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Historians have spent the last two decades detailing and explaining the actions of the Einsatzgruppen in the Soviet Union.  We now know much more than we used to about the escalation of violence in 1941 and the so-called "Holocaust by Bullets."

The actions of the Einsatzgruppen in Poland, in contrast, are less well known.  But they are crucial to understanding the evolution of violence against Jews and others.  Juergen Matthaus, Jochen Boehler, and Klaus-Michael Mallmann set out to fill this gap.  Their work War, Pacification and Mass Murder, 1939: The Einsatzgruppen in Poland (Rowman and Littlefield, 2014)–part of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum's excellent Documenting Life and Destruction series–sets carefully chosen documents into a richly described military and institutional context. By doing so, they illustrate not just what the Einsatzgruppen did, but how their actions evolved over time, how they interacted with Wehrmacht and political leaders and how this violence impacted people on the ground.

In the interview, I talked with Juergen Matthaus about the origin of the volume, the nature of violence in Poland and the way in which this violence set the stage for the escalation of persecution and destruction.

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Michael LeggiereBlücher: Scourge of Napoleon

May 1, 2015

I have really enjoyed Michael Leggiere's earlier work, including the excellent Napoleon and Berlin : The Franco-Prussian War in North Germany, 1813 (2002), like this work, part of the Campaigns and Commanders series at the University of Oklahoma Press. In Blücher: Scourge of Napoleon (University of Oklahoma Press, 2014), Leggiere rescues Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher from the shadow […]

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Benjamin Armstrong“Twenty-First-Century Mahan” and “Twenty-First-Century Sims”

April 25, 2015

Alfred Thayer Mahan and William Sims – two of the most important figures in American Naval History – are the subject of our discussion with Lieutenant Commander Benjamin ("BJ") Armstrong. A doctoral candidate in the Department of War Studies at Kings College London, Armstrong is the author of two books collecting and analyzing critical essays […]

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James Q. WhitmanThe Verdict of Battle: The Law of Victory and the Making of Modern War

April 3, 2015

In The Verdict of Battle: The Law of Victory and the Making of Modern War (Harvard University Press, 2012),  Yale Law School Professor James Q. Whitman dissects the law behind eighteenth century European land wars. Whitman's impressive attempt to sort out the intellectual path of the laws of war leaves us with a clearer understanding of […]

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Colonel Ty SeiduleThe West Point History of the Civil War

March 13, 2015

We’re very fortunate to be joined by the editor of The West Point History of the Civil War (Simon and Schuster, 2014), the Head of the History Department at the United States Military Academy, Colonel Ty Seidule. Unlike most surveys, the new West Point History of the Civil War draws upon some of the best talent […]

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Ken SwopeThe Military Collapse of China’s Ming Dynasty, 1618-44

February 11, 2015

Our interview with Kenneth M. Swope about his book, The Military Collapse of China's Ming Dynasty, 1618-44 (Routledge, 2014), published through Routledge, is an effort to address an oversight in how New Books in Military History has generally overlooked both early modern history and works that have an exclusively non-Eurocentric focus. Swope's book presents a […]

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Jan LemnitzerPower, Law and the End of Privateering

January 22, 2015

[Cross-posted from New Books in Law] Jan Lemnitzer’s new book Power, Law and the End of Privateering (Palgrave, 2014) offers an exciting new take on the relationship between law and power, exposing the delicate balance between great powers and small states that is necessary to create and enforce norms across the globe. The 1856 Declaration of Paris marks the precise […]

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Elizabeth SchmidtForeign Intervention in Africa: From the Cold War to the War on Terror

January 21, 2015

[Cross-posted from New Books in African Studies] Elizabeth Schmidt's Foreign Intervention in Africa: From the Cold War to the War on Terror (Cambridge University Press, 2013) depicts the foreign political and military interventions in Africa during the periods of decolonization (1956-75) and the Cold War (1945-91), as well as the periods of state collapse (1991-2001) and the “global war on […]

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Glen Jeansonne and David LuhrssenWar on the Silver Screen: Shaping America’s Perception of History

January 5, 2015

[Cross-posted from New Books in Film] War has been a constant topic for feature films since the invention of the motion picture camera. These events made for interesting stories and dynamic visual representations. In their book, War on the Silver Screen: Shaping America's Perception of History (Potomac Books, 2014),  Glen Jeansonne and David Luhrssen discussed a number of films that dealt with conflicts over […]

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Charles F. WalkerThe Tupac Amaru Rebellion

December 23, 2014

[Cross-posted from New Books in Latin American Studies]  Charles F. Walker’s book The Tupac Amaru Rebellion (Harvard University Press, 2014) charts the rise, fall, and legacy of a massive uprising in colonial Peru.  Indigenous societies in the Andes labored under heavy taxes, tributes, and discrimination imposed by the Spanish imperial state.  Walker’s monograph follows the rebellion of […]

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