Best Defense

Reading list roundup: Books to read, thoughts on a dead father, and a bunch of stuff from the new ish of ARMY magazine

This reading list is one by a smart amateur, a bit all over the place, but still interesting.


This reading list is one by a smart amateur, a bit all over the place, but still interesting.

And this is a complex, thoughtful tribute to a father who, after fighting in the Pacific for years during World War II, then came home and shot himself.

Old Rumsfeld endorsed Trump. I admit to being surprised. For all his faults, I thought he was better than that.

There are lots of interesting things in the July issue of ARMY magazine. I’ve mentioned one already, about putting on an Army uniform for the first time. Also an item about the divorce rate for female enlisted on active duty.

Another thing that interested me in the current issue is “My Warrior’s Place,” a retreat on a river in Florida. It was established by a Gold Star Mother in memory of her son, an 82nd Airborne soldier who was killed in Afghanistan. Basically, it is for veterans, servicemembers, first responders, and Gold/Blue/Silver Star families. You can’t beat the rates — $45 a night or $225 a week for a cottage, with free access to bicycles, fishing, boats, and grills. Could be pretty sweet for two weeks in Feburary.

There’s also a good story on the “Wounded Warriors Amputee Softball Team,” which is made up of servicemembers who lost limbs. Among other things, they sponsor a camp for kids who have lost a limb.

Plus, there is an article about Pete Seeger’s uncle, which is probably a first for ARMY.

On the downside, not one but two retired Army generals get their history wrong in the same issue.

Gen. Frederick Kroesen, a thoughtful guy and a good writer, seems to be on thin ice when he states that FDR in World War II “turned over the conduct of military operations to the Army and Navy leaders.” I don’t think this is the case, except in the narrow sense that he didn’t second-guess battlefield decisions. But he did overrule his generals on several major issues, most notably in his insistence that the Army carry out the Operation Torch landings in North Africa late in 1942.

More egregiously, retired Brig. Gen. John S. Brown refers to Sherman’s March to the Sea as “infamous.” Are you kidding me? Sherman’s Georgia campaign was brilliantly conceived and audaciously executed. It should be studied by today’s commanders as a model of connecting strategy, operations, and tactics. Sherman used violence carefully, with purpose, and he achieved his desired effect. If only our generals today could do so. The pages of ARMY magazine are no place for Confederate propaganda that could have been penned in Richmond. What’s next, “Eisenhower’s notoriously risky D-Day landings”? Or “Washington’s unfortunate crossing of the Delaware”? “Colin Powell’s unfortunate skin color”?

That historical bobble aside, I continue to be impressed by the quality of the resurgent ARMY magazine.

Image credit: Emanuel Gottlieb Leutze/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 Twitter: @tomricks1
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