The Leavenworth Way of War

History Discussion at CGSC

Book Review: Normandy to Victory

Normandy to Victory : The War Diary of General Courtney H. Hodges and the First U.S. Army, by Major William C. Sylvan and Captain Francis G. Smith Jr. (edited by John Greenwood), is an important book on U.S. Army operations in the European Theater during World War II. Its greatest contribution is as resource for understanding many of the important operations of the war from the perspective of General Hodges and his headquarters. It is also valuable as a firsthand account of leading soldiers in battle at the field army level. This book is not for the uninitiated. Truly appreciating the detail, nuance, and its value as a primary source, requires grounding in the history of the U.S. Army in Europe during World War II. That said, for those with a serious interest in World War II history Normandy to Victory is a “must have” book.

May 22, 2009 Posted by | books | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

New Readings on Palestine






1948:  A History of the First Arab-Israeli War.  By Benny Morris.

Making Israel.  Edited by Benny Morris.

Interesting and very informative New York Times book review of new books on the 48 War. The review itself is a mini-historiography and well worth the read for any or all who are interested.

May 18, 2009 Posted by | A652, books | , , , , | Leave a comment

Book Review: Schoolbooks and Krags

Schoolbooks and Krags:  The United States Army in the Philippines, 1898-1902.  John M. Gates.  Westport, CT:  Greenwood Press, 1973.

Gates is at his best discussing the American strategy.  He effectively describes how the two aspects of  the dual strategy of attraction and chastisement complimented each other.  The book begins with the efforts of General Otis, the first commander, who did not have the military strength to accomplish his mission, vague guidance from the President, and few intelligence sources.  Otis did not understand the strategy of the Philippine revolutionaries led by Emilio Aguinaldo.  None-the-less, the American army quickly defeated the Filipinos in the conventional phase of combat in 1899.  Gates then details how General Arthur MacArthur wrestled with the challenge of devising and executing a strategy aimed at defeating the Filipinos who had reverted to a deliberate stratagem of guerrilla warfare. MacArthur aimed at separating the insurgents from the civil population and then defeating them.  This strategy required close cooperation with William Howard Taft, the U.S. civil administrator in the islands, and pro-American Filipinos.  The book concludes with an analysis of how the entire strategy was almost undone by MacArthur’s replacement, General Adna Chaffee, as the Army, according to Gates, over-reacted to the Balangiga massacre.  This reaction included the brutal Samar pacification campaign under General Jacob H. Smith.

Read complete review here.

May 11, 2009 Posted by | books | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Book Review: The Arab-Israeli Wars

I personally enjoyed reading the book The Arab-Israeli Wars by Chaim Herzog.  I would recommend this book for anyone seeking to learn more about the Arab-Israeli Wars and the people and politics that have been involved between Israel and its Arab neighbors.  The book offers a detailed account of every war and conflict Israel faced between 1948 and 1981 and provides invaluable insight and analysis as to the root causes of conflict.  In conclusion, the book is well written and the author is extremely well qualified to have written this book and is still regarded by many as the best single source of information on the Arab-Israeli Wars. 

MAJ Brady Gallagher

Note:  The latest Edition (pictured) carries the history though the 1990s.

April 28, 2009 Posted by | A652 | , , , , | Leave a comment

Book Reviews: A Peace to End All Peace; The Gamble.

I thoroughly enjoyed A Peace to End All Peace, and highly recommend it to someone that wants to read a comprehensive history of the Middle East from 1912-1922.  I enjoyed the fact that even though this is an academic history book, that it reads like a good story.  The author does a pretty good job of telling the reader about the personalities and motivations behind the actions of the major players in the Middle East.  The thing that I found difficult about this book was its complexity at times.  I think that this is less a function of the writer, and more a function of the actual complexity of what was going on in this region.  The title of this book is telling, since the competing domestic and foreign politics, and realities of enforcing the peace settlements in the Middle East set the stage for the turmoil and persistent conflict in the region.  I would recommend this book to anybody who wants to know the truth about the origins of the modern Middle East and go beyond the mantra that, “It’s all Great Britain’s fault…..”

MAJ Wayne Wilson, USAF



The Gamble is an easy read, well written, and hard to put down once you start it. The author- Mr. Ricks has done an excellent job of exhaustively researching his facts, interviewing key players, presenting the material in a clear and concise manner, and providing a stark contrast to the current state of the affairs in Iraq vice the state of affairs in Iraq in 2006. His previous book- The Fiasco provides the author with the capacity to discern the true nature of the current situation. Readers clearly understand that Mr. Ricks would not hesitate to criticize military leaders if criticism was appropriate.  The Gamble is a must read for all field grade officers and provides unique insight into the development and practical application of revised counterinsurgency doctrine.  This book should be immediately incorporated into history classes at the Command and General Staff College ASAP.


MAJ Gary Holben, USAR

April 24, 2009 Posted by | A652, books | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Book Reviews: Empire in the Sands; The Quranic Concept of War.

Empires of the Sand is a bold attempt to redefine the historical understanding of what forces were responsible for shaping the current Middle East from 1789 to 1923.  The Karsh’s contend that the European powers, as is widely accepted by most prominent scholars, were not the primary force behind the current tensions and issues that exist in the region. Instead, that the Middle Eastern powers were willing and active participants in establishing their current boundaries and bare the primary responsibility for its internal problems and volatile nature.  The European powers played a secondary role and without their support and assistance in defining the geographic boundaries of the region it would be less stable and divided into smaller and more contentious states.  I believe that while brilliant in presenting their data that they and their argument are historically inaccurate and biased.  I found the book one sided to the European powers while continually condemning the Arabs and Turks.  While they bear significant responsibility for their failures that led to the current state of the Middle East, this literary effort tries too hard to relieve European Colonialism of its role.


MAJ William Prayner, USA 


In the absence of real Islamic military doctrine, The Quranic Concept of War is the equivalent of the U.S. Army’s FM 3-0 Operations for Muslims searching for “divine guidance” on how to fight.  Allah K. Brohi, late Advocate-General of Pakistan, described Brigadier Malik’s work as “a comprehensive survey of the Quranic Approach to the Principles of War and Peace.”  According to the author the book outlines “a philosophy of war that is supreme and distinctive in all its angles and aspects.”  I did not make a direct connection between this book and terrorist ideology, but apparently many others have.  Publishers Mark Hanna and Patrick Poole said Malik’s book has “critical significance in the ideological foundations of the international jihadist movement” and indicated summaries of the book in various languages have been found on captured and killed insurgents in Afghanistan.  United States Army Lieutenant Colonel Joseph Myers, who reviewed Malik’s book for the Winter 2006-2007 issue of Parameters, said “Anyone charged or interested in the defense of reason and freedom of conscious [sic] should study the Quranic Concept of War for its intellectual and strategic ramifications.” 


MAJ Patricia McPhillips, USA 

April 24, 2009 Posted by | A652, books | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment