Books 2017

You might also be interested in my booklists from 2014 and 2016

Arabian Sands

The Aryans

The Big Show

The Camel and the Wheel

Civil War on Western Waters

Company Commander

Double-edged Secrets

The Forgotten Soldier

Genes in Conflict

Hive Mind

The horse, the wheel, and language

The Penguin Atlas of Medieval History

Habitable Planets for Man

The genetical theory of natural selection

The Rise of the Greeks

To Lose a Battle

The Jewish War

Tropical Gangsters

The Forgotten Revolution

Egil’s Saga


Time Patrol

Suggestions are welcome. Only great books, mind you.

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92 Responses to Books 2017

  1. Frau Katze says:

    “Tropical Gangters” sounds interesting. Just going by the title.

  2. U2e1 says:

    I guessed correctly that Bulliet was on your reading list? Cool.

    I’m working my way through “The horse, the wheel, and language.” Happy to have your recommendations for what to read next. 🙂

  3. Randall Parker says:

    The Fate Of Rome: Climate, Disease, and the End of an Empire, by Kyle Harper

  4. A wonderful book that is sort of the Far East’s counterpart to your recommendation in 2014 of The Great Imposter: The Amazing Careers of Ferdinand Waldo Demara is Hugh Trevor-Roper’s The Hermit of Peking: The Hidden Life of Sir Edmund Backhouse

    Don’t pay attention to all those crappy reviews on Amazon. This book should be a classic. Backhouse (pronounced like bac-kus) was a compulsive liar and master swindler who was able to leverage his upper class background and extraordinary Chinese-language abilities to con British scholars, American businessmen, and most remarkably the British Navy by pretending to have access in China he was in no position to offer. At the end of his life, he also publicly fantasized a life filled with sexual adventures that never happened, including romps with the Empress Dowager.

    The book will leave you wondering just how many lies a single man can get away with in one lifetime. If Backhouse is any indication, the answer appears to be that a man can get away with lying every minute of his life.

    • Frau Katze says:

      Hugh Trevor-Roper’s reputation took a hit with the “Hitler Diaires” business (it turned out to be a fabrication). But I’ve read other work by him and I thought he seemed reasonable.

      • Pincher Martin says:

        Yes, the Hitler Diaries were a big blow to his reputation. But in this case, he wasn’t asked to do any special investigatory work nor does he need to reach any grand conclusions. He simply tells a story about Edmund Backhouse, mainly by using Backhouse’s own words.

  5. Wilbur Hassenfus says:

    Some other top notch WWII (ish) memoirs:

    John Masters, “Bugles and a Tiger” (with the Gurkhas prewar) and “Beyond the Chindwin” (with the Gurkhas in Wingate’s campaign in Burma).

    George MacDonald Fraser “Quartered Safe Out Here” (different Burma campaign)

    Robert Crisp, “The Gods Were Neutral” and “Brazen Chariots”: British tanker in Greece and North Africa.

    E. B. Sledge, “With the Old Breed”: Peleliu and Okinawa. Grim stuff.

    • syonredux says:

      “E. B. Sledge, “With the Old Breed”: Peleliu and Okinawa. Grim stuff.”

      Great book. Best memoir of the Pacific War that I’ve read.

      • Pincher Martin says:

        It’s been many years since I closed it, but William Manchester’s Goodbye Darkness was a fun read, other than his humblebrag about his johnson being so big that he couldn’t fit it into a prostitute.

        • engleberg says:

          The American Spectator had a story on Manchester, ‘Stolen Valor’. He went to war all right, and told stretchers when he came back.

          • Pincher Martin says:

            Thanks. I’ll give it a read.

          • Pincher Martin says:

            I just read The American Spectator piece on Manchester’s blown-up heroics. Wow. What a fine piece of journalism.

            I’m surprised Manchester could get away with his serial exaggerations for so long. He published his WW2 memoir in 1980 when a great many veterans of that war were still around. One would think someone would’ve remembered Manchester’s service, especially since his two books on the Kennedys in the 1960s had made him pretty famous for a writer. Why did no one who served with Manchester remember him and think to correct the public record about his gross exaggerations?

            I did laugh at this:

            And when the enlisted man took liberty, the reader of Goodbye, Darkness senses he takes liberties. Manchester boasted that buddies cruelly christened him “Tripod” and “Sashweight” after eyes tripped over his penis in the shower. The sobering sight of his organ during a drunk hookup leaves his shocked paramour exclaiming “Jesus” and failing to rid Manchester of his virginity despite the aid of Vaseline. “I didn’t fit,” Manchester notes. “I tried again,” he explains. “She started to moan, but I simply couldn’t penetrate her.” The young man too small for the officer corps was too big for women.

            I think I was nineteen or twenty when I first read this book, and still inclined to believe they made men bigger and better back in WW2, but this description struck even my younger, more credulous self as being gratuitously invented.

  6. Bob says:

    Dr. Cochran, I was wondering about your thoughts on this article by a former student of Paul Ewald. The article cites your and Ewald’s work and suggests a possible infectious cause for male pattern baldness. Do you think there is any merit to the hypothesis?

    • Frau Katze says:

      Why would they think it wasn’t genetic? It doesn’t interfere with them having children (I suppose a really early onset case might make them somewhat less attractive.)

      • gcochran9 says:

        Look at complete fertility and see if there’s a disadvantage.

        • Frau Katze says:

          There was very little in the way of twin studies. The article then branched out to discussions of inflammation in general, not an area I know much about. I couldn’t evaluate it.

        • Frau Katze says:

          Maybe researchers aren’t interested in male pattern baldness. There are more pressing concerns.

          For example: Once a yellow fever vaccine arrived, all studying of the disease stopped. It does still exist, but only in some remote parts of Brazil. It could make a modest comeback, however. The situation in Venezuela is very bad, and I read that some diseases were reappearing. Not yellow fever though.

      • Bob says:

        It’s not an academic paper. It seems more like an undergrad class paper. It’s just that there aren’t many if any other articles out there that address male pattern baldness from the Ewald & Cochran evolutionary medicine angle. Most articles you read that apply evolutionary thinking to MPB are usually not very plausible sounding theories about how baldness might have been selected for because it signalled wisdom, power, status, etc.

        I think it’s well established that MPB runs in families. The issue though is that microbiomes, not just genes, also tend to run in families. For example, the bacteria that cause cavities, streptococcus mutans, is passed between mothers and infants at an early age through kissing and close contact.

        We already know that there are fungal and mite infections like ringworm and demodex that will cause hairloss and baldness in humans and animals. Mange, for example, which dogs get, is caused by the demodex mite.

        One hypothesis for MPB is that DHT, which enlarges the sebaceous gland that is attached to hair follices, results in increased sebum production. The sebaceous glands produce sebum, which is the oil that lubricates skin and hair. There are mites like demodex that burrow around the sebaceous gland and feed on sebum. Demodex and other opportunistic microorganisms overproliferate as a result of the increased sebum, which then evokes an inflammatory immune response around hair follices that causes the follicles to miniaturize and go dormant under the skin surface.

        Currently, the only really effective drug for MPB is Propecia/Finasteride, which works by blocking the conversion of testosterone into DHT. The general consesus is that DHT and possibly other androgens by themselves evoke an inflammatory immune response and cause MPB. It’s possible that it might really work because the lower DHT results in less sebum and a less hospitable environment for infectious agents. If so, the cure for MPB would just be eradicating whatever infection is causing it, rather than fiddling with the endocrine or immune system.

        Most of the research into MPB is focused on complex solutions like stem cells and cloning hair follicles. Perhaps there’s a simpler cause and solution for it.

    • Greying Wanderer says:

      if MPB makes men less attractive (or at least less confident which comes to the same thing) and on average it hits around 40-ish then it comes just in time to hinder men looking to dump their wife and kids for a new woman.

      • Greying Wanderer says:

        is there any correlation of MPB with monogamous populations (i.e. populations who were pushed into monogamy by their ancestral environment)?

        • ziel says:

          Seems to be associated with more confident/gregarious populations, vs more taciturn, introverted groups. Italians/Jews/Mid-Eastern vs. Irish/Germans/Swedes.

      • Bob says:

        Are you suggesting that MPB was selected for by making men with MPB have fewer kids?

        • Greying Wanderer says:

          it’s more wild speculation than a suggestion but if MPB was selected for (and maybe it wasn’t) then an environment which required male provisioning for the kids to survive would select for traits that reinforced monogamy as monogamy -> more kids in that environment (cos they don’t starve).

          • dave chamberlin says:

            MPB is interesting because it shouldn’t exist from a selfish gene standpoint yet here it is. It is genetic and it clearly makes the owner less appealing to the opposite sex and therefore less likely to breed. So why does it exist?

            Do societies with older fathers accumulate a larger mutational load and does that take a major hit on fitness? Absolutely.

            So could MPB exist because even though it deceases fitness from selfish gene standpoint it increases fitness long term by discouraging older fathers.

            It is the only explanation that makes sense to me. Now there could be underlying medical reasons but I don’t know what they are.

            • gcochran9 says:

              Trust me, that makes no sense either.

            • Ursiform says:

              It could be the byproduct of something that increases fertility at a younger age. Through most of history most men didn’t live long enough for it to be an issue. And those who did would tend to be higher status or have more wealth, which would compensate for some hair loss.

              • Frau Katze says:

                I was going to say just that. An older man with high status will attract women regardless of his hair. Check out the appearance of Sophia Loren’s (late) husband. Short and bald. Shorter than her, and that is unusual.

  7. ilkarnal says:

    I heard Guns, Germs, and Steel is good.

    I liked Feynman’s QED: The Strange Theory of Light and Matter. Also his autobiographies.

    • US says:

      As for the first one: Ha! Or were you serious? If so, here’s a relevant link:

      (A quote: “this book isn’t serious. The thesis is a joke, and most of the supporting arguments are forced ( i.e. wrong). Perhaps the most important thing we can learn from Guns, Germs, and Steel is that most people are suckers, eager to sign on to ridiculous theories as long as they have the right political implications.”

    • Frau Katze says:

      There were a series of posts on GGS, with us crowdfunding a review by Greg.

      It wasn’t that long ago, maybe a few months.

      GGS did get some things right, but he made an inexcusable error in his introduction, saying Papua New Guineans were very bright, smarter than people of old civilizations.

  8. Yudi says:

    I think I have mentioned this before, but Richard Bulliet published another book on wheels last year: The Wheel: Inventions and Reinventions, which I highly recommend. I’d be interested in hearing the opinions of others informed on the subject about some of his claims, such as the first wheeled vehicles bring mine carts.

    White over Black: American Attitudes toward the Negro, 1550-1812
    Historian proves it is possible to write about race and racism in readable language. Check out the note on race at the end, in which he adopts a realist but evolutionarily informed understanding of it. No historian would write that today!

    Aboriginal Slavery on the Northwest Coast of North America by Leland Donald
    Slavery in Indian Country by Christina Snyder
    Both incredibly informative books on Native American slavery.

    How Chiefs became Kings by Patrick Vinton Kirch
    The Ancient Hawaiian State: Origins of a Political Society by Robert Hommon
    Both make a good argument that Hawaii contained state-level societies, and Hommon lucidly describes the components of states in general.

    Lost Enlightenment: Central Asia’s Golden Age from the Arab Invasion to Tamerlane by Frederick Starr

    Great decription of the flowering of arts and sciences in the Silk Road cities.

    Landlords and Strangers: Trade, Ecology, and Society in Western Africa, 1000-1630 by George Brooks
    Great history of West Africa that has piqued my interest in the region.

  9. US says:

    Here’s my 2017 list:

    I added the following books to my list of favourite books on goodreads:
    All Creatures Great and Small (Herriot).
    Biodemography of Aging: Determinants of Healthy Life Span and Longevity (Yashin et al.).
    Not by Genes Alone: How Culture Transformed Human Evolution (Boyd & Richerson).
    First Farmers: The Origins of Agricultural Societies (Peter Bellwood).
    Gastrointestinal Function in Diabetes Mellitus (Horowitz & Samson).
    Never Let Me Go (Ishiguro).

  10. Mark says:

    For whatever it’s worth, Richard Carrier is arguing against some of the claims of Russo’s Forgotten Revolution:

    • gcochran9 says:

      Russo goes too far, sometimes way too far, but he’s got a point. As for science declining from a Hellenistic peak, sure, that happened.

    • syonredux says:

      Gotta say, I squirm a bit when Carrier refers to people like Diophantus as “Romans.” Sure, he was a Roman in the sense of being an inhabitant of the Roman Empire….but he was part of the Eastern, Greek-speaking half. And that part was a lot more productive in terms of science and mathematics than the Western, Latin-speaking half.

      • Douglas Knight says:

        Should we call them Byzantines?

        Calling them Roman is appropriate in later paragraphs, engaging with other people who say stupid things, but the first paragraph about Russo is confused. Russo condemns both Galen and Varro, but he is very clear in distinguishing them.

      • dearieme says:

        But didn’t the eastern “Romans” call themselves ‘Romans’ until Constantinople finally fell?

        • syonredux says:

          “But didn’t the eastern “Romans” call themselves ‘Romans’ until Constantinople finally fell?”

          Nations have their cherished illusions. The Byzantines clearly liked to see themselves as the living continuation of Rome…..but how “Roman” can a Greek-speaking Empire be?

          • Bla says:

            Much Roman. Because Roman in 40 BC and Roman in 400 AD didn’t mean exactly the same thing.

            • Jim says:

              Yes, by 400 AD “Romani” in the Western Roman empire at any rate was basically anybody who wasn’t a barbarian. Anybody who wasn’t a German, Hun or such.

            • syonredux says:

              “Much Roman. Because Roman in 40 BC and Roman in 400 AD didn’t mean exactly the same thing.”

              Who was more culturally Roman in AD 400, someone from Gaul who speaks fluent Latin and reveres Virgil, or someone from Asia Minor who speaks Greek and doesn’t know more than the barest smattering of Latin?

              • Bla says:

                The Empire had two important languages from the start. With elite that was often bilingual. By 3rd century every free person in the Empire became Roman citizen. What was left of the Empire, in which every free person was Roman spoke Greek (and a few other languages). So your question is a bit pointless. While we are at it, a topical person from Gaul would have spoken what is called vulgar Latin and possibly never heard of Virgil.

              • syonredux says:

                “The Empire had two important languages from the start. With elite that was often bilingual.”

                Native Greek speakers were often quite contemptuous of Latin.

                By 3rd century every free person in the Empire became Roman citizen. What was left of the Empire, in which every free person was Roman spoke Greek (and a few other languages). So your question is a bit pointless. ”

                How is it pointless? Latin was the dominant language in the West, whereas Greek prevailed in the East. That means that Latin high culture (Virgil, Cicero, Ovid, etc) played only a very small role in the East.

                “While we are at it, a topical person from Gaul would have spoken what is called vulgar Latin and possibly never heard of Virgil.”

                A typical person, sure, but I’m talking about elites.

              • Jim says:

                It’s hard to know what a “typical” person in Gaul was like in 400 AD. The surviving writing is virtually all in Latin and was at that time probably already a highly artificial literary language. The authors of these writings were all elite and rarely said anything at all about “typical” people except for occasional derogatory remarks.

        • Not a Roman says:

          Not quite. Although Rome was but a distant memory, the ‘Roman’ designation survived well into the 20th century in other forms: Rhomiós (Ρωμιός) = Roman, and Rhomiosíni (Ρωμιοσύνη) = every Roman in the world, where ‘Roman’ by now meant anyone who was both native Greek speaker and Greek Orthodox christian.
          Both endonyms gradually fell into disuse in favor of ‘Hellene’. Today ‘Rhomiós’ has slightly negative connotations in Greek, as it is more often than not used to describe Greeks during Ottoman rule, when they were second class citizens; hence, poor, defeated people, subject to the foreign master’s whims.

  11. Charles A Murray says:

    Hans von Luck, Panzer Commander

  12. syonredux says:

    Some standards that I always recommend:

    THE BLANK SLATE, Steven Pinker


    ALBION’S SEED, David Hackett Fischer

    HENRY IV, PART 1, Shakespeare


    POLITICS, Aristotle


  13. Snowman says:

    Amusing Ourselves to Death, by Neil Postman.

    I liked it.

  14. crew says:

    Perhaps when peak oil has lead to the destruction of America, some enterprising Chinese person will write a book entitled “The horse and the wheel” extolling the virtues of the modern inhabitants of America and their use of horses for transport.

  15. dearieme says:

    If any of you chaps would like to send me this for Xmas I should be delighted to accept it.

  16. Kurt says:

    Victor Davis Hanson – The Other Greeks:

  17. David Pinsen says:

    The Forgotten Soldier was assigned reading or handed out in my Army ROTC, I forget which. I just remember we all read it.

    A few books you might like, if you haven’t read them yet:
    The Last Crusade
    The Three Body Problem. The two sequels are even better.
    The Years of Rice and Salt.

  18. MawBTS says:

    Dr Seuss’s The Cat in the Hat is a fine book.

  19. rh says:

    Hello Mr. Cochran, what’s your view on Robert Sapolsky?

  20. Jeffrey S says:


    I made it through “The Horse, The Wheel and Language” this year but it was tough going for a layman like me — way too many detailed descriptions of archaeological dig sites, horse jaw analyses, and wild (but interesting) chases through the trees and then suddenly I realized I forgot what forest I was supposed to be in.

    I would love to read a summary review of that book by you discussing the issues of what we know about the proto-Indo-Aryans and the formation of proto-Europeans in the steppes of Asia.

    I’d pay for such a review — let me know a price and I might chip in all by myself.

    • Frau Katze says:

      I read that book and found the same thing. It assumed you knew all these pottery styles and what not. I got bogged in parts of it just due to the sheer number of all the sites.

      I’d pay too, but that would be pretty big project. Likely beyond the time Greg could afford (unless he already knows all the archeology already).

      Maybe what we need is an introductory book that wasn’t so detailed. Maybe someone could let us know the best way forward.

    • Frau Katze says:

      The pottery styles really do mean something. When my first grandchild was born, I decided to do a birth cross stitch, using a Greek key border. I looked at large numbers of photos of pottery (and some other things, like mosaic floor designs). I noticed that there were a number of Greek key styles. I checked a whole book of Greek pottery.

      I noticed from other books that the Romans copied the Greeks but they put their own spin on it.

      I immediately spotted an example from an an old building. I knew right off that it wasn’t Greek. Even before reading the caption. That’s when I became convinced these pottery styles really did indicate something.

  21. syonredux says:

    Some good stuff for little West Hunters (boys, age 12-ish)

    JOHNNY TREMAIN, Esther Forbes (How good is it? It got Bart Simpson interested in reading)


    The Barsoom Trilogy (A PRINCESS OF MARS, THE GODS OF MARS, THE WARLORD OF MARS), Edgar Rice Burroughs

    The Conan stories, preferably in the Del Rey editions, which feature the original texts: THE COMING OF CONAN THE CIMMERIAN, THE BLOODY CROWN OF CONAN, and THE CONQUERING SWORD OF CONAN, Robert E Howard

    • Greying Wanderer says:

      yes, good list to feed the young uns

      i’d add Treasure Island, Ivanhoe, Lord Jim etc

    • anon says:

      Any suggestions for 12 year olds who want to go into chemical engineering?

    • deuce says:

      You left out Haggard. The man admired by Stevenson, Kipling and Doyle. The man who influenced Tolkien, ERB, A. Merritt, Robert E. Howard, CS Lewis, ER Eddison, Leigh Brackett, CL Moore and many, many others. All of which would be just by the way if he wasn’t STILL one of the greatest adventure writers ever. He needs rescued from the memory hole.

  22. Warren Notes says:

    Will have to read Forgotten Soldier. Has anybody read IN DEADLY COMBAT: A GERMAN SOLDIER’S MEMOIR OF THE EASTERN FRONT by Gotlob Herman Riddermann? I have it but haven’t read it yet.

  23. engleberg says:

    Just reread Bruce-Briggs The Shield of Faith. Strategic defense from Zeppelins to Star Wars. He skims past the zeppelin period so fast it probably wasn’t his subtitle. Excellent inside baseball on the debates over Cold War defense policy.

    I’d like to read a review from Dr Cochran. I think he’d like reading it.

  24. Jaim Jota says:

    V Gordon Childe’s book The Aryans is a hundred years old and completely ignores biology and genetics. It deals a lot in phonology, not much of hard science. Maybe you could recommend something written on the subject in the last ten years?

    • gcochran9 says:

      It’s more accurate than most of the later stuff. Which is why I thought it interesting. Like so many other questions , people in the 20th century wanted something to be true that just wasn’t. Childe himself, being a commie, seems to have eventually become uncomfortable with his own work.

      • Douglas Knight says:

        Could you elaborate on your thought process in deciding to read it? Had you read it before?

        Was it obviously better methods, or was it that you knew, by recent methods, that it was correct, and you wanted to see the non-obvious differences between people who got it right and people who got it wrong?

      • ghazisiz says:

        I’ve taught a specialized history of social science course for two decades, and have gradually come to realize that everything important is obvious enough to have been figured out long ago (The only exceptions are insights that rely on advances in the physical sciences).

        Nevertheless, each generation wishes to surpass its teachers, to push off onto new tracks, with the surprising result that a lot of social science today denies that which is so obviously true.

    • syonredux says:

      “V Gordon Childe’s book The Aryans is a hundred years old and completely ignores biology and genetics. It deals a lot in phonology, not much of hard science.”

      Been a while since I read it, but doesn’t Childe discuss non-PC stuff like skull morphology?

    • Greying Wanderer says:

      back then if people saw a population who looked like a mix between x and y they wrote it down so comparing the old stuff with what is coming out now with DNA data to see how close they got should be interesting.

  25. Anuseed says:

    The Life and Adventures of William Buckley.

  26. gda says:

    Coup d’Etat: A Practical Handbook- A Brilliant Guide to Taking Over a Nation

    A 2014 pick – seems quite a prescient and appropriate pick for 2017 too, given recent developments.

  27. crew says:

    Perhaps this one is just as important:

  28. Greying Wanderer says:

    dunno if great or not but apart from boysie stuff like Lord Jim etc the two that have stuck with me the longest are

    “The Golden Bough” by Frazer and “The Consolation of Philosophy” by Boethius

    • Jim says:

      The description of Conrad’s works as “boysie” strikes me as very strange. I suppose it’s because of their exotic background. There’s a lot of depth and subtlety in all his writing. For example the name of the ship in “Lord Jim” is “Patna” which means “Fatherland” in Polish. Lord Jim of course is Joseph Conrad who deserted his fatherland.

      Conrad’s novels and stories are mostly about himself. For example James Wait, the nigger of the Narcissus, is clearly Joseph Conrad. Whatever interpretation one makes of “The Nigger of the Narcissus” I don’t think there is anything “boysie” about it. I don’t think that term applies at all to “Almayer’s Folly”, “The Secret Agent”, “Nostromo”, “Heart of Darkness” or nearly all the rest of Conrad’s writings.

  29. deuce says:

    Props for the Poul Anderson shout-out. As the years go by, it becomes more obvious that he should share stature with Heinlein, Clarke and Asimov. IMO, he surpasses all three.

  30. Thomas Hahn says:

    “Surfing uncertainty” by Andy Clark, about predictive processing in the brain, a great “intuition pump” as daniel dennett might say.

  31. another fred says:

    “Against the Grain” by James Scott.

    WARNING: Scott fancies himself an anarchist and the book is heavily slanted, but he brings together points about the founding of states that are not well explored by historians (he being an anthropologist). The book could have just as well been a well footnoted magazine article, but there is information in it.

    The main point I got was the importance of grains (rice included) to the founding of states because the planting and harvest could be monitored and taxed. Another point was the extent to which the early state depended on involuntary servitude (not only full blown slavery, but corvee labor and the work of resettled conquered people).

  32. Mike Sanders says:

    Sick Societies: Challenging the Myth of Primitive Harmony – Robert B. Edgerton

  33. Mike Sanders says:

    Re: Hive Mind…
    A 9 sec. audio example in action:
    [audio src="" /]

  34. Mike Sanders says:

    Sorry to muck up the works with malformed gobbledy-gook. 2nd & final attempt to post a correct link using stand html…

    A 9 sec. audio example in acction.

  35. engleberg says:

    ‘. . .one of the great historical dangers in the Civil War was that even if the Union won, it might settle down into an embittered conflict of guerrillas and repression, growing into intolerable savagery on both sides, as with Napoleon in Spain. God knows, there was enough guerrilla raiding on one side and barn-burning on the other in our internecine conflict, but there was never any necessity for the Union to set up the classical device for repressing an antagonistic population, which is a chain of fortified posts, with heavy patrols working among them, and stern reprisal against anyone who moves without official order.
    ‘The Union held the rivers. Not only were the rivers the main roads, but they cut across all other roads. The potential guerrillas might get supplies and even arms from speculators, but they were islanded by the tinclads, moving blockhouses which imposed none of the burdens of an army of occupation.It is not too much to say that if the breakthrough of the Mississippi barrier was strategically decisive of the large issue in the west, the gunboat patrols were quite as decisive of the small issue, so diffuse that its importance was concealed.’ Pratt, Civil War on Western Waters.
    If Fletcher Pratt is right, the absence of a wartime need to invest in chains of fortified posts and so forth to beat the Confederates might help explain why we never successfully repressed the KKK- the investment had not already been made to win the war. Great book, best read with Pratt’s Stanton and Ordeal by Fire.

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