Book Review: On War: The Best Military Histories


by Kenneth Clarke & Michael W. Robbins, editors

Philadelphia: Pritzer Military Museum & Library, 2013. Pp. x, 254. Illus., maps, notes., index. $27.00. ISBN: 0989792811

Great Modern Authors Writing about War

On War is an anthology of selections from the works of seven of the most notable modern English-language military historians. In their introduction, editors Clarke and Robbins remind us that throughout history the subject of war has attracted, and even produced great writers, and out modern era is no exception. They then give us excerpts from the works of seven contemporary English language authors on the subject of war. So we get:

• James McPherson on African-American troops in the Civil War,

• Allan Millett on the Marine Corps’ development of amphibious assault,

• Gerhard Weinberg on the strategic objectives of Adolf Hitler and FDR,

• Rick Atkinson’s prologue to his An Army at Dawn, the first volume of the “Liberation Trilogy”,

• Carlo d’Este on Patton and the Battle of the Bulge,

• Max Hastings on the first battles of the BEF in 1914, and

• Tim O’Brien on “How to Tell a True War Story.”

In preparing the volume, the authors made updates or modifications their contributions as necessary, so that each selection benefits from more recent scholarship on the subject. All of the contributions are very well written, informative, and thought-provoking, providing insights not only on their primary subjects but also, more broadly, on the nature of war, military service, and soldiers.

Useful even for the seasoned historian, On War would also make a fine introduction to military history for any thinking person.


Reviewer: A.A. Nofi, Review Editor   

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