Most of the articles are set at the strategic and operational levels with some
essential tactical detail. A few chapters provide insight into relatively small but
consequential tactical operations, including a commando raid to seize key terrain at
Normandy and the Walcheren landing to clear a German-occupied island blocking
access to the port of Antwerp.
For the post-WWII period, in addition to a chapter on Korea, Ian Speller
traces the development of the British seaborne and airborne doctrinal concept through
the 1956 Suez amphibious operation that demonstrated that mere maneuver is not the
same as maneuver warfare, and then the 1961 reinforcement of Kuwait to forestall
an Iraqi invasion. Thomas Hayden describes Marine amphibious and Army riverine
operations in Vietnam. Major General Julian Thompson recapitulates the Falklands
campaign, and the final chapters deal with amphibious demonstrations and other
actions in Operations Desert Shield, Desert Storm, and Iraqi Freedom.
Amphibious Assault is an excellent work, and its flaws are minor. It is beautiful
and a delight to read, but also large, heavy, and unwieldy. The case studies all contain
useful information, and many are exceptionally well-written. The maps usefully
supplement the text, and many are taken from the operational plans and orders of the
actions they illustrate. Some, like a hand-drawn chart used by Royal Marine gunners
during the Gallipoli action, are works of art.
A small number of chapters do not rise to the level of the majority. Regrettably,
one of these is the article on the 1950 Inchon landing, written by an accomplished
military historian who is a Korean War veteran and retired senior officer. He writes
engagingly and presents an account that is accurate overall, but incorrect in a few
instances of varying significance.
These cavils aside, this book is an important contribution to the literature on
amphibious operations with application to the study of strategy and joint operations
generally. Each of the essays, including the Inchon chapter, will expand any military
professional’s knowledge of warfare. Senior members of the defense community,
especially those grappling with the complexities of joint doctrine, and readers interested
in history and good writing will profit by partaking of this outstanding compilation.
Nexus: Strategic Communications and American Security
in World War I. By Jonathan Reed Winkler. Cambridge, Mass.:
Harvard University Press, 2008. 280 pages. $55.00. Reviewed by