WAR SINCE 1900 (Thames & Hudson, $45), edited by Jeremy Black, not only details the wide range of 20th-century warfare, but also points out the continuities, similarities, and differences that characterize the vast number of armed conflicts of the last one hundred years. From land wars to modern troop deployment, from technological advancement to counterinsurgency, War Since 1900 is an expansive survey of the methodology of war, providing a wealth of time-lines, photographs, maps, and charts, all complemented by inviting, accessible text. This book makes clear that “war might not conform to rules or limits”; its presentation of the facts will make this volume an instant favorite for history buffs.
In his masterful new book CULTURES OF WAR (W.W. Norton, $29.95), John W. Dower, Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award-winning author of Embracing Defeat and War Without Mercy, turns his keen historical eye on the cultures that create modern wars of annihilation. A striking comparative study of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor, September 11th, and the Iraq war, the book examines many themes including the catastrophic failures of intelligence, the targeting of non-combatants, and the attraction of mass destruction. As he did in his previous prize-winning works, here, again, Dower gives us history writing at it absolute best.
Ben Macintyre, an associate editor at the London Times, follows up his bestselling Agent Zigzag with another World War II spy story, Operation Mincemeat (Broadway, $15), a tale so wild and entertaining that it could be a James Bond caper. Fictional agents and a bogus body are only part of the intricate plot by which MI5 successfully diverted Nazi intelligence from the planned Allied invasion of Sicily. False documents baked in a cake, an undercover removal of a three-month-old dead body from a local morgue to stand in for a drowned corpse—one clad in the thick underwear of an Oxford don—and an imaginary fiancée are only a few of the full complement of espionage tricks-of-the trade that Macintyre colorfully recounts.