Image courtesy of Rachel Cavanaugh Image courtesy of Rachel Cavanaugh

Ray Kimball is an Army Strategist with a home library that is completely out of control and getting worse. His opinions are his own and do not reflect the opinions of the U.S. Army, the Department of Defense, or the Obsidian Order.

Prisoners of War

“The released prisoners came up the Via Umberto the First in a body…They did not march. They had had enough of lining up for inspection and lining up for chow and lining up to shoot and be shot at…The war aim of most men is to go home. And so for these Italian boys the hateful war was fulfilled, and they were incredibly happy as they walked up the street.” – John Hersey, A Bell for Adano.

Total War

“When the Mongols passed through a city, they left little of value behind them. In a letter written just after the invasion, the geographer Yaqut al-Hamawi, who barely escaped the Mongols, wrote glowingly of the beautiful and luxurious palaces that the Mongols had ‘effaced from off the earth as lines of writing are effaced from paper, and those abodes became a dwelling for the owl and the raven; in those places the screech-owls answer each other’s cries, and in those halls the winds moan.'” – Jack Weatherford, Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World


“The problem with MacArthur, General Joseph Stilwell told Frank Dorn, one of his top aides, was that he had been ‘a general too long.’ Stilwell was speaking in 1944, before MacArthur became the American-approved emperor of an occupied Japan. ‘He got his first star in 1918 and that means he’s had almost thirty years as a general’, Stillwell said, ‘thirty years of people playing to him and kissing his ass, and doing what he wants. That’s not good for anyone.'” – David Halberstam, The Coldest Winter: American and the Korean War

Small-unit Leadership

“It occurred to Rowe that, in the past 14 hours, he had run into two fellow lieutenants who were going through the same awful experience that he was. This isn’t some unique tragedy of mine. It’s what happens every day in war, and leaders have to deal with it and continue to do their best.” – Army Platoon Leaders, A Platoon Leader’s Tour

Militaries and Their Societies

“Soviet military power [was] not something separate from the Soviet State, but form[ed] part and parcel of it. Soviet military power must be understood not only in terms of the international environment, but also in the context of domestic politics, for its domestic roots – ideological, political, social, and economic – [were] very strong.” – David Holloway, The Soviet Union and the Arms Race

Truths of War

“Peacenik types say there would be no war if people truly understand how horrible war is. They’re wrong. People don’t mind a little horror. They can even be enthusiastic about it if the horror is happening to somebody else. But everybody hates to be bored and uncomfortable. If people truly understood how much sleeping on rocks, how much eating things rejected by high school cafeterias, how much washing small parts of the body in cold water, and how much sheer sitting around in the dirt war entails, we might have world peace after all.” P.J. O’Rourke, Give War a Chance

War Strategy

“These [armies] must be led by ruthless and gifted men who are often of little use in a peacetime democracy but find their proper authoritarian and aristocratic calling only as absolute rulers of an armed citizenry. Yet much of their bluster and avowals to make the enemy ‘howl’, to turn the countryside into a ‘sheep-walk’, to kill the ‘bastards’, was the necessary veneer to their more subtle strategy of indirect approaches — marches to destroy the enemy’s spiritual and material resources rather than the annihilation of his armies in the field per se –a strategy so suited to a democracy that is fickle and wary of costs and casualties, yet so misunderstood by fellow commanders and politicians weaned on the parallel Western tradition of brutal frontal assault on the fighting forces of the enemy.” Victor Davis Hanson, The Soul of Battle