New Books Network

Julian E. Zelizer, “Arsenal of Democracy: The Politics of National Security From WWII to the War on Terrorism” (Basic Books, 2010)
Historians are by their nature public intellectuals because they are intellectuals who write about, well, the public. Alas, many historians seem to forget the “public” part and concentrate on the “intellectual” part. Our guest today–sponsored by the National History Center–is not among them. Julian Zelizer has used his historical research... Read More
Rebecca Manley, “To the Tashkent Station: Evacuation and Survival in the Soviet Union at War” (Cornell UP, 2009)
By the time the Nazis invaded the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941, the Bolshevik Party had already amassed a considerable amount of expertise in moving masses of people around. Large population transfers (to put it mildly) were part and parcel of building socialism. Certain “elements” needed to be sent... Read More
Alexander Watson, “Enduring the Great War: Combat, Morale and Collapse in the German and British Armies, 1914-1918” (Cambridge UP, 2008)
It’s a question I’ve long asked myself: Why and how did common soldiers fight for so long in the First World War? The conditions were awful, death was all around, and there was no real hope of a “breakthrough” that might bring victory. It was simply one long hard slog... Read More
Susan Brewer, “Why America Fights: Patriotism and War Propaganda from the Philippines to Iraq” (Oxford UP, 2009)
Like it or not, governments need to mobilize their populations in times of crisis and one of the ways they do it is to disseminate propaganda. Now this is uncomplicated if you are, say, Stalin and claim to know what’s best for everyone and control the media (and most everything... Read More
Giles MacDonogh, “After the Reich: The Brutal History of the Allied Occupation” (Basic Books, 2007)
Many years ago I had the opportunity to spend a summer in Germany, more specifically in a tiny town on the Rhine near Koblenz. The family I stayed with looked for all the world like typical Rhinelanders. They even had their own small Weingut where they made a nice Riesling.... Read More
Benjamin Carp, “Rebels Rising: Cities in the American Revolution” (Oxford UP, 2007)
When I was in college about a million years ago, we used to sit in bars and talk about the Revolution. Actually, it was this bar and something like this “Revolution.” Clearly nothing ever came of our planning (or drinking). But it wasn’t always so, as you can learn in... Read More
Norman Stone, “World War One: A Short History” (Basic Books, 2009)
When I was in high school, I really didn’t go in for reading. Until, that is, I somehow encountered Erich Maria Remarque’s All Quiet on the Western Front. I remember hiding in the back of all my classes reading it while my teachers talked about something I know not what.... Read More
Yuma Totani, “The Tokyo War Crimes Trials: The Pursuit of Justice in the Wake of World War II” (Harvard UP, 2008)
Most everyone has heard of the Nuremberg Trials. Popular books have been written about them. Hollywood made movies about them. Some of us can even name a few of the convicted (Hermann Goering, Albert Speer, etc.). But fewer of us know about what might be called “Nuremberg East,” that is,... Read More
Yohanan Petrovsky-Shtern, “Jews in the Russian Army, 1827-1917” (Cambridge UP, 2008)
Every Jew knows the story. The evil tsarist authorities ride into the Shtetl. They demand a levy of young men for the army. Mothers’ weep. Fathers’ sigh. The community mourns the loss of its young. It’s a good story, and some of it’s even true. The reality, of course, was... Read More