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Thread: What Are You Currently Reading? 2007

  1. #141
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    Just finished The Federalist Papers (Hamilton, Madison and Jay). Not always the most exceiting read, but refreshing to see the depth of dialogue on basic political issues. I read it to fulfill the usually disregarded portion of Sun Tzu's quip about knowing oneself. I found it very enlightening in describing some our (the West in general and the US specifically) assumptions on what is required for an operating republic.
    I don't think we realize the disconnect when we take our western institutions and try to apply them where the societal chemistry doesn't match. Michael Mandelbaum has a decent article in the latest Foreign Affairs along this line ("Democracy Without America").

  2. #142
    Council Member slapout9's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SWCAdmin View Post
    Please do.

    Just so there is no confusion that quote is from St. Christopher!! he is the one with bibliography that I would like to see posted. I screwed the quote thingy button up. St. Chris has got the stuff not me.

  3. #143
    Council Member Mondor's Avatar
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    Small Unit Action in Vietnam Summer 1966; I just finished the chapter covering Howard’s patrol.

    The German Campaigns in the Balkans (1953 edition); Finished this last week. I always learn something new when I go over this.

    Anabasis by Xenophon; Not in the original Greek!
    It is right to learn, even from one's enemies
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  4. #144
    Council Member Adam L's Avatar
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    Default Just a suggestion

    Quote Originally Posted by SteveMetz View Post
    Thought it might be interesting to compare (but, Tom Odom, the menu at Applebees doesn't count!).

    Here's mine:

    Currently

    Fouad Ajami, The Foreigner's Gift: The Americans, the Arabs, and the Iraqis in Iraq

    In the queue

    Ali Allawi, The Occupation of Iraq
    Peter Galbraith, The End of Iraq
    George Tenet, At the Center of the Storm
    Andrew Sullivan, The Conservative Soul
    Rupert Smith, The Utility of Force: The Art of War in the Modern World
    When you get to The Utility of Force make sure you are in a good state of mind. Its interesting but the writing is dry as toast. Also, a book that might complement Andrew Sullivan's or anything on politics you might read, The Conscience of a Conservative by Barry Goldwater. 45 years later its still important.

  5. #145
    Council Member St. Christopher's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by slapout9 View Post
    Just so there is no confusion that quote is from St. Christopher!! he is the one with bibliography that I would like to see posted. I screwed the quote thingy button up. St. Chris has got the stuff not me.
    These selections are from my counter-motivation "vetted readings" file. I make everyone I do business with read these before we start executing. Most of these articles are Google-able and downloadable; some of the books you may have to purchase.

    "Choosing Words Carefully: Language to Help Fight Islamic Terrorism," Dr. Douglas E. Streusand and LTC Harry D. Tunnell IV.

    "Storytelling and Terrorism: Towards a Comprehensive 'Counter-Narrative Strategy," William D. Casebeer and James A. Russell

    "Anti-Americanism and the Rise of Civic Diplomacy," Nancy Snow

    "Strategic Communication: A Mandate for the United States," Jeffrey Jones

    Exploring Religious Conflict, Gregory Treverton, et al. RAND

    Terror’s Mask: Insurgency Within Islam, Michael Vlahos, JHU-APL

    "THE ELONGATING TAIL OF BRAND COMMUNICATION," Mohammed Iqbal

    Next-Generation Media: The Global Shift; Aspen Institute; Richard P. Adler, Rapporteur

    Terror in the Mind of God, Mark Jurgensmeyer

    "The Promise of Noopolitik," David Ronfeldt and John Arquilla

    I also regularly exhort the works of Dave Kilcullen, T.X. Hammes, Jim Guirard, and other luminaries of the COIN world.

    I wrote a couple papers this year for Johns Hopkins on counter-narrative strategy, which I find tremendously fascinating in Vlahos's, NPS's, and Jurgensmeyer's works. Vlahos in particular has done great work in equating our current Long War to the poetic tradition of Islam. I just discovered the noopolitik piece above, and I find that paper absolutely compelling in its portrayal of the Information Age (in which one must nest any narrative strategy, counter or otherwise).

    I find that some of the most interesting thought in Info Age warfare comes at the rapid pace of that generation-- a "burst culture" that spits out more blog entries and articles than truly analytical or procedural books. Hey, good idea for another thread-- what's in everybody's RSS reader and which ones do you use?

    Du4
    Last edited by marct; 09-07-2007 at 08:48 PM. Reason: Added URLs
    Tenere terrorum,
    St. C

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    ---Socrates

  6. #146
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  7. #147
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    Default Vietnam: Ceasefire to Capitulation

    Found this recently, am in the midst of reading it. Something I should have read long ago. Col. William Le Gro's Vietnam: Cease Fire to Capitulation. All 235 pages are available on line in three segments:

    http://libraryautomation.com/nymas/V...fulltext1.html
    http://libraryautomation.com/nymas/V...fulltext2.html
    http://libraryautomation.com/nymas/V...fulltext3.html

    Actually, the account covers the war from the 1972 aftermath of the Nguyen Hue Offensive to the final debacle. Le Gro ran intel at the Saigon DAO during the period. I had the privilege of knowing Col. Le Gro, albeit briefly, in 1974. He was a straight shooter who could be brutally honest.

    The work's coverage, in terms of accounts of major engagements; shifting enemy and friendly order of battle; leadership, morale and supply issues; etc., is extremely detailed. Ample, expected examples are provided of the cancer of corruption, but so are others of genuine heroism in furtherance of a hopeless cause. The degree of detail should enable the reader to come to his/her own conclusions regarding the mixed picture that Vietnamization represented.

    Cheers,
    Mike.

  8. #148
    Council Member jlechelt's Avatar
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    Default Some books

    Read Charlie Wilson's War. WOW!

    Currently reading Victory on the Potomac. A great case study of Congress's involvement in GNA - and military legislation in general. Didn't realize that Weinberger was so disliked. According to Locher, for good reason.

    Question:
    What are the best and most fair books on the Vietnam War? Books that cover the military and politics.

  9. #149
    Moderator Steve Blair's Avatar
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    Krepenevich's "The Army and Vietnam" is a good study, although it does focus more on the Army as opposed to politics. Palmer's "The 25 Year War" is also a good one, though it's older.

    If you're looking for the feel of "on the ground," anything by Kieth Nolan is a must-have. There are also a number of good battle/campaign histories out there, starting with Moore's "We Were Soldiers...".
    "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

  10. #150
    Council Member Tom Odom's Avatar
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    I am reading Ambassador and Mrs Krueger's book on their aborted tour in Burundi. I especially like the chapter devoted to my evil ways in Rwanda.

    Next is Abu Buckwheat's book on the insurgency in Iraq.

    Tom

  11. #151
    Council Member SteveMetz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Odom View Post
    I am reading Ambassador and Mrs Krueger's book on their aborted tour in Burundi. I especially like the chapter devoted to my evil ways in Rwanda.

    Next is Abu Buckwheat's book on the insurgency in Iraq.

    Tom
    I'll update my part of my own thread.

    Recently finished:

    Tenet's At the Center of the Storm (OK, because my expectations were low)
    Robb's Brave New War (excellent)
    Mary Habeck's Knowing the Enemy: Jihadist Ideology and the War on Terror (excellent except for the policy recommendations)
    Robert Kaufman, In Defense of the Bush Doctrine (horrible)

    Since I'm rushing to finish the manuscript for my Iraq and the Evolution of American Strategy (and I just completed a 16K word draft chapter on the formation of the Bush strategy up to the Iraq decision), I'm trying to limit my reading. I am playing with Evan Jenkins, That or Which, and Why: A Usage Guide for Thoughtful Writers and Editors and I'm dipping into Shakespeare to clear my mind. This morning I also worked through two excellent articles: Paul Pillar's "The Right Stuff" in the current issue of The National Interest, and David Betz's "Redesigning Land Forces for Wars Amongst the People" in Contemporary Security Policy.

  12. #152
    Council Member jlechelt's Avatar
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    We Were Soldiers is indeed great.
    How about Karnow's Vietnam, and Herring's America's Longest War? I read reviews on Amazon and they said that the Herring book was more about diplomacy.
    Also, with regards to the argument over "The US could have won if it did this or that," or "There was no way to win the Vietnam War," any recommendations for the best books or articles on both sides?
    Thanks.

  13. #153
    Council Member SteveMetz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jlechelt View Post
    We Were Soldiers is indeed great.
    How about Karnow's Vietnam, and Herring's America's Longest War? I read reviews on Amazon and they said that the Herring book was more about diplomacy.
    Also, with regards to the argument over "The US could have won if it did this or that," or "There was no way to win the Vietnam War," any recommendations for the best books or articles on both sides?
    Thanks.
    I usually recommend Karnow as a very readable and balanced introduction for people who have not delved into the Vietnam literature (students, for instance)

    Probably the most discussed "we could have won it if we did this" are Andy Krepinevch, The Army and Vietnam and Harry Summers, On Strategy. They recommend, though, diametric opposites. I'd have to look through my stuff at the office for something that would fall into the "nothing would have mattered" school (which I myself am close to).

  14. #154
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default What would have mattered was deciding what we

    wanted to do before we went in and I do mean a realistic assessment thereof -- a nagging little item with which we continually seem to have a great deal of trouble...

    Viet Nam presented some achievable goals; unfortunately, they wandered out of reach while we tried to fight a land war in Europe in the rice paddies of SE Asia for seven long years. There was never going to be a 'win' -- just as there was and will not be one in Iraq but an acceptable outcome was reachable (and is in Iraq).

    Limited war is a dangerous and tricky proposition...

    For Viet Nam, I'd also recommend Lewis Sorley's A Better War and Bruce Palmer's The 25 Year War: America's Military Role in Vietnam (the only book by a GO I ever recommend to anyone...)

    Edited to add:
    Oops. Just realized I inadvertently lied -- Slim's Defeat into Victory is another General's book worth reading. After racking my tiny brain, I'm pretty sure just those two...
    Last edited by Ken White; 09-28-2007 at 08:22 PM. Reason: Correct a misstatement

  15. #155
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    Default Intelligence in War

    I just finished John Keegan's Intelligence In War. It is excellent. He uses some historic examples beginning with Nelson's search for the French fleet on its way to Egypt. His discussion of code breaking was especially interesting. The Poles made a significant contribution to breaking Germany's Ultra code. One of the lessons he takes from the intelligence derived is that it is not always that helpful, because some of the dots are always missing. The German invasion of Crete is given as an example where being forewarned wasn't enough. He also looks at the US Magic intercepts and how they led to the victory at Midway, with the assistance of a lot luck. It is a very good read.

    I am currently reading Bruce Catton's The Coming Fury which is the first volume in his Civil War Trilogy. It is outstanding. I have been meaning to read his books on the Civil War for about 40 years and am glad I finally got around to it.

    For those looking for Vietnam War books, Mark Moyar's Triumph Forsaken should be your top choice. He has access to sources out of North Vietnam that were not available when most of the books were written in the 1970s. If you are interested in counterinsurgency warfare, you will enjoy this book.

    Another Vietnam book worth reading is Admiral U.S.G. Sharp's Strategy for Defeat. It is mainly about the air war.

  16. #156
    i pwnd ur ooda loop selil's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by St. Christopher View Post
    Funny aside: Over my holiday on the beach this past weekend, I read World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War by Max Brooks. It's a fictional account of the aftermath of a zombie invasion, and some of the IW/COIN stories in there are pretty good. It's funny to read and start thinking about how you'd apply conventional and unconventional tactics of war in the event of a zombie invasion.
    OK, I went and read "World War Z" just because I thought it would be fun. What I found was an excellent analysis of pandemic. Zombie's are an allegory to pandemic (walking wounded, unable to care for themselves, requiring uninfected to feed them), etc.. So what is show from patient zero all the way through the end of the book is a series of events where containment is broken and contagion spreads. The ideas that zombies don't die and carry the contagion (unless you whack em in the head) shows a lot of the medical, social, welfare problems in the brutality of the solutions needed.

    The examples of the soviets (purge) when dealing with the undead may seem ludicrous and fanciful but is based on what happened in Stalinist times when Army units refused to fight. Some times the issues are pretty hard to talk about in the real world but "World War Z" discusses them no-holds barred. It was a great book that you can't take to seriously but can read in a day that is filled with lots of "huh?" moments. I suggested it to a DHS/CDC specialist and I can't wait to hear what she says.

    I read part of the book to my wife and we've decided we need to write an academic paper on what bad sci-fi stories can tell you about homeland security.
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  17. #157
    Council Member Culpeper's Avatar
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  18. #158
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    I haven't read something stupid in a while. (Note I said read, not said).

    Just finished Florence of Arabia by Christopher Buckley for purely recreational reading. He has a flair for the absurd that ought to resonate with those who have savored the AO. A little slow in the beginning during the shaping ops, but after it set up the situation and characters, it just had me in stitches.

    One passage that I think resonates a little too much in the non-fiction world:
    On Capitol Hill, the cries of "Who lost Matar?" grew louder and louder. Senators pounded their podia, demanding answers. The president declared that he, too, wanted answers. The CIA said that although it would have no official comment, it, too, perhaps even more than the president and senators, wanted answers. The secretary of state said that there might in fact be no answers, but if there were, he certainly would be interested in hearing them. The secretary general of the United Nations said that he was reasonably certain answers existed, but first the right questions must be asked, and then they would have to be translated, and this would take time.

    There were those who urged caution, and those who urged that now was a time not for caution but for boldness. Then there were those who urged a middle course of cautious boldness. There were extremists on both sides: the neo-isolationists, whose banner declared, "Just sell us the damned oil," and the neo-interventionists, who said "Together, we can make a better world, but we'll probably have to kill a lot of you in the process."

    Privately, the American president was said to be torn -- between dispatching an aircraft carrier (perhaps the most dramatic gesture available to a president, short of actually landing on one); and dispatching a nuclear submarine. A distinguished naval historian pointed out on public television that submarines are every bit as lethal as aircraft carriers, but, being underwater, are harder to see and therefore "less visually impactful." It was, as another historian said on public television, "a time of great ambiguity." And yet even about that remark, reasonable people differed.

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    About a quarter of the way through Gordon Corrigan's Mud, Blood and Poppycock. I think he overstates his case, but generally does a good job overturning myths about WWI.

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    Council Member Van's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Merv Benson View Post
    I just finished John Keegan's Intelligence In War. It is excellent.
    You might like The Craft of Intelligence by Allen Dulles. An absolutely first-rate discussion of intelligence by one of the U.S. intel community's "Grand Old Men". Hmmm... now that I'm thinking about it, I need to put into the cue for a re-read.

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