From Parameters, Autumn 1998, pp. 159-69.
Benedict Arnold, Revolutionary Hero: An American Warrior Reconsidered. By James Kirby Martin. New York University Press, 1997. 540 pages. $34.95. Reviewed by Dave R. Palmer (LTG, USA Ret.), President of Walden University and author of, inter alia, The Way of the Fox: American Strategy in the War for America, 1775-1783, and 1794: America, Its Army, and the Birth of a Nation.
Benedict Arnold is popular nowadays. At least, the intriguing contradictions in his personality are. Evidence of an upswing in curiosity about this enigma of a man can be seen in the spate of works produced in recent years. Major books include Willard Randall's Benedict Arnold: Patriot and Traitor (1990) and Clare Brandt's The Man in the Mirror (1994). Arnold is also the subject of a television episode on "Biography," first broadcast in 1995 on A&E, the Arts and Entertainment channel. James Kirby Martin joins that crowded field with the stated purpose of "reconsidering all the evidence and seeking to understand" Arnold's descent into infamy.
Martin's is the best book yet. His intent to examine his subject primarily as a warrior allows him to focus in depth on Arnold's Patriot years, those from the outbreak of the American Revolutionary War in early 1775 to the Battle of Saratoga in late 1777. By not attempting a full-scale biography, Martin gains the advantage of being able to explore exhaustively that brief period in which Arnold flashed meteor-like from unknown merchant to celebrated hero and then started the downward spiral to despised traitor, moving from the savior of his country to a man without a country.
The story of Benedict Arnold is largely the story of the War of Independence in its first half. He joined the spontaneous uprising in New England following the Battles of Lexington and Concord, helped seize Fort Ticonderoga, led an epic march to attempt to make Canada the 14th state, was wounded in a failed attempt to storm Quebec, delayed the British counterstroke on Lake Champlain, repulsed a redcoat raid into Connecticut, and was instrumental in winning the decisive victory at Saratoga (where he was seriously wounded again). He later received command of the important complex of fortifications around West Point, and was uncovered just before he could turn those vital defenses over to the British. None of America's other battle leaders equaled his martial exploits in 1775, 1776, and 1777. Those are the major events this book is built around.
For the serious historian, this volume is rich in leads to documents relating to the places and times of Arnold's involvement in the Revolutionary War. For the person coming the first time to the always fascinating story of a soaring leader who falls from grace, the narrative provides both entertainment and education.
Although well written and carefully researched, the book fails in one major way. When the author is all through, Arnold remains an enigma. The reader learns much about what happened, but is left wondering why it happened.
James Martin painstakingly recounts the many personal clashes Arnold had. The general squabbled, it seems, with virtually everyone except George Washington himself. Nowhere, however, does Martin credibly assess why the superb fighter was so fractious an individual. Nor does he ever manage to show convincingly why a sustained sense of frustration drove Arnold not just to change his mind about the Patriot cause but to attempt to profit monetarily by arranging the ruin of the Continental Army as he left it. Martin is sympathetic toward and apologetic for the traitor but in the end he has no compelling explanation to offer for the baseness of his treason. Neither, it might be added, do any of the others who have written about him recently.
That is too bad, for there is one. It is a reason stark in its clarity and bold in its forthrightness. Perhaps, though, what makes this otherwise obvious explanation so hard to grasp and accept in the 1990s is that it appears to run counter to so much of the thinking currently in vogue around the country.
The flawed notion that moral strength in leaders does not matter filters out a true understanding of Benedict Arnold. But the plain facts of his life and fall present resounding evidence that, after all, character counts.
It's that simple--and that complex.
Disarming Strangers: Nuclear Diplomacy with North Korea. By Leon V. Sigal. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton Univ. Press, 1998. 288 pages. $29.95. Reviewed by Richard Halloran, formerly with The New York Times as a foreign correspondent in Asia and military correspondent in Washington, who currently writes on security issues from Honolulu.
This book begins with promise, but at the end of the day it is painfully disappointing.
Leon V. Sigal, onetime editorial writer for The New York Times, has assessed in detail the convoluted negotiations between the United States and North Korea that culminated in the Agreed Framework of October 1994, under which North Korea pledged not to acquire nuclear weapons. The book is especially timely as the 1994 accord has experienced rough going and may be in danger of coming apart. It has added relevance in the aftermath of nuclear tests by India and Pakistan in early 1998.
Despite some excellent passages, Sigal's book is marred by inept journalism, a repetitious and sometimes wandering narrative in want of judicious editing, and judgments that seemingly were screened through an ideological lens. Sigal's whip flays the United States, South Korea, Japan, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), politicians of different parties, diplomats of many stripes, intelligence agencies, and the American press. There are few heroes in his account.
Even the North Koreans, to whom Sigal is generally sympathetic, feel the lash. And Sigal's praise for former President Jimmy Carter, whom he credits with imaginative diplomacy at a critical time, is muted. It seems that only Sigal possesses the ultimate wisdom on this issue, which may strike some readers as a tad unseemly.
Sigal's main theme is that the United States should "cooperate" with other nations on contentious issues rather than to confront, deter, or employ military force against them. "Cooperation works," Sigal declares at the start. "It can succeed where coercion would fail. It is also cheap by comparison." He asserts that US diplomacy often fails because of "American unwillingness to cooperate with strangers."
By the end of the book, however, it is difficult to discern the difference between cooperation and appeasement. Sigal appears to belong to an ideological school of international relations whose adherents believe that other nations will be nice if only the United States would be nice to them. Sigal recognizes "North Korea's history of bizarre and brutal behavior and its highly adversarial style of bargaining." Yet he would have the United States offer inducements to get North Korea to adhere to agreements already made. Negotiations made little headway "because the United States never offered any substantial incentives for North Korea to end its bomb-making" under treaties it had earlier signed.
In journalistic flaws, Sigal mentions a Korean-American named Tony Namkung in the preface but does not identify him until page 137. He writes about the North Korean "ideology of juche" but doesn't explain it. Sigal says a US general in South Korea knew a military exercise called Team Spirit "was not essential to ensure force readiness," but there's no quote from the general saying so. The author says the United States has threatened North Korea with nuclear strikes seven times, but fails to say how or when. He writes about "those in North Korea who hoped to bargain away its nuclear program," but doesn't say who they were or how he knows this.
Moreover, Sigal gets some things backward. In one instance, he writes, "North Korea was reaching out to Japan." No, a Japanese politician named Shin Kanemaru was reaching out to North Korea for his own domestic political purposes. Or Sigal is on shaky ground. He says: "No American spent more time talking to North Koreans than K. A. (`Tony') Namkung." Maybe so, but maybe not. That overlooks Professor Suh Dae Sook of the University of Hawaii, who has written a definitive biography of North Korea's late leader, Kim Il Sung, and who, among several others, has been in North Korea countless times. Further, the author omits critical items such as the secret minute to the Agreed Framework; the reader is left wondering whether Sigal was unaware of it or couldn't break it out.
For the general reader, certain obscure passages should have been cleared up by a careful editor. Sigal says that the IAEA "mistakenly sent Pyongyang a type-66 draft agreement intended to cover individual sites rather than a type-53 agreement appropriate for a party to the treaty." Only IAEA bureaucrats would understand what that means. Sigal also relies too much on blind sources; most journalists quote such sources but they should be limited in a book of this sort. Lastly, Sigal says he wrote 60 editorials for The New York Times on nuclear diplomacy, then quotes from them as if they were authoritative commentaries written by someone else. A bit disingenuous, that.
Sigal sums up his case: "The American aversion to cooperating in order to prevent proliferation is perverse." History, however, is replete with evidence that appeasement encourages aggressive governments to become more belligerent. After British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain appeased Nazi Germany's Adolf Hitler in Munich in 1938, the redoubtable Winston Churchill fumed: "The government had to choose between shame and war. They chose shame and they will get war."
Mates and Muchachos: Unit Cohesion in the Falklands/Malvinas War. By Nora Kinzer Stewart. Washington and New York: Brassey's, 1991. 192 pages. Reviewed by Colonel Henry G. Gole, USA Ret.
Mates and Muchachos is a well-crafted book in its organization and presentation, important for what it says about the 1982 Falklands/Malvinas War in which a thousand Argentine and British young men died, and timeless for what it says about cohesion to explain why men fight. This is not a new book, but combat veterans who read the book will call old comrades to tell them about it. Aware that wars are fought by men who fight best in the company of men they love, they will thank Dr. Stewart for getting it right.
Over and over, research in military psychology and sociology in the United States and other Allied nations reaffirms the interrelationship of small-group ties, loyalty, bonding, esprit, and combat performance. Yet the majority of U.S. Army planners . . . downplay the issue of the sociopsychological effect of cohesion on high performance in battle.
Anecdotal data from soldier interviews, memoirs, diaries, histories, and novels corroborate scholarly research regarding cohesion.
Sociologist/anthropologist Stewart refuses to tax readers with professional jargon. Lucid prose, smooth transitions, and references to previous research teach us that the relationship of soldiers to the military is "organizational bonding," to officers and NCOs is "vertical bonding," and to each other is "horizontal bonding." In these kinds of bonding--and in two other related ways--the Brits had enormous advantages over their Argentine foes: for over 400 years the Brits had learned to "muddle through" in combat overseas, and Britain sent her very best soldiers to this war. Tradition, long service, good training, and cohesion characterized the elite British force.
Dr. Stewart's facility in Spanish and her experience enabled her to interview Argentines and conduct research in Spanish. Her thumbnail sketch of the Argentine army and its place in the nation is first-rate. Pertinent to the lack of cohesion among the Argentines is the great social distance between officers, NCOs, and conscripts. The latter serve one year or less in the army. When the war began, "the majority of the class of 1962 (year of birth) had already been sent home, while the class of 1963 had not . . . even basic instruction." Further, most of the untrained conscripts came from the tropical northern provinces and were simply not prepared to confront "dreadful conditions and a well-trained and well-equipped enemy."
The Royal Marines routinely trained in the boggy marshes of Dartmouth Moors and had completed annual maneuvers in arctic conditions in Norway in April 1982. The paras regularly trained on the cold plains of Salisbury and had just returned from duty in Northern Ireland. One of the paras said: "I started out in a class with eighty-three men and only eleven of us finished. You know that you're the best in the world when you finish that training." Another said: "I could never figure out why the hell we were training in the muck and goo at Salisbury when we were going to fight in Northern Europe. Then when we were in the Falklands, I said to my mates, `Bloody Hell! This place is just like home.'" Tradition was a powerful force in bonding. A Royal Marine commander told his 45 Commando, "We marched from Normandy to Berlin. We can bloody well march eighty miles to Stanley." A soldier told our author: "I'll be damned if I'm going to let down those chaps who fought at Arnhem." These are the words of proud, hard, and confident professionals.
The contrast was stark, and both sides knew it. An Argentine soldier said: "If I had had real officers who were real men, maybe I would have stayed. No way! I'm Argentine and we aren't made for killing people. We like to eat, go to the movies, drink, and dance. We aren't like the English. They are professional soldiers--war is their business."
NCOs have little responsibility within the Argentine Army excluding administrative duties. They do not train recruits or soldiers. Their duties focus solely on the physical care of the soldier such as ensuring that the soldiers are adequately clothed and fed. In addition, there is an enormous social gap between the officer and the noncommissioned officer that detracts from vertical bonding and cohesion between officer and NCO. This social distance and lack of vertical bonding produce a rigid, hierarchically organized army which de facto is incapable of flexibility and creativity under stress.
After the surrender, an Argentine officer commented to a British officer: "We thought we knew about war, but you have shown us that we only knew about exercises." It had been over a hundred years since Argentina had fought a large-scale war. The author concludes: "The British show over and over again that elite units produce, maintain, and foster high levels of morale, esprit, and organizational, horizontal, and vertical cohesion." Her final words are eloquent. "The single most important element in developing bonds between and among ranks is caring, nurturing officers and NCOs. The hallmark of a competent officer is, as both Argentine and Briton have said: You must love your men." (Her italics.)
Anticipating almost certain agreement by US Army leaders with Dr. Stewart's assertion, one wonders why the same leaders permit practices that tend to isolate rather than bond soldiers. A list of such "efficiencies" that isolate would include: elimination of the unit mess hall that was close to being the heart of a rifle company; the demise of "pay call" during which company officers paid their troops directly; the return of one-year company command; conversion of squad bays in garrison to semi-private rooms; the absence today of senior NCOs in barracks; continuance of an individual replacement system; and centralized promotions that take authority from the company commander. Surely, if we believe that cohesion is as important to combat success as Mates and Muchachos suggests, we would emphasize that which bonds soldiers and eliminate that which isolates them.
Fighting on the Brink: Defense of the Pusan Perimeter. By Uzal W. Ent. Paducah, Ky.: Turner Publishing, 1996. 431 pages. $39.95. Reviewed by Colonel Donald W. Boose, Jr. (USA Ret.), former Director of Asian Studies and currently an adjunct faculty instructor at the US Army War College.
Parameters readers will be familiar with the outline of the story. After the 25 June 1950 invasion of South Korea, American ground forces of Lieutenant General Walton H. Walker's Eighth US Army were thrown into battle piecemeal to stem the North Korean attack, but were pushed back along the main avenue of approach in western and central Korea while South Korean forces fought tenaciously in the mountains to the east. By the end of July, Walker's command was able to form a defensive line--the "Pusan Perimeter"--and to hold it throughout the month of August in the face of repeated North Korean assaults. On 15 September 1950, US and South Korean forces of X Corps conducted an amphibious assault at Inch'on, deep behind North Korean lines. Threatened from the rear, weakened by heavy losses, their supply lines constricted by allied air attack, the North Koreans faltered and Eighth Army went on the offensive. By 27 September Walker's lead elements had linked up with X Corps 25 miles south of Seoul, near the site of Task Force Smith's first battle 12 weeks earlier.
Retired Brigadier General Uzal W. Ent, who fought in the Pusan Perimeter battles as a rifle platoon leader and spent decades studying the campaign, presents in this massive book a detailed account and insightful analysis of those three fateful months. This is primarily the story of the US Army and Marine Corps. Ent does not ignore, but presents in less detail, the saga of the South Korean (ROK) ground forces who bore the brunt of the fighting and made the Pusan Perimeter defense possible by stalling the North Koreans at the high mountain passes, sustaining and inflicting horrific casualties. Air, naval, and logistical matters are addressed only insofar as they affected the ground campaign and, except for a brief mention of an unsuccessful action by the Miryang Guerrilla Battalion, Ent does not address Special Operations at all.
The main thread of the story closely follows the official accounts, which Ent fills out with descriptions drawn from thousands of participant interviews and letters. These detailed accounts of tactical actions make up most of the book, but the real value that Ent adds is his analysis and assessment of the way theater strategy, operational decisions, and the time, space, geography, and forces available shaped the campaign. Ent challenges those who criticize the failure of American forces to stop the North Korean offensive during the first month of the war. The speed of the North Korean advance and the time required to deploy forces from Japan gave American commanders no choice but to commit units into battle as they arrived. Thus the fighting in July 1950 found American companies and battalions pitted against North Korean regiments and divisions. There was no time to consolidate into larger organizations and, until sufficient forces were available in Korea to establish a defensive line, the mission of the American ground units was not to defend--which would have meant their destruction--but to delay: to slow the North Korean advance and to trade space for time while preserving units for the battles ahead. This meant breaking contact before becoming decisively engaged, and the distinction between a prudent withdrawal and a premature retreat was often a matter of judgment. There were allegations at the time that the Americans were prone to abandon their positions too soon and even to flee from the North Koreans in panic (the term was "bugging out"). There were, indeed, episodes when panic-stricken soldiers broke and ran, but Ent finds no evidence that any US battalion ever "bugged out" en masse and little evidence that any unit as large as a company did. For the most part, American soldiers carried out their mission in spite of their inexperience, the debilitating effects of years of occupation duty in Japan, the uneven quality of their training and leadership, serious equipment shortages, and, in such cases as the 2.36-inch antitank rocket launchers and M-24 light tanks, outright equipment failure. Ent concludes that in spite of these handicaps, the "bitter, frustrating struggles in July, along with the ROK army's own stubborn, delaying battles . . . bought just the right amount of time for American troops to get to Korea, in the strength needed, to form and defend what became known as the Pusan Perimeter."
That perimeter enclosed a 100- by 50-mile rectangle, bounded on the west by the Naktong River. The North Koreans could choose the time and place for their attacks, achieving numerical superiority at the decisive points. Walker did not have enough troops to establish a solid defensive line (what would be called an area defense in today's doctrinal parlance), nor could he maintain a large reserve force for counterattacks, the key element of a conventional mobile defense. Instead, he had to deploy his forces in strong points along the length of the perimeter, making the most of the high ground east and south of the Naktong and the mountainous terrain in the ROK sector. He dealt with North Korean penetrations by creating ad hoc counterattack forces from units not under attack and from newly arriving forces. The result was a form of mobile defense, a doctrine developed by American armored forces. Walker, whose entire World War II experience had been as an armor commander, was perfectly suited to carry out such an operation, aided by the superior mobility of the US forces and by a network of roads and rail lines within the perimeter that allowed him to shift his meager reserves quickly.
During August and the first week of September, the North Koreans made two attempts to crack the perimeter, each time launching four attacks on it: one on each coastal flank, one near the apex of the northwest angle of the perimeter, and one at a crucial river bend known as the Naktong Bulge. Every time the North Koreans broke through the tenuous line, Walker managed to muster sufficient forces at the right time and place to push them back. By the time of the Inch'on landing in September, Walker's Eighth Army and its South Korean allies had fought the North Koreans to a standstill.
Ent argues that Walker's "indomitable spirit, vision, and consummate skill as a tactician" made the successful defense of the Pusan Perimeter possible. Not everyone saw it that way at the time. The distinctions between "delay" and "defend" and the imperatives imposed by the requirement to defend too long a line with too few troops were not well understood by Walker's critics, nor, Ent suggests, by his superiors in Tokyo and Washington. On at least two occasions MacArthur considered relieving Walker, a situation Ent blames on a lack of communication caused by MacArthur's imperious isolation and the failure of MacArthur's chief of staff, Major General Edward M. Almond, either to comprehend the situation in Korea or to communicate effectively with Walker.
This valuable and informative book does have a few flaws. While Ent generally describes the tactical actions clearly and coherently and includes plenty of maps, some of his battle accounts are difficult to follow and he can afford only a few anecdotes for the less significant engagements. His transitions between tactical detail and operational analysis are not always smooth and, while the book is attractive in appearance, it contains a substantial number of typographical errors. The index, in particular, is riddled with errors, but this is to be corrected in a later edition.
These, however, are small matters that do not seriously detract from the value of this worthwhile book. Veterans and those who would like to know what the fighting was like will learn much from the tactical accounts, written by one who was there and who understands ground combat at the rifle, bayonet, and hand-grenade level. Students of theater strategy and operational art will profit from General Ent's well-informed insights. Fighting on the Brink can be recommended to anyone who wishes to learn more about the crucial, desperate fighting of the first phase of the Korean War.
Defining Moments: When Managers Must Choose between Right and Right. By Joseph L. Badaracco. Boston, Mass.: Harvard Business School Press, 1997. 146 pages. $19.95. Reviewed by Colonel Michael D. Jones, 1998 graduate of the US Army War College.
Joseph Badaracco sheds new light on senior leaders' decisionmaking in his thought-provoking monograph Defining Moments. The subtitle, When Managers Must Choose between Right and Right, strikes at the heart of the most perplexing strategic decisions.
Badaracco skillfully weaves three case studies through his analysis to demonstrate the difficulty of making tough decisions. First, there is Steve Lewis, a second-year investment analyst at a prestigious New York investment firm. Asked to attend a client presentation for a project which he has not been working on, he discovers he was called because the client, like himself, is black. His attendance will reflect favorably on the firm but misleads the client to believe Lewis is a principal in the project. He must decide whether to enhance his career or refuse to be used as a "token minority." His personal values are on the line. In the second case study, Peter Adario, a marketing department leader in a very competitive business, has an unmarried female employee who wants to fire one of her subordinates. The subordinate is a single mother whose family commitments do not allow her to work the late nights and weekends her job demands, even though she is currently working 50-60 hours a week. The company espouses family values. He must decide whether to support the working mother who needs a job, or her highly motivated supervisor who is focused on achieving maximum profitability for the department.
Finally, Edouard Sakiz is the chairman of Roussel Uelaf, a French pharmaceutical company that has developed RU486, the so called "morning after" birth control pill. He must choose whether or not to begin production of the pill. The drug is projected to produce little, if any, profit for the company. Anti-abortion activists find the drug appalling and may initiate a boycott against the company's other products. His parent company, chaired by a presumably anti-abortionist Roman Catholic, disapproves of production. On the other hand, ready access to RU486 could reduce the number of botched abortions, especially in poorer countries, thereby preventing many deaths and injuries. This decision pits corporate profit values against the values of social responsibility.
Badaracco describes these as "right versus right" decisions, in which each of the opposing courses of action can be rationalized as the best thing to do under the circumstances. Each choice offers certain benefits and desirable outcomes. He makes the case that managers are not challenged by right versus wrong decisions. The answer on those few occasions when there is an obvious right or wrong is too easy: do the right thing. Right versus right decisions are infinitely more difficult.
The author then explores several options for making these difficult decisions. One by one he makes his case that grand principles, credos, and mission statements, observance of the law, and sleeping on the problem are each inadequate approaches for making difficult judgments. He argues convincingly that such decisions become defining moments for managers, revealing the decisionmakers' ethics and values, testing their commitment and, in fact, shaping their futures. His insights into such challenges are that we must first define who we are, then decide what our truth is, and--based on these personal findings--determine to commit wholly to an action. The art of reflection, a precious commodity that is elusive in today's hectic, fast-paced environment, is key to implementing this strategy successfully. The author provides an engaging discussion of commitment and the imperative of devising an implementation strategy to carry out decisions.
Badaracco is the John Shad Professor of Business Ethics at Harvard Business School. In this volume he cites many case studies and draws upon contemporary and classical works in literature and philosophy such as Remains of the Day, the Greek tragedy Antigone, and the philosophical discourses of Aristotle, Machiavelli, and Nietzche.
This is not a "how to" book, for the complexity of right versus right decisions defies a simple process. Badaracco's thought-provoking work reveals the difficulty of decisions that senior managers make, and his absorbing style weaves the three case studies throughout the text to illustrate his points. Readers may find themselves trying to solve the problems of the three case studies, repeatedly asking "What would I do?"
One shortcoming is the absence of another difficult type of decision which, for lack of a better name, could be called the wrong versus wrong decision. In some decisions, all options are bad, not good. This issue is not addressed, so the reader is left to ponder whether the strategy proposed for right versus right would be effective in wrong versus wrong decisions.
Senior leaders face relatively few right versus wrong decisions. Most are in the gray area. Badaracco urges us to ask the questions that really matter: Who am I? What do I really stand for? How committed am I? All officers should read and reflect on Defining Moments.
Mobilizing for Modern War: The Political Economy of American Warfare, 1865-1919. By Paul A. C. Koistinen. Lawrence: Univ. of Kansas Press, 1997. 394 pages. $45.00. Reviewed by Dr. J. Boone Bartholomees, Jr. (Colonel, USA Ret.), Professor of Military History, US Army War College.
The second of Paul Koistinen's planned five-volume series on American mobilization is as exhaustively researched and effectively presented as the earlier volume on mobilization through the Civil War. The major theme of this volume is the rise of the military-industrial complex and the development of a civil-military partnership as the US paradigm for mobilizing for modern war. Koistinen traces the birth of the now-familiar government-industry association to the emergence of a modern US Navy at the turn of the century. Enormous changes in naval technology made the traditional technique of military control of product development and fielding impracticable. The team of politicians, naval officers, and businessmen that eventually produced the new Navy provided a model for subsequent cooperative efforts. Professor Koistinen follows that thread through US participation in World War I. The transition to a modern system of mobilization, of course, was not smooth, and he points out all the rough spots. While he describes adequately the rushed, confused, often bungled, but ultimately adequate mobilization for the war with Spain, his most detailed examination is of the mobilization for World War I.
Professor Koistinen contends that before the First World War a consensus developed in the United States that only businessmen could conduct mobilization, and private rather than government plants were the most efficient source of production. The War Department, which had handled previous mobilization efforts almost exclusively, did not have the people or expertise necessary for the massive, complex preparations for modern war. Existence of a consensus, however, did not facilitate prewar preparation. Preparedness advocates, both inside the government and in the private sector, faced the insurmountable obstacle of official neutrality. Not only would the Administration not provide the guidance that would form the bedrock of mobilization planning, it actively hindered such planning. Before March 1916, when the Wilson Administration finally gave its grudging support to mobilization planning, preparedness advocates could not get beyond the stage of surveying existing plants or (in the case of medicine) people. Nor did the change of attitude in March produce immediate dramatic results; there was no effective mobilization structure in place and operational until at least the end of 1916 and arguably much later.
Professor Koistinen explains how US pre-World War I mobilization planning received help from unlikely sources. For example, the Chamber of Commerce produced a loosely articulated proposal reflecting the informal national consensus for a government-business partnership to supervise mobilization. It was a weak and uncoordinated product, but it served as the intellectual foundation for a mobilization organization when the government was ready to consider such activity. Much more directly effective was the activity of J. P. Morgan and Company. That banking house won the exclusive contract as the purchasing agent in the United States for the British and later the French governments. The way the Morgan bank conducted its business on behalf of the Allies substantially affected US war industries. First, foreign demand and excellent prices encouraged plant conversion, expansion, and construction. Second, despite dealing with a large number of contractors, Morgan tended to place the biggest orders with a relatively few large companies that eventually became dependent on military contracts. Thus, the Morgan bank not only stimulated the military economy of the United States when the government was unwilling to do so, but did it in a way that encouraged the emergence of a military-industrial complex.
The more familiar story of US mobilization for World War I centers on the War Industries Board that the Wilson Administration formed in August 1917. Mobilization under the board was a shambles through March 1918 as the War Department and other independent agencies thwarted the board's efforts to centrally control mobilization. After March 1918, three factors converged to make the War Industries Board an effective tool: the board was given strengthened powers, it got better cooperation from a radically reorganized War Department, and Bernard Baruch provided much-needed leadership. The success of the War Industries Board as a government-business regulatory partnership in the best Progressive tradition was to have far-reaching consequences.
Koistinen argues convincingly that mobilization for World War I had a permanent effect on American society, economy, and ideology, and would serve as the model for subsequent mobilization. He finds in it, decades earlier than traditionally dated, the roots of the military-industrial complex that is only now evolving through a continuing series of corporate acquisitions and consolidations. Mobilizing for Modern War and the series of which it is a part are destined to be classics. One strength for the scholar or reader interested in pursuing specific topics is 72 pages of rich notes and a bibliographic essay. This book is not light reading, but it is essential for anyone seriously interested in historical or contemporary American mobilization policy.
Chemical and Biological Warfare, An Annotated Bibliography. By Eric Croddy. Lanham, Md.: Scarecrow Press, 1997. 400 pp. $45.00. Reviewed by Colonel Charles L. Mercier, USAR, Commander, 2125th US Army Garrison, Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Colonel Mercier previously commanded the 490th Chemical Battalion, and commanded the 907th Chemical Detachment (NBCE)(JB) in Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm.
It would be difficult to find a topic of greater concern to policymakers and the military today than weapons of mass destruction, particularly their possible use by rogue nations or by foreign or domestic terrorists. A measure of public interest in the topic can be estimated by the amount of space afforded it by prominent weekly news magazines. The 23 February 1998 issue of U.S. News and World Report and the 2 March 1998 issue of Newsweek offered extensive coverage of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. Newsweek devoted more than 13 pages of pictures and text to the subject, while U.S. News allocated seven pages and displayed a picture of Saddam on the magazine's cover. The highly respected Journal of the American Medical Association contained no less than 11 articles addressing biological weapons in its 6 August 1997 issue. One of them, "Iraq's Biological Weapons: The Past as Future?" assesses Iraq's biological weapons capability; another, "Clinical Recognition and Management of Patients Exposed to Biological Warfare Agents," provides information on the diagnosis and treatment of ten principal biological warfare agents, serving--intentionally or not--as a primer on consequence management for emergency response providers.
If you're looking for exciting reading and a book that's hard to put down, go elsewhere. Should you subsequently obtain some of the references listed in this work however, you may find them hard to put down. Silent Death, for example, provides detailed information on how to create the agents it describes, identifying ingredients and production processes. How easily, one has to ask, could a miscreant make the same purchase I did, and hold a city or a nation hostage with his weapon?
The bibliography, published in 1997, is reasonably current. It could be considered a single-source reference locator for information published as recently as September 1996. Entries have been grouped variously: by historical background, specific chemical agents, biological agents, protection and decontamination, policy and arms control, and a rather large miscellaneous group. It was difficult to determine the rationale for some of the categories other than that the author found some interesting references and needed a place to put them. The book's organization seems somewhat random and lacks a logical flow, but any shortcomings in organization have been corrected in the superb subject index.
The brief introduction contains a number of anecdotes, such as how some of the nerve agents got their names; sarin, for example, is derived from its inventors Schrader, Ambrose, Rudiger, and Van der Linde. The body of the book has something for everyone interested in the topic, and the sections on nerve agents and biological warfare contain some very useful references. In his annotations--he has commented on about half the references--Croddy points out any unusual information in the cited work, occasionally offering observations about the author's perspective.
The bibliography spans the technical (Archives of Toxicology) to the general (Business Week). Croddy includes views as divergent as those supporting a chemical and biological warfare deterrence program (John G. Appel) and those believing that chemical warfare and biological warfare are so inhumane they should be eliminated (Matthew S. Meselson). He includes many publications of World War I vintage and lists the URLs of sources found on the Internet. These Internet references provide a limited opportunity for regularly updated information. At least two of them are worth bookmarking: the sites for the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute <<http://www.sipri.se/>> and the Battelle Memorial Institute <<http://www.battelle.org>>. One exceptional Internet resource not listed in this bibliography is the Centers for Disease Control's website at <<http://www.cdc.gov>>, which contains many excellent full-text articles (with up-to-date references) related to weapons of mass destruction.
If you work in the nuclear, biological, or chemical fields or otherwise need to do some serious research on chemical and biological agents, plan to spend some time with Eric Croddy's thorough and evenhanded annotated bibliography.
Reviewed 13 August 1998. Please send comments or corrections to email@example.com