Sunday, December 9, 2012

American Military Power, the Crises of the Civil War Era, and Journeys Around the Globe: This Week in the Book Pages

 In the New York Times this week Max Boot reviews The Generals: American Military Command From War World II to Today (Penguin) by Thomas E. Ricks.  Boot writes: "How did the Army change so dramatically in the past 60-plus years and what are the consequences for the future of American military power?  Those are the questions that Ricks sets out to answer."  His "combination of conviction and erudition allows him to deliver an entertaining and enlightening jeremiad that should-- but, alas, most likely won't-- cause a rethinking of existing personnel policies."  Read the rest of the review here.

Also in the New York Times this week: a review of Sasha and Emma: The Anarchist Odyssey of Alexander Berkman and Emma Goldman (Belknap/Harvard) by Paul Avrich and Karen Avrich, a book that shows the "intense connection and intertwined lives" of Berkman and Goldman.  Joseph Ellis reviews 1775: A Good Year for a Revolution (Viking) by Kevin Phillips (Jack Rakove's review of the book from TNR: The Book last week is here), and Jonathan Mirsky reviews Yang Jisheng's Tombstone: The Great Chinese Famine, 1958-1962 (Farrar, Straus & Giroux).

And, on the New York Times "The 10 Best Books of 2012": Robert A. Caro's The Passage of Power: The Years of Lyndon Johnson (Knopf), Davad Nasaw's The Patriarch: The Remarkable Life and Turbulent Times of Joseph P. Kennedy (Penguin), and Katherine Boo's Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity (Random House).

In the LA Times, Scott Martelle reviews 38 Nooses: Lincoln, Little Crow, and the Beginning of the Frontier's End (Pantheon) by Scott W. Berg.  Martelle writes:
While the recent "Lincoln" movie has pulled the American Civil War into one of its periodic moments in the contemporary spotlight, historian Scott W. Berg reminds us in his splendid new book, "38 Nooses: Lincoln, Little Crow, and the Beginning of the Frontier's End," that the Civil War was only part of the nation's crises in that era.
Read on here.

And in The Wall Street Journal David S. Reynolds reviews The Tribunal: Responses to John Brown and the Harper's Ferry Raid (Harvard) edited by John Stauffer and Zoe Trodd, a book that according to Reynolds "allows us to experience firsthand the debate that Brown generated during his lifetime."

Also in the LA Times this week, you'll find a review of Joyce Chaplin's Round About the Earth: Circumnavigation From Magellan to Orbit (Simon & Schuster), a book inspired, in part, by Chaplin's own trip on a 140-foot sailboat.

The Washington Post has Jeff Shesol's review of The Partisan: The Life of William Rehnquist (PublicAffairs) by John A. Jenkins, and a review of Martin Duberman's Howard Zinn: A Life on the Left (New Press).

Over at TNR: The Book, Henry Wiencek reviews Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power (Random House) by Jon Meacham, and Rachel Sagner Buurma reviews The Art of the Epigraph: How Great Books Begin (Atria) edited by Rosemary Ahern.