Books of the week – December 9

Iran, tactics, intelligence, Mussolini, wars and Roman history, some of the books of the week.

Great Satan

Yann Richard, The Great Satan, the Shah and the Imam, Iran/US relations until the 1979 revolutionCNRS editions, 2022, 453 p.

This impressive volume deals with the progressive image change and the role of the United States in Iran throughout the XXe century and particularly in the decade preceding the Islamic revolution of 1979. The author has assembled an impressive amount of American and Iranian diplomatic archives that provide an almost daily follow-up of the evolution of these relations when many crises are imminent. the dot.

Since the start of the Cold War against the Soviets, the Americans have nevertheless enjoyed a good image in Iran. They, whose culture is gradually becoming dominant, through cinema, universities and more and more through language at the expense of French, which has been widely used for decades by Iranian elites, will be Great Satan for a few weeks. Unlike the Saudi monarchy, which also has strong religious legitimacy, the Iranian theocracy, the author explains, cannot find common ground with America, even to protect itself from the threat of Soviet appetites. : this is anti-imperialism, which is from the beginning. its main driving force, in the name of justice and the fight against oppression, are the concepts most anchored in the worldview of Shiism.

The interest of this book also lies in the particularly well-documented illustration of the difficulty of foreign policy decision-making: the luxury of details accompanying the period of adjournment for the reception of the Shah, who is ill, will be read with interest . died in Egypt on July 27, 1980. For weeks, differing opinions of the Carter administration collided, some thinking that a welcome from the fallen emperor would serve to reassure regimes loyal to America, others that the priority should go to the new government that had to be attracted. The past versus the future, with double negative and disastrous results for Washington. The hostage-taking of November 4, 1979 has been studied at length and in particular the lengthy speech Khomeini gave three days later, translated and annotated by the Persian-speaking author. Most improvised, this hostage-taking was an exemplary victory, rallying the majority of Iranians and resulting in a total break in the power of instruction.

Frederic Pichon

secret animals

Michel Guerin, The crow and the owl, treatise and intelligence practice Ecuadorians, 19€

Former deputy director of the DST in charge of operational resources and then counter-terrorism, Michel Guérin is also head of the general inspectorate at the DGSI. He gives us here a book in the middle of the secret world of intelligence, both French and foreign.

Combining personal reflections, academic research and testimonies from his long career, Michel Guérin wants to open the doors of intelligence a little to the uninitiated. Thus describes the different types of intelligence and the methods used throughout history, where it has always been very important for States.

The author also offers us an overview of the details of various intelligence services around the world: United States, China, Russia, Japan, Great Britain…

Of course, despite current technologies, intelligence remains the work of humans whose abilities are specific and whose missions are very different from those of ordinary mortals. A chapter is dedicated to them, aiming to understand more about the functioning of the services and the characteristics essential to the use of these different professions.

Finally, Michel Guérin draws a picture of today’s intelligence and offers a prediction of what may be tomorrow, based on his experience and the current situation.

Endless War

Pierre Santoni, Endless War. Military Aspects of Irregular WarfarePierre de Taillac Editions, €25.90

Wars often far away, sometimes forgotten, but always too long and deadly. These irregular wars, which are not formed by a clear and military opposition between two independent states, are sometimes difficult to define and define, which is what Pierre Santoni does in the first place between guerrilla warfare, civil war and terrorism.

This definition is made through many conflicts that serve as an example that occurred in the 20the century around the world. Conflicts whose battles are as singular and irregular, themselves deserve a separate analysis from the Algerian insurrection from 1954 to Syria and Ukraine in the last decade, which went through Afghanistan and Italy or Spain in 1970s-1980s.

The work of Pierre Santoni continues the different methods used by the regular armies of States in the face of these irregular wars that they are not always prepared for, between guerrillas and terrorism, from the Sahara to Peru, from the Philippines to Portugal via Rhodesia. , Historical examples of these unconventional conflicts are legion throughout history and their often devastating consequences for nations and their populations. It is clear that they bring new things and disturb the order and military organization established in the past, which sees the birth of unconventional armies and soldiers.

Accompanied by many photos throughout, dive into an unpublished analysis resulting from an important documentation, but also from the personal experience of the author, colonel of the French army and being sure that there are many operational theaters who knows these wars. irregular.

roman war

General Nicolas Richoux, The Roman army, the first modern armyPierre de Taillac Editions, €16.90

Having conquered a large part of Europe, the Middle East and the entire coast of North Africa at its peak, the Roman Empire and its legions must have emerged as undisputed military models. However, their temporal and above all technical remoteness sometimes seems to make us forget the lessons that can be learned from them.

This is why General Richoux offers us here an analysis of the Roman army through the eyes of a modern army officer.

From strategic thinking to the arming of the Roman legionnaire, the author invites us to see the modernity of the Roman legions both through the vision of its leaders and through its methods on the battlefield and especially in its management of such field maneuver units.

Beyond the basic principles of war that were strictly respected, the Roman army was also a professional army, with a standardization of the equipment of its warriors that perfectly incorporated the concept of combined arms in its battle (coordinated management and use of different weapons: infantry, cavalry, artillery, engineers, etc.) and the importance of intelligence that the missions were carried out by speculators.

Accompanied by simplified battle plans and the ancients that inspired the author, dive into the heart of one of the most important armies in history, which is not as ancient as you think.

Black shirts and jackets are open to the outside

Frederic le Moal, Mussolini’s MenPerrin, 24€

History doctor and professor, Frédéric Le Moal already had a close interest in fascist Italy with his brilliant history of fascism (Perrin, 2018). He now returns to the same time and to the people who made it.

Mussolini’s Men thus revisiting the lives of fifteen of the men close to the Duce who acted before, during and after his seizure of power and the establishment of his fascist dictatorship in Italy.
Artisans of the march to Rome, thinkers of the fascist ideology, but also responsible for the downfall of Mussolini because of the love of their country, these more or less famous men marked the history of Europe in the 20th century .e century.

Halfway between biography and historical analysis, Frédéric Le Moal offers us here the sometimes forgotten history of Italian fascism through the great men who made it happen: intellectuals, politicians, unionists, royalists, soldiers and airmen.

From England to Ethiopia via Berlin, the Vatican and Libya, discover from the inside who created and defeated one of the dictatorships that plagued Europe in the 20th century.e century.

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