GO NAVY BEAT ARMY

GO NAVY BEAT ARMY

'87 Sir

Thirty years of service ----USNA Class of 1987 '87 Sir

Thursday, April 16, 2015

"Pop" Military History that does not impress me

So, clearly all military history is not well written military history.

I picked up three volumes of what I loosely call "pop" military history from across the pond--Pen and Sword Publishing in the UK.

Now Pen and Sword publishes dozens of titles a year, most pretty good, which cover a wide variety of topics on military history.

Sadly, in my opinion, these three volumes fall short of being well written history on several counts. 

 Granted, the author takes a very big bite, trying to write a history of very long wars in Iraq and Afghanistan in less than 200 pages, but I was still unimpressed. 

First of all, NONE of these books have any maps...seriously?  That violates the prime directive of writing military history, as far as I am concerned.  The geographically challenged "pop" history reader of the 21st century probably couldn't even locate Iraq on a global map, much less Baghdad or Fallujah.  This seems like a very serious omission to me.

Second, the writing is, to say the least, a bit disjointed.  The book on the Gulf War is probably the best as it covers a fairly short conflict that can be broken into bite-sized chunks covering the air, land, and sea aspects of the conflict fairly easily.

However, the Iraq and Afghan conflicts were much more complicated and fluid and I frankly could not really determine the narrative the author was following.  I felt like the books skipped from the initial military actions to the end, without nearly enough middle action.  Granted insurgencies are messy and sometimes don't make thrilling military history like tank battles and Special Forces guys on horseback, but there is a lot of history to be found in both conflicts...however, probably not in a mere 100 pages of large print text.

On the plus side, and to be fair, the books were lavishly illustrated, probably in keeping with the "pop" history theme and as an added bonus, presented a much more "British" centric view of the conflicts which I actually found pretty interesting.  Clearly Pen and Sword is focused on a Trans-Atlantic and not just American market.

Overall, I assume these books will do well for the first time reader or the VERY casual reader of history who likes lots of pictures (you know, like Obama's foreign policy team and State Department spokespersons), but I have to say, I am glad I did not pay too much for them.

 

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