30 Years After
Issues and Representations of the Falklands War
Edited by Carine Berbéri and Monia O’Brien Castro
University of Oklahoma Press, Norman, Oklahoma, 2015, 214 pages
Book Review published on: June 2, 2017
The Falklands War of 1982 is the first conflict I remember from my childhood. My paternal grandfather, himself a World War II U.S. Navy veteran, spent most evenings watching the news and commenting on world affairs. I recall sitting in my grandparents’ living room as the news anchor described the fighting and the surprisingly large number of losses. I even tacked a world map to the wall in my bedroom and tracked the progress of the British military task force and its eventual victory over the Argentinians. Like too many U.S. Army officers, I gave little thought to the war over the intervening years until I had the opportunity to serve with officers from the United Kingdom and discuss the war’s impact on their military. The book 30 Years After: Issues and Representations of the Falklands War is a compilation of essays exploring many overlooked aspects of the conflict; subjects range from media coverage to the Anglo-American “special relationship” and to the private thoughts of senior policy makers embroiled in the affair.
Although editors Carine Berbéri and Monia O’Brien Castro open 30 Years After with a cursory history of the Falkland Islands sovereignty dispute, the bulk of the work focuses on events outside of the actual tactical level fighting. The authors analyze external events and personalities influencing the war itself rather than settle for another book examining maneuvers or troop dispositions. While much of the writing is of a dry academic tone, the information provided is insightful with direct corollary to today’s conflicts—particularly in the media’s role in shaping public opinion on the home front or abroad. Readers in search of a general history of the Falklands campaign are advised to look elsewhere before perusing 30 Years After. That said, the book also provides insightful views into the complex decision making of national leaders and how their respective governments work at the highest levels.
Although the Falklands War ended three decades ago with a decisive British victory, the lessons learned are, if anything, more relevant today and merit study by professional military officers. Media influence, public opinion, conflicting power spheres, strategic-level policy making, and national sovereignty are unavoidable facts of war. What 30 Years After lacks in readability, it more than compensates for in relevance.
Book Review written by: Lt. Col. Chris Heatherly, U.S. Army, Washington State University, Pullman, Washington