, and the U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center, where he was scholar-in-residence in 2004. Dr. Wintermute is also director of the Queens College Veteran Alumni project, a student-based oral history outreach initiative aimed at preserving the memory of veterans from the borough of Queens.
TERRENCE J. FINNEGAN
A Delicate Affair on the Western Front: America Learns How to Fight a Modern War in the Woevre Trenches
THE HISTORY PRESS, 2015
by JOHN ABBATIELLO on SEPTEMBER 14, 2015
In his second book, author Terrence J. Finnegan describes America's early experience fighting the Germans during World War I. Finnegan's A Delicate Affair on the Western Front: America Learns How to Fight a Modern War in the Woevre Trenches (The History Press, 2015) provides in-depth research and a great deal of context to portray the 26th "Yankee" Division's desperate defense of the Woevre sector in April 1918. Relying on meticulous mining of primary documents, the author describes the leaders, tactical doctrine, weaponry, and intelligence processes of the French, German, and new American forces fighting near Seicheprey in northeastern France. Finnegan also builds on research from his first book, Shooting the Front: Allied Aerial Reconnaissance and Photographic Interpretation on the Western Front–World War I, to carefully explain intelligence collection on both sides of the trenches.
In a lively interview, Finnegan explains how the action near Seicheprey–sometimes called a trench raid, sometimes a battle–was vitally important to newly arrived American soldiers learning the craft of trench warfare. It was an extremely dangerous environment, with chemical weapons, artillery duels, small-scale trench raids, and snipers making life miserable for the combatants. At Seicheprey, the Germans decided to test the metal of American National Guard soldiers of the 26th "Yankee" Division, one of the first four US divisions to arrive in France. Early on 20 April 1918, using Stormtroop tactics perfected in other sectors of the Eastern and Western Fronts, the Germans smothered American positions with high explosive and chemical artillery fire, followed by infantry attacks that bypassed strong points and penetrated the defenses in many areas. The New England Guardsmen gave up some ground in a confused battle, but soon counterattacked and gained back what they had lost.
This is a dense book, packed with details about the adversaries that any reader interested in World War I ground combat would appreciate. It is a holistic view of a single engagement that leaves no questions and thoroughly explains the action.
No Sure Victory: Measuring U.S. Army Effectiveness and Progress in the Vietnam War
by BOB WINTERMUTE on JUNE 17, 2012
Ask any student or aficionado of the Vietnam War (1965-1972) for a top ten list of artifacts “unique” to the war, and chances are the phenomenon of “body counts” as a tool for measuring success in the field will come up. Indeed, the use of casualty metrics, while not the sole means of calculating progress in this unconventional war, was one of the Army’s most heralded – and subsequently, most criticized – assessment tools. Taking its place alongside more esoteric metrics, such as gauging security on the basis of population resettlement, calculating the denial of strategic space by measuring raw acreage of defoliated land, and estimating anticipated casualties on the basis of ordnance tonnage expended on a defined area, body counts became the most visibly broken method employed by the Pentagon during the war. Even now, nearly fifty years after the war began, historians continue to debate the effectiveness of such metrics, and how they did or did not accurately portray the course of the conflict.
Gregory A. Daddis’ new book, No Sure Victory: Measuring U.S. Army Effectiveness and Progress in the Vietnam War (Oxford University Press, 2011), takes direct aim at the questions of how a technologically-advanced army measures its progress and success in an asymmetrical conflict. Recognizing that data collection efforts frequently overwhelmed any effort at proper and judicial analysis, Daddis considers how the quest for reliable metrics of success affected the conduct of operations in the field. No Sure Victory is a critical addition to the historiography of the Vietnam War, and presents a valuable addendum for students and practitioners of unconventional war alike
JOHN C. MCMANUS
September Hope: The American Side of a Bridge Too Far
by BOB WINTERMUTE on NOVEMBER 4, 2012
John C. McManus
This past September saw the sixty-eighth anniversary of one of the European Theater of Operations’ most familiar operations. Conceived by Field Marshal Bernard Law Montgomery, MARKET GARDEN was the Western Allies’ great gamble in the fall of 1944. With the Nazi war machine appearing to be on the ropes following its ignominious collapse in France, victory seemed for a brief moment to be just within grasp. The single problem, in Montgomery’s eyes, was logistics and the inability of the Anglo-American coalition to maintain the broad front strategy promoted by SHAEF commander, General Dwight D. Eisenhower. By offering a bold departure from his normal cautious outlook, Montgomery convinced Eisenhower to favor his Army Group with the supplies needed to carry out a bold stroke aimed at the lower Rhine crossings in Holland. Through an airborne coup de main, the Allies would seize three highway bridges at Nijmegen, Eindhoven, and Arnhem, opening up a pathway into the North German Plain, and in Montgomery’s view, very likely end the war by Christmas.
Of course, we know the operation was a dismal failure, with the British First Airborne Division nearly annihilated at Arnhem, as Montgomery went “a bridge too far,” in the words of journalist cum historian Cornelius Ryan. Indeed by this point, with numerous historical monographs and edited collections, a feature film, dozens of documentaries, an HBO miniseries, and more board games and computer games than can be counted, one might be forgiven for thinking that there is little left to be said about Operation MARKET GARDEN. But then along came historian John C. McManus’ exhaustive study of the American dimension of the battles for the Dommel, Maas, and Waal River crossings and the subsequent bitter winter fighting on the so-called “Island” between the Waal and the Lower Rhine estuary. His book, September Hope: The American Side of a Bridge Too Far (NAL, 2012), is built from a treasure trove of oral testimonies, official after action reports, captured documents, and other sources to create the single most comprehensive account of the fighting from the perspective of the US 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions, as well as the 104th Infantry and 7th Armored Divisions. The book is a very compelling account of a very bitter and misguided operation, but its true strength lies in McManus’ own insights and conclusions regarding the viability of the operation and the failings in SHAEF leadership than allowed the operation to go forward.
New York at War: Four Centuries of Combat, Fear, and Intrigue in Gotham
BASIC BOOKS, 2012
by BOB WINTERMUTE on AUGUST 11, 2012
Many people – including myself – are no doubt surprised to learn about New York City’s rich four hundred year military history. I teach in Flushing, New York, deep in the heart of Queens, at one of the country’s largest public universities. And in my American History survey classes, I strive to bring as much of the city’s history to bear as possible. Now after reading Steven Jaffe’s book, New York at War: Four Centuries of Combat, Fear, and Intrigue in Gotham (Basic Books, 2012), I realize that I could do a lot more covering New York’s military history. Jaffe escorts his reader on a dramatic tour of New York at war, from the settlement of New Amsterdam by the Dutch in 1624, to the city’s response to the September 11, 2001 attack on the World Trade Center. It is an entertaining and informative tour, and one which I can attest will certainly affect my own treatment of the city’s history in my classes. Overall New York at War is a pleasure for all readers, but it should have a special place for our listeners from the metropolitan New York area.
The Damned and the Dead: The Eastern Front through the Eyes of Soviet and Russian Novelists
UNIVERSITY PRESS OF KANSAS, 2011
by JAY LOCKENOUR on DECEMBER 5, 2012
Frank Ellis’ The Damned and the Dead: The Eastern Front through the Eyes of Soviet and Russian Novelists (University Press of Kansas, 2011) introduces to English-language readers the riches of Soviet war literature and argues that much of that literature constituted a meaningful form of resistance to the Soviet state. Refusing to write stories that corresponded to the mythology of the Soviet soldier-hero, authors such as Vasilii Grossman, Iurii Bondarev, or Vasil’ Bykov provided true insights into the Soviet war effort, including the bungling of the leadership, the deprivations suffered by the soldiers, and the stifling effect of ideological surveillance.
This wide-ranging interview also touches upon some of Ellis’ other interests and should excite listeners to track down some of the few Soviet war novels available in English. I know that the work mentioned in Ellis’ title, The Damned and the Dead, by Viktor Astaf’ev is on my reading list.
The German War: A Nation Under Arms, 1939–1945
BASIC BOOKS, 2015
by KELLY MCFALL on NOVEMBER 18, 2015
In all of the thousands upon thousands of books written about Nazi Germany, it's easy to lose track of some basic questions. What did Germans think they were fighting for? Why did they support the war? How did they (whether the they were soldiers fighting in France or Russia, women working to support the war effort, or mothers or fathers worrying about their children) experience the war?
Nicholas Stargardt'snew book The German War: A Nation Under Arms, 1939-1945 (Basic Books, 2015) sets out to answer these questions. The book is a delight. Stargardt approaches his subject with a depth of feeling and of insight that all historians aspire to. His analysis is careful, measured and nuanced, shedding new light on a variety of important questions. But the book's strength lies in the way it immerses itself into the lives of ordinary Germans. Stargardt's retelling of their stories is compassionate and empathetic. It is the nature of the lives of his subjects that many of his stories end suddenly rather than happily. Wisely, he allows us to mourn with his subjects, yet reminds us to remember the crimes many committed. It's a terribly difficult balance to strike, and it's to his credit that he does so consistently.
The Battle of Adwa: African Victory in the Age of Empire
HARVARD UNIVERSITY PRESS, 2011
by JAY LOCKENOUR on MAY 1, 2012
Raymond Jonas‘ The Battle of Adwa: African Victory in the Age of Empire (Harvard UP, 2011) places Menelik alongside Napoleon and other greatest strategists. The Ethiopian emperor carried out a brilliant maneuver across hundreds of miles, essentially defeating his Italian adversaries without battle. That battle came was the colossal blunder of the Italians and one that cost thousands of Italian and Askari soldiers their lives. More than just the history of the campaign, The Battle of Adwa provides keen insights into Menelik’s court and elucidates Italian imperial ambitions.
Terror in the Balkans: German Armies and Partisan Warfare
HARVARD UNIVERSITY PRESS, 2012
by JAY LOCKENOUR on SEPTEMBER 26, 2012
With Terror in the Balkans: German Armies and Partisan Warfare(Harvard University Press, 2012), Ben Shepherd, a Reader at Glasgow Caledonian University, offers us insight into the complex and harrowing history of the German Army’s occupation of the former Yugoslavia from 1941-1943. By analyzing the command structures at the divisional and regimental level, Shepherd helps to explain how and why the violence ebbed and flowed in the various occupied regions. But he also looks further down, to see how the behavior of specific units was shaped by the vagaries of terrain, supply, the character of the opposition, and even certain commanders’ backgrounds and experiences. Always cautious not to make claims beyond the limits of his evidence, Shepherd nevertheless draws important conclusions about how history, personality, and National Socialist ideology shaped the behavior of the German Army in the Second World War. For that and for illuminating in clear and concise prose the foggy and chaotic political and military environment in the Balkans during those years, Shepherd should be congratulated.
PARKS M. COBLEChina’s War Reporters: The Legacy of Resistance against Japan
HARVARD UNIVERSITY PRESS, 2015
by CARLA NAPPI on AUGUST 10, 2015
Parks M. Coble's new book is a wonderful study of memory, war, and history that takes the Sino-Japanese War of 1937-1945 and its aftermath as its focus. China's War Reporters: The Legacy of Resistance against Japan (Harvard University Press, 2015) is organized in two major parts. The first part (Ch. 1-5) look closely at writing done by journalists and intellectuals during the war, focusing especially on those who were associated with the National Salvation Movement. Here we find a fascinating account of Chinese journals, newspapers, and war reporters that pays special attention to the political and ideological motivations behind wartime writers' choices of what to report and how to report it. The distinctions here between rural and urban experiences and knowledge of the war are especially striking. The second part (Ch. 6-7) looks at the "re-remembering" of the war, including the consequences of communist rule for Salvation Movement writers in the immediate aftermath of the war, the disappearance of their legacy from public memory, and the refiguring of their work in the context of post-Mao "new remembering" of the war. Coble also considers the consequences of an increasing emphasis on nationalism in China for the re-remembering of the war in academic and popular media. Collectively, the chapters of China's War Reporters argue that the particular way that the war has been remembered in China has distorted and constrained historical scholarship. It's an exceptionally clear and well-written history.
KELLY DENTON-BORHAUGU.S. War-Culture, Sacrifice, and Salvation
by BOB WINTERMUTE on AUGUST 19, 2015
More of a conversation than an interview, Kelly Denton-Borhaug shares the insights and processes underpinning her book U.S. War-Culture, Sacrifice and Salvation (Routledge, 2014). Denton-Borhaug considers how sacrificial rhetoric has suffused American perceptions of conflict and our military institutions, creating a cultural dynamic that has come to accept war as a normative state in keeping with our notions of an exceptionalist identity. Drawing on Denton-Borhaug's training as a religions scholar, U.S. War-Culture, Sacrifice and Salvation takes a different, more philosophical and theological based, approach to issues of concern to students of military history. Her book, and our discussion, is a departure from the usual New Books in Military History fare, but we hope our listeners will find her comments provocative and insightful; a true representation of the potentials for our field in inter-disciplinary study.
DAN STONEThe Liberation of the Camps: The End of the Holocaust and its Aftermath
YALE UNIVERSITY PRESS, 2015
by KELLY MCFALL on AUGUST 25, 2015
Every year I ask my students to tell me when the Holocaust ended. Most of them are surprised to hear me say that it has not yet.
Today's podcast is the fourth of a summer long series of podcasts about the system of camps and ghettos that pervaded Nazi Germany, its satellite states and the regions it controlled. Earlier this summer I talked with Geoff Megargee about the Holocaust Museum's Encyclopedia of Camps and Ghettos, Sarah Helm about the women's camp of Ravensbruck and Nik Wachsmann about the evolution of the concentration camp system. I'll conclude the series in a few weeks with an interview with Shelly Cline about the female guards who staffed some of the camps.
In this fourth episode, Dan Stone makes a convincing case that the Holocaust reverberated for years after the war came to a close. The Liberation of the Camps: The End of the Holocaust and its Aftermath (Yale University Press, is slender but packed with information and insights. It certainly provides a top-down discussion of the issues and challenges that accompanied the dissolution of the camp system. He makes clear the various policies adopted by the liberating countries and how these were caught up in both domestic and international politics. But it goes beyond this to offer a wide variety of anecdotes and perspectives of camps survivors and liberators demonstrating the long-lasting impact of their experiences. It's a perfect example of the kind of integrated history of the Holocaust that Nik Wachsmann identified in his discussion.
List of Interviews
- Frank Ellis, “The Damned and the Dead: The Eastern Front through the Eyes of Soviet and Russian Novelists” (University Press of Kansas, 2011)
- John C. McManus, “September Hope: The American Side of a Bridge Too Far” (NAL, 2012)
- Ben Shepherd, “Terror in the Balkans: German Armies and Partisan Warfare” (Harvard UP, 2012)
- Steven H. Jaffe, “New York at War: Four Centuries of Combat, Fear, and Intrigue in Gotham” (Basic Books, 2012)
- Gregory A. Daddis, “No Sure Victory: Measuring U.S. Army Effectiveness and Progress in the Vietnam War” (Oxford UP, 2011)
- Raymond Jonas, “The Battle of Adwa: African Victory in the Age of Empire” (Harvard UP, 2011)
- Jörg Muth, “Command Culture: Officer Education in the U.S. Army and the German Armed Forces, 1901-1940″ (UNT Press, 2011)
- David Stahel, “Operation Barbarossa and Germany’s Defeat in the East” (Cambridge UP, 2009)
- Michael Matheny, “Carrying the War to the Enemy: American Operational Art to 1945″ (University of Oklahoma Press, 2011)
- Frederic Krome, “Fighting the Future War: An Anthology of Science Fiction War Stories, 1914-1945″ (Routledge, 2011)
- Timothy Nunan, “Carl Schmitt, ‘Writings on War’” (Polity Press, 2011)
- David J. Ulbrich, “Preparing for Victory: Thomas Holcomb and the Making of the Modern Marine Corps, 1936-1943″ (Naval Institute Press, 2011).
- John Grenier, “The Far Reaches of Empire: War in Nova Scotia, 1710-1760″ (University of Oklahoma Press, 2008)
- Charles Townshend, “Desert Hell: The British Invasion of Mesopotamia” (Harvard University Press, 2011)
- Michael Neiberg, “Dance of the Furies: Europe and the Outbreak of World War I” (Harvard University Press, 2011)
- Konrad H. Jarausch, “Reluctant Accomplice: A Wehrmacht Soldier’s Letters from the Eastern Front” (Princeton University Press, 2011)
- Christopher DeRosa, “Political Indoctrination in the U.S. Army from World War II to the Vietnam War” (University of Nebraska Press, 2006)
- Matthias Strohn, “The German Army and the Defense of the Reich: Military Doctrine and the Conduct of the Defensive Battle, 1918-1939″ (Cambridge UP, 2011)
- Chad L. Williams, “Torchbearers of Democracy: African-American Soldiers in the World War I Era” (The University of North Carolina Press, 2010)
- Robert Citino, “Death of the Wehrmacht: The German Campaigns of 1942″ (UP of Kansas, 2007)
- David J. Silbey, “A War of Frontier and Empire: The Philippine-American War, 1899-1902″ (Hill and Wang, 2008)
- Thomas Bruscino, “A Nation Forged in War: How World War II Taught Americans to Get Along” (University of Tennessee Press, 2010)
- Beth Bailey, “America’s Army: Making the All-Volunteer Force” (Harvard UP, 2009)
- Michael Kranish, “Flight from Monticello: Thomas Jefferson at War” (Oxford UP, 2010)
- Hilary Earl, “The Nuremberg SS-Einsatzgruppen Trial, 1945-1958: Atrocity, Law, and History” (Cambridge UP, 2010)
- Joe Maiolo, “Cry Havoc: How the Arms Race Drove the World to War, 1931–1941″ (Basic Books, 2010)
- Mark Bradley, “Vietnam at War” (Oxford UP, 2009)
- Mark Bradley and Marilyn Young, “Making Sense of the Vietnam Wars” (Oxford UP, 2008)
- Julian E. Zelizer, “Arsenal of Democracy: The Politics of National Security From WWII to the War on Terrorism” (Basic Books, 2010)
- Jeffrey Reznick, “John Galsworthy and the Disabled Soldiers of the Great War” (Manchester UP, 2009)
- Yohanan Petrovsky-Shtern, “Jews in the Russian Army, 1827-1917″ (Cambridge UP, 2008)
- Ben Kiernan, “Blood and Soil: A World History of Genocide and Extermination from Sparta to Darfur” (Yale UP, 2007)
- Valerie Hébert, “Hitler’s Generals on Trial: The Last War Crimes Tribunal at Nuremberg” (University Press of Kansas, 2010)
- Howard Jones, “The Bay of Pigs” (Oxford UP, 2008)
- Yuma Totani, “The Tokyo War Crimes Trials: The Pursuit of Justice in the Wake of World War II” (Harvard UP, 2008)
- Catherine Epstein, “Model Nazi: Arthur Greiser and the Occupation of Western Poland” (Oxford UP, 2010)
- Azar Gat, “War in Human Civilization” (Oxford UP, 2006)
- Todd Moye, “Freedom Flyers: The Tuskegee Airmen of World War II” (Oxford UP, 2010)
- Richard Fogarty, “Race and War in France: Colonial Subjects in the French Army, 1914-1918″ (Johns Hopkins UP, 2008)
- James Willbanks, “Abandoning Vietnam: How America Left and South Vietnam Lost Its War” (University of Kansas Press, 2008)
- Thomas Weber, “Hitler’s First War: Adolf Hitler, the Men of the List Regiment, and the First World War” (Oxford UP, 2010)
- Alexander Watson, “Enduring the Great War: Combat, Morale and Collapse in the German and British Armies, 1914-1918″ (Cambridge UP, 2008)
- Norman Stone, “World War One: A Short History” (Basic Books, 2009)
- John Steinberg, “All the Tsar’s Men: Russia’s General Staff and the Fate of the Empire, 1898-1914″ (Johns Hopkins UP, 2010)
- Fearghal McGarry, “The Rising: Ireland, Easter 1916″ (Oxford UP, 2010)
- Mark Mazower, “Hitler’s Empire: Nazi Rule in Occupied Europe” (Penguin, 2008)
- Rebecca Manley, “To the Tashkent Station: Evacuation and Survival in the Soviet Union at War” (Cornell UP, 2009)
- Giles MacDonogh, “After the Reich: The Brutal History of the Allied Occupation” (Basic Books, 2007)
- John Lukacs, “Blood, Toil, Tears and Sweat: The Dire Warning” (Basic Books, 2008)
- J. E. Lendon, “Song of Wrath: The Peloponnesian War Begins” (Basic, 2010)
- Kimberly Jensen, “Mobilizing Minerva: American Women in the First World War” (University of Illinois Press, 2008)
- Andrew Donson, “Youth in the Fatherless Land: War Pedagogy, Nationalism, and Authority in Germany, 1914-1918″ (Harvard UP, 2010)
- David Day, “Conquest: How Societies Overwhelm Others” (Oxford UP, 2008)
- Heather Cox Richardson, “Wounded Knee: Party Politics and the Road to an American Massacre” (Basic Books, 2010)
- Benjamin Carp, “Rebels Rising: Cities in the American Revolution” (Oxford UP, 2007)
- Christopher Capozzola, “Uncle Sam Wants You: World War I and the Making of The Modern American Citizen” (Oxford UP, 2008)
- Edwin Burrows, “Forgotten Patriots: The Untold Story of American Prisoners During the Revolutionary War” (Basic Books, 2008)
- Susan Brewer, “Why America Fights: Patriotism and War Propaganda from the Philippines to Iraq” (Oxford UP, 2009)
- Gregory J. W. Urwin, “Victory in Defeat: The Wake Island Defenders in Captivity” (Naval Institute Press, 2010)