Page 2 of 4 FirstFirst 1234 LastLast
Results 21 to 40 of 80

Thread: Call for Professional Reading Lists

  1. #21
    Council Member SteveMetz's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    Carlisle, PA
    Posts
    1,488

    Default

    Don't know if it's of any use, but here's my "Understanding the Iraq Conflict" list from Amazon.

  2. #22
    Small Wars Journal SWJED's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    Largo, Florida
    Posts
    3,989

    Default 2 Reading Lists

    Read Different - Dr. TX Hammes in Armed Forces Journal

    The 2008 Warlord Loop Reading List - in Proceedings

  3. #23
    Council Member Noble Industries's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Location
    Sydney, Australia
    Posts
    15

    Default Australian Intel Reports

    Link to Australian Inspector General of Intelligence website and link to reports section. Perhaps handy for mining data on Australian Intel from a govt perspective?

    http://www.igis.gov.au/annual.cfm
    The French, advised by good intelligence...
    of this most dreadful preparation,
    shake in their fear...and with pale policy seek
    to divert the English purposes
    Hevry V Act 2

  4. #24
    Council Member Van's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Honolulu, Hawai'i
    Posts
    414

    Default

    An intelligence oriented reading list, specificly aimed at folks entering the U.S. DoD intelligence world;

    -The Craft of Intelligence by Allen W. Dulles (THE primer on intelligence). This is an excellent discussion of intelligence from requirements through collection to analysis. Dulles presents it so well that, despite the clear Cold War spin, the relevance is timeless.

    -The U.S. Intelligence Community by Jeffrey T. Richelson (A comprehensive work on U.S. Intel; be sure to get the 5th edition).

    -My Adventures as a Spy by Robert Baden-Powell (fun and motivational, but lots of valid nuggets, and can be found as a .pdf online).

    -Aids to scouting for N.-C.Os. & men by Robert Baden-Powell (avail from www.military-info.com, there is a .pdf floating around though) (a valuable historical perspective; how it worked before radio and PowerPoint).

    -Handbook of Intelligence and Guerilla Warfare by Alexander Orlov (how the other side, the USSR, used to do it, kind of like studying course notes from the O.S.S. or early CIA).

    -I can't think of a single, good work on analysis for less than $100, but should I see one, I'll forward it. The Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intelligence_analysis) in intel analysis isn't bad, and has links to better materials.

    -The Compleat Strategyst: Being a Primer on the Theory of Games of Strategy; by J. D. Williams. This is the best book on game theory for liberal arts majors (including history majors). What this provides is a language from discussing conflict and politics that is low on emotion, allowing more level-headed discussion. (If you have the maths, "Games and Decisions: Introduction and Critical Survey" by R. Duncan Luce, Howard Raiffa is better, but sigma notation makes my head spin.)

    -Statistics for Dummies. Numbers do, in fact, lie. But with a little preparation, they don't have to lie to you.

  5. #25
    Council Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Posts
    3,098

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Van
    -I can't think of a single, good work on analysis for less than $100, but should I see one, I'll forward it. The Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intelligence_analysis) in intel analysis isn't bad, and has links to better materials.
    How about Robert Clark's Intelligence Analysis: A Target-Centric Approach, a solid read and available for about half that price.

    A much more basic level review of fundamentals is Lisa Krizan's Intelligence Essentials for Everyone - and its half that again.

    Cynthia Grabo's Anticipating Surprise: Analysis for Strategic Warning (discussed here before) has a narrower focus, but is the classic in the field of warning intelligence.

    Then there's the other classic read on analysis and policy that I've mentioned here a couple of times, Knowing One's Enemies: Intelligence Assessment Before the Two World Wars

    I could go on. But those are just a few examples of why I do not see where the $100 entry margin applies for the purchase of good books on intelligence analysis.....

  6. #26
    Council Member Van's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Honolulu, Hawai'i
    Posts
    414

    Default Target audience is everything

    As I said,
    folks entering the U.S. DoD intelligence world
    . Not saying your recommendations are not good, but not the first books I'd hand to a junior enlisted, an NCO coming from a non-intel MOS, or a 2nd Lieutenant.

    Great recommendations for the next stage of education though!

    You might also consider
    Surprise Attack: The Victim's Perspective , by Ephraim Kam.

    As much about the psychology of analysis as surprise.

    On that note;
    "Psychology of Intelligence Analysis" by Richard Heuer, available as a .pdf from the CIA web site. Along with anything by Sherman Kent, available from the same web site.

  7. #27
    Council Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Posts
    3,098

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Van
    As I said, . Not saying your recommendations are not good, but not the first books I'd hand to a junior enlisted, an NCO coming from a non-intel MOS, or a 2nd Lieutenant.
    Clark's book is definitely what I'd hand to a cherry analyst for a read. As is Heuer's. Krizan's is at a more basic level and is geared for non-intel folks.

    Expanding on target audience, there is also a narrow shelf of required reading depending upon whether the new guy is assigned to a tactical or strategic unit, and even narrower depending upon unit mission. Much also depends on the level of greenness of the new guy - not all newly minted MI guys (enlisted or officer) are equally ignorant - and for retread NCOs, what field they are coming from can drive selection of professional reading.

    Given all that, I agree that the latter two books mentioned first post are better read once one has some experience to lend necessary context to the material. But I could also throw out a qualifier; I've had new guys who were civilian history buffs prior to putting on the uniform who would eat up either one of those books and truly enjoy the insights into events in the context of their newly chosen field.

    In any case, I wasn't throwing out a new list - nor am I now - simply stating with examples that there is plenty of good professional reading in the intelligence field available for less than $100 a copy.

  8. #28
    Moderator Steve Blair's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    Montana
    Posts
    3,195

    Default

    The Krizan book is perhaps the cheapest....

    here and here.
    "On the plains and mountains of the American West, the United States Army had once learned everything there was to learn about hit-and-run tactics and guerrilla warfare."
    T.R. Fehrenbach This Kind of War

  9. #29
    Council Member ericmwalters's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    Chesterfield, Virginia
    Posts
    90

    Default Marine Corps and Navy Reading Lists

    You can find the Marine Corps Director of Intelligence (DIRINT) Recommended Reading List for 2006 here. I'll be coordinating the 2009 revision over the next several months.

    The Marine Corps Professional Military Education Reading List is here. A number of us are writing discussion guides for the works on this list--some are available under "Key Documents" in a zip format.

    The U.S. Navy Reading List is here.

  10. #30
    Council Member Van's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Honolulu, Hawai'i
    Posts
    414

    Default Having read "A Target-Centric Approach"

    Jedburgh,
    Now that I've read Clark, I would not put on a 'short list' (Krizan or Richelson are on the short list). Clark is for someone who has been around a while, or has the time and wherewithal to look up everything that is not explained.

    Don't get me wrong, it is worth the effort to read, and mostly I agree with him (my disagreements are mostly based on places where he seems to be having trouble making the jump from 'bureaucrat' to being the analyst he describes). The "Target-centric" concept is a fresh coat of paint on an old idea, and his vision is clearly shaped by his Air Force time, but it is a great book for someone with even a year of experience in analysis.

    If you have the time to look up every single reference you don't understand, this book could be a heck of an education. For example, he cites Shannon and The Theory of Information, and Maslow's Hierarchy, but takes some liberties with both. Used as a study guide, by chasing down references like this, it would make for a super education.

    Now is Clark would write a 'dummed down' version with politicians as the target audience, that would be excellent.

  11. #31
    Council Member jenniferro10's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    Atlanta, GA
    Posts
    26

    Default database on the ethical debate: COIN & anthropology

    I have an extensive list that is growing in the last few weeks that I would love to share, and actually host somewhere else.
    Maimonides: "Consider this, those of you who are engaged in investigation, if you choose to seek truth. Cast aside passion, accepted thought, and the inclination toward what you used to esteem, and you shall not be lead into error."

  12. #32
    Registered User
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    FL
    Posts
    7

    Default Reading list

    hi,

    i'm new to this forum, this subject and with only a little naval experience, i don't think i can add very much to the debate. also please forgive me if my terminology is off. i do read quite a bit. so here's my list if it helps.

    pre-counterinsurgency-variations of it was practiced before it had a name

    Seven Pillars of Wisdom- T.E. Lawrence
    Cyrus the Great (Illustrated Edition)-Jacob Abbott(one of the most amazing leaders but it wasn't his conventional wars that got him 50 references in the old testament)
    On War- Carl Von Clausewitz(still valid today)

    colonial counterinsurgency- its good to know where we've been to know where we're going

    The Pacification of Algeria- David Galula
    A Savage War of Peace: Algeria 1954-1962- Alistair Horne
    Modern Warfare: A French View of Counterinsurgency​- Roger Trinquier
    Counterinsurgen​cy Warfare: Theory and Practice- David Galula
    The Australian Centenary History of Defence: Volume 7: An Atlas of Australia's Wars (v. 7)-Lieutenant-General John Coates (has battle maps of the Malaysian emergency and the peace keeping mission in East Timor that Kilcullen was a part of.)

    The Conduct of Anti-terrorist Operations in Malaya aka ATOM
    A Handbook on Anti-Mau Mau Operations(these republished military manuals can be ordered from Hailer Publishing-http://www.hailerpublishing.com/biglist.html)

    The Art of War - Mao Tse-Tung
    Guerrilla Warfare- Ernesto Che Guevara

    COIN AND THE NEW GENERATION
    The Army and Vietnam-Andrew F. Krepinevich Jr.
    the accidental guerrilla- David Kilcullen
    FM 3-24 -counterinsurgency manual- U.S Army
    FM 3-07- stability operations- U.S. Army
    Dereliction of Duty: Johnson, McNamara, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Lies That Led to Vietnam- H. R. Mcmaster
    Learning to Eat Soup with a Knife: Counterinsurgency Lessons from Malaya and Vietnam-John A. Nagl and Peter J. Schoomaker
    The Utility of Force: The Art of War in the Modern World-Rupert Smith
    Descent into Chaos: The United States and the Failure of Nation Building in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Central Asia-Ahmed Rashid
    Baghdad at Sunrise: A Brigade Commander's War in Iraq-Peter R. Mansoor

    EXTRA READING

    The Practice of Adaptive Leadership: Tools and Tactics for Changing Your Organization and the World-Ronald A. Heifetz(Petraeus mentioned this in several interviews and the authors are the most respected in the field)
    The Anthropology of the State: A Reader-Aradhana Sharma(Kilcullen mentioned the need to know this subject and it involves tribal cultures involved with globalization)
    Rules For Radicals- Saul Alinsky( its a realistic primer for people who want to change the system)
    Anything by Al Qaeda(we must know our enemy after all)
    48 laws of power- Robert Greene
    33 stratagies of war- Robert Greene

    http://abumuqawama.blogspot.com- this website had the best reading lists, it even includes great articles from military review

  13. #33
    Registered User
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    FL
    Posts
    7

    Default Reading list

    also a great read is

    Shake Hands with the Devil : The Failure of Humanity in Rwanda- Romeo Dallaire(this story reinforces the need for unity of command)

  14. #34
    Council Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Rancho La Espada, Blanchard, OK
    Posts
    1,065

    Default Reading Lists

    Here are a bunch of things I have used in several courses I teach. They range from classics to journalism, theory to practice, policy to tactics, etc. And, of course, I toot my own horn.

    Cheers

    JohnT

    From my course on National Security Policy:
    John T. Fishel & Max G. Manwaring, Uncomfortable Wars Revisited, OU Press, 2006 ISBN 0-8061-3711-8*

    Bob Woodward, The Commanders, Simon & Schuster (Touchstone) ISBN 0-7732-3475-8
    --------, Bush at War, Simon & Schuster, ISBN 0-7432-0473-5
    --------, Plan of Attack, Simon & Schuster, ISBN 0-7432-5548-8
    -------, State of Denial, Simon & Schuster, ISBN 0-7432-7223-4
    --------, The War Within, Simon & Schuster, ISBN – 13: 978-1-4165-5897-2
    Linda Robinson, Tell Me How This Ends, Public Affairs Books, ISBN 978-1-58648-528-
    3

    From my course, Small Wars:
    William R. Meara, Contra Cross, Naval Institute Press 2006, ISBN 1-59114-518-X

    C. E. Callwell, Small Wars Publisher: University of Nebraska Press; 3rd edition (May 1996)
    ISBN-10: 080326366X
    ISBN-13: 978-0803263666


    USMC, Small Wars Manual Publisher: University Press of the Pacific (June 30, 2005)
    ISBN-10: 1410224821
    ISBN-13: 978-1410224828


    Thomas A. Marks
    MAOIST PEOPLE'S WAR IN POST-VIETNAM ASIA Bangkok, White Lotus, 2007
    ISBN: 978-974-480-106-7 (pb)

    From a Capstone course on War from Ancient Times to the Present taught in 2008:
    Required Titles

    1. Iliad (Paperback)
    by Homer (Author), Stanley Lombardo (Author), Hackett, ISBN 0-87220-352-2 pbk

    2. The Landmark Herodotus: The Histories (Hardcover)
    by Herodotus (Author), Robert B. Strassler (Editor), Rosalind Thomas (Introduction), Andrea L. Purvis (Translator), Touchstone

    3. The Landmark Thucydides: A Comprehensive Guide to the Peloponnesian War (Paperback)
    by Thucydides (Author), Robert B. Strassler (Editor), Victor Davis Hanson (Introduction), Richard Crawley (Translator), Touchstone, ISBN 0-684-82790-5 pbk

    4. The Art of War (Paperback)
    by Sun Tzu (Author), B. H. Liddell Hart (Foreword), Samuel B. Griffith (Translator), DaCapo, ISBN 0-306-81076-y

    5. On War (Paperback)
    by Carl von Clausewitz (Author), Michael Eliot Howard (Translator), Peter Paret (Translator, Princeton, ISBN 0-691-01854-5 pbk

    6. Carnage and Culture: Landmark Battles in the Rise to Western Power (Paperback)
    by Victor Hanson (Author), Anchor ISBN 0-385-50052-1

    7. The Art of War (Paperback)
    by Niccolò Machiavelli (Author), Ellis Farneworth (Author), Da Capo, 0-306-81076-x

    8. The Great Game: The Struggle for Empire in Central Asia (Kodansha Globe) (Paperback)
    by Peter Hopkirk (Author), ISBN 1-56836-022-3


    9. Ike: An American Hero (Hardcover)
    by Michael Korda (Author), Harper-Collins, ISBN 0-06-075665-9

    10. Stalking the Vietcong: Inside Operation Phoenix: A Personal Account (Mass Market Paperback)
    by Stuart Herrington (Author), (original title: Silence Was a Weapon), Presidio, ISBN 0-345-47251-9

    11. First In: An Insider's Account of How the CIA Spearheaded the War on Terror in Afghanistan (Mass Market Paperback)
    by Gary Schroen (Author), Presidio, ISBN 0-89141-872-5


    12. Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq (Paperback)
    by Thomas E. Ricks (Author), Penguin, ISBN 1-59420-103-x

    Recommended Titles

    1. The Trojan War: A New History (Paperback)
    by Barry Strauss (Author), Simon & Schuster, ISBN 0-7432-0441-x

    2. The Battle of Salamis: The Naval Encounter that Saved Greece -- and Western Civilization [BARGAIN PRICE] (Paperback)
    by Barry Strauss (Author), Simon & Schuster. ISBN 0-7432-4450-8

    3. A War Like No Other: How the Athenians and Spartans Fought the Peloponnesian War (Paperback)
    by Victor Hanson (Author), Random House, ISBN 1-4000-6095-8

    4. The Peloponnesian War (Paperback)
    by Donald Kagan (Author), Penguin, ISBN 0-670-03211-5

    5. Crusade in Europe (Paperback)
    by Dwight David Eisenhower (Author), Johns Hopkins, ISBN 0-8018-5668-x

    6. On Strategy: A Critical Analysis of the Vietnam War (Paperback)
    by Harry G. Summers (Author), Presidio, ISBN 0-89141-561-7

    7. Vietnam: A History (Paperback)
    by Stanley Karnow (Author), Penguin, ISBN 0 02.6547 3

    8. American Soldier [BARGAIN PRICE] (Paperback)
    by Tommy R. Franks (Author), Harper-Collins, ISBN 0-06-075714-0

    9. Jawbreaker: The Attack on Bin Laden and Al Qaeda: A Personal Account by the CIA's Key Field Commander [BARGAIN PRICE] (Hardcover)
    by Gary Berntsen (Author), Ralph Pezzullo (Author), Three Rivers Press, ISBN 0-307-35106-8


    Additional books:
    Max G. Manwaring, Insurgency, Terrorism, & Crime, U of Oklahoma Press, 2008

    And, of course, Kilcullen.

    * Required in both National Security Policy and Small Wars

  15. #35
    Registered User
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    FL
    Posts
    7

    Default Reading list

    that was a great list, i also like summers. although he got some stuff wrong, his observations are still of great intrest to me. his historical atlas of the vietnam war is amazing as well. heres the isbn 0-395-72223-3

    also heres a link to the recommended reading for FSO-
    http://search.state.gov/search?q=rea...&site=careers&
    x=0&y=0

    also some great reading can be found here
    http://usacac.army.mil/cac2/coin/index.asp
    Last edited by ANNEX; 05-06-2009 at 06:07 PM. Reason: wrong thread

  16. #36
    Council Member EmmetM's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Location
    Wellington, NZ
    Posts
    12

    Default Reading lists

    Very interesting...As I posted in Hails and Farewells today my PhD research is on the use, utility etc of self-directed reading programmes in PME (title is "Autonomous, self-directed professional reading and the education of leaders"). I was intending to open a thread on this topic soon so will signal this here. I have now collected details of some reading programmes and lists from militaries accross the globe and will, over time, share some insights, thoughts etc on them. To weigh into the topic though, my favourite list in many ways comes from LtGen John Kiszkely, Director of the Defence Academy of the United Kingdom. In his words, "reading is an essential contributor to the development of sound judgement, intuition, and wisdom in military decision-making". He goes on to list "the ten books which I consider contribute more than any others to that understanding and development". His title are

    Carl von Clausewitz, On War (Howard & Paret edition)
    Martin van Creveld, Command in War
    Alex Danchev & Daniel Todman (eds), War Diaries 1939-1945. Field Marshal Lord Alanbrooke
    David Fraser, Knight's Cross: A Life of Field Marshal Erwin Rommel
    Andrew Gordon, The Rules of the Game: Jutland and British Naval Command
    Alastair Horne, A Savage War of Peace: Algeria 1954-1962
    Michael Howard, The Franco-Prussian War
    HR McMaster, Dereliction of Duty
    William Slim, Defeat into Victory
    Robert S Strassler (ed), The Landmark Thucydides

    The list and commentary is available from http://www.defac.ac.uk/publications/reading-list

    From a Kiwi perspective, our best contribution to the canon is probably Howard Kippenberger, Infantry Brigadier, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1949. "Kip" as he was/is affectionately known was once of our greatest commanders. A vet of WWI & II he rose to the rank of Major General until his command was tragically cut short when he lost both feet at Casino in '44. He went on to be a veterins advocate and official government historian. If you can get hold of a copy (unfortunately out of print) of Infantry Brigadier you'll get a no-BS account of the Kiwi way of war and leadership.

    Link broken, id'd June 2015. A copy of my research into Kip is available from http://www.victoria.ac.nz/css/pages/...iscussion.aspx
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 06-17-2015 at 07:16 AM. Reason: Bold text added

  17. #37
    Council Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Posts
    1,444

    Default

    My only concern with reading lists is that many books aren't just works that you sit down and read on your own. For example, from the list above: On War by CvC. I really don't think most - or even many - people are going to fully grasp everything unless they are already well versed in most of the concepts or they spend considerable time discussing the issues with other knowledgeable folks and/or others who are reading it concurrently.

    Also, some books require some significant background knowledge. For example, I recently read The Iliad for the second time (the first was about 10 years ago). This time, it helped significantly to read the translator's introduction (and to do some research into which translation to get), to do some research about the characters and mythology, to follow along with an audio course about the book, and so on. Without the background, it's just expedition, Achilleus gets mad, things turn sour, he gets madder, whoops some ass, end of story. You need to know the history, a bit about Greek culture at the time, and some other trivia to understand what is occurring and its significance. And if you don't know any of that, then you need to know what you need to learn before reading (the known unknowns). Guided study helps.

    When I was a young LT starving for knowledge, I read most of the books on the CoS's reading list, from the NCO recommendations up to the top dog recommendations (before 9/11 - afterward, very little time). Some I got a lot out of. Others, in hindsight, would have been better to read if part of some guided study. To cite one example, I plowed through The Soldier and The State and got a lot out of it - particularly the first few chapters. (This was recommended for more senior officers, but it's the example that comes to mind). I suspect that I would have gotten a lot more out of it had it been read as part of some professional development program. Ditto all of the other books, including those recommended for junior officers.

    I think that there should also be emphasis on the lists being divided into areas for which any one or two are sufficient. For example, a list of 50 books, divided into 5 areas of 8 to 12 each, with 1 or 2 from each area being adequate. Read all 50 books on the list - or even a list of 10 or 20? Yeah, good luck with that when you're on a cycle of 12 months deployed and then 12 months stateside, of which 8 months is eaten up with training.

  18. #38
    Council Member Kiwigrunt's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    Auckland New Zealand
    Posts
    466

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by EmmetM View Post
    From a Kiwi perspective, our best contribution to the canon is probably Howard Kippenberger, Infantry Brigadier, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1949. "Kip" as he was/is affectionately known was once of our greatest commanders. A vet of WWI & II he rose to the rank of Major General until his command was tragically cut short when he lost both feet at Casino in '44. He went on to be a veterins advocate and official government historian. If you can get hold of a copy (unfortunately out of print) of Infantry Brigadier you'll get a no-BS account of the Kiwi way of war and leadership. A copy of my research into Kip is available from http://www.victoria.ac.nz/css/pages/...iscussion.aspx
    I’ll definitely have to read your work on Kip. Read ‘Kippenberger, an inspired New Zealand commander’ by Glyn Harper a few years ago. He sure appears to have been a good leader with great potential, until he stomped on that mine. Anyone’s guess how Cassino might have worked out….
    Nothing that results in human progress is achieved with unanimous consent. (Christopher Columbus)

    All great truth passes through three stages: first it is ridiculed, second it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.
    (Arthur Schopenhauer)

    ONWARD

  19. #39
    Council Member EmmetM's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Location
    Wellington, NZ
    Posts
    12

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Kiwigrunt View Post
    I’ll definitely have to read your work on Kip. Read ‘Kippenberger, an inspired New Zealand commander’ by Glyn Harper a few years ago. He sure appears to have been a good leader with great potential, until he stomped on that mine. Anyone’s guess how Cassino might have worked out….
    Cheers! To round out the reading try Denis McLean's (former Secretary of Defence and NZ Ambassador to the U.S.) Howard Kippenberger: Doubtless Spirit, Random House, Auckland, 2008.

    For all non-NZ readers, "Kip" had a lot to say about U.S. Army leaders during the Italian campaign. He was not an admirer of Gen. Mark Clark (who doesn't have a great rep in this part of the world). I think anyone trying to learn about coalition warfare (nobody can ever go it alone for long) should concentrate on learning what the junior parners thought. They might be the source of the 'home truths' only true friends can deliver.

  20. #40
    Council Member marct's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    Ottawa, Canada
    Posts
    3,682

    Default

    Hi Schmedlap,

    Quote Originally Posted by Schmedlap View Post
    My only concern with reading lists is that many books aren't just works that you sit down and read on your own. ... Guided study helps.
    I'm reading Maurice de Saxe's Reveries on the Art of War right now (thanks Ken ), and one of the things that is helping get a handle on it is knowing a fair bit about the music at the time - both the great stuff (e.g. Bach) and some of the hack work.

    Guided study can be useful, but it is always important to remember that in such a setting you are being "guided" by someone else's view of what is important. It is a fascinating paradox in that it really helps to have expert guidance in getting a rough picture together, but that picture then limits what you can see. I ran head on into this years ago, and one of my truly great prof's suggested a couple of tactics that I have used ever since then.

    First, read a general overview of the area and look for the main names, events, dates, etc. This helps you build a rough picture (sort of like the outlines in a colouring book ). Having done that, put the overview away and read the original works - not what someone else abstracts from them. And, BTW, when I say "read", I mean read each work three times - a quick overview, a close read with notes, and then a final time to catch the nuances.

    Second, when you are reading the original works (in the original language if possible), ask who they are drawing on. Most texts are part of a much larger universe of discourse (including a lot of dead people ), and very few people come up with something totally new. So, start tracking down the works of people who they are arguing with and read their stuff.

    Third, try and invert some of the authors axiomatic assumptions and see if you react the same way to what they are saying. I'll admit it can be tricky finding a good axiomatic assumption to invert, but it will usually be something that they don't talk about - in the case of social theory, I used to (and still do) invert the assumption of reincarnation (I assume it's real).

    Okay, it's time consuming. It does, however, let you start to pull out principles and boundary conditions for those principles.

    Cheers,

    Marc
    Sic Bisquitus Disintegrat...
    Marc W.D. Tyrrell, Ph.D.
    Institute of Interdisciplinary Studies,
    Senior Research Fellow,
    The Canadian Centre for Intelligence and Security Studies, NPSIA
    Carleton University
    http://marctyrrell.com/

Tags for this Thread

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •