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MHQ Reviews: Noteworthy Books

Originally published by MHQ magazine. Published Online: February 12, 2014 
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The Physics of War
From Arrows to Atoms
by Barry Parker
(Prometheus Books, $25.95)

Parker, a physics professor and award-winning science writer, reaches all the way back to the Egyptian-Hittite battle at Kadesh in 1274 bc to begin his narrative of the close parallels between the growing understanding of physics and the burgeoning development of ever more effective weaponry. His chapter on ballistics, for instance, is revelatory.

 

American Arsenal
A Century of Waging War
by Patrick Coffey
(Oxford University Press, $29.95)

Coffey traces America's military evolution from a second-rate isolationist state at the turn of the 20th century to its emergence as a global superpower by focusing on the impacts of 15 technological breakthroughs and the scientists behind them.

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Defender of Canada
Sir George Prevost and the War of 1812
by John R. Grodzinski
(University of Oklahoma Press, $34.95)

Reversing long-held views on the indecisiveness of Prevost, captain general of British North America, Grodzinski credits him with strategic insights leading to the successful defense of Canada against the United States in the War of 1812.

 

The Most Dangerous Man in America
The Making of Douglas MacArthur
by Mark Perry
(Basic Books $29.99)

MacArthur was the most polarizing man in American military history, and shelves of books have been devoted to reassessing the man and his actions. Perry analyzes the MacArthur contradictions and controversies in this well-researched, lively account of his career.

 

A Mad Catastrophe
The Outbreak of World War I and the Collapse of the Habsburg Empire
by Geoffrey Wawro
(Basic Books, $29.99)

Wawro probes the decline of Austria-Hungary in the decades before World War I and its rash rush to war in 1914. He follows the fighting on the eastern front and the "self-destruction" of the once great empire.

 

Alvin York
A New Biography of the Hero of the Argonne
by Douglas V. Mastriano
(University of Kentucky Press, $34.95)

Deftly integrating the results of battlefield analyses and archival studies, Mastriano settles longstanding questions about Sergeant York's actions at the Meuse-Argonne and humanizes the hero with rich details of his early life.

 

Stalin's Curse
Battling for Communism in War and Cold War
by Robert Gellately
(Vantage, $17.95)

Gellately's research into recently discovered Eastern European and Russian documents proves Stalin's duplicity: While presenting himself as a collaborative international statesman, he schemed to expand communism and the Soviet empire.

 

The Embattled Past
Reflections on Military History
by Edward Coffman
(University of Kentucky Press, $40)

This collection of previously published essays displays Coffman's years of scholarly expertise and personal experiences as a pre-eminent historian. Subjects range from an overview of American strategies in World War I to the course of military history in the United States since World War II to research methodologies.

 

No End Save Victory
How FDR Led the Nation Into War
by David Kaiser
(Basic Books, $29.99)

The author argues Roosevelt's leadership before World War II was more critical than during the conflict. Despite resistance from political and military advisers and the public, the president girded for war, doubling the armed services and expanding manufacturing.



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