This doesn't seem to be a good beginning book on the topic of Ottoman History. It seems to presuppose a certain level of knowledge of the Ottoman EmpiThis doesn't seem to be a good beginning book on the topic of Ottoman History. It seems to presuppose a certain level of knowledge of the Ottoman Empire. It combines a narrative with cultural and financial/economic history - which is a good thing, but I think it's a book you would want to read after reading a more general History of the Empire....more
This is a terrific history of US Foreign Policy from the birth of the nation through the George W. Bush administration. Herring shows how we never reaThis is a terrific history of US Foreign Policy from the birth of the nation through the George W. Bush administration. Herring shows how we never really have been, with the exception of a brief period, isolationist. To read how our foreign policy has changed over time -and why - is enlightening, as is to read how more than just the government, but business, industry, and missions influenced that change. It's also interesting to see how often the outcome of our foreign policy has been influenced by misunderstandings and misjudgments, our own as well as our adversaries. It's a long book, but well worth a read to understand how we got to where we are today and to understand our relationships with both our allies and our adversaries. ...more
Valiant Ambition: George Washington, Benedict Arnold, and the Fate of the American Revolution by Nathaniel Philbrick is a book that's very much worth Valiant Ambition: George Washington, Benedict Arnold, and the Fate of the American Revolution by Nathaniel Philbrick is a book that's very much worth a read. It explores why Benedict Arnold committed treason and in doing so explores the personalities of Arnold and George Washington and how they developed during the American Revolution. Arnold's military accomplishments, political activity, and personal business activities are detailed, showing how the actions of the Continental Congress combined with his personality to bring him to the point of handing West Point and his troops over to the British in a treasonous act. In closing, Philbrick argues that Arnold's treason had a galvanizing effect, bringing the independent states together behind the Continental Army.
As with all of Philbrick's books that I've read, Valiant Ambition is an excellent read; it's engaging and compelling. It truly is a book that I found hard to put down. It appears to be well researched; it's extensively end-noted and it appears that he used a lot of primary source material including correspondence between and from the subjects involved. It was very easy to give this book five stars. As I mentioned in the opening, it's very much a book worth reading, whether you're interested in History or not because it explores an important, pivotal event in our nation's history....more
Fighters Over the Fleet: Naval Air Defence from Biplanes to the Cold War by Norman Friedman is not a book that the general public would find interestiFighters Over the Fleet: Naval Air Defence from Biplanes to the Cold War by Norman Friedman is not a book that the general public would find interesting, but it is certainly one that anyone with an interest in military aviation or naval warfare. Friedman details the development of fleet air defense from the inception of aircraft carriers through the Cold War. Through World War II, he writes about how the British Royal Navy, the Japanese Imperial Navy, and the United States Navy defended their fleets from aerial threats; post World War II, he continues with how the Royal Navy and US Navy developed fleet air defense. As the title indicates, he devotes a lot of time to carrier fighters and how they evolved from propeller-driven biplanes to propeller-driven monoplane to jet monoplane. He explains how command and control systems, including radar and computers, evolved as aircraft became faster, longer-ranged, and air-to-surface missiles developed. I think some MilCom hobbyists would also be interested in this book because it explains the history and background of what we're hearing when we listen to some of the carrier and air defense nets. Although I'm not an expert on fleet air defense, the book seems to be comprehensive and well documented and Friedman includes numerous photos of the aircraft and radar systems that he writes about. What I enjoyed most about this book is that Friedman concentrates not just on the equipment but how they're used - theory, techniques, and practices as well. It can get dry at times and it's easy to get bogged down in acronyms and system designations, but at the same time, it remains interesting. As I mentioned above, anyone interested in naval warfare, military aviation, or military communications should consider reading Fighters Over the Fleet....more
Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era by James M. McPherson is one of the volumes of the Oxford History of the United States series. I'm in the proBattle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era by James M. McPherson is one of the volumes of the Oxford History of the United States series. I'm in the process of working my way through the series chronologically (not in the order in which they were published); this book covers the period from just before the Civil War to the end of the Civil War in 1865. Previous books in the series are The Glorious Cause: The American Revolution, 1763-1789 by Robert Middlekauff, Empire of Liberty: A History of the Early Republic, 1789-1815 by Gordon S. Wood, and What Hath God Wrought: The Transformation of America, 1815-1848 by Daniel Walker Howe. It's a long book at 965 pages, but it is a thorough political and military history of the Civil War. It explores what caused the division of the United States of the American Civil War and caused the Civil War. It explores the politics of the Confederacy and the Union, what influenced the decision-makers in each, and the differences between the political parties and factions in both. It covers the major campaigns and theaters of the war and explains how military events and political events influenced each other. It also has an interesting afterword in which the author revisits the book 15 years after its original publication in light of more recent scholarship. Those of the Lost Cause School may not like it because slavery is the centeral point of the book, but McPherson does an excellent job of supporting it. He also does an excellent job of explaining that not all of the Union was pro-abolition and explains how that caused many problems in how the Union prosecuted the war. The book also shows how over the course of the War, the United States was transformed and how "Union victory in the war destroyed the southern vision of America and ensured that the northern vision would become the American vision."
This is an excellent book on the Civil War and a great book to begin one's reading about the Civil War. You can find books that may go deeper into the politics of the war and you may find books that good deeper into the military actions of the war, but I don't know that you'll find a book that weaves the two together quite like this one does. It's very engaging, I frequently found that I had to force myself to put it down. It appears very well researched and has extensive endnotes and an extensive bibliography. It has well placed and easy to read maps in sections describing campaigns and battles. It's quite possibly the best general history of the American Civil War that I've read and well worth the five stars I've given it. It really is a must-read book on the American Civil War....more
Having already read The Glorious Cause: The American Revolution, 1763-1789 by Robert Middlekauff and Empire of Liberty: A History of the Early RepubliHaving already read The Glorious Cause: The American Revolution, 1763-1789 by Robert Middlekauff and Empire of Liberty: A History of the Early Republic, 1789-1815 by Gordon S. Wood, I was looking forward to reading the next step in the Oxford History of the United States, What Hath God Wrought: The Transformation of America, 1815-1848 by Daniel Walker Howe, which covers the development of the United States between the War of 1812 and just before the Civil War. It essentially is a history of the United States as a developing Country and walks the reader through how partisan politics, the economy, and Manifest Destiny, all aided by revolutions in transportation in the form of the railroads and in communications in the form of the telegraph transformed the United States. Howe shows us how the differences between the Democrats and the Whigs, the transition to a market economy, and expansion west mixed with white male supremacy to help create a sectional divide that would lead us to civil war in the next phase of US History.
I can see how some would get a negative impression of this book and believe it is entirely a polemic against Jacksonian Democrats or how others might get a heavily negative impression of the United States, but it's important to remember that Howe reminds us:
"We should not forget that economic development brought benefits as well, and not only in material ways. Improved transportation and communications, promoting economic diversification, widened people’s horizons, encouraged greater equality within family relationships, and fostered the kind of commitments to education and the rule of law exemplified by Abraham Lincoln. Accordingly, economic development did not undercut American democracy but broadened and enhanced it—which is reassuring for developing countries today."
What Hath God Wrought is a long book at 928 pages, but well worth reading. It's well documented and I like that Howe includes how Historians view and have interpreted what happened in his text. He also tells the story through personalities - and not just the personalities of politicians, but religious, business, and civic personalities who helped drive the era. It's important to have a good understanding of how our country developed to help move it forward through the future. Knowing where you've been, what you've gone through, and how you did it informs where you're going, what you'll be going through, and how to do it. While the Jacksonian Democrats and Trump Republicans aren't analogous, there are enough parallels between Jackson and Trump in particular for this to be a part of our History that there is much to learn from....more