- Paperback: 328 pages
- Publisher: SOFT SKULL PRESS (7 May 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0979663687
- ISBN-13: 978-0979663680
- Product Dimensions: 14 x 2.3 x 21 cm
- Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 812,130 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
War Nerd, The Paperback – 7 May 2009
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Top Customer Reviews
Certainly, this is just a collection of essays already available on the internet but besides the benefit of being printed in book form, this also gives the author and editor the opportunity to concentrate on what they judge the most important and worthwhile of Brecher's writings.
I found this book valuable for the following reasons:
Brecher's several page summaries of the bigger and more interesting Third World wars of the past few decades which generally receive so little attention in the West, despite containing some surprising omissions (for example writing dozens of pages on ethnic conflict in South East Asia without mentioning the overwhelming Chinese economic dominance in many of these countries), provide a superficial sketch of these conflicts for minimal reader effort (but don't expect rigorous references or justification).
Brecher's analysis of the nature of warfare itself and how it's changed since the end of the Cold War is very interesting: how Western military doctrines have not always yet caught up, particularly in regard to Iraq, Afghanistan and how the USA is potentially wasting much of its vast defence budget.
Brecher's understanding of the nature of typical ethnic relations (conflict rather than harmony) is essentially common sense to anyone with the capability of independent thought who pays attention to current affairs but apparently not yet recognised by the political class who runs Western societies or the media class who back them.
If you're interested in the rest of the world outside of the West, if you're interested in military conflict, this book is a worthwhile read.
There isn't a better book out there at the moment that will teach you about the nature of war in such an enjoyable, accessable and entertaining manner. The War Nerd is not a 'hardware freak' - i.e. the sorts of peoplw who believe that the best equipment and technology wins wars, i.e. most Americans. He comes at warfare from a completely different point of view, that almost all wars are tribal, and if we understand this, we can understand why supposedly better equipped armies lose out to peasants armed with rocks and a few light weapons. He claims he finds conventional warfare 'boring'. And he has a track record of predictions to back up his claims of insight; that the American 'surge' strategy would fail in Iraq; that Hezbollah would win the conflict with Isreal in Lebanon. And most if it comes back to that insight - see war as tribal. Throughout his essays he always states how much he 'loves' war, that working in IT in Fresno (where he lives) is a death sentance. But there is a strong line of humanitarian concern in his work, hidden slightly from view. Often the punchline to military operational disasters is the civilian casualty count. Politically he comes across very free-thinking, much like other maverick American writers like Hunter S Thompson.
He writes on a range of military issues, from history through to equipment and small modern conflicts.Read more ›
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta) (May include reviews from Early Reviewer Rewards Program)
These are his aughts columns and blog-posts for the eXile, and it is clear that Brecher is persona in them. Indeed, Brecher (poet John Dolan) is more of an academic and humanist than his persona here lets on or my snide comment about his constant use of sentence fragments indicates. Brecher understands the shifting focus of war, however, and clearly has obsessed over it. Brecher can be appear bigoted and yet he also can write admiringly of peoples who no one seems to otherwise give a s*** about. He can be a knee-jerk anti-communism who admires female Soviet snipers and communist guerillas. Indeed, what becomes clearer--particularly once you read Brecher's writings for NSFW Corps and Pando, Brecher is not nearly as conservative as he is playing. He is doing satire at points about the nature of conservative war writing and pointing out each pain-staking hypocrisy. Furthermore, Brecher is also adapt at showing that liberal and left pieties are often just as hypocritical of anyone east of Victor David Hansen.
That said, it is hard to know exactly much is an truly satire as Brecher's understanding of war, counter-insurgency, and the actual goings on of places like South Asia and the African horn are profound. Brecher is best in talking about conflicts most people don't know about: Pakistan-India, Sri Lanka's civil war, the wars of the African Horn, and pointing out hypocrisies in Tom Clancy. It is also true that some of the romanticism of war may not be act on Brecher's part, but it is hard to say. The totally unblinkered truth is impossible, but Brecher is about as close as you come when he is getting to the brass tacks of asymmetrical warfare and counter-insurgency as well as tribal wars.
This is a good start with Brecher, but honestly, the War Nerd, even if it is a persona, is worth reading regardless of your politics or if you actually like living in Fresno.
The first thing that struck me about Brecher's writing is that he doesn't sugarcoat it with nonsense. His brand of objective analysis is a breath of fresh air in a world of dogma and propaganda raining down on us from the airwaves 24/7. Any time I start getting suspicious when the official AP article seems incomplete or filled with logical gaps, I can rely on Brecher to eventually get around to explaining the story under the surface. And best of all, he does it in a way that's both understandable and entertaining - the most effective way to get your point across. In nice little article-sized cuts I've even gotten non-readers to get some information through their thick skulls with this book.
His level of cynicism is entirely appropriate for assessing our most crappy and stupid of human habits, war. Straight to the point and not prone to half-baked theories and wishful thinking, I consistently walk away having learned something new from an angle I hadn't considered before. His articles inform and make you think, and I wager some gung-ho types could really stand to read his descriptions of what war is mostly really about.
I will be vastly saddened the day he finally keels over of a massive heart attack at the ripe age of 46.
Much of his work is posted online. Check him out before you buy. You won't be disappointed.