U.S. Marines often conduct live fire training on ranges that feature “Ivan” targets. These thin green plastic shells look like three-foot-tall army men toys. Ivan has no distinguishable facial features and he only exists so that Marines can pummel him with rifle and machine-gun bullets. That these simple targets are still called Ivan more than 20 years after the collapse of the Soviet Union is a testament to the enduring legacy of the Cold War and decades spent preparing to fight the Red Army.
Bruce Hoffman’s Anonymous Soldiers is a deftly written account of the Jewish revolt against the British in 1940s Palestine. Despite its scholarship—it draws heavily on recently declassified British documents—and its significant bulk, it is a page-turner that leaves the reader feeling sorry once the book is finished.
On December 27, 1894, thousands of spectators braved the winter chill and massed outside the main courtyard of the Ecole Militaire in Paris. They gathered to witness the humiliation of Alfred Dreyfus, an army officer just convicted of passing secret documents to Germany. Through a fence, they saw Dreyfus standing in full dress uniform before a line of soldiers. They watched a Republican Guardsman strip the epaulets and buttons from Dreyfus’ tunic, and break his sword in two.