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Thread: What Are You Currently Reading? 2009

  1. #1
    Council Member Van's Avatar
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    Default What Are You Currently Reading? 2009

    Air Power Against Terror was well worth the effort. Two thirds of it is a robust, well sourced history of the first seven (roughly) months of the GWOT, from 9/11 through Operation Anaconda, and the last third of it is a pretty solid critique of the use of air power during this period. The history part gets a little dry and long winded, but the analysis makes it worth it.

    It's important to hear the rest of the story about Operation Anaconda, but it is an emotionally loaded subject, so I don't want to derail the "Currently Reading" thread.

    What concerns me is that this book is ripe to be cherry-picked by Douhet/Mitchell worshippers. But this should be motivation for ground forces guys to read it, so they can equally cherry-pick the problems and failures section.

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    Council Member Van's Avatar
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    Default Next up

    David Kilcullen's Accidental Guerrilla. I should be receiving a reviewers' copy in a few days, and am really looking forward to it.

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    Thesis: Political Institutions and Military Change: Lessons from Peripheral Wars by Deborah Avant

    Work: Legitimacy Among Nations by Thomas Franck (again)

    Pleasure: in between books at the moment, but i always have an open atlas on the desk

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    "Foucault and the Iranian Revolution: Gender and the Seduction of Islamism"

    Started reading it awhile back, put it down, and now picking it back up again.

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    Research:

    Steel Chariots in the Desert - SC Rolls
    Armoured Cars in Eden - Kermit Roosevelt

    Pair of WWI armored car memoirs, from Lawrence's driver and TR's son. Both very good, similar books, both spend a little more time on local flora and fauna than on combat against the Turks.

    Personal:

    Frontsoldaten - Stephen G. Fritz

    Not bad, but kind of wish I'd just read Guy Sajer instead, given how much he gets quoted by the author.

    The New American Militarism - Andrew Bacevich

    Excellent book, found myself agreeing with him a lot more often than not. Should be required reading for all soldiers, civil servants and (especially) politicians.

    Flashman at the Charge - George MacDonald Fraser

    Maybe the best one in the series so far. Great stuff.

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    Council Member 120mm's Avatar
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    Orson Scott Card's

    Ender's Game

    Speaker For the Dead

    Xenocide

    Original trilogy. There is a critical lesson(s) in each book, imo.

    Ender's Game is primarily about leadership

    Speaker For the Dead is primarily about cultures and cultural differences and how they affect relationships

    Xenocide is primarily about ethics. It's built around a set of "wicked problems".

    All three should be military and academic required reading.

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    Council Member Van's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Granite_State View Post
    Frontsoldaten - Stephen G. Fritz

    Not bad, but kind of wish I'd just read Guy Sajer instead, given how much he gets quoted by the author.
    The Forgotten Soldier is powerful and incredibly depressing.
    It should be required reading for military policy makers and political leaders, to keep them mindful of wh is on the far end of their decision process.

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    Council Member Van's Avatar
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    Default Douhet?

    David Kilcullen's The Accidental Guerrilla was excellent. It really make the case for counter insurgency as the graduate level of warfare.

    Having mentioned Douhet and Mitchell in reference to Air Power Against Terror, it crossed my mind that I have heard Douhet cited and on rare occasion quoted, but I never read his works. That's on my desk now. He was quite the visionary. but very easy to quote out of context.

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    Council Member sandbag's Avatar
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    I cannot agree more. It's a good mix of daily conditions, TTPs and a testament to the soldier's exposure to chickensh*t in multiple forms. It reads like a diary. Good stuff.


    Quote Originally Posted by Van View Post
    The Forgotten Soldier is powerful and incredibly depressing.
    It should be required reading for military policy makers and political leaders, to keep them mindful of wh is on the far end of their decision process.

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    Council Member Van's Avatar
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    Default "Terror Terror Terror"

    ... isn't long but might be worth reading if you get a free copy. Meh.

    "Terror Terror Terror" was a collaborative project that had some good input, but the premise was flawed. Still, it might be OK for a long plane ride.

    Now I'll get back to William Mitchell's Winged Defense, a comedy.
    Last edited by Van; 01-29-2009 at 02:12 AM.

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    For a great look into the Soviet experience in Afghanistan, read The Hidden War. I can't remember the author's name, but he was a Russian journalist who offered a very fair and impartial perspective of the fight...it's a quick and easy read that you won't want to put down...

    I"m surprised it isn't on more Afghan reading lists.
    Last edited by Jedburgh; 01-29-2009 at 06:11 AM. Reason: Added link.

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    Default Hidden War

    Artyom Borovik. It is sitting on the bookshelf next to my desk. Agree that it is a good book, and makes you feel for the Soviet Soldier, even though they were the "bad guys."

    Quote Originally Posted by tulanealum View Post
    For a great look into the Soviet experience in Afghanistan, read The Hidden War. I can't remember the author's name, but he was a Russian journalist who offered a very fair and impartial perspective of the fight...it's a quick and easy read that you won't want to put down...

    I"m surprised it isn't on more Afghan reading lists.
    "What do you think this is, some kind of encounter group?"
    - Harry Callahan, The Enforcer.

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    Has anyone read Pete Blaber's "The Mission, the Men, and Me"? Just saw the Amazon feed on it and got interested.
    "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

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    Default Ugly American

    "The Ugly American" by Lederer and Burdick arrived last night, I read it until I fell asleep, and finished it today after class. What a great, but frustrating book. It tells "made up" stories of diplomats, aid workers, military officers, and other Americans in a "made up" South East Asian country near Thailand, Burma, and Vietnam in the early 1950s. It demonstrates Americans that get it, and those that do not, and hurt US and local interests through their actions or inactions. The fight then was communism, but it is sad to think that a lot of these mistakes still go on in our current conflicts. I found it listed on a MiTT recommended reading list, but I would recommend it to any military, governmental, or civilian planning to work or travel abroad, especially if they will be building relationships or working with local nationals. Great book.
    "What do you think this is, some kind of encounter group?"
    - Harry Callahan, The Enforcer.

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    Found Cobra II in P/B at a discount book store so spent the last couple of weeks of my leave chewing through it.

    Just got through the The Battle at Ngok Tavak by Bruce Davies. Intersting story but on the readibility scale its pretty low ... could have really used some great editing.

    Just opened My Commando Memoirs by Otto Skorzeny ... it's been sitting on my shelf for a while but hadn't got around to it. Still stuck in the merits of 'Dueling'!!!

    Jas

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    Default Fusiliers: How the British Army lost America but learned to fight

    Finished Mark Urban's paperback edition of 'Fusiliers: How the British Army lost America but learned to fight'. An excellent short account mixing the regimental - a line infantry unit - and the wider war. First published in hardback in 2007.

    I have read little on the American War of Independence; the last was Rebels and Redcoast by Hugh Bicheno, which was not so convincing a history..
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 02-07-2009 at 09:46 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by davidbfpo View Post
    Finished Mark Urban's paperback edition of 'Fusiliers: How the British Army lost America but learned to fight'. An excellent short account mixing the regimental - a line infantry unit - and the wider war. First published in hardback in 2007.
    I have to say Mark Urban's military history is a touch variable in my eyes. He tried to tell the BBC history Magazine that JFC Fuller invented the "Blitzkrieg," which somewhat challenges his credentials in this area. His book "Big Boy's Rules," was not a great work either. Nice chap though. I used to run into him a lot at the RUSI.
    Infinity Journal "I don't care if this works in practice. I want to see it work in theory!"

    - The job of the British Army out here is to kill or capture Communist Terrorists in Malaya.
    - If we can double the ratio of kills per contact, we will soon put an end to the shooting in Malaya.
    Sir Gerald Templer, foreword to the "Conduct of Anti-Terrorist Operations in Malaya," 1958 Edition

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    Reading Dexter Filkins' "The Forever War". Good read so far, mostly a bunch of anecdotes from his travels in Iraq and Afghanistan. Paints a good picture of the area, issues, and people for those who haven't been there. It's not really a coherent history as such but episodic bits from his interactions in both theaters that characterize the conflict and the population involved over time.

    Recommended so far. Lots of penetrating quotes from locals. His intro about 2001 Afghanistan, and the shifting tribal loyalties among the somewhat chivalric (in its own way) "war" culture was fascinating to me as someone who hasn't visited Afghanistan.
    "A Sherman can give you a very nice... edge."- Oddball, Kelly's Heroes
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    Quote Originally Posted by tulanealum View Post
    For a great look into the Soviet experience in Afghanistan, read The Hidden War. I can't remember the author's name, but he was a Russian journalist who offered a very fair and impartial perspective of the fight...
    I just read a very favorable review in Proceedings of The Great Gamble: The Soviet War in Afghanistan.

    Quote Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post
    I have to say Mark Urban's military history is a touch variable in my eyes... His book "Big Boy's Rules," was not a great work either.
    Just to eliminate any confusion for the board, there are two recent books with similar titles. As William points out, there is Big Boys' Rules by Urban and there is also the recently released Big Boy Rules by Fainaru. I only mention this because I thought William was confused when I saw him associate Urban with that title, but then I did some googling and saw that he is correct and there are two similarly named titles.

    This came to mind because I read a favorable review of Big Boy Rules (by Fainaru) on the same page as the review of The Great Gamble.

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    Got my copy of Tom Ricks' The Gamble from Amazon today. Read halfway through so far, it's a fascinating read. Covers a lot of ground SWC members are probably familiar with, but Tom can write. Like Bing West's Strongest Tribe, the military senior leadership (read JCS) comes off very, very poorly, along with the usual Bush administration targets (Rumsfeld, Rice, Cheney). His "rehabilitation" of General Odierno is also an interesting read after his drubbing in Fiasco .

    Several SWC regulars are mentioned in the narrative - you will recognize many of the stories. I recommend the read thus far.
    "A Sherman can give you a very nice... edge."- Oddball, Kelly's Heroes
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