WAR SINCE 1945 by Michael Carver


Email this review


A conflict-by-conflict history of international warfare since World War II--useful as an assemblage, though intrinsically disjointed. Carver, former Chief of Britain's General Staff (1971-73) and Defence Staff (1973-76), knowledgeably describes the British experiences in Palestine, Malaya, Kenya, and Cyprus, and provides excellent accounts of the little-reported fighting in Borneo and Aden. Apropos of the French embroilments in Indochina and Algiers, he relies largely on the standard materials--adding the dubious proposition that the French could have reasserted their imperial authority had they implemented de Gaulle's wartime Brazaville Declaration promising their colonies self-determination. He lauds US restraint in Korea on the grounds that acceding to MacArthur's desire to escalate the war might have resulted in ""a Russo-Chinese alliance facing a divided Western world."" But his contention that US intervention significantly affected the outlook of ex-colonial peoples--who might otherwise have decided ""that communism was inevitably going to win the struggle""--is not substantiated by subsequent events in Africa and the Middle East. On Vietnam, he offers just another how-America-got-herself-into-a-quagmire analysis. And, unfortunately, he omits the Dutch experience in Indonesia and Portugal's troubles in Africa. The latter omission is especially surprising since Carver pronounces Africa ""the most likely scene for what one might call an ex-colonial war."" Generalizations are relatively few, however, and almost no attempt is made to relate the individual wars to contemporary defense and foreign-policy considerations. The result is a fragmentary picture of what occurred--but also the first post-WW II military history on such a scale: India's conflicts with China and Pakistan, and the Arab-Israeli Wars, are included too. As a reference, authoritative and to the point.

Pub Date: April 9th, 1981
ISBN: 1573923222
Publisher: Putnam