New Books Network

James Willbanks, “Abandoning Vietnam: How America Left and South Vietnam Lost Its War” (University of Kansas Press, 2008)
U.S. forces invade a distant country in order to disarm an international threat to American security. They fight well, and win every major battle decisively. They become occupiers, and find themselves engaged in a low-level guerrilla war against a determined though shadowy enemy. The American-backed government has a tenuous hold... Read More
Alex Rabinowitch, “Prelude to Revolution: The Petrograd Bolsheviks and the July 1917 Uprising” (Indiana UP, 2008)
It’s hard to know what to think about the Russian Revolution of 1917. Was it a military coup led by a band of ideological fanatics bent on the seizure of power? Was it a popular uprising led by an iron-willed party against a bankrupt political order? Or something else? The... Read More
Joyce Tyldesley, “Cleopatra: Last Queen of Egypt” (Basic Books, 2008)
“Swords and Sandals” movies always amaze me. You know the ones I’m talking about: “Spartacus,” “Ben-Hur,” “Gladiator,” and the rest. These movies are so rich in detail–both narrative and physical–that you feel like you are “there.” But the fact is that we don’t and really can’t know much about “there”... Read More
Howard Jones, “The Bay of Pigs” (Oxford UP, 2008)
There is just something about Fidel Castro that American presidents don’t like very much. Maybe it’s the long-winded anti-American diatribes. Maybe it’s the strident communism (to which he came rather late, truth be told ). Maybe it’s the beard. In any event, it’s clear that Eisenhower, JFK, and Johnson held... Read More
Ian McNeely, “Reinventing Knowledge: From Alexandria to the Internet” (Norton, 2008)
We don’t think much about institutions. They just seem to “be there.” But they have a history, as Ian McNeely and Lisa Wolverton show in their important new book Reinventing Knowledge. From Alexandria to the Internet (W.W. Norton, 2008). The book deals specifically with institutions in which knowledge has been... Read More