The Echo of Battle: The Army's Way of War / Edition 1

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Overview

From Lexington and Gettysburg to Normandy and Iraq, the wars of the United States have defined the nation. But after the guns fall silent, the army searches the lessons of past conflicts in order to prepare for the next clash of arms. In the echo of battle, the army develops the strategies, weapons, doctrine, and commanders that it hopes will guarantee a future victory.

In the face of radically new ways of waging war, Brian Linn surveys the past assumptions--and errors--that underlie the army's many visions of warfare up to the present day. He explores the army's forgotten heritage of deterrence, its long experience with counter-guerrilla operations, and its successive efforts to transform itself. Distinguishing three martial traditions--each with its own concept of warfare, its own strategic views, and its own excuses for failure--he locates the visionaries who prepared the army for its battlefield triumphs and the reactionaries whose mistakes contributed to its defeats.

Discussing commanders as diverse as Dwight D. Eisenhower, George S. Patton, and Colin Powell, and technologies from coastal artillery to the Abrams tank, he shows how leadership and weaponry have continually altered the army's approach to conflict. And he demonstrates the army's habit of preparing for wars that seldom occur, while ignoring those it must actually fight. Based on exhaustive research and interviews, The Echo of Battle provides an unprecedented reinterpretation of how the U.S. Army has waged war in the past and how it is meeting the new challenges of tomorrow.

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Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
A history of the U.S. army during peacetime examines the lessons its intellectual leaders learned from previous wars and how they planned for the next. Having read nearly every available report, memoir, article and public speech on the subject, military historian Linn emphasizes that history teaches many lessons, only a few of which turn out to be useful, and that we learn the rare accurate prediction of the future in hindsight. An American military establishment didn't appear until after the War of 1812, but it quickly got down to business, drawing wrong conclusions from the past and preparing for a future war that never happened. Ignoring the embattled frontier, until after 1900, leaders concluded that predatory European powers were our major threat-most likely, a massive cross-ocean invasion by Britain. Since the War of 1812 featured attacks on coastal areas, leaders gave first priority to protecting ports, devoting most of the army's modest budget to constructing defensive coastal fortifications. They played no part in America's next two foreign wars (in 1846 and 1898), which were entirely offensive, and the Confederacy obtained only modest benefit from those it occupied. Examining the enormously increased firepower-machine guns, repeating rifles and rapid-fire artillery, among others-available by the turn of the 20th century, military thinkers concluded that these would make future wars so expensive and destructive that fighting would be short-lived. A minority insisted that the vast destructive power of new weapons made war obsolete, repeating both errors when they considered aircraft a generation later and again with atomic weapons. Fighting terrorism, guerrillas and insurgentforces had ample precedent in campaigns against Indians, Confederate bushwhackers and Philippine rebels, but until the 1990s few thinkers considered this a worthy occupation for a warrior. Now, "irregular warfare" is considered the wave of the future, a disturbing forecast if it is as accurate as previous ones. An unsettling but stimulating review of American military planning.
Foreign Affairs

This is a well-researched book, full of insight and good sense.
— Lawrence D. Freedman

Journal of Military History

I expect this book to stir considerable controversy and healthy debate. Younger officers may well come to view it as a Bible of sorts. I expect it to sell very well at the Army’s educational institutions where I have been recommending it since reading the first chapter. It has the potential to transform professional thinking in the most positive way. This book demonstrates Linn’s mastery of the language of the profession in readable English, something all too rarely seen.
— Douglas V. Johnson II

Choice

[A] remarkable new history of how the army anticipated future wars and analyzed past ones...Linn's assessment of army thought in the post-Cold War era is especially enlightening. This is an exceedingly well-crafted book that belongs on all shelves supporting the history of the U.S. military tradition.
— E. A. Goedeken

Army

Few books could be more timely than Brian Linn's The Echo of Battle: The Army's Way of War. Linn has written a serious and comprehensive intellectual history of the U.S. Army. He traces Army thought from the American Revolution to the war on terrorism. It is hard to imagine a scholar more suited to take on the task...Linn's overview of the Army's efforts to deal with the new world disorder is unparalleled.
— James Jay Carafano

Andrew J. Bacevich
The Echo of Battle is a masterpiece. With its appearance, Brian Linn establishes himself as the preeminent military historian of his generation.
Allan R. Millett
Brian Linn's The Echo of Battle is one of the most significant books ever written on the American military experience. It places him on the top rung of military historians.
L. D. Holder
Brian Linn's account of the Army's long internal debate over its mission and fighting concepts is timely and provocative. His interpretation renders a tough judgment of the service's past efforts to adapt to change. The Echo of Battle should make today's discussions of how the armed forces will visualize and prepare for future conflict better informed and more self-aware.
Rick Atkinson
Brilliant, original, and very entertaining. The Echo of Battle is an extraordinary lens that brings today's U.S. Army into sharp focus by looking into our past. Brian Linn has written a masterful book.
Foreign Affairs - Lawrence D. Freedman
This is a well-researched book, full of insight and good sense.
Journal of Military History - Douglas V. Johnson II
I expect this book to stir considerable controversy and healthy debate. Younger officers may well come to view it as a Bible of sorts. I expect it to sell very well at the Army’s educational institutions where I have been recommending it since reading the first chapter. It has the potential to transform professional thinking in the most positive way. This book demonstrates Linn’s mastery of the language of the profession in readable English, something all too rarely seen.
Choice - E. A. Goedeken
[A] remarkable new history of how the army anticipated future wars and analyzed past ones...Linn's assessment of army thought in the post-Cold War era is especially enlightening. This is an exceedingly well-crafted book that belongs on all shelves supporting the history of the U.S. military tradition.
Army - James Jay Carafano
Few books could be more timely than Brian Linn's The Echo of Battle: The Army's Way of War. Linn has written a serious and comprehensive intellectual history of the U.S. Army. He traces Army thought from the American Revolution to the war on terrorism. It is hard to imagine a scholar more suited to take on the task...Linn's overview of the Army's efforts to deal with the new world disorder is unparalleled.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674026513
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publication date: 11/15/2007
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 6.60 (w) x 8.56 (h) x 1.07 (d)

Meet the Author

Brian McAllister Linn is Professor of History at Texas A&M University.
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Table of Contents

Prologue

1. Fortress America

2. Modern Warfare

3. Unconventional Wisdom

4. Providing for War?

5. Dissenting Visions

6. Atomic War

7. From Reformation to Reaction

Epilogue

Abbreviations

Notes

Acknowledgments

Index

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