Dr. Cynthia Nolan
States do not make foreign policy; people do. The elected and non-elected officials of the bureaucracy make the decisions that determine American foreign policy. In The Marshall Plan: Dawn of the Cold War, Benn Steil reviews new material from American, Russian, German, and Czech sources and reveals a chronology of the speeches, meetings, and conversations that made up the most famous nation-building event of all. Starting with 1944 and ending in 1949, the reader will learn the stories of George C. Marshall, Dean Acheson, George F. Kennan, Lucius D. Clay, Henry Stimson, and Arthur Vandenberg, among others. Steil notes that American bureaucratic wrangling and opposition in Europe almost prevented the Marshall Plan from happening. However, without the Plan, the Cold War might not have started or ended the way it did.
He organizes the book with a semi-chronological structure but readers should keep the cast of characters bookmarked, as they will want to refer to them. Steil introduces some people without providing a biography until many pages later. This makes the book somewhat structurally repetitive and complex. Indeed, the book takes some commitment; it is not a casual read.
All told, eighteen countries spent thirteen billion dollars to build up the European ideological defense through economic recovery and cooperation. Recall that the Plan was available to all countries except for the Soviet Union. Thus, the Marshall Plan set up the European cooperation that encouraged the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the European Union (EU). Without those very practical, cooperative endeavors, trade wars, currency devaluations, personal resentments, and perhaps even the demand for reparations from Germany could have pulled apart the growing coalition against Communism.
Again, some events take on a mythological quality that obscures their origins. One might be tempted to think of the Marshall Plan as a grand humanitarian gesture after World War II, but it has more realistic origins than that. As Steil points out, the hard-boiled realists used the Marshall Plan to contain the expansionism of Josef Stalin. Without it, the communist ideology in France, Italy, and elsewhere could have grown on the economic frustrations of the citizens and of the farmers and industrialists, in particular.
So, why did the Marshall Plan become a myth that is invoked to apply to any nation-building situation? Its success made tolerable—at least to outside observers benefiting from the distance of time—the geopolitical tradeoff between freedom in the West and Soviet power in the East. That tradeoff made the Plan an essential basis for the Cold War. The Plan was a success for at least six reasons.
First, it was a grand strategy from the White House—known as the Truman Doctrine. Steil gives us the background for the famous March 12, 1947 speech before Congress and includes it in an appendix. The request for economic assistance for Turkey and Greece became the justification for a broader policy even if Congress and the wider audience did not know it was coming. The speech asserted that the economic recovery of Europe was the key to a peaceful future. Without public speeches advocating the Plan, the public might not have supported the next step: the Cold War.
Second, a prescient and relatable article published in the July 1947 issue of Foreign Affairs by George Kennan, under the alias “Mr. X” justified the policy of containment and a certain about-face when it came to cooperation with the Soviets. The article provided a kind of end-run around the legacy of Yalta when FDR promised to cooperate with Stalin. Cooperation with the Soviets on Eastern Europe was not going to possible.
Third, the framers of the Marshall Plan had the cooperation—albeit reluctant—from Europe. Italian and French governments promised to bolster non-communist candidates in return for aid. When the Soviets and those states in their sphere rejected Marshall Plan aid, it justified the rejection of any and all communists in Western Europe as well, thus providing more fodder for the ideological war between the two Great Powers.
Fourth, it relied upon the capitalistic underpinnings of all aid. Remember, the Plan was indeed to rebuild Europe after nearly unfathomable devastation. Populations were starving, but economic aid needed to go beyond immediate recovery. It needed to develop and modernize Europe to create trade. By investing in West Germany’s industrial capacity, the Plan ignored crippling calls by the Soviets for reparations on Germany and focused on the capital—physical and mental—needed for the future.
Fifth, it provided physical security that protected freedom and growing democracy through NATO and the American nuclear umbrella of Europe. NATO is a collective security arrangement that strengthened the collective economic arrangements within Europe. Removing physical vulnerability encouraged Western cooperation, which helped to set up the Cold War too.
Finally, the Marshall Plan bolstered cooperation within Europe. Marshall and others firmly believed that the union of the Western European states was necessary to counteract the Soviet influence. Economic recovery could not move forward without German industry or German cooperation with its neighbors. The economy was interlinked—for both the purposes of immediate recovery and defense against the Soviets.
Those variables may not apply universally; like a recipe handed down by a grandmother, some ingredients are not always available. Without the context of the wider ideological war, the Plan does not get the material or public support it needs. Indeed, witness the public debates over more recent recovery plans. Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, and Syria come to mind as places that may not have the fertile ground that the Marshall Plan sowed.
Steil’s book has an astounding sum of facts, numbers, and inside conversations that bring the reader behind the scenes of the decision-making. It is a unique set of data and an interesting test case for principles like misperceptions, bureaucratic politics, rational actor model, personalities, changing grand theories, reluctance to accept new information, and even devil’s advocate in groupthink. However, his book suffers from a few drawbacks. Although the list of characters is helpful, keep an atlas handy; the book would benefit from more maps.
Steil contends that the recipe for a successful foreign policy strategy like the Marshall Plan is based on a healthy dose of realism in addition to the idealistic dream and cooperative goals. Remember, the Plan was not a miracle. It bolstered the recovery that was already there, but it was definitely important. Without the practical goals of the Marshall Plan, the visionary cooperation, recovery, and leadership that the post-World War II world needed may not have existed. Steil reminds us that lofty American foreign policy has to be both visionary AND practical.
Kyle Harper, "The Fate Of Rome: Climate Disease & The End Of An Empire." Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2017
Dr. Robert Smith
Everyone knows how and why the Roman Empire fell, lead in the water pipes, sexual and moral dissolution among the ruling classes or poorly controlled immigration. Edward Gibbon’s thesis in The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, that the rise of Christianity undercut the Roman sense of civic duty, is simply wrong. Moreover, the Marxian interpretation that it was destroyed from within by a class struggle might have fit Mike Duncan’s book The Storm Before the Storm, but has no traction in this period. But does not that beg the question, what were the pressures that led to the collapse of the Pax of Rome across much of the world? Of course, any book that opens with T.S. Eliot’s warning from the poem “East Coker” simply must be given its due.
What does make the fall of the Roman Empire MUCH more fascinating is that there was no near-peer competitor of consequence. Rome was it, in terms of political entities. This is perhaps why Harper’s interpretation of the other historical record is both so fascinating and important. Harper’s thesis will be off putting to some, and infuriating to others who play the climate change card to advance certain political agendas. Harper states his grand vision,
Tropics? It sounds like AIDS and Ebola in this current century.
Harper neatly dissects a great deal of historical evidence to arrive not at an overarching conclusion, but at period type summations and their overall impact on the Roman Empire. What is surprising is that there is not a linear downward trend, but spikes up and down in terms of weather and climate, as well as truly different impacts on parts of the Empire. It is for this reason, a challenge to say any single event in this period led to the overall collapse. But a careful reading of Harper will indicate that his meticulous examination of certain manuscripts and scrolls does allow researchers to make more educated guesses on trends and the possible impacts those trends had on the long-term survivability on the Roman Empire.
Harper does not so much lightly tread between the current climate debate as get on with presenting facts to back up his hypothesizes and assumptions. Harper has a keen eye for the economic engine of the Roman World and what made it move, and the impact various changes to this model would cause. The reader would probably expect that, but Harper neatly examines it in a readable fashion that is both academic in tone and popular in style, making it accessible to a wider swath of readership. For unless the reader grew up in a farming family or a farming district, crop failure might seem like the most dull subject in the world, but Harpers writing makes the continuing plights and blights of this time both timely and fascinating in an era of globalization where both human, animal, and plant pathologies can move at the speed of air travel.
Anyone familiar with Zinsser’s Rats, Lice & History will see a kindred spirit at work, someone who understands that perhaps the great captains of history at times cannot overcome the great germs of history. Consider the Spanish Flu. Imperial Germany might have defeated France with Ludendorff’s spring offensive in 1918 if not for the deaths and illness plaguing the German Army as the Spanish Influenza stalked the exhausted, hungry, and disease-prone German soldiers, particularly the Strosstruppen. But consider such a cause and effect in a Roman Empire at peace with the Antonine Plague of 165 AD. Anywhere from two percent to a third of the Empire died. What is evident, as Harper notes, is silver mining for coinage fell off. In turn, this led to debasement of the coinage in circulation, l inflation, and uncollected taxes. Food prices soared, doubling in price.
At its height, Rome ruled 75 million people, one-fourth of the world’s population. By 650 AD, the same area now supported only half that population and Rome itself had dropped from near a million people to twenty thousand. Harper rightly notes the fall of the Roman Empire was the greatest regression in all of human history. Finally, the Justian Plagues of 541-43 AD and their recurrence, along with the Little Age Ice of this period led directly to the explosion of Islam. And with the Byzantine Empire in such a crisis, it could not defend its far imperial lands. Is it no wonder that religions that preached to the apocalypse and salvation such as Christianity and Islam expanded.
The maps, printed in washed out grey scale, are difficult to read. A little splash of color would have been benificial. Even the type of paper used in the book appeared low cost. It made the book feel a little cheaper in a sense that the extra cost and effort was not worth increasing the quality even though it would provide a friendlier reading experience. The Initial Timeline Table in the beginning of the book would have begged for more study with a splash of color. The font size used on the various maps is incredibly small and challenging to read—again, not a reader-friendly experience.
The Fate of Rome is a great companion to Duncan’s The Storm Before the Storm. The contrast is great. as Readers see Rome begin its ascent to command the ancient world and the other books shows its long, slow descent and dissolution, into first two empires, and then struggling to live on as one in the East. The Fate of Rome, was for this reviewer, a rare type of history work. It is appealing because it challenged many assumptions and learned preconceptions of the Fall of the Roman Empire. How impactful is the book? For the time that the work was under review, this professor sent out fascinating snippets from it to fellow history friends and posted the same to students in graduate-level classes. The Fate of Rome is simply a must read for anyone wanting to understand truly the complex story that lies behind the fall of Rome and the Roman Empire in the West.
Communication in Africa: Talking Drums and Town Criers in Pre-colonial and Colonial Bamenda Grassfields, Cameroon
Anne Midgley, "Charles Hulett, Continental Army Drummer: A Revolutionary Life Reexamined." Self-Published, LuLu. 2018.
In Charles Hulett, Continental Army Drummer: A Revolutionary Life Reexamined, author Anne Midgley explores the life of an eighteenth century American from the colony of New Jersey. Charles Hulett is based on the author’s master’s thesis, and as the title suggests is a micro-history, tracing the experiences of a private soldier during the American War of Independence. The book is divided into three chapters: the first describes Hulett’s community and home colony of New Jersey on the eve of war, the second deals with Hulett’s service in the Northern Campaign between 1776 and 1779, and the third covers his service in the Southern Campaign between 1780 and 1781. The 145-page book contains an extensive bibliography, which is to be expected of an academic work with master’s thesis roots.
Midgley uses Hulett’s experience as the medium through which to explore several central themes. What makes the book noteworthy is her placement of Hulett’s history in a cultural, military, and geographic context. This is significant first and foremost because Hulett saw service on both sides of the rebel-loyalist conflict. He began his service with the New Jersey Militia and Continental Army, but later switched sides and joined the British Provincial Corps. Hulett was then captured in South Carolina, and ended the War of Independence back in Continental Army uniform.
Charles Hulett was born in the British colony of New Jersey in 1760. Hulett grew up in a religiously and culturally diverse community. As Midgley emphasizes, the Dutch who originally settled the area were remarkably tolerant for the time, and this liberal outlook mostly prevailed under British rule. By the onset of the War for Independence, New Jersey was home to a slew of protestant denominations, from Anglicans to Quakers. Due in no small part to this cultural diversity, Hulett’s home county of Monmouth was quite evenly split in its loyalties when the conflict flared up in earnest. Without a doubt, the makeup of Monmouth County was a contributory factor to Hulett’s apparent propensity for switching sides (p. 32, 34–35, 40).
New Jersey, like the other colonies, had a militia system in place at the start of the war. The New Jersey Militia, which Charles Hulett joined in 1776 at the age of sixteen, consisted of local units tasked with defending their counties. Additionally, state levies were sometimes formed from county militia in order to satisfy defensive requirements not covered by the local units or by the national Continental Army. It was as a New Jersey Levy artilleryman that Hulett found himself on the field of battle at Princeton in January 1777. As Midgley makes clear, Hulett did not appear to possess any particular ideological commitment to the rebel cause, but was rather swept up by the turn of events: “By 1777, the men in the ranks of the New Jersey Continental Line did not resemble the Patriot image of the idealistic yeoman, but rather, they came from the poorer members of society, much like the members of the British Army” (p. 42–47, 62).
By any measurable standard, Hulett’s first experience of eighteenth century warfare appears harrowing. His unit was engaged in close-quarter fighting with British troops, who bayoneted his commander to death. After Princeton, Midgley considers it likely that Hulett participated in the January-March 1777 “Forage Wars” against the British. Contrary to family oral history, however, Hulett was most likely not among the New Jersey troops who later fought at the Battles of Brandywine Creek and Germantown in September and October 1777. In March 1778, Hulett’s service as a New Jersey Levy ended as he was conscripted as a drummer into the Continental Army, which was badly in need of men after the previous winter’s privations (p. 58–59, 61–62).
1778 was the year the rebellion became part of a global conflict. It was also an eventful year for Charles Hulett, and it is where Midgley’s narrative in particular shines. Her research contradicts the established Hulett history; no doubt eager to show that Charles was loyal to the rebel cause, his pension claim maintains that he was captured at the June 1778 Battle of Monmouth Courthouse, and only enlisted with British forces as a way to escape the hardship of imprisonment in the West Indies. Midgley’s narrative refutes this claim. She illustrates, given the details of the British expedition to the West Indies after Monmouth, that Hulett could not have accompanied British forces abroad, nor did the troops sent there return to the American mainland. Indeed, Midgley’s research produces a more nuanced picture of the real Charles Hulett (p. 66–67, 74).
Midgley suggests that it was most likely Hulett’s experiences in the Continental Army and difficulties at home which convinced him join the British provincial forces. Ill will between his commanders, demotion from drummer to ordinary private, and a commensurate pay decrease, all contributed to a sense of disillusionment with the rebel cause. Records suggest that a number of Hulett family members were active loyalists, and this may have had a further effect on Charles’s change of allegiance. In any case, Hulett was never captured by the British, and one year after his discharge from the Continental Army in early 1779 he joined the New Jersey Volunteers of the British Provincial Corps. As Midgley states: “For many, the war became a matter of personal survival, and it is certain that Hulett weighed practical considerations like the perceived ability of the British provincial corps to feed, clothe, and pay its men against his experience with the Continental Army” (p. 85–86).
It is likely that Hulett soon saw action in the June 1780 battles at Connecticut Farms and Springfield, the last significant engagements in the northern states. Hulett, as a loyalist soldier, may even have aimed his rifle at his former militia comrades. In August, Hulett transferred to the Provincial Light Infantry, which was soon sent to help suppress the rebellion in South Carolina. In September 1781, Hulett’s unit fought at the Battle of Eutaw Springs, a pyrrhic British victory that decimated the Provincial Light Infantry, and ended in Hulett’s capture. As Midgley indicates, it is likely that Hulett rejoined the rebel ranks after facing the choice of remaining a prisoner of war or switching sides. In any case, Hulett next appears in the historical record only after the end of the War for Independence, on his wedding day in January 1787 (p. 87–88, 92, 102).
As noted, what makes Charles Hulett significant is the author’s ability to weave a minor player’s story into the larger context of the War in the American Colonies. Midgley focuses not only on the colonies, but places Hulett’s service, and by extension the American War, in a global context. In so doing, she makes the point that the War of Independence was one aspect of a much wider conflict, itself a continuation of the unfinished power struggle between the European great powers, especially Great Britain and France, after the Seven Year’s War. Another central theme of the book is that the War for Independence was not just part of a larger world war, but also America’s first civil war. It split local communities apart as neighbors, friends, and even family took sides, whether as rebels or as loyalists. While some communities were fairly united in allegiance or in opposition to Great Britain, many others were deeply divided in their loyalties. More than simply the radical Whig view of a black and white struggle of plucky underdogs against an overbearing goliath, America’s first civil war pitted colonists against each other in a brutal, internecine conflict. Midgley uses the wartime career of Hulett as a convincing example of this interpretation, as he fought for both sides in the war and was a member of a religiously and culturally diverse community that was, at best, ambivalent about its relationship vis-à-vis the British Empire. Ultimately, she illustrates how the real losers of the American War for Independence were the American loyalists, who in many cases lost everything and ended up as refugees abroad. Although the victors branded them as traitors, most of them simply desired to remain loyal citizens of their legitimate government (p. 102–3).
Midgley’s book contains another major theme: for the average individual like Hulett, allegiance to the British crown or to the Continental Congress rarely hinged on the esoteric ideals of the enlightenment. Instead, loyalty turned on the mundane or self-centered—one might say pre-nationalist—motives more common to soldiers of the European dynastic struggles of the period. As indicated, these concerns included whether or not an army was able to feed, pay, and clothe its soldiers, or the attitudes of friends, family, and neighbors within the local community. Hulett is representative of the no doubt numerous colonists who switched sides in the war as the situation personally warranted. In other words, ordinary individuals with ordinary concerns, caught up in extraordinary circumstances over which they had little control. In conclusion, Charles Hulett, Continental Army Drummer is an excellent book, and offers an interesting and refreshing perspective on the American War for Independence. It should be of interest to any student of American history, Anglo-American relations, or eighteenth century warfare.
"Blood and Steel, The Wehrmacht Archives: Volumes I Normandy 1944; Volumes II Retreat to the Reich: September to December 1944 and Volumes III The Ardennes Offensive: December 1944 to January 1945." Edited by Donald E. Graves. Front Line Press: London: 2
Dr. Robert Smith
Having reviewed Mark Reardon's Defending Fortress Europe, this reviewer was prepared for the concept of what Graves attempted to achieve here by his judicious editing of the Daily Intelligence Summaries of the First Canadian Army. Graves was aided in his editing process as the land portion of the War in the West is easily broken out into four phases, three of which he covered with these three volumes. A planned fourth volume will encompass the endgame for the German Army in the west. Graves’s work illustrates that the German Army was very meticulous in its staff work, understanding that no detail was too small and too insignificant to the German war effort. To fully grasp each volume, one almost needs to read all three. These volumes are not studies of the campaigns, but do instead cast a revealing light on the German Army in these campaigns. These volumes cover official tactical doctrine, weapon instructions, letters, and diaries captured by the allies, and Allied intelligence reports and summaries.
Panzer Lehr 1944
The Normandy volume was the least interesting personally, having read the Seventh Army’s journal in Defending Fortress Europe. However, it is a miniature gamers and tacticians delight. Much of this volume’s fifteen chapters are about by tactical considerations, combat, and equipment observations as expected. Much of this is standard territory. Graves included, though, chapters on tensions between the Wehrmacht and SS, logistical shortages in medical supplies, weapons and equipment in general, the German replacement system, and even pages on German soldier etiquette. He mentioned the fuel shortages that plagued the German Army once the strategic bombing campaign against oil plastered the refineries. He reminded readers that the Panther uses twice as much fuel as the Panzer III or IV, a reminder that logistics had to be weighed heavily before any use of the Panther in combat. Repeatedly running through Normandy 1944 is the German healthy respect for Allied artillery and air support, with examples shown such as instructions on how to properly dig in horses for force protection. There is also a mirrored reaction, a disdain for the Luftwaffe—always seemingly in some other sector—and the German rationing of shells versus, in their worldview, the Allied firepower on demand. Yet running through much of the volume is a belief in German victory—and why not—as to think otherwise would be an admission the last five years were in vain, and never mind the increasing severity of punishments handed out for defeatist sentiments.
Festung Europa https://pt.wikipedia.org/wiki/Armas_transcanais_na_Segunda_Guerra_Mundial#/media/File:Bundesarchiv_Bild_146-1986-104-10A,_Atlantikwall,_Batterie_%22Todt%22.jpg
The Retreat to the Reich volume deals with, as Chapter One is entitled, “Stemming the Flood.” After the Allied breakout in Operation Cobra and their mad dash across France, the Wehrmacht was reeling in the West. After the Battles of the Falaise Gap, it appeared the collapse of the German Army was imminent. That this collapse did not happen is well detailed at the small-unit and personal level by the documents selected here by Graves. The overall outline of Retreat to the Reich is like Normandy 1944, but the Home Front and Allied Bombing now begin to figure prominently in the pages of the book. “The Diary of a Nazi Girl,” a series of captured documents was in both content and purpose new and allows us to better understand the efforts that Hamas and Hezbollah today make in their indoctrination of the young. The chapter on desertion and discipline was a little surprising, as many accounts do not note that this was really a continuing issue, that the stiffening of the West Wall and the Rhine Barrier did not simply magically dissipate the sense the war was continuing to proceed in an unfavorable manner. Three facts stood out—the German claim that the Allies were using cement shells and that Americans tend to be very expert in their tossing of hand grenades. The third was that the 12th SS Panzer Division soldier strength was comprised mainly of eighteen and nineteen year olds (82%).
The Volksturm - the German Nation arises nhttp://www.bytwerk.com/gpa/posters/vsturm.jpg
The Ardennes Offensive volume is easily summed by the exhilaration of the letter “We March,” the belief in impending victory that would turn the fortunes of war to the despair that Germany had shot its last bolt, summed up succinctly by “Everything looks hopeless” (p. 136). Graves focuses a deserved amount of attention on the quest for English-speaking soldiers for Kampgruppe Peiper (KG Peiper was to be the schwerpunkt for the Ardennes Offensive in an effort to breach the Meuse River), with his sort of loose format that replicates chapters in the previous volumes. He made the factual error in the use of Major Hal McCown’s (retiring as Major General) account as a POW with Kampgruppe Peiper, listing him as from the 199th Infantry Division, as he was from the 199th Infantry Regiment of the 30th Infantry Division. However, the most engrossing document is the diary of Flak Sergeant Karl Laun, attached to Kampgruppe Peiper. Laun, after breaking out of the pocket Peiper found itself in when it ran out of fuel, begins a period of “official” medical furloughs, using every means possible to stay AWOL by the use of documents either to receive medical care or to be transferred to it. Portions of his diary are among the most fascinating documents ever written. It is also interesting that the German telephone intelligence section intercepted a call between Field Marshall Model and his wife, where she advises him to come home and stop playing soldier. Model would commit suicide in April 1945 in the Ruhr Pocket rather than surrender to American forces.
SS-Obersturmbannführer Joachim Pieper http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joachim_Peiper
A caveat for Graves work is small but for a historian of his depth it is perhaps surprising that more thought was not given to the placing of the material presented in its bigger picture perspective. Unlike Reardon in Defending Fortress Europe, Graves does not preface chapters, instead relying on his brief introduction for each book. The reader would have been perhaps better served by a little more historical context throughout the book, as a little historical factual knowledge and perspective would have aided in tying together the many facets chosen by Graves. The books also suffer from a lack of an index. Graves has done exceptionally fine work here, ensuring that there is a wide swath of interesting material to appeal to a wider audience than one might suspect from the dust jacket. It is highly recommended that readers tackle all three volumes published to date concurrently, as the totality of this efforts gives different glimpses into an army that while fighting desperately for its very existence, continues to grind on with its bureaucratic and administrative apparatus. In sum, fascinating material.
Duncan, Mike "The Storm before the Storm: The Beginning of the End of the Roman Republic," New York: Hachette Book Group, 2017.
Dr. Robert Smith
Destruction from The Course of Empire by Cole Thomas, c. 1833-1836.
Mike Duncan’s The Storm before the Storm: The Beginning of the End of the Roman Republic is a dramatic tale of the political turmoil engulfing Rome before the rise of Caesar, Pompey Magnus, and the Caesar-Pompey Roman Civil War as portrayed in Rome. The fact that Mike Duncan is renowned as history podcaster should not be cause to avoid this both relevant and bloody book. Duncan’s book is a rich survey of the period when the Republic began its slide from its noble trappings to a state existing solely for the benefit of roughly a hundred noble families and the equestrian order or class who held the reins of the Roman Republic economy. Duncan astutely works in the Roman political structure, which is far more complex, with seemingly a series of check and balances by different offices and assemblies.
Duncan’s overall thesis seems to anchor itself upon the fact that the Roman Republic’s political aristocracy was unable to cope with its military and political ascendancy in the Mare Nostrum. With the defeat of Carthage and the subjugation of the tribes of Spain, Rome ruled much of their known world. What upset the economic balance was all the new wealth and slaves flooding into Rome. With the defeat of Carthage, Rome now controlled the silver mines of Spain. Duncan, though, does not explore if this sudden dramatic influx of wealth caused inflation, but such a massive infusion surely caused some inflationary pressures. In turn, that infusion would have put greater economic pressure on the smaller land holdings owned by individual Roman farmers.
In a circular fashion, Duncan addresses this by noting that there soon seemed to be a fire sale of land that the top one-hundred families were adding to their already substantial estates. In turn, those farmers became in essence a free “serf,” bound to that family and who was expected to vote for those of the estate standing for election, or they became part of the new urban masses. In turn, this led to the economic pressure of needing to subsidize a grain dole for those now dispossessed from the land. The other major unresolved political crisis was there were still at this time two Italys, Roman Italy and the Italian Italy whose residents the Romans did not treat as Roman citizens. Their statuses was usually one of Allied cities or Socii, but as they lacked citizenship, were subject to arbitrary actions with no legal recourse.
Think of both of those elements as the third rails of Roman Republican politics. In addition, Romans either represented the established families that comprised the majority of the Senate, or those Senatorial reformers and the “plebs,” the free Roman of lower classes. Moreover, elections were held by tribal vote that the thirty-five tribes—four urban and thirty-one rural—would assemble on the Field of Mars and vote for candidates. Here is seen the rise of populism in terms of a political tool to rise to power that Caesar would use with great effect. However, to hold many of the offices, one first needed to have done their time in the legions, a stint of ten years as it was mandatory for office. But with this rise of populism and now class baiting, Duncan lays out how the competing factions began using political violence, to include murdering foes and dumping their bodies and those of their supporters in the Tiber.
The end state reached was laws would be passed—and then either ignored or simply undone by the next faction to come into power. Rome had reached a state of political paralysis, which was even more harmful as it lacked any meaningful bureaucratic administrative machinery. In turn, Duncan lays out how each of the major civil wars that convulsed Rome further weakened the Republic. The first was by the native Italians who rose against Rome. Eventually, though victorious, Rome granted these various tribes citizenship rights, but much of Italy was devastated in the conflict. Of greater portent for the future was the political competition between Marius and Sulla, and its impact lasted down into the era of Julius Caesar. The outcome of Sulla’s victory was the use of a dictatorship not just as a temporary measure as in the past but as one for as long as deemed critical for the reestablishment of order and security. This set a dangerous future precedent for Rome. So did Sulla’s use of proscription, a method to pay his troops by declaring either an opponent or someone wealthy to be an enemy, having them killed, and seizing their assets for the Republic.
A proscription list—once published, citizens were under an obligation to kill those upon it. Silvestre David Mirys, c. 1799
The Storm before the Storm could have helped the new or even casual reader by use of a technique that Jeff Sahara uses in all his works. He gives the readers a condensed thumbnail of the major actors in his volumes, enabling the reader to have a pre-immersion of who is who. That is even more important in certain cultures, as we have various Julia, Marius, Pompey-like names and such that can easily confuse and frustrate the reader (and one supposes the Romans as well). Worse, though, is the failure to adequately proof the book. There are at least twelve instances this reviewer found of a capital U that was mistakenly transposed in exchange for other letters, usually words with the letters ch but not in all instances. This capital U sticks out like the proverbial sore thumb.
Yet Duncan with The Storm before the Storm admirably fills a gap for not just the casual reader of Roman history. Duncan here made the period of the Republic at the height of its military and political success accessible, rendering a great service for the field. Moreover, Duncan allows his reader to draw their own conclusions on the current state of both American and global political affairs through the use of Roman history rather than interject in any heavy handed way the “this means that” school of writing. In all, Duncan provides a fine read. The Storm before the Storm is a book readers will not start and forget about.
Before the seventeenth century, Sweden was not an integral part of Europe, much less a great power, but the ascension of Gustav II Adolphus to the throne changed this. Gustav was an intelligent man who established the Swedish Empire through domestic reforms that modernized the country’s economy and its military. After the establishment of the Swedish Empire, the new power had to seek new economic opportunities to pay for its professional military and domestic reforms. Sweden’s inexperience with the mercantile system made it a potential investment opportunity. Dutch investors persuaded the fledgling empire to invest in a joint colonization effort with Dutch and Swedish stockholders under the new Swedish South Company. New Sweden, established in present-day Wilmington, Delaware along the lower Delaware River, was the first colony. The organizers of the colony intended it to be self-sufficient and for it to send raw materials such as beaver pelts and tobacco back to Sweden. Sweden’s inexperience with the mercantile system and underdeveloped transport system made it incapable of handling colonial demands. Without proper support and supplies, the administration of the colony had to focus on survival, causing it to ultimately fail. New Sweden’s Swedish and Finnish settlers remained in North America under Dutch, then English, control and contributed new building and carpentry techniques that spread throughout the continent. Liberal policies ensured future generations of Americans could trace their heritage to the New Sweden colony. Much like the Swedish Empire, the New Sweden colony did not last long, but its Swedish and Finnish settlers made lasting contributions to America’s frontier.
Political and Economic Security in Sweden
The dominant power of the Baltic region controlled trade and warships working in the area, ensuring economic and border security. In 1523, Sweden became an independent kingdom from Denmark, and its foundation created a new competitor for the Baltic region. Compared to Denmark, Poland, and Russia, Sweden was poor, underpopulated, and lacked a bureaucratic structure. Sweden had powerful enemies, and its primitive state made its political and economic security uncertain. Without security on the home front, Sweden could not attempt colonization.
As a competitor for the Baltic region, Sweden remained in a tense or warring state with Poland, Russia, and Denmark. Sweden’s weakness made it insignificant in mainstream European politics. Under Charles IX, Sweden’s fifth monarch, national actions and policies created a three-front war with Poland, Russia, and Denmark. He relied on mercenaries to fight these wars, but their loyalty belonged to the highest bidder and not the throne. His war efforts ended in constant failure and drained the kingdom of already limited money and resources. Sweden remained weak and vulnerable. Gustav II Adolphus assumed the throne after his father’s death, and he inherited the three-front war. 
Skillful diplomacy neutralized the war fronts and created the Swedish Empire To appease Denmark, Gustav agreed to remove his father’s controversial foreign policies and pay one million riksdalers for Fort Älvsborg, which secured passage to and from the Baltic Sea. On the Russian side, Tsar Michael Romanov and Gustav signed the Treaty of Stolbova. Under the treaty, Sweden gained Livonia, Estonia, and Finland. On the Polish front, Gustav managed to broker a truce, but the relationship was fragile. Gustav’s diplomatic skills secured control of the Baltic region, but he had to enact reforms to ensure the continuation of Sweden’s dominance.
Gustav disliked mercenaries since the terms of their agreements were open to different interpretations, and they may not follow orders. In 1620, Gustav passed the Ordinance for Military Personnel. This required males fifteen years of age and older to organize themselves into units and to rally to the king in times of war. The law served two purposes: first, it ensured a continuous flow of recruits; and second, it made military service a decree of the king. Men were fighting for their sovereign, and refusing to do so was an act of treason. Gustav’s soldiers trained and fought with modern military techniques and weapons. Infantry and cavalry learned to coordinate with each other, and soldiers performed drills to act in unison. Strict discipline prevented disorder within the ranks. Gustav increased the production of lighter guns and artillery to improve mobility. He wanted his soldiers to be properly armed to ensure a strong, modernized force. Furthermore, Gustav wanted to protect Sweden’s interest in the Baltic Sea and coastline, so he built a well-armed fleet. His fleet, equipped with modern guns, was trained to perform in coordinated attacks. His military reforms transformed Swedish troops into a professional fighting force that could protect Sweden’s political and economic interests. On the downside, the professional military was incredibly expensive to maintain, and it forced Gustav to explore different ideas for new sources of revenue. With the homeland secured and in need of income, the Swedish Empire finally turned to colonization to meet its needs.
New Sweden and Its Problems
Charles IX’s chaotic reign made it impossible for merchants from other European powers to establish commercial trade with Sweden, but new investment opportunities blossomed with the emerging imperial power. William Usselinx, a Flemish merchant who co-founded the Dutch West Indian Company, wanted to win the support of Gustav in establishing a trading company. Countries such as England and the Netherlands developed their economies around the mercantile system. Over time, their trading systems developed into effective networks that stimulated commercial activity. Sweden’s economy had no basis for the mercantile system. Usselinx declared, “All the merchants in Sweden are not so rich as three in Holland, nor a hundred of the farmers as rich as one there.” He understood Sweden was an emerging power that needed revenue and had no experience in the widely used mercantile system.
Gustav granted Usselinx an audience. The merchant proposed that Sweden establish a trading company that would expand its operations to North America, Asia, and Africa. He emphasized that Delaware River region had the commercial advantages needed for a successful colony, and it would be a suitable location for a source of revenue. Intrigued, Gustav invited Swedish investors to contribute to the company based on the idea of spreading Christian doctrine and establishing Swedish power abroad. Investors contributed to the project, and officials crafted a charter. In the meantime, Gustav had left for war in Germany. He died in the battle of Lutzen in 1632 before he could formally sign the charter. After Gustav’s death, his daughter, Kristina, ascended the throne, and like her father, she supported the colonial project. Sweden's government appointed Usselinx the commissioner and chief director of the new Swedish South Company. The Swedish and Dutch were to work together. Under their agreement, the Swedes would establish a colony in North America to generate income for the empire.
Dutch merchants limited their cooperation with the Swedish government to transporting settlers to North America. Sweden had the responsibility of recruiting settlers and establishing the colony. Atlantic voyages were dangerous and difficult, which made recruitment challenging. To have their sentences lowered, Swedish criminals convicted of adultery and destruction of forests volunteered. Other settlers included soldiers, whom the government ordered to go, and Finns. Finland was a part of the Swedish Empire. Finns along the Russian border moved to Varmland in Sweden because they angered officials with their burn-beating agricultural practices. Finnish farmers in Varmland burned an acre of forest a year to increase food production. In the 1630s, the Swedish government needed the forests for mining and foraging, so they started to regulate the practice. Finns continuously acted against the policies, and the Swedish government had them imprisoned or sent to New Sweden. Throughout the colony’s existence, Sweden recruited soldiers, criminals, and Finns to settle in New Sweden.
In 1638, the ships Key of Kalmar and the Bird Griffin set sail for North America from Gothenburg. Swedish and Finnish settlers, weapons, provisions, and gifts for the native population filled the ships’ holds. When they arrived, they managed to purchase land from the Indians on the western side of the Delaware River. Later that year, Peter Minuit, the colony’s first governor, built Fort Kristina in a strategic location away from the Dutch New Netherlands settlement. The New Netherlanders already competed with the English for resources, and now the Swedes were another competitor for those same resources. They protested the arrival of the new settlers, but they were not strong enough to defeat them. Fierce competition for valuable resources inevitably led to conflict between the Swedes, Dutch, and English.
Under the first two governors, the colony endured, but it relied on the English, Dutch, and the Indians for advice and supplies. The third governor was Johan Printz, and he spent about a decade in office. During this time, ships arrived from Sweden only three times. The first ship, the Black Cat, delivered ammunition and merchandise for the Indians; the second ship, the Swan, brought emigrants; and finally, the Key and Lamp both arrived with supplies. Indians provided a major source of foodstuff. Settlers offered gifts to the natives to maintain good relations. Infrequent shipments from Sweden made it difficult to have an adequate number of gifts for the Indians, which weakened the colony’s bargaining ability.
Printz dedicated himself to expanding and securing New Sweden’s political and economic interests. The Swedish government expected the colony to send raw materials such as tobacco back to Sweden after it became self-sufficient, like the tobacco-producing English colonies. He wanted New Sweden to imitate their success. However, Printz found tobacco cultivation difficult without adequate food and supplies for the farmers. Because of this, settlers focused on trade with the Indians for supplies rather than putting energy towards cultivating tobacco. Even if the settlers cultivated and stockpiled the tobacco, Sweden’s underdeveloped shipping system meant that the arrival of Swedish ships was unreliable and too infrequent to ensure prompt return of the raw materials to Sweden. Goods awaiting transport would remain in storage for lengthy periods, and they were easy targets for destruction by vermin.
Conditions in the colony deteriorated during 1643-44. An unknown epidemic spread throughout the region, and along with food shortages, it killed many of the settlers. Researchers believe that the unknown disease may have been dysentery or yellow fever. Starving settlers started to hunt on the native peoples’ land, and this caused skirmishes between the two sides. Food shortages, a high mortality rate, and conflict with the Indians made the settlement an unattractive destination. Printz purchased maize from the Lenape Indian tribe to address the food shortages, but he had no control over the epidemic. Some of the provisions that made it to the colony were damaged and unusable. Moths and mice damaged linen stockings because workers neglected proper care for the items in Gothenburg, a port city in Sweden. Supply shortages made it difficult for Printz to carry out any agenda other than survival. He worried the colony’s deteriorating condition would damage its reputation, and prevent further support.
Rather than cultivating tobacco, Printz focused his efforts on securing the beaver fur trade. English and Dutch colonies were close to New Sweden, and the three competed for territory along the river for beaver pelts. Whoever controlled most of the territory also controlled the beaver fur trade. The Swedes and the Dutch united to expel the English from the mouth of the Delaware River called Varkens Kill, now known as Salem Creek, in southern New Jersey. Printz turned his attention to the Dutch after the removal of the English to ensure Swedish dominance over the fur trade. He thought the New Sweden settlers could easily overrun the weakened Dutch. He was concerned, however, about how the Swedes would hold onto the territory without reinforcements. Messengers were sent back to Sweden multiple times explaining the state of affairs, but Printz received only silence. Indians were unreliable allies without adequate gifts.
Frustrated with the lack of support, Printz resigned from his position. In 1652, he returned to Sweden on a Dutch ship, and left his son-in-law John Papegoija in charge until the new governor arrived. Their heavy reliance on the fur trade put them in direct competition with the Dutch and English settlers. Competition for beaver pelts created tensions between the three, and this added to New Sweden’s vulnerability. Properly supported with manpower and supplies the Dutch and English colonies grew strong. Dominance over the beaver fur trade would have secured the colony’s position and prospects.
Johan Rising became the fourth and last governor of New Sweden. He quickly assessed the poor conditions of the colony. He discovered more than half of the settlers could not feed themselves. Most of the land remained uncultivated as settlers planted few crops. The Lenape tribe provided maize, and deer meat, and the New Englanders provided bread to the New Sweden settlers. Many of the settlers were unskilled peasants rather than the artisans needed to make pottery, bricks, lime, and furniture. The conditions were less than ideal. The Dutch and English settlers traded finished goods for provisions from the Indians, but the Swedes were not receiving enough goods from Sweden to take part in this trade network. Rising arranged for the Swedes to enter the trade network as middlemen by “buying trade goods from other European colonists, trading them to Indians with furs to sell, and reselling furs for transport to European consumers.” This arrangement was successful for a short time but unsustainable. In a letter to the Swedish government, Rising wrote,
I will now also humbly report concerning our present condition, namely, that everything is still in a fairly good state and especially since all here have the sure hope that a good succor from the Fatherland will soon relieve and comfort us, especially through Your Excellency and the assistance of the High Lords. If people were not animated by this hope, there would be danger that a part of them would go beyond their limits, or that indeed a large number of them would desert from here, not only because many necessaries are lacking, but also because both the savages and the Christians keep us in alarm.
Rising’s letter continued to explain the delicate relationship with the Indians. The settlers had to purchase the Lenape’s friendship with daily gifts. If the Lenape purchased anything from the settlers, they asked for half-credit and paid the rest begrudgingly. Then the Lenape took the New Sweden goods to the Minque tribe for beaver and elk-skins. The Minque then sold the skins to traders in Manhattan for a large profit. Rising’s letter emphasized his awareness of the colony’s vulnerable state. Indians and settlers took notice of it, too.
Rising’s reliance on the Lenape for food and supplies meant he could not afford ill relations with the tribe. Furthermore, New Sweden’s deteriorating conditions put it at a disadvantage in bargaining trade deals. Conditions in the colony were less than ideal, and Sweden offered little support for the colony; consequently, colonists left for the English or Dutch settlements. To add to their problems, the relations with the Dutch deteriorated because the Swedes built new forts and seized a Dutch settlement. The Dutch viewed this as an act of war and forced the Swedes to surrender. Swedes could either safely return home or remain as faithful subjects of the Dutch, but this marked the end of the Sweden’s government involvement in North America.
Legacy of the New Sweden Colony
Sweden ratified its first written constitution in 1634 and it incorporated Lutheranism as part of the supreme law of the land. It granted permission for the churches to act independently. Churches reinforced Swedish laws, including the prohibition of idolatry, lying, witchcraft, and fraud. The New Sweden colony adopted the homeland’s regulations, and the governors ensured homeland practices were maintained. For example, Johan Printz ordered that church services must adhere to Swedish church ceremonies and customs. He wanted to teach proper Christian faith and maintain good church discipline. Ministers performed their sermons in Swedish with Swedish texts, which reinforced their native language and customs. In 1655, after seventeen years of neglect, New Sweden’s five-hundred Swedish and Finnish settlers joined the New Netherlands colony. Already a heterogeneous population, New Netherlands tolerated Swedish and Finnish customs allowing the newcomers to maintain their congregations and religious identity.
Within thirty years, however, New Netherlands weakened and succumbed to the English. William Penn became the first English governor of the colony, and while he expected the New Sweden settlers to remain loyal to the English Crown, he continued to allow worship in their churches, which was crucial in reinforcing the Swedish traditions, religion, and language. Penn wrote,
The first planters in these parts were the Dutch, and soon after them, the Swedes and Finns. The Dutch applied themselves to traffic, the Swedes and Finns to husbandry. The Dutch have a meeting place for religious worship at Newcastle; and the Swedes three; one at Christina, one at Tinicum, and one at Wicacoa, within half a mile of this town.
The liberal policies of the Dutch and Penn ensured that the New Sweden settlers and their descendants continued practicing their traditions. On behalf of the original New Sweden colonists and their descendants, the settlers sent a letter asking, “The government to send Swedish priests, prayer books, and hymnals to the colony so that Swedish religion and culture would not diminish in North America.” In 1697, three new priests arrived to renew missionary work from Sweden. For the next century, more priests followed to minister in North America. Long after New Sweden ceased to exist, thousands of present-day Americans can trace their heritage to the colony.
The Finns adapted to the mainstream Swedish culture and language while continuing to practice their own distinct culture. Swedish was the official language of New Sweden, but the Finns spoke Finnish. Most learned Swedish to take part in church services. In public, they practiced Lutheranism but their religious beliefs centered around shamanism. Swedes frowned upon these practices and accused some of witchcraft.  Similar to the Swedes, the Finns hunted, fished, and raised cattle, but their burn-beating cultivation technique made them unique. This technique required the farmer to burn an area to prepare it for agriculture. Once the farmer depleted the soil’s nutrients, he or she had to move to another location and repeat the process. Finns adapted this technique to grow Indian maize. It was an effective technique, but it required the Finns to move regularly. Thus, the Finns lived a semi-nomadic lifestyle and explored the land.
Their semi-nomadic lifestyle encouraged simple, quick structures and explained why their building techniques expanded outside of New Sweden. Their log structures had distinct board roofs. This roof design existed in Finland and then carried over to American log structures. Boards, about one meter in length, supported roof beams. Each row of boards had a weighted pole to keep them in place. The weighted pole stayed in place with a piece of wood called a knee. Another structure was the hunter’s shanty. The structure “consisted of three log walls covered by a single-pitch, lean-to roof. The front tallest side of the hunter’s shanty faced the campfire, and remained completely opened.” Finally, the Finnish designed the zig-zag fence, which required no posts. It gained “stability from the tripod principle.” In Finland, the fences directed game in the desired direction. American settlers as far west as Utah used the fence.
Both the Indians and Finns practiced shamanism and trance techniques that involved the spirit leaving the body. They utilized charms and incantations in their rituals. Shamans were leaders, healers, and sources of wisdom in both cultures. The Swedes considered these practices blasphemy. For the Finns, the common elements in their religions ensured friendly relations with the Indians. The Swedish government wanted the settlers to convert the Indians to Christianity, but the poor state of the colony made this a secondary concern. On the other hand, the Finns shared a bond with the Indians based on the similarities of their religious practices. Most Finns spoke Finnish, Swedish, and typically an Indian language. Their knowledge of the land and language allowed the Finns to act as interpreters and guides for other Europeans. This helped to expand European interests. The Finns had an oral tradition, which made it difficult for their descendants to hold onto the language and customs. Over time, the Swedish Lutheran Church reinforced the Swedish language and culture into the Finns. The Finnish left their mark on American structures.
Because of its short life, research surrounding New Sweden is scarce, but this does not mean New Sweden was insignificant. The Swedish government expected it to generate income and spread Swedish influence in North America. However, Sweden lacked experience in the mercantile system. Nor did it have a developed transport system to handle the demands. Its inexperience and lack of support weakened the colony and made it vulnerable to competing settlements. The colony itself may not have contributed much to colonial America, but the people certainly did. Both the Dutch and English allowed the Swedes and Finns to remain if they pledged their allegiance to Dutch, then English rule. Religious freedom preserved the settlers’ heritage. Under English rule, they established themselves and passed on techniques such as the hunter’s shanty and the zig-zag fences from their homeland. These techniques spread throughout the American frontier. By establishing a life in America, they also ensured future Americans could trace their ancestry to the New Sweden colony.
 Paul Douglas Lockhart, Sweden in the Seventh Century (New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 2004), 19-21.
 Henrik Lunde, A Warrior Dynasty: The Rise and Decline of Sweden as a Military Superpower (Oxford: Casemate Publishers, 2014), 31-37.
 Michael Roberts, Profiles in Power: Gustavus Adolphus, 2nd ed. (London: Routledge, 1992), 47.
 Eric Gustave Geijer, History of the Swedes (London: Whittaker and Co., 1845), 240.
 Roberts, Profiles in Power: Gustavus Adolphus, 20.
 Ibid., 114.
 Brian Sandberg, War and Conflict in the Early Modern World: 1500-1700 (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2016), 34.
 Jan Glete, Swedish Naval Administration 1521-1721: Resource Flows and Organizational Capabilities (Leiden: Hotei Publishing, 2010), 545-550.
 Roberts, Profiles in Power: Gustavus Adolphus, 108.
 J Franklin Jameson, American Historical Association Vol. 2, no. 3: Willem Usselinx (New York: GP Putnam’s Sons, 1887), 115.
 J Franklin Jameson, Narratives of Early Pennsylvania West New Jersey, and Delaware 1630-1707 (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1912), 69.
 Jameson, American Historical Association Vol. 2, no. 3: Willem Usselinx, 205.
 Sten Carlsson, “The New Sweden Colonists, 1638-1656: Their Geographical and Social Background,” in New Sweden in America, ed. Carol Hoffecker, Richard Waldron, Lorraine Williams, and Barbara Benson (Cranbury: Associated University Presses, Inc., 1995), 151.
 Per Martin Tvengsberg, “Finns in Seventeenth-Century Sweden and Their Contributions to the New Sweden Colony,” in New Sweden in America, ed. Carol Hoffecker, Richard Waldron, Lorraine Williams, and Barbara Benson (Cranbury: Associated University Presses, Inc., 1995), 259.
 Jameson, Narratives of Early Pennsylvania West New Jersey and Delaware 1630-1707, 70.
 Ibid., 77.
 Karen Ordahl Kupperman, “Scandinavian Colonists Confront the New World,” in New Sweden in America, ed. Carol Hoffecker, Richard Waldron, Lorraine Williams, and Barbara Benson (Cranbury: Associated University Presses, Inc., 1995), 70.
 Susan Klepp, The Swift Progress of Population: A Documentary and Bibliographic Study of Philadelphia’s Growth, 1642-1859 (Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society, 1991), 3.
 Lorraine Williams, “Indians and Europeans in the Delaware Valley, 1620-1655,” in New Sweden in America, ed. Carol Hoffecker, Richard Waldron, Lorraine Williams, and Barbara Benson (Cranbury: Associated University Presses, Inc., 1995), 93-96.
 Marshall Joseph Becker, “Lenape Maize Sales to the Swedish Colonists: Cultural Stability During the Early Colonial Period,” in New Sweden in America, ed. Carol Hoffecker, Richard Waldron, Lorraine Williams, and Barbara Benson (Cranbury: Associated University Presses, Inc., 1995), 106.
 Ibid., 104.
 Kupperman, “Scandinavian Colonists,” 72.
 Jameson, Narratives of Early Pennsylvania, West New Jersey and Delaware 1630-1707, 160.
 Ibid., 161.
 Ibid., 160-162.
 Ibid., 139.
 Frank Blomfelt, “The Lutheran Churches and Their Pastors in New Sweden, 1638-1655,” in New Sweden in America, ed. Carol Hoffecker, Richard Waldron, Lorraine Williams, and Barbara Benson (Cranbury: Associated University Presses, Inc., 1995), 228.
 Ibid., 229.
 Robert Mitchell, “The Colonial Origins of Anglo-America,” in North America: The Historical Geography of a Changing Continent, ed. Thomas McIlwraith and Edward Muller (Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2001), 149.
 Thomas Holm, Description of the Province of New Sweden (Philadelphia: M’Carty & Davis, 1834), 67.
 Blomfelt, “The Lutheran Churches,” 250.
 Ibid., 250.
 Juha Pentikainen, “The Forest Finns as Transmitters of Finnish Culture from Savo Via Central Scandinavia to Delaware,” in New Sweden in America, ed. Carol Hoffecker, Richard Waldron, Lorraine Williams, and Barbara Benson (Cranbury: Associated University Presses, Inc., 1995), 275-276.
 Tvengsberg, “Finns in Seventeenth-Century,” 261.
 Terry Jordan, “New Sweden’s Role on the American Frontier: A Study in Cultural Preadaptation,” Human Geography 71, no. 2 (1989), 73-74, accessed August 10, 2017, http://www.jstor.org.ezproxy2.apus.edu/stable/pdf/490516.pdf.
 Ibid., 75.
 Ibid., 76.
 Ibid., 76-77.
 Pentikainen, “The Forest Finns as Transmitters, 275.
 Ibid., 278.
 Tvengsberg, “Finns in Seventeenth-Century,” 260.
 Ibid., 263.
 Pentikainen, “The Forest Finns as Transmitters, 276.
Larzelere, Alex R. The Coast Guard in World War I: An Untold Story. Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 2003.
Battle weary soldiers, covered in dirt, and shell shocked from the rigors of early twentieth century trench warfare are most likely the first image that comes to mind of the combatants of World War I. This is not an unfair picture to draw, as it is estimated that approximately ten million military combatants were killed during the conflict, the majority of whom died while fighting on land. However, it is definitely unfair to ignore the vast contributions that the Coast Guard made throughout the war. In his book, The Coast Guard in World War I: An Untold Story, author Alex Larzelere encapsulated all of the heroic and dangerous missions that the smallest military branch accomplished during the war. Larzelere has completed a masterful task in his in-depth accounting of all Coast Guard related activities, and this book is a solid starting point for anyone interested in learning more about the actions of the Coast Guard in this conflict.
Larzelere has broken down the Coast Guard’s involvement in World War I into descriptions of the missions it completed throughout the conflict. By leaving no detail out, even the smallest actions have been accounted for in this book. Although this does weigh the book down at times, the commitment to giving credit for every event in which a Coast Guard member was involved demonstrates not only the author’s vast dedication to research for this project, but also the sheer number of roles in which Coast Guard members acted. For instance, the author states, “at the time of mobilization in 1917, the U.S. Coast Guard had a fleet of twenty-three active cruising cutters and twenty-one harbor cutters” (p. 11). Larzelere goes well beyond this summary statement, as he carefully annotates the actions and missions of each cutter throughout the course of the war.
Cutters were not the only platform that the Coast Guard utilized during World War I, however, and Larzelere includes chapters on the roles that other units played as well. Larzelere spent much time detailing the oftentimes tedious, sometimes lonely, and regularly dangerous life of a surfman at a rescue station. Information is given on all three types of outfits at the time “life-saving stations, lifeboat stations, and houses of refuge” (p. 156), ranging from how the men went about the more difficult tasks of saving lives in peril to the more mundane, such as how the men were instructed to not bring reading material to their lookout watches. Larzelere also went to great effort to ensure that he included the newly minted aviation sector of the Coast Guard in his book. Despite being a brand new addition to the service, aviation was a part of the Coast Guard during WWI. Larzelere incorporated the actions of the first aviators in the Coast Guard, detailing their training, the record setting flight of First Lieutenant Elmer Stone (senior pilot who crossed the Atlantic Ocean on 27 June, 1919), and the anti-submarine missions that they flew off the American and French coastlines.
Most significant are the events or activities that the Coast Guardsmen practiced during World War I that the men and women in the service today still execute. Larzelere writes of the men that “served as vessel inspectors for the Fourth and Seventh Naval Districts” (p. 222), a passage that clearly shows that the marine inspectors in the Coast Guard today are still practicing the same craft a century later. The author also goes into detail on how life was for men on a Coast Guard cutter and troop transports (crewed by Coast Guardsmen). He included a letter from a Coast Guardsman who was underway. It stated, “Fortunately we had no cooties, but cockroaches were a common pet and a popular pastime was racing between these sociable little insects” (p. 68). This illustrates how much the service has improved over the decades. Finally, it is interesting to see how some of the traditions utilized during WWI are still in use today. For example, men that served at surf stations had to pass a rigorous swimming test with elements such as “swim[ing] 50 yards dressed, with shoes, trousers, and coat, and then remove the clothing in the water, without touching bottom” (p. 159)—a test that is still administered to aspiring officers to this date.
In conclusion, Alex Larzelere’s book The Coast Guard in World War I: An Untold Story does an admirable job of detailing the brave and patriotic actions that Coast Guardsmen participated in throughout the conflict. Many men gave their lives during this war while serving in the Coast Guard, and the author’s inclusion of how the service had to fight for survival, and not be absorbed by the U.S. Navy serves as a stark reminder of the branch’s uniqueness. Overall, this book is not reserved for historians, but should instead be read by anyone who desires to know more about the smallest branch of the U.S. military and how it contributed during WWI. The Coast Guard has deserved a book like this for decades, and it is refreshing to see that someone so passionate on the subject has delivered such a fine product.
"Germany and the Second World War: Volume VIII: The Eastern Front 1943-1944: The War in the East and on the Neighbouring Fronts." Edited by Karl-Heinz Frieser.
Dr. Robert Smith
Germany and the Second World War: Volume VIII: The Eastern Front 1943-1944: The War in the East and on the Neighbouring Fronts edited by Karl-Heinz Frieser is the newest volume of the official German History of World War Two from the Oxford University Press. Without reservation, this work is without peer in its treatment of the Russo-German War, commonly known as the War in the East for the period of 1943-1944. Having read approximately half the volumes in the series to date, one of the first things this reviewer noted is that the proofing and overall accuracy of the footnotes has vastly improved. The editors at Oxford ensured this volume was not to be plagued with some of the spelling errors that Volume IV and IV/ I suffered from post translation. Better still for the reader are some subtle—and not so subtle—stylistic changes in the writing. In this case, the historians write less like old school historians and instead use argumentative conventions and an almost conversational tone that really bring the crippling strategic and operational dilemmas faced by the Third Reich to life.
The historians very ably lay out the cruel choices facing Hitler after the conclusion of the debacle of the summer 1942 campaign that culminated in the surrender of the 6th Army at Stalingrad. The debate over what to do, and the thinking behind it is laid out with just enough consideration to the dangers pressing in from the other fronts, notably the defeats in the Battle of the Atlantic, Tunisgrad, or the loss of North Africa and the strategic cul-de-sac of the around-the-clock bombing of the Third Reich. The authors lay out methodically and clearly the ugly issue of what does one do when the only elements you have going for you are the benefit of interior lines and a still tactically superior army. These immutable facts lead directly to the Battle of Kursk, the last time the Germans were able to mount a summer offensive.
Figure 1. The Battle of Kursk.
Kursk. Kursk was supposedly the largest tank battle in history. Allegedly as it has come down through popular military history, Kursk was the swan song of the German armored fist, the rock where the panzers in the East smashed up against that changed forever the fortunes of war—except the authors here show that was not true. A battle where tanks rammed each other at the Village of Prokhorovka and fired at near point blank range . . . except all of that is a bit distorted to some degree or another. The authors of this volume dispel surgically many of the myths surrounding this battle. In doing so, they note the why and how the myths arose, as these myths conveniently served the political and personal ends of the Soviets and Germans. The book takes to task a number of other authors and works in the public domain for their errors or simply erroneous conclusions. To a degree that is hard to fully assess, these authors did have a window of opportunity of the use of the Soviet archives in one of those periods of “thaw” with Russia. However, much of their material is a hard review of the surviving German archives and some solid analytical work on operational readiness and battle reports. The conclusion is astounding, leading the reader to understand much of what passes for shared knowledge and the history of the Battle of Kursk is simply wrong.
Part IV, The Swing of the Pendulum: The Withdrawal of the Eastern Front from Summer 1943 to Summer 1944 is in a word simply grim reading. The scope of the fighting and the resultant causalities boggles the western mind. The authors use several themes to good effect here such as Hitler's “Attack or Perish” mantra, that building fallback defensive lines led to the collapse of morale in WW I, so therefore such a thought was anathema. Nearly as good as the analysis of Kursk is the catastrophe of German arms known as the Destruction of Army Group Centre. The overarching commentary of how the politicization of much of the Army leadership, turning it into an instrument of National Socialism, meant that leaders like Field Marshall Ernst Busch were elevated to command due to their political reliability, which in turn led to this defeat that serves as a model on how not to fight a defensive battle.
The collapse of Army Group Centre in the Soviet Offensive Operation Bagration was the greatest defeat in the history of German Arms. The picture painted here is of two armies that are now mirror images in some way of how they stood in June 1941. The German Army is now the one facing de-motorization, with an overreliance on horse motive power and marching, whereas the Soviets, due to American Lend-Lease, have a fleet of trucks. The German Third Armored Army in the summer of 1944 had NO tanks . . . but did have sixty thousand horses. Moreover, the German Luftwaffe was a chimera of itself on the East Front, having been deployed to defend the airspace over the Third Reich. In this defeat, the Soviet thirst for revenge begins that would continue for most of the rest of the war. At the Bobruisk Citadel, the Soviets slaughtered five thousand wounded soldiers of the German Ninth Army. They summarily shot prisoners who were unable to keep up on the marches to the Soviet transit camps. But as the authors note, the large public display of German prisoners marched past the Kremlin in the summer of 1944, a flagrant abuse of international law in terms of treatment of prisoners of war, probably saved the lives of many as the Soviet authorities knew “the Boss” wanted the largest number possible on display. Woven through is the recurring theme of how the Soviet troops treated the captured countrymen accompanying the Germans, the paramilitary auxiliaries and women, mutilating and defiling them.
Figure 2. The Eastern Front.
The authors neatly detail the Soviet failure to break into Warsaw describing the generally unknown German defensive successes by their superior use of armored operational armor art in Poland in the autumn of 1944. The authors also note there were more than several opportunities for the Soviets to go bold and for broke, with little in the way of German forces to stop them from running riot. Instead, the Soviets chose to be more methodical in their efforts, ensuring, though, a higher body count for all concerned as the struggle continued. Although not brought up by the authors, it is this reviewer’s opinion that the shock and reversal suffered by Stalin at Warsaw in 1920 at the hands of the Polish Army was always in the back of his mind. Why overreach and perhaps suffer a defeat that would embarrass “the Boss” (as Stalin was known), when you could simply expend lives and grind the Germans down?
The chapters on Greece, Yugoslavia, Finland and the shedding of the Allies of the Third Reich: Italy, Slovakia, and Romania perhaps requires a little more knowledge on these satellite areas to full follow the story line. It was a section of the book that could have used more maps to help the reader follow the action in the Balkans. Some of the other lesser story lines, though, are easier to follow, such as the isolation and battles of Army Group Courland, formerly Army Group North. However, the historians again savage an accepted myth that this area needed to be held for use as a testing bed for the new Type XXI U-Boat. Instead, Army Group Courland, and Hitler's obsession with the establishment of fortresses was that after defeating the invasion in the West, these locales would be utilized first to stabilize the front and then launch new offensives again the Soviets to turn the war in Germany's favor on the East Front. Of course as the authors note, “Hitler's troops would no longer counter the rapidly superior Soviet forces by active operational manoeuvres but would defend passively and let themselves be slaughtered in the killing fields of ‘fortified places’”(p. 445).
The battles in Hungary and the Dukla Pass region truly get their due here as well. Hungary became the focal point for the Third Reich's survival. It was all about oil. The US Army Air Force's bombing strikes on the Ploesti oil fields and refineries, and then their subsequent capture by the Soviets meant Germany's last remaining oil was in Hungary. Most of Germany's major efforts offensively in 1944-45 on the East Front were to protect this last remaining source of crude. It is why, as the authors note, most of Germany's panzers were in Hungary, and not protecting the Vistula and in effect, Berlin. Without this oil, Germany stopped and the war in effect was over.
Be aware though, this is huge work of over 1,250 pages. But sources? It is richly annotated and the bibliography contains a number of new works this historian was unaware of on the topics presented herein. One can spend several hours perusing the back of the book to gain new sources for areas of interest for a period of the war that gets overlooked by western readers. It is not an over reach to call this volume magisterial solely for its treatment of the Battle of Kursk, but it continues to relentlessly impress and captivate the reader. For any serious student of World War Two and those of the Russo-German War of 1941-1945, this is must read.
Figure 3. Katyusha Rockets.
The Airborne and Special Operations Museum is not one of the largest military museums in the world, or the most famous. Those would include the Imperial War Museum in London, the War Museum in Overloon, Netherlands, and the National Museum of the United States Air Force. Each requires at least a full day to tour intelligently, and the last in particular would require at least two days to see everything. Nor is the Airborne and Special Operations Museum similar to the small, specialized museums that dot United States Army bases, or the small regimental museums found in Britain and Canada. It ranks somewhere in between in terms of size and specialization, and takes perhaps two or three hours to see.
In addition, unlike those smaller facilities and for that matter the National Museum of the United States Air Force, this one is not located on a military post. Rather than being located on Ft. Bragg, the home of both the Army’s airborne and special forces, it is about eight miles away, in downtown Fayetteville, North Carolina. It is extreme accessible, and does not just have more than adequate parking, but is literally next to the Fayetteville Amtrak station. Thus, there is as clear alternative to driving for the out of town visitor.
The museum offers a striking approach and entry to the visitor. The first part that one notices is the exterior memorial park, in front of the main entrance. This is dominated by two bronze statues; “Iron Mike,” just outside the door, represents a World War II enlisted paratrooper. A little further out, there is a statue of General Hugh Shelton, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 1997 to 2001, wearing the beret of the 82nd Airborne Division. Of the two, Iron Mike is the more prominent, and something of a signature piece; the enlisted man gets pride of place. Surrounding them are stones commemorating the full range of Army airborne and special operations units going back to their early Second World War beginnings.
As the name and circle of stones indicate, this museum concentrates on the US Army’s airborne forces, and special operations. There is nothing about other services and their units, such as the Navy SEALs and Marine Raiders and “Para Marines,” nor the Central Intelligence Agency’s paramilitary arm; the focus here is on the Army. Its coverage, naturally, starts with parachute and glider infantry in World War II. Though they were far more likely to take landing craft into battle than parachutes, the early Rangers are also subjects of exhibits. However, the Airborne and Special Operations Museum does embrace the Office of Strategic Services, along with its Jedburgh units in Europe and Kachin Rangers in Burma, as well as Merrill’s Marauders. The emphasis is on unconventional warfare, without the condition that the units jump out of airplanes, just as long as there is an Army connection.
At the same time, the museum gives recognition to one unit that pioneered aerial insertion, but not into combat. This was all-African American 555th Parachute Infantry Battalion. In a segregated Army in a similarly segregated America, they were not deployed overseas, and thus lack the prominence of the 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions. However, the battalion is of lasting influence, as it pioneered smoke jumping as a means of fighting forest fires started by Japanese balloon bombs.
The museum’s stories continue into the Cold War. The Korean War is not widely remembered for its airborne operations, but there is an exhibit of a drop by the 187th Airborne Regimental Combat Team north of Pyongyang. Yet surprisingly, there is nothing about its actual commitment to battle, when transports lifted it to Kimpo Airfield after the Inchon landings.
Other actions of the Cold War figure more prominently than one might expect. One is the 1965 civil war in the Dominican Republic, in which Marines and the 82nd Airborne Division intervened. This episode is largely forgotten today in the United States, lost in the glare of events in Southeast Asia, but the Airborne and Special Operations Museum commemorates it.
Understandably, Vietnam receives a great deal of attention. While there was but one significant parachute drop, this war witnessed the first large-scale helicopter-borne airmobile operations. Additionally, the new emphasis on counterinsurgency coincided with the maturity of the Special Forces, and their patronage by John F. Kennedy. As one would expect, the museum spotlights the Green Berets; interestingly, one exhibit employs photographs published in a glowing, almost propagandistic, article in National Geographic. It also addresses units that one might not expect, especially the “Red Hat” advisers embedded with the South Vietnamese army, including its own elite airborne and ranger units.
The post-Vietnam seventies were an era in which American military power was, arguably, at its Cold War nadir, something that the museum’s exhibits recognize, at least implicitly. At the same time, there is recognition of the rebuilding that began then, including the reestablishment of the Ranger battalions as elite, airborne light infantry. Further, there are exhibits on Delta Force, starting with the abortive raid on Iran to rescue the American embassy hostages in April 1980 and, thirteen years later, the “Black Hawk Down” battle in Mogadishu, Somalia, in which Delta and Rangers both fought. One of the ironies of the museum, owing perhaps to the secretiveness of Delta and the other quiet professionals of the United States Army’s special operators, is that some of the more prominent events commemorated are defeats. Undoubtedly, there are victories and successes still classified and not yet ready for open history.
The Airborne and Special Operations Museum’s coverage extends into Panama, Grenada, Desert Storm then the much longer and controversial conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq. The last two might not get all the attention that they deserve, perhaps due to their ongoing nature, still-classified events, as well as controversy. Yet they are covered to a significant degree.
One of the more striking and maybe questionable elements is the way that the museum addresses the individuals who were key to the formation of the Army’s airborne and special operations forces. There are no obvious inaccuracies, but they tend to be curiously incomplete at times. For example, Matthew B. Ridgway is rightfully profiled for his role in leading the 82nd Airborne Division and XVIII Airborne Corps in World War II, but that is where his story stops. There is no mention of how he later reversed the fortunes of the American and United Nations forces under his command in the Korean War, nor his subsequent service as Army Chief of Staff. Similarly, there is a short biography and youthful picture of William R. Peers, who led OSS agents in Burma and China in World War II. There is no mention though of a later and significant service, when he held both divisional and corps-level commands in Vietnam. One of his greatest contributions was heading the Peers Commission that investigated the lessons of the My Lai Massacre, and it too is ignored.
In the main, the museum’s exhibits rely on smaller artifacts, such as weapons and uniforms. It does incorporate some larger items into very good effective full-scale dioramas, with historically dressed and equipped mannequins. Some museums get this wrong; the figures in the fortress of Eben Emael in Belgium are an assortment of multi-ethnic, long-haired men with seventies facial hair, looking as though they were looted from a Sears store on its last legs. Those in Fayetteville meet higher standards of craftsmanship and historical appearance. The largest setup centers on the largest item in the museum, a Waco glider, and portrays the night landings in Normandy. One of the most effective shows Rangers in Panama in 1989, operating with an M551 Sheridan airborne reconnaissance tank on a city street. Another portrays Delta Force operators on an AH-6 “Little Bird” helicopter in Mogadishu.
The overall atmosphere of the museum is subdued and muted with some prominent exceptions. These include the urban, desert, and mountain environments of Panama, Iraq and Afghanistan especially. Nonetheless, the main approach of the design is on understatement. Also, while much is included in a building that is moderately-sized, none of it seems cramped. Instead, it is well planned and laid out very effectively, with a logical, chronological flow.
The Airborne and Special Operations Museum is not the most imposing military museum in the world, no more than it is the most famous, nor is it likely to be the main destination for any vacation, even by the most historically minded traveler. It is more probably a side trip for someone in the Raleigh-Durham-Fayetteville area, or just passing through. Regardless, it is worthy recognition of America’s sky soldiers and quiet professionals.
The Airborne and Special Operations Museum is located at 100 Bragg Blvd.,Fayetteville, NC 28301. Its website is at https://www.asomf.org/.
Jim Werbaneth is an Assistant Professor of political science at APUS, and an adjunct instructor of history and political science at La Roche College in Pittsburgh, as well as a published wargame designer. He earned his MA in political science from Duquesne University in 1985, and a second MA, with honors, from American Military University in 2016.