Sunday, December 29, 2013

Sunday Book Roundup

The web is light on book reviews this weekend, but here's a few that readers might find interesting. And, the Best Books of 2013 post has been updated one last time.

The Wall Street Journal reviews The Great Rent Wars: New York 1917-1929 (Yale) by Robert M. Fogelson. 

In the New York Times there's a review of Michael Burleigh's Small Wars, Faraway Places: Global Insurrection and the Making of the Modern World 1945-1965 (Viking). Reviewer Daniel Larison writes:
"In “Small Wars, Faraway Places,” Michael Burleigh recounts the violent end of the British and French empires in Africa and Asia, and their partial replacement by the United States in its often ill-informed and costly efforts to combat Communism during the early stages of the Cold War. Burleigh surveys many of the major international wars and anticolonial insurgencies between 1945 and 1965, but opts to focus most on those involving America, Britain and France, and how they related to the rivalry with the Soviet Union. The result is a well-researched and readable account of two tumultuous decades. Burleigh judges most of these wars, both small and large, to have been futile and destructive. But while he clearly has no interest in defending or rehabilitating such conflicts, he nonetheless offers a fair, thoughtful assessment of the motives and interests behind them. He also takes care to understand and explain the grievances of the insurgents." 
And in the Washington Post, Lincoln in the World: The Making of a Statesman and the Dawn of American Power (Crown) by Kevin Peraino is reviewed.
"Peraino similarly casts a revealing and fresh light on the complex diplomacy in the fall of 1862 aimed at averting British recognition of the Confederacy or a European intervention to halt the fighting. It has often been asserted that the Union victory at Antietam in September of that year, and the issuance of the Emancipation Proclamation that swiftly followed, effectively put an end to the threat of British interference, both by transforming the North’s war into a moral crusade and by establishing the inevitability of Union victory. But in fact, Peraino recounts, the ambiguous Union victory at Antietam actually increased (albeit briefly) the inclination of Lord Palmerston, the British prime minister, to press for an armistice; and as for the Emancipation Proclamation, Palmerston initially dismissed it as “trash.”"