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Society & Culture
History

New Books in Military History

Updated 3 days ago

Society & Culture
History
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Interviews with Scholars of Military History about their New Books

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Interviews with Scholars of Military History about their New Books

iTunes Ratings

49 Ratings
Average Ratings
29
6
8
2
4

Interesting and well done reviews

By Laird NYC - Jun 29 2019
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Terrific authors and great topics. Thanks a lot for bringing them to us.

Very intelligent conversation

By Danny_Trappedinsidethebeltway - Jan 14 2013
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Thanks, will be listening.

iTunes Ratings

49 Ratings
Average Ratings
29
6
8
2
4

Interesting and well done reviews

By Laird NYC - Jun 29 2019
Read more
Terrific authors and great topics. Thanks a lot for bringing them to us.

Very intelligent conversation

By Danny_Trappedinsidethebeltway - Jan 14 2013
Read more
Thanks, will be listening.
Cover image of New Books in Military History

New Books in Military History

Latest release on Jan 21, 2020

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Interviews with Scholars of Military History about their New Books

Rank #1: Christian Goeschel, "Mussolini and Hitler: The Forging of the Fascist Alliance" (Yale UP, 2018)

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In his new book, Mussolini and Hitler: The Forging of the Fascist Alliance (Yale University Press, 2018), Christian Goeschel, Senior Lecturer in Modern European History at the University of Manchester, examines the relationship between Hitler and Mussolini and how their relationship developed and affected both countries. In this highly readable book, Goeschel, revisits all of Mussolini and Hitler’s key meetings and asks how these meetings constructed a powerful image of a strong Fascist-Nazi relationship that still resonates with the general public. The first comprehensive study of the Mussolini-Hitler relationship, this book is a must-read for scholars and anyone interested in the history of European fascism, World War II, or political leadership.

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Apr 02 2019

1hr 5mins

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Rank #2: Andrew Lambert, "Seapower States: Maritime Culture, Continental Empires and the Conflict That Made the Modern World" (Yale UP, 2018)

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Andrew Lambert, Professor of Naval History at King’s College, London, author of eighteen books, and winner of the prestigious Anderson Medal—turns his attention in a book that historian Felipe Fernandez Armesto describes as full of ‘ambition’, ‘verve’ and at times ‘brilliance’ - to Athens, Carthage, Venice, the Dutch Republic, and Britain. In Seapower States: Maritime Culture, Continental Empires and the Conflict That Made the Modern World (Yale UP, 2018), Professor Lambert, examines how each of these polities identities as “seapowers” informed and determined their individual histories and enabled them to achieve success disproportionate to their size.

Lambert by delving into the intricacies of each of these seapowers is able to show how creating maritime identities made these states more dynamic, open, and inclusive than their lumbering continental rivals. Only when they forgot this aspect of their identity did these states begin to decline. Recognizing that the United States and China are modern naval powers—rather than seapowers—is essential to understanding current affairs, as well as the long-term trends in world history. This volume is a highly original “big think” analysis of five states whose success—and eventual failure—is a subject of enduring interest, by a someone who is perhaps the leading naval scholar in the Anglophone world to-day.

Charles Coutinho holds 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. It you have a recent title to suggest for a podcast, please send an e-mail to Charlescoutinho@aol.com.

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Jan 23 2019

1hr 2mins

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Rank #3: Peter Hitchens, "The Phoney Victory: The World War II Illusion" (I.B. Tauris, 2018)

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Was World War II really the 'Good War'? In the years since the declaration of peace in 1945 many myths have sprung up around the conflict in the victorious nations, especially the United Kingdom. In his newest book, The Phoney Victory: The World War II Illusion (I.B. Tauris, 2018), writer and journalist, Peter Hitchens, past winner of the Orwell Prize and regular columnist for the Mail on Sunday, takes on the myth of World War II as the 'good war', and in the process he deconstructs the many fables which have become associated with this highly popular historical narrative. Whilst not per se arguing against the idea that at some point in time Hitler's Germany had to be defeated, Hitchens queries the need to have commenced that war in September 1939. Along the way, Hitchens queries and or attacks various other myths such as Anglo-American solidarity and the so-called 'Special Relationship'; that the Battle of Britain was an important turning point in the war, or that British and American involvement were the key aspect to the eventual defeat of Nazi Germany. By turns, erudite, unorthodox and even funny, Hitchens book is a must read for anyone who is interested in the run-up to World War II and the way in which that conflict was fought.

Charles Coutinho holds 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. It you have a recent title to suggest for a podcast, please send an e-mail to Charlescoutinho@aol.com.

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Dec 12 2018

46mins

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Rank #4: Tom Weiner, “Called to Serve: Stories of Men and Women Confronted by the Vietnam War Draft” (Levellers Press, 2011)

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In 1969, the United States created and implemented a new method of drafting young men for military service–the “draft lottery.” The old system, whereby local draft boards selected those to enter service, was corrupt and unfair. The new system, whereby men would be chosen at random, would be incorruptible and fair. Or at least so it was thought.


As Tom Weiner points out in his remarkable book Called to Serve: Stories of Men and Women Confronted by the Vietnam War Draft(Levellers Press, 2011), “the lottery” was also corrupt and unfair. The wealthy, white, and educated often had access to numerous kinds of “outs”: deferments for things like college-going, doctors who would support claims of disability, and resources to leave the country or mount successful claims of conscientious objection. The poor, non-white, and uneducated usually had none of these things, so when their numbers came up (literally), they went.


In this book Tom interviews all those affected by “the lottery”: those who served in the military, those who went abroad to avoid service, those who stayed but refused to serve, those who beat the draft, those who obtained CO status, and those (women) who supported and counseled men in all these groups. Their stories are fascinating, moving, and relevant today as we fight a new “longest war.” Listen in.

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Jul 31 2014

1hr 2mins

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Rank #5: John Prados, “Storm Over Leyte: The Philippine Invasion and the Destruction of the Japanese Navy” (NAL, 2016)

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Narratives of the Pacific War frequently examine the 1944 Battle of Leyte Gulf from the operational perspective, focusing on the desperate actions of the US Seventh Fleets escort carriers, Task Unit 77.4.3 (“Taffy 3”) against the much larger Japanese Center Force, commanded by Vice Admiral Takeo Kurita. The ensuing drama, including the famous call for help and rebuke of US Third Fleet commander, Admiral William F. Halsey, Jr., has become legend. In his latest book, Storm Over Leyte: The Philippine Invasion and the Destruction of the Japanese Navy (NAL, 2016), seasoned historian John Prados places Leyte Gulf as the denouement of a larger campaign for control of the Central Pacific Ocean, one which was the swan song of Japanese naval power. Incorporating the naval intelligence of both sides, he restores agency to the Imperial Japanese Navy as the unwitting architect of its own destruction. Drawing upon a wide range of sources, including many hitherto unseen Japanese primary documents, memoirs, and interviews, Prados unveils one of the most comprehensive comparative treatments of this controversial campaign.

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Oct 13 2016

54mins

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Rank #6: Mark Mazower, “Hitler’s Empire: Nazi Rule in Occupied Europe” (Penguin, 2008)

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It’s curious how historical images become stereotyped over time. One hears the word “Nazi,” and immediately the Holocaust springs to mind. This reflexive association is probably a good thing, as it reminds us of the dangers of ethnic hatred in an era that knows it too well.  But in another way the Nazi = Holocaust equation obscures part of the story of Hitler’s insanity and that of all genocidal madness. For as Mark Mazower points out in his excellent new book Hitler’s Empire: Nazi Rule in Occupied Europe (Penguin, 2008), Hitler’s homicidal aims went well beyond the Holocaust. Of course the Jews would have to go. But that was hardly to be the end of it. The Poles, Russians, Ukrainians, and other residents of the East would have to go too. They were all to be eliminated and replaced by “Aryan” settlers. That was the goal, anyway. That it went unrealized was not due to any lack of effort or nerve. As Mazower shows, the Nazi occupiers uprooted, enslaved, and murdered millions, often with the slightest moral qualms. They failed because they lost the war. We should have no doubt that had they won it–or even defeated the Soviets and brought the West to a stalemate–the Germans would have tried to obliterate the Slavic populations of Eastern Europe. (Whether they might have succeeded in this effort is a hypothetical better not contemplated.) The Jewish Holocaust, then, was but the first in a planned series of mass slaughters aimed at creating a pan-European Nazi Empire. Thank God–and the Allied armies–that it proved to be the last.


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Oct 02 2008

46mins

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Rank #7: Robert Gerwarth, “Hitler’s Hangman: The Life of Heydrich” (Yale UP, 2012)

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Few history books sell better than biographies of Nazi leaders. They attract anyone even tangentially interested in World War Two or Nazi Germany.  It’s not surprising, then, that there are dozens of biographies of Himmler, Goering, and Hitler himself.


Oddly, though, Reinhard Heydrich is relatively understudied.  Robert Gerwarth’s wonderful new biography of Heydrich, titled Hitler’s Hangman: The Life of Heydrich (Yale UP, 2012), fills this gap admirably.  Gerwarth’s book is part of a new wave of serious biographies that have appeared in the last years.  All are characterized by a thoughtful engagement with recent research on the Holocaust.  All devote considerable attention to their subjects’ lives in the period before the Nazi takeover.  All emphasize the choices made by their subjects and the way these choices were not predetermined.  Hitler’s Hangman is an outstanding example of this new scholarship.


Gerwarth’s work, in particular, is distinguished by its particularly effective writing.  He synthesizes a great deal of information gracefully, a demanding task in a biography this concise.  At the same time, he preserves space for anecdotes and details that illuminate his topic and add color to his narrative.


Hitler’s Hangman has been widely praised by reviewers across the spectrum.  It is praise that is richly deserved.

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Jul 24 2013

1hr 4mins

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Rank #8: Robert Citino, “Death of the Wehrmacht: The German Campaigns of 1942” (UP of Kansas, 2007)

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Robert Citino is one of a handful of scholars working in German military history whose books I would describe as reliably rewarding. Even when one quibbles with some of the details of his argument, one is sure to profit from reading his work. When a Citino book appears in print, it automatically goes in my “to read” pile. Death of the Wehrmacht: The German Campaigns of 1942 (UP of Kansas, 2007), which recently appeared in a paperback edition for the first time, was one of the first books I wanted to review for New Books in Military History. The book is operational history at its best. It is written with both clarity and drama, as good operational history should be; it adds to our understanding of the German war in the East through its careful synthesis of the best research in German and English on the subject in the last ten or fifteen years; it mines Wehrmacht military journals for insights into “the German Way of War” (a topic discussed in an early Citino book of that title – see the interview for more). Even avid readers on the subject will learn much that they did not know about Manstein in Crimea, Rommel in North Africa, Hoth approaching Stalingrad, and many of the other campaigns of 1942.

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Apr 22 2011

1hr 4mins

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Rank #9: David Green, "The Hundred Years War: A People’s History" (Yale UP, 2014)

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The year 1453 marked the end of an intermittent yet seemingly endless series of wars between the Kingdom of France and the Kingdom of England that, some four hundred years later, was dubbed the Hundred Years War. Depending on how you count even the most conservative estimate of its beginnings would make it longer than that. This conflict led to numerous changes in the life of not only Kings, but in those of men and women; of warriors, priests and peasants; landowners, great and small; ladies, nuns, and housewives; and prisoners of war, and the poor in their infinite variety.

Writing in the midst of this turmoil, after the defeat and capture of the King Jean II of France at the Battle of Poitier, a chronicler wrote: "From that time on all went wrong with the Kingdom and the state was undone. Thieves and robbers rose up everywhere in the land. The nobles despised and hated all others and took no thought for the mutual usefulness and profit of lord and men. They subjected and despoiled the peasants and the men of the villages. In no wise did they defend their country from enemies. Rather did they trample it underfoot, robbing and pillaging the peasants’ goods…"

With me to explain this dreadful period, and its many consequences is David Green, author of The Hundred Years War: A People’s History, published by Yale University Press (2014). A Senior Lecturer in British Studies and History at Harlaxton College, he has published several earlier studies on other aspects of the Hundred Years War.

Al Zambone is a historian and the host of the podcast Historically Thinking. You can subscribe to Historically Thinking on Apple Podcasts.

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Jun 19 2019

54mins

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Rank #10: Gregory A. Daddis, “Westmoreland’s War: Reassessing America’s Strategy in Vietnam” (Oxford UP, 2014)

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In the wake of Ken Burns’ most recent series, The Vietnam War, America’s fascination with the conflict shows no sign of abating. Fortunately the flood of popular retellings of old narratives is supplemented by a number of well-researched and reasoned efforts aimed at garnering a better sense of how our presumptions about the Vietnam War are in need of reinterpretation and revision. Returning to New Books in Military History is historian Gregory A. Daddis, author of two recent accounts of the war that together offer a sharp reassessment of the American effort. In Westmoreland’s War: Reassessing America’s Strategy in Vietnam (Oxford University Press, 2014) and Withdrawal: Reassessing America’s Final Years in Vietnam (Oxford University Press, 2017) Daddis challenges many existing perceptions of the readiness and roles of MACV’s two most prominent commanders, Generals William Westmoreland and Creighton Abrams, as well as their struggles with the Washington defense establishment during the war. By centering his study on the strategic planning and its execution, Daddis not only acknowledges the centrality of Vietnamese agency in the outcome of the war, he also reveals how some historians have misjudged the war’s outcome to present flawed visions of possible victory.

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Feb 09 2018

1hr 10mins

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Rank #11: Filip Slaveski, “The Soviet Occupation of Germany” (Cambridge UP, 2013)

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For over three years, from June 1941 to late 1944, the German Army and related Nazi forces (the SS, occupation troops, administrative organizations) conducted a Vernichtungskrieg–a war of annihilation–against the Soviet Union on Soviet soil. The Germans killed millions upon millions of Red Army soldiers, Communist Party officials, and ordinary Soviet citizens. As the Germans were pushed back by the Soviets, they conducted a ruthless scorched-earth policy. Stalin’s propaganda organs made much of German atrocities and encouraged Soviet soldiers to punish Germans wherever they found them.


It’s little wonder, then, that Soviet troops sought a kind of wild, indiscriminate revenge against the Germans as they crossed into German territory. They murdered, raped, and pillaged on an incredible scale. But, as Filip Slaveski shows in his remarkable new book The Soviet Occupation of Germany: Hunger, Mass Violence and the Struggle for Peace, 1945-1947 (Cambridge University Press, 2013), the Soviet authorities did not turn a blind-eye to this sort of retribution. Though they wanted to demilitarize Germany and to strip it of industry, they did not plan or condone mass violence against Germans. Moscow quickly replaced the Red Army as an occupying force with SVAG, the Soviet Military Administration in Germany. It’s task was to end the wild violence and govern (indeed, protect) the German population.


Slaveski demonstrates that SVAG’s task was very difficult or, perhaps, impossible. It neither had the political support from the top (Stalin pitted it against the army) nor the resources to both police the million plus vengeful Soviet troops in occupied Germany nor manage the impoverished German population. Ultimately, the violence only ended when most of the Soviet troops left.


Listen in.

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Jul 02 2014

1hr 10mins

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Rank #12: Alex J. Kay, "The Making of an SS Killer: the Life of Colonel Alfred Filbert, 1905-1990" (Cambridge UP, 2016)

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Alex Kay’s The Making of an SS Killer: the Life of Colonel Alfred Filbert, 1905-1990 (Cambridge University Press, 2016) is a must read for those interested in the Third Reich, the Holocaust, and World War II.  Focusing on the actions and consequences of a “front-line Holocaust perpetrator”, Kay’s biographies diverges drastically with the traditional bios of other more well-known Nazis.  Kay argues that Filbert chose to become an exceptional Nazi Party member and his career as well as his life hinged upon what seems to be an unquestionable dedication to the cause.  This book is not only well-researched, but intellectually tantalizing and addictive.  Kay’s narrative hooks you from his introduction and by the time the reader has finished, it is hard to believe that this is based on the facts of Filbert’s life and career.  Instead, it seems almost Hollywood-like in its tensions and its twist of an ending.

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Sep 16 2019

47mins

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Rank #13: Heather Cox Richardson, “Wounded Knee: Party Politics and the Road to an American Massacre” (Basic Books, 2010)

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Of all the events in American history, two are far and away the most troubling: slavery and the near-genocidal war against native Americans. In truth, we’ve dealt much better with the former than the latter. The slaves were emancipated. After a long and painful struggle, their descendants won their full civil rights. Though that struggle is not yet finished, near equality has been reached in many areas of American life. And almost all Americans understand that slavery was wrong. None of this can be said about the campaign against native Americans. Instead of emancipation, the Indians–or rather those left after the slaughter–were “removed” to reservations where their way of life was destroyed. After a long and painful struggle, many of their descendants are still in those reservations and living in poverty. They struggle still, but are not equal to other Americans by most measures. And many Americans refuse to believe that the U.S. was wrong in killing, sequestering, and impoverishing the native Americans.


They are wrong to do so, for we know what happened and why thanks to historians such as Heather Cox Richardson. In her eye-opening new book Wounded Knee: Party Politics and the Road to an American Massacre (Basic Books, 2010) she shows just how calculated, self-serving, and even spiteful the White assault on the Plains Indians was. Despite what they said (mostly to the Indians themselves), the Whites never had any real intention of allowing the Sioux and others to keep their land, maintain their way of life, or even to continue to exist. It was clear to them that the Indians would either become White (meaning would take up farming) or would go. The Whites weren’t exactly cynics; rather they were self-deceiving fatalists. They came to believe that destiny itself compelled them to assimilate or annihilate the Indians.


But destiny didn’t destroy the Plains Indians. The government of the United States of America did.


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Jun 03 2010

1hr 12mins

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Rank #14: Marc Gallicchio and Waldo Heinrich, "Implacable Foes: War in the Pacific, 1944-1945" (Oxford UP, 2017)

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Serious and casual scholars and readers interested in the Pacific War would do well to commit reading Marc Gallicchio’s and Waldo Heinrich’s massive study of the conflict’s last two years, Implacable Foes: War in the Pacific, 1944-1945 (Oxford University Press, 2017).  The two authors, both masters in the field, take on the monumental task of offering a civil-military synthesis of the war against Japan that covers both the home front and the campaigns in exacting detail.  Along the way, they introduce readers to a wide range of new and interesting interpretations that both validate and challenge long-held presumptions that have dominated the American historiography since the 1950s.  In our conversation, Marc Gallicchio offers several insights into the book, particularly with regard to civil-military relations in time of global total war, the US Army’s role in clearing the Philippines, the problems with the FDR and Truman Administration’s unconditional surrender policy, and the decision to use the atomic bomb.  At the same time, Marc shares several interesting insights and anecdotes about the war from the perspective of average Americans – including his co-author’s experiences and observations as a veteran of the 86th Infantry Division – that make this authoritative book so accessible and relevant for the contemporary reader.

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Jun 13 2019

1hr 12mins

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Rank #15: Mark R. Anderson, “The Battle for the Fourteenth Colony” (UP of New England, 2014)

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My most current guest is Mark R. Anderson, author of The Battle for the Fourteenth Colony: America’s War of Liberation in Canada, 1774-1776 (University Press of New England, 2014). Anderson’s award-winning book presents the most detailed and nuanced study of the entire Quebec campaign in print today.Long an under-represented campaign in the general historiography of the American Revolution, the 1775 Canada expedition is brought to life in Anderson’s treatment, as he presents the story from multiple perspectives, including the American expeditionary force, the British Loyalists, and the Canadien inhabitants of the Quebec parishes.Anderson’s book addresses a major oversight in the historiography of the Revolution, and in the process, is a highly detailed political and military narrative that is destined to be the standard work in the field for years to come.

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Dec 15 2014

1hr 2mins

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Rank #16: Guy Laron, “The Six-Day War: The Breaking of the Middle East” (Yale UP, 2017)

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The title of Guy Laron’s The Six-Day War: The Breaking of the Middle East (Yale University Press, 2017) says it all. As Laron notes in this interview, the fact that the war led to ongoing conflicts in the Middle East is an accepted interpretation of the war’s meaning. However, through his research Laron has provided a new lens by which to understand the war. Using a holistic perspective that situates the war in the context of the Cold War and the economic development of the non-western world, Laron argues that several broader trends pushed the Israeli and Arab states into conflict in 1967. As developmental aid disappeared, Arab and Israeli governments alike were facing crises of confidence from their own populations. Reliance on the military became a way to earn legitimacy with a public that was becoming disenchanted, though it also fed into a number of increasingly belligerent moves that ultimately led to war on June 5, 1967.


Laron’s research shows as well the role of the superpowers in this conflict. As development aid gave way to military aid, they fueled the rise of militarism in these countries, and their often-contradictory diplomacy only muddied an already difficult situation. The legacy of the war, in addition to the ongoing conflicts that Israel faces in Palestine and its issues with neighbors such as Syria, was an erosion of civil-military relations that gave outsized roles to generals in the region. To write this history, Laron drew on archival research in the archives of former Soviet states and the literature that already existed on the topic. In doing so, he moves the study of the war from being a strictly regional issue to a global one.


Zeb Larson is a PhD Candidate in History at The Ohio State University. His research is about the anti-apartheid movement in the United States. To suggest a recent title or to contact him, please send an e-mail to zeb.larson@gmail.com.

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Jul 16 2018

55mins

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Rank #17: Giles MacDonogh, “After the Reich: The Brutal History of the Allied Occupation” (Basic Books, 2007)

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Many years ago I had the opportunity to spend a summer in Germany, more specifically in a tiny town on the Rhine near Koblenz. The family I stayed with looked for all the world like typical Rhinelanders. They even had their own small Weingut where they made a nice Riesling. But they were not originally from the Rhinegau at all. They were from East Prussia, a place where there are no longer any Germans and a place that no longer really exists. They commemorated their erstwhile Heimat by keeping a large, old map of East Prussia on their living room wall. If you’re curious as to how my host family made the trek from Baltic to the Rhine, you’ll want to read Giles MacDonogh’s hair-raising book After the Reich. The Brutal History of the Allied Occupation (Basic Books, 2007). The atrocities committed by the Nazis are of course very well known to nearly everyone. But the outrages committed by the Allies in retribution for said crimes are less familiar. Giles sets the record straight by chronicling what can only be seen as an Allied campaign of vengeance. They pillaged and raised much of Germany and they raped, massacred, starved, and deported millions of Germans. The Russians were the greatest offenders, but the Americans, British, and French were hardly guiltless. It’s hard to know what to think about what they did. The Nazis were monsters, and many ordinary Germans were complicit in their crimes. They deserved punishment. But was justice served?


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Jun 20 2009

1hr 7mins

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Rank #18: Henning Pieper, "Fegelein’s Horsemen and Genocidal Warfare: The SS Cavalry Brigade in the Soviet Union" (Palgrave Macmillan, 2015)

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In his book, Fegelein’s Horsemen and Genocidal Warfare: The SS Cavalry Brigade in the Soviet Union (Palgrave Macmillan, 2015), Dr. Henning Pieper, examines the conduct of the SS Cavalry Brigade during World War II. The SS Cavalry Brigade was a unit of the Waffen-SS that differed from other German military formations as it developed a dual role: SS cavalrymen both helped to initiate the Holocaust in the Soviet Union and experienced combat at the front. Pieper’s book highlights an understudied aspect of both the Holocaust and World War II.

Craig Sorvillo is a PhD candidate in modern European history at the University of Florida. He specializes in Nazi Germany, and the Holocaust. He can be reached at craig.sorvillo@gmail.com or on twitter @craig_sorvillo.

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Apr 30 2019

56mins

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Rank #19: Terrance 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)

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In his second book, author Terrance 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 Infantry 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.

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Sep 14 2015

1hr

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Rank #20: Christian Ingrao, “Believe and Destroy: Intellectuals in the SS War Machine” (Polity Press, 2015)

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How did a generation of Germany’s best and brightest become radicalized? What convinced young intellectuals to join the SS and perpetrate genocide in pursuit of a racial utopia? Find out in our conversation with Christian Ingrao about his book Believe and Destroy: Intellectuals in the SS War Machine (Polity Press, 2015). Christian traces the experiences of the war youth generation from defining events in childhood, through their student activism, into the Reich Security Main Office, and abroad where they could finally realize their ideas. The resulting portrait reveals how a generation of intellectuals came to believe, and how those beliefs led them to destroy.


Christian Ingrao is the former director of the Institute of Contemporary History (IHTP) and their current director of research. He teaches at the Catholic University of the West (Angers). His most recent book La promesse de l’Est : Esperance nazie et genocide, 1939-1943 (Le Seuil, 2016) explores Nazi dreams of victory and visions of the Thousand Year Reich.


Ryan Stackhouse is a historian of Europe who specializes in modern Germany and political policing under dictatorship. His debut chapter in Interrogation in War and Conflict suggested that terror remains overstated in our understanding of routine investigation practices in Nazi Germany. Ryan’s research exploring Gestapo enforcement practices toward different social groups is nearing completion under the working title Policing Hitler’s Critics. He also cohosts the Third Reich History Podcast. He tweets @Staxomatix and can be reached at john.ryan.stackhouse@gmail.com.

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Oct 26 2017

57mins

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Andrew Marble, "Boy on the Bridge: The Story of John Shalikashvili’s Remarkable Success" (UP of Kentucky, 2019)

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When President Bill Clinton nominated John Shalikashvili to be the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in 1993, it represented the climax of a long journey that began in waning days of the Second World War. In Boy on the Bridge: The Story of John Shalikashvili’s Remarkable Success (University Press of Kentucky, 2019), Andrew Marble recounts this journey in order to better understand his remarkable personality and how he achieved his uniquely American success story. The descendant of Georgian and German nobility, as a boy Shalikashvili experienced an itinerant life that took him from prewar Poland to southern Germany before catapulting him across the Atlantic to the United States. Though he would make the army his career, Shalikashvili’s embrace of it was a reluctant one that took him from a college ROTC program to enlistment as an ordinary soldier before a grueling officer candidacy program and an initial posting to Alaska set him on his course. As Marble shows, Shalikashvili’s personality was central to his achievements as a military officer, as he demonstrated several nontraditional traits that nonetheless made him a success at his chosen profession.

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Jan 21 2020

42mins

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Graham T. Clews, "Churchill’s Phoney War: A Study in Folly and Frustration" (Naval Institute Press, 2019)

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Given the overwhelming amount of books printed in the past ten years on various (usually rather obscure) aspects of Sir Winston Churchill’s glorious career, it is of great interest that so little has been written about his activity during the Phoney War phase of the Second World War (1 September 1939-10 May 1940). It is this dearth of scholarship on Churchill and the Phoney War, that Australian scholar Dr. Graham T. Clews, author of a previous study on Churchill and the Dardanelle campaign, aims to remedy in his book: Churchill’s Phoney War: A study in Folly and Frustration (Naval Institute Press, 2019).

In a truly interesting and well-written book, Dr. Clews examines the early months of World War II when Winston Churchill’s ability to lead Britain in the fight against the Nazis was being tested. Dr. Clews explores how Churchill, as First Lord of the Admiralty, proposed to fight the war against Hitler, with particular attention given to his attempts to impel the Royal Navy, the British War Cabinet, and the French, toward a more aggressive prosecution of the conflict. This is no mere retelling of events but a deep analysis of the decision-making process and Churchill’s involvement in it. This book shares extensive new insights into well-trodden territory and original analysis of the unexplored, with each chapter offering material which challenges to some degree the conventional wisdom on Churchill during this phase of his career. Dr. Clews reassesses several important issues of the Phoney War period including: Churchill’s involvement in the anti-U-boat campaign; his responsibility for the failures of the Norwegian Campaign; his attitude to Britain’s aerial bombing campaign and the notion of his unfettered “bulldog” spirit; his relationship with Neville Chamberlain; and his succession to the premiership.

A man of considerable strengths and many shortcomings, the Churchill that emerges in Dr. Clews’ portrayal is dynamic and complicated personality. Churchill’s Phoney War adds a well-balanced and much-needed history of the Phoney War while scrupulously examining both Churchill’s successes and his manifold failures.

Charles Coutinho Ph. D. of the Royal Historical Society, received his doctorate from New York University. His area of specialization is 19th and 20th-century European, American diplomatic and political history. He has written recently for Chatham House’s International Affairs.

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Jan 13 2020

1hr

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David Head, "A Crisis of Peace: George Washington, the Newburgh Conspiracy, and the Fate of the American Revolution" (Pegasus Books, 2019)

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In March 1783, George Washington confronted a meeting of disgruntled Continental Army officers at their encampment at Newburgh, New York. In his book A Crisis of Peace: George Washington, the Newburgh Conspiracy, and the Fate of the American Revolution (Pegasus Books, 2019), David Head explains the background to this meeting and its significance to the larger events of that time. As Head notes, the meeting at Newburgh took place amidst an atmosphere of anticipation of peace with Great Britain. With their service coming to an end, the officers – many of whom were men who anticipated an elevated social status as a result of their service in the Continental Army – feared that the financially strapped Confederation Congress would fail to deliver on their promises of overdue pay and lifetime pensions. With their petitions unheeded, several of them contemplated some sort of action before the army was disbanded. As Head shows, it was Washington’s dramatic appeal to his officers which forestalled such an event, thus ensuring a peaceful resolution to a situation that threatened a very different outcome of the struggle for independence.

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Dec 30 2019

56mins

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The Treaty of Versailles On Hundred Years On

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The Versailles Treaty of 1919, celebrates its one-hundred anniversary this year. And, yet unlike the more recent centenaries, such as that of the outbreak of the Great War or the Russian Revolution, the Versailles Treaty, notwithstanding its importance as perhaps the most important of the twentieth-century, has not seen the same level of interest? Is this relatively indifference due to the fact that it is still regarded by some (in the words of John Maynard Keynes) as a 'Carthaginian Peace', which lead inevitably to the rise of Hitler and the outbreak of the Second World War? To discuss this and other aspects of the Treaty, in the podcast channel, 'Arguing History', are Professor of History at the University of Exeter, Jeremy Black and Dr. Charles Coutinho, of the Royal Historical Society.

Professor Jeremy Black MBE, Is Professor of History at the University of Exeter. A graduate of Queens College, Cambridge, he is the author of well over one-hundred books. In 2008 he was awarded the “Samuel Eliot Morison Award for Lifetime Achievement".

Charles Coutinho Ph. D. of the Royal Historical Society, received his doctorate from New York University. His area of specialization is 19th and 20th-century

European, American diplomatic and political history. He has written recently for Chatham House’s International Affairs.

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Dec 27 2019

39mins

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Reider Payne, "War and Diplomacy in the Napoleonic Era" (Bloomsbury Academic, 2019)

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Though Robert Stewart, Viscount Castlereagh remains well known today for his role in shaping the post-Napoleonic peace settlement in Europe, his half-brother Sir Charles Stewart has received far less attention despite his own prominent part in the politics and diplomacy of those years. In War and Diplomacy in the Napoleonic Era: Sir Charles Stewart, Castlereagh and the Balance of Power in Europe (Bloomsbury Academic, 2019), Reider Payne describes the adventurous life of the third Marquess of Londonderry and the roles he played in the events of his time.

As a young man Charles Stewart initially pursued a career in the military rather than one in politics, and served in the cavalry during Great Britain’s war against revolutionary France in the 1790s. After a brief period in the War Office he resumed his military career and served with the Duke of Wellington in the Peninsular War. His record as an officer and his relationship with his half-brother led to his appointment as an ambassador – first to Prussia, then to Austria – in which roles he represented Britain at the courts of her most prominent allies during the final stages of the Napoleonic Wars. Though Charles was often better known for his social escapades, he served ably as Britain’s ambassador to Austria until his brother’s suicide in 1822, during which time he was active in both post-Napoleonic diplomacy and the efforts to collect incriminating evidence against Princess Caroline of Brunswick in aid of the Prince Regent’s effort to divorce her.

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Dec 26 2019

1hr 8mins

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Matthew Lockwood, "To Begin The World Over Again: How the American Revolution Devastated the Globe" (Yale UP, 2019)

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Growing up as an American, you’re bound to be all-but-suffused with triumphalist histories of the American Revolution. Those histories might have a tough of the Hegelian to them, asserting that the Revolutionary War was part of the inevitable development of freedom worldwide. More academic histories have focused more critically on the war itself and what it meant for American society, such as the fact that a war allegedly fought for freedom also involved the ongoing oppression of slaves. The war’s global dimensions have similarly been discussed, dating back at this point to Samuel Flagg Bemis’ The Diplomacy of the American Revolution.

Matthew Lockwood’s To Begin The World Over Again: How the American Revolution Devastated the Globe (Yale University Press, 2019) pushes this analysis farther, looking at the global consequences of the American Revolution. Lockwood shows that the war, whatever its debatable effects for the residents of the thirteen colonies, unleashed a whole host of catastrophes for people elsewhere. Those living under British rule found their relationship with their government dramatically revised. British distraction allowed some European powers to undertake conquests of their own, while the United Kingdom in turn sought new commercial opportunities. Meanwhile, the effects of the war spilled into India and South America, setting off a new wave of global unrest.

Zeb Larson is a recent graduate of The Ohio State University with a PhD in History. His research deals with the anti-apartheid movement in the United States. To suggest a recent title or to contact him, please send an e-mail to zeb.larson@gmail.com.

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Dec 20 2019

1hr 6mins

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Thomas Kühne, "The Rise and Fall of Comradeship: Hitler’s Soldiers, Male Bonding and Mass Violence in the Twentieth Century" (Cambridge UP, 2017)

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In The Rise and Fall of Comradeship: Hitler’s Soldiers, Male Bonding and Mass Violence in the Twentieth Century (Cambridge University Press, 2017), Professor Thomas Kühne writes an innovative account of how the concept of comradeship shaped the actions, emotions and ideas of ordinary German soldiers across the two world wars and during the Holocaust. Using individual soldiers' diaries, personal letters and memoirs, Kühne reveals the ways in which soldiers' longing for community, and the practice of male bonding and togetherness, sustained the Third Reich's pursuit of war and genocide. Comradeship fueled the soldiers' fighting morale. It also propelled these soldiers forward into war crimes and acts of mass murders. Yet, by practicing comradeship, the soldiers could maintain the myth that they were morally sacrosanct. Post-1945, the notion of Kameradschaft as the epitome of humane and egalitarian solidarity allowed Hitler's soldiers to join the euphoria for peace and democracy in the Federal Republic, finally shaping popular memories of the war through the end of the twentieth century.

Michael E. O’Sullivan is Professor of History at Marist College where he teaches courses about Modern Europe. He published Disruptive Power: Catholic Women, Miracles, and Politics in Modern Germany, 1918-1965 with University of Toronto Press in 2018.

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Dec 17 2019

1hr 8mins

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Jason Smith, "To Master the Boundless Sea: The US Navy, the Marine Environment, and the Cartography of Empire" (UNC Press, 2018)

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Jason Smith discusses the US Navy’s role in exploring and charting the ocean world. Smith is an assistant professor of history at Southern Connecticut State University. He’s the author of To Master the Boundless Sea: The US Navy, the Marine Environment, and the Cartography of Empire (UNC Press, 2018).

As the United States grew into an empire in the late nineteenth century, notions like "sea power" derived not only from fleets, bases, and decisive battles but also from a scientific effort to understand and master the ocean environment. Beginning in the early nineteenth century and concluding in the first years of the twentieth, Jason W. Smith tells the story of the rise of the U.S. Navy and the emergence of American ocean empire through its struggle to control nature. In vividly told sketches of exploration, naval officers, war, and, most significantly, the ocean environment, Smith draws together insights from environmental, maritime, military, and naval history, and the history of science and cartography, placing the U.S. Navy's scientific efforts within a broader cultural context.

Michael F. Robinson is professor of history at Hillyer College, University of Hartford. He's the author of The Coldest Crucible: Arctic Exploration and American Culture (University of Chicago Press, 2006) and The Lost White Tribe: Scientists, Explorers, and the Theory that Changed a Continent (Oxford University Press, 2016). He's also the host of the podcast Time to Eat the Dogs, a weekly podcast about science, history, and exploration.

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Dec 06 2019

36mins

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Roberto Carmack, "Kazakhstan in World War II: Mobilization and Ethnicity in the Soviet Empire" (UP of Kansas, 2019)

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Roberto Carmack’s Kazakhstan in World War II: Mobilization and Ethnicity in the Soviet Empire (University Press of Kansas, 2019) looks at the experience of the Kazakh Republic during the Soviet Union’s Great Patriotic War. Using a variety of archival materials, newspapers, and individual memoirs, Carmack looks at important topics of the war experience in Kazakhstan, including mobilization, deportations, forced labor, and the role of propaganda. Carmack’s work will help readers understand the Soviet Union’s role as a multi-national empire and how the wartime experience affected the relationship between the multiple ethnicities of the Soviet Union.

Nicholas Seay is a PhD candidate at The Ohio State University.

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Dec 06 2019

57mins

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Sarah Handley-Cousins, "Bodies in Blue: Disability in the Civil War North" (U Georgia Press, 2019)

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All wars, in a practical sense, center on the destruction of the human body, and in Bodies in Blue: Disability in the Civil War North (University of Georgia Press, 2019), Sarah Handley-Cousins, a clinical assistant professor at the University at Buffalo, shows how disability was a necessary by-product of the U.S. Civil War. Handley-Cousins argues that disability in the Civil War North extended far past amputations and highlights how wartime disability ranged from the temporary to the chronic, from disease to injury, and encompassed both physical and mental conditions. In Bodies in Blue, Handley-Cousins documents how the realities of living with a disability were at odds with the expectations of manhood. As a result, men who failed to perform the role of wounded warrior could be scrutinized for failing to live up to the ideal of martial masculinity. Importantly, Handley-Cousins challenges scholars to think about Civil War historiography in new ways. More specifically, by examining the lasting mental health implications of the conflict, Handley-Cousins forces us to face how soldiers had to reckon with the Civil War for the rest of their lives.

Chris Babits is an Andrew W. Mellon Engaged Scholar Initiative Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Texas at Austin. He researches the intersecting histories of medicine, religion, and gender and sexuality and is currently working on his book manuscript about the history of conversion therapy in the United States.

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Dec 05 2019

48mins

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Alberto Cairo, "How Charts Lie: Getting Smarter about Visual Information" (Norton, 2019)

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We’ve all heard that a picture is worth a thousand words, but what if we don’t understand what we’re looking at? Social media has made charts, infographics, and diagrams ubiquitous―and easier to share than ever. We associate charts with science and reason; the flashy visuals are both appealing and persuasive. Pie charts, maps, bar and line graphs, and scatter plots (to name a few) can better inform us, revealing patterns and trends hidden behind the numbers we encounter in our lives. In short, good charts make us smarter―if we know how to read them.

However, they can also lead us astray. Charts lie in a variety of ways―displaying incomplete or inaccurate data, suggesting misleading patterns, and concealing uncertainty―or are frequently misunderstood, such as the confusing cone of uncertainty maps shown on TV every hurricane season. To make matters worse, many of us are ill-equipped to interpret the visuals that politicians, journalists, advertisers, and even our employers present each day, enabling bad actors to easily manipulate them to promote their own agendas.

In How Charts Lie: Getting Smarter about Visual Information (W. W. Norton, 2019), data visualization expert Alberto Cairo teaches us to not only spot the lies in deceptive visuals, but also to take advantage of good ones to understand complex stories. Public conversations are increasingly propelled by numbers, and to make sense of them we must be able to decode and use visual information. By examining contemporary examples ranging from election-result infographics to global GDP maps and box-office record charts, How Charts Lie demystifies an essential new literacy, one that will make us better equipped to navigate our data-driven world.

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Dec 03 2019

57mins

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Andrew Roberts, "Leadership in War: Lessons From Those Who Made History" (Allen Lane, 2019)

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Andrew Roberts is one of our most distinguished biographers and historians, and the author of the magisterial work, Churchill: Walking with Destiny (2018). Today we talk to Andrew about his most recent work, Leadership in War: Lessons From Those Who Made History (Allen Lane, 2019). With chapters on such individuals as Napoleon, Nelson, Churchill, Hitler, Stalin, Marshall, de Gaulle, Eisenhower, and Thatcher, the book considers the importance of historical thinking and awareness, the varying significance of religious faith, and the driving insistence of notions of self-respect, pride and honor, before building a paradigm for the study of leadership that opens up the central questions of the mini-biographies it collects. This outstanding contribution identifies significant new themes in its collective biography of some of those individuals who, for good or ill, have done most to shape the modern world.

Crawford Gribben is a professor of history at Queen’s University Belfast. His research interests focus on the history of puritanism and evangelicalism, and he is the author most recently of John Owen and English Puritanism (Oxford University Press, 2016). 

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Nov 27 2019

33mins

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Stephen R. Taaffe, "Washington’s Revolutionary War Generals" (U Oklahoma Press, 2019)

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When George Washington led the United States to victory in the American Revolution, he did so in collaboration with seventy-three other men who served as major and brigadier generals in the Continental Army over the course of the war. In Washington’s Revolutionary War Generals (University of Oklahoma Press, 2019), Stephen R. Taaffe describes the roles these commanders played and their contributions to the war effort. As Taaffe explains, while there were plenty of men in the colonies at the start of the war with combat experience, there was no professional military tradition among the colonial leadership. With appointments determined by the Continental Congress, selection occurred from the ranks of the social elite with considerable attention given to political considerations. Though Washington possessed no formal power to name generals, the Continental Congress often deferred to his recommendations, and thanks to his ability to recognize talent a number of men were promoted who made notable contributions to the revolutionary cause. As Taaffe demonstrates, while some won glory and others commanded in obscurity, in the end their combined leadership played a vital role in winning the colonies their independence.

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Nov 27 2019

44mins

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Mila Dragojević, "Amoral Communities: Collective Crimes in Time of War" (Cornell UP, 2019)

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How does violence against civilians become permissible in wartime? Why do some communities experience violence while others do not? In her new book, Mila Dragojević develops the concept of amoral communities to find an answer to these questions. In Amoral Communities: Collective Crimes in Time of War (Cornell University Press, 2019), Dragojević studies how, in places where ethnic and political identities become linked, targeted violence against civilians becomes possible through the exclusion of moderates and the production of borders. Drawing on fieldwork and interviews in Croatia, as well as Guatemala and Uganda, Dragovević’s book illuminates the patterns make collective violence possible, while also drawing important insights for why violence does not occur, and how it might be prevented.

Jelena Golubović is a PhD candidate in anthropology at Simon Fraser University.

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Nov 27 2019

44mins

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Jeremy Yellen, "The Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere: When Total Empire Met Total War" (Cornell UP, 2019)

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Jeremy Yellen’s The Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere: When Total Empire Met Total War (Cornell University Press, 2019) is a challenging transnational exploration of the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere, Japan’s ambitious, confused, and much maligned attempt to create a new bloc order in East and Southeast Asia during World War II. Yellen’s book is welcome both as the first book-length treatment of the Sphere in English and for also being innovative in both approach and analysis. The book is divided into two parts, each addressing one of the “two Pacific Wars,” as Yellen puts it: a “war of empires” and “an anticolonial war… for independence.” The first half of the book treats the Japanese “high policy” of the Sphere. Here, Yellen not only provides—through the Coprosperity Sphere—a provocative new reading of the Tripartite Pact and the imbrication of Japan’s regional and global geopolitical strategies, but also outlines an important timeline of how Japanese conceptualizations of the Sphere evolved with the changing economic, political, and military expediencies of the Pacific War. Though ideas about the Sphere as a regional order of hierarchical solidarity with Japan at its apex, a “grand strategy of opportunism” rooted in the “sphere-of-influence diplomacy” and “cooperative imperialism” of Japan’s bombastic and enigmatic foreign minister, Matsuoka Yōsuke, Yellen shows that plans for the Sphere only became specific and concrete when Japan’s war situation descended into increasing desperation from 1942 on. The second half of the book shifts gears to examine responses to the Sphere in the Philippines and Burma. Yellen shows that for local nationalist elites like Burma’s first prime minister Ba Maw, whether Japanese rhetoric about the creation of more-or-less liberal international order within the Sphere for the top-echelon nations like Burma and the Philippines was genuine or self-serving, “even sham independence brought opportunity.” By focusing on these pragmatic nationalists (“patriotic collaborators”) Yellen contributes to a growing body of literature on empire that refuses to be pigeonholed by binaries of virtuous resistance and traitorous collaboration.

This podcast was recorded as a lecture/dialogue for a live audience at Nagoya University.

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Nov 25 2019

1hr 17mins

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Serhii Plokhy, "Forgotten Bastards of the Eastern Front" (Oxford UP, 2019)

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What happened when Americans and Soviets fought alongside one another against Hitler? How did relations at Poltava airbase reveal cracks in the Grand Alliance? Serhii Plokhy tells the story of personal relationships and high geopolitics in his new book Forgotten Bastards of the Eastern Front: American Airmen behind the Soviet Lines and the Collapse of the Grand Alliance (Oxford University Press, 2019). Using a wealth of memoirs and recently declassified secret police files, Plokhy captures the intimate detail of a culture clash that chilled relations before Nazism was even defeated.

Serhii Plokhy is the Mykhailo S. Hrushevs’kyi Professor of Ukrainian History and Director of the Ukrainian Research Institute at Harvard University.

Ryan Stackhouse is a historian of Europe specializing in modern Germany and political policing under dictatorship. His book exploring Gestapo enforcement practices toward different social groups is nearing completion under the working title Enemies of the People. He also cohosts the Third Reich History Podcast and can be reached at john.ryan.stackhouse@gmail.com or @Staxomatix.

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Nov 20 2019

58mins

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Mike Duncan, "The Storm Before the Storm: The Beginning of the End of the Roman Republic" (PublicAffairs, 2017)

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The Roman Republic was one of the most remarkable achievements in the history of civilization. Beginning as a small city-state in central Italy, Rome gradually expanded into a wider world filled with petty tyrants, barbarian chieftains, and despotic kings. Through the centuries, Rome's model of cooperative and participatory government remained remarkably durable and unmatched in the history of the ancient world.

In 146 BC, Rome finally emerged as the strongest power in the Mediterranean. But the very success of the Republic proved to be its undoing. The republican system was unable to cope with the vast empire Rome now ruled: rising economic inequality disrupted traditional ways of life, endemic social and ethnic prejudice led to clashes over citizenship and voting rights, and rampant corruption and ruthless ambition sparked violent political clashes that cracked the once indestructible foundations of the Republic.

Chronicling the years 146-78 BC, Mike Duncan's book The Storm Before the Storm: The Beginning of the End of the Roman Republic (PublicAffairs, 2017) dives headlong into the first generation to face this treacherous new political environment. Abandoning the ancient principles of their forbearers, men like Marius, Sulla, and the Gracchi brothers set dangerous new precedents that would start the Republic on the road to destruction and provide a stark warning about what can happen to a civilization that has lost its way.

Aven McMaster and Mark Sundaram are historians and the hosts of the excellent podcast The Endless Knot.

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Nov 19 2019

1hr 23mins

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Appeasement Eighty Years On

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According to one dictionary definition, the term means: “to yield or concede to the belligerent demands of (a nation, group, person, etc.) in a conciliatory effort, sometimes at the expense of justice or other principles”. Of course when one employs this term in a historical context, it is usually taken to refer to the ‘Appeasement’ by Great Britain of the Fascist powers during the 1930s. In this latest edition of ‘Arguing History’, Professor of History Jeremy Black and Dr. Charles Coutinho of the Royal Historical Society, discuss the historical nature of appeasement and endeavor to go beyond the reductionist and ahistorical picture so popular with some historians and much of the reading public. Going beyond the sloganeering that originated with Michael Foot’s The Guilty Men, and more recent tomes like Tim Bouverie’s Appeasement, this discussion of the topic endeavors to examine at length the underlying variables which factored into British policy in the 1930s.

Professor Jeremy Black MBE, Is Professor of History at the University of Exeter. A graduate of Queens College, Cambridge, he is the author of well over one-hundred books. In 2008 he was awarded the “Samuel Eliot Morison Award for Lifetime Achievement.”

Charles Coutinho Ph. D. of the Royal Historical Society, received his doctorate from New York University. His area of specialization is 19th and 20th-century European, American diplomatic and political history. He has written recently for Chatham House’s International Affairs.

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Nov 18 2019

53mins

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Pierre Asselin, "Vietnam’s American War: A History" (Cambridge UP, 2018)

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Do we need another book on the Vietnam War? Pierre Asselin, Dwight E. Stanford Chair in the History of US Foreign Relations at San Diego State University, thinks that we do. While he has already published A Bitter Peace: Washington, Hanoi, and the Making of the Paris Agreement (2002) and Hanoi’s Road to the Vietnam War, 1954-1965 (2013), he argues that far too much of the English language scholarship on the war has failed to explain the Vietnamese Communists’ perspective. He holds that a number of myths about Hanoi’s war with America continue to circulate. However, with Vietnam’s American War: A History (Cambridge University Press, 2018), Asselin addresses this shortcoming and offers a fresh and challenging narrative of the war.

Based on extensive research in Vietnamese archives not previously accessed by foreigners, Vietnam’s American War is an iconoclastic revision of the history of the war. Amongst the various topics Asselin considers are the secret power struggle between the moderate Ho Chi Minh and the hawkish Le Duan, the impact of the Tet Offensive on the North Vietnamese regime, and Hanoi’s difficulties in mobilizing the population for war. This conversation is sure to challenge some of what you think you know about the American War in Vietnam.

Michael G. Vann is a professor of world history at California State University, Sacramento. A specialist in imperialism and the Cold War in Southeast Asia, he is the author of The Great Hanoi Rat Hunt: Empires, Disease, and Modernity in French Colonial Vietnam (Oxford, 2018). When he’s not reading or talking about new books with smart people, Mike can be found surfing in Santa Cruz, California.

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Nov 18 2019

1hr 12mins

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Steven Moore, "The Longer We Were There: A Memoir of a Part-Time Solider" (U Georgia Press, 2019)

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Popular public conception of war has a long and problematic history, with its origins in ancient texts like The Art of War to bestselling books like Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried. Though many stories depicting the brutality of war—and its toll on soldiers and civilians alike—are written in the spirit of anti-war sentiment, these works often inadvertently frame combat as exciting and dramatic while painting individual soldiers as heroes on the battlefield. But the reality of war is much more nuanced than the typical narratives might have you believe. In truth, life in a war zone is often much more frustrating and tedious than most civilians can fathom. So what are the ethics of writing about war? What are the responsibilities of writers depicting war in their work?

Winner of the Association of Writers and Writing Programs Award for Creative Nonfiction, writer Steven Moore’s stunning debut, The Longer We Were There: A Memoir of a Part-Time Solider (University of Georgia Press, 2019), considers these questions with both a wry sense of humor and a sharp analytical eye. Moore’s narrative deftly weaves his deployment experiences in Afghanistan with commentary from great critical minds like Joan Didion, Maggie Nelson, Tim O’Brien, and Tobias Wolff in an attempt to tell the sprawling story of the war in Afghanistan from the perspective of a part-time soldier.

Today on the New Books Network, join us as we sit down with Steven Moore to learn more about The Longer We Were There.

Zoë Bossiere is a doctoral student at Ohio University, where she studies creative writing and rhetoric & composition. She is the managing editor of Brevity: A Journal of Concise Literary Nonfiction, and the co-editor of its upcoming anthology, The Best of Brevity (Rose Metal Press, 2020). For more NBn interviews, follow her on Twitter @zoebossiere or visit her online at zoebossiere.com.

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Nov 07 2019

47mins

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iTunes Ratings

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Interesting and well done reviews

By Laird NYC - Jun 29 2019
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Terrific authors and great topics. Thanks a lot for bringing them to us.

Very intelligent conversation

By Danny_Trappedinsidethebeltway - Jan 14 2013
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Thanks, will be listening.