Book Reviews

Reviews of books by MWSA members. Reviews appear in reverse chronological order, with the most recent review posted appearing first.
Note: Some older reviews are being reposted to this site and those will appear out of order.

Insurgency in Chechnya and the North Caucasus, The

Book Title: The Insurgency in Chechnya and the North Caucasus
Author: Robert Schaefer
Reviewed by: Edward Cox
Genre: Non-fiction Sub-Category: History

ISBN (for Amazon store): 031338634X

The shocking events of the Moscow airport terrorist attack make it clear that the North Caucasus insurgency is still strong – despite the Kremlin’s announcement in 2008 that the conflict was “over.” Find out why Russia has been promised a “year of blood and tears” in 2011 and what this means for the Sochi Olympics in 2014. For the first time, a military expert on both Russia and insurgency offers the definitive guide on activities in Southern Russia, explaining why the Russian approach to counterterrorism is failing and why terrorist and insurgent attacks in Russia have sharply increased over the past three years.

The Insurgency in Chechnya and the North Caucasus: From Gazavat to Jihad is a comprehensive treatment of this 300 year-old conflict. Thematically organized, it cuts through the rhetoric to provide a contextual framework with which readers can truly understand the "why" and "how" of one of the world’s longest-running contemporary insurgencies, despite Russia's best efforts to eradicate it.

A fascinating case study of a counterinsurgency campaign that is in direct contravention of US and Western strategy, the book also examines the differences and linkages between insurgency and terrorism; the origins of conflict in the North Caucasus; and the influences of different strains of Islam, of al-Qaida, and of the War on Terror. A critical examination of never-before-revealed Russian counterinsurgency (COIN) campaigns explains why those campaigns have consistently failed and why the region has seen such an upswing in violence since the conflict was officially declared "over" less than two years ago.

The book's features include: information drawn from the North Caucasus Incident Database (NCID), compiling every violent incident in the region over a two-year period; charts showing the complex strategies of the insurgency and the Russian counterinsurgency campaigns; declassified intelligence reports; as well as maps and a bibliography. Presented through the lens of counterinsurgency theory, this incisive analysis explores the historic roots of each issue, the key players, and the farthest-reaching effects. It is the first doctrinal analysis (classified or unclassified) produced on the conflict in over 10 years and is already being used as a textbook at the Program on Terrorism and Security Studies at the Marshall Center.

Author(s) Mentioned: 
Schaefer, Robert

Fighting Bob

Title: Fighting Bob
Author: Bob Stockton
Genre: Fiction Sub-Category: Historical Fiction
Reviewed by Gail Chatfield

ISBN (for Amazon store): 1463430728

You are most suited to complete the mission that I require With those spoken words I began a ten day journey with the ghost of my great-great-great grandfather Commodore 'Fighting Bob' a journey filled with adventure, danger and conquest. I would witness the duels with British Officers while narrowly avoiding capture and imprisonment, subdue both Barbary Pirates and savage tribesmen and invade the California Territory, wresting it from rebel armies in pitched battle. Why was I selected? What skills or knowledge did I possess that I was the one uniquely qualified to carry out his mission? It wasn't long before the answer to these questions and more would be revealed. I was about to embark on an unforgettable odyssey.

Author(s) Mentioned: 
Stockton, Bob

Hearts and Minds: Uncovering the Wars of Ideas and Images Behind the Global War on Terror

Title: Hearts and Minds: Uncovering the Wars of Ideas and Images Behind the Global War on Terror
Author: Timothy S. McWilliams
Genre: Non-Fiction Sub-Category: History
Reviewed by: Terry Shoptaugh

ISBN (for Amazon store): 1460961544

During the Global War on Terror, multiple wars of ideas and images played out as belligerents and various competing political interests sought to influence multiple public spheres toward their desired political goals. At the same time, the international media played a vital role in framing the issues, debates, and events in the arena of ideas that accompanied the conflict. These wars of ideas and images had profound effects on domestic and international public opinion, which not only influenced events and operations during the conflict, but also threatened the outcome. This study traces these wars of ideas and images from the prewar debates following September 11, 2001 through military action in Afghanistan and Iraq. It not only examines how belligerents and various competing political interests sought to shape public opinion toward their political objectives during the Global War on Terror, but also examines both media performance on the battlefield and the media’s role in shaping public opinion, policy, and events during the war. As a foundation for understanding media’s role in modern wars of ideas, this study also provides a crucial examination of media’s influence on U.S public opinion and policy during important events in U.S. history, to include a fresh examination of media performance and influence during the 1968 Tet Offensive in Vietnam. This study is essential for anyone wanting to understand the wars of ideas and images that accompany military conflict and international crisis, the challenges of reporting combat, and the media’s power to influence public opinion and policy. Thoroughly researched and meticulously cited, this important multi-discipline study significantly contributes to the history and understanding to today’s conflicts.

Author(s) Mentioned: 
McWilliams, Timothy S.

Separated by Duty, United in Love

Book Title: Separated by Duty, United in Love
Author: Shellie Vandevoorde
Reviewed by: Edward Cox
Genre: Non-fiction Sub-Category: How-to/ Business

ISBN (for Amazon store): B004W9CWPQ

Where Can You Turn. . .?
. . .when the bills are due, the kids are acting out, loneliness and doubt are creeping into your quiet hours--and you're handling it all alone? If your partner is in the military, these challenges may be the greatest that your relationship will ever face. Now is the time you need answers, resources, and understanding. This is the book that will give them to you.

Military wife and U.S. Army veteran Shellie Vandevoorde has penned a practical, compassionate guide to help military couples cope with the separation of active deployment. Now updated and expanded, Separated by Duty, United in Love is infused with her years of experience, offering sound and comforting advice from someone who's been there. Vandevoorde explores real-life issues and shares invaluable insights on the best ways to:

Keep the lines of communication open while your partner is away
Address your children's fears as you cope with your own
Juggle finances and other household duties
Find the balance you desperately need
Cope with post-traumatic stress, injury and other challenges when a spouse returns from war
Utilize military resources and support groups to help yourself through the toughest times
You are not alone. Separated by Duty, United in Love gives you the tools and the encouragement you need to help your military relationship survive--and thrive.

Author(s) Mentioned: 
Vandevoorde, Shellie

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