Small Wars, Far Away Places: The Genesis of the Modern World

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9780230768871: Small Wars, Far Away Places: The Genesis of the Modern World
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The collapse of Western colonial empires after the Second World War led to any number of vicious struggles for power whose bloody consequences haunt us still. Acclaimed historian Michael Burleigh's brilliant analytic skills and clear eye for common themes underpins this powerful account of those struggles. He takes us on a historical journey from Palestine to Pakistan, from Cuba to Indo-China and reframes mid-20th century history by forcing us to look away from the Cold War to the hot wars that continue to afflict us. The result is a dazzling work of history, which examines the death of colonialism with passion, insight and genuine understanding of what it feels like to be caught in the middle of realpolitik.

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The collapse of Western colonial empires in the 20 years after the Second World War led to a series of vicious power struggles in Africa, Asia and the Middle East. This panoramic history takes us from Palestine to Pakistan, from Algeria to Cuba, and from Kenya to Indochina. By forcing us to look away from the Cold War, it sheds new light on the causes and common themes of these conflicts, whose bloody consequences continue to haunt us today.

Review:

A well-researched and readable account of two tumultuous decades Burleigh has synthesized a wide range of material to create a valuable introduction to the political and military events of the early Cold War.
New York Times Sunday Book Review
Michael Burleigh chronicles the end of the British, French and Dutch empires in the wake of World War II and looks into what replaced them and why, a topic, he argues, that has special relevance because generals and military experts have ransacked this period for how to do it lessons for contemporary Iraq and Afghanistan. . It is a rollicking journey in the company of such dynamic figures as British Gen. Gerald Templer, who won the Malayan Emergency and popularized the phrase hearts and minds, and French President Charles de Gaulle, who lost Algeria after a brutal counterinsurgency campaign that relied heavily upon torture.
John A. Nagl, Wall Street Journal
Burleigh provides short accounts of subjects as far afield as the birth of Israel, the origins of the containment doctrine, the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Korean War, the Malayan Emergency, the Mau-Mau uprising in Kenya, and the Suez Crisis. This is an enjoyable, breezy read perfect for a lazy afternoon at the beach and it is full of nicely evocative descriptions Burleigh has a particularly good eye for the telling detail.
Max Boot, National Review
Burleigh writes with engaging wit.
John M. Taylor, The Washington Times
A brilliant, complex, contradictory story, replete with character and incident, pungent and pithy and refreshingly free of preaching. . . . The author delights in the detail, the small moment illustrating a large truth.
Ben MacIntyre, The Times (London)
Burleigh nails his cast of politicians, generals and revolutionaries to turn the page in a series of ruthlessly observed character sketches.
Keith Lowe, author of Savage Continent
The book contains a series of vivid, vigorous narratives, illuminated by telling snippets of information, compelling but rarely flattering portraits of the key characters and some trenchant judgments. Burleigh has little interest in grand theories and does not dwell on the deep, impersonal social and economic forces at work or the big ideas that gripped collective imaginations. Instead he concentrates on the choices made by flawed and fallible men (and in this book they are almost all men) in the turbulent two decades from 1945 to 1965.
Lawrence Freedman, The Washington Post
With Small Wars, Faraway Places, Michael Burleigh offers a penetrating and often sardonic narrative of the struggles that formed the world as we know it. Blending engaging characters sketches and telling vignettes with geopolitical analysis, he presents the two decades after 1945 from a vantage point that provides illuminating perspective . Burleigh s wide-ranging account brings out the relationship between political challenge and response, along with the difficulties in understanding very different societies from the outside.
William Anthony Hay, The American Conservative
Slyly humorous and wonderfully detailed, Burleigh s vivid narrative does justice to the lesser-known struggles of a complex era.
Publishers Weekly, starred review
Burleigh is an equal opportunity moralist, not an ideologue, and he stalks his prey with feline grace. . . . This is a story of personalities as much as one of geological shifts, and Burleigh is a master of bringing it alive with sharp character insights.
Christopher Silvester, Financial Times
"The new book 'Small Wars, Faraway Places' is the vault of knowledge that followers of current events have been seeking.... From the Mau-Mau Emergency in Kenya to the Korean War... to the French misadventure in Indochina and the clash between Arab nationalism and Zionism in the British Mandate in Palestine, Burleigh traces 18 distinct story lines of terrorism, counter-terrorism, intrigue, nationalism, and Cold War rivalry. With these stories, the reader can find the tangled roots on nearly all of today's nasty hotspots; he or she can even foresee the sort of messes that modern-day conflicts are likely to create down the road, using Burleigh's patient documentation of troubled areas like Malaya and Algeria as templates.... That 'Small Wars' eschews easy answers or one-size-fits-all theories about the conflicts that it documents is a tribute to its author."
The Christian Science Monitor"

"A well-researched and readable account of two tumultuous decades... Burleigh has synthesized a wide range of material to create a valuable introduction to the political and military events of the early Cold War."
--New York Times Sunday Book Review

"Michael Burleigh chronicles the end of the British, French and Dutch empires in the wake of World War II and looks into what replaced them and why, a topic, he argues, that has special relevance because 'generals and military experts have ransacked this period for "how to do it" lessons for contemporary Iraq and Afghanistan.'.... It is a rollicking journey in the company of such dynamic figures as British Gen. Gerald Templer, who won the Malayan Emergency and popularized the phrase 'hearts and minds, ' and French President Charles de Gaulle, who lost Algeria after a brutal counterinsurgency campaign that relied heavily upon torture."
--John A. Nagl, Wall Street Journal

"Burleigh provides short accounts of subjects as far afield as the birth of Israel, the origins of the containment doctrine, the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Korean War, the Malayan Emergency, the Mau-Mau uprising in Kenya, and the Suez Crisis. This is an enjoyable, breezy read--perfect for a lazy afternoon at the beach--and it is full of nicely evocative descriptions... Burleigh has a particularly good eye for the telling detail."
--Max Boot, National Review

"Burleigh writes with engaging wit."
--John M. Taylor, The Washington Times

"A brilliant, complex, contradictory story, replete with character and incident, pungent and pithy and refreshingly free of preaching. . . . The author delights in the detail, the small moment illustrating a large truth."
--Ben MacIntyre, The Times (London)

"Burleigh nails his cast of politicians, generals and revolutionaries to turn the page in a series of ruthlessly observed character sketches."
--Keith Lowe, author of Savage Continent

"The book contains a series of vivid, vigorous narratives, illuminated by telling snippets of information, compelling but rarely flattering portraits of the key characters and some trenchant judgments. Burleigh has little interest in grand theories and does not dwell on the deep, impersonal social and economic forces at work or the big ideas that gripped collective imaginations. Instead he concentrates on the choices made by flawed and fallible men (and in this book they are almost all men) in the turbulent two decades from 1945 to 1965."
--Lawrence Freedman, The Washington Post

"With Small Wars, Faraway Places, Michael Burleigh offers a penetrating and often sardonic narrative of the struggles that formed the world as we know it. Blending engaging characters sketches and telling vignettes with geopolitical analysis, he presents the two decades after 1945 from a vantage point that provides illuminating perspective.... Burleigh's wide-ranging account brings out the relationship between political challenge and response, along with the difficulties in understanding very different societies from the outside."
--William Anthony Hay, The American Conservative

"Slyly humorous and wonderfully detailed, Burleigh's vivid narrative does justice to the lesser-known struggles of a complex era."
--Publishers Weekly, starred review

"Burleigh is an equal opportunity moralist, not an ideologue, and he stalks his prey with feline grace. . . . This is a story of personalities as much as one of geological shifts, and Burleigh is a master of bringing it alive with sharp character insights."
--Christopher Silvester, Financial Times

"The new book 'Small Wars, Faraway Places' is the vault of knowledge that followers of current events have been seeking.... From the Mau-Mau Emergency in Kenya to the Korean War... to the French misadventure in Indochina and the clash between Arab nationalism and Zionism in the British Mandate in Palestine, Burleigh traces 18 distinct story lines of terrorism, counter-terrorism, intrigue, nationalism, and Cold War rivalry. With these stories, the reader can find the tangled roots on nearly all of today's nasty hotspots; he or she can even foresee the sort of messes that modern-day conflicts are likely to create down the road, using Burleigh's patient documentation of troubled areas like Malaya and Algeria as templates.... That 'Small Wars' eschews easy answers or one-size-fits-all theories about the conflicts that it documents is a tribute to its author."
--The Christian Science Monitor

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