From Parameters, Autumn 2003, pp. 153-70.
The Battle for Leningrad, 1941-1944. By David M. Glantz. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2002. 660 pages. $39.95. Reviewed by Dr. Earl F. Ziemke, University of Georgia.
In the aggregation of awesomeand awfulevents that composed the German-Soviet War of 1941-45, and probably also in the whole history of warfare, the Battle for Leningrad holds the record for sheer endurance. It began on 10 July 1941, when elements of German Army Group North crossed the Velikaya River, 145 miles south of Leningrad, and ended more than three years later.
On 8 September 1941, a German division took Shlisselburg, an old fortress at the mouth of the Neva River a half dozen miles east of Leningrad, thereby cutting land contact between the city and the interior. By then, the Finnish army had regained territory it had lost on the Isthmus of Karelia as a result of the 1939-40 Winter War and stopped on the old boundary, the eastern terminus of which was a bare 12 miles north of Leningrad. On the 6th, Adolf Hitler had ordered Army Group North to build a solid front around the city and starve it, not into submission, but literally to death. The ensuing blockade resulted, in the months January to April 1942 alone, in a staggering number of civilian deaths, very likely exceeding the whole-war combined deaths from bombing in Germany and Japan.
To sustain continuity in his description of the military operations, the author somewhat compressed his treatment of the civilian tragedy. Nevertheless, the result is a grim drama in four acts reminiscent of the First World War at its worst. The first opens in September 1941. In it, Army Group North manages only to expand its foothold at Shlisselburg east ten miles along the lake shore and fails to make contact with the Finns, who had advanced along the eastern shore and dug in behind the Svir River. That left some 65 miles of exposed shoreline from which an ice road to Leningrad could be operated in the winter. Attempts by the Soviet Leningrad and Volkhov Fronts (army groups) to break the siege began in January 1942, ended in failure, and resulted in the loss of a whole army in April. In the summer, Hitler detailed his star improviser, Field Marshal Erich von Manstein, to Army Group North to wipe out Leningrad, but failed to supply enough troops. By early fall, the Volkhov Front, at the cost of about an army, has reduced the German hold on the Ladoga shore to seven miles. By then also, all unessential civilians had been evacuated.
The second act begins in October 1942 when Leningrad Front, on the west, and Volkhov Front, on the east, start a buildup for a massive assault on the corridor reaching north to Lake Ladoga that the Germans called a bottleneck. On 12 January 1943, with Zhukov on hand to coordinate, the Russians launched strikes that, in about a week, cleared a six-mile-wide strip of the lakeshore, technically enough to end the blockade. Thereafter, however, ferocious attacks failed to make further gains. After the April thaw, the front remained stagnant until the years end. The German Eighteenth Army, the closest to Leningrad, took advantage of the hiatus to build the Rollbahn position, field fortifications along the Leningrad-Moscow highway (Rollbahn), 25 miles behind the bottleneck.
The astounding success of the Soviet 1943 summer offensive led Stalin to order a winter offensive to retake all lost Soviet territory, therewith ushering in the third act. With
overall three-to-one superiorities or more, the Leningrad and Volkhov Fronts took to the offensive on 14 January 1944. The Soviet commands performance was less than exemplary, but their numbers brought Eighteenth Army to the verge of collapse in five days. On the 19th, Hitler had to approve a gradual withdrawal to the Rollbahn position; but late in the month, that too became untenable, and the army and army group commands clamored for a retreat to the Panther position, a line 160 miles to the rear, running due south from Narva, on the Gulf of Finland, to the army group boundary.
The military climax comes in Act Four, which can be said to begin with Hitlers appointment of Field Marshal Walter Model to the Army Group North command on 31 January. Model, famous on the Eastern Front as the lion of the defensive, loaded with charisma, full of self-confidence, and a tactical virtuoso with the touch of a sleight-of-hand artist, the next day declared the Panther position nonexistent. Thereafter, he outmaneuvered his somewhat stodgy Soviet opponents, gave Hitler ample evidence of offensive spirit, and settled Army Group North in the Panther position by 1 March. There the thaw would soon transform the terrain into a vast swamp. When operations can resume, Stalin will turn the effort to the front against Finland, where Act Four ends inconclusively on 9 August. By then the Western Allies are sweeping across France, and Stalin is having to revise his priorities.
The Battle for Leningrad is an epic on a scale not likely ever to be repeated. Colonel Glantzs thoroughgoing account does it full justice, making it both comprehensible and engrossing.
Nuclear Weapons and Indian Security: The Realist Foundations of Strategy. By Bharat Karnad. (New Delhi, India: MacMillan India Limited, 2002). 724 pages. $37.50. Reviewed by George H. Quester, Professor of Government and Politics at the University of Maryland, College Park, recently the author of Nuclear Monopoly.
For at least three reasons, this will be a most valuable book for anyone concerned about the nuclear confrontation in South Asia.
To begin, the author was a member of Indias first National Security Advisory Board, and was involved in the development of the 1999 Nuclear Draft Doctrine (included as an appendix in the book); he is today one of the more visible younger defense analysts in New Delhi. In this massive work, Karnad presents an analysis that many other Indians of his generation will share on the current nuclear choices as India faces Pakistan, China, and the world, and on what the tradition of Gandhi and Nehru might mean for all this. It is an analysis that is unabashedly realist in its stress on national power and national self-interest, and that calls on India to do more rather than less in terms of acquiring nuclear weapons.
If any outsider thinks that India will be guided by memories of Gandhis nonviolence and Nehrus neutralism, this book serves as a valuable antidote, as it interprets such earlier approaches as merely effective tactical stratagems, not to be mistaken for absolute principle. Its interpretation, locked into a realist power-politics perspective, of these two great men of Indian history, and of other principal figures, is a mixture of the complimentary and quite derogatory. Gandhi and Nehru are seen as having developed formulas well-suited to the British or the third-world prejudices of the moment, and thus advanced Indian interests for a time, but formulas which these great figures and other In-
dian leaders made the mistake of taking too seriously over the longer term, treating such principles as absolutes. The author thus explicitly brings to the surface what many of his countrymen may now feel, and the book would be worth reading merely as an update on how informed Indian policymakers, and ordinary Indian citizens, see the international security question today.
Second, the author offers an enormous amount of detail and anecdote about the various stages of the Indian nuclear decision process since the 1950s, pulling together all the published Western and Indian literature on the subject, but importantly adding in a great many observations based on interviews. As is always the case with such interview research, some of the descriptions and judgments on the historical events will be controversial, but anyone else writing his own book on Indian and Pakistani nuclear weapon developments will have to contend with what is presented in this work. There are sections on the Indian and Pakistani nuclear tests of 1998, arguing, based on outside-world analyses and interviews within India, that such tests were not nearly sufficient to put India on the road to reliable nuclear and thermonuclear weapons. And there are reports by which India (perhaps in cooperation with Israel) was earlier quite seriously contemplating preemptive strikes against the Pakistani nuclear facility at Kahuta. The book is indeed replete with accounts and details of the decisions made and options contemplated in New Delhi over the decades. And it is full of comments and asides on the personalities of the people involved.
Third, beyond a discussion of South Asia itself, the book pulls together and cites a tremendous slice of the broader Western literature on power politics and the history of international relations, reflecting the authors academic training (UCLA and the University of California, Santa Barbara) and his meticulous review of recent literature. The footnotes alone would be of enormous help for anyone breaking into the subject of nuclear proliferation and power politics in general.
The earliest chapters of the book amount to longer discussion of Hindu traditions related to armed force and war. One would have to be immersed in the scholarly literature on this subject to judge whether these chapters would pass muster as an academic analysis. But the important point is that they will certainly be valuable reading for anyone watching how Indians today interpret their own cultural legacy.
The author gives appropriate credit for portions of his more contemporary policy analysis to K. Subramanyam, the former head of the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, someone visible around the world for more than three decades as a most important Indian thinker and spokesman on nuclear and defense policy issues. Karnad is more typically quite dismissive of many of the senior civilian and military leaders of India over the years, for failing to see the need for India to invest the resources for a very robust nuclear force, including well-tested thermonuclear weapons and advanced missile systems.
The book is generally well-written, and employs enough drama to hold ones interest. At times the style of the authors prose perhaps comes across as a bit too opinionated and off-the-cuff, with the Indians and foreigners he disagrees with being characterized by derogatory adjectives and adverbs. The author is thus certainly presenting his own strong feelings about India and nuclear weapons, and is not pretending to present an uninvolved analysis. Yet these are feelings that are documented and detailed for more than 700 pages, presenting a wealth of material to be sorted and evaluated, by Indians and others, regardless of their perspective.
Peacekeeping Fiascoes of the 1990s: Causes, Solutions, and U.S. Interests. By Frederick H. Fleitz, Jr. Westport, Conn.: Praeger Publishers, 2002. 224 pages. $39.95. Reviewed by Anthony James Joes, Ph.D., Department of Political Science, Saint Josephs University, Philadelphia, Pa.
Frederick Fleitz, now serving as Special Assistant to the Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security, is a long-time member of the Central Intelligence Agency, where he has worked as an analyst examining the United Nations and UN peacekeeping issues. His book analyzes the UN peacekeeping experience since its inception, with special emphasis on what he calls the rash of failure[s] since 1993. It also examines whether and how participation in peacekeeping should play any sort of role in US foreign policy, and what form US participation in future peace operations should assume.
Fleitz observes that UN peacekeeping can be very much in the US national interest, by stabilizing areas, such as Cyprus, that might explode in the UNs absence. But during the 1990s, peace operations multiplied at an astounding rate. From 1948 to 1992, the UN sent 61,000 troops on 22 missions. Between 1992 and 2000, the numbers had climbed to 182,000 troops and 34 missions. Many of the latter episodes involved failure and tragedy. Fleitz examines both the multiplication of missions and their distressing record, and offers prescriptions for the avoidance of peacekeeping calamities.
A key aspect of Fleitzs approach is to insist on the fundamental distinction between earlier-model peacekeeping, which achieved more than a few successes, and contemporary peace enforcement, which has compiled a record of disaster. Peace enforcement is the antithesis of peacekeeping, not a variation of it. Thus in recent years peacekeeping has become a euphemism for multilateral military intervention. Accordingly, latter-day peacekeepingor rather, peacemaking, so-calledis often difficult to distinguish from war-making. As a consequence of the confusion between the two operations, warring parties are now less likely to regard UN forces as disinterested mediators. This destructive trend accounts in large part for the abysmal failures of UN peacekeeping missions in Bosnia and Croatia, as well as the ghastly consequences of failed UN peacekeeping in Somalia, Cambodia, and Rwanda (the last mentioned case involving the murder of the Rwandan Prime Minster in 1994 inside the UN compound at Kigali, and of course the most massive genocide since World War II). Fleitz recounts shameful instances where UN peacekeeping troops abandoned civilians who had sought their protection, and provides insights into the complexities of the massacre at Srebrenicaa UN sanctuaryin 1995. He argues persuasively that the Clinton Administrations involvement in Angola and Haiti was not to enforce peace but to put into power individuals and groups favored by certain domestic pressure groups.
Unless sensible leaders rein in peacekeeping, the author says, it will again be used to rationalize UN projects that make regional crises worse and incur high and unnecessary casualties. Among Fleitzs prescriptions to avoid more calamities: (1) the essential distinction between peacekeeping and peace enforcement must be revived and understood; (2) successful peacekeeping requires acceptance by the contending sides, impartiality of the peacekeeping forces, and the minimum use of force; indeed, consent of warring parties [ought to be] an absolute prerequisite for the United States to support a peacekeeping mission; and (3) in light of the the notoriously inefficient and corrupt UN bureaucracy and its massive mismanagement, no future peacekeeping mission should be under UN command, but instead directed by competent national authorities.
Additionally, Fleitz crucially observes that violent groups seeking publicity have made US military personnel their special target; therefore, American involvement in future peace operations should consist of support activities, not fighting units.
This volume contains many well-constructed charts, helpful maps, and arresting photographs, as well as an extensive and valuable bibliography. There is also an extremely useful appendix listing the titles, dates, mandates, authorized strengths, and costs of all UN peacekeeping missions between 1947 and 2000.
Peace operations have played an important role in US foreign policy over the past decades, and most probably will do so in the years to come. Fleitz has produced a wise, well-informed, and richly documented study of the valuable nature of true peacekeeping, and the reasons for the egregious failures of recent major UN peace missions what he names the Post-Cold War Peacekeeping Trainwreck. This book is no asphyxiating academic treatise. On the contrary, clearly written, well-researched, infused with commitment, bristling with trenchant characterizations, and offering reasonable solutions to pressing problems, the book will undoubtedly provide plenty of material to offend nearly everybody. In summary, Peacekeeping Fiascoes of the 1990s is indispensable to policymakers, well-wishers and skeptics of the United Nations, and students of conflict resolution and international relations in general.
The Fall of Berlin 1945. By Antony Beevor. New York: Viking Penguin Press, 2002. 490 pages. $29.95. Reviewed by Colonel David M. Glantz, USA Ret., author of When Titans Clashed: How The Red Army Stopped Hitler, The Battle of Kursk, The Battle of Leningrad: 1941-1944, and many other titles, and editor of The Journal of Slavic Military Studies.
A sequel to his best-seller The Battle of Stalingrad, Antony Beevors The Fall of Berlin is a superb narrative account of the Red Armys climactic assault on Berlin, Hitlers lair and the formidable citadel of the Nazi Third Reich. In fact, both books are inexorably linked regarding theme, content, methodology, and style. As Beevor states in his Preface to Berlin, On 1 February 1943, an angry Soviet colonel collared a group of emaciated German prisoners in the rubble of Stalingrad. Thats how Berlin is going to look! he yelled, pointing to the ruined buildings all around. When I read these words some six years ago, I sensed immediately what my next book had to be. Given Beevors superb talents as a writer, The Fall of Berlin will prove no less successful than his Battle of Stalingrad.
Structurally, Beevor models his treatment of the Battle of Berlin after Christopher Duffys popular 1993 book, Red Storm Over the Reich, in which Duffy describes the final five months of the war, beginning with the Red Armys massive assault along the Vistula River in eastern Poland in early January 1945. Like Duffy, Beevor provides context for his description of the struggle for Hitlers capital city in eight chapters that track the progress of the war from early January to early April 1945 and Soviet and German planning for the wars endgame that both sides knew was fast approaching.
However, unlike Duffy, who simply surveys the course of military operations in summary fashion, Beevor relies heavily on memoir literature and interviews with participants in these dramatic operations to fashion an intensely personal and often touching mosaic of this turbulent time. More important still, by skillfully exploiting memoir literature and previous published accounts, Beevor captures the psychological state and intensely personal motivations of commanders and soldiers alike as they approach the
climax of this most terrible and costly war. In this sense too, the link between Stalingrad and Berlin becomes starkly apparent.
In his final 20 chapters, Beevor explains in detail how the Wehrmacht and Red Army prepared for and conducted the titanic struggle for Berlin. Relying on a wealth of personal recollections and a variety of classic military studies and recent articles and books, Beevors narrative shapes a clear, riveting portrait of the struggles progress without omitting the necessary context of Anglo-American military operations that helped shape the Red Army plans. As in the earlier chapters, Beevors emphasis remains focused on the human dimension of this terminal struggle, including a candid yet evenhanded treatment of the barbarism and other atrocities born quite naturally from the twin emotions of hatred and revenge that often embellished the routine horrors of war during this period.
Stylistically, this book has no peer. Beevor remains unsurpassed as a writer of clear and appealing prose. In short, The Fall of Berlin represents narrative history at its best in the long tradition of Will Durant, Alistair Horne, Cornelius Ryan, John Keegan, and countless other authors whose attractive writing styles have given life to often dry military history. In this sense, the book is rightly destined to achieve best-seller status and no doubt will receive well-earned praise and well-deserved recognition. At the same time, appropriate to his stated intent, Beevors work excels as social rather than operational history in the sense that personal perspectives dominate over accurate and detailed descriptions of who did what to whom, when, why, and how. However, in an age when the study and understanding of history is fast faltering, to its credit, Beevors work performs the valuable service of once again igniting the general publics interest in what is no longer taught.
In regard to content, in addition to sacrificing operational detail in the service of readability, the factual basis of Beevors history is quite limited and sometimes dated. As was the case with his Stalingrad book, which ignored a critical portion of the famous battles strategic context, in this instance the Red Armys Operation Mars (whether Mars was a genuine strategic offensive or, as many Russians claim, a massive diversion of unprecedented scale), as well as some of its operational detail, Beevors description of the Battle for Berlin is similarly incomplete. For example, he fails to exploit all of the formerly classified but now available Soviet General Staff materials concerning this period of the war. These include the massive 700-page study of the Berlin operation published by the Soviet Ministry of Defense in 1950 and many volumes in the detailed documentary collections edited by V. A. Zolotarev and published by Olma Press during the past five years. In particular, this includes multiple volumes in this series dealing with Stavka and Red Army General Staff orders and reports on the Battle of Berlin and a single 600-page volume containing a voluminous number of documents directly related to every aspect of the Berlin operation.
Instead of exploiting this fresh source material, Beevor tends to rely heavily on older German and Soviet works, such as the memoirs of Guderian, Zhukov, Konev, Rokossovsky, and others, many of which are self-serving, to construct the factual basis for his account. In the case of Guderians memoirs, for example, Beevor accepts uncritically Guderians dated assessments regarding the Red Armys supposed numerical superiority over the Wehrmacht both in early January and early April 1945. Likewise, in the case of Zhukovs memoirs, Beevor accepts Zhukovs now questionable rationale for why the Red Army halted its march on Berlin in February 1945. Finally, in the case of Konevs and Rokossovskys memoirs, Beevor cites the older, heavily censored versions, published before 1990, rather than the unexpurgated accounts which were published in the past five years and provide more candid judgments of the Red Armys plans and actions in 1945.
In the same sense, Beevor accepts uncritically many of the time-honored but now questionable explanations for controversial issues associated with the wars final phase. For example, he accepts at face value Russian explanations as to why Stalin decided to halt operations toward Berlin in early February 1945 and instead spend months clearing his flanks before advancing on Berlin in April 1945. In this regard, fresher sources now indicate that, in this case, Stalins decision may have been related to Allied assurances at Yalta that Berlin was Stalins for the taking whenever he wished, and that, based on these assurances, Stalins focus from February through early April 1945 was on gaining a stranglehold on Austria and the Danubian basin, which the terms of the Yalta Agreement did not address. Tellingly, the Red Army began its assault on Berlin on 16 April 1945, only three days after its forces entered Vienna.
Despite these relatively minor blemishes, The Fall of Berlin stands as a superb example of narrative social history at its best. Beevor achieves his aims admirably, and in doing so will ignite renewed interest in this chapter of the 20th centurys most horrifying war. This book is a must read for all military professionals and those interested in general and military history alike.
Gettysburg: A Testing of Courage. By Noah Andre Trudeau. New York: HarperCollins, 2002. 694 pages. $34.95. Reviewed by Colonel Len Fullenkamp, USA Ret., Professor of Military History and Strategy, US Army War College.
While musing on many subjects to fill his final days in exile, Napoleon observed that history was an artful combination of material facts and moral intentions. Although the material facts of a battle or campaign could be known, in his view, the moral intentions, or the true reasons generals acted as they did, lay forever beyond discovery. His judgments about history suggest he knew as little about that subject as he did grand strategy, for as generations of historians have discovered, it is not just moral intentions that are difficult to discern. Facts are equally difficult to pin down.
No other battle or campaign in the American Civil War has received anything approaching the attention that has been given to Gettysburg. After 140 years and countless memoirs, scholarly books, articles, and studies, one would assume that the essential material facts of the Gettysburg battle have been discovered. However, with the next book or article about Gettysburg come new facts, or new interpretations of old facts, that invite us to revise our views of history. In recent years these have included studies in leadership and battlefield systems (cavalry, artillery, and so forth) and micro-histories that take as their focus a single day or major events (GettysburgThe First Day by Harry W. Pfanz, Gettysburg: Day Three by Jeffry Wert, or Picketts Charge in History and Memory by Carol Reardon). No end is in sight.
With so much new material at hand, Noah Andre Trudeau, an author of several books on the American Civil War (notably Bloody Roads South: The Wilderness to Cold Harbor, May-June 1864), decided it was time to refresh the history of Gettysburg. Drawing upon the many recent books and articles written about the campaign and battle, each brimming with new interpretations of old facts or wholly new facts, Trudeau has written yet another version of the Gettysburg Campaign, from initial planning through the major events of the battle and its aftermath, ending with Lincolns Gettysburg Address. His engaging and entertaining interpretation does not stray too far from the familiar story and
does offer several genuinely new and interesting insights about crucial decisions or actions that shaped the battles outcome. In a few instances, what he refers to as myths are debunked, some more convincingly than others. On this last point, while it is safe to say that the author has given us yet another interpretation of the facts, his is unlikely to be the last word on the battle.
Trudeaus style falls somewhere between the novelist and the historian. He is careful about details and skillfully weaves them into a narrative that is both comprehensive and lively. He has an ear for dialogue, especially where the civilian population of Gettysburg is concerned. Whereas others have seen little need to make mention of the impact of the battle on the civilians living in Gettysburg, Trudeau provides frequent glimpses into the battle as viewed from the eyes of the locals who were sent scurrying to their cellars to wait out the storm of battle that surrounded them.
Those familiar with the history of the battle will find little new. The general outline of events remains undisturbed, and accepted interpretations of crucial decisions are largely uncontested. Much of the oft-quoted dialogue is familiar as well. For example, James Longstreets protest to Robert E. Lee on the infeasibility of Picketts Charge (It is my opinion that no fifteen thousand men ever arrayed for battle can take that position) is well-known. Whether he actually said this to Lee that day or remembered many years later as having said it and thus put it that way in his memoirs is an example of a fact adrift in search of mooring. Douglas Southall Freeman, Lees foremost biographer, doubted Longstreet actually spoke those words to Lee that day, for to do so would have constituted, in Freemans mind, an act of insubordination, not to mention disrespect. No one overheard their conversation, so the historian is left with Longstreets word on the matter. That Trudeau chooses to use the quote without comment or qualification suggests a point of view about which recollections or facts he deems believable, and which fail to pass muster.
Trudeau dismisses as unfactual the account of Lee apologizing to his men for the outcome of Picketts Charge, insisting, While such recollections may have been helpful in the postwar climate of factual healing, and while they may have promoted adulation of Lee, they had to be docketed alongside Gettysburgs other myths. He does not say why he is so certain that Lee never apologized, as is so often held, other than to offer the opinion that Lee had nothing to apologize for, having done the best he could in uncertain circumstances. One is left to wonder why Longstreets self-serving recollection of his view on the merits of Picketts Charge should be accepted as accurate while Lees comments on the outcome of the attack can be dismissed as a myth to be debunked.
Trudeaus efforts to sharpen and clarify events while dispelling what he considers myths that have grown up around the story of the battle succeed or fail depending on your point of view. Not all of his arguments are convincing. Joshua Chamberlains famous bayonet charge on the second day of the battle at Little Round Top is redrawn with Chamberlains role much reduced, and chaos and confusion accounting for the way things actually turned out. New scholarship and recent accounts of that day on Little Round Top have offered revised interpretations of Chamberlains fight. Have these new works discovered the facts, or have they simply demonstrated that any good historian with the right facts can prove almost any point?
Therein lies the contradiction to Napoleons views on history. Whereas one can agree with the Great Captain about the opaqueness of moral intentions, one must disagree with his view about material facts. What is a fact to one may be a polished recollection or a flawed memory to another. Did Joshua Chamberlain save the day at Little Round Top by
ordering a bayonet charge that crushed his Confederate foe, or did the charge come about quite by happenstance as a result of confusion, chaos, and independent action by subordinates which Chamberlain later claimed to be of his own design? Where within the story are we to find the indisputable facts, and how are we to determine which facts were the products of moral intentions? Revisionists are never satisfied with the history as is and always believe the next data point or set of facts will shed new light, while others insist on simplicity and a narrative that has a ring of authenticity about it. Fortunately for the historian, in the final analysis, much of what passes for historical fact is, as Voltaire observed, little more than the fable agreed upon.
Any attempt to rewrite the history of what many consider to be the pivotal battle of the American Civil War inevitably invites comparison to the best book on this subject, Edwin B. Coddingtons The Gettysburg Campaign, A Study in Command. Trudeaus engaging narrative faithfully relates the history of the origins, execution, impact, and aftermath of Gettysburg, and his insights on several subjects, in particular the planning and execution of the Confederate attacks on the second and third days, impose a structure and clarity on events that those seeking to learn more about the battle will surely find valuable. More than 60 maps accompany the text. Unfortunately, although most are highly detailed and sharply drawn, many are rendered in print so small that even with a strong magnifying glass some data are indecipherable. Historians and serious students of the battle will be disappointed by the endnote style. Of late some historians have adopted the abbreviated endnote style generally used in legal texts or political science journals, and while this may make things easier for the editor and typesetters, it frustrates anyone seeking to figure out where this or that fact was found.
Although Trudeaus history of Gettysburg gets good marks for being both entertaining and engaging, for the historian, Coddington remains the standard against which all others will be measured.
Northern Naval Superiority and the Economics of the American Civil War. By David G. Surdam. Studies in Maritime History series. William N. Still, Jr., series editor. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 2001. 288 pages. $34.95. Reviewed by Dr. J. Boone Bartholomees, Jr., Professor of Military History, US Army War College.
David Surdam, a visiting assistant professor of economics at the Graduate School of Business of the University of Chicago and at the University of Oregon, presents a new interpretation of the effect of the Union blockade on the outcome of the Civil War. Because he recognizes the incredible complexity of not only his economic topic but also the inevitable interaction of economic with political, diplomatic, and military factors, Dr. Surdams conclusions are fairly modest. He claims only that the blockade was worth the expensethat is, the resources allocated to blockading the Southern coast achieved at least as much effect as they might have had they been allocated elsewhere. This understates the significance of both the blockade and his evidence. While not the single decisive factor, the Union blockade contributed significantly to the demise of the Confederacy.
Dr. Surdams major addition to blockade scholarship is his emphasis on the impact of the loss of traditional coastal trade. He contends that the standard methods of evaluating the blockade significantly undervalue the true effect of the blockade by their emphasis on foreign trade, especially imports. Surdams excellent compilation of research
and analysis of the Souths antebellum economy and the wartime changes in that economy is one of the strengths of the book. Using a wide variety of sources, he shows both the significance of the antebellum inter-regional coastal trade and its precipitous drop during the war. Because the US Navy prevented coastal shipping at least as efficiently as it interdicted foreign shipments, the South lost one of its major antebellum transportation assets. An underdeveloped rail system could not handle the demands of a wartime economy and simultaneously absorb the increased burden formerly borne by inter-coastal shipping. Water transportation that might have compensated for the inadequate rail system not only did not perform that role, but actually compounded the railroads problemsthe increased burden wore out irreplaceable (because of the blockade) rails, locomotives, and cars faster than normal. Surviving records are spotty and incomplete, so the exact magnitude of the impact of the loss of coastal shipping will never be known; however, the available evidence suggests it was not inconsequential. Surdam is certainly correct in claiming that without the Union blockade the South could have used coastal and river shipping to alleviate many of its internal transportation problems.
The second major contribution of the blockade, according to Dr. Surdam, was that it prevented the South from exploiting its ability to set cotton prices. Here again he suggests that the traditional emphasis of blockade scholarship on imports has obscured the major impact of loss of exports (or potential exports). As the near monopoly producer in an inelastic market, the Confederacy could potentially finance its war and offset its economic disadvantage by decreasing the production of cotton. Moderate decreases in production would have produced a corresponding increase in profit. The Confederate government could have achieved the necessary reduction in cotton production by taxing the export of cotton. The tax, of course, also would have produced revenue as it discouraged exports and thus elevated prices. By shipping the optimum amount of cotton, especially in 1861, the South might have both reaped a financial benefit and released manpower for reallocation either to industry or more likely to the military. That is an economists way of stating one of the most common criticisms of Confederate economic policythe failure to exploit the value of cotton. Surdam just comes at it from a slightly different angle.
Northern Naval Superiority and the Economics of the American Civil War provides a useful addition to traditional blockade scholarship, but it also has some drawbacks. First, it is heavy with economic theory and language. The casual reader will have difficulty understanding much of the meat of the text. Conversely, Dr. Surdam presents a large amount of data for the specialist, and has done an excellent job of speaking as an economist to an audience with at least a working knowledge of economics. Perhaps more damning is the persistent tendency to recognize but then either ignore or dismiss the complexity of the issues. For example, Dr. Surdam acknowledges the informal embargo Southerners placed on their cotton, but he dismisses it as an ineffective economic policy. It was certainly thatan ineffective economic policybut its political and social effectiveness is not quite so clear. The total reliance of the British and French textile industries on Southern cotton and the consequent susceptibility of their governments to economic coercion was virtually dogma in the antebellum Southwhether or not it was economic or diplomatic reality. Politically, and to some extent socially, the Confederate government had to at least tolerate a cotton embargo even if it did not believe that to be the best economic policy. With that constraint, any economic policy like the one Surdam proposes that depends on large exports of Southern cotton in 1861 fails to meet one of the primary tests of strategyif you cannot do it, it is not a viable strategic option.
Similarly, Surdam ignores the infinitely complex tangle of other causes when he asserts, as he does several times, that Lees army collapsed in the spring of 1865 because Grant finally prohibited trading supplies through the lines (which was necessary for the Confederacy because of the blockade). The Army of Northern Virginia collapsed for a number of interrelated reasons, ranging from the physical effect of four years of attrition to the psychological effect of Shermans march through Georgia to the political disaster of Lincolns reelection in November 1864 that closed the door on the Souths last real hope for independence. Logistics deficiencies played a major role as well, but they were not the single decisive factor.
While one could go on and quibble with other assertionslike the political chances of a high export tax in early 1861 or the fungibility of slave laborSurdam knows his primary topic of economics and actually is more convincing on the impact of the blockade than he asserts. This book is for specialists and will never be a Civil War best-seller; however, it does add significantly to the scholarship of economics in that war.
Shadow of the Dragon: Vietnams Continuing Struggle with China and the Implications for U.S. Foreign Policy. By Henry J. Kenny. Washington: Brasseys, 2002. 176 pages. $49.95 ($24.95 paper). Reviewed by Dr. Andrew Scobell, Strategic Studies Institute, US Army War College.
With the end of Americas Indochina war in the 1970s and the passage of time, Vietnam has slipped from the collective consciousness of US policymakers and the general public. The Socialist Republic of Vietnam is no longer Americas adversary, and in 2003 the sights of the George W. Bush Administration are focused on the Axis of Evil triumvirate and the tentacles of global terrorist networks.
Today, communist Vietnam seems relatively inconsequential to the United States. What significance can a moderate-sized Southeast Asian country of 77 million experimenting with free-market economics and ruled by a seemingly anachronistic and repressive Leninist party-state have for the United States? Henry Kenny, a long-time Vietnam watcher, contends that Vietnams significance is that it represents a counterweight to China in Southeast Asia. He asserts that encouraging a more strategically self-assured, economically vibrant, and democratically oriented Vietnam is in the US national interest.
Kenny highlights the tyranny of geography, which dooms Vietnam to be forever in the shadow of the giant Chinese dragon. Indeed, in terms of population and area, Vietnam is roughly equivalent to a medium-sized Chinese province. As a consequence Vietnam has learned to be extremely wary of antagonizing its vast northern neighbor. That is not to suggest that Vietnams relations with China have always been warm or even cordial. On the contrary, as Kenny notes, relations have tended to go through a cycle of cooperation and conflict, a pattern that dates back centuries. But mostly Vietnam has tended to accommodate China.
While the Chinese and Vietnamese communist movements were allies in successive struggles against the French and then against South Vietnam (and its major patron, the United States), there were underlying tensions in the relationship which bubbled to the surface in the form of a brief but bloody border war in early 1979. The bad blood persisted until the 1990s when the collapse of the Soviet Union and the pragmatic concerns of both party-states resulted in a rapprochement. In 1999 the two countries resolved most of their
land border disputes and the following year reached an accord over the dispute in the Gulf of Tonkin. Nevertheless, territorial disputes remain over islands and waters in the South China Sea. According to Kenny, four of the five potential flashpoints in the sea involve disputes between China and Vietnam. Future conflict [between China and Vietnam] over the South China Sea, Kenny contends, is a definite possibility.
Vietnam is circumspect where China is concerned and, hence, extremely cautious in improving ties with the United States. Certainly Hanoi has been hesitant to host senior US officials, especially defense figures. A visit by Defense Secretary William Cohen, for example, had to be postponed twice in the late 1990s and finally took place in 2000. A visit in early 2001 by Commander of US Forces in the Pacific Admiral Dennis Blair was canceled by Hanoi literally at the last minute.
Beijing is clearly interested in the course of US-Vietnam relations. There is, for example, great curiosity in China over the prospect of Cam Ranh Bay becoming a US naval facility. Kenny believes that Beijing is concerned about US influence in Southeast Asia, US military influence in Vietnam, and expanding economic ties between the United States and Vietnam.
The author contends that the United States can be a useful role model to Vietnam, and this is true. But perhaps more relevant to Vietnams leaders and its ordinary people are the examples of other Asian states. Kenny points to several possibilities. Potentially of great importance here is Taiwan. The island offers a prime example of a success story in terms of the economic and political development of a small state also living in the shadow of the dragon. Taiwan is Vietnams second largest foreign investor (Singapore is number one), and as many as 20,000 Taiwanese expatriates live in Vietnam. The accession of both Taiwan and China into the World Trade Organization in December 2001 has made joining the WTO a top priority for Hanoi.
A key question in the mind of this reviewer is: How realistic is it to expect that Hanoi will take the authors recommendation and balance against China by moving to establish closer ties with the United States? Certainly, of the four China policy options that Kenny outlines, the due respect alternative is, on the face of it, the most sensible for Vietnam. But, in the final analysis, how confident can Vietnams Leninist rulers be of retaining their own hold on power? As rulers of one of the worlds last remaining communist party-states, Vietnams political leaders are an insecure if not paranoid group. For them, national security entails not merely confronting external threats but also facing subversive internal threats. In short, will Hanois leaders be able to look beyond what Kenny admits is a preoccupation with regime maintenance, and think of what is in the best interests of all Vietnamese? In this context it is more likely that the Leninist minnow of Vietnam will stay within its comfort zone, retain strong ties to its whale-sized fraternal socialist neighbor next door, and keep a prudent distance between itself and the United States.
Overall, this concise volume is strongly recommended for its valuable up-to-date survey of China-Vietnam relations. The author presents, in sympathetic terms, the challenge Vietnam faces in the ever-present shadow of the dragon. Sources are a blend of primary sources in translation and secondary English-language materials, along with a smattering of interviews with Vietnamese analysts and officials. The informative text is enhanced by five useful maps and a variety of helpful charts and figures. This volume will be of interest primarily to the nonspecialist, who will find the current state of Sino-Vietnamese relations placed in proper perspective with an authoritative survey of history, economics, and territorial disputes.
Korean Endgame: A Strategy for Reunification and U.S. Disengagement. By Selig S. Harrison. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2002. 409 pages. $29.95. Reviewed by Forrest R. Pitts, Professor Emeritus of Geography, University of Hawaii.
The core message of this closely argued book is that American military presence in the Korean peninsula will gradually wane in the near future, and that thoughtful preparations for this should be considered now. Whatever the readers of Korean Endgame think of Selig Harrisons ideas, his message should be considered seriously because of his decades-long access to North Korean, Chinese, and Japanese decisionmakers.
Korean Endgame has strong chess overtones, given the China/Russia/Japan/North Korea/South Korea/US grid as the arena where all country actors have only hawks and pragmatists (no doves fly in this six-dimensional space). A fascinating aspect of the book is the ping-pong dominance of hard-liners in Seoul, Pyongyang, and Washington, intent upon sabotaging their own sides negotiating efforts.
Part I, titled Will North Korea Collapse?, is a welcome presentation of relevant facts about the North. Part II deals with the postponed dream of reunification. Part III, Toward U.S. Disengagement, centers on the Tar Baby Syndrome. Nuclear policy is the concern of the six chapters in Part IV, and Korea in Northeast Asia, as a well-argued Part V, concludes the book.
Some degree of urgency pervades the text. Harrison notes that Koreans on both sides of the thirty-eighth parallel regard a rearmed Japan as their major potential security threat. Chapter 15, Guidelines for U.S. Policy, presents a reasoned approach, with safeguards to protect US interests, and shows that Harrison is not a cats paw for North Korea.
The author points out that Beijing and Moscow have moved to positions as honest brokers as their comradely enthusiasms have waned. He notes, Both Moscow and Beijing are increasingly attempting to play the role of honest broker between the North and South. That is what they want the United States to do, and that is what the North also wants the United States to do. Harrison offers U.S. as an honest broker as the leading concept in the peninsulas short-term future. The phrase is not listed in the Index, but it appears a handful of times in the text.
Relations between South Korea and North Korea, as one would expect, form a central theme in the book. It may surprise Parameters readers that both sides in the peninsula think that the United States is mostly responsible for the division of the Koreas, that they both think that Japan has no interest in the reunification of the peninsula, and that both regard Japan as their common enemy.
The German experience with reunification persuaded Seoul to mute its enthusiasm for a quick unification in favor of helping the North economically. Cold War attitudes on both sides have softened, and the South would like to move middle-range industries north. Yet as Harrison points out, The North Korean government likes production contracts because they provide jobs and foreign exchange without a politically sensitive influx of Korean managers.
Over the years, many Pentagon planners have dreamed of a Tokyo-Seoul military axis. Harrison points out that such a proposal would be violently opposed in Seoul, Tokyo, and Beijingquite a line-up for Pentagon quarterbacks to buck. Military cooperation aside, South Korea and Japan have a strong economic bond in spite of their stereotypes about each other.
What of the nuclear issue? Harrison cites the Japanese belief that the North takes its various nuclear stances to pressure the United States into recognition of its regime. He says that North Korean leaders view their formal proposals only as a starting point for negotiations in which they are prepared to strike the best bargain available.
Past policy mistakes by the United States are noted. Israel tried to stop the export of missiles to Syria and Iran by buying the Ulsan gold mine for $1 billion, but was stymied by Washington. Harrison also notes, Twice, the United States offered to link US recognition of Pyongyang with Soviet and Chinese recognition of Seoul, only to renege on the offer when Moscow and Beijing did, in fact, shift to a symmetrical stance. Related to the Norths desire for normal relations is its desire to sell tungsten to US steel mills, and its wish to upgrade mines and open new ones, with payment in minerals.
US policy planners should be acutely aware of the possibility that current rivalries in the Korean peninsula look ominously like those of the late 1800s. We should keep in mind that when history repeats itself, it often does so as farce. That possibility should cause us to be very careful about axis-of-evil declarations on the one hand, and marginalizing Russia and China on the other.
All in all, Korean Endgame provides the reader a meaty plate for consideration.
Odysseus In America: Combat Trauma and the Trials of Homecoming. By Jonathan Shay. Foreword by Max Cleland and John McCain. New York: Scribner, 2002. 329 pages. $25.00. Reviewed by Dr. Douglas V. Johnson II (LTC, USA Ret.), Research Professor, Strategic Studies Institute, US Army War College.
Shays first book in this duet, Achilles In Vietnam: Combat Trauma and the Undoing of Character, was remarkable both for the truths it spoke that reached beyond the theme and immediate purpose of the book, and the manner in which it reopened the continuing sore of US Army personnel management systems. In one very important sense, this new book continues the latter theme.
Until I read Odysseus in America, I had only fond memories of Odysseus. Shay destroys those memories and paints a picture of a scheming, lying, self-serving conniver. So much for my classical education. But out of the wreckage of this image, Shay establishes a compelling framework for dealing with the returning combat veteran. Once again pulling from his experience as a staff psychiatrist in the Boston Department of Veterans Affairs Outpatient Clinic, Dr. Shays research rests in significant measure on his patients, Vietnam veterans with severe Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Last year, his work won him a position as Visiting-Scholar-at-Large at the US Naval War College.
Shay raises the issue of how a soldier adapts to the requirements of war, which, by their nature, contradict those of a civil environment. Odysseus, Shay relates, demonstrates success in the practice of those traits so essential to success in battlecunning intelligence, deception, reconnaissance, manipulation, secrecy, spying . . . . How then does the soldier, having become proficient in these skills in the course of a decade-long war, readapt to civil life? Not well in the case of Odysseus, nor in the case of many veterans, according to Shay.
Shay was not privy to the Army Chief of Staffs Well-Being study, conducted at the US Army War College in 1999, but the issues addressed in Odysseus in America fall directly in line with the general thrust of that studythat the Army is
people, and caring for people ought to be one of its principal concerns. The enormously expensive Agent Orange and Gulf War Syndrome experiences ought to tell the Army that the cost of not taking care of soldiers during their service can result in costs that far exceed those related to preventive measures. However, Shay notes clearly that issues associated with coming home are more difficult for the military to recognize and treat, because home is not the militarys realmit is the American societys realm.
Coming home, to Shay, means societal factors like safety, acceptance, value and respect, knowing ones way, living according to pattern, being part of each others future, and comfort. None of these is directly related to the militarys realm, and it is doubtful that the military services could ever prepare returning warriors for reintegration into a hostile society such as that to which many Vietnam veterans returned. But the cost of not even trying to do something has been enormous. Shay continues to insist that the one action the military can take, first surfaced in Achilles in Vietnam, is the institutionalization of some sort of military communal act of purification. This is especially important for combat soldiers, whose moral code, even though it may still have been in a formative state, has most likely been violated in combat. Recall that S. L. A. Marshall provided estimates of the astonishing percentages of men who could not bring themselves to shoot to kill, even at the risk of their own lives as well as those of their comrades. Even this act, however it may appear to be mere ritual, must be performed within the organization. This opens the even larger argument related to unit cohesion for which Shay carries an equally ardent belief.
There is, perhaps, another important angle that would recommend this book to a broader audience, and that is the value of inculcating what is often referred to as the warrior ethos. The warrior ethos is often treated as little more than an admonition to be brave in the face of adversity and to persevere to the end. A study of Odysseus suggests something much more complex. Since every enemy is another thinking human being who, with some exceptions, wants to awaken to the dawn of another day, all the warrior attributes exhibited by Odysseus need to be fully developed. But as noted earlier, those qualities are largely antithetical to the practice of good citizenship.
In the past decade, as Army studies were pursued, there was a time when it was glibly assumed that the US military was so dominant that little consideration should be given to any enemy capability. That changed with the intervention of people like Dr. Dennis M. Bushnell, chief scientist at NASA-Langley. A group popularly known as the Mad Scientists was gathered for a series of conferences, and ideas were developed on how an enemy could disrupt or thwart US military operations. Experiments were conducted in wargames, sometimes with stunning results. There is now a formal cell in Joint Forces Command charged with monitoring, developing, and highlighting such possibilities. The whole idea is that, as civilized people, we are extremely reluctant to think seriously about what it takes to be victorious in combat, and we have difficulty in accepting the brutal reality of war. This reflects on other soldier-level works by Gerald R. Linderman (Embattled Courage: The Experience of Combat in the American Civil War and The World Within War: Americas Combat Experience in World War II); Dave Grossman (On Killing: the Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society), and others, each of which presents evidence that training people to kill is difficult. Grossman argues more broadly that once that skill in learned, by whatever means, it is difficult to control.
These works make it reasonably clear that mortal combat, no matter how glorified in literature and film, is nevertheless something that makes most men quail; it
must be learned by hard knocks, as it appears very difficult to inculcate in the training base. But once inculcated, Shay asks, how does the institution reverse the process? His answer, in part, is that no attempt is currently made to do so, and that needs to change. Perhaps Shays proposed purification ritual might be a step in that direction.
A Perilous Progress: Economics and Public Purpose in Twentieth Century America. By Michael A. Bernstein. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2001. 376 pages. $42.50. Reviewed by Michael J. Fratantuono, Associate Professor, Department of International Studies, Business & Management, Dickinson College; Adjunct Professor, US Army War College.
At the outset of the 20th century, academic economists were struggling for a professional identity and the discipline of economics lacked coherence. By the second half of the century, economists had a direct hand in shaping US government policy, and their field had infiltrated the curricula of other social sciences and even the humanities. By centurys end, however, the credibility of the profession and the discipline had been undermined: their capitulation to a statist agenda had left both vulnerable to unforeseen historical forces. Those developments motivate the work of historian Michael Bernstein.
Dr. Bernstein explains that while professionalism is consistent with the aspirations of middle-class America and with US predominance in 20th-century world affairs, it is nonetheless imbued with competing values: individual achievement and meritocracy on the one hand, bureaucratic and even anti-democratic forms of governance by credentialed elites on the other. Furthermore, he believes there is a dialectical relationship between disciplinary knowledge and professional standing, that both are subject to the influences of the modern state, and that the state in turn is shaped by powerful historical events. Thus, he constructs a narrative that weaves threads from three sourcesthe evolution of the economics discipline, the purposeful cultivation of the economics profession, and the social, political, and military history of the United States.
The American Economic Association (AEA) was established in 1885. Over the next two decades, founders tackled those functional yet nonetheless essential tasks needed to shape a professional communitythey promoted value-free research, identified disciplinary boundaries, built a national membership, launched The American Economic Review, and initiated an annual convention. With the advent of World War I, economists helped the government mobilize resources for the effort.
In the 1920s, the discipline witnessed an internal debate between institutionalists, who advocated an inductive approach to research that acknowledged the rich interaction between economics, politics, history, and society, and neoclassicists, who argued for a deductive approach to research, based on narrowly focused models of individual choice, as the foundation for understanding market processes. Ultimately, the latter group prevailed and shaped economics into a more formal, abstract, esoteric, and mathematically oriented field. Despite those theoretical advances, economists did not anticipate the onset of the Great Depression and could not explain its underlying causes.
The blind spot spurred challenges to neoclassical doctrine, including the work of John Maynard Keynes, who emphasized the interdependence between aggregate consumption and investment and the potential benefits of deficit spending by government during economic downturns. Nevertheless, throughout the 1930s President Roosevelt kept
economists at arms length and adapted ineffective, ad hoc policies that were motivated by opportunistic political calculation rather than a sustained and coherent economic strategy.
The economy recovered only when the country prepared for and entered World War II. To help the government with the tasks of efficiently managing production plans and transporting material and troops, economists developed new optimization and linear programming techniques. For its part, the AEA took steps to elevate the significance of the profession: it channeled economists into government service, generated consensus reports on various issues, and, following the war, sent emissaries abroad during reconstruction.
Contrary to expectations, in the immediate postwar period, US economic growth was robust, with strong demand for consumption, investment, and exportable goods. In that environment, the economics profession became more homogeneous. Undergraduate and graduate-school curricula increasingly emphasized value-free neoclassical methods at the expense of the study of both economic history and of the classics written by Adam Smith, Karl Marx, and others. Leading mainstreamers, whose efforts were financed in part by the Department of Defense and affiliated agencies, developed game theory, the mathematical expression of bipolar, interdependent, competitive behavior. In contrast, those espousing heterodox economic perspectives were marginalized by the AEA and, worse yet, left-leaning professors were denied promotion or purged by institutions of higher learning. The only real challenge to the domination of the neoclassical school was the increasingly popular work of Keynes. Influential advocates of Keynesianism confidently stated that the ability to fine-tune the economy via monetary and fiscal policy implied the end of the business cycle.
Economists established a permanent foothold at the highest level of government with the creation of the three-person Council of Economic Advisors (CEA) in 1946, in the Administration of Harry Truman. In the formative years, there was intense argument among council members as to whether their mission was to provide objective, scientific information to the President, or to persuade the Congress and public of the Administrations politically colored policies. In the Eisenhower Administration, the CEA ultimately migrated to a position of advocacy. Councils in subsequent administrations did likewise.
Despite general prosperity, the last of the three minor US recessions of the 1950s did affect the tight outcome of the Nixon-Kennedy presidential contest in 1960. That experience, as well as his own disposition, left President Kennedy open to the advice of his high-profile CEA, whose members all had come of age during the Depression and were strongly influenced by Keynes. To stimulate growth in the sluggish US economy, they proposed a tax cut and an associated government deficit, a policy line unprecedented during a time of peace. A tax bill was passed, the economy expanded, and the CEAand more generally the economics professiongained in prestige.
But Keynesian policy did not exist in isolation from other historical or political developments. A month before President Kennedy was assassinated, the CEA turned to the more ambitious agenda of poverty reduction via a fusion of fiscal and social activismi.e., The New Economics. Under President Johnson, the country did pursue his Great Society reforms. But his Administration also mobilized for the Vietnam conflict. Although his CEA began to argue in 1967 for a tax increase to cool the economy, Johnson did not want to risk his social agenda. He chose to finance initiatives by printing money rather than by increasing taxes or selling bonds, thereby prompting the onset of wage-price inflation.
Over the next 15 years, three sets of developments further distilled the Keynesian spirit. First, empirically oriented economists began to investigate the possibility that re-
duced unemployment could come only at the price of higher inflation. The implication? Politicians would have to choose the right combination of jobs and price stability. Then, in the 1970s, two supply-side oil shocks resulted in both higher unemployment and higher inflation, thereby blurring the lines of government-selected tradeoffs. Second, the monetarists, led by Milton Friedman, who strongly believed that discretionary macroeconomic policy was subject to political whim, argued that a simple and consistently applied rule for monetary growth was the key to noninflationary economic expansion. Third, the general thrust of monetarism found further expression in the theory of rational expectations, which argued that if individual market participants could accurately anticipate the future impact of todays government policies, then participants would take counterbalancing actions today that would neutralize policies and render government ineffective.
Those themes, which were incorporated in the rhetoric employed by Ronald Reagan in the presidential election campaign of 1980 and called among other things for a smaller government role in the economy, resonated with conservatives who were disenchanted with the liberal currents of the 1960s. In this light, the 1981 tax cuts engineered by the Reagan team in the name of liberating the supply side of the economy were a polarizing ideological symbol of relief from economic instability.
Furthermore, along with the tax cuts, the Reagan Administration also engaged in a very large military buildup to pressure the Soviet Union. The result was a series of federal budget deficits that effectively precluded proactive, Keynesian-style, counter-cyclical economic policies by Reagans successors, and even gave rise to calls for a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution, which, if passed, would have legally prohibited deficit spending on any grounds. Thus, by the late 1980s, the journey was at an end. Adherents of the New Economics had retreated, discussions of policy were conducted as if Keynes had never contributed a word to the discipline, and economists had become the mouthpiece for a particular interest-based agenda.
What should we make of this book? First, it is an impressive work of meticulous scholarship, a portal for further research, with 160 out of the 360 pages dedicated to chapter notes, bibliography, and index. Second, it is a book for the patient and determined reader. The exposition is serious-minded, detailed, and at times a bit dense. Third, the treatment is interdisciplinary, so that historians, political scientists, and military leaders will all find something of interest in the narrative; but those without a background in the history of economic thought may find some segments a bit opaque. Fourth, the narrative will give all practicing economistsand other professionals for that matterpause for reflection about the curriculum they experienced during their formal training. Fifth, by concentrating solely on the American experience, the book overlooks the rejection of the welfare state and the movement toward market processes that separately took place in Great Britain under Margaret Thatcher, as well as in a range of other states more recently. To say this in another way, some wind may have left the Keynesian sails regardless of US weather patterns. Sixth what was a deliberate and dispassionate voice on the part of our guide becomes somewhat shrill by journeys end, as though Dr. Bernstein feels personally betrayed by the developments he describes. Yet, his criticism that the discipline is now burdened by disagreements over fundamental macroeconomic relations that neatly fall along lines of class, political party, and ideological leaning is certainly relevantone need only consider the debate over the tax plan released by the Bush Administration in February 2003 to see this is the case. Much like the rewards from completing a long, steady, upward trek, the book proves ultimately provocative and worthwhile.
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Reviewed 25 August 2003. Please send comments or corrections to email@example.com