David WilliamsI Freed Myself: African American Self-Emancipation in the Civil War Era

June 5, 2014

[Cross-posted from New Books in History] Lincoln was very clear–at least in public–that the Civil War was not fought over slavery: it was, he said, for the preservation of the Union first and foremost. So it’s not surprising that when the conflict started he had no firm plan to emancipate the slaves in the borderland or Southern [...]

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Stephen R. PlattAutumn in the Heavenly Kingdom: China, the West, and the Epic Story of the Taiping Civil War

June 3, 2014

[Cross-posted from New Books in East Asian Studies] Stephen R. Platt’s new book is a beautifully written and intricately textured account of the bloodiest civil war of all time. Autumn in the Heavenly Kingdom: China, the West, and the Epic Story of the Taiping Civil War (Vintage Books, 2012) is a deeply international history of the Taiping Civil [...]

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Geoffrey WawroA Mad Catastrophe: The Outbreak of World War I and the Collapse of the Habsburg Empire

May 27, 2014

[Cross-posted from New Books in History] When I was in graduate school, those of us who studied World War One commented regularly on the degree to which historians concentrated their attention on the Western front at the expense of the other aspects of the war. In the years since then (I won’t say how many), historians have [...]

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Christine KnauerLet Us Fight as Free Men: Black Soldiers and Civil Rights

May 20, 2014

[Cross-posted from New Books in American Studies] Recent controversies over integrating the military have focused on issues of gender and sexuality. In the 1940s and 50s, however, the issue was racial integration. As Christine Knauer shows in her new book Let Us Fight as Free Men: Black Soldiers and Civil Rights (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2014), the persistence of soldiers and activists [...]

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Matthew Muehlbauer and David UlbrichWays of War: American Military History from the Colonial Era to the Twenty-First Century

May 7, 2014

In their new survey for Routledge, military historians Matthew Muehlbauer and David Ulbrich move beyond a simplified critique of Russell F. Weigley’s critical “American Way of War” thesis to offer a reassessment of how the construct evolved from a number of original influences to take on various forms and applications as circumstances dictated.  The end [...]

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Tobie Meyer-FongWhat Remains: Coming to Terms with Civil War in Nineteenth-Century Century China

April 1, 2014

[Cross-posted from New Books in East Asian Studies] Tobie Meyer-Fong’s beautifully written and masterfully argued new book explores the remains (in many senses and registers, both literal and figurative) of the Taiping civil war in nineteenth-century China. Often known as the “Taiping Rebellion” in English, the war is most often narrated as the story of a [...]

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Robert NeerNapalm: An American Biography

February 13, 2014

[Cross-posted from New Books in Biography] Just as there is no one way to write a biography, nor should there be, so there is no rule dictating that biography must be about the life of a person. In recent years, the jettisoning of this tradition has led to a number of compelling explorations of the lives of commodities [...]

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Waitman BeornMarching into Darkness: The Wehrmacht and the Holocaust in Belarus

January 11, 2014

[Cross-posted from New Books in History] The question of Wehrmacht complicity in the Holocaust is an old one. What might be called the “received view” until recently was that while a small number of German army units took part in anti-Jewish atrocities, the great bulk of the army neither knew about nor participated in the Nazi genocidal [...]

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Aaron S. MooreConstructing East Asia: Technology, Ideology, and Empire in Japan’s Wartime Era, 1931-1945

October 26, 2013

[Cross-posted from New Books in East Asian Studies] We tend to understand the modernization of Japan as a story of its rise as a techno-superpower. In East Asia: Technology, Ideology, and Empire in Japan’s Wartime Era, 1931-1945 (Stanford University Press, 2013), Aaron Stephen Moore critiques this account in a study of the relationship between technology and power in the context of [...]

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Eric Schmitt and Thom ShankerCounterstrike: The Untold Story of America’s Secret Campaign Against Al Qaeda

October 25, 2013

[Cross-posted from New Books in Terrorism and Organized Crime] There are many books about the war against Al Qaeda. Most of these focus on counter-terrorism or counter insurgency military tactics or espionage operations. These books have become more frequent with the death of Osama Bin Laden. Counterstrike: The Untold Story of America’s Secret Campaign Against Al Qaeda (Times Books, [...]

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