Ground breaking analysis of America’s interventions, peacekeeping operations and insurgencies

AMERICA’S MODERN WARS arrived Friday, and author Christopher A. Lawrence took some time out of his busy schedule to talk with Casemate.

While the past half-century has seen no diminution in the valor and fighting skill of the U.S. military and its allies, the fact remains that our wars have become more protracted, with decisive results more elusive. With only two exceptions—Panama and the Gulf War under the first President Bush—our campaigns have taken on the character of endless slogs without positive results. Christopher Lawrence’s soon to be published America’s Modern Wars: Understanding Iraq, Afghanistan and Vietnam takes a ground-up look at the problem in order to assess how our strategic objectives have recently become divorced from our true capability, or imperatives.

The book presents a unique examination of the nature of insurgencies and the three major guerrilla wars the United States has fought in Iraq, Afghanistan and Vietnam. It is both a theoretical work and one that applies the hard experience of the last five decades to address the issues of today. As such, it also provides a timely and meaningful discussion of America’s current geopolitical position.

It starts with the previously close-held casualty estimate for Iraq that The Dupuy Institute compiled in 2004 for the U.S. Department of Defense. Going from the practical to the theoretical, it then discusses a construct for understanding insurgencies and the contexts in which they can be fought. It applies these principles to Iraq, Afghanistan and Vietnam, assessing where the projection of U.S. power can enhance our position and where it merely weakens it.

It presents an extensive analysis of insurgencies based upon a unique database of 83 post-WWII cases. The book explores what is important to combat and what is not important to resist in insurgencies. As such, it builds a body of knowledge based upon a half-century’s worth of real-world data, with analysis, not opinion. In these pages, Christopher A. Lawrence, the President of The Dupuy Institute, provides an invaluable guide to how the U.S. can best project its vital power, while avoiding the missteps of the recent past.

Why did you decide to write this book?

           

            I decided to write this book because it was new and unique analysis that had never been done before. From 2004 to 2009 we did extensive work on insurgencies for three different U.S. government agencies. This started with an estimate done in 2004 on the situation in Iraq, included the development of a large insurgency data base, and ended with a series of over a dozen reports detailing the nature of insurgencies. Then the work stopped abruptly in wake of our assumed success in Iraq and Afghanistan and the declining defense budget. Therefore, it was time to try to summarize a dozen insurgency reports into one smaller readable cohesive book. It was the desire the present work that was unique that forced me to put pen to paper.

When did you first realize that you wanted to become a writer? What is it about writing that appealed to you?

 

It was the realization that I was sitting on research and material that was unique is depth and scope that finally led me to start writing. It was a desire to present this unique material that forced me to write, not a desire to write. This was first done with my extensive 1600-page book Kursk: The Battle of Prohorovka (Aberdeen Books, Sheridan, CO., 2015) and has continued with America’s Modern Wars: Understanding Iraq, Afghanistan and Vietnam (Casemate Publishing, Philadelphia & Oxford, 2015) and the completed but not yet published War by Numbers: Understanding Conventional Combat.

Each of these books brings forth some part of the work I have been doing at The Dupuy Institute since 1993.

What are you working on at the moment?
I have just completed a third book War by Numbers: Understanding Conventional Combat. This book is built off of our work on conventional war that we did for the Department of Defense and the U.S. Army. In the meantime I have started a fourth book, co-authored with Niklas Zetterling, called Understanding World War II, which I hope to have done before the end of 2015.

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War Bonds: Love Stories from the Greatest Generation

We’re pleased to announce that War Bonds: Love Stories from the Greatest Generation is now available from Casemate!

War-Bonds

From blind dates to whirlwind romances to long separations, War Bonds highlights stories of couples who met or married during WWII. Each of the 30 stories begins with a World War II-era song title and concludes with a look at wartime couples in their twilight.

Read an interview with author Cindy Hval below and make sure to download a chapter sample about Pearl Harbor Survivors Warren and Betty Schott here.


What kinds of books did you read growing up? Which had the greatest impact on you?

The Little House on the Prairie series dominated my childhood. I loved those books and the plucky Laura Ingalls, but what I loved even more was that the stories were based on her own life.

What fascinates you about revisiting the past and bringing it to life in a book?

I think it stems from my fascination with Laura Ingalls Wilder and the Little House books. Her stories made a bygone era so real to me. I hope that in sharing the stories represented in War Bonds, others will get that magical sense of time and place.

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Marine Corps Tank Battles in the Middle East

We’re pleased to announce that Marine Corps Tank Battles in the Middle East is now available from Casemate!

9781612002675

In this new release, Oscar Gilbert describes how Marine Corps tankers have been used to wage a smarter kind of war during our fights in Iraq and the post-9/11 years.

You can download a free chapter excerpt from this book here.


An Interview with Oscar E. Gilbert:

What fascinates you about revisiting the past and bringing it to life in a book?

In my professional life I was always something of an iconoclast, and that carries over into my writing. I never accept anything as the final word on a subject. I like to re-examine history based on interviews with veterans, read original period documents, and if at all possible to tour the old battlefields, and not just recycle previous accounts. In doing this I have found that much of historical “common knowledge” is just plain wrong. It’s also supremely important to view historical events, attitudes, and behaviors through the eyes of the historical participants, and not filter them through our own culture and personal attitudes. For example it is easy to condemn the surprisingly common practice of killing prisoners without understanding what drives men to murder. “One captain was sitting in the front line eating his lunch with one hand and shooting the snipers with the other as they came out to surrender.….he said he had had several wounded Jocks shot on their stretchers.” (Peter Hart, The Somme, p. 179)

When and how did you become interested in Military history?

I was always interested in military history since childhood. One of my longest assignments in the Marine Corps Reserve was as a battalion training NCO, teaching the required annual “refresher” courses on a number of subjects, including history of the Marine Corps.


More titles from Oscar E. Gilbert:

Marine Corps Tank Battles in Korea Cover Marine Corps Tank Battles in Vietnam Tanks in Hell Cover
Marine Corps Tank
Battles in Korea
Marine Corps Tank
Battles in Vietnam
Tanks in Hell

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Surprised at Being Alive

Surprised-at-Being-Alive

We’re excited to announce that Surprised at Being Alive is now available from Casemate! In this new release, Robert F. Curtis provides a fascinating account of his service flying helicopters in Vietnam through his experiences with the National Guard, Marine Corps, and Royal Navy around the world.

Download a free sample chapter to learn more about this great book.

To learn more about this new release, we talked with author Robert F. Curtis about his time in the military, his experience with writing, and why this his book is worth reading.

Could you tell us a bit about any history of military service in your family? 

All the men in the previous generation of my family served in some branch of the military, five  blood uncles on my mother’s side and four on my father’s. All of my blood Aunt’s husbands served too. My father served in the Army just after WWII. In my generation I am the only one who served one minute of military time. No one in my son’s generation served either. My family has very much become a reflection of the country, in that less than one percent of American’s serve in the Armed Forces now.

All my childhood I saw the uniforms my uncles wore hanging the closets, the pictures on the albums, and listened to the war stories the men would tell as they played cards at family gatherings. I treasured the souvenirs of the military that they gave me: old cartridges, a WW1 and a WWII Victory medals, a Nazi party pin, shoulder patches, etc. When in the 8th grade we were asked what we wanted to be when we grew up I said, “A professional soldier”, although one of my Uncles was a career Marine and he was the most impressive one of the lot. The Marine was a crewman on jets and once when we went to pick him up at Cincinnati’s airport, he came in with the aircraft on fire. They didn’t crash and were even blasé about it afterwards, but it was a very impressive display of what a man should be to a kid. I wanted adventures like that.

When did you first realize that you wanted to become a writer? 

There was never a moment when I decided I wanted to be a writer. I have always wanted to be a writer, telling stories about what I see around me. Story telling is a family tradition, one at which my maternal grandmother was particularly. She had me writer her descriptions of life wherever my military travels took me, what their houses looked like, what they ate, how they dressed, etc. As a pilot flying stories are a part of everyday life, each pilot trying to outdo the other. My first professional writing came when I wrote a few journal articles for The Marine Corps Gazette, the officer’s journal. I also wrote one article for the Royal Navy Air crewman’s journal, TACAN and a technical article for the American Aeronautical Association Journal. I also wrote the script for the three one-man civil war shows I did. That bit of writing showed me that I can tell a written story, as well as tell oral ones, like flying stories.

What fascinates you about revisiting the past and bringing it to life in a book?

The past is the present. Thirty-three years ago I flew Chinooks in combat and they are still being flown today. In fact, as I was typing this on 11 April a flight of two Chinooks flew past my window, a good omen for sure. For all of time men have clashed, often at the same place over and over again. At one spot on the South Branch of the Potomac River, just outside Moorefield, WV, there were four battles during the Civil War, but there is no marker, no sign to tell of what happened there. The people who live there have no sense that they pass bloody ground every day. The same goes how the people feel about the military pilots flying today; no one knows what it is like for them unless they have been there. Telling the stories of the past will help take the 99% of the US population who have not served into the feeling of being there, a sense maybe, that there is something beyond the latest “reality” show.

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I’ll be home for Christmas . . .

We at Casemate wish everyone the nicest holiday season. People are reconnecting with family now, taking long-overdue days off, and in general seeking to regenerate in pleasant circumstances for the next year to come.

While we all take a brief respite, nevertheless, a particular song has been going on in our heads that still resonates through the decades, and as a military history publisher it may be appropriate for us here to describe its context.

“I’ll Be Home for Christmas” was written by the songwriting team of Gannon and Kent, with credit to Buck Ram for its original lyrics. The song was recorded by Bing Crosby in 1943, right in the middle of World War II, just as America had flung literally millions of its men across its oceans—to Europe and the Pacific—to try to retrieve Western values against aggressive dictators who sought power through force rather than the universal principles to which Americans preferred to adhere.

At the time of the song’s release it was still unclear whether America and its allies—primarily the British Empire–could prevail. The climactic battles had then yet to be fought, and the German and Japanese empires, along with their subsumed nations, might have still been unassailable in 1943. Yet the Yultetide song beckoned for a positive resolution as early as possible, when U.S. forces could finish their job and return home.

By 1944 the song had become a favorite among Allied troops, and by then they had gained an upper hand. As the Christmas of 1944 approached Anglo-American forces had already caved in the Nazis’ Normandy front and had ridden across France. In the Pacific we had nearly gained the Philippines. In Europe we were at the very border of the Third Reich—while the Soviets were hammering them in from the other side.

“I’ll be home for Christmas” now seemed less a song than a logistical goal as our commanders began to think the war was nearly finished.

But then in December 1944—precisely 70 years ago–the Germans launched a gigantic counteroffensive through the Ardennes Forest that took the Americans by surprise. Two panzer armies, supported by infantry, crashed through U.S. First Army in the center, and then a titanic month-long battle ensued as the Allies’ “broad front” strategy came to a halt. Every single resource was needed as our forces from the south and north needed to converge on the enemy’s 60-mile breakthrough, known to history as “The Battle of the Bulge.”

For evenhanded details of the battle, readers need only see our recently released “The Ardennes: Hitler’s Winter Offensive, 1944–45,” by the Swedish historian Christer Bergstrom. With hundreds of photos, diagrams and maps, alongside its deeply researched narrative, we have a more
comprehensive view of this battle than seen before.

Another thing that the battle entailed was nearly half a million American troops desperately fighting across a snowy landscape 2,000 miles from home. Gallantly they did so, in their freezing foxholes or small bridgeheads or winter entrenchments as the cream of the Wehrmacht sought to destroy them.

Back to the song: by December 1944, “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” was more popular with the troops then ever. But now it was seen that at Christmas 1944, it was not yet. Instead 19,000 U.S. soldiers died in that horrific winter battle, over 60,000 more wounded, and some 26,000 captured. Our troops eventually did prevail and push the Wehrmacht back, whereupon Germany’s days were drastically numbered.

But in those bleak, fire-filled days amidst the snow of the Ardennes in December 1944 it was obvious that our troops would not be home by that Christmas. Instead on that very Christmas day they had to wage the greatest fight in our history as the Germans made one more lunge.

It’s a curiosity that “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” was initially rejected by its NY publisher since the lyrics were considered too depressing. The BBC banned it throughout the war. But then it became a wartime hit, and for many U.S. soldiers in the Ardennes that Christmastime—survivors or not–it is doubtless that the lyrics expressed their thoughts exactly:

Christmas Eve will find me
Where the lovelight gleams.
I’ll be home for Christmas
If only in my dreams.

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Casemate Spring 2015 Catalog

We’re pleased to present Casemate’s Spring 2015 catalog, featuring new and upcoming releases from our own line as well as from our great distribution publishers.

Take a look at all of the great new books by clicking on the image below!

S15 Cover

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Casemate Group to Acquire International Publishers Marketing (IPM)

Havertown, PA, November 17, 2014. Philadelphia area based publisher and distributor Casemate is pleased to announce that on January 1, 2015 it will acquire the trade book distributor, International Publishers Marketing of Dulles, VA and that Jane Graf, IPM’s director will join Casemate at that time.

Casemate President David Farnsworth said: “Bringing IPM and their long-time director Jane Graf into the Casemate Group significantly increases our reach and enables us to provide a top-level service to distribution client publishers whose books fall outside of our traditional core subject areas of history, military, archaeology and art.  We will now move forward with renewed confidence and enthusiasm knowing that we are offering the best possible solution to publishers looking for expert third party sales, marketing, and distribution in the general trade. In addition to the key talents of the Casemate team – now enhanced by the many years of experience Jane Graf brings – we have our proven eBook sales and marketing operation and our in-warehouse print-on-demand capabilities to place at their disposal as well, all combining to make a very powerful package of services for our current and future distribution clients.”

“This is a marvelous way to celebrate IPM’s 25th anniversary”, said Graf, “as it will expand the market penetration for IPM’s client publishers, and will increase the exposure across North America for their wonderful books. IPM’s motto for years has been “bringing you the best books from around the globe” and this move will allow us to offer our clients an increased level of quality service. We are all very excited and know that the IPM and Casemate clients will benefit from this merger of talents.”

Founded in 2001, the Casemate Group is made up of Casemate Publishers, Oxbow Books, Casemate Academic, Casemate Athena and Casemate Art. In the United Kingdom, Casemate-UK was set up in 2007 and in late 2011 Casemate acquired Oxford UK based Oxbow Books and Oxbow’s US subsidiary The David Brown Book Company (since renamed Casemate Academic.)

Learn more about International Publishers Marketing by clicking below:

International Publishers Marketing

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Jerry Krizan, 1945-2014

Jerry Krizan in front of a medical dispensary after it was hit by mortar in August 1968.

Jerry Krizan in front of a medical dispensary after it was hit by mortar in August 1968.

It is with regret that we report the passing of one of our authors last Friday (Nov. 14), Jerry Krizan, who along with co-author Robert Dumont penned an outstanding wartime memoir for us last spring—BAC SI: A Green Beret Medic’s War in Vietnam.

It strikes us as typical of Jerry’s modesty that during the months-long editorial/production process we had no idea he was struggling with cancer. He never said, and we only learned of his demise today. Nevertheless we’ve been ensured by Robert and others that the publication of his memoir brought good happiness to him during his last months.

Born in Detroit and thereafter nearly a lifelong resident of Kalamazoo, Michigan, Jerry enjoyed a successful career as an accountant for 30 years, from the 1970s onward. He had a terrific family, including his wife Sue and daughter Mary who is a professor of philosophy at University of Wisconsin at La Crosse. His local obituary states:

“He enjoyed gardening, reading, and being a Mr. Fixit. He served his country in the United States Army during the Vietnam War.”

Bac Si coverWe at Casemate can perhaps add a little more. Jerry was not always simply a citizen of Kalamazoo. When young, he was also called by our government to Indochina, where he served as a Green Beret with the 5th Special Forces Group near the Cambodian border. Here is an excerpt from his commendation for the Bronze Star (with Valor):

“During a multi-regimental attack on Loc Ninh Special Forces Camp by the North Vietnamese Army using rockets, artillery and ground probes, Sergeant Krizan, with complete disregard for his own personal safety, moved through the explosions and ground fire to aid wounded Camp Strike Force soldiers. Sergeant Krizan exposed himself again when he dragged a wounded soldier from the direct line of enemy fire. When the ground probe became extremely close to actual entrance through the wire and into the camp, Sergeant Krizan was sent to the weakest point in the wire, where he continually exposed himself to the fire in order to better fire his M-16 rifle to halt the enemy advance into the camp. Sergeant Krizan remained in position until all threat was quelled, at which time he returned to the emergency medical bunker to treat the wounded.”

So such was the task of a Green Beret medic on our frontier outposts in Vietnam. The Loc Ninh camp eventually fell to the NVA, but not while Sgt. Krizan was there. It is with pleasure that we see citizens like Jerry honored by the communities in which they’ve been longtime admirable citizens. But at Casemate we realize that gallant individuals such as he often have other stories to tell when called upon to serve their nation.

It was fortunate for us to have been able to tell the story of Jerry (when younger, Sergeant) Krizan.

 

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Veterans’ Day, 2014

To All Readers,

 

For those of you familiar with Casemate Publishers we trust it’s been clear enough that we honor every individual who has sacrificed the comfort of their own hearths and home to fight for their country. However, this Veterans’ Day has been especially important to us due to all the cross-currents of patriotic wars, both modern and past.

Foremost, this year is the 70th anniversary of World War II, which means that fewer and fewer of our veterans of that conflict will soon remain with us. Justifiably termed “The Greatest Generation,” they indeed had the greatest challenges, and to remember their sacrifices in battle or pure service is one of our own foremost goals.

Following the WWII generation is our veterans from Korea (in fact, many of the same people, called back again to fight), and it is still a poignancy here that the war they waged has heretofore remained the “forgotten” one. Not so in the true annals of America’s military history.

At the same time this is the 100th anniversary of the Great War, which first ripped Europe apart in armed conflict and set the stage for America emerging as a global power. Although those veterans are no longer with us, many readers are discovering for the first time the horrific travails faced by the soldiers on all sides. Suffice to say that while America only entered that conflagration in its last year, our 173,000 dead left enough of a mark upon the Continent’s soil.

This year is also the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, or least of the year when the Union finally exerted its full force. It is still the costliest war in American history, which perhaps could be expected when our people fought each other, naturally neither side willing to give in.

Vietnam doesn’t lend itself to anniversaries, but it was the hardest-fought war we’ve engaged in since World War II, and also proved a watershed in American history. Now, believe it or not, many of those veterans—who listened to rock’n’roll in their spare time—are reaching retirement age. It sometimes seems so recent that they were fighting confrontational battles with the NVA on one hand, in far-off Southeast Asia, while “marches on Washington” or college protests were going on at home. If ever a war was fought with such disconnect—between its homeland and its soldiers—it was Vietnam. And our warriors (most of them draftees) simply returned to become some of our greatest citizens, less 58,000 dead and 350,000 wounded suffered on our behalf.

Vietnam caused the changeover of the US Army into a “volunteer” force, and the startling statistic emerged this week that 2.5 million American men and women have served for us in Iraq and Afghanistan since 9/11.  Notwithstanding that that number means 98% of Americans no longer need to serve, it prompts nothing but respect for those who have willingly volunteered to fight.

This Veterans’ Day is a true mix. Many of those from past wars are now reaching their twilight, if not already, while we have the greatest respect for the new veterans among us. While here at Casemate we seek to chronicle all of their sacrifices, it goes without saying that we look forward to an end to all wars, if possible, or at least the wisdom on the part of our leaders to gain victories in them when the occasion rises. The courage of our people calls for nothing less.

As proven throughout the past two hundred years, American soldiers will always prove their excellence. We’ll continue to see if our political leadership can say the same, even as our respect for the veterans who have fought on our behalf over the years knows no bounds.

 

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The Ardennes 1944-1945

Ardennes

We’re pleased to announce that The Ardennes 1944-1945: Hitler’s Winter Offensive by Christer Bergstrom is now available from Casemate!

This new release is an unparalleled account of The Battle of the Bulge, illustrated with over 400 photos, maps, and color profiles. Christer Bergström has interviewed veterans, gone through huge amounts of archive material, and performed on-the-spot research in the area. The result is a large amount of previously unpublished material and new findings, including reevaluations of tank and personnel casualties and the most accurate picture yet of what really transpired.


Download a free sample chapter of this book here

Purchase your own copy of The Ardennes here.


An Interview with Christer Bergstrom on his new release:

Why did you decide to write this book? What prompted you to put this story down on paper?

I had planned it for many years, probably for about 20 years. What prompted me to put finally together all the material I had collected into a book was when I some years ago read an article about the Battle of the Bulge in a Swedish military history magazine, and I got so sick at seeing the same old myths being repeated again.

How much research did you do for the book?  Can you give us some tips on this?

Incredibly much, for many, many years. Having read everything about the subject, I visited all the relevant archives. I also made interviews with lots of veterans, and through them I received much material that is not available in the official archives.

What do you like most about your book? Why should we read it?

This is an absolutely neutral account (written by a Swede), giving an equal attention to both sides in this epic battle. I have found incredibly much and hitherto unknown information which gives an entirely new image of this battle, the Battle of the Bulge.

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