5 Books to Start Your New Year

5 Books to Start Your New Year
Betsy Moore / MOAA

By Col. William D. Bushnell, USMC (Ret)

Explore the country's role in ceasing battle and working around the world - and the leaders who made success possible. Start your 2019 reading these military nonfiction titles. 

You can order the books through the links in the titles below; MOAA is an Amazon Associate and earns money from qualifying purchases, with the revenue supporting The MOAA Foundation.

North Korean Military Proliferation in the Middle East and Africa: Enabling Violence and Instability

By Bruce E. Bechtol Jr. University Press of Kentucky, 2018. ISBN 978-0-8131-7588-1.

Lost in the media frenzy of contentious American and North Korean relations are North Korea's widespread and secretive efforts to spread military weapons, training, infrastructure, and political influence in vulnerable, unstable areas of Africa and the Middle East. Bechtol's newest book expertly and clearly explains how North Korea provides nuclear, chemical, and missile technologies, and conventional weapons, as well as how it finances such dangerous transactions through complex financial networks, earning the rogue nation billions of dollars. He also details North Korea's relationships with its best customers - Iran, Syria, Ethiopia, Sudan, and Egypt. He cautions that North Korea's military proliferation outside the Korean peninsula should be just as important to the U.S. as North Korea's threats and missiles aimed at America.

On Tactics: A Theory of Victory in Battle

By B.A. Friedman. Naval Institute Press, 2017. ISBN 978-1-68247-163-0.

According to Friedman, strategic theory is based on sound foundations, but tactical theory is often misunderstood or not thought of at all. Here he offers a scholarly and provocative theory on tactics, recognizing that tactics are fluid, situational, and frequently contradictory. He identifies organizes, and explains nine tactical tenets: Physical - maneuver, mass, firepower, tempo; Mental - deception, surprise, confusion, and shock; and Moral - moral cohesion (motivation, devotion). He uses historical examples to illustrate each tenet, as well as tactical concepts such as command and control, geography, offense, and defense. See also The Last Hundred Yards by H.J. Poole (1994).

Between War and Peace: How America Ends Its Wars

Edited by Col. Matthew Moten, USA (Ret). Free Press, 2011. ISBN 978-1-4391-9461-4.

With American wars still ongoing in Iraq and Afghanistan, Army officer and West Point history professor Moten and fifteen contributors examine fourteen American-involved wars (whether won or not) to show how war aims are often different from the ends. Wars studied include the American Revolution, War of 1812, Indian wars, Civil War, Philippine War, the world wars, Korea, Vietnam, and the Cold War. And the conclusions should not be surprising (but often are): an exit strategy is neither a victory nor an end, wars are much easier to start than to end, and American wars seldom end the way we want.

In the Shadows of Victory II: America's Forgotten Military Leaders, the Spanish-American War to World War II

By Thomas D. Phillips. Casemate Publishers, 2017. ISBN 978-1-61200-546-1.

This is the second volume in Phillips's series about forgotten American military leaders (the first book covered 1776-1876). Here, he highlights the military accomplishments of twenty officers whose wartime contributions have been minimized, overlooked, or just ignored by history. Examples include Brigadier Leonard Wood, one of the Spanish-American War's “few notable American combat leaders,” and Commodore William T. Sampson, victor over the Spanish fleet at Santiago. Others include Medal of Honor recipient Frederick Funston in the Philippines, Brigadier General James Harbord in World War I, and aviator Lieutenant General Pete Quesada in World War II. Most fascinating is the story of Brigadier General William H. Tunner, the choreographer of the military airlift over “The Hump” in the China-Burma-India theatre in World War II.

Insurgents, Raiders, and Bandits: How Masters of Irregular Warfare Have Shaped Our World

By John Arquilla. Ivan R. Dee, 2011. ISBN 978-1-56663-832-6.

Irregular warfare has been around for thousands of years, and even today it describes much of the world's conflicts. Naval Post Graduate School professor Arquilla offers excellent case studies of both famous and obscure masters of irregular warfare throughout history, showing how each influenced the outcomes of wars and societies. Notables include Nathaniel Bedford Forrest, Garibaldi, T.E. Lawrence, and Orde Wingate, adding less well-known men like the “Fighting Quaker” Nathaniel Greene, the “Grey Fox” George Crook, and the “Undersea Wolf” Charles Lockwood. Perhaps most intriguing are Spanish guerrilla leader Francisco Mino versus the French in 1809, and British officer Frank Kitson fighitng the Mau Maus in Kenya in 1953. There is much to be learned in this book.