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The Specter of Munich: Reconsidering the Lessons of Appeasing Hitler Hardcover – Bargain Price, December 15, 2006


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Hardcover, Bargain Price, December 15, 2006
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Potomac Books Inc. (December 15, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1597970395
  • ASIN: B005M4ZQOE
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.4 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,425,527 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"The Specter of Munich offers a brilliant and persuasive reinterpretation of the 1930s. Record's analysis demonstrates the high value for today's policy makers of the careful use of historical evidence. This is an outstanding study that deserves a wide readership." - Prof. Colin S. Gray, University of Reading, and author of Modern Strategy "Jeffrey Record, one of America's leading military strategists, has written a classic study that should be required reading at not only war colleges but at all colleges. While it is a fascinating historical analysis of the Munich crisis and its subsequent uses in U.S. foreign policy, The Specter of Munich is at the same time an immediately relevant and urgent critique of the current crisis. If policy makers, present and future, could learn to think as clearly as Record, that in itself would be the beginning of recovery." - Sidney Blumenthal, former assistant and senior adviser to President Clinton and senior fellow at the New York University Center on Law and Security "Jeffrey Record has once again distilled some of the most salient lessons of history for illuminating perplexing contemporary national security challenges and crafting better strategy for assuring America's future. He is truly a leader among the very small group of national security specialists with sufficient strategic perspective to help us discern the unknown from the unfamiliar." - Douglas Lovelace, Jr., senior national security strategist" --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

From the Publisher

An iconoclastic analysis of appeasement's failure in the 1930s and the misuse of the Munich analogy in contemporary American foreign policy

Reexamines the classic paradigm of post-World War II international relations

Argues that appeasement failed in the 1930s because Hitler was both unappeaseable and undeterrable—an extremely rare situation

Cautions against strategic overextension, a mistake the British made in the 1930s and that the United States now seems poised to repeat


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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Yoda on October 31, 2010
Format: Hardcover
With respect to the policy of appeasing Nazi Germany, the author comes to two conclusions. The first, self-evident, is that Hitler, like Napoleon, was not appeasable. Hence a policy of appeasement could never even have a remote possibility of working. Secondly, considering French and British military structures no other policy was feasible. British military forces were designed and intended to work to preserve Britain's colonial empire and were, as a result, essentially light expeditionary (land) force that was inadequate to fighting rebellions in the empire but not heavy forces in a continental war. French forces were designed and structured to fight a static defensive war (World War I) again. They did not provide France with the offensive striking force that would have been necessary, as DE Gaulle pointed out during the 1920s and 1930s, to protect France's allies in Eastern Europe. These force structures, in the author's opinion, made a policy of appeasement unavoidable. Unfortunately the author ignores the fact that an alliance against Germany that incorporated the Soviet Union could have made up for the weaknesses of France and Britain's force structures. It also ignores the fact that even Britain and France's poorly structured military forces could still (very probably) have defeated Nazi Germany if they would have been used immediately at the start of the war when the bulk of Germany's military forces were tied down in Eastern Europe.

The second part of the book discusses the "lessons" of the policy of appeasement for the U.S. The "lesson" is that appeasement "invites" aggression and this, in turn, implies a policy of deterrence. Unfortunately this policy is lacking in that it requires an active role in many locations of the world and this, combined with U.S.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A very good examination of the Munich crisis of 1938, why it was sui generis, and what lessons it holds for today's policy-makers and strategists. Well-written, tremendously researched and footnoted, and admirably pithy, it nevertheless leaves too many questions not addressed. Mr. Record, for example, fails to fault the mass media for engaging in its own versions of historical meta-narratives and opinion mobilization. Thus, for every saber-rattling president warning of us of "another Munich," there are at least as many in the media and academia warning us of "another Vietnam," or (now) "another Iraq." One might conclude then that Mr. Record was more interested in bashing neoconservative intellectuals, whom he blames for the Iraq misadventure, than he was in providing analysis of why American politicians and newscasters reach for faulty historical analogies. Fair enough to blame neoconservative "ideology" and associated leadership shortcomings in the upper reaches of the second Bush administration (his critique is sound and justified), but Mr. Record does not consider foreign policy "realism" of the sort he espouses as ideological in the same way, nor does he advertise realism's very real and obvious short-comings. Chief among those is the identification and protection of "vital" national interests before it is too late and too expensive in lives and treasure. Mr. Record was writing in 2006 so in fairness to him, it would be interesting to consider his analysis of the 2009-2014 era and an administration that in word and deed has done everything it can to distance itself from the national security style of its predecessor. Still, this is a valuable book and one worth reading and re-examination.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A very well researched and well written account of the famous appeasement at Munich. Not all the lessons drawn from Munich have been sound but this book suggests what we truly might benefit from recalling that example.
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Vithmers on October 2, 2010
Format: Paperback
This book essentially consists of two parts. The first part is an explanation of what appeasement is, why it was used at Munich, and why, ultimately, it failed. The second part attempts to apply Munich to the Iraq War (2003), and concludes with recommendations and observations regarding Munich and appeasement.

Record seems to have wonderfully anticipated the attacks made on Barack Obama regarding his alleged desire to repeat Chamberlain's mistake of 1938 (The Weekly Standard has compared the removal of ballistic missiles from Poland and the Czech Republic to Munich; then-President Bush compared Ahmadinejad to Hitler in 2008, and equated talking to him with appeasing Hitler; the list goes on). But of course the analogy is completely faulty. What Chamberlain did, as Record expertly shows, was not anywhere near as reckless as it looks in hindsight. Now that we know more about Hitler, the idea of appeasing him seems foolish. But it's very easy to criticize somebody after the fact, and Record presents a very good case for why appeasement might have been the only real option that anybody could have believed stood a chance of working. Hitler was a unique situation, and comparing Munich to anything today is dishonest and simply a way to sway opinion with emotion rather than facts.

Iraq might not seem to have a lot to learn from Munich, and I'm not entirely sure it does. That's not to say that Record's analysis of Iraq is faulty: on the contrary. It is, in fact, very insightful. However, he comes up with 7 "lessons" from appeasement that apply today. The obvious one is that unless you have absolutely no other options, don't attempt to appease somebody who is, in essence, unappeasable. Others seem less lessons from Munich/World War 2 than lessons from warfare in general.
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