Best Defense

Reviewing the reviewers

In the past I’ve praised the toughness of the book reviews in the Journal of Military History, so I want to note here a couple of lapses in the reviews running in the April issue.

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In the past I’ve praised the toughness of the book reviews in the Journal of Military History, so I want to note here a couple of lapses in the reviews running in the April issue.

— “The army was in complete disarray following a destructive conflict in Vietnam,” (p. 615). How is that different from normal disarray? And aren’t most conflicts destructive? This is a problematically troubled sentence that raises some worried concerns!

— “improving life for the average Afghani,” (p. 627). We invaded their country more than 15 years ago, so by now our scholars should know the difference between the people (Afghans) and the currency (afghanis).

And an interesting line:

— “it is still a volume best read by experts,” (p. 626). This made me wonder what such a warning label would look like. “EVIDENCE OF PHD REQUIRED FOR PURCHASE. AFTER READING DO NOT OPERATE HEAVY MACHINERY OR MAKE MAJOR FINANCIAL DECISIONS.”

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at ricksblogcomment@gmail.com.

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