Lawrence D. Freedman

Capsule Review
2015
Lawrence D. Freedman

Have any of the CIA operatives who worked in Afghanistan and Pakistan in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks not yet written a memoir? Grenier’s book is the most recent addition to the genre and one of the more valuable ones.

Capsule Review
2015
Lawrence D. Freedman

The Amazons, ferocious warrior women, have long been assumed to be little more than a compelling myth of the ancient Greeks. But it turns out that the Greeks almost certainly did confront women from the Central Asian steppes who fought on horseback and came from a nomadic society in which men and women shared essential tasks.

Capsule Review
2015
Lawrence D. Freedman

Krepinevich and Watts have examined Andrew Marshall’s role in shaping American thinking on key defense issues: the potential vulnerability of U.S. strategic bases to a surprise Soviet nuclear attack, the burden of the defense sector on the Soviet economy, the so-called revolution in military affairs that might (or might not) have taken place during the 1990s, and the rise of China. 

Capsule Review
2015
Lawrence D. Freedman

The potential for conflict between China and the United States has invited many comparisons with past great-power rivalries, especially those that sparked World War I. Hoping to get past superficial parallels, two groups of scholars have delved deeply into past crises to find out if there are indeed any lessons that might apply today.

Capsule Review
2015
Lawrence D. Freedman

Schneer has pulled off quite a feat: he has said something original about Winston Churchill as a wartime leader and has done so in a lively and readable book.

Capsule Review
Mar/Apr
2015
Lawrence D. Freedman

Sun-tzu’s writings, especially the simple, familiar aphorisms of The Art of War—so frequently cited in Western literature on war and strategy—obscure complex patterns of thought with deep roots in Chinese culture.

Capsule Review
Mar/Apr
2015
Lawrence D. Freedman

Katagiri’s analysis confirms the lesson that Mao Zedong learned during the civil war in China: a small group of insurgents relying on primitive strategy and mostly military means is likely to lose in a straightforward fight against a state.

Capsule Review
Mar/Apr
2015
Lawrence D. Freedman

What people think they know about war is as likely to come from watching war movies as from listening to the news or reading history—and in Hollywood, dramatic license often trumps historical accuracy.

Capsule Review
Mar/Apr
2015
Lawrence D. Freedman

Three books tell the story of the Battle of the Bulge, Adolf Hitler's last-ditch offensive in late 1944 that aimed to catch the complacent Allies unaware and force them to agree to a negotiated solution to the war, but instead left the German army exhausted, outnumbered, and outgunned.

Capsule Review
Jan/Feb
2015
Lawrence D. Freedman

The term "coward" was once reserved for those who turned away from physical danger. Walsh explores how the concept has evolved as a result of changes in the way societies understand morality, human nature, and the nature of war.

Capsule Review
Jan/Feb
2015
Lawrence D. Freedman

Baer explains that assassination requires dedication, self-discipline, and a degree of intimacy with one’s target—all reasons why he thinks the United States is unlikely to ever do it very well.

Capsule Review
Jan/Feb
2015
Lawrence D. Freedman

Stoker’s biography focuses on Clausewitz’s military record and draws on his sharp observations to illuminate key military engagements of the Napoleonic Wars.

Capsule Review
Jan/Feb
2015
Lawrence D. Freedman

Conventional wisdom holds that new information technologies have favored insurgents and revolutionaries. Tucker argues that they have likely benefited states even more.

Capsule Review
Jan/Feb
2015
Lawrence D. Freedman

Smith explores how the intense sights, sounds, and smells of battle affect the conduct of war. He gets into these gritty details by narrating some of the most important encounters of the American Civil War.

Capsule Review
Nov/Dec
2014
Lawrence D. Freedman

In 2004, as an operations officer in a tank battalion in Iraq, Nagl witnessed U.S. forces commit critical errors. This engaging book exhibits droll humor and a sharp grasp of the limits and possibilities of the U.S. Army as a learning organization.

Capsule Review
Nov/Dec
2014
Lawrence D. Freedman

Echevarria and Strachan are intrigued by the relationship between national policy and military strategy. Both are wary of cultural explanations for a nation’s conduct of war, and both challenge the view that their respective countries have unique “ways of war” that shape their responses to conflict.

Capsule Review
Nov/Dec
2014
Lawrence D. Freedman

During international crises, political leaders must make judgments about the likely attitudes and behavior of both prospective allies and enemies. Shore is skeptical of models that assume that actors will behave rationally and instead explores the idea of empathy as an aid to decision-making. 

Review Essay
Nov/Dec
2014
Lawrence D. Freedman

A hundred years after World War I, new accounts of the drama help readers navigate the intricacies of European politics and the political and diplomatic maneuverings that kicked off the war. Yet there is still no consensus on its origins or lessons.

Capsule Review
Nov/Dec
2014
Lawrence D. Freedman

This is the autobiography of a delinquent young Danish man, Storm, who gave up on a boxing career and turned to Islam to give his life some meaning. His tale illuminates the methods that intelligence agencies use to keep track of terrorists and how terrorists seek to evade them.

Review Essay
SEPT/OCT
2014
Paul Kennedy

Lawrence Freedman’s massive, ambitious new book, Strategy, offers a personal take on an important term, one so overused that it has become almost meaningless.

Capsule Review
SEPT/OCT
2014
Lawrence D. Freedman

The stability of the atomic age has bred complacency and reduced policymakers’ fluency with the nuances and practicalities of nuclear strategy. It is therefore important for fresh eyes to look at the dilemmas created by nuclear weapons.

Capsule Review
SEPT/OCT
2014
Lawrence D. Freedman

Wars evoke powerful emotions: grief and pride, humiliation and honor, outrage and exultation. As this volume reveals, such feelings form essential parts of national mythologies, especially in the case of World War II. 

Capsule Review
SEPT/OCT
2014
Lawrence D. Freedman

For a country, such as the United States, that believes in decisive conclusions to military operations, allowing Osama bin Laden to escape from his redoubt in the Tora Bora region of Afghanistan in December 2001 was an extraordinary lapse. Barzilai blames a combination of political inattention and sloppy tactics.

Capsule Review
SEPT/OCT
2014
Lawrence D. Freedman

Sander has produced something better than a battlefield memoir: an accomplished history of Operation Lam Son 719 -- a little-known battle of the Vietnam War -- that explains why it failed.

Capsule Review
May/June
2014
Lawrence D. Freedman

Coker sees war not as a vicious, dysfunctional throwback to more primitive, pre-rational times but as an essential feature of human societies.