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From A to B: How Logistics Fuels American Power and Prosperity Hardcover – November 1, 2011

3.7 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"From A to B is an engaging look at the diverse influences future technologies will have on our ability to move and supply our troops and our economy. Axe continues to entertain and inform—and his closing comment is a clarion call: 'World-beating logistics requires investment on a national scale. That kind of investment requires political will'".—Cpt. Nathan Finney, Military Review
(Cpt. Nathan Finney Military Review)

"Axe has produced a though-provoking, never dull but always vivid profile of a side to military and naval operations that is by and large ignored by those profiling today's turbulent world."—Warships International Fleet Review
(Warships International Fleet Review)

"From big rigs running supply lines in Iraq, to the next generation of robotic cars, From A to B has it all. David Axe, one of our most savvy young war journalists, captures the hidden story of American power: our massive network of logistics."—P. W. Singer, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and author of Wired for War: The Robotics Revolution and Conflict in the 21st Century
(P. W. Singer)

"There's an old military saying: amateurs talk strategy; professionals talk logistics. When it comes to war reporting, David Axe is more than a pro. He's one of the bravest, most incisive conflict journalists we've got. And he writes so well, he makes convoy runs and pallet loads as gripping as firefights."—Noah Shachtman, contributing editor, Wired
(Noah Shachtman)

About the Author

DAVID AXE is a freelance war correspondent based in Columbia, South Carolina. Since 2005 he has reported from Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon, East Timor, Somalia, Congo, and Chad, among other conflict zones. His work has appeared in hundreds of magazines and newspapers, including the Washington Times, the Village Voice, Popular Mechanics, Wired, Popular Science, Salon, and the Columbia Journalism Review. Axe has appeared on BBC Radio, C-SPAN, and PBS, and is the author of several books, including the graphic novel War Is Boring: Bored Stiff, Scared to Death in the World’s Worst War Zones with Matt Bors (NAL, 2010) and From A to B: How Logistics Fuels American Power and Prosperity (Potomac Books, 2012).
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Potomac Books; First Edition edition (November 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1597975257
  • ISBN-13: 978-1597975254
  • Product Dimensions: 6.7 x 1 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,620,624 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A. Bert on December 31, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I am a fan of Mr. Axe and his War is Boring blog. Have been following his reporting as a combat arms officer for sometime as I feel he gives an honest view of modern war -- from the shear terror of combat, to the boring hours in between. When I first read the description of this book I was excited because logistics truly is the lynch pin in the projection of global military power.

Wow -- was I disappointed in the seemingly disjointed and haphazard manner in which this book was presented. Instead of a tight and focused look on the underpinnings and means in which modern logistics operate, the reader is left with a series of seemingly disjointed and disconnected vignettes on the development of robotic cars, to a tangent on how mass transportation will never be effective in the United States. Although I have always enjoyed stories intertwined with real world examples of real people overcoming challenges -- even these sidebars in this book felt forced.

My final impression was these were a series of short articles written in the past and sandwiched into a book.

Here's to hoping the next effort is a little more flushed out, focused and relevant.
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Format: Hardcover
For those of you who are fans of David Axe's war reporting (like me), get ready for something different. I came into this book expecting to read about military logistics, which is something I've lived and breathed for nigh on a decade now. And while this book has a fair amount of that, it's actually a much broader tour d'horizon of American logistics writ large, how the civilian and military logistics aspects of American society fuel one another, and how both shape and define modern America.

Using many of his past writings as a baseline, Axe takes us on a tour of the land, sea and air elements of what's happening now and what's coming next in American logistics. These are, at times, sobering (convoy operations in Iraq in 2004-2005 using makeshift armor and prayer), spellbinding (an at-sea refueling operation that , in and of itself, is worth the price of the book), and infuriating(the carefully canned narrow-view statements of various industry hacks). The glimpses of the future are equally stunning: autonomous cars, vast sea bases, airships, and space marines (I dare you to say that last one aloud without giggling).

Flaws? Axe makes clear up front that this is not meant to be an in-depth treatment of the subject, and he's right. Because this is pieced together from lots of his previous work, the transitions between some subjects are pretty tenuous. But I should also make clear that although there are clear outlines of his previous postings from War is Boring and Danger Room, there is a wealth of new material here worth your time.

If nothing else, I guarantee that you will never use the term "hybrid car" the same way again.
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Format: Hardcover
I came into this book expecting a look at the nuts and bolts of how the US military gets their ammo and fuel from the homefront to battlefront. To be sure, there is some of that, but I kind of felt like I wanted more. There is an interesting glimpse of technologies on the horizon such as robot trucks and space delivery systems, but what I found fascinating was Axe's descriptions of how the United States is using this massive logistical machine for things other than waging war. His chapter on the US Navy and Air Force response to the Haiti earthquake helps illustrate how a strong logistical backbone can be easily adapted from a hostile mission to a humanitarian one very quickly. Along with it, he talked about US Navy "soft power" cruises through Latin America and their effect on those countries. This was a pleasant surprise. If you'd have asked me to read a book about humanitarian efforts, I would give you a quick "Hell no" but I actually enjoyed that part of the book the most. It's a not an exhaustive, detailed look into military logistics, but it does offer some interesting insight what keeps the US military on the go.
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Format: Hardcover
"From A to B" is an interesting but disjointed survey of a hodge-podge of transportation systems used for military and civilian materials transport.

Additional reporting could have fleshed this book out into a clarifying picture of the unique, global, American logistical capability, and an examination of its benefits and costs. Without that, this book is unfortunately no greater than the sum of its parts: a number of loosely-connected essays about the tangible technology of modern American logistics --- cars, trucks, ships, and aircraft --- along with ongoing efforts to get robots, blimps, and space-planes worked into the American logistical system.

Trains are a notable, and acknowledged, omission. An unacknowledged omission is the less tangible element: all of the communications gear, computer algorithms, global networks, and armies of nerds who make all the moving machinery work on schedule. As a field reporter, Axe seems to have seen a lot more of the machinery on the ground --- and in the lab --- than the nerds in the back office.

The book is a fun read, and Axe's writing style is light and clear, but while Big Logistics Machinery is a vaguely unifying theme, it doesn't really come together to a point. While the last 5 paragraphs of the last chapter try to provide a focused conclusion, they are far too brief to pull together the disparate strands.

A certain brand of technology enthusiast (me among them) will enjoy the essays, but there's not enough here to provoke any debate after the book has been read, and occasional minor technical inaccuracies may aggravate even the technology buffs.
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