As I mentioned in early summer, I volunteered to prepare a review essay on four books after meeting the editor of the Society of Military History's Journal at the superb 2012 Annual Convention.
At long last it is done......and it was quite the intellectual challenge. I provided brief snapshots of each book on my blog, and as you can probably tell, I clearly liked some books more than others.
From Storm to Freedom: America’s Long War with Iraq. By John R. Ballard. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 2010. ISBN 978-1-59114-018-4. Maps. List of acronyms. Illustrations. Notes. Bibliography. Index. Pp. xxvii, 321. $37.95.
Contesting History: The Bush Counterinsurgency Legacy in Iraq. By Matthew J. Flynn. Santa Barbara, Calif.: Praeger, 2010. ISBN 978-0-313-38488-2. Notes. Bibliography. Index. Pp. xi, 164. $44.95.
The Limits of U.S. MilitaryCapabilities: Lessons from Vietnam and Iraq. By James H. Lebovic. Baltimore, Md.: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2010. ISBN 978-0-8018-9472-5. Notes. Bibliography. Index. Pp. x, 297. $50.00.
The Iraq Wars and America’s Military Revolution. By Keith L. Shimko. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2010. ISBN 978-0-521-12884-1. Maps. Figures. Notes. Index. Pp. xi, 249. $27.99.
Overall, I would have to say each of these provided a fairly narrow look at the war. I thought Shimko's book was clearly the best, with Ballard's a close second...and Flynn's...well...clearly not worth $44.95. Actually, I think Praeger's books are usually ridiculously overpriced...and other university "think-tank" books equally extravagant in price. But Grouchy in this case can be synonymous with cheap...whatever..
There is SO much work to be done on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, I almost wish I was an undergraduate history student again....or that I had more time to research and write...or I could MAKE more time to research and write. I did find it disappointing that it has taken so long to produce anything NEAR a volume in the manner and style of Max Hastings or even Rick Atkinson on this war. I have this book on pre-order....and I have high hopes for it. I know it will take years, maybe even decades before we find out all the "behind the scenes" information about the war, Osama, Iraq's WMDs, and how close we came to invading Iran or Syria...if you believe in the plot of American hegemony in the Middle East...OR how the War in Iraq sparked the Arab Spring...whether that was a good thing...so much material...so few good historians...
Hopefully my essay will be published in the Winter or Spring upcoming editions...we shall see. I enjoyed the effort immensely...I really needed an intellectual challenge to offset my continuing CRS syndrome....(Can't Remember Sh**) that seems to be creeping up on me more and more these days.