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Thread: What Are You Currently Reading? 2008

  1. #81
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    Default Required Reading from the School House

    Ron,
    I purchased the Black Swan, but haven't started it. Also ordered the Walid Phares book - The Confrontation.

    A few that we've had to read that were well worth reading:

    Shattered Sword - The Untold Story of the Battle of Midway (Parshall and Tully)

    Emergence (Steven Johnson)

    Making Things Work - Solving Complex Problems in an Complex World (Yanner Bar Yam)

  2. #82
    Council Member 120mm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DaveDoyle View Post
    Ron,
    I purchased the Black Swan, but haven't started it. Also ordered the Walid Phares book - The Confrontation.
    I just couldn't get past the first 100 pages of "I told you so; there are bad Islamists who are paying Universities and media outlets who are lulling you to sleep so Radical Islam can drink your childrens' blood" at the beginning.

    I'm sure there is a thesis in there, but after the first 100 pages, I realized I had more important things to read....

  3. #83
    Council Member Ron Humphrey's Avatar
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    Thumbs up thanks for the heads up on the others

    Ill look into them
    Any man can destroy that which is around him, The rare man is he who can find beauty even in the darkest hours

    Cogitationis poenam nemo patitur

  4. #84
    Council Member Jayhawker's Avatar
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    Default The Echo of Battle

    Is anyone else reading Brian Linn's The Echo of Battle: the Army War of War? I'm over a hundred pages and finally have an answer as to why, with all the US Army's experience fighting "small wars" there was no one writing about them, and putting the lessons into its doctrine.

    Perhaps, there is an Air Force parallel book hatching in my brain....

  5. #85
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default A mixture

    Over the last few weeks I've read these three books:

    The Terrorist Perspectives Project: Strategic and Operational Views of Al Qaida and associated movements, by Mark Stout, Jessica Huckabey, John Schindler with Jim Lacey (from the Institute for Defence Analyses) and published by Naval Institute Press in 2008. A good light read on the minds of AQ, almost a primer.

    Fighting Terrorism: Preventing the radicalisation of youth in a secular and globalised world, compiled by Abdul Halim Bin Kader; published in Singapore (free) and a very different explanation of the options.

    From Africa to Afghanistan: With Richards and NATO to Kabul, by Greg Mills, publisher Wits University Press in 2007. Excellent pre-deployment read, accepting it is dated; the author is a South African analyst and writes very well. Useful checklist on what was needed.

    davidbfpo

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    Finally got around to starting Baghdad at Sunrise. I'm only a few chapters into it, but as someone who was in Baghdad in the summer of 2003, it seems like a very balanced and accurate account. One thing that stuck out to me, having been one of the many units that was responsible for Rusafa, was that it apparently took the Ready First BCT a fair amount of time to discover the shenanigans that were occuring in Rusafa. This startled me because my platoon painstakingly detailed just about every square inch of that neighborhood and I handed it off in both digital and hard copy format to the S-2 of the unit that replaced us and watched him peruse it and upload it onto his computer (this was no small task in the summer of 2003, given that we were undermanned, overstretched, most of our equipment was toast and we had no spare parts, most of our laptops were toast, paper was scarce, time was scarcer - it took me 3 days to scrounge up a 3.5" floppy that could actually be written to).

    Just to be clear, that is not a criticism of the BCT. I thought back to how many times responsibility for that neighborhood changed hands prior to, and during, the Ready First's RIP/TOA. It went from Mech Inf to ACR to Mech Inf to Armor and so on. I guess it would have been miraculous if each of those rushed, disorganized "TOAs" resulted in an accurate or thorough intel dump. What the Ready First likely inherited in the form of intel, if anything, was the end result of a bad game of telephone. My understanding is that those numerous changes of responsibility and redrawing of sectors was driven from above the BCT, since it occurred during the haphazard handoff from 3ID to 1AD. Too bad. I doubt greater continuity would have made a huge difference, but it couldn't have hurt. A lesson learned?

  7. #87
    Council Member Van's Avatar
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    Default Don't bother with "Army of the Republic"

    "The Army of the Republic", a novel by Stuart Archer Cohen, was a tedious and predictable story set in America of the near future. The author made bold claims about his research with guerrillas, but focused on Latin American guerrillas, and did not offer any insights that couldn't be gleaned from reading Che Guevara's "Guerrilla Warfare" or Alberto Bayo's "150 Questions for a Guerrilla". It was a long-winded leftist diatribe about how corporations are bad and how glamorous it is to be a guerrilla. The only reason I bothered to do the Amazon review of this dud was to stay in a program where I get reviewers' copies of books.

    Note to authors on the council: I will read and review any book (or watch) I am given as a reviewers' copy. Caveat Scriptor - I review it as I see it, not as you would wish me to see it, and boy, was this guy snotty about my honest opinion of his rant.

  8. #88
    Council Member 120mm's Avatar
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    Finally got around to The Five Rings. My intuitive self really liked it, though it's minimalism made reading International Political Islam a lot harder to read.

    (Too many pages...)

  9. #89
    Council Member Bob's World's Avatar
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    Having a fairly long commute, I shake down the USSOCOM library on a regular basis for books on CD. One that I highly recommend is "Children of Jihad." This accounting of the solo travels of Jared Cohen, a young Jewish American, through the most "radical" populaces of the Middle East to meet and talk to local young people provides a perspective that every American should be aware of. His journey takes him to Iran, Lebannon, Syria and Iraq.

    What is often rolled up as "Anti-Americanism" is probably much more accurately described as "Anit-American Foreign Policy." The ideology upon which America was built still speaks to people around the world. The culture of America and the American people remain a fascination and a draw to people everywhere. Our government, at least the foreign manifestation of it, is however, roundly hated.

    Somewhere along the line we strayed from being a world Leader, to being a world Controller. We all know the difference on how we feel about working with a strong leader and working with someone who seeks to exert their leadership through control. The good news is that we really don't need to change who we are to get along with the rest of the world, just how we chose to exercise our leadership.

    Anyway, this was well worth the time.

  10. #90
    Council Member Van's Avatar
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    120mm,
    "The Book of Five Rings", along with Sun Tzu's "Art of War", and Rogers' Rangers Standing Orders (both the 1769 and the 1940s version together) are a great base for an education in military science.

    Note that Rogers was engaged in 'Small Wars' throughout his bloody military career.

  11. #91
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    Just started reading "Foucault and the Iranian Revolution, Gender and the Seduction of Islamism" Finished up with chapter 3 yesterday. If you're a fan of Foucault I wouldn't suggest this book to you, it critically deconstructs all his writings during, and post Iranian revolution. It's a great book if you're looking to understand the cultural and ideological premise that started the Islamic state.

  12. #92
    Council Member CR6's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jayhawker View Post
    Is anyone else reading Brian Linn's The Echo of Battle: the Army War of War?
    I am reading it and finding the "Guardian" "Hero" or "Manager constructs" too simplistic. DePuy as a manager? This is far too narrow a reading of Active Defense IMO. The guy went from LT to LTC in three years in WWII with a DSC, 3 Silver Stars and the Purple Heart to go with it. I think he had a grassroots understanding of what "heroic" leadership and morale in combat were all about.
    "Law cannot limit what physics makes possible." Humanitarian Apsects of Airpower (papers of Frederick L. Anderson, Hoover Institution, Stanford University)

  13. #93
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    Quote Originally Posted by CR6 View Post
    I am reading it and finding the "Guardian" "Hero" or "Manager constructs" too simplistic. DePuy as a manager? This is far too narrow a reading of Active Defense IMO. The guy went from LT to LTC in three years in WWII with a DSC, 3 Silver Stars and the Purple Heart to go with it. I think he had a grassroots understanding of what "heroic" leadership and morale in combat were all about.
    Linn is an outstanding historian when he's dealing with his era (the turn of the century army in the Philippines), but he tends to lose focus somewhat when he goes into other eras. He's written some articles about the Frontier Army, and I found the same limitations in those pieces as I saw in the book. That said, his constructs are useful in a general way for understanding how developments take place in the Army. They're pretty broad brushes, but I think he meant for them to be that way.
    "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

  14. #94
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    Thirty pages into Bing West's The Village now, should have read this a while ago. Prior to that, tore through the first three Flashman books pretty fast, haven't had more fun reading in a long time, if ever. Highly recommended to all.

  15. #95
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    Quote Originally Posted by Van View Post
    120mm,
    "The Book of Five Rings", along with Sun Tzu's "Art of War", and Rogers' Rangers Standing Orders (both the 1769 and the 1940s version together) are a great base for an education in military science.

    Note that Rogers was engaged in 'Small Wars' throughout his bloody military career.
    I thought that would grab your attention, sir.

    If you master the principles of sword-fencing, when you freely beat one man, you beat any man in the world. The spirit of defeating a man is the same for ten million men. The strategist makes small things into big things, like building a great Buddha from a one foot model. I cannot write in detail how this is done. The principle of strategy is having one thing, to know ten thousand things.
    - Miyamoto Musashi
    As in small things, so they are in large things....

  16. #96
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    Recently finished Easterly's "The White Man's Burden: Why the West's Efforts to Aid the Rest Have Done So Much Ill and So Little Good." The emphasis the author places on bottom-up as opposed to top-down (Searchers vs. Planners) approaches to economic development has relevance in COIN operations in my opinion (Company level battlespace owners making things happen in their AO vs. large DIV HQ driven operations).

    I am currently about a quarter of the way into Ryszard Kapuscinski's "The Shadow of the Sun." I enjoyed his "Travels with Herodotus" when I read it over the summer on my vacation. "The Shadow of the Sun" concentrates on Africa whereas the author talked about several different regions of the world in "Travels with Herodotus."

    Prior to Easterly's book, I read "The Centurions" and have "The Praetorians" toward the top of my stack.
    "In times of change learners inherit the earth; while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists." - Eric Hoffer

  17. #97
    Council Member Tom Odom's Avatar
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    I read Robert Baer's The Devil We Know after a friend came in a gave it to me to look at. The review is on the SWJ Blog as of yesterday.

    Reading Scorpion Down by Ed Offley now as a change of pace after my CSM suggested it.

    I read the Bishop of Rwanda as a different perspective on the genocide and aftermath. Still gotta do a review.

    Going hunting the next 9 days! Drew, I sighted the 9.3 in yesterday with Norma 232 grain Vulkans at 2650 FPS. If Bambi stands behind a bush like the OPFOR does to defest MILES, look out!

    Tom

  18. #98
    Council Member 120mm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Odom View Post
    I read Robert Baer's The Devil We Know after a friend came in a gave it to me to look at. The review is on the SWJ Blog as of yesterday.

    Reading Scorpion Down by Ed Offley now as a change of pace after my CSM suggested it.

    I read the Bishop of Rwanda as a different perspective on the genocide and aftermath. Still gotta do a review.

    Going hunting the next 9 days! Drew, I sighted the 9.3 in yesterday with Norma 232 grain Vulkans at 2650 FPS. If Bambi stands behind a bush like the OPFOR does to defest MILES, look out!

    Tom
    All the old German hunters I know like 9.3 x 62 on Reh. Moving slow, it really doesn't mess up that much meat and really does take Bambi from behind that bush....

  19. #99
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    Default Steve Biddle's Military Power

    I'm currently finishing Steve Biddle's "Military Power: Explaining Military and Defeat in Modern Battle" Does anyone remember if this book was discussed on a SWC thread?
    Ionut C. Popescu
    Doctoral Student, Duke University - Political Science Department

  20. #100
    Council Member Mark O'Neill's Avatar
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    Thumbs up Steve Metz's book

    I am enjoying it - and I seem to have flagged every second page (not quite sure what I am going to do with all that flagging though....)

    Well worth a read.

    Cheers

    Mark

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