What are the 3 most significant books produced in your field in the past 10 years?

OK, here is a purely subjective post and question.

What, in you opinion are the 3 most significant books to have appeared in your field in the past 10 years, and why?

I’ll start the ball rolling with Air Power History (not studies). In no particular order:

  1. Tami Davis Biddle, Rhetoric and Reality in Air Warfare: The Evolution of British and American Ideas about Strategic Bombing (Princeton University Press, 2002)
  2. John Andres Olsen, John Warden and the Renaissance of American Air Power (Potomac Books, 2007)
  3. Peter Gray, The Leadership, Direction and Legitimacy of the Royal Air Force Bomber Offensive from Inception to 1945 (Continuum, 2012)

The first thing that strikes me about this list is that in different way they all deal with strategic air power. Biddle’s book deals with he evolution of the concept, Olsen’s with a strategic air power thinker while Gray’s utilizes an innovative methodology to reconceptualize the strategic bombing campaign of the Second World War. What is missing from this list? Anything to do with tactical air power or the use of air power at the operational level, though to be honest Olsen does deal with this in some respect in his book. I think it highlight the continued fascination with ‘strategic bombing’ in the historiography and conversely that there is a lot of work to be done on the subject. There was a close contender for the list that was Brad Gladman’s book Intelligence and Anglo-American Air Support in World War Two: The Western Desert and Tunisia, 1940-43 that was published in 2009. Additionally, there is nothing dealing with the First World War or Cold War air power. Again I think there is a lot of work to be done here.

As to why these books appear is primarily because of the standard of their scholarship. In many respects their conclusion and approaches are hard to fault. The are rigorous in their approach to the subject they are writing about. For example, while Olsen’s biography in sympathetic to a notoriously difficult character he is not afraid to pull punches when required. For me this are the pinnacle of academic scholarship.

So what about your field. Be as broad, as I have been, or as narrow as you want but it would be interesting to build up a list of the significant works in the past few years.

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