A tedious, anti-American, apology for socialism, rife with factual errors, some of which should have been caught at the time, others that are obvious...moreA tedious, anti-American, apology for socialism, rife with factual errors, some of which should have been caught at the time, others that are obvious from information that came out in the 90s and the early years of this century. The most ludicrous part is his repeated attempts to paint America as having been morally equivalent of the USSR, that the Cold War was just two "totalitarian" systems duking it out.
While there are some useful nuggets, they can be found any in comparable Cold War history, without all of the problems and without the Leftist rants.
Part of the book - the sections that examine explicitly cold War architecture - are very interesting. While some of the installations examined (Cheyen...morePart of the book - the sections that examine explicitly cold War architecture - are very interesting. While some of the installations examined (Cheyenne Mountain) are well known, others (the Kennedy bunker at Palm Beach, Florida) are not.
However, when the author gets into his theories of how flight, strategic warfare and the growth of the modern city are all interconnected....well, while interesting, they are not interesting enough to justify the number of pages the author devotes to repeating himself.
If the author had stuck to looking at overtly Cold War architecture and less, for example, about how the use of glass in office towers was somehow a significant insight into Cold War mentality, then this would have been a much more interesting book.
One thing I did notice, however, are a few historical inaccuracies that detract from the overall impact of the book. the one that I remember at the moment dealt with Reagan and America's reaction to Chernobyl...in 1982. If that were the case, then the Great Communicator was also precognitive, since the Chernobyl disaster occurred in 1986. Oops. (less)
The third part of the Power at Sea trilogy, A Violent Peace is a real disappointment, given the quality of the first two books.
The author ignores som...moreThe third part of the Power at Sea trilogy, A Violent Peace is a real disappointment, given the quality of the first two books.
The author ignores some of the more interesting small wars of the era. For example, he just dismisses the Grenada operation as a mess...fine, but why exactly? Grenada was a good example of the post-70s development of joint operations concepts. Looking at this and the lessons learned by the US military would be useful for understanding the process by which the modern US military developed.
The analysis of Korea and Vietnam are good, but rather disjointed, with the author flipping from one to the other, in a manner not always logical. The analysis of the Cuban Missile Crisis is a bit cursory, but that might be because I've done a lot of reading about Cuba lately.
The real problems crop up in the last third of the book, where the author analyzes the post-Cold War Navy and the early years of the 21st century. Rather than keep the rationale, academic tone of the rest of the series, the author indulges in gratuitous attacks on the Bush Administration, dismissal of concerns about other rising naval competitors (apparently, China is just bluffing when it threatens Taiwan and buys billions of dollars in modern naval hardware), and also seems to think that the threat from the Islamists is overblown.
All of these are worth debating. They may be accurate, they may not be. The problem is, when writing a history, it is a bad idea to try and write about ongoing events. The best place to end the trilogy would have been either with the fall of the USSR or 9/11. If the author wants to write an analysis of current events, that's fine; it is just glaringly out of place in this work.
The best histories, in my opinion, have some distance from the people or events being analyzed. If one is too close to the events, passions of the moment will cloud one's objectivity, something that I think is critical for a good historian to have.
The entire trilogy is still highly recommended; however, this book is definitely that weakest volume, in large part because it ceases to be an analysis of naval history and becomes more a political polemic. (less)