Military history, sharp thinking, and good writing
The two share a talent for incisive analysis and clear, elegant writing. That each writes about a subject of continuing vital and contemporary interest is a bonus. (In Ricks' case, the subject is the rise and precipitous decline in American military leadership from World War II to Iraq and Afghanistan. In Cohen's case, the subject is the military leadership of the civilian heads of state Lincoln, Clemenceau, Churchill, and Ben-Gurion during wartime.)
I'm going to like Cohen because he attacks the commonplace that a civilian leader's job during wartime is to get out of the military's way, and I'm predisposed to like attacks on commonplaces. Cohen's introductory chapters range well beyond his specialty (He's a professor of strategic studies). His discussion of the pervasiveness with which the idea of military supremacy in wartime has penetrated popular culture, for example, includes a slyly funny putdown of the movie Independence Day.
I'd recommend these books for readers interested in current affairs, military history, and world politics. More to the point, I recommend them to that tiny minority to whom good writing and clear argument matter.
(If recent discussion here at Detectives Beyond Borders has got away from crime fiction, know that it was a short story by Martin Limón, crime fiction all the way, that first got me thinking about military leadership and the consequences of leadership policies whose goals are to protect the leaders.)
© Peter Rozovsky 2013