External Book Review List
The items below are links to reviews in the public press or academic journals. All reviews are offered without endorsement of any kind. They are presented to provide readers with an evaluation of defence literature, both regarding past events and current affairs. Reviews are the personal opinion of the reviewer and do not represent the position of the Royal United Services Institute of Victoria Inc.
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Sean McFate. The Modern Mercenary: Private Armies and What They Mean for World Order. New York: Oxford University Press, 2015. 272 pp. $29.95 (cloth), ISBN 978-0-19-936010-9.
Reviewed by Lindsay P. Cohn (Naval War College)
Reviewed July 2015
Extract of the review.
"What makes the South China Sea a civilization is that its very diverse and frequently conflicting constituent parts lived self-consciously together with a somewhat consistent and predictable system of relations. Hayton draws on other scholars to call this the “Mandala” system, in contrast to the Western “Westphalian” system. From the eighteenth century onwards, European statesmen assumed that their authority extended consistently across all areas within their defined political boundaries, ...."
"...Sean McFate’s ambitious book, The Modern Mercenary, aims to both contextualize and explain the phenomenon of the private market for force, and to do so he reaches back to the late medieval period. The book thus attempts to cover about a thousand years of history, and ostensibly to produce a new theory of international relations that will more accurately describe what McFate sees as a post-Westphalian world. The chapters on modern PMCs are valuable both as a synthesis of current debates and as a detailed look at how the private market for force functions. The quasi-historical and theoretical chapters are weaker...."
"..."Good War Gone Bad" is a familiar historical refrain regarding war in Afghanistan, best accompanied by a rubab, the lute-like Afghan musical instrument. Britons and Russians know the tune well. Americans thought they could rewrite it. ....In The Good War, veteran British foreign correspondent Jack Fairweatherably follows in a British tradition of reporting from the frontlines that goes back to the Crimean War. William Howard Russell of the Times, for example, routinely shocked Victorian England with his frank reportage of bloody mistakes like the Charge of the Light Brigade. Similarly, to cite one instance, Fairweather criticizes military officials for calling one operation a "significant success," when, as he demonstrates, it "succeeded only in strengthening the insurgency" ..."
"Aerial bombardment remains important to military strategy, but the norms governing bombing and the harm it imposes on civilians have evolved.....
The American Way of Bombing brings together prominent military historians, practitioners, civilian and military legal experts, political scientists, philosophers, and anthropologists to explore the evolution of ethical and legal norms governing air warfare."