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When Soldiers Fall: How Americans Have Confronted Combat Losses From World War I to Afghanistan, by Steven Casey, Oxford University Press, New York, 2014, $29.95

Identifying dead or wounded troops after combat is difficult, and casualty figures are subject to debate among the military, the press and politicians.

When Soldiers Fall is an insightful look at American casualty reporting since 1918. Casey discusses the military’s development of a more accurate notification system in modern times. He describes the role military leaders had in reporting casualties, as well as how they restricted or downplayed numbers to protect the longevity of their own careers.

Casey also covers how journalists, often denied access to casualty figures by military censors, sought information from less objective sources and inflamed public opinion through sensationalistic reporting. Casey depicts the tension between the press and military leaders over the credibility of casualty figures, and the increased exposure to the graphic nature of war that television and social media provided to shape American public opinion.

When Soldiers Fall is a thorough assessment of the tactical problems surrounding military casualty reporting and an excellent description of how accurate casualty information affects the American military, the public, the press and political leaders.

—S.L. Hoffman