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ZHUKOV. By Otto Preston Chaney, Jr. Foreword by Malcolm Mackintosh. 512 Pages. The University of Oklahoma Press, Norman, Okla., 1971. $9.95.
By COL Charles Stockell, USA
Khrushchev once described Zhukov as “blunt, bold, direct and non-diplomatic—as a soldier should be.” It was an apt description of the Soviet Union’s greatest military leader of this century.
The author is a graduate of the Army’s Russian area and language study program. He holds a Ph. D. in Russian studies and has served as a US liaison officer with the Soviet forces in East Germany and in the Defense Intelligence Agency. He is well qualified to write Zhukov’s biography.
Zhukov was a ruthless, demanding commander who drove his men to any excess in order to achieve victory. Zhukov’s first test as a major commander is well described. In the 1929 battle against the Japanese in Mongolia, Zhukov showed himself to be bold, innovative, and able. Biding his time to build a superior force in men and firepower, he crushed the Japanese, inflicting 55,000 casualties on their best Kwangtung forces.
Zhukov’s wartime exploits against Hitler’s forces are given in detail. Here, Chaney has leaned heavily on Soviet sources and gives the campaigns from the Soviet point of view. Some of his Western sources, Alexander Werth for example, have a decided pro-Russian bias. Nevertheless, Chaney’s account is interesting and informative, but decidedly one-sided.
The primary value of the book is the coverage of the battle of Khalkhin- Gol in 1939 and in the well-done description of Zhukov’s postwar career when he was repeatedly in and out of favor with the Soviet political rulers. Zhukov’s personal vendetta with his military colleagues, Konev and Chuikov, and his role in placing Khrushchev in power are most interesting. For his assistance to Khrushchev, Zhukov became Minister of Defense and was the only military man ever to become a member of the party’s Politburo. But Zhukov, although a good party man, did not believe in party domination and direction of purely military affairs.
He reduced the power of the Main Political Directorate within the military forces and sought to restrain the influence and use of political officers in units below regimental level. This brought about his downfall in 1957. He had previously been downgraded and virtually exiled by Stalin prior to his rehabilitation by Khrushchev.
After his second removal from power, Zhukov remained in seclusion until 1967 when he again emerged as the only man besides Lenin who in recent decades fully captured the minds and hearts of the Russian people. While in exile, Zhukov wrote his autobiography on which Chaney has drawn heavily. However, Chaney’s book is far more objective and complete.
SINGAPORE: The Chain of Disaster. By Major General S. Woodburn Kirby. 270 Pages. The Macmillan Co., N. Y., 1971. $8.95.
By COL Philip S. Newton, British Army
Throughout its history, the British Army has become used to withdrawing at the beginning of a campaign, but in doing so it has usually mainta ined an element of dignity and order. The withdrawal through Malaya and the surrender of Singapore in February 1942 is a regrettable exception as shown by this succinct account of the campaign.
General Kirby, who was the official historian of the war against Japan, brings a clear and analytical mind to the years of confusion which lead up to this disaster. He considers that the responsibility for the disaster lay squarely on the shoulders of successive British Governments. Churchill comes in for his share of criticism, mainly in his failure to understand that Singapore was not a “fortress with all-round defense capable of withstanding a siege” or that its defense depended mainly on the defense of Malaya as a whole. But, General Kirby concludes, the fate of Singapore was finally decided early in 1942 when the Prime Minister gave the Middle East priority over the Far East.
It is ironic that this book should have been published in the year when Britain finally surrendered its responsibilities for the defense of Singapore and that the last unified commander should have been an airman. It was the dispute whether naval or airpower could provide the defense of the base which had caused so much prevarication and delay in the two decades before its capture.
“SMOKED YANKEES” AND THE STRUGGLE FOR EMPIRE: Letters From Negro Soldiers, 1898-1902. By Willard B. Gatewood, Jr. 328 Pages. University of Illinois Press, Urbana, Ill., 1971. $9.50.
By COL E. Lloyd Murphy, USA
This well-edited collection of 114 letters written by some 50 black soldiers during their service in the Spanish- American War and the Filipino insurrection, and appearing in some 17 Negro newspapers, should be read by anyone who still believes that black soldiers 70 to 75 years ago served docilely or obsequiously, with unquestioned patriotism, unconscious of racial pride, or forgiving of racial discrimination.
Called “Smoked Yankees” by the Spaniards, the black regulars and volunteers wrote eloquently with mixtures of despair, pride, disillu sionment, and optimism. They wrote of their disappointment, “No officers, no fight,” when the excellent performance of the four regular black regiments (9th and 10th Cavalry and 24th and 25th Infantry) in Cuba, at San Juan, and El Caney did not result in black officers for those regiments even though the temporary volunteer units did have a few. Also recorded is the anomalous pos ition of the blacks in participating in the “struggle for empire” against other racial minorities in Cuba and the Philippines.
Collectively, these letters constitute a remarkable record of the black role during this period. Introductory chapter lead-ins combined with an introductory summary of each letter aid in making this book easy and interesting reading. The section of photographs could have been supplemented with basic maps showing war service areas of the black units.
NATIONAL LIBERATION: Revolution in the Third World. Edited by Norman Miller and Roderick Aya. With an Introduction by Eric R. Wolf. 307 Pages. The Free Press, N. Y., 1971. $6.95 clothbound. $3.95 paperbound.
By LTC Donald B. Vought, USA
The editors set the tone for this collection of eight essays when they state that, “revolution is the essential shape of social life in the world today.” All contributors are devotees of revolution. Therefore, it is no surprise that there is much overlap with other works by practitioners, observers, students, and victims of those social trauma we euphemistically term wars of “national liberation.”
There are some unusually valuable passages either because of originality of thought or clarity of statement. For example, Manfred Halpern postulates that revolutions result from the breakdown of social linkages and not simply the old liberal catchall of social imbalance. Lacking adequate theories of system-transforming change, most societies have polarized where “the right has taken refuge in hardware; the left, in spontaneity.” He further states that current ideologies are inadequate to explain the deeper issues of liberation resulting from extensive and deliberate transformation of man and society.
The essay of most interest to the military professional is that by Egbal Ahmad on Revolutionary Warfare and Counterinsurgency. He provides a clear review and analysis of the contestant’s performances in mid-20thcentury revolutions. He also resurrects a postulate that deserves periodic restatement-guerrillas win by outadministering not outfighting the incumbent government.
Mr. Richard Pfeffer closes the works with a concise and coherent statement of the position assumed in the last several years by many leftist scholars concerning the value of China’s Great Cultural Revolution. The gist of this position is that revolution in perpetuity is essential if one is to avoid the institutionalization and atrophy of a Stalinist episode. Typically, little is said of the social cost attendant upon perfecting Socialist man.
FROM THE JAWS OF VICTORY: A History of the Character, Causes and Consequences of Military Stupidity, From Crassus to Johnson and Westmoreland. By Charles Fair. 445 Pages. Simon & Schuster, Inc., N. Y., 1971. $8.95.
By COL O. W. Martin, Jr., USA
In an age when the American military professional is hardly the hero of the times, one is quite used to being shouted at, railed against, and even threatened. Nonetheless, it is quite another thing possibly to be laughed into oblivion. The volume at hand seems characterized more by the rapier of wit than by the blunderbuss of invective.
The author is well versed in military history which he has no qualms about bending to his purpose-be it insidious or other. Perhaps he essays to entertain; perhaps to make antiwar propaganda. In any case, this is a work not to be passed up. Try a chapter or two. Chances are that one will return again to some of the cleverest prose to pass this way for some time. Moreover, it seems a safe bet that one will reread some of the straight military histories to determine just what did happen on numerous occasions.
DISASTER AT BARI. By Glenn B. Infield. 301 Pages. The Macmillan Co., N. Y., 1971. $6.95.
By COL Leroy Strong, USA
Here is one of the first authoritative examinations of the second worst Allied shipping disaster of World War II-the bombing of 17 merchant ships in the harbor at Bari, Italy. The loss of life as a result of the bombing was well over 1,000, but the real horror resulted from the discharge into the air and water of the top secret cargo of the US freighter, John Harvey.
To that point in the war, 2 December 1943, both sides had avoided the use of poison gas. A study of documents and plans obtained from the Germans by clandestine means had indicated that many high-ranking German officers excluded the use of poison gas from their strategic thinking. But on the other hand, the memory persisted that the Germans had introduced poison gas on a large scale on the Western Front during World War I. Some people thought they were capable of doing it again. This speculation was reinforced by ominous reports reaching Washington and London indicating that Hitler was, in fact, planning a desperation move to resort to the use of poison gas to repel any attempted invasion of southern Europe.
Allied agents had verified a quarter of a million tons of toxic munitions east of the Rhine, including Tabun. As a consequence of this alleged hazard, in August 1943, President Roosevelt issued a policy statement on the use of poison gas warning that any use by any Axis Power would be followed by retaliation throughout the whole extent of the territory of the Axis country. Accordingly, permission 108 was granted to ship a supply of chemical bombs containing mustard to the depot at Bari, to be used if retaliation became necessary.
The John Harvey was the ship selected to carry the cargo under maximum security. At the time of the bombing, the secret of the John Harvey was intact. It was assumed, therefore, once the presence of mustard gas was confirmed, that the Luftwaffe’s bombs had delivered the mustard gas. Poor communications between British port authorities and US military forces aided and abetted the rumor. Consequently, it was widely supposed that a huge retaliatory raid by US bombers was being planned. Although the news of the bombing was quickly reported by the press, the mustard gas aspect of the story largely remained a secret until after World War II had ended.
The documentation of the story is remarkably thorough with much of it based upon eye-witness accounts from survivors in Bari. The version of events that emerges presents an unusual and somewhat unique opportunity for the study of mass trauma.
Terrible as it was, the disaster at Bari had at least one bright side. Medical observations and experiments revealed what appeared to be definite indications that nitrogen mustards were of value in treatment of cancer. But the dark side of the incident is presented as dark indeed. For example, at least in the author’s view, Prime Minister Churchill’s decision that no mention of the mustard be made, and that all deaths be attributed to “burns due to enemy action,” prevented Italian doctors from administering proper treatment. Consequently, a larger percentage of those who could possibly have been saved were not.
NEW BOOKS RECEIVED
GUNS: An Illustrated History of Artillery. Edited by Joseph Jobe. 216 Pages. New York Graphic Society Publishers, Ltd., Greenwich, Conn., 1971. $30.00.
EGYPT UNDER NASIR: A Study in Political Dynamics. By R. Hrair Dekmejian. 368 Pages. State University of New York Press, Albany, N. Y., 1971. $10.00.
CUBA, CASTRO, AND THE UNITED STATES. By Philip W. Bonsal, Former US Ambassador to Cuba. 318 Pages. University of Pittsburgh Press, Pittsburgh, Pa., 1971. $9.95.
THE POLITICS OF MEXICAN DEVELOPMENT. By Roger D. Hansen. 267 Pages. The Johns Hopkins Press, Baltimore, Md., 1971. $1 1.00.
LEGACY OF GLORY: The Bonaparte Kingdom of Spain. By Michael Glover. 353 Pages. Charles Scribner’s Sons, N. Y., 1971. $10.00.
THE FORBIDDEN SKY: Inside the Hungarian Revolution. By Endre Marton. 306 Pages. Little, Brown & Co., Boston, Mass., 1971 . $8.95.
MARTIAL JUSTICE: The Last Mass ,Execution in the United States. By Richard Whittingham. 281 Pages. Henry Regnery Co., Chicago, 111., 1971. $6.95.
HANDBOOK OF MILITARY INSTITUTIONS. Edited by Roger W. Little. 607 Pages. Sage Publications, Inc., Beverly Hills, Calif., 1971. $25.00.
DESIGNING WITH TYPE: A Basic Course in Typography. By James Craig. Edited by Susan E. Meyer. 175 Pages. Watson-Guptill Publications, N. Y., 1971. $10.95.
CROSSROADS OF FREEDOM. By Earl Schenck Miers. 290 Pages. Rutgers University Press, New Brunswick, N. J., 1971. $9.00.
THE JUNKS & SAMPANS OF THE YANGTZE. By G. R. G. Worcester, River Inspector, Retired, Chinese Maritime Customs. 626 Pages. United States Naval Institute, Annapolis, Md., 1971. $45.00.
VISION ACCOMPLISHED?: The Enigma of Ho Chi Minh. By N. Khac Huyen. 377 Pages. The Macmillan Co., N. Y., 1971. $8.95.
I HAVE SPOKEN: American History Through the Voices of the Ind ians. Compiled by Virginia Irving Armstrong. Introduction by Frederick W. Turner Ill. 206 Pages. The Swallow Press, Inc., Chicago, Ill., 1971. $6.00 clothbound. $2.95 paperbound.
THE NATIONAL GUARD: A Compact History. By Colonel R. Ernest Dupuy, US Army, Retired. 194 Pages. Hawthorne Books, Inc., N. Y., 1971. $7.95.
HOW THE U.S. CAVALRY SAVED OUR NATIONAL PARKS. By H. Duane Hampton. 246 Pages. Indiana University Press, Bloomington, Ind., 1971. $8.95.
THE UNITED STATES NAVY IN THE PACIFIC, 1909-1922. By William Reynolds Braisted. 741 Pages. University of Texas Press, Austin, Tex., 1971. $15.00.
ON THE BORDER WITH CROOK. By Captain John G. Bourke, US Army. 491 Pages. A Bison Book. University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln, Nebr. First Bison Book Printing: September 1971. The Preface and Text of the Bison Book Edition Are Reproduced From the 1891 Edition, Charles Scribner’s Sons. $2.45 paperbound.
MILITARY GOVERNMENT JOURNAL: Normandy to Berlin. By Major General John J. Maginnis. Edited by Robert A. Hart. 351 Pages. The University of Massachusetts Press, Amherst, Mass., 1971. $9.50.
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