Invisible Armies -- An Epic History of Guerrilla Warfare from Ancient Times to the Present by Max Boot, Liveright '13, $35, 750 pages, ASIN #0871404249. Index, bibliography, notes, appendix, grouping of b&w glossy images.
The American colonists' role in the Revolutionary War isn't commonly characterized as guerrilla warfare, but as historian Max Boot writes, "Nothing demonstrated the importance of ideology, propaganda, and other relatively new elements of guerilla warfare more powerfully than (that) revolution...." But Boot goes farther than the skirmishes of American rebels....into less-familiar struggles -- Spaniards and Haitians fighting French troops, Greeks fighting the Ottomans, and Italians fighting Habsburgs and Bourbons."
However, the scope of Boot's narrative is much wider than that, beginning in the ancient world, in which "great powers -- from Alexander the Great to Imperial Rome -- discovered that guerrilla armies were much harder to defeat than regular troops." Boot moves deftly from the ancient to modern eras, describing such clashes as the Haitian slave uprising led by the 'Black Spartacus' Touissant L'Ouverture, the Greek War of Independence, and the campaign for Italian unification spearheaded by the charismatic Giuseppe Garibaldi," and such 20th century conflicts as those led by T.E. Lawrence and Vietnam General's Vo Nguyen Giap.
Author Max Boot is the Jeane J. Kirkpatrick Senior Fellow in National Secrity Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. He lives in New York.
Rainbow Bridge to Monument Valley -- Making the Modern Old West by Thomas J. Harvey, Oklahoma UP '11, $34.95, 248 pages, ASIN #0806141905. Index, bibliography, notes, b&w images sprinkled through text.
If you've seen a TV ad trying to sell anything from SUVs to beer and using the stunning red rock landscape of the American landscape as a backdrop, it's a good bet you were gazing at a section of the Southwest from Rainbow Bridge to Monument Valley. For, as journalist Thomas J. Harvey writes, "Twentieth-century popular culture made those places icons of the American West, and advertising continues to exploit their significance today."
But we're getting ahead of ourselves, for it was Navajo Indians and Anglo-Americans who first "created fabrics of meaning" out of one of God's greatest natural gifts by incorporating Rainbow Bridge into the tribe's own origin story "that embodies their religion and worldview." Then came iconic novelist Zane Grey, who traversed the Rainbow Bridge area, reimagined the landscape for his own purposes and, in so doing, erased most of the Navajo inhabitants.
Author Thomas J. Harvey is a reporter for the Salt Lake Tribune and co-editor of Imagining the Big Open: Nature, Identity, and Play in the New West.
The Slaves' Gamble -- Choosing Sides in the War of 1812 by Gene Allen Smith, Palgrave MacMillan '13 paperback, $27, 247 pages, ASIN #0230342086. Notes, no bibliography or index, b&w images sprinkled through text.
From the back cover:
The images that American slavery immediately conjures up are cotton plantations and African Americans locked in bondage. Yet in our nation's youth, the conditions of slavery were very different, and during the War of 1812, the battles with Britain, Spain and various Native American tribes offered diverse possibilities to slaves.
The Slaves' Gamble tells the little-known story of the important roles that slaves played in these military conflicts, and the impact of their actions on the institution of slavery. The way the young nation responded to the slaves sealed their fate from the next half-century until the Civil War. Author Gene Allen Smith draws on a decade of original research and curatorial work to bring to light this extraordinary yet forgotten chapter in the dark saga of American history.
Author Gene Allen Smith teaches history at Texas Christian University and is the curator of history at the Fort Worth Museum of Science and history. He lives in Fort Worth, TX.