#BookReview: Humane by Samuel Moyn

Dense Yet Enlightening. This is a book about the history of the philosophical and legal thoughts and justifications for transitioning from the brutal and bloody wars of the 19th century (when the history it covers begins) through to the “more humane” but now seemingly endless wars as currently waged, particularly by the United States of America. As in, this treatise begins with examinations of Tolstoy and Von Clauswitz during the Napoleonic Wars and ends with the Biden Presidency’s early days of the continuation of the drone wars of its two predecessors. Along the way, we find the imperfections and even outright hypocrisies of a world – and, in the 21st century in particular, in particular a singular nation on the ascendancy, the United States – as it struggles with how best to wage and, hopefully, end war. Moyn shows the transition from a mindset of peace to a mindset of more palatable (re: “less” horrific / “more” humane) perma-war. But as to the description’s final point that this book argues that this might not be a good thing at all… yes, that point is raised, and even, at times, central. But the text here seems to get more in depth on the history of documenting the change rather than focusing in on the philosophical and even legal arguments as to why that particular change is an overall bad thing. Ultimately this is one of those esoteric tomes that those with a particular interest in wars and how and why they are waged might read, if they are “wonks” in this area, but probably won’t have the mass appeal that it arguably warrants. The central premise is a conversation that *needs* to be had in America and the world, but this book is more designed for the think tank/ academic crowd than the mass appeal that could spark such conversations. Still, it is truly well documented and written with a high degree of detail, and for this it is very much recommended.

This review of Humane by Samuel Moyn was originally written on May 5, 2021.

#BookReview: CyberWar by Matthew Mather

Action Packed Finale. This book picks up moments after the ending of Book 2 (CyberSpace), and therefore you *really* need to read at minimum that book before reading this one. (Reading Book 1, CyberStorm, isn’t *as* imperative, as most of what you need to know from that book is explained in CyberSpace – but you should absolutely read that book as well anyway. :D)

That noted, this really is an action packed finale, with levels of action similar to Matthew Reilly or Jeremy Robinson’s craziest stories – which is high praise indeed, as I’ve rarely seen any other author even approach that level of insanity. Indeed, this book feels a lot like riding the Kraken rollercoaster at SeaWorld Orlando – absolutely insane, your mind is never really sure what the hell is going on or what is coming next. It misses the overall sense of dread that CyberStorm invoked, and it largely even misses the overall sense of scale that CyberSpace at least attempted to invoke. But what you *do* get here is an intensely personal tale that manages to balance the personal and the larger impact a bit better than either of the two previous books. Several shocking revelations, a few solid points about real-world politics (though absolutely in service of the particular story being told here, rather than being preachy), and a bit of a mind bending finish that is explained in the extended epilogues. (Though nowhere *near* as extended as The Return Of The King from Lord of the Rings, where it feels like half the dang tale is epilogue. This is more 3 ish chapter epilogue rather than short coda most books do there.) Ultimately a fun and satisfying read if you’ve made it this far, and thus very much recommended.

This review of CyberWar by Matthew Mather was originally written on February 2, 2021.