Military Review English Edition July-August 2014 - Page 89

MR BOOK REVIEWS ENDURING BATTLE: American Soldiers in Three Wars, 1776-1945 Christopher H. Hamner, University of Kansas Press, Lawrence, 2012, 281 pages, $29.95 C FEATURED REVIEW hristopher Hamner’s Enduring Battle: American Soldiers in Three Wars, 1776-1945 tackles the age-old question of why men put themselves in harms’ way despite their natural inclination to survive. Hamner explores this question through battles in three American wars: Cowpens, Shiloh, and the Huertgen Forest. He describes the impact that technology, weaponry, equipment, military doctrine, leadership, and the nature of war had on the individual soldier. He shares the individual soldier’s experiences to aid the reader in understanding the ever-evolving nature of war. Military historians and psychologists have offered theories about the changing aspects of the battlefield, the most popular being group cohesion theory (the bonds linking individuals together). Hamner challenges this theory using Omer Bartov’s Hitler’s Army, which says the savage fighting on the Eastern Front rendered unit cohesion an impossibility because of personnel attrition. He challenges conventional thinking that men fight only for their comrades. Hamner argues that the actual answer is far too complex. He says that self preservation is the ultimate reason for survival and that forming bonds with those around increases the likelihood. Hamner links Cowpens, Shiloh, and the Huertgen Forest to give the reader an appreciation for how war evolved from 1776 to 1945. He provides a rational understanding of why each battle was fought in a particular manner. MILITARY REVIEW  July-August 2014 Hamner suggests altruism as a potential area for the future study of men in combat. He argues that combat medics are renowned for leaving places of safety to aid wounded comrades and using their own bodies to shield the wounded. Such behavior goes beyond the simple explanation of comradeship or survival, especially in light of the prohibition against medical personnel carrying weapons. Christopher Hamner’s Enduring Battle is a must read for those interested in the psychology of war. Jesse McIntyre III, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas NO TURNING POINT: The Saratoga Campaign in Perspective Theodore Corbett, University of Oklahoma Press, Norman, 2012, 416 pages, $39.95 T he battles of Saratoga were crucial turning points in the War of American Independence. The rebel victory convinced the French government to grant diplomatic recognition and extend military aid to the cause of colonial independence. The ultimate insurgent victory resulted from the combination of French military aid, rebel leadership, increasing military proficiency, and the British government’s loss of will to continue the war. However, the rebel cause was not unified. Rivalries pitted the colonies against each other, making it difficult to form a united front. As contemporaries understood, it was a civil war, with minorities supporting rebellion and loyalty, while most people wished to survive with their lives and property intact or fight their own local disputes. The war divided families and pitted neighbors against one another. Ethnic and religious strife marked relations among the colonists from the outset. Internal struggle occurred within the southern colonies, but it also occurred in the northern Hudson River-Champlain region. With the frontier on the Hudson, its possession by either side would have 87