Tag Archives: Military

Giveaway Spotlight – DECISION IN THE ATLANTIC

Faulkner Cover

We’re giving a book away this week! One lucky reader will win a book of their choice, choosing from seven of our newest titles. From now until Sunday, July 21, we will spotlight one of the books up for grabs on our blog. Answer our questions on social media, and you’ll be entered into the drawing! For more details on the giveaway, CLICK HERE

Today’s feature title is Decision in the Atlantic: The Allies and the Longest Campaign of the Second World War. The Battle of the Atlantic was the longest campaign of the Second World War. This volume highlights the scale and complexity of this bitterly contested campaign that encompassed far more than just attacks by German U-boats on Allied shipping. The team of leading scholars assembled in this study situates the German assault on seaborne trade within the wider Allied war effort and provides a new understanding of its place within the Second World War.

When we have to choose which essay collections to read, we usually skim the introduction. So we cut the first few pages out and stuck them on our blog for your perusal. Enjoy!

Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for your chance to win Decision in the Atlantic: The Allies and the Longest Campaign of the Second World War or one of our other six books up for grabs this week. Click here for full giveaway details.

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Giveaway Spotlight – BIPLANES AT WAR

Johnson CoverWe’re giving a book away this week! One lucky reader will win a book of their choice, choosing from seven of our newest titles. From now until Sunday, July 21, we will spotlight one of the books up for grabs on our blog. Answer our questions in the comments or on social media, and you’ll be entered into the drawing! For more details on the giveaway, CLICK HERE

Today’s feature title is Biplanes at War: US Marine Corps Aviation in the Small Wars Era, 1915-1934. Unlike the relative uniformity of conventional warfare, small wars prevent a clear definition of rules and roles for military forces to follow. During the small wars era, the US military had only recently begun battling in the skies but recognized the unique value and flexibility of aviation. This book provides a riveting history of the Marines’ use of biplanes between the world wars in Haiti, the Dominican Republic, China, and Nicaragua and chronicles how the Marines used aircraft to provide supporting fire to ground troops, to evacuate the wounded, to transport cargo, and even to support democratic elections. Biplanes at War sheds light on how the Marines pioneered roles that have become commonplace for air forces today, an accomplishment that has largely gone unrecognized in mainstream histories of aviation.


Apart from their military and transportation usefulness, airplanes are also pretty cool to look at. We hope you enjoy this slideshow of early biplanes featured in the book!

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If you had to hop in one of these planes right now and fly across the Atlantic, would you trust them? Which of the planes above would you trust the most? Let us know in the comments and you’ll be entered to win Biplanes at War: US Marine Corps Aviation in the Small Wars Era, 1915-1934 or another book of your choice from seven of our newest titles.

CLICK HERE for giveaway details

CLICK HERE to learn more or to order Biplanes at War: US Marine Corps Aviation in the Small Wars Era, 1915-1934

Giveaway Spotlight – LANDPOWER IN THE LONG WAR

Landpower Cover

We’re giving a book away this week! One lucky reader will win a book of their choice, choosing from seven of our newest titles. From now until Sunday, July 21, we will spotlight one of the books up for grabs on our blog. Answer our questions in the comments or on social media, and you’ll be entered into the drawing! For more details on the giveaway, CLICK HERE

Today’s feature title is Landpower in the Long War: Projecting Force After 9/11 edited by Jason W. Warren. After fourteen years of war in the Middle East with dubious results, a diminished national reputation, and a continuing drawdown of troops, the role of landpower in US grand strategy must evolve with changing geopolitical situations, moving beyond the limited operational definition offered by Army doctrine.

In the book’s forward, historian and retired Lieutenant General Daniel P. Bolger explores the significance of this study. Take a look.

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Seven Days of Summer Giveaway Details

July 19 Giveaway BannerWe like books, you like books, and we want to give you a free book just to prove it. This week, one lucky reader will win a book of their choice from the list of seven new titles below.

Sound good so far? Each day, we will spotlight one of the seven books up for grabs and give you an opportunity to enter this random giveaway. Once per day, we will ask our followers a just-for-fun opinion question across all our social media. If you answer our question, you’ll be entered into a random drawing. The winner will choose one book from the seven listed below as their prize! All you have to do is watch our Twitter, Facebook, and/or Instagram accounts each day from July 15 through 5PM on July 21. We will announce the winner across our social networks on Tuesday, July 23.

CLICK HERE for Giveaway FAQs

Now, let’s get to the books.


The Books…Win and Pick One to Take Home!

Ridley Scott: A BiographyRidley Scott Cover

With celebrated works such as Alien, Blade Runner, Thelma & Louise, and Gladiator, Ridley Scott has secured his place in Hollywood. This book presents a unique crosscut between the biographical facts of Ridley Scott’s personal life—his birth and early days in northeast England, his life in New York City—and his career in Hollywood as a director and producer of television commercials, TV series, and feature films. Every film is mined for a greater understanding of the visionary, his personality, his thought process, and a deeper perception of his astounding accomplishments. The voices of cast and crew who worked with Ridley Scott, as well as the words of the man himself, are woven throughout this book for a fully realized, critical biography, revealing the depth of the artist and his achievements.

Johnson CoverBiplanes at War: US Marine Corps Aviation in the Small Wars Era, 1915-1934

Unlike the relative uniformity of conventional warfare, small wars prevent a clear definition of rules and roles for military forces to follow. During the small wars era, the US military had only recently begun battling in the skies but recognized the unique value and flexibility of aviation. This book provides a riveting history of the Marines’ use of biplanes between the world wars in Haiti, the Dominican Republic, China, and Nicaragua and chronicles how the Marines used aircraft to provide supporting fire to ground troops, to evacuate the wounded, to transport cargo, and even to support democratic elections. Biplanes at War sheds light on how the Marines pioneered roles that have become commonplace for air forces today, an accomplishment that has largely gone unrecognized in mainstream histories of aviation.

Fishing the Jumps: A NovelHerrin Cover

The term “fishing the jumps” speaks to a method of catching fish while they’re in the midst of a wild, frenzied state. And just like the undercurrents that exist in the lakes on which this tale is based, some relationships have a way of hiding—and revealing—turmoil just beneath the surface. In his latest novel, award-winning writer Lamar Herrin explores the kaleidoscopic effect of memory while examining the rise and fall of life in the South. Set during a weekend fishing trip, two middle-aged friends sip Jim Beam and share stories as the past and present meld to reveal that what happens in the past rarely stays there.

Olivia de Havilland: Lady Triumphant by Victoria AmadorOlivia de Havlland

Legendary actress and two-time Academy Award winner Olivia de Havilland, best known for her role as Melanie Wilkes in Gone with the Wind (1939), often portrayed characters who were delicate, elegant, and refined. At the same time, she was a survivor with a fierce desire to direct her own destiny on and off the screen. She fought and won a lawsuit against Warner Bros. over a contract dispute that changed the studio contract system forever. From her iconic romance with James Stewart to her unending feud with Joan Fontaine, this work offers unprecedented access to the world behind the Hollywood screen and is a tribute to  one of Hollywood’s greatest legends.

Faulkner CoverDecision in the Atlantic: The Allies and the Longest Campaign of the Second World War

The Battle of the Atlantic was the longest campaign of the Second World War. This volume highlights the scale and complexity of this bitterly contested campaign, one that encompassed far more than just attacks by German U-boats on Allied shipping. The team of leading scholars assembled in this study situates the German assault on seaborne trade within the wider Allied war effort and provides a new understanding of its place within the Second World War. Individual chapters offer original perspectives on a range of neglected or previously overlooked subjects: how Allied grand strategy shaped the war at sea; the choices facing Churchill and other Allied leaders and the tensions over the allocation of scarce resources between theaters; how the battle spread beyond the Atlantic Ocean in both military and economic terms; the management of Britain’s merchant shipping repair yards; the defense of British coastal waters against German surface raiders; the contribution of air power to trade defense; antisubmarine escort training; the role of special intelligence; and the war against the U-boats in the Arctic and Pacific Oceans.

Red River Gorge CoverWilderflowers and Ferns of the Red River Gorge and the Greater Red River Basin

The Gorge, known for its unspoiled scenic beauty and numerous hiking trails, is one of Kentucky’s most popular natural destinations, attracting over 500,000 visitors a year. Accessible to both casual hikers and seasoned naturalists alike, this book is the only comprehensive natural guide to the Red River Gorge, Kentucky’s most popular natural recreational area. Through over 1,000 color images and illustrations, Dan and Judy Dourson share the geology, history, and incredible biodiversity of this unique ecosystem.

 

Landpower CoverLandpower in the Long War: Projecting Force After 9/11

War and landpower’s role in the twenty-first century is not just about military organizations, tactics, operations, and technology; it is also about strategy, policy, and sociopolitical contexts. After fourteen years of war in the Middle East with dubious results, a diminished national reputation, and a continuing drawdown of troops, the role of landpower in US grand strategy will continue to evolve with changing geopolitical situations. This book first examines more traditional issues, such as strategy and civilian-military relations, and works its way to more contemporary topics, such as how socio-cultural considerations affect the landpower force. The interdisciplinary contributors of political scientists, historians, and military practitioners—demonstrate that the conceptualization of landpower must move beyond the limited operational definition offered by Army doctrine in order to encompass social changes, trauma, the rule of law, acquisition of needed equipment, civil-military relationships, and bureaucratic decision-making, and argue that landpower should be a useful concept for warfighters and government agencies.

The Battle of Jutland 100 Years Later: Two Commanders

100 years ago on May 31, 1916,  the German and British fleets clashed in the North Sea in the only major naval engagement of World War I: The Battle of Jutland. A British loss would have been disastrous—the Royal Navy had long been a point of pride, and with almost twice the number of ships (Britain’s twenty-eight dreadnoughts against Germany’s sixteen), total victory should have been assured. But, on June 2, 1916, as the remaining ships returned to their bases, both sides claimed victory.

Britain lost more than twice the number of men and more than twice the amount of ships’ tonnage than Germany did, but retained control over the seas (though Germany’s blockade continued). What should have been a decisive battle, ended with a whimper, as both fleets took a few, last desultory shots around 3:30 am the morning of June 1.

Today, we’ll take a look at the two commanders who sought victory on the high seas: Admiral Sir John R. Jellicoe of the British Grand Fleet and Admiral Reinhard Scheer of the  German Kaiserliche Marine.

Sir John R. Jellicoe, 1859-1935

John_Jellicoe,_Admiral_of_the_Fleet

Jellicoe was, in the words of Winston Churchill, the only man on either side of the conflict who could have lost the war in an afternoon. He commanded the British Grand Fleet for the first two years of the war. He was aboard his flagship, Iron Duke, at the Battle of Jutland when the two great dreadnought fleets met in their only engagement, and a British loss would have spelled disaster. Jellicoe was born of a seafaring family in Southampton and joined the Royal Navy at a typically early age: thirteen. His career was in the Mediterranean and in the Far East (he was badly wounded during the Boxer Rebellion). However, he was most talented as a planner and builder of the navy. He became a protege of Sir John Fisher, serving in the admiralty as director of naval ordnance and successively as third and second sea lord. Jellicoe had much of the responsibility for developing the new class of super battleships—including the original dreadnought—that came to dominate the balance of naval power before World War I. By August 1914, he was a vice admiral and commander in chief of the Grand Fleet. Jellicoe was therefore in control of a huge naval force that was in theory counterbalanced by a weaker but still potent German High Seas Fleet.

The long history of British naval power led to the expectation that the nation’s sailors would once again triumph at the first opportunity. However, the opportunity was long denied since the Germans (particularly the kaiser) so feared losing their hideously expensive dreadnought fleet that they refused to leave port.

Jellicoe and the Grand Fleet settled into a position of distant blockade, guarding the approaches to the North Sea from bases at Scapa Flow, Rosyth, and Cromarty. Only the respective battle-cruiser squadrons roamed the waters for the first year and a half of the war. At the end of May 1916, the German command finally decided to bring its fleet out, and Admiral Hipper was sent ahead with the battle cruisers to bait a trap for the British light squadron. Ironically, Jellicoe had the same plan, and the Grand Fleet was on the water with Admiral Beatty sent on to draw the Germans into the maw of the British dreadnoughts. The two fleets met off Jutland on 31 May. Jellicoe had a greater weight of firepower and ships, but he lacked the Germans’ better fire control systems and their speed of maneuver and communication. Despite twice approaching the line of German ships in an advantageous position, Jellicoe could not deliver a heavy enough blow, for the most part frustrated by swift German maneuvers. At the end of the day, the High Seas Fleet had escaped, leaving several British ships sunk or disabled—an inconclusive result from the British point of view, although one Jellicoe could d scarcely have prevented given the German unwillingness to fight it out. Six months later, Jellicoe was removed from fleet command and made first lord of the admiralty (Fisher had resigned over the Dardanelles debacle). In his new position, 1ellicoe ran into trouble over the issue of convoys—he was slow to accept this solution to the German U-boat menace—and he was turned out of office at the end of 1917. He was elevated to the peerage and in 1919 went to New Zealand where he became governor general the following year.

excerpted from Almanac of World War I by David F. Burg and L. Edward Purcell

Reinhard Scheer, 1863-1928

Scheer

Admiral Reinhard Scheer, 1910/1916 ca. (Bundesarchiv. Bild 134-B2752)

On 18 January 1916, Vice Adm. Reinhard Scheer replaced [Admiral Hugo von] Pohl as commander of the High Seas Fleet. Pohl had fallen seriously ill and would die only a short time afterward, on 22 February 1916. Prior to replacing Pohl as commander in chief, Scheer had commanded the Third Squadron, a unit consisting of the eight most modern battleships in the navy. During that time, Scheer had not taken a stand against Pohl in any disputes concerning the deployment of the fleet and had not been inclined to pressure for a quick victory. But when Scheer took command of the fleet, two other personnel changes also took place: there was a new chief of staff, Capt. Adolf von Trotha (previously commander of the battleship Kaiser), and a new chief of the Operations Division, Capt. Magnus von Levetzow (previously commander of the battlecruiser Moltke). Thus two naval officers who had belonged to the sharpest critics of Pohl’s conduct of the war at sea gained a great amount of influence upon naval warfare. Their aim was to deploy the fleet in a more vigorous naval battle in the North Sea. By the end of January, the first draft of the new Leitgedanken für die Seekriegführung in der Nordsee (Guidelines for the Conduct of Naval War in the North Sea) was published, which was based on the assumption that the existing strength ratio precluded seeking ‘the decisive battle against the assembled English fleet.” The High Seas Fleet, it held, would have to put constant pressure upon the enemy until the latter was compelled to come “out of its present waiting stance” and advance “certain forces of theirs against us, which will present us with opportunities to attack.” The enemy must be prevented from having “such a sense of superiority . . . that he is no longer afraid to engage us in combat as he wishes.” In terms of “practical approaches” to this more offensive conduct of the naval war, the first choice was a commerce war with U-boats, followed by a mine war, a commerce war in the north, and an air war. With their airships, the navy not only had the means for an extensive reconnaissance (with radio contact to the home support bases), but also an offensive weapon that could reach the British homeland with its bombs, as was proven by the airship attacks that had begun in early 1915. In last place on this list stood “the vigorous actions by the High Seas Fleet.”

After the Battle of Jutland

The Battle of Jutland contributed to the fateful decision in favor of an unlimited U-boat war. After that, the High Seas Fleet functioned only as an assistance weapon for the conducting of the U-boat war. Its activity was limited primarily to the monotonous task of securing minesweepers on the entrance and exit paths of U-boats. On the balance, it must be stated that the operations of the High Seas Fleet reached their high point in the Battle of Jutland, yet the battle itself brought no change in the conduct of naval battles.

The High Seas Fleet remained what it had been since the outbreak of war—“a fleet in being”—which had a strategic effect just because of its very existence. Its strong presence tied up the British Grand Fleet and, along with it, the light warships that were needed in the Atlantic for security escort tasks. The fleet provided security for its own coastal area, blockaded the Baltic Sea from relief shipments to Russia, and offered the U-boat war a certain amount of support in the securing of entrance and exit routes. Thus, contrary to popular opinion of historians, who deny that it had any strategic significance, the fleet did have its military value for the German conduct of the war. Still, a sober cost-effectiveness analysis inevitably leads to the conclusion that ultimately it did not accomplish what was expected of it, or could have been expected.

In later years, the Battle of Jutland had a long-term influence on the building of tradition of the German navy that followed. It was interpreted as the defining battle experience of the years 1914–1918 and was cited as proof of validity for the German naval buildup. In the early postwar years, the official historical writing by the navy concentrated on the depiction of the battle. The semiofficial work Der Krieg zur See 1914–1918 (The Naval War 1914–1918) came to the conclusion “that the German right to claim victory in the Battle of Jutland also stands up under the most rigorous historical research.” As proof for this thesis, the German side repeatedly quoted the greater number of losses on the enemy side, without taking into account the fact that on 1 June 1916 the Germans had declined further participation in the battle with good reason. In this respect, the strategic analysis of the leadership of the North Sea battle fell short. Even after the negative war experience, leading officers of the Reichsmarine and Kriegsmarine tended to hold the opinion that one fully fought naval battle in the North Sea could have brought a strategic, decisive victory. Within the closed circle of the naval officer corps, it was considered to be a given that not even the slightest criticism was permitted against either Tirpitz or the successful fleet commanders, Scheer and [Vice Admiral] Hipper.

excerpted from Jutland: World War I’s Greatest Naval Battleedited by Michael Epkenhans, Jörg Hillmann, and Frank Nägler

Resources:

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World War I 100 Years Later: Reassessing the Battle of Jutland

With commemorations of the World War I centennial in full-swing, names of historic battles like Verdun, Ypres, and the Somme have been recognized and remembered along with the soldiers who fought there. Images of men in the trenches dominate our memories of World War I, but of equal importance are the naval skirmishes that were waged in the European seas. No naval engagement was more important or had such an impact as the Battle of Jutland 100 years ago today, in which the German navy—under Admiral  Reinhard Scheer—attempted to break the British blockade of German shipping lines. Outnumbered against the renowned and dominant Royal navy—commanded by Admiral Sir John Jellicoe—sixteen German dreadnoughts engaged twenty-eight British warships in World War I’s largest naval battle and the only full-scale clash of battleships.

untitledThe Battle of Jutland marks a significant turning point in modern warfare—when new technology such as the submarine, the torpedo, and mines made major fleet combat between battleships irrelevant. Outdated strategies of war limited the leadership and tactics of both commanders. Traditional surface battles were quickly becoming a thing of the past as new, smaller battle cruisers could outmaneuver and outrun larger ships of the fleet, and the increasing use of submarines to disrupt and attack merchant vessels was seen as a more effective strategy.

After two days of bloody combat, both sides claimed victory. Britain retained control of the North Sea and forced the Germans to withdraw their fleet, but the British lost more ships and many more men than the German dreadnoughts.

The following excerpt comes from Jutland: World War I’s Greatest Naval Battle. Editors Michael Epkenhans, Jörg Hillmann, and Frank Nägler have collected an international group of scholars to investigate the iconic battle from both the British and German perspectives and reassess the leadership, strategies, and tactics of what would become the most formidable battle in modern Royal Navy history.

Reflections on the Battle of Jutland

by Michael Salewski [Excerpted from Jutland: World War I’s Greatest Naval Battle]

Somewhere a steamship idles in the waters. It is wartime, and steamships have to be inspected—as the Admiralty Staff book expressed it, a “minor event.” Thus the small cruiser Elbing and the torpedo boats B-109 and B-110 set off. The English have sighted the steamship as well, and so they send Galathea and Phaeton out in order to ensure fairness. N. J. Fjord is a harmless Danish commercial ship. But behind the German and British inspectors, at a proper distance, the High Seas Fleet and the Grand Fleet were on the move, their battlecruisers out front in operational positions. “Smoke possibly from fleet,” radioed Elbing and at 1532h set off the first shot of the battle.

The steamship functioned as a semaphore point. Before the development of radio telegraphy, flags were mounted on church towers. With the speed of light and vision, this kind of signal could be sent and received from beyond the horizon. But the two fleets now approaching one another are modern ones, even though they include one or more less modern squadron. No, as Scheer will argue, out of solicitude toward the crews, it would have been impossible to justify leaving the Second Squadron in Wilhelmshaven. It came back rather disheveled, and the Pommern was missing, along with its 844 men—the entire crew.

Only Franz Hipper and Sir David Beatty confronted one another at eye level, with commensurate weapons—this very thing brought forth the mystique of the cruiser battle. “It was a powerful moment,” reads the work by the Admiralty Staff, “and no one who experienced it could withdraw, when, after the breathtaking haste of the deployment, the German and British battlecruisers, the most beautiful and powerful ships of each fleet, swung into the battle line in majestic confidence, as if they were ‘fate itself,’ and the seconds of the utmost calm and marshaling of all strength gave way to the first thundering of the guns.” It was the ultimate duel, an industrial-scientific heroic deed worthy of the beginning of the heroic and brutal twentieth century.
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General John R. Galvin Fighting the Cold War

General John R. Galvin, 1929–2015

We were saddened to learn this week that General John R. Galvin, USA (Ret.), former NATO Supreme Allied Commander, dean of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, and winner of the Legion of Merit and Army Distinguished Service Medals, passed away at his home in Jonesboro, Georgia.

General Galvin’s recently released memoir, Fighting the Cold War: A Soldier’s Memoir, is a record of not only his uncommon leadership on the battlefield and in affairs of state, but also his service as an historian, mentor, and teacher.

As the Washington Post noted in an obituary posted today, “his leadership ability and scholarship earned him friends in high places, which aided in his rise. He contributed to writing the Pentagon Papers, the Defense Department’s secret multi-volume history of the Vietnam War, and played roles in reshaping the Army after the post-Vietnam era.

“Thinking beyond large-scale, conventional warfare with the Soviet Union and other nation-states, he wrote influential reports and articles on counterinsurgency strategy and guerrilla warfare that would define conflicts in the Middle East after the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq.”

The New York Times also praised his contributions to US military historiography and the major role he played in bringing about the end of the Cold War as Supreme Allied Commander of NATO forces in Europe.

In Fighting the Cold War, General Galvin recounts fascinating behind-the-scenes anecdotes about his interactions with world leaders, describing encounters such as his experience of watching President José Napoleón Duarte argue eloquently against US intervention in El Salvador; a private conversation with Pope John Paul II in which the pontiff spoke to him about what it means to be a man of peace; and his discussion with General William Westmoreland about soldiers’ conduct in the jungles of Vietnam and Cambodia. He also recalls his complex negotiations with a number of often difficult foreign heads of state, including Manuel Noriega, Augusto Pinochet, Mikhail Gorbachev, and Ratko Mladić.

General Galvin was also the author of The Minute Men: The First Fight: Myths and Realities of the American RevolutionAir Assault: The Development of Airmobile Warfare, and Three Men of Boston: Leadership and Conflict at the Start of the American Revolution.