A war book recommendation: Rogue Heroes: The History of the SAS, Britain’s Secret Special Forces Unit That Sabotaged the Nazis and Changed the Nature of War by Ben Macintyre

A critic review (source NY Times) can be read at: http://nyti.ms/2dEo9ds.
…reads like a mashup of “The Dirty Dozen” and “The Great Escape,” with a sprinkling of “Ocean’s 11” thrown in for good measure.
Book description from Google Books:
The incredible untold story of WWII’s greatest secret fighting force, as told by our great modern master of wartime intrigue   Britain’s Special Air Service–or SAS–was the brainchild of David Stirling, a young, gadabout aristocrat whose aimlessness in early life belied a remarkable strategic mind. Where most of his colleagues looked at a battlefield map of World War II’s African theater and saw a protracted struggle with Rommel’s desert forces, Stirling saw an opportunity: given a small number of elite, well-trained men, he could parachute behind enemy lines and sabotage their airplanes and war material. Paired with his constitutional opposite, the disciplined martinet Jock Lewes, Stirling assembled a revolutionary fighting force that would upend not just the balance of the war, but the nature of combat itself. He faced no little resistance from those who found his tactics ungentlemanly or beyond the pale, but in the SAS’s remarkable exploits facing the Nazis in the Africa and then on the Continent can be found the seeds of nearly all special forces units that would follow.   Bringing his keen eye for psychological detail to a riveting wartime narrative, Ben Macintyre uses his unprecedented access to SAS archives to shine a light inside a legendary unit long shrouded in secrecy. The result is not just a tremendous war story, but a fascinating group portrait of men of whom history and country asked the most.
The book is rated 4.26/5 at goodreads.com, from 1708 ratings. See 275 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2eyfMOo.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2slm8Yy.

A war book recommendation: Waging War: The Clash Between Presidents and Congress, 1776 to ISIS by David J. Barron

A critic review (source NY Times) can be read at: http://nyti.ms/2uxblQs.
David Barron has given us a rich and detailed history, and not the least of its riches is that it occasions these thoughts about why it is Congress and not just any old institution that faces off against the president in wartime.
Book description from Google Books:
“Vivid…Barron has given us a rich and detailed history.” —The New York Times Book Review “Ambitious…a deep history and a thoughtful inquiry into how the constitutional system of checks and balances has functioned when it comes to waging war and making peace.” —The Washington Post A timely account of a raging debate: The history of the ongoing struggle between the presidents and Congress over who has the power to declare and wage war.The Constitution states that it is Congress that declares war, but it is the presidents who have more often taken us to war and decided how to wage it. In Waging War, David J. Barron opens with an account of George Washington and the Continental Congress over Washington’s plan to burn New York City before the British invasion. Congress ordered him not to, and he obeyed. Barron takes us through all the wars that followed: 1812, the Mexican War, the Civil War, the Spanish-American war, World Wars One and Two, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, and now, most spectacularly, the War on Terror. Congress has criticized George W. Bush for being too aggressive and Barack Obama for not being aggressive enough, but it avoids a vote on the matter. By recounting how our presidents have declared and waged wars, Barron shows that these executives have had to get their way without openly defying Congress. Waging War shows us our country’s revered and colorful presidents at their most trying times—Washington, Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin Roosevelt, Truman, Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Johnson, both Bushes, and Obama. Their wars have made heroes of some and victims of others, but most have proved adept at getting their way over reluctant or hostile Congresses. The next president will face this challenge immediately—and the Constitution and its fragile system of checks and balances will once again be at the forefront of the national debate.
The book is rated 3.71/5 at goodreads.com, from 28 ratings. See 2 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2uOSoE2.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2uOWHyX.
Google Books preview available in full post.

A war book recommendation: American War: A novel by Omar El Akkad

A critic review (source Blog Critics) can be read at: http://bit.ly/2wHGTix.
Akkad is a masterful storyteller and American War is one of the most compelling books you’ll read this year. It will explain what’s going on in the world a whole lot more honestly and clearly than any news cast or politician.
Book description from Google Books:
“Powerful . . . As haunting a postapocalyptic universe as Cormac McCarthy [created] in The Road, and as devastating a look as the fallout that national events have on an American family as Philip Roth did in The Plot Against America. . . . Omar El Akkad’s debut novel, American War, is an unlikely mash-up of unsparing war reporting and plot elements familiar to readers of the recent young-adult dystopian series The Hunger Games and Divergent.” –Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times An audacious and powerful debut novel: a second American Civil War, a devastating plague, and one family caught deep in the middle–a story that asks what might happen if America were to turn its most devastating policies and deadly weapons upon itself. Sarat Chestnut, born in Louisiana, is only six when the Second American Civil War breaks out in 2074. But even she knows that oil is outlawed, that Louisiana is half underwater, and that unmanned drones fill the sky. When her father is killed and her family is forced into Camp Patience for displaced persons, she begins to grow up shaped by her particular time and place. But not everyone at Camp Patience is who they claim to be. Eventually Sarat is befriended by a mysterious functionary, under whose influence she is turned into a deadly instrument of war. The decisions that she makes will have tremendous consequences not just for Sarat but for her family and her country, rippling through generations of strangers and kin alike.
The book is rated 3.90/5 at goodreads.com, from 7750 ratings. See 1448 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2wH7JHJ.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2xo5JYz.

A war book recommendation: Into the Sun: A Novel by Deni Ellis Béchard

A critic review (source Globe and Mail) can be read at: https://tgam.ca/2uYe0hq.
I never understood the aid workers who went there without weapons or armour, and I certainly never understood the Afghans themselves. So I’m grateful to Deni Ellis Béchard for pulling back some of those curtains – and for telling a hell of a good story in the process.
Book description from Google Books:
“Kabul: Ten years after 9/11. Dismembered by decades of war and jerry-rigged by foreign aid, the city is flooded by journalists, relief workers, and messianic idealists living cheek by jowl in sterile compounds. They throw parties, sell their stories before they happen, trying to save others and redeem themselves. Outsiders addicted to the compulsive thrill of self-invention in a dangerously unstable country, they believe they are at the very frontier of history. When a car explodes in a crowded city street, journalist Michiko Oketani is shocked to discover that its passengers were acquaintances-a tawdry love triangle-from expat circles. Alexandra was a human rights lawyer for imprisoned Afghan women; Justin, a born-again Christian from Louisiana, taught at a local school; and Clay, an inscrutable ex-soldier, worked for a private contractor. The car’s driver, Idris, one of Justin’s most promising pupils, is missing. Drawn to the secret fabrications of these strangers, and increasingly convinced the events that led to the fatal explosion weren’t random, Michiko follows a paper trail that leads beyond Kabul to Louisiana, Maine, Quebec, and Dubai. As the investigation deepens, Michiko’s research steadily uncovers old grudges and secret traumas, private desires that have public consequences. The victims’ fictions of omission make each complicit in his or her own death. In a city of contesting accounts, the American state’s manipulation of the war narrative-writ large on an international stage-is undercut by the innumerable, privately manipulated narratives running in and through each individual life. Though Afghanistan is occupied territory, Kabul belongs to the people that live there: to the hungry, determined, and resourceful locals who are just as willing as their occupiers to reinvent themselves to survive. In this monumental novel, prize-winning author Deni Ellis Bechard draws an unsentimental, portrait of those who flock to warzones. In the author’s knowledgeable hands, Kabul-a city that has long haunted the American psyche-is viscerally brought to life as a maze of potholed streets, gritty air, frigid concrete, and continuous violence. Despite the hostility of its setting, Into the Sun hunts for the connections that underlie the apparent tragic randomness of restless lives with a belief in the human need for stories, no matter how flawed”–
The book is rated 3.98/5 at goodreads.com, from 81 ratings. See 13 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2uFHEwj.
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A war book recommendation: Hero of the Empire: The Boer War, a Daring Escape, and the Making of Winston Churchill by Candice Millard

A critic review (source NY Times) can be read at: http://nyti.ms/2dTbCmL.
…these are quibbles, for over all this is a tremendously readable and enjoyable book. The material may feel well rehearsed to Churchill buffs, but breaking new research ground is not Millard’s goal…
Book description from Google Books:
From New York Times bestselling author of Destiny of the Republic and The River of Doubt, a thrilling narrative of Winston Churchill’s extraordinary and little-known exploits during the Boer War   At age twenty-four, Winston Churchill was utterly convinced it was his destiny to become prime minister of England one day, despite the fact he had just lost his first election campaign for Parliament.  He believed that to achieve his goal he must do something spectacular on the battlefield.  Despite deliberately putting himself in extreme danger as a British Army officer in colonial wars in India and Sudan, and as a journalist covering a Cuban uprising against the Spanish, glory and fame had eluded him.   Churchill arrived in South Africa in 1899, valet and crates of vintage wine in tow, there to cover the brutal colonial war the British were fighting with Boer rebels. But just two weeks after his arrival, the soldiers he was accompanying on an armored train were ambushed, and Churchill was taken prisoner.  Remarkably, he pulled off a daring escape–but then had to traverse hundreds of miles of enemy territory, alone, with nothing but a crumpled wad of cash, four slabs of chocolate, and his wits to guide him.             The story of his escape is incredible enough, but then Churchill enlisted, returned to South Africa, fought in several battles, and ultimately liberated the men with whom he had been imprisoned.             Churchill would later remark that this period, “could I have seen my future, was to lay the foundations of my later life.” Millard spins an epic story of bravery, savagery, and chance encounters with a cast of historical characters–including Rudyard Kipling, Lord Kitchener, and Mohandas Gandhi–with whom he would later share the world stage. But Hero of the Empire is more than an adventure story, for the lessons Churchill took from the Boer War would profoundly affect 20th century history.
The book is rated 4.19/5 at goodreads.com, from 4462 ratings. See 749 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2dFOVCf.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2seyVMl.

A war book recommendation: Scales on War: The Future of America’s Military at Risk by Maj. Gen. Bob Scales USA (Ret.)

A critic review (source Washington Times) can be read at: http://bit.ly/2vlmmzJ.
While his book is well-researched, Gen. Scales is his own best source. He presents American readers with a compendium of expert advice, the peerless result of a lifetime spent studying war and its demands on a free society.
Book description from Google Books:
Scales on War is a collection of ideas, concepts, and observations about contemporary war taken from over thirty years of research, writing, and personal experience by retired Major General Bob Scales. Scales’ unique style of writing utilizes contemporary military history, current events, and his philosophy of ground warfare to create a very personal and expansive view of the future direction of American defense policies. Each chapter in the book addresses a distinct topic facing the upcoming prospects of America’s military, including tactical ground warfare, future gazing, the draft, and the role of women in the infantry. Fusing all of these topics together is Scales’ belief that, throughout its history, the United States has favored a technological approach to fighting its wars and has neglected its ground forces. Scales on War shows that, as a result of America’s focus on winning wars with technology rather than people, America’s enemies have learned how to win battles by defeating such technology. As a well-known warfare expert, Scales demonstrates how only a resurgent land force of Army and Marine small units will restore America’s fighting competence.
The book is rated 3.78/5 at goodreads.com, from 9 ratings.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2v20Apb.

A war book recommendation: Hostages to Fortune: The United Empire Loyalists and the Making of Canada by Peter C Newman

A critic review (source National Post arts) can be read at: http://bit.ly/2uMCvxW.
Compelling, rich and sardonic in spots, Newman’s retelling of the United Empire Loyalists’ history evokes a nostalgia for Canada’s humble beginnings never more timely than today.
Book description from Google Books:
Esteemed Canadian author Peter C. Newman recounts the dramatic journey of the United Empire Loyalists—their exodus from America, their resettlement in the wilds of British North America, and their defense of what would prove to be the social and moral foundation of Canada.In 1776, tensions in the British colonies were reaching a fever pitch. The citizenry was divided between those who wished to establish a new republic and those who remained steadfast in their dedication to the British Empire. As the tensions inevitably boiled over into violence, fault lines were exposed as every person was forced to choose a side. Neighbours turned against each other. Families divided. Borders were redrawn. The conflict was long and bloody, and no side emerged unscathed. But there is one story that is often overlooked in the American Revolutionary canon. When the smoke from the battles had settled, tens of thousands of individuals who had remained loyal to the crown in the conflict found themselves without a home to return to. Destitute, distraught, and ostracized—or downright terrorized—by their former citizens, these Loyalists turned to the only place they had left to go: north. The open land of British North America presented the Loyalists with an opportunity to establish a new community distinct from the new American republic. But the journey to their new homes was far from easy. Beset by dangers at every turn—from starvation to natural disaster to armed conflict—the Loyalists migrated towards the promise of a new future. Their sacrifices set the groundwork for a country that would be completely unlike any other. Neither fully American nor truly British, the Loyalists established a worldview entirely of their own making, one that valued steady, peaceful, and pragmatic change over radical revolution. The Loyalists toiled tirelessly to make their dream a reality. And as the War of 1812 dawned, they proved they were willing to defend it with their very lives. In Hostages to Fortune, Peter C. Newman recounts the expulsion and migration of these brave Loyalists. In his inimitable style, Newman shines a light on the people, places, and events that set the stage for modern Canada.
The book is rated 3.47/5 at goodreads.com, from 19 ratings. See 4 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2uvtZYF.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2uvqGAR.
Google Books preview available in full post.

A war book recommendation: Civil Wars: A History in Ideas by David Armitage

A critic review (source The Economist) can be read at: http://econ.st/2uA8RRj.
The meaning of civil war, as Mr Armitage shows, is as messy and multifaceted as the conflict it describes. His book offers an illuminating guide through the 2,000-year muddle and does a good job of filling a conspicuous void in the literature of conflict.
Book description from Google Books:
A highly original history, tracing the least understood and most intractable form of organized human aggression from Ancient Rome through the centuries to the present day. We think we know civil war when we see it. Yet ideas of what it is, and what it isn’t, have a long and contested history, from its fraught origins in republican Rome to debates in early modern Europe to our present day. Defining the term is acutely political, for ideas about what makes a war “civil” often depend on whether one is a ruler or a rebel, victor or vanquished, sufferer or outsider. Calling a conflict a civil war can shape its outcome by determining whether outside powers choose to get involved or stand aside: from the American Revolution to the war in Iraq, pivotal decisions have depended on such shifts of perspective. The age of civil war in the West may be over, but elsewhere in the last two decades it has exploded–from the Balkans to Rwanda, Burundi, Somalia, and Sri Lanka, and most recently Syria. And the language of civil war has burgeoned as democratic politics has become more violently fought. This book’s unique perspective on the roots and dynamics of civil war, and on its shaping force in our conflict-ridden world, will be essential to the ongoing effort to grapple with this seemingly interminable problem.
The book is rated 3.36/5 at goodreads.com, from 14 ratings. See 2 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2uA8VAx.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2uzIU4d.

A war book recommendation: Hero of the Empire: The Boer War, a Daring Escape, and the Making of Winston Churchill by Candice Millard

A critic review (source NY Times) can be read at: http://nyti.ms/2dTbCmL.
…these are quibbles, for over all this is a tremendously readable and enjoyable book. The material may feel well rehearsed to Churchill buffs, but breaking new research ground is not Millard’s goal…
Book description from Google Books:
From New York Times bestselling author of Destiny of the Republic and The River of Doubt, a thrilling narrative of Winston Churchill’s extraordinary and little-known exploits during the Boer War   At age twenty-four, Winston Churchill was utterly convinced it was his destiny to become prime minister of England one day, despite the fact he had just lost his first election campaign for Parliament.  He believed that to achieve his goal he must do something spectacular on the battlefield.  Despite deliberately putting himself in extreme danger as a British Army officer in colonial wars in India and Sudan, and as a journalist covering a Cuban uprising against the Spanish, glory and fame had eluded him.   Churchill arrived in South Africa in 1899, valet and crates of vintage wine in tow, there to cover the brutal colonial war the British were fighting with Boer rebels. But just two weeks after his arrival, the soldiers he was accompanying on an armored train were ambushed, and Churchill was taken prisoner.  Remarkably, he pulled off a daring escape–but then had to traverse hundreds of miles of enemy territory, alone, with nothing but a crumpled wad of cash, four slabs of chocolate, and his wits to guide him.             The story of his escape is incredible enough, but then Churchill enlisted, returned to South Africa, fought in several battles, and ultimately liberated the men with whom he had been imprisoned.             Churchill would later remark that this period, “could I have seen my future, was to lay the foundations of my later life.” Millard spins an epic story of bravery, savagery, and chance encounters with a cast of historical characters–including Rudyard Kipling, Lord Kitchener, and Mohandas Gandhi–with whom he would later share the world stage. But Hero of the Empire is more than an adventure story, for the lessons Churchill took from the Boer War would profoundly affect 20th century history.
The book is rated 4.19/5 at goodreads.com, from 4435 ratings. See 746 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2dFOVCf.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: .

A war book recommendation: The Vanquished: Why the First World War Failed to End by Robert Gerwarth

A critic review (source NY Times) can be read at: http://nyti.ms/2uMVU6z.
His account is both important and timely, and obliges us to reconsider a period and a battle front that has too often been neglected by historians.
Book description from Google Books:
A Times Literary Supplement Best Book of 2016An epic, groundbreaking account of the ethnic and state violence that followed the end of World War I—conflicts that would shape the course of the twentieth centuryFor the Western Allies, November 11, 1918, has always been a solemn date—the end of fighting that had destroyed a generation, but also a vindication of a terrible sacrifice with the total collapse of the principal enemies: the German Empire, Austria-Hungary, and the Ottoman Empire. But for much of the rest of Europe this was a day with no meaning, as a continuing, nightmarish series of conflicts engulfed country after country.In The Vanquished, a highly original and gripping work of history, Robert Gerwarth asks us to think again about the true legacy of the First World War. In large part it was not the fighting on the Western Front that proved so ruinous to Europe’s future, but the devastating aftermath, as countries on both sides of the original conflict were savaged by revolutions, pogroms, mass expulsions, and further major military clashes. In the years immediately after the armistice, millions would die across central, eastern, and southeastern Europe before the Soviet Union and a series of rickety and exhausted small new states would come into being. It was here, in the ruins of Europe, that extreme ideologies such as fascism would take shape and ultimately emerge triumphant.As absorbing in its drama as it is unsettling in its analysis, The Vanquished is destined to transform our understanding of not just the First World War but the twentieth century as a whole.
The book is rated 4.16/5 at goodreads.com, from 256 ratings. See 55 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2v5Hp9e.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2uMBZVv.