422 episodes

Interviews with Scholars of Military History about their New Books

New Books in Military History New Books Network

    • Society & Culture

Interviews with Scholars of Military History about their New Books

    Benjamin F. Armstrong, "Small Boats and Daring Men: Maritime Raiding, Irregular Warfare, and the Early American Navy" (U Oklahoma Press, 2019)

    Benjamin F. Armstrong, "Small Boats and Daring Men: Maritime Raiding, Irregular Warfare, and the Early American Navy" (U Oklahoma Press, 2019)

    Two centuries before the daring exploits of Navy SEALs and Marine Raiders captured the public imagination, the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps were already engaged in similarly perilous missions: raiding pirate camps, attacking enemy ships in the dark of night, and striking enemy facilities and resources on shore. Even John Paul Jones, father of the American navy, saw such irregular operations as critical to naval warfare. With Jones’s own experience as a starting point, in his book Small Boats and Daring Men: Maritime Raiding, Irregular Warfare, and the Early American Navy (University of Oklahoma Press, 2019), Benjamin Armstrong sets out to take irregular naval warfare out of the shadow of the blue-water battles that dominate naval history. This book, the first historical study of its kind, makes a compelling case for raiding and irregular naval warfare as key elements in the story of American sea power.
    Benjamin Armstrong is a Commander in the United States Navy, and is Assistant Professor of War Studies and Naval History at the United States Naval Academy. He is the editor of 21st Century Mahan and 21st Century Sims (Both of which have been the subject of an interview on the New Books Network) and the author of numerous articles on naval history, national security, and strategy.
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    • 59 min
    David Vine, "The United States of War: A Global History of America's Endless Conflicts, from Columbus to the Islamic State" (U California Press, 2020)

    David Vine, "The United States of War: A Global History of America's Endless Conflicts, from Columbus to the Islamic State" (U California Press, 2020)

    Since its founding, the United States has been at peace for only eleven years. Across nearly two-and-a-half centuries, that’s a lot of war. In his new book, The United States of War: A Global History of America’s Endless Conflicts, from Columbus to the Islamic State (University of California Press, 2020), 
    David Vine tries to figure out why this has been the case. His book is a powerful, broad-sweeping, and, at times, shattering account of the forever wars that the United States continues to fight to this day.
    Vine, an anthropologist at American University in Washington, DC, argues that war infrastructure can be a dangerous thing, even if its designers cite defensive purposes. The United States’ 800 military bases abroad today, and its hundreds of military forts that dotted the western frontier in the nineteenth century, have made war more likely by making it easier to think about. But if we build bases, Vine writes, “wars will come.” As ending endless wars have become part of mainstream political discourse, Vine’s book should help jolt these conversations into action.
    Dexter Fergie is a doctoral student in US and global history at Northwestern University. His research examines the history of ideas, infrastructure, and international organizations. He can be reached by email at dexter.fergie@u.northwestern.edu or on Twitter @DexterFergie.
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    • 1 hr 6 min
    Niklas Frykman, "The Bloody Flag: Mutiny in the Age of Atlantic Revolution" (U California Press, 2020)

    Niklas Frykman, "The Bloody Flag: Mutiny in the Age of Atlantic Revolution" (U California Press, 2020)

    The 1790s were a decade of turmoil and strife across the West. With the French Revolution, a new era of wars began that invoked the language of equal rights. In The Bloody Flag: Mutiny in the Age of Atlantic Revolution (University of California Press, 2020), Niklas Frykman recounts how these two factors combined to shape the mutinies that took place throughout the era. As he explains, recruiting crews for the navies of the era was typically a coercive process, one that took sailors away from more remunerative work in the merchant marine. Crowded aboard wooden warships, these men were often discontent and receptive to the idea of a more democratic process for governing ship life. This radical vision was reflected in the demands made by sailors when they mutinied and by the alternate forms of management they adopted. Such mutinies jeopardized operations in navies throughout Europe, until the growing influence of nationalism helped to counteract the influence of the transnational “maritime republic.”
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    • 50 min
    David S. Nasca, "The Emergence of American Amphibious Warfare, 1898 to 1945" (Naval Institute Press, 2020)

    David S. Nasca, "The Emergence of American Amphibious Warfare, 1898 to 1945" (Naval Institute Press, 2020)

    Amphibious warfare, as outlined by American Rear Admiral James E. Jouett in 1885, was a relatively straightforward affair: to project power from the sea, all one had to do was offload soldiers, animals, equipment, and supplies from their transport vessels and deposit them on the nearest beach. Once on the sand, these ground forces would then form up and fight their way to victory—nothing could be as simple. Jouette, of course, can be forgiven his naïveté; when he articulated these principles of amphibious operations, the United States’s gaze was still firmly directed inward. Policing and pacifying the interior of the American continent was more important than developing the competencies, tactics, and technologies necessary to successfully generate combat power from the ocean to the shore. By 1900, however, these priorities were reversed. The frontier was “closed,” rapid industrialization was inexorably transforming American life, and the United States emerged as a major player in a tense geopolitical landscape.
    Given these new realities, argues David S. Nasca in The Emergence of American Amphibious Warfare, 1898 to 1945 (Naval Institute Press, 2020), evolving a formidable amphibious capability became an existential imperative. Failed amphibious operations, Nasca observes, could have a devastating impact on a nation's geopolitical fate. Only those states that succeeded in mastering the complexities of amphibious warfare were able to defend their interests; those that came up short quickly found themselves subject to a foreign will.
    Tracing the evolution of the United States’s amphibious capability, from the first disorganized attempts in the Spanish-American War to the successful landings in the Pacific and at Normandy in World War Two, The Emergence of American Amphibious Warfare offers a novel examination of the relationship between amphibious warfare, American strategic interests, and the United States’s rise to prominence in the first half of the twentieth century. The concatenation of American industrial might, great power competition, and a more proactive American involvement in global affairs in the early 1900s, Nasca argues, prodded American statesman, naval officers, and amphibious theorists like Lieutenant Colonel Pete Ellis to view amphibious warfare as a fundamental tool of American foreign policy. The efficacy of this tool, Nasca asserts, was demonstrated time and again on shores as distant and varied as Haiti and Saipan. Today, Nasca observes, this tool has lost none of its punch: amphibious warfare remains an essential skillset for any modern, industrialized military operating in a volatile geopolitical environment.
    David S. Nasca is a second-generation Marine Corps officer who holds graduate degrees in international relations, diplomacy, history, military studies, and national security, and recently earned his PhD from Salve Regina University.
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    • 1 hr 5 min
    K. A. Lieber and D. G. Press, "The Myth of the Nuclear Revolution: Power Politics in the Atomic Age" (Cornell UP, 2020)

    K. A. Lieber and D. G. Press, "The Myth of the Nuclear Revolution: Power Politics in the Atomic Age" (Cornell UP, 2020)

    In The Myth of the Nuclear Revolution: Power Politics in the Atomic Age (Cornell University Press, 2020), Keir A. Lieber and Daryl G. Press tackle the central puzzle of the nuclear age: the persistence of intense geopolitical competition in the shadow of nuclear weapons. The book explains why the race to establish a nuclear deterrent can be destabilizing; how the condition of "mutual assured destruction" can unravel; and why some states threaten to wield the world’s most destructive weapon against conventional threats.
    On the episode, I talked with Dr. Lieber and Dr. Press about the theoretical and policy implications of their work, the role of fear in international relations, and Thomas Schelling and his theory of a nuclear “taboo.” Dedicated listeners will also be treated to an important question. Which is better: "Dr. Strangelove" or "Failsafe?"
    John Sakellariadis is a 2020-2021 Fulbright US Student Research Grantee. He holds a Master’s degree in public policy from the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia and a Bachelor’s degree in History & Literature from Harvard University.
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    • 1 hr 8 min
    Chima J. Korieh, "Nigeria and World War II: Colonialism, Empire, and Global Conflict" (Cambridge UP, 2020)

    Chima J. Korieh, "Nigeria and World War II: Colonialism, Empire, and Global Conflict" (Cambridge UP, 2020)

    Reading the petitions that resident of colonial Nigeria submitted to the government during World War II, Marquette University historian, Prof. Chima J. Korieh found a unique source for African political voices as they renegotiated their status as something more than colonial subjects. What emerged was a wider social history of Nigeria during World War II. The colonial state intensified its attention to economic extraction, and many Nigerians responded positively because they believed in the British cause against Nazi Germany. But this societal contribution to the war, Nigerians then began to make broader claims for citizenship, self-determination, and independence.
    Prof. Korieh’s new book extends Frederick Cooper’s portrait of decolonization as a process centered on the restructuring of labor relations in African colonial societies. He argues that the colonial intensification of extractive policies pushed Nigerian society towards a new evaluation of its own status. The post-war period brought almost immediate demands for political reform from newspapers like Nnamdi Azikiwe’s West African Pilot that had been highly support of Britain during the war.
    Nigeria and World War II: Colonialism, Empire, and Global Conflict (Cambridge University Press, 2020) offers a multi-faceted portrait of a society in flux, and adds to our understanding of World War II as a global experience.
    Chima J. Korieh is a professor of history and director of Africana Studies at Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
    Paul Bjerk is an associate professor of African history at Texas Tech University and the author of Building Peaceful Nation: Julius Nyerere and the Establishment of Sovereignty in Tanzania, 1960-1964 (Rochester University Press, 2015)
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    • 1 hr 17 min

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