Nov 11, 2016

Book Review: American Battles and Campaigns, A Chronicle from 1622 — Present

American Battles and Campaigns, A Chronicle
from 1622-2010 (McNab, Thomas Dunne Books)

Happy Veterans Day, 2016

"War is God's way of teaching Americans geography," said Ambrose Bierce.

It’s also a way to teach military history and in this illustration-heavy book, American Battles and Campaigns, A Chronicle from 1622 — Present, (Editor, McNab, Thomas Dunne Books), the earliest battles in our burgeoning country to the occupation in Afghanistan are presented.

From muskets to battleships to airplanes to nuclear weapons to drones, war is made for killing.

Battles and wars come with human costs in lives lost and broken; the illustrations in this book show this most of all.

In American Battles and Campaigns, 400 years of battles and war are displayed in thick, glossy pages in maps, depictions of troop movements and high-resolution shots of our troops and Marines.

The accompanying prose is first-rate and the military historian Chris McNab offers an engaging book in a genre where this quality of literature is hard to find.

From the map of the Normandy landings, (pp. 203-04), to a stunning shot of "American infantry crouching to avoid enemy fire as their landing craft takes them across the Rhine River at St. Goar," Germany in March 1945 (pp. 206-07), the reader is left to contemplate the trauma our American armed forces endure in the wars and battles fought in the name of the United States.

These young people were so scared, look at their eyes in these shots.

The wars, awful and usually unnecessary, and the veterans who served are ours and on Veterans Day, we remember this.

As an American, I recommend American Battles and Campaigns and not just for the stunning shots; but also for the crisp narrative prose and thorough index of battles through history.

The reader will find a comfortable awe in the tragedy endured in our names.

This work is a chronicle that invites a reader to think and consider the contradictions of duty and insanity in an effort to serve.

War embodies intimate betrayals in human enterprise, and rarely is war a necessary outcome of noble objectives and aims.

War is fought by our veterans, they're ours. So are the wars, we need to own them.

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