Small Wars Journal

SWJ Book Review

A SWJ Book Review of “Rules of Engagement: A Novel” by David Bruns and J.R. Olson

This book might be uniquely suited to be used during peer-learning groups or “book clubs.” The chapters are short, and most are “self-contained” to provide some useful lesson. In this way, the book could be said to be a collection of useful vignettes.

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SWJ Book Review – “Rules for the Rebels: The Science of Victory in Militant History”

Do terrorism and rebel groups have rules of the game? Why do terrorist groups act in particular ways despite the obvious militarized reaction of states? Why do some attack large centers of power such as New York, Paris or London, and others prefer to exploit small shops in Mogadishu, run passers-by on the Ramblas in Barcelona or blow up a cooking pot in the Boston Marathon? These are questions that manage to generate new insights and methodological analyzes about the rationality of rebel actors and terrorist groups.

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SWJ Book Review – “The Sword and the Shield: The Mitrokhin Archive and the Secret History of the KGB”

Christopher Andrew, the author of the book, "The Sword and The Shield: The Mitrokhin Archive and The Secret History of the KGB", provides a fascinating account of the history of the Soviet secret service. The book is based on classified information from the archive of the KGB´s First Chief Directorate that was responsible for its foreign operations and intelligence activities.

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SWJ Book Review – ‘Any Place, Any Time, Any Where: The 1st Air Commandos in World War II’

'Operation Thursday' is not as well-known as other operations in World War II, but it should be. R.D Van Wagner, the author of, 'Any Place, Any Time, Any Where' wanted to ensure that the 1st Air Commando Group receives the historical attention and credit the unit deserves as the foundation of today’s Air Commandos.

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SWJ El Centro Book Review - Borderland Beat: Reporting on the Mexican Cartel Drug War

The work "Borderland Beat: Reporting on the Mexican Cartel Drug War" represents the first book (& ebook) to be published by this blog site. Borderland Beat is an informational and collaborative English language blog (drawing upon US and Mexican contributors) reporting on the Mexican narco wars.

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A Diplomat’s Last Mission: Book Review of ‘The Back Channel: A Memoir of American Diplomacy and the Case for its Renewal’ by Bill Burns

Bill Burns’ 'The Backchannel: A Memoir of American Diplomacy and a Case for its Renewal' provides a skillful dissection of what he calls this “era of inversion” between force and diplomacy. Burns, who The Atlantic once described as “America’s secret diplomatic weapon,” is widely lauded by Presidents and Secretaries of State from both political parties. Reading The 'Backchannel', it is easy to see why.

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SWJ Book Review: Legion Versus Phalanx: The Epic Struggle for Infantry Supremacy in the Ancient World by Myke Cole

Myke Cole has written a new book covering ancient Hellenistic phalanx and Roman legion warriors. The author’s work focused on Hellenistic and Roman military unit formations with a tactical analysis. Cole’s work spans a time period from approximately the 3rd through the 2nd century BC battlefields with a discipline focus. Cole’s main argument focuses on the tactical success and failure of the phalanx and legion military units.

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A Path to Resilience & Virtue: A SWJ Book Review of How to Think Like a Roman Emperor by Donald Robertson

I was blessed to be introduced to Stoic philosophy during high school. While I struggled to fully understand Stoicism as a teenager, I realized its deep value. Stoicism is a philosophy uniquely suited to Soldiers and military leaders. When I deployed to Iraq in 2009, I took a single book with me from home. The "Meditations" by Marcus Aurelius was not only useful to myself but was passed around my platoon and inspired many of my Soldiers. It shouldn’t be a surprise as this text has been used by countless military leaders for millennia. If my sons ever march off to war, I will hand them the copy of the "Meditations" along with another book that might prove to be an even more powerful introduction to Stoicism. Donald Robertson recently composed a book called "How to Think Like a Roman Emperor". It is a unique book that I wish would be given to every junior leader in our ranks.

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SWJ Book Review: "Mexico’s Illicit Drug Networks and the State Reaction"

What makes illicit networks resilient and why do states choose to attack some more aggressively over others? These are the questions the author—Nathan P. Jones—investigates and attempts to answer in "Mexico’s Illicit Drug Networks and the State Reaction". Dr. Jones is a non-resident scholar in drug policy and Mexico studies at the Baker Institute at Rice University in Texas and an Assistant Professor in Security Studies, Sam Houston State University.

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A Woman Warrior Ahead of the Times: A SWJ Book Review of An English Woman-Sergeant in the Serbian Army by Flora Sandes

What would become the book "An English Woman-Sergeant in the Serbian Army" is a collection of journal entries and letters that she wrote between 1915-1916 when she joined the ambulance of the Second Infantry Regiment of the Serbian Army.

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