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Book Reviews

Book Review: Grounded: The Case for Abolishing the United States Air Force by Robert M. Farley

Published by The University Press of Kentucky (2014)
Reviewed by Charles Blanchard
Sunday, July 20, 2014 at 3:08 PM

I seem to have a knack for working for military services at a time when they are viewed as the redheaded stepchildren of the Department of Defense—ugly, dispensable ducklings.  When I left my position as General Counsel of the Army in early 2001, pundits were challenging the continued relevance of ground forces in the 21st . . .
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Book Review: Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War by Robert M. Gates

Published by Knopf (2014)
Reviewed by Charlie Dunlap
Friday, July 18, 2014 at 12:52 PM

With Iraq in a profound downward spiral (and many believing that Afghanistan could be next), the legacy of Robert M. Gates, who served so influentially as Secretary of Defense during the crucial years 2007-2011, deserves critical examination. The place to start is Gate’s recently published book, Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War. Some readers . . .
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Book Review: No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S. Surveillance State by Glenn Greenwald

Published by Metropolitan Books (2014)
Reviewed by Benjamin Wittes
Monday, May 26, 2014 at 6:01 PM

The most important passages of Glenn Greenwald’s new book, No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S. Surveillance State, are those in which Greenwald states what he believes the larger significance of the Snowden disclosures to be—the passages where he gets out of the weeds of the material Snowden has given him and out . . .
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Book Review: The Murder of Guatemala’s Bishop Gerardi: Muerte en el vecindario de Dios by Julie Lopez

Published by F&G Editores (Guatemala City 2012)
Reviewed by David Stoll
Friday, May 23, 2014 at 2:37 PM

Gerardi: Muerte en el vecindario de Dios Julie López F&G Editores (Guatemala City 2012) The Art of Political Murder: Who Killed the Bishop? Francisco Goldman Grove Press (2007) Quien Mato Al Obispo?: Autopsia de un crimen político Maite Rico and Bertrand de la Grange Editorial Planeta Mexicana (Mexico City 2003) I A cautionary tale of . . .
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Book Review: Asia’s Cauldron: The South China Sea and the End of a Stable Pacific by Robert D. Kaplan

Published by Random House (2014)
Reviewed by Ali Wyne
Wednesday, May 21, 2014 at 11:30 PM

The relationship between the United States and China will arguably shape international order more than any other phenomenon. The US Department of Justice’s recent indictment of five members of China’s military for economic espionage has focused attention on the two countries’ disagreements over the norms of cyberspace. One could argue, though, that competition between the . . .
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Book Review: The Wrong Enemy: America in Afghanistan, 2001-2014 by Carlotta Gall

Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (2014)
Reviewed by Bruce Riedel
Thursday, May 1, 2014 at 7:00 PM

In early February 2009, Richard Holbrooke, the newly named Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, took me aside at the State Department to tell me he was getting panicky messages from Pakistan’s generals about President Obama’s decision to appoint me chairman of a special review of American policy toward Afghanistan and Pakistan. Richard said the . . .
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Book Review: Company Man: Thirty Years of Controversy and Crisis in the CIA by John Rizzo

Published by Scribner (2013)
Reviewed by Benjamin Wittes
Sunday, April 20, 2014 at 9:14 PM

In our conversation the other day for the Lawfare Podcast, longtime CIA lawyer John Rizzo jokingly—but only sort of jokingly—composed the first paragraph of his own obituary: “John Rizzo, who approved a controversial CIA program post-9/11 to interrogate suspects—a program that many observers [regarded] as torture—died today.” Are you comfortable with having your obituary open . . .
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Book Review: Secrets and Leaks: The Dilemma of State Secrecy by Rahul Sagar

Published by Princeton University Press (2013)
Reviewed by Steven Aftergood
Thursday, April 3, 2014 at 11:24 PM

Leaks of classified information have probably never been as prominent and as influential in public discourse as they are today. So Rahul Sagar’s book Secrets and Leaks is exquisitely timed to help readers to think through the conundrums of government secrecy in a democracy and to consider the role of unauthorized disclosures. This is of . . .
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Book Review: Treasury’s War: The Unleashing of a New Era of Financial Warfare by Juan Zarate

Published by PublicAffairs (2013)
Reviewed by Alan Rozenshtein
Sunday, March 23, 2014 at 11:39 PM

This is a boom time in new ways to wage war. Drones and cyber get most of the attention, but if you’re committed to bringing a country to its knees, cut it off from international financial markets. This reality, along with dissatisfaction with traditional sanctions, led U.S. policymakers to develop a new way to bring . . .
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Book Review: “Blinking Red: Crisis and Compromise in American Intelligence After 9/11″ by Michael Allen

Published by Potomac Books (2013)
Reviewed by S. Yasir Latifi
Wednesday, March 12, 2014 at 2:00 PM

Lawmaking is not always a pretty sight. Promises can be illusory, trade-offs are a must, favors are exchanged, and turf battles are waged—all to reach that elusive legislative finish line. The sight may be more unseemly when national security is in question. But in the aftermath of 9/11 and massive intelligence failures, several powerful institutions . . .
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Book Review: The Snowden Operation: Inside the West’s Greatest Intelligence Disaster by Edward Lucas

Published by Amazon Kindle Single (2014)
Reviewed by Benjamin Wittes
Tuesday, February 11, 2014 at 7:38 AM

Over the past few weeks, several members of congressional intelligence committees have intimated that Edward Snowden might have been an active espionage agent. The administration has not publicly supported the theory, though it hasn’t definitively ruled it out. Some of the circumstances are, indeed, suspicious—most importantly that Snowden ended up first in Hong Kong and . . .
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Book Review: Afghanistan: A Distant War by Robert Nickelsberg

Published by Prestel USA (2013)
Reviewed by Jean-Marie Simon
Monday, January 13, 2014 at 5:07 PM

Afghanistan: A Distant War Robert Nickelsberg; Foreword by Jon Lee Anderson; Introduction by Ahmad Nader Nadery Prestel USA (2013) The Cruel Radiance: Photography and Political Violence Susie Linfield University of Chicago (2012) By mid-20th century, photography had evolved from its 19th century origins as a rarified domain of professional photographers into a technology of the masses; . . .
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Book Review: Getting Away With Murder: Benazir Bhutto’s Assassination and the Politics of Pakistan by Heraldo Munoz

Published by W.W. Norton (2014)
Reviewed by Bruce Riedel
Wednesday, December 25, 2013 at 9:00 AM

This holiday season will mark the sixth anniversary of the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, the remarkable women who twice served as Pakistan’s Prime Minister and who had come to symbolize the country’s hope for a better future.  She was killed in the same park where Pakistan’s first Prime Minister was assassinated in 1951.  The Pakistani . . .
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Book Review: The Siege: 68 Hours Inside the Taj Hotel by Adrian Levy and Cathy Scott-Clark

Published by Viking (2013)
Reviewed by Bruce Riedel
Monday, December 2, 2013 at 11:50 AM

In October 1999 I traveled to Mumbai, India’s financial and movie capital, to advance the visit of President Bill Clinton to the subcontinent.  Mumbai’s two great five star hotels competed with each other to convince me the President should stay in their most deluxe room.  As the President’s Special Assistant for Near East and South . . .
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Book Review: Dirty Wars: The World is a Battlefield by Jeremy Scahill

Published by Nation Books (2013)
Reviewed by Nick Basciano
Sunday, November 3, 2013 at 9:04 PM

Dirty Wars: The World is a Battlefield by Jeremy Scahill—the activist-turned journalist previously known for his exposé of the military contractor formerly known as Blackwater—is a bad book. But it’s a bad book with a significantly redeeming feature. Scahill’s project is to depict the “dark side” of what he considers to be America’s unrestrained pursuit of security . . .
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Book Review: A Poisonous Affair: America, Iraq, and the Gassing of Halabja by Joost R. Hiltermann

Published by Cambridge UP (2007)
Reviewed by Kenneth Anderson
Tuesday, September 17, 2013 at 3:44 PM

A Poisonous Affair: America, Iraq, and the Gassing of Halabja by Joost R. Hiltermann (Cambridge UP 2007) Genocide in Iraq: The Anfal Campaign Against the Kurds (Middle East Watch Report) by George Black (Human Rights Watch 1993) I Down in a corner of my basement, among the accumulated suburban junk and detritus of middle age, are . . .
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Book Review: Enemies Within: Inside the NYPD’s Secret Spying Unit and bin-Laden’s Final Plot Against America by Matt Apuzzo and Adam Goldman

Published by Touchstone (2013)
Reviewed by Bruce Riedel
Tuesday, September 10, 2013 at 10:23 AM

It was  a catastrophe narrowly averted.  In September 2009 al Qaeda planned an attack on the New York City subway system, the nation’s largest, used by over five million riders every day.  The attacks on the metro systems in Madrid, Spain in 2003 and London, England in 2005 were to be outdone by three suicide . . .
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Book Review: We Steal Secrets: The Story of Wikileaks (Film Reviews) by Alex Gibney (Director)

Published by Independent (2013)
Reviewed by Clara Spera
Friday, August 23, 2013 at 6:43 AM

The year 2013 is shaping up to be a banner one for documentary film about information disclosures—both the government’s and yours. Bradley Manning’s conviction and sentencing the other day offers a good moment to take note of two new films, one of them largely about him and the events he unleashed. “Terms and Conditions May . . .
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Book Review: Lincoln’s Code: The Laws of War in American History by John Fabian Witt

Published by Free Press (2012)
Reviewed by Stephen C. Neff
Sunday, June 9, 2013 at 10:02 AM

Of all the images that George Washington conjures up in the minds of Americans, surely that of war criminal must be the least likely. Yet this remarkable book begins with an account of charges levelled against Washington as a result of conduct in the French and Indian Wars in 1754. Specifically, the allegation was complicity . . .
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Book Review: Lincoln’s Code: The Laws of War in American History by John Fabian Witt

Published by Free Press (2012)
Reviewed by Amy J. Sennett
at 10:01 AM

In the weeks following the September 2012 publication of Yale Law School Professor John Fabian Witt’s Lincoln’s Code, reviewers praised the book for providing rich, yet readable historical context to the debate over the role of the laws of war in American foreign policy.  Witt’s detailed narrative offers a middle ground between the idea that . . .
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