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MHQ Reviews: Notable Books, Spring 2012

Originally published by MHQ magazine. Published Online: February 10, 2012 
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Mr. and Mrs. Madison's War: America's First Couple and the Second War of Independence, by Hugh Howard (Bloomsbury, $30). An entertaining look at the forgotten war, the burning of Washington, and the fourth president's none-too-effective efforts to command the military.

Enterprise: America's Fightingest Ship and the Men Who Helped Win World War II, by Barrett Tillman (Simon & Schuster, $27). The veteran military historian pens a loving biography of "America's ship," which saw action in nearly half the navy battles in the World War II Pacific.

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Guerrilla Leader: T. E. Lawrence and the Arab Revolt, by James J. Schneider (Bantam, $28). Schneider, an expert on military theory, puts aside Lawrence mythology to examine the British commander's influence on battlefield leadership.

The Battle of Adwa: African Victory in the Age of Empire, by Raymond Jonas (Belknap, $29.95). Jonas chronicles a five-month Ethiopian campaign against invading Italians as one of the great moments of modern military history—and a model for Africans to fight colonialism over the next half century.

The Civil War: The Second Year Told by Those Who Lived It, edited by Stephen W. Sears (Library of America, $40). The second of a four-volume series—great oral history from soldiers, leaders, writers, war correspondents, and more.

Perilous Glory:The Rise of Western Military Power, by John France (Yale, $35). A sweeping history that takes aim at the notion of a "Western way of war," arguing that material conditions influence combat more than culture.

The Beauty and the Sorrow: An Intimate History of the First World War, by Peter Eng­lund (Knopf, $35). Englund, a historian and war correspondent, tells how the Great War touched the lives of 20 people, including military men from Britain, Hungary, Belgium, and elsewhere.

The End: The Defiance and Destruction of Hitler's Germany, 1944–1945, by Ian Kershaw (Penguin, $35). Kershaw, a noted Hitler biographer, takes us inside the desperate last stand of the Third Reich.

Honor in the Dust: Theodore Roosevelt, War in the Philippines, and the Rise and Fall of America's Imperial Dream, by Gregg Jones (New American Library, $26.95). A war narrative whose themes—American power abroad, the propriety of torture, and the problems of foreign occupation—echo today's headlines.

 

Fiction

The Third Reich, by Roberto Bolaño (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, $25). Another gem from the late Chilean novelist, this one featuring a protagonist obsessed with a war game based on Rise and Decline of the Third Reich, a board game developed and released in 1974 by MHQ contributing editor John Prados.

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