Month: January 2017

Maps of War

Jeremy’s Maps of War. Mapping Conflict through the Centuries is reviewed by Keith Robinson in this month’s Military History Monthly.

“…It is rare for a large picturebook to also contain a sound theoretical argument, with the two working together in a multi-layered narrative. So it is great to find that combination here in Maps of War. Definitely worth a look.”

Review of Air Power in Choice

Synthesizing numerous secondary sources and combining them with some primary research, Black (Univ. of Exeter, UK) offers a synthetic history of air power that emphasizes the post–WW II era, when military aviation matured considerably, then carries his survey all the way to recent air operations and military aircraft acquisitions. Over the course of 13 chapters, this remarkable book shows the context of aerial combat not only through evolving technology but also through economic exigencies, political prestige, and shifting sensibilities on such matters as civilian casualties. By reminding readers that military aviation does not solve matters alone, the author also hints at the considerable intricacies associated with any aerial campaign, from political decision making to the incorporation of naval air power. . . . Lay audiences with a prior interest will appreciate the wider context offered as well as the brief glossary and supplementary reading list.

Review of The Holocaust by R.L. Levy

Black (Univ. of Exeter, UK) surveys the history of the Holocaust based on wide reading in the most current scholarship in the field. Most original and valuable are the book’s last two chapters, “Memorialization” and “The Holocaust Today.” The first of these discusses briefly but penetratingly the construction of Holocaust memory in Germany and the states once allied to the Third Reich, in its more or less willing collaborators in eastern and western Europe, and in those nations that fought against Hitler or observed the struggle from a safe distance. This longest chapter in the book is highly informative and rich in detail. The closing chapter is equally innovative in its approach to the history of the Holocaust, bringing the discussion up to the present moment. Black identifies numerous cases of the flagrant exploitation of Holocaust imagery that try to latch on to the sufferings of Jews for almost always self-interested, petty, or otherwise objectionable causes. At best, these trivialize a tragic history. At worst, they defile it. Perhaps too densely factual for undergraduates, the work should prove useful for advanced students and nonprofessionals who wish to consult a reasonably comprehensive treatment of an enormous subject. A demanding but important work.

Reviewer: R. S. Levy, University of Illinois at Chicago

The World of James Bond – out soon

This book presents an insightful and thoroughly entertaining exploration of the political context of the Bond books and films. Jeremy Black offers a historian’s interpretation from the perspective of the late 2010s, assessing James Bond in terms of the greatly changing world order of the Bond years—a lifetime that stretches from 1953, when the first novel appeared, to the present. In practice, Bond provides a fascinating source for changing views about the world. This is true of the Fleming books, the films, and the many novels involving Bond authored by others after Fleming died in 1964, books that are often mistakenly neglected. Black argues that both novels and films drew on current fears in order to reduce the implausibility of the villains and their villainy. The novels and films also presented potent images of national character, explored the rapidly changing relationship between a declining Britain and an ascendant United States, charted the course of the Cold War and of the subsequent post-1990 world, and offered an evolving but always potent demonology. Bond was, and still is, an important aspect of post–World War Two popular culture throughout the Western world. This was particularly so after Hollywood launched the filmic Bond, thus making him a character designed not only for the American film market, but also a world product and a figure of globalization. Class, place, gender, violence, sex, race—all are themes that Black scrutinizes through the ongoing shifts in characterization and plot. His well-informed and well-argued analysis provides a fascinating history of the enduring and evolving appeal of James Bond.

The World of James Bond will be published by Rowman & Littlefield.