View Full Version : What Are You Currently Reading? 2016

03-31-2016, 05:19 PM
David Ucko & Robert Engell's book 'Counterinsurgency in Crisis:Britain and the Challenges of Modern Warfare' has been reviewed by Dr F.G. Hoffman, of NDU:http://ndupress.ndu.edu/Portals/68/Documents/jfq/jfq-81/jfq-81_124-125_Hoffman.pdf

Remember the entire book is free to download via:https://www.ciaonet.org/attachments/27975/uploads?1443193845

04-01-2016, 08:55 AM
A thread to continue the collected reviews and notices. Overlooked since New Year's Eve!

The 2015 thread will now be closed:http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/showthread.php?t=21574

Backwards Observer
04-01-2016, 12:08 PM
Game Changers: Going Local to Defeat Violent Extremists (http://www.amazon.com.au/Game-Changers-Defeat-Violent-Extremists-ebook/dp/B014S8N34O) by Scott Mann

The Soul of the Marionette: A Short Enquiry into Human Freedom (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Books-Soul-Marionette-Short-Enquiry-Freedom/dp/0241953901/ref=sr_1_3/275-4229451-4434830?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1459512147&sr=1-3) by John Gray

Backwards Observer
04-06-2016, 01:38 AM
The Sins Of Empire: Unmasking American Imperialism (http://www.amazon.com/Sins-Empire-Unmasking-American-Imperialism/dp/1514824892/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=) by Jason Hirthler

America's War For The Greater Middle East: A Military History (http://www.amazon.com/Americas-War-Greater-Middle-East-ebook/dp/B0174PRIY4) by Andrew J. Bacevich

Backwards Observer
04-15-2016, 02:40 AM
The Conceit of Humanitarian Intervention (http://www.amazon.com/Conceit-Humanitarian-Intervention-Rajan-Menon-ebook/dp/B01BKUKAWQ/ref=mt_kindle?_encoding=UTF8&me=) by Rajan Menon

Mission Failure: America and the World in the Post-Cold War Era (http://www.amazon.com/Mission-Failure-America-World-Post-Cold-ebook/dp/B01DDNYI7Q/ref=mt_kindle?_encoding=UTF8&me=) by Michael Mandelbaum

Bill Moore
04-16-2016, 10:26 AM
Toward a New Maritime Strategy: American Naval Thinking in the Post-Cold War Era

by Peter D. Haynes


For those interested in the evolution of strategy, not just Maritime Strategy, since the end of the Cold War this is a fascinating read. I'll address elements of the book as I expand on the thread Strategy in the 21st Century at the following link.


A few of key concepts that came out of this book, or walk through modern history.

Haynes is critical throughout this work, but not overly critical, and he explains the various points of pressure from the Chairman, Congress, etc. that limited the development of a viable naval strategy for the 21st Century based on legacy thinking and processes still tied largely to the Cold War.

In the beginning he suggests that the American military has adopted a Jominian approach to war, where the focus on battle relieved the military from the task of understanding how destroying things would lead to the desired political goals. We isolated war and strategy from its social and political context.

During the Cold War and since (now with our 4 + 1 focus) military thinking become strictly focused on threats as the only strategic factor. I see this in the intelligence community, they give short shift to the factors related to PMESII and focus on red, reducing war's complexity to a series of targets. Military planning post Cold War fundamentally became a targeting drill, the only that mattered was finding and hitting targets. There was little reason to relate the purpose of the military to U.S. interests in a changing world beyond what was required to wage war. After 9/11 the mismatch between the nature of the threat and tools available channeled the conduct of GWOT toward interstate war. Few in government imagined how GWOT would be won. Turns how much revolution in military affairs was a solution in search of a problem.

Strategy didn't appreciate the implications of globalization (a major focus throughout the book) and trends in international finance and trade, and how this led to a profound shift from a state-centric to a market dominated international economy and reconfigured political power.

The point of all this is that the survival of nations is largely dependent upon economic factors, so the author made a strong case that strategy should focus on national interests (mostly tied to the economy) instead of threats. Focusing on interests enables us to put threats in their proper perspective. This line of thought played into the evolving Navy Strategy "A Cooperative Strategy," but leaders in the Navy were concerned that the proposed strategy was too soft power centric (although that wasn't the intent), and added a good dose of war fighting back in.

It certainly didn't reject the other factors, as ADM Mullen was quoted saying, "First, to rid yourselves of the old notion – held by so many for so long – that maritime strategy exists solely to fight and win wars at sea, and the rest will take care of itself. In a globalized world the rest matters a lot.”

I found a couple of his many recommendations at the end of the book interesting.

For example, he noted most Naval Strategists have degrees in international relations, which he argued produces the wrong type of mind set for the 21st Century. It produces realists who are state centric, and in an ever more interconnected and interdependent world other forms of academic expertise are needed.

He also points out that most studies focused on the prevention of war, a key aspect of the new strategy, only focuses on coercion and deterrence. What is also needed is an equal effort on how to effectively assert influence in peacetime.

Highly recommended for those into this topic.

04-20-2016, 03:21 PM
Days of Rage: America's Radical Underground, the FBI, and the Forgotten Age of Revolutionary Violence by Bryan Burrough

Dark Territory: The Secret History of Cyber War by Fred Kaplan

Extrastatecraft: The Power of Infrastructure Space by Keller Easterling:http://www.amazon.com/Extrastatecraft-Power-Infrastructure-Keller-Easterling/dp/1781685878/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1461168270&sr=1-1&keywords=Extrastatecraft

Backwards Observer
04-21-2016, 03:27 AM
Bill "Centurion" Moore's recommendation, Toward a New Maritime Strategy: American Naval Thinking in the Post-Cold War Era (http://www.amazon.com/Toward-New-Maritime-Strategy-Post-Cold-ebook/dp/B00PSSK70W/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1460769193&sr=1-1) by Peter Haynes

The End of Alliances (http://www.amazon.com/End-Alliances-Rajan-Menon-ebook/dp/B003NSAZKG/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=) by Rajan Menon


Bill Moore
05-02-2016, 12:23 AM
Radical: My Journey out of Islamist Extremism
by Maajid Nawaz

http://www.amazon.com/Radical-Journey-out-Islamist-Extremism/dp/1493000616/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1462146276&sr=1-1&keywords=radical+my+journey+out+of+islamist+extrem ism

One man's story on how he came to embrace radical Islam, why he left it, and his subsequent efforts to organize Muslims to produce a counter narrative. It starts off with his time in England, the university, and eventually ending up in a brutal imprisonment in Egypt (hard to see why we embrace Egyptians as allies, when their government at the time differed little from Saddam's).

Maajid never became a terrorist, instead he was a recruiter and political organizer for HT and Islamism in general, and one who was quite good at it.

He describes how he became politicized by Hip Hop and Rap music, which in his view was music that had a political message to revolt against the system. In short, he said Public Enemy politicized him. He also read about Malcolm X because he could relate to his arguments. Political Islam came him a means to channel his new politicized views.

He bought into the global narrative that Muslims were being suppressed, not that Muslims were necessarily being suppressed in England. Once again the adage that all politics is local is called into question. He pointed out the importance of Bosnia in the 90s as one issue that politicized many Muslims.

A couple of interesting points, he wrote:
What Islamism had done in Europe was to set Muslim communities back an entire generation. It created a separatist agenda that became self-fulfilling. In an effort to protest discrimination, all it achieved was further segregation. Further social immobility created more discrimination, not less. I have seen parallels with different minority groups in the U.S., people being exploited by their own people pretending to be their saviors, but in the end only increasing their personal wealth.

He then talked about the Monkeys in a Zoo, the white liberals who continued to push their liberal agenda and dismissed any other views about the causes of Islamic based terrorism.

On many occasions after my talks, people--usually white liberals--would stand up and declare that I had no idea what it was like to suffer as a victim of society. They would assert that there was no way someone like me, an educated, articulate English-speaker in a suit and tie, could ever understand people who felt so desperate that suicide bombing was their "only" option. I was told that terrorists reactions cannot be separated from their social causes and the blame lies squarely on society. I had invariably just spent half an hour telling my entire story, of violent racism and police harassment in Essex, of torture in Egypt, but because my conclusions didn't align with the angry "monkey" they were expecting to see, it was as if they hadn't heard any of it.

His story on imprisonment in Egypt, and how his interactions with Sadat's assassins (who came to the conclusion radicalized Islam was wrong) and his interactions with Amnesty International began to humanize him is worth the read.

There are insights throughout the book that readers who are interested in the topic will find of interest. In simple terms, he explains the dictators in the Middle East either used radical Islam to maintain power, or tried to crush it to maintain power, and both approaches enabled this toxic ideology to grow.

The author, I believe correctly, points out most Muslims reject political Islam, but the Islamists are well organized, which is why they're able to gain power and create the perception it is a popular movement. I know some reject our efforts to try to counter the violent extremism narrative, but the author believes it is essential to provide a counter narrative and organize politically more effectively than the Islamists if we're ever going to reduce this problem from a strategic to tactical level threat. Of course, it is Muslims that need to this, not white liberals in the U.S. State Department working on Facebook.

He has engaged in a number of efforts since rejecting Islamism to organize a counter narrative. One such effort was forming Quilliam with a friend of his.


Quilliam is the world’s first counter-extremism think tank set up to address the unique challenges of citizenship, identity, and belonging in a globalised world. Quilliam stands for religious freedom, equality, human rights and democracy.

Challenging extremism is the duty of all responsible members of society. Not least because cultural insularity and extremism are products of the failures of wider society to foster a shared sense of belonging and to advance liberal democratic values. With Islamist extremism in particular, we believe a more self-critical approach must be adopted by Muslims. Westophobic ideological influences and social insularity needs to be challenged within Muslim communities by Muslims themselves whilst simultaneously, an active drive towards creating an inclusive civic identity must be pursued by all members of society.

Quilliam seeks to challenge what we think, and the way we think. It aims to generate creative, informed and inclusive discussions to counter the ideological underpinnings of terrorism, whilst simultaneously
providing evidence-based recommendations to governments for related policy measures.

Bottom line, I found the book to be well written, painfully honest, and well written. I also recognize it is the perspective of one man, but his story is important.

Backwards Observer
05-10-2016, 11:00 PM
On War: The Collected Columns of William S. Lind (https://www.amazon.com/War-Collected-Columns-William-2003-2009-ebook/dp/B00OY2QFAY) by William S. Lind, Foreword by Martin Van Creveld

Who Rules The World (https://www.amazon.com/Who-Rules-World-Noam-Chomsky-ebook/dp/B01AGIOEGG) by Noam Chomsky


Backwards Observer
05-17-2016, 03:08 AM
Some Principles of Maritime Strategy (https://www.amazon.com/Principles-Maritime-Strategy-Stafford-Corbett-ebook/dp/B0082WRV32?ie=UTF8&qid=1463453818&ref_=sr_1_1&refinements=p_27%3AJulian%20S.%20Corbett%2Cp_n_fea ture_browse-bin%3A618073011&s=books&sr=1-1) by Julian S. Corbett

Science, Strategy and War: The Strategic Theory of John Boyd (https://www.amazon.com/Science-Strategy-War-Strategic-History-ebook/dp/B00BMU6M40?ie=UTF8&me=&ref_=mt_kindle) by Frans P.B. Osinga

05-31-2016, 09:09 PM
Read on a beach recently:

1) 'Boko Haram: Nigeria's Islamist Insurgency' by Virginia Comolli; pub. 2015. A short book which explains why Nigeria repeatedly has Islamist / Islamic rebellions, BH being the latest, but longer lived version. Written before the last Federal Presidential election and the use of a South African PMC:http://www.amazon.com/Boko-Haram-Nigerias-Islamist-Insurgency/dp/1849044910?ie=UTF8&keywords=virginia%20comolli&qid=1464726556&ref_=sr_1_1&s=books&sr=1-1

The author is an IISS analyst who has visited Nigeria.

2) 'At the end of the line: Colonial policing and the imperial endgame 1945-80' , by Georgina Sinclair; pub. 2010 and id'd after a tip from 'Red Rat'. An excellent book which covers the more obscure and famous colonies, but oddly nothing on India and a couple of other places, e.g. Eritrea. Masses of references to other sources and the two hundred interviews conducted. Very interesting to learn colonial police existed before Peel's work in Ireland, let alone their arrival in London:http://www.amazon.com/At-end-line-Colonial-Imperialism/dp/0719071399?ie=UTF8&keywords=georgina%20sinclair&qid=1464726975&ref_=sr_1_1&s=books&sr=1-1

Five reviews on:https://www.amazon.co.uk/At-End-Line-Colonial-Imperialism/dp/0719071399/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1464727089&sr=1-1&keywords=georgina+sinclair

3) 'Blood Year: Islamic State and the Failure of the War on Terror' by David Kilcullen; pub. 2016. A well written book (288 pgs), which can be painful in places. Worth reading just the last two chapters: Age of Conflict and Epilogue. In short: fight them in their home, to fight in our home would be too high a price to pay:http://www.amazon.com/Blood-Year-Unraveling-Western-Counterterrorism/dp/0190600543/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1464727535&sr=1-1&keywords=blood+year+david+kilcullen

4) 'Islamist Terrorism in Europe: A History by Petter Nesser; pub. 2015. A Norwegian SME, from the Norwegian Defense Research Establishment (FFI). A very broad brush account up to the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris:http://www.amazon.com/Islamist-Terrorism-Europe-Petter-Nesser/dp/0190264020/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1464727915&sr=1-1&keywords=petter+nesser

Two reviews:https://www.amazon.co.uk/Islamist-Terrorism-Europe-Petter-Nesser/dp/1849044058/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1464727985&sr=1-1&keywords=petter+nesser

The research footnotes are supplemented by an online appendix on the attacks 1974-2015 via:http://www.hurstpublishers.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/Islamist-Terrorism-in-Europe-Appendix.pdf

5) 'British Generals in Blair's Wars' edited by Jonathan Bailey, Richard Iron and Hew Strachan; pub. 2013 after MoD officialdom intervened to stop six serving officers contributions being published (which was posted on elsewhere):http://www.amazon.com/British-Generals-Military-Strategy-Operational/dp/1409437361/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1464728526&sr=1-1&keywords=British+Generals+in+Blair%27s+Wars

Plenty of reviews via:https://www.amazon.co.uk/British-Generals-Military-Strategy-Operational/dp/1409437361/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1464728852&sr=1-1&keywords=British+Generals+in+Blair%27s+Wars

A hefty tome (388 pgs), with mainly British Army officers contributing and a handful of academics. However interesting it is weakened IMHO by the absence of any non-British voices, especially by those who served with our foremost ally.

However this review says it all by Professor Sir Michael Howard:
This collection must be almost unique in military history. Seldom if ever have senior military commanders discussed so frankly the difficulties they have faced in translating the strategic demands made by their political masters into operational realities. The problems posed by their enemies were minor compared with those presented by corrupt local auxiliaries, remote bureaucratic masters, and civilian colleagues pursuing their own agendas. Our political leaders should study it very carefully before they ever make such demands on our armed forces again.

06-05-2016, 01:07 AM
Just finished The New Tsar: the Rise and Reign of Vladimir Putin. I found this to be a really personal look at Putin the man as - a literary look into his soul.

Still working: Days of Rage, Extrastatecraft

Up Next: American Warlord, @War, The Romanovs, The Coming of the Third Reich, Countdown to Zero Day

Backwards Observer
06-26-2016, 01:28 AM
The Nomad Of Time (https://www.amazon.co.uk/Nomad-Time-Michael-Moorcock-Collection/dp/0575092696) by Michael Moorcock

Colonialism and Neocolonialism (https://www.amazon.co.uk/Colonialism-Neocolonialism-Routledge-Classics-Jean-Paul/dp/041537846X) by Jean-Paul Sartre

Backwards Observer
07-07-2016, 05:01 AM
Autopsy On People's War (https://www.amazon.com/Autopsy-Peoples-War-Chalmers-Johnson/dp/0520025180) by Chalmers Johnson

Discovering Scarfolk (https://www.amazon.co.uk/Discovering-Scarfolk-Richard-Littler-ebook/dp/B00PLYDFRK/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=) by Richard Littler (Scarfolk Council (http://scarfolk.blogspot.com.au) - Blog)

Backwards Observer
07-13-2016, 02:25 AM
World On Fire (https://www.amazon.com/World-Fire-Amy-Chua-ebook/dp/B003GFIWAQ/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=) by Amy Chua

Less Than Human (https://www.amazon.com/Less-Than-Human-Enslave-Exterminate-ebook/dp/B00457X826/ref=mt_kindle?_encoding=UTF8&me=) by David Livingstone Smith

Backwards Observer
08-06-2016, 12:23 PM
The Cross Of Iron (https://www.amazon.com/Cross-Iron-Willi-Heinrich/dp/0553147870/ref=tmm_mmp_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1470485232&sr=1-1) by Willi Heinrich

Into A Black Sun (https://www.amazon.com/Into-Black-Sun-Takeshi-Kaiko/dp/0870116096/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1470485358&sr=1-2) by Takeshi Kaiko

Bill Moore
08-07-2016, 06:49 PM
The Seventh Sense: Power, Fortune, and Survival in the Age of Networks
by Joshua Cooper Ramo


Overall a fascinating argument on the power of networks, and how networks are changing the world. The downside as mentioned in at least one of the critiques on Amazon is the argument could have been made more concisely in a long article. Drawing a parallel, one could say the same about the book, "Black Swans," and while the core of that argument could have been presented in an article, the longer explanation is useful for those desiring to get beyond Cliff notes and gain a deeper understanding of the argument.

For those looking for arguments on why are economic and security systems are failing, this book provides a theory that in my view is well supported. While networks, networking, etc. is something we talk about frequently in the military and business worlds, this book provides a deeper understanding on how networks are transforming the world. According to Ramo they're changing the world as much as the Enlightenment and the Scientific Revolution.

A couple of quotes to provide context that may generate interest in the book.

We experience power through networks now. We used to experience it thru brick-bound institutions such as universities, military HQs, or telephone companies. The most influential geopolitical forces, most lethal militaries, and post powerful commercial and financial efforts depend upon and are nearly defined by their fluency with different sorts of connection.

Billions of connected lives and tens of billions of linked sensors and machines = > potential for cascades, epidemics, and interactions on these networks. Scientists call this change “explosive percolation. There is an instant shift in the nature of a system as it passes a threshold level of connectivity. One moment you have angry fundamentalists, the next, you have a linked terrorist movement like AQ or ISIL. An ancient problem that is more effective when it occurs in a world of superfast networks of media and transportation. Networks do for terror attacks what gunpowder did for projectiles; they make the impact larger.

The 7th Sense is the ability to look at any objective and see the way in which it is changed by connection. When you invent the plane, you invent the plane crash (Paul Virilio). We face vulnerabilities and possibilities we only dimly understand.

This will upset some of the SWJ members who think the counterinsurgency operation in Malaya still represents a viable model in the 21st Century.

Current leaders like the status quo, the words potential and threat rhyme to them. Today’s problems are unsolvable with traditional thinking.

General Liu Yazhou noted, “A major state can lose many battles, but the only loss that is always fatal is to be defeated in strategy. A deep commitment to a flawed worldview can turn strength to weakness, and in our connected age, this sort of reversal can happen with particularly devastating speed.

Many more examples that focus on business and security. Refreshingly, Ramo argues the risk of high end war is increasing, and that there is a still a need for a powerful conventional military. However, there are other forms of power that are now equally dangerous. Referring to the risks posed by networks, especially in the age of everything increasingly connected to everything else, presents barely understood opportunities and risks. Thus the importance of developing the 7th sense. He quoted a French philosopher, who said, "when you build the ship you build the ship wreck, when you build the plane you build the plane crash." Networks are building all around through multiple connections, what does the network crash/wreck look like?

Starting to read, War by Other Means: Geoeconomics and Statecraft


It is starting off well. While it addresses the use Geoeconomics across a wide scope of policy challenges, the authors give a head nod to China, which has been playing the "new" economic game at a maestro level. By staying out of wars so far, operating in the gray zone, and focusing on economic policy (to include economic coercion/warfare) it increased its global influence far beyond its existing economic strength.

In the introduction the authors (I'm paraphrasing) made the argument that our neo liberal views on foreign policy have dissuaded us from playing the great game, yet our adversaries are becoming increasingly skilled at doing so. State capitalism is making a resurgence, and a factor contributing to the resurgence of state capitalism that nests with the essential argument in "The 7th Sense," is because today's markets " deeper, faster, more leveraged, and more integrated than ever before--tend to exert more influence over a nation's geopolitical choices and outcomes."

It promises to be a good read.

08-08-2016, 05:44 AM

the former hit man is hiding out in New York, having cut all ties wiht his old life. But he made a fatal mistake: he spared the life of Bull O'Kane, a ruthless gang leader who will stop at nothing to get his revenge.

a merciless assassin who kills without pity or remorse, The Traveller is hired by O'Kane. His instructions are to find - and terminate - Fegan, and O'Kane knows the perfect bait to lure Fegan back to Belfast.

his family have disowned him and his colleagues don't trust him. But when he discovers that his ex-partner and young daughter are helpless pawns caught up in O'Kane's thirst for vengeance, Lennon must enter into a desperate alliance if he is to save them both.

Backwards Observer
08-12-2016, 12:42 PM
The Seventh Sense (https://www.amazon.com/Seventh-Sense-Fortune-Survival-Networks-ebook/dp/B0196KYTA6/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=#navbar) by Joshua Cooper Ramo (Ave, Bill Moore, te salutant :))

Spooked (https://www.amazon.com/Spooked-Manipulates-Media-Hoodwinks-Hollywood-ebook/dp/B01GBUWJZQ/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=#navbar) by Nicholas Schou

Backwards Observer
08-23-2016, 11:57 PM
The Image (https://www.amazon.com/Image-Guide-Pseudo-Events-America/dp/0679741801/ref=cm_cr_arp_d_product_top?ie=UTF8) by Daniel J. Boorstin

War Porn (https://www.amazon.com/War-Porn-Roy-Scranton-ebook/dp/B017QLQ8B0/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=#nav-subnav) by Roy Scranton

Backwards Observer
08-31-2016, 02:09 AM
The Warrior Within (https://www.amazon.com/Warrior-Within-Philosophies-Bruce-Lee/dp/0809231948) by John Little

The Dying Earth (https://www.amazon.com/Dying-Earth-Jack-Vance-ebook/dp/B0061QGL6Y/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1472607133&sr=1-3#nav-subnav) by Jack Vance

09-07-2016, 06:23 PM
The Crimean War by Orlando Figes

The Coming of the Third Reich by Richard Evans

Ghost Warriors by Samual Katz

Backwards Observer
09-08-2016, 06:34 AM
The Coming of the Third Reich (https://www.amazon.com/Coming-Third-Reich-Destroyed-Democracy-ebook/dp/B008NBQW8C/ref=la_B000APZ9EM_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1473315629&sr=1-2&refinements=p_82%3AB000APZ9EM%2Cp_n_feature_browse-bin%3A618073011#nav-subnav) by Richard J. Evans (looks interesting - thanks, American Pride :))

Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow (https://www.amazon.com/Homo-Deus-Brief-History-Tomorrow-ebook/dp/B019CGXTP0#nav-subnav) by Yuval Noah Harari


09-08-2016, 09:11 PM
The Coming of the Third Reich (https://www.amazon.com/Coming-Third-Reich-Destroyed-Democracy-ebook/dp/B008NBQW8C/ref=la_B000APZ9EM_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1473315629&sr=1-2&refinements=p_82%3AB000APZ9EM%2Cp_n_feature_browse-bin%3A618073011#nav-subnav) by Richard J. Evans (looks interesting - thanks, American Pride :))

It's the first of a three part series (I have the second one on order). I'm about 2/3s through the book. You won't find the typical detailed narratives as you would in other histories on the Nazi Party, so it's not a re-treading of the same story. Instead, it offers a more sweeping narrative, identifying a number of underlying ideas, causes, and movements (and within those, a subset of nuanced details) that contributed to the emergence and success of Nazism.

Backwards Observer
09-20-2016, 12:44 AM
The Third Reich in Power (https://www.amazon.com/Third-Reich-Power-1933-Hearts-ebook/dp/B008847OWM/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=) by Richard J.Evans

The Third Reich at War (https://www.amazon.com/Third-Reich-War-Conquest-Disaster-ebook/dp/B0088DBOE2/ref=la_B000APZ9EM_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1474330986&sr=1-3&refinements=p_82%3AB000APZ9EM%2Cp_n_feature_browse-bin%3A618073011) by Richard J. Evans


Backwards Observer
10-13-2016, 05:18 AM
Blitzed (https://www.amazon.com/Blitzed-Drugs-Germany-Norman-Ohler-ebook/dp/B01FRPIU5Y) by Norman Ohler

Who Shot the Water Buffalo? (https://www.amazon.com/Who-Shot-Water-Buffalo-Babbs/dp/1590207335) by Ken Babbs


Backwards Observer
11-02-2016, 04:31 AM
Europe's Inner Demons (https://www.amazon.com/Europes-Inner-Demons-Demonization-Christendom-ebook/dp/B005VQFPNA/ref=mt_kindle?_encoding=UTF8&me=) by Norman Cohn

A Quarter Century of War (https://www.amazon.com/Quarter-Century-War-Global-Hegemony/dp/1893638693) by David North


11-02-2016, 11:45 AM
"The Modern Mercenary" by Sean McFate

Backwards Observer
11-09-2016, 03:15 AM
The Fatal Shore (https://www.amazon.com/Fatal-Shore-Robert-Hughes-ebook/dp/B003ATPQ8E/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=) by Robert Hughes

The Modern Mercenary (https://www.amazon.com/Modern-Mercenary-Private-Armies-World-ebook/dp/B00LSSMIBW/ref=mt_kindle?_encoding=UTF8&me=) by Sean McFate (sure, why not :))


Bill Moore
11-21-2016, 12:29 AM
As a ground pounder I knew little about the realities of Naval Combat beyond what I read in "To Rule the Waves" by Arthur Herman (another great book) and few historical readings where the Navy played a supporting role. After reading "Neptune's Inferno" I now have a great appreciation of the type of combat our sailors endured in the Pacific Ocean during WWII.


Neptune's Inferno: The U.S. Navy at Guadalcanal, by Jame D. Hornfisher

A fascinating account of the U.S. Navy's very closely run fight against the Japanese Navy in the vicinity of Guadalcanal. If the Navy would have lost this fight, the Marines would have likely been routed from Guadalcanal, leading to another Bataan Death March. This book provides a very detailed account of the various battles, to include the horrific carnage suffered in these battles.

There were parallels to the Civil War, when Lincoln was looking for a General who would fight the army, which he found in Grant. The Navy struggled for a short while to identify their combat leaders and those who could adapt to modern war, especially how to employ radar successfully. The battles themselves, especially at night, pointed to the difficult challenge of identifying friend and foe, and hesitation in shooting allowed the enemy to shoot first resulting in grave losses. The Navy learned quickly and adapted, and even on a shoestring budget they prevailed. This book tells that story well.

A couple of quotes from the book below.

“the Navy was reshuffling its decks and getting the footing it needed for this new kind of fight. Distinctions were being drawn between officers who were battle-minded and those whose savage instincts were reserved for advancing their own careers."

The battles
“It is continually proved that the ability of a single individual can make or break the entire situation.”

“Call it what you will, their navy [the Japanese] is exercising every function of control of the sea and every single resultant advantage is accruing to them. . . . The usual indecision, fear of a surface fight, trying to do it all by plane in the teeth of steadily repeated proofs that it could be done that way, has now brought us to this. We are forced into a surface fight.”

One lesson arrived swiftly: that war is the craft of putting ordnance on target decisively, and it is really nothing else. This lesson was being learned the world over in more than a dozen languages. The rigmarole of military life, after all, was designed in part to shape the character of men to respond effectively in that half second where a vital decision must rise instantly from habit.

"books could ever teach a man to respond effectively to the sensation of bulkhead shattering or a keel buckling underfoot. Think creatively, imaginatively, about what combat is really like, he hold his inquisitors, and what would you do if you lost control over your survival. You have to talk like that to your shipmates. There are no secrets here, but what you find is that some people are constitutionally unable to perform that way. Unless everybody does his job, and learns to do it under duress, there can be no fighting ship."

The way America handled its “first team” differed markedly from Japan’s. The Americans brought them home after inaugural experience under sustained fire and employed them to train the next wave. The Japanese left them on the front to fight until the inevitable happened, and saw their human assets waste away.

Having confronted the Imperial Japanese Navy’s skill, energy, persistence, and courage, Nimitz identified the key to victory: “training, TRAINING, and M-O-R-E T-R-A-I-N-I-N-G.” Improvements in doctrine, and its standardization of basic maneuvers helped make its victories possible after 1943.

Graff giving a memorial in the late 90s, “We were the youthful hope of the nation and promise of mankind. Taking the world as we found it, in our way and in our time, we tried to remake the world—more hope, more possibility, a much larger community for happiness. That is what, years ago, brought us to Guadalcanal.”

Backwards Observer
11-22-2016, 12:38 AM
The Pursuit of the Millenium (https://www.amazon.com/Pursuit-Millennium-Revolutionary-Millenarians-Anarchists-ebook/dp/B009ZSVQII/ref=sr_1_1_twi_kin_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1479774675&sr=8-1&keywords=the+pursuit+of+the+millenium) by Norman Cohn

Interesting Times (https://www.amazon.com/Interesting-Times-America-Shifting-Prestige-ebook/dp/B019136FJG/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=) by Chas W. Freeman Jr.


11-22-2016, 01:41 AM
"The Arab Mind" - Raphael Patai
Also "Shi'ism: A Religion of Protest" - Hamid Dabashi

11-24-2016, 08:56 PM
Picked up a small hardback at a conference: 'Gunfire in Barbary: Admiral Lord Exmouth's battle with the Corsairs of Algiers in 1816' by Roger Perkins & K.J. Douglas-Morris, published 1982.

The battle was the culmination of British attempts to "reform" the piracy and slavery practiced by the city. For years the Corsairs had raided way beyond the Mediterranean; had been paid in gold for their good behaviour and sometimes 'gunboat diplomacy' was used.

Not to overlook the participation of a Dutch flotilla.

Fascinating account of the diplomacy, the covert recce of the harbour & city; the small fleet's preparations, the human angles and leadership.

I did like this quote, which seems to have applied in other battles:
...the Algerine gunners seemed to have 'learned the Navy List by heart, they took care to avoid every body who would have made a vacancy for promotion'.

Backwards Observer
11-30-2016, 02:49 AM
Paris Under The Occupation by Jean Paul Sartre

The Iron Dream by Norman Spinrad


12-20-2016, 08:22 PM
Four books read on a beach recently.

1) The newly published 'The First Victory: the Second World War and The East Africa Campaign' by Andrew Stewart. A good, well written book on a forgotten campaign to end Italian occupation of Abyssinia (now Ethiopia), Eritrea and Somaliland (a British colony held for a short time). The victory, with Italian surrender was over-shadowed by the defeats in Greece and Crete. 'Bill' Slim was an Indian Infantry Brigadier, who was to learn about being forgotten again in Burma.

The immense logistical aspects are included and the strategic to operational issues. The lack of theatre maps is annoying, unless you are familiar with the regional geography. For example 18k trucks came overland from Broken Hill, now Kabwe in Zambia; the half-way point from the factory in South Africa, in the 2,900 mile journey to Nairobi.

It was not an easy victory, notably with the bitter fighting @ Keren, a mountainous fortified position. Enigma helped, but the Italians consistently located Allied formations using SIGINT.

No reviews yet on Amazon:https://www.amazon.co.uk/First-Victory-Second-Africa-Campaign/dp/0300208553/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1482265281&sr=1-1&keywords=the+first+victory+the+second+world+war+an d+the+east+africa+campaign

12-20-2016, 08:43 PM
2) 'Target: Italy The Secret War Against Mussolini 1940-1943' by Roderick Bailey. This is an Official History of Special Operations Executive in Fascist Italy and was published in 2014.

A brilliant account of the attempt to 'set (Italy) ablaze', which was Churchill's ToR for SOE. For clearly explained reasons it was largely a failure until the end, in one particularly odd episode - a captured SOE radio operator acting as a link between the post-Mussolini Italian government and the Allies.

Given contemporary campaigns in many places there is much to learn about operating in a harsh environment, culture and security feature. The Italian security services repeatedly "turned" operations round.

Two episodes fascinated me and only briefly mentioned. A RN submarine in the summer of 1943 landed two Italian NKVD (later KGB) agents on the north-west coast; following an inter-allied agreement to do so and no-one knows what happened to them.

In mid-1943 two Italian saboteurs from the elite San Marco Regiment (Marines) were landed in Libya to attack airfields and were captured - offered in a possible PoW exchange. Following the success of the SAS earlier in attacking the same airfields, although arriving overland. Not the first time they had done this:http://www.feldgrau.com/sanmarco.html

Well reviewed on:https://www.amazon.co.uk/Target-Secret-Against-Mussolini-1940-1943/dp/0571299199/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1482266440&sr=1-1&keywords=Target%3A+Italy+The+Secret+War+Against+Mu ssolini+1940-1943

There is an earlier volume on SOE in Italy after Mussolini's fall.

12-20-2016, 09:30 PM
3) 'SAS: Rogue Heroes The Authorized Wartime History' by Ben Macintyre, is a newly published book by a multi-million best selling author, who had incredible support from the SAS Regimental Association and the Regiment releasing its War Diary.

It is an enthralling book of the SAS's formation, under it's inspired founder and leader David Stirling (who was captured by Luftwaffe Paratroopers in Tunisia). He was literally "in the right place at the right time" to pitch his idea to three British Generals in Cairo.

Due note is made of all those who joined, notably the French, Belgians, Greeks and British irregulars. Even some Jews and Arabs from Palestine. Plus the importance of NCOs and new kit, notably the versatile Willys Jeep.

Within the account of training and combat is the real story - the human factor. Why volunteer for such a wartime role; how was death faced and the suddenness of action to name three? Alcohol helped, as did once in an Italian mission a Scottish bagpiper.

With success came truly black moments: eighteen dying in an Italian street when a truck was hit by German artillery and the liberation of the unexpected concentration camp @ Bergen-Belsen, Germany.

I had never read about a British soldier, with Nazi views, working for the Italians as a spy and "stool pigeon" in POW camps. It appears even David Stirling talked to him, stating later he was suspicious and said little. The traitor was tried and executed for treason later.

There were odd passages, such as that Malta was bombed from airfields in Libya (around Benghazi) rather than the far closer Sicily, with far easier logistics.

After VE Day the SAS were disbanded as the conventional army and it's elephantine memory regained power. They were reformed in 1952, as a regular unit, in Malaya and some of their activity has been public since then.

Link to 101 reviews (90% 5*) on:https://www.amazon.co.uk/SAS-Heroes-Authorized-Wartime-History-x/dp/0241186625/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1482269138&sr=1-1&keywords=sas+rogue+heroes

On the US website fewer reviews and not so many 5*:https://www.amazon.com/Rogue-Heroes-History-Britains-Sabotaged/dp/110190416X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1482269324&sr=1-1&keywords=sas+rogue+heroes

12-24-2016, 08:42 PM
The fourth book was 'Defending the Realm: The Politics of Britain's small wars since 1945' by Aaron Edwards, pub. 2014. Somehow I missed this at the time until found a few months ago.

The author set himself a high goal, according to the publisher's summary on Amazon:
This is the first book to detail the tactical and operational dynamics of Britain's small wars, arguing that the military's use of force was more heavily constrained by wider strategic and political considerations than previously admitted.....Defending the realm? is the definitive account of the politics of Britain's small wars.Link:https://www.amazon.co.uk/Defending-realm-Aaron-Edwards/dp/0719096596/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1482608830&sr=1-1&keywords=defending+the+realm

The book looks at the 'defending' in Palestine, Malaya, Kenya, Cyprus, Aden, Northern Ireland, Iraq and Afghanistan.

It is a very moot point that the British Army has developed a culture and structure to capture it's experience - repeatedly shown in the Afghan campaign. When the deployment to Helmand started a copious open source resource by a US civil engineer was not consulted online or with the author. Whatever it learnt was not consistent.

Far worse at learning were the civil servants, in the various colonial administrations, and the police too. A persistent feature was the neglect of police intelligence-gathering via the local Special Branch; their focus was on political intelligence and suspected subversion - not the prospect of violence, let alone insurgency. Setting up for COIN was hard and took time, all too often defeat loomed

Understandably there is a long chapter on Northern Ireland, known as Operation Banner August 1969-July 2007. There is no a mention of the "dirty war" aspects, e.g. the collusion between Loyalist paramilitaries and parts of the state nor their part in the violence. No mention of the eventually successful intelligence system that reduced violence so much.

A good book, but with faults and several strange claims e.g. the CIA & SIS smuggled most weapons into Afghanistan during the Soviet period! That was done by ISI who they both cooperated with.

Perhaps he has written about this subject since Chilcot was published?