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The Savage Wars of Peace

Small Wars and the Rise of American Power


Max Boot (View Bio)
Hardcover: Basic Books, 2002; Paperback: Basic Books, 2003.

Christian Science Monitor Best Book of 2002
Greene Award Winner for achievement in Marine Corps books from the Marine Heritage Foundation
Los Angeles Times Best Book of 2002
Washington Post Book World Best Book of 2002
History Book Club Selection
A Military Book Club Selection
A Selection of the Dobbs List (CNN's Lou Dobbs)

"What a pleasure to read a crisp preface that promises a fun read, and to have the rest of the book deliver. THE SAVAGE WARS OF PEACE is an entertaining jaunt through many of the expeditions, counterinsurgencies and (insert your preferred term of art here), that the United States armed forces have undertaken since the beginning of the Republic. Along the way the author offers political analysis that hits its mark time and again." — Journal of Military History

"Vivid, deftly researched, and illuminating, THE SAVAGE WARS OF PEACE couldn't be more timely or compelling. The murky depths of America's small and forgotten wars contain crucial lessons for America's global leadership today. Put it on every security policymaker's desk — and bravo for Max Boot!" — Jay Winik, author of APRIL 1865: The Month That Saved America

"This book is not only an eminently readable and entertaining narrative history of America's small wars, but also a serious analysis of current strategic challenges.... Remarkable.... Persuasive.... Boot is an exceptional writer and his engaging style is tailor-made for this type of narrative." — National Review

"The book of the season.... 9/11 and its aftermath brought Boot's message — from which the adjective 'timely' might have been invented — into eye-opening focus." — National Journal

"Serious students of foreign policy, no matter what their leanings, will want to entertain his arguments." — Kirkus Reviews

"SAVAGE WARS is as enjoyable and entertaining as an apology for imperialism can be." — Liberty magazine

"Rousing.... Notable...important." — The New York Sun

"Not only truly engaging reading but also enlightening history which incisively illuminates America's strategic challenges." — Zbigniew Brzezinski, Former National Security Adviser

"Mr. Boot's analysis is very compelling and sensible.... An important book, which teaches a real and essential lesson about American foreign policy makers and army generals. May we heed its lessons in the years to come." — The New Criterion

"Max Boot's book on America's small wars comes at a particularly good time.... Mr. Boot chronicles America's small and undeclared wars from the campaigns against the Barbary Pirates to peacekeeping operations in Kosovo.... His narrative is crisp and exciting.... It is a great read with some very solid conclusions." — The Washington Times

"In his vivid, original, and very timely new book, Max Boot offers a riveting and fresh view of America's 'other wars' from the first days of the new nation through its emergence as a global power. THE SAVAGE WARS OF PEACE provides a valuable framework for understanding the critical issues of American military power after the Cold War — from the Gulf Crisis through Afghanistan." — Daniel Yergin, author of THE PRIZE , co-author of THE COMMANDING HEIGHTS

"In his high-spirited early chapters, Max Boot's THE SAVAGE WARS OF PEACE recalls Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey and Maturin saga.... In his concluding comments, Boot sets out a thoughtful list of lessons that should have been learned." — New York Review of Books

"If you want to bring some historical perspective to the prospect of a U.S. war with Iraq, read Max Boot's THE SAVAGE WARS OF PEACE." — World magazine

"He tells the story with clarity and verve, rediscovering on the way some lesser-known American heroes.... Enjoyable.... Informative." — The Economist

"Few books published this decade will be timelier than Max Boot's THE SAVAGE WARS OF PEACE.... Lucidly written.... Drawing on extensive primary sources and secondary research, Boot, an editor at The Wall Street Journal, argues persuasively that [small wars] are historically not only something the United States has done frequently, but something it has done well.... [A] fine book." — Commentary

"Excellent.... There are some cracking good stories here — the exploits of Marine Corps legend Smedley Butler in China, the Philippines, Nicaragua, and Haiti — but also some important lessons." — U.S. News & World Report

"Excellent." — The Washington Monthly

"By collecting the best exploits from some of the most significant small wars between two covers, [Boot has] done a real public and strategic service." — Slate

"Boot's well-written narrative is not only fascinating reading, but didactic as well, as we learn that most of our current orthodoxy is neither historically or logically sound. American presidents never much worried about 'undeclared wars' and rarely sought to consult the Congress about such 'constabulary actions.' The military was glad to oblige — and paid little heed to whether getting out was as easy as getting in.... The events after September 11 give THE SAVAGE WARS OF PEACE an uncanny timeliness and sadly confirm all of Boot's compassionate warnings." — The Weekly Standard

"Boot is a bracing storyteller, and one of the book's strengths is his recounting of some...forgotten episodes." — Claremont Review of Books

"Boot has written a readable and thought-provoking book — one that might well influence the behind-the-scenes debates over the future of military policy." — Library Journal

"Boot gets the central issue right. Americans like to think of war as an anomaly, at least in their own history. Boot explodes the myth and shows it to be as pernicious as it is wrong." — Chicago Sun-Times

"Anyone who wants to understand why America has permanently entered a new era in international relations must read [it].... Vividly written and thoroughly researched.... [H]e explodes a number of myths about the military such as the beliefs that the United States has always had exit strategies and never engaged in what Republicans dismissively termed the Clinton administration's 'social work.'" — Los Angeles Times

"An illuminating survey of America's readiness in the past to fight short, sharp wars against international nuisances. This is a vivid and timely book that holds memorable lessons for the West." — Paul Johnson, author of MODERN TIMES and A HISTORY OF THE AMERICAN PEOPLE

"An excellent and important treatise on strategy that reads as compellingly as an adventure story, Boot's history and interpretation of America's small wars shines a clear and revealing light on recent operations and those in progress. Unfortunately there is no time machine with which a copy might be sent back to Bill Clinton in 1992, but George W. Bush can read it now, as he should." — Mark Helprin, author of A SOLDIER OF THE GREAT WAR

"An analytical treatment of low-intensity conflict [and]...a fascinating set of case studies worth reading for the stories alone. There are graphic battle scenes...compellingly idiosyncratic characters and anecdotes.... Americans like to think of war as an anomaly, at least in their own history; the Cincinnatus myth dies hard. Boot explodes the myth and shows it to be as pernicious as it is wrong." — Washington Post

"A timely manual on the post-Cold War challenges.... Max Boot understands. Read this book; you will too." — New York Post

"A thumping good rock'em-sock'em sort of narrative. Heroics, adventure, graphic battles, etc. — it is almost enough to rouse even a dyed-in-the-wool pacifist to chase imperial glory in jodhpurs and a pith helmet. The book is both scholarly and effective.... As Max Boot's book makes clear, our most recent small war in Afghanistan is closer to our historical norm than the Civil War, Korea, or either of the world wars.... Boot elucidates very nicely the devil our country knows best and helps to establish what should have been obvious to students of our nation's history: Small wars are not going away." — Policy Review

"A rollicking...chronicle of 200 years of American warmaking.... At heart, Boot is that rare creature: a do-gooding conservative. Throwing down the gauntlet to isolationists (and the dominant voices of the Bush administration, who want nothing to do with rebuilding Afghanistan), Boot provocatively says we must carry out the vital work of state building in countries that, ravaged by disorder, are unable to govern themselves... Boot's narrative bustles with engaging personalities and forgotten heroes." — Chicago Tribune

"A much-talked-about new book." — Time

"A ground-breaking book that separates fact from myth on the use of American military power throughout our nation's history. Max Boot's journey through America's small wars mines fascinating and important yet virtually ignored territory. The stories he tells are compelling and could change your views on one of the most important issues facing our nation: the use of military force as policy instrument." — Richard Holbrooke, Former Ambassador to the United Nations

"A great story and a compelling read. Boot combines wide-angle perspective with an eye for detail.... [An] important and timely contribution...to America's strategic self-awareness. By reviewing the nation's past, he shows its future." — Foreign Affairs

"A brilliant, highly original analysis of the American Way of waging battle in a sinful world. Brimming with sharp anecdotes, pragmatic reasoning, and a deep grasp of military history, THE SAVAGE WARS OF PEACE is truly a landmark study." — Douglas Brinkley, author of THE UNFINISHED PRESIDENCY

"A book that is as readable as it is timely. In a series of finely-honed chapters, Boot recounts the exploits of plucky soldiers and intrepid seamen across two hundred years of American history. He brings back to life the figures whose exploits in Maghreb, the Caribbean, or the Far East once made them household names, but who are now mostly forgotten.... But there is more here than rousing tales told with verve and elan." — First Things

"A book that has become — very much like [Paul] Kennedy's, [Francis] Fukuyama's, and [Samuel] Huntington's — 'must reading in Congress, the Pentagon and among Washington's columnists and think-tankers." — Business Times

"[An] excellent yet concise history.... A timely exercise.... Boot dismantles the myth that U.S. interventions were at the behest of Wall Street or United Fruit. Most took place where little American capital was invested.... Boot combines meticulous scholarship with great storytelling and provocative opinions." — John Lehman, Philadelphia Inquirer

"[A] nuanced and lively contribution.... [A] fascinating history.... Admirably evenhanded." — Christian Science Monitor

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