The American Culture of War: A History of US Military Force from World War II to Operation Enduring Freedom / Edition 2

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The American Culture of War presents a sweeping, critical examination of every major American war of the late 20th century: World War II, Korea, Vietnam, the First and Second Persian Gulf Wars, through to Operation Enduring Freedom. Lewis deftly traces the evolution of US military strategy, offering an original and provocative look at the motives people and governments used to wage war, the debates among military personnel, the flawed political policies that guided military strategy, and the civilian perceptions that characterized each conflict.

Now in its second edition, The American Culture of War has been completely revised and updated. New features include:

  • Completely revised and updated chapters structured to facilitate students’ ability to compare conflicts
  • New chapters on Operation Iraqi Freedom and the current conflict in Afghanistan
  • New conclusion discussing the American culture of war and the future of warfare
  • Over fifty maps, photographs, and images to help students visualize material
  • Expanded companion website with additional pedagogical material for both students and researchers.

The American Culture of War is a unique and invaluable survey of over seventy years of American military history, perfect for any student of America’s modern wars.

For additional information and classroom resources please visit The American Culture of War companion website at

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
'An outstanding volume that is sure to be of interest to faculty and cadets, as well as historians and national security professionals far and wide.' – Lance Betros, Colonel, US Army

'The American Culture of War is a first-rate study that asks big questions and provides answers that are of value to American and non-American scholars alike. It makes a major contribution to the developing cultural approach to military history.' – Jeremy Black, University of Exeter, UK

'Lewis combines a powerful argument with a detailed critique of U.S. strategy since World War II as overly dependant on technology, and shows how these have eroded two traditional American moral concepts: the equal value of every human life and the universal civic responsibility to defend the country.' –Dennis Showalter, Colorado College, USA

'The American Culture of War is a striking and magisterial tour de force. Combining the hard-headed realism and moral indignation of a professional soldier with the keen analytical outlook of a trained historian, Adrian Lewis exposes the political in-fighting, intellectual follies, cultural arrogance, media ignorance, inter-service rivalries, and changes in the national mood that have repeatedly caused the United States to wage its most recent wars in ways that play to its weaknesses rather than its strengths. The American Culture of War should be mandatory reading for policy makers, military leaders, students of military history, and all Americans with the slightest interest in national security.' – Gregory J.W. Urwin, Temple University, USA

'Lewis's book is a manifesto that calls for a revolutionary change in thinking ... Even though the book presents a specific thesis that is merged within the fascinating historiographical debate over the American way of war, it also provides an in-depth discussion of U.S. military history of the past sixty years. ... This is mandatory reading for all those engaged in U.S. military history, and above all should be included in the reading list of the American officer ranks, as well as the decision makers and policy shapers among the various political and military echelons.' – H-War

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780415890199
  • Publisher: Taylor & Francis
  • Publication date: 3/5/2012
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 592
  • Product dimensions: 7.00 (w) x 9.90 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Adrian Lewis is Professor of History at the University of Kansas. He has taught at the Naval War College and at West Point, and is a retired United States Army Major. He is the author of Omaha Beach: A Flawed Victory.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments xiii

Abbreviations xv

Military Map Symbols xviii

Illustrations xix

Introduction 1

Part I Tradition and the Envisioned Future Collide 7

1 Culture, Genes, and War 9

Culture 10

Axioms of Cultural Theory 14

Genes and Culture 18

War and Human Nature 22

2 Traditional American Thinking About the Conduct of War 24

Traditional Practices No Longer Worked 24

The Culture of Equality of Sacrifice 27

The Culture of Inequality of Outcome 31

The Culture of Wealth and Consumption 32

The Culture of Science and Technology 35

Tenets of American Culture 37

3 The Legacy of World War II: Man versus Machine 40

WWII Air War Doctrine vs. WWII Ground War Doctrine 41

The Army's Practice of War 42

Airpower: A New Practice of War 48

The Navy and Marine Corps 59

4 Truman, the Cold War, and the Creation of a New National Military Establishment, 1945-1950 65

Truman, the Policy of Containment, and National Strategy 66

Strategic Airpower and National Military Strategy 72

Army Opposition 81

5 The Korean War, The Opening Phases, 1950-1951 85

The Korean War 86

The Opening Phase: Walker's Battle for Pusan 92

The Inchon Landing 98

Crossing the 38th Parallel and the Chinese Intervention 103

Ridgway Takes Command: The Ground War 108

6 The Korean War, The Final Phases, 1951-1953 117

The Air War 119

Censorship, the Media, and Public Opinion 125

The Relief of General Douglas MacArthur 129

New Personnel Policies: The Results of Transformation 132

The Final Phase of the War: Defensive War of Attrition 142

Part II The Effort to Adapt 149

7 Eisenhower, the Cold War, and Massive Retaliation, 1953-1960 151

Eisenhower's Vision of War: The New Look 152

The Army's Fight against the New Look and the Doctrine of Massive Retaliation 156

The Chaotic Array of Nuclear Technologies 166

8 The New National Military Command Structure, Civil-Military Relations, and the Growth of Militarism, 1945-1975 171

The National Military Command Structure 173

Civil-Military Relations: Conflicting Loyalties 184

The Iron Triangle and the Growth of Militarism 193

9 Kennedy, McNamara, and Artificial Limited War, 1961-1963 199

Theories of Artificial Limited War 201

Kennedy: The Adoption of New Doctrines for War 208

Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara 210

McNamara's Reorganization of the Army 216

Army Aviation: the Helicopter 218

Communist Revolutionary War Doctrine and Army Counter-Revolutionary War Doctrine 221

10 The Vietnam War, The Opening Phases, 1955-1967 228

Geography and Strategy 229

The Vietnam War: Explaining American Involvement 231

The Advisory Phase 235

Johnson and the Americanization Phase 239

The Air War: Graduated Response 241

The Ground War: The Marine Corps vs. The Army 249

11 The Vietnam War, The Final Phases, 1967-1975 262

Censorship, the Media, and Public Opinion 263

New Personnel Policies: The Result of Transformation 265

McNamara Changes Course 274

The Tet Offensive 276

Nixon and the Vietnamization Phase 280

12 The Recovery and Reorganization of the Armed Forces of the United States, 1975-1990 289

The "Revolution" in Strategic Bombing Doctrine 290

To Rebuild an Army: Back to the Future 294

The Marine Corps's "New" Maneuver Warfare Doctrine 298

The Weinberger Strategic Doctrine: No More Graduated Response 300

The Goldwater Nichols Act: More Revision to the National Command Structure 302

Part III The New American Practice of War 309

13 The Persian Gulf War: Operation Desert Shield, 1990-1991 311

Saddam Hussein's Decision to Invade Kuwait 312

The Iraqi Army: Too Much Respect and Awe 315

Bush's War, or America's War? 318

Operation Desert Shield/Storm: Theater Strategy 321

14 The Persian Gulf War: Operation Desert Storm, 1991 331

The Air War 332

The Ground War 339

Military Victory and Political Failure 357

The Media and Public Opinion 361

The Verdict 363

15 The New American Practice of War: War Without the People 366

War Without the People: The Clustering of America 368

Civil-Military Relations: Who's in Charge? 373

The Revolution in Military Affairs 376

Jointness and Force Structure 383

16 The Global War on Terrorism and The War in Afghanistan: Operation Enduring Freedom, 2001-2011 391

Al-Qaeda vs. The Bush Administration 392

Terrorism and Counterterrorism 395

The Response: The GWOT and Bush Doctrine of Preemptive War 398

The War in Afghanistan: Operation Enduring Freedom, 2001-2008 404

Obama's War in Afghanistan: Operation Enduring Freedom, 2008-2011 412

17 The Second Persian Gulf War: Operation Iraqi Freedom I, The Conventional War, 2003 421

The Arguments and Decision for War 422

Operational Doctrine: Shock and Awe 431

Theater Strategy: Franks vs. Rumsfeld 433

Opposing Forces 438

The Air War 441

The Ground War 443

18 The Second Persian Gulf War: Operation Iraqi Freedom II, The Counterinsurgency War, 2003-2010 454

The Media, Public Opinion, and War 457

What Went Wrong: The Insurgency War 461

The Multi-National Force-Iraq: New Leadership, New Strategy, New Commitment 467

The New Way Forward: New Strategy, Leadership, Doctrine, and Tactics 473

Rumsfeld's War 482

19 The American Culture of War and the Future of Warfare 485

The American Culture of War 486

The Future of Warfare 494

Notes 502

Index 556

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