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The March Up: Taking Baghdad with the 1st Marine Division
The March Up: Taking Baghdad with the 1st Marine Division
by Francis J. West
Edition: Hardcover
113 used & new from $0.01

13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A valuable and enthralling account, September 11, 2003
Bing West and Ray Smith have seen more war than most soldiers, to say nothing of most civilians. They bring their hardwon expertise as Vietnam veterans to this enthralling account of the Iraq War. They advanced alongside the Marines all the way to Baghdad, moving a large part of the way in a Nissan SUV "liberated" from an Iraqi general. In this completely unarmored vehicle they braved Iraqi fire to provide this frontline account. They are by no means uncritical of US troops; when friendly fire incidents or shootings of civilians occur, they can be scathing in their criticism. But overall they provide an inspiring glimpse of warriors who are disciplined, brave and professional, and who hold civilian life in much higher regard than do their enemies. They provide many facts and interpretations that will markedly revise the picture of the war painted by the news media at the time. Their account will be of great value to future historians and anyone else who wants to know what happened--as well as to anyone who simply wants to read a great story.

The Skeptic: A Life of H. L. Mencken
The Skeptic: A Life of H. L. Mencken
by Terry Teachout
Edition: Hardcover
167 used & new from $0.01

24 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great review of a great man, January 10, 2003
When I first picked up "The Skeptic" I was a bit, errr, skeptical: barely 400 pages to cover the 40-odd working years of America's greatest 20th century journalist? It didn't seem enough, especially when long-forgotten literary figures often get biographies twice as thick. But it didn't take many pages to convince me. Teachout has delivered a model of concise but enthralling biography. He gives all the essentials of Mencken's life, and a good flavor of his times, without wallowing in matters only tangentially related to the main story line. Besides telling the story of Mencken's life better than it's ever been told before, Teachout delivers the most balanced and convincing critique of Mencken's thinking that I have ever seen. He doesn't slight Mencken's anti-semitism but doesn't exaggerate its importance either. He shows why Mencken's arguments often weren't very convincing, but also why Mencken continues to attract readers a half-century after his demise. He may not have been the Sage of Baltimore, but Mencken was a peerless prose stylist who deserves to remembered as one of the finest writers America has ever produced. Although Teachout modestly bills his book as "a life" it will go down as the definitive biography of Mencken.

A Problem From Hell: America and the Age of Genocide (New Republic Book)
A Problem From Hell: America and the Age of Genocide (New Republic Book)
by Samantha Power
Edition: Hardcover
76 used & new from $4.40

26 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great--and disturbing--read, July 12, 2002
I feel compelled to offer a view of this book that does not come from either an Armenian or Turkish perspective. Speaking as a generic American reader, I found it highly compelling and extremely persuasive. Power is a writer of great skill who knows how to let the facts speak for themselves, and who values the power of understatement--always a welcome quality when dealing with such a difficult subject. She has exhaustively researched the material, and then shaped into a narrative that's hard to put down.
In between the savagery and horror there are unexpected moments of comedy--for instance a priceless scene of Raphael Lemkin, the single-minded anti-genocide crusader, approaching a young lady at a casino. "She told him she was of Indian descent, born in Chile. Lemkin saw his opening: He informed her that his work on mass slaughter would be of particular interest to her because of the destruction of the Incas and the Aztecs. This was one pickup line the young woman had probably never heard before. She soon departed."
Lemkin--a Polish Jew who barely escaped the Holocaust--is only one of the unexpected heroes who parade through the pages of "A Problem from Hell." Others include Teddy Roosevelt, who unsuccessfully urged his successor, Woodrow Wilson, to intervene to protect the Armenians from Turkish slaughter; Peter Galbraith, the former Senate aid and US ambassador to Croatia, who tried to alert the world about the Iraqi and Bosnian genocides; Gen. Romeo Dallaire, the commander of UN forces in Rwanda who was so anguished about his inability to stop the slaughter that he found solace in the bottle; and Bob Dole, who as Senate Majority Leader pushed a reluctant Bill Clinton to intervene in Bosnia.
Some will no doubt bristle at Power's message--that the US has a duty to stop genocide anywhere in the world. But if we don't do it, who will? She makes a powerful point that we have often paid a price for ignoring genocide, as for instance in the case of Saddam Hussein's atrocities against the Kurds in the late 1980s.
This is a book that will change a lot of people's thinking about the role of human rights in American foreign policy. I only hope it will change our policy too.

The Long Recessional: The Imperial Life of Rudyard Kipling
The Long Recessional: The Imperial Life of Rudyard Kipling
by David Gilmour
Edition: Hardcover
51 used & new from $0.17

17 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant study of a brilliant man, July 12, 2002
Few have doubted Kipling's literary genius but for much of the 20th century progressive opinion has caricatured him as the bard of racism, the poet of savagery, the versifier of militarism. Gilmour focuses on Kipling's complex relationship with the British Empire, and shows that these caricatures do not do justice to the poet's nuanced views. To take only one example, Kipling was perfectly aware of the foibles of his fellow Anglo-Indians, and he often paid tribute to the nobility of ordinary Indians. But he was also aware that British rule over the Subcontinent was a great force for peace and stability. The Bloomsbury set jeered his views but he was proven tragically right after Indian independence, which resulted in a bloodbath. Let us hope that Kipling is not proven even more correct in the event of a nuclear exchange between India and Pakistan.

Supreme Command: Soldiers, Statesmen, and Leadership in Wartime
Supreme Command: Soldiers, Statesmen, and Leadership in Wartime
by Eliot A. Cohen
Edition: Hardcover
82 used & new from $0.01

61 of 70 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Why Colin Powell Is Wrong, June 5, 2002
Eliot Cohen shows that the Pentagon's preferred model of civil-military relations--namely that the civilian leadership should leave war to the generals--does not make for a successful policy. By profiling four supremely successful war leaders--Lincoln, Clemenceau, Churchill and Ben Gurion--he demonstrates that they all took a very active hand in the conduct of war, and that they were often right, and the generals were often wrong. Whereas when political leaders have deferred to the generals--for instance in the original Bush administration's determination, made at the urging of Gen. Powell, to end the ground war in the Gulf after 100 hours--the results have often been far from satisfying. Not only is this an important argument, highly relevant to today's policy debates, but Cohen also offers interesting profiles of four very different leaders. I was particularly interested in the discussion of Clemenceau and Ben Gurion, since I know less about them than about Churchill and Lincoln. This is a book that all our leaders should read.

The Old Limey
The Old Limey
by H. W. Crocker
Edition: Paperback
Price: $14.95
47 used & new from $1.07

6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Move Over, Evelyn Waugh, May 4, 2002
This review is from: The Old Limey (Paperback)
H.W. Crocker has pulled off one of the hardest challenges in fiction: to write a satirical novel that is both funny and well plotted. His Nigel Haversham is an inspired creation, and his adventures in Southern California are a hoot. The humor was heightened for me by the fact that I happened to be traveling through California while I read it; this book should be required reading for anyone who lives in the Golden State, visits it, or, heck, has heard of it. The way Crocker breaks up the text with Nigel's occassional daydreams is inspired. His fantasy about annexing California for the Crown is alone worth the price of admission. We can only hope that Nigel returns for future adventures, and that Hollywood will take note. Perhaps Sean Connery or Michael Caine for the title role, updating their heroic Victorian soldiers from past movies such as "The Man Who Would be King"?
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