Professional military education needs tools to look at the past as a guide, as a way to learn the practice of discovering solutions that meet present needs by knowing enough to ask the right questions. History supplies these military professionals with the tools to shape models of the present and visions of the future.
The practice of grand strategy has been a staple of statesmanship since time immemorial. But only since the Napoleonic era has much ink been spilt analyzing and grappling with the grand strategic behavior of varied historical dynamos. Until now, scholars have largely demurred from trying to pin down the theoretical essence of what grand strategy actually is. By borrowing insights from fields as varied as strategic studies and cognitive theory, Layton has created an interpretation of how grand strategy could and should look in practice.
Reading science fiction nurtures hope that there is a better future. While conflict, catastrophe, and climate change feature in many of these novels and movies, much science fiction is highly optimistic in nature…However, reading science fiction also allows us to consider a variety of negative potential futures…it is the first step in ensuring that they do not come to pass.
Stephen W. Sears, author of twelve prior Civil War volumes, reassesses the Eastern Theater in Lincoln’s Lieutenants: The High Command of the Army of the Potomac. It explores two topics germane to the modern military. Strategists will note that the Army of the Potomac was the most important Northern force and fought in the preeminent theater. Russell F. Weigley claims that this area “offered the most promising opportunity for a short war and thereby the limitation of costs and destructive violence.” Students of civil-military relations will focus on the relative politicization of the officer corps and whether President Abraham Lincoln could impose his strategic vision on commanders.
In a quiet, quirky, and often quotable collection of poems spanning the late 1970s to present day, poet Michael Brett spins tales of bombs, bodies, and bureaucracies, echoing and updating European traditions of 20th century war poetry. He does so with a wonderfully plainspoken and honest tone of a mid-level political functionary or well-informed citizen—someone engaged in immediately observing conflict, but also intellectually apart from it.
This book is a must for any student, policymaker, or practitioner seeking to better understand America’s war in Afghanistan––even if that student disagrees with its conclusions. As America seems to be on the verge of stepping into the Afghan breech yet again, this book should serve as warning to the over-zealous or those prone to hubris. Moreover, Our Latest Longest War must be included in any pre-deployment reading list for any soldier, diplomat, or aid worker heading to Afghanistan.
Ghost Fleet is an enjoyable book. It is a fun book. What’s more, it is an insightful and prescient book, without forcing the reader to ever acknowledge that fact. Sure, it suffers, as many popular works do, with things that literary critics will nitpick over. But if there’s one thing that’s been made abundantly clear to me over the course of reading the work and discussing it with colleagues, it’s that Cole and Singer have accomplished the difficult feat of merging knowledge with storytelling, insight with invention.
Recently we reviewed Stanton S. Coerr’s (SSC) Rubicon: The Poetry of War on The Strategy Bridge (TSB). TSB also sat down with Coerr to learn more about him and to ask a few questions. Originally from North Carolina, Coerr grew up in a family of all women and attended school at Duke where he enrolled in the Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps (NROTC).
War poetry has been on a decline. There is an abundance of literature about Afghanistan and Iraq and endless raw video footage. History has never been recorded more completely than today. In this world, however, no voice rises above the media-created noise to make us pause, breathe, think, or — for a moment — shiver. Imagine if one night, on prime-time, we got just two minutes to hear a poem such as Siegfried Sassoon’s “Suicide in the Trenches.”