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New Books in Military History

Author: Marshall Poe

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Interviews with Scholars of Military History about their New Books
298 Episodes
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Using a mixture of genres, Kent Gramm captures the voices of those past and present in his book, Gettysburg: The Living and the Dead(Southern Illinois University Press, 2019) Alongside stunning photographs by Chris Heisey, Gramm shares the experiences of the people at Gettysburg—both those historical figures who took part in the battle in some meaningful way and those of us today who return to the battlefield to try and make sense of such a tragic and mournful part of our history. Gramm’s writing style is eloquent and thought-provoking. By listening to the people who were at Gettysburg, he brings them back to life in a way that reveals the truth of the human experience and elicits empathy from his readers. Gettysburg: The Living and the Dead is emotionally stirring and absolutely essential toward helping us understand and heal from this tragic, watershed event in American history.Kent Gramm is an adjunct professor of English and Civil War Era Studies at Gettysburg College in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. A Wisconsin native, Gramm has also taught at colleges in Germany, Illinois, and Indiana. He holds a PhD in Creative Writing and American Literature from the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, and studied theology at Princeton Theological Seminary at the University of Tuebingen, Germany. He has written books, plays, novels, and poetry about Abraham Lincoln, Gettysburg, and the American Civil War. His book, November: Lincoln's Elegy at Gettysburg, was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, and the graduate writing program at LSU awards an annual Kent Gramm Prize in Creative Nonfiction. Finally, he is a lifelong student of the Civil War.Colin Mustful is the author of four historical novels about Minnesota’s settlement and Native history. He holds an MA in history and a MFA in creative writing. He is the founder and editor of a small independent press called History Through Fiction. You can learn more about Colin and his work at colinmustful.com.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
In Playing War: Children and the Paradoxes of Modern Militarism in Japan (University of California Press, 2017), Sabine Frühstück shows how children and childhood have been used in twentieth century Japan as technologies to moralize war, and later, in the twenty-first century, to sentimentalize peace. Through examining Japanese children’s war games both in the field and on paper, Fruhstuck explores in the first half of the book how “children’s little wars” are connected and interacted with the “grand game” of the Imperial Army and Japan’s wars in Asia. In the second half of the book, Fruhstuck investigates various modes of “queering war”, as well as directing our attention to a move from the infantilization of war to the infantilization of peace in twenty-first century Japan. As one of the few books that looks into the role of affect in modern Japanese militarism, Playing War exposes the “emotional capital” that has been attributed to children and the “use value” of their vulnerability and innocence in both times of war and in times of peace.Daigengna Duoer is a PhD student at the Religious Studies Department, University of California, Santa Barbara. She mainly researches on Buddhism in twentieth-century Inner Mongolia and Manchuria. Her research interests also include the role Buddhism plays in modernity, colonialism, and transnational/transregional networks.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Did the Allied bombing plan for the liberation of France follow a carefully orchestrated plan, or was it executed on an ad-hoc basis with little concern or regard for collateral damage? How did the bombing of French cities and railheads follow – or disregard – existing air power doctrine, and where did the decision making occur, within the Army Air Forces and Bomber Command, or among the ground unit leaders? What was the cost to human life and material artistic and historic centers, and was it worth it? These are only a few of the questions Stephen Alan Bourque addresses in his well-conceived and well-researched book, Beyond the Beach: The Allied War Against France (Naval Institute Press, 2018). At almost every turn, Stephen challenges the existing triumphalist narratives of the liberation of France to present a heart-wrenching account of disproportionate violence targeting not the German military, but the French people during this stage of the war. A book rife with lessons for our generation, Beyond the Beach is one of the most important texts to appear about the war in France in years.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Few decades have given rise to such potent mythologies as the 1930s. Popular impressions of those years prior to the Second World War were shaped by the single outstanding personality of that conflict, Winston Spencer Churchill. Churchill depicted himself as a political prophet, exiled into the wilderness prior to 1939 by those who did not want to hear of the growing threats to peace in Europe. Although it is a familiar story, it is one we need to unlearn as the truth is somewhat murkier.Robert Crowcroft's The End is Nigh: British Politics, Power, and the Road to the Second World War (Oxford University Press, 2019) is a tale of relentless intrigue, burning ambition, and the bitter rivalry in British politics during the years preceding the Second World War. Building on both the revisionist and the post-revisionist scholarship of the last forty-years, Crowcroft’s narrative goes from the corridors of Whitehall to the smoking rooms of Parliament, and from aircraft factories to summit meetings with Hitler, the book offers a fresh and provocative interpretation of one of the most crucial moments of British history. It assembles a cast of iconic characters--Churchill, Neville Chamberlain, Stanley Baldwin, Clement Attlee, Anthony Eden, Ernest Bevin, and more--to explore the dangerous interaction between high politics at Westminster and the formulation of national strategy in a world primed to explode.In the twenty-first century we are accustomed to being cynical about politicians, mistrusting what they say and wondering about their real motives, but Crowcroft, Senior Lecturer in Contemporary History at the University of Edinburgh and Associate Fellow at the War Studies Department at University College London, argues that this was always the character of democratic politics. In The End is Nigh he challenges some of the most resilient public myths of recent decades--myths that, even now, remain an important component of Britain's self-image. Described by Christopher Montgomery in Standpoint as brilliant and a ‘savage and subtle critique of Neville Chamberlain’s appeasement policy, The End is Nigh is by any stretch of the imagination a book that the serious student of history should have on his desk for his summer reading.Charles Coutinho has a doctorate in history from New York University. Where he studied with Tony Judt, Stewart Stehlin and McGeorge Bundy. His Ph. D. dissertation was on Anglo-American relations in the run-up to the Suez Crisis of 1956. His area of specialization is 19th and 20th-century European, American diplomatic and political history. He has written recently for the Journal of Intelligence History and Chatham House’s International Affairs. It you have a recent title to suggest for a podcast, please send an e-mail to Charlescoutinho@aol.comLearn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
The carrier task force—the symbolic and physical manifestation of the United States’ ability to project naval and air power across the globe—came of age during the Second World War. Fighting the Imperial Japanese Navy, and closely supporting General MacArthur’s and Admiral Nimitz’s island-hopping campaign, the carrier and its air wing transitioned from being just one more tactical element within the fleet to the formidable strategic weapon we’ve come to know today. Instrumental in bringing about this change was Admiral John Sidney McCain—grandfather of the late Senator John McCain—and the subject of emeritus professor William F. Trimble’s most recent biography, Admiral John S. McCain and the Triumph of Naval Air Power (Naval Institute Press, 2019), published by Naval Institute Press.Taking a multidimensional approach, professor Trimble weaves together the narrative of McCain’s career with the history of a liminal moment in the Navy’s development as an institution, in the ascendency of naval aviation, and in the navy’s evolution from a battleship-centered force to the modern ‘air’ Navy.Professor Trimble’s richly detailed biography goes a long way toward filling in the fine grained details of this story. Moreover, in reassessing McCain’s deep understanding of naval aviation’s multiple facets, and his ability to bring this knowledge to bear as the commander of Task Force 38, professor Trimble has carved out a space for McCain in the pantheon of the Second World War’s great fighting admirals. Indeed, McCain—as much as King, Halsey, Spruance, or Nimitz—was fundamental to the Navy’s successful in the Pacific.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
When the British explored the Atlantic coast of America in the 1580s, their relations with indigenous peoples were structured by food. The newcomers, unable to sustain themselves through agriculture, relied on the local Algonquian people for resources. This led to tension, and then violence. When English raiding parties struck Algonquian villages, they destroyed crops and raided food stores. According to English sources, all of this was provoked by the ‘theft’ of a silver drinking cup, perhaps offered to an Algonquian visitor and understood as a gift of hospitality -  a token of a new relationship of equals.For the historian, episodes like this are challenging to explain. We need to treat dismissals indigenous peoples as inferior with much greater scepticism. And we need to recover the intentions of peoples whose actions were interpreted and distorted by the observers who left the ‘historical’ records that we privilege as sources.Rachel Herrmann is Lecturer in Modern American History at Cardiff University. In No Useless Mouth: Waging War and Fighting Hunger in the American Revolution(Cornell University Press, 2019), she provides a powerfully original examination of how food and hunger structured relations of power in the revolutionary period. The book – which will be published by Cornell this autumn – ranges widely, from the villages of Iroquoia, to the lands of the Cherokee, and along routes taken by Africans to Canada and Sierra Leone. It is a feast, prepared with skill and served with considerable flair.Charles Prior is Senior Lecturer in Early Modern History at the University of Hull (UK), who has written on the politics of religion in early modern Britain, and whose work has recently expanded to the intersection of colonial, indigenous, and imperial politics in early America. He co-leads the Treatied Spaces Research Cluster.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
In her new book, This Is Really War: The Incredible True Story of a Navy Nurse POW in the Occupied Philippines (Chicago Review Press, 2019), Emilie Le Beau Lucchesi presents the largely unknown story of the US Navy nurses captured by the Japanese in the Philippines during World War II. Focusing on what she calls the “twelve anchors,” Lucchesi examines the lives of these women as they lived in prison camps throughout the Philippines, while at the same time continuing to work as nurses, and often the only medical professionals, in each camp. Focusing on the story of navy nurse Dorothy Still, Lucchesi starts at the attack on Pearl Harbor, chronicling the Japanese attack on the Philippines and the capture of thousands of Americans, including Dorothy. The narrative follows Dorothy, Chief Nurse Laura Cobb, and ten other navy nurses who continued to work in a makeshift hospital in the civilian prison camp they were sent to. Recounting their experiences with death, disease, malnutrition, starvation, and overcrowded conditions, This is Really War, follows these “twelve anchors” during the over two years that they spent imprisoned until the prison camps were liberated.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
As Russian militarism becomes increasingly intertwined with Russian Orthodoxy theology in the 21st century, the history of the Church’s relationship to war and its justification becomes particularly relevant. Betsy Perabo’s book Russian Orthodoxy and the Russo-Japanese War (Bloomsbury Academic, 2017) is a unique and important contribution to this area of inquiry, representing a rare contemporary academic exploration of just war theory within Russian Orthodoxy in the context of the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-05. Perabo examines the conflict through the concept of an “interreligious war” between Christian and Buddhist nations, paying particular attention to the writings of Nikolai of Japan, the Russian leader of Orthodox Church in Japan, as well as Russian soldiers, chaplains, military psychologists, and missionary leaders. In this interview we discuss the genealogy of Christian just war theory, the Russian Orthodox mission in in the late 19th-early 20th century the Japanese and Russian perception of religious motivations and divine influence in the 1904-05 war, and the implications of this history for Russian militarism today.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Danny Orbach’s Curse on This Country: The Rebellious Army of Imperial Japan (Cornell University Press, 2017) provides new insights into the origins of the insubordination that plagued and characterized the Imperial Japanese Army in the 1930s. Orbach identifies the causes of insubordination in both the political culture of the military dating back to the Meiji Restoration itself and a series of systemic “bugs” that infected the modern political system but that were in themselves the result of mostly reasonable solutions to challenges Japan faced early on in its blitzkrieg modernization. By assembling a series of mostly well known events into a coherent narrative from the 1860s to the 1930s, Orbach shows how insubordination in the name of the emperor rotted the Army from its core and destroyed civilian control in the process, culminating in the military governments of the Second World War period. The book is not only a convincing reevaluation of the history of the Army and modern Japan, but also a refreshing antidote to persistent misconceptions about the roots and timeline of Japan’s imperial ambitions. Instead of a geopolitical imperial strategy with roots in the 1870s, in which there is a continuity of aggressive expansionist purpose, what we come away with is a story about the continuity of structural/systemic “bugs” and their long-term unintended consequences.This podcast was recorded in front of a live audience at Nagoya University.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
In this provocative challenge to United States policy and strategy, former Professor of Strategy & Policy at the US Naval War College, and author or editor of eleven books, Dr. Donald Stoker argues that America endures endless wars because its leaders no longer know how to think about war in strategic terms and he reveals how ideas on limited war and war in general have evolved against the backdrop of American conflicts in Korea, Vietnam, and Iraq. These ideas, he shows, were and are flawed and have undermined America's ability to understand, wage, and win its wars, and to secure peace afterwards. America's leaders he argues have too often taken the nation to war without understanding what they want or valuing victory, leading to the “forever wars” of today in Afghanistan and Iraq. Why America Loses Wars: Limited War and US Strategy from the Korean War to the Present(Cambridge University Press, 2019) dismantles seventy years of misguided thinking and lays the foundations for a new approach to the wars of tomorrow. Why American Loses War is a must read for policy practitioners, serving soldiers and the lay educated public.Charles Coutinho has a doctorate in history from New York University. Where he studied with Tony Judt, Stewart Stehlin and McGeorge Bundy. His Ph. D. dissertation was on Anglo-American relations in the run-up to the Suez Crisis of 1956. His area of specialization is 19th and 20th-century European, American diplomatic and political history. He has written recently for the Journal of Intelligence History and Chatham House’s International Affairs. It you have a recent title to suggest for a podcast, please send an e-mail to Charlescoutinho@aol.com.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
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