Gary Bruce, “The Firm: The Inside Story of the Stasi” (Oxford UP, 2010)
I have a good friend who grew up in East Germany in the bad old days. The East German authorities suspected that her family would try to immigrate to the West (which they did), so they naturally told the Stasi–the East German secret service–to watch them (which they did). After... Read More
Todd Moye, “Freedom Flyers: The Tuskegee Airmen of World War II” (Oxford UP, 2010)
In the 1940s, the United States military performed an “experiment,” the substance of which was the formation of an all-black aviation unit known to history as the “Tuskegee Airmen.” In light of the honorable service record of countless African Americans, allowing blacks to become fighter and bomber pilots might not... Read More
Azar Gat, “War in Human Civilization” (Oxford UP, 2006)
Historians don’t generally like the idea of “human nature.” We tend to believe that people are intrinsically malleable, that they have no innate “drives,” “instincts,” or “motivations.” The reason we hew to the “blank slate” notion perhaps has to do with the fact–and it is a fact–that we see remarkable... Read More
John Steinberg, “All the Tsar’s Men: Russia’s General Staff and the Fate of the Empire, 1898-1914” (Johns Hopkins UP, 2010)
The Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 was the most important political event of the twentieth century (no Revolution; no Nazis; no Nazis, no World War II; no World War II, no Cold War). It’s little wonder, then, that historians have expended oceans of effort and ink trying to explain why and... Read More
Michael Kranish, “Flight from Monticello: Thomas Jefferson at War” (Oxford UP, 2010)
The past is always with us, but it’s really always with politicians. Once you put yourself up for office, and particularly national office, everybody and his brother is going to start digging into your past to see what kind of “dirt” they can find. It’s true now, and it was... Read More