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Thread: What Are You Currently Reading? 2009

  1. #61
    Council Member MikeF's Avatar
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    Default 3 books I'd recommend....

    If you only read three books ever, here they are....

    Charlie Rose suggested fiction was the best way to tell the truth. He maybe correct.

    I'm reading The Shack: Where Tragedy confronts Eternity by Wm. Paul Young.

    http://www.amazon.com/Shack-William-...0451204&sr=1-1

    On the non-fiction side, I'd suggest two must reads for anyone that desires to be a COIN practisioner.

    1. How to Change the World: Social Entrepreneurs and the Power of New Ideas
    David Bornstein
    http://www.amazon.com/How-Change-Wor.../dp/0195138058

    2. Conceptual Blockbusting: A Guide to Better Ideas
    Dr. James Adams

    http://www.amazon.com/Conceptual-Blo.../dp/0738205370

    For military personnel, tread carefully, they will unnerve you at times. Recon, raids, dismounted/mounted patrolling, and airmobile ops are easy...This stuff is hard.

    v/r

    Mike
    Last edited by MikeF; 04-23-2009 at 01:50 AM.

  2. #62
    Council Member carl's Avatar
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    Here are 5 books that nobody has mentioned. I found them all to be well written, easy to read and I learned things that I never knew and didn't know I didn't know. If I were a history author, these are what I would want to write. They were fascinating.

    The Union Cavalry in the Civil War: From Fort Sumpter to Gettysburg 1861-1863 by Stephen Z. Starr

    The Japanese Merchant Marine in WWII by Mark R. Parillo

    The Skulking Way of War: Technology and Tactics Among the New England Indians by Patrick Malone

    The First Team: Pacific Naval Air Combat from Pearl Harbor to Midway by John B. Lundstrom

    Shattered Sword: The Untold Story of the Battle of Midway by Parshall & Tully

    I'm glad Rob mentioned Defeat Into Victory.
    "We fight, get beat, rise, and fight again." Gen. Nathanael Greene

  3. #63
    Council Member Backwards Observer's Avatar
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    Gotta agree on "Defeat into Victory". An excellent work of writing and a remarkably lucid insight into hardship campaigning from a first-class military mind. There's like a, "you must be (expletive) kidding" event every few pages or so in the first section, "Defeat", described in Slim's inimitably restrained prose. Great recommendation.

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    Default Books

    I read Shattered Sword. Lots of good detailed info.

  5. #65
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Inside the Jihad: re-run

    In early 2007 this insiders account 'Inside the Jihad: My life with Al Qaeda: A Spy's story' by Omar Nasiri (Pub. 2006) appeared on some threads here and somewhere on this thread. Recently I purchased a second-hand edition and read it the other day on a train journey. Superb account on this Moroccan's journey, insights into the training camps and how he was handled / managed by the intelligence agencies - before "resigning".

    The 2006 introduction by the BBC's Security Correspondent, Gordon Corera is excellent and just as relevant today. A summary is on: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/6156180.stm

    Amazon link: http://www.amazon.com/Inside-Jihad-M.../dp/0465023886
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 04-25-2009 at 12:56 PM. Reason: Add links

  6. #66
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    Default In the welter of on-going media spin ...

    about "secret prisons" and "torture", it seems well to keep in mind, some of the characters who appear in the BBC clip:

    Through a series of contacts he found his way to Peshawar where he met Abu Zubaydah, the gatekeeper of the Afghan training camps who would be captured soon after 9/11 and was recently transferred from a secret CIA prison to Guantanamo Bay.

    His first stop was Khalden, one of al-Qaeda's key training camps. Amongst those who attended were Mohammed Atta - the ringleader of the 9-11 attacks - and Richard Reid, the so called "shoe bomber" who tried to detonate explosives on a transatlantic flight.
    ...
    Recruits were also trained how to resist interrogation and provide false information - Nasiri's mentor at the camps, Ibn Sheikh al-Libi, would go on to provide false evidence of links between al-Qaeda and Iraq after he was captured by the US.
    ....
    From Khalden, Nasiri was sent to Darunta, the "graduate" school which focused on training individuals for operations.

    There, recruits learnt how to make explosives and detonators from scratch.

    Nasiri also witnessed chemical weapons experiments - including the use of gases and poisons on rabbits, evidence of an organised WMD programme far earlier than had previously been reported.

    With his training complete, Abu Zubaydah despatched Nasiri back to Europe with instructions to set up a "sleeper" cell and to remain in contact.
    The danger in the current spin cycle is that the overwhelming evidence (obtained prior to and independently of their interrogations) against these characters will be lost sight of.

    Roger Trinquier had a quasi-religious theory that terrorists' souls could be redeemed by torture. What may occur is that these characters will be redeemed as victims - and their guilt for 1000s of murders will become submerged under allegations of assaults done to them.

  7. #67
    Council Member LawVol's Avatar
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    Default The Next 100 Years

    by George Friedman. This is the guy from STRATFOR. I know nothing about him beyond that. The book uses trend lines, current events, and I suppose some gut feeling to predict what the next 100 years might look like. He takes pains to point out that, despite his specifics, he shouldn't be taken literally. He seeks to give us a general idea of what might happen. Although a good bit of it might make one think WTF?, if you take it in the proper context, it does provide much to think about. I'd love to hear anyone else's thoughts on this?

    Before that it was "The Starfish and the Spider" by Ori Brafman. I didn't necessarily agree with the author's view of man (inherently good) in light of his mention of AQ as a starfish, but he got his point across.

    I'm now just beginning "The Second World: How Emerging Powers are Redefining Global Competition in the Twenty-First Century" by Parag Khanna. He views the current world as having 3 superpower (the US, EU and China) and looks at their influence on the 2d world (think Russia, Mexico, Egypt, etc.) and the 2d world's influence on them. I'm not sure about the EU being a superpower, but I'm open to the idea. Although they project a somewhat persuasive influence, I'm not sure if that qualifies. But maybe I'm placing too much emphasis on military might.
    -john bellflower

    Rule of Law in Afghanistan

    "You must, therefore know that there are two means of fighting: one according to the laws, the other with force; the first way is proper to man, the second to beasts; but because the first, in many cases, is not sufficient, it becomes necessary to have recourse to the second." -- Niccolo Machiavelli (from The Prince)

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    The Puritan Origins of American Patriotism

    http://www.amazon.com/Puritan-Origin.../dp/030010099X

    One of the best books I've read in a while

  9. #69
    Council Member MikeF's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by datroy View Post
    The Puritan Origins of American Patriotism

    http://www.amazon.com/Puritan-Origin.../dp/030010099X

    One of the best books I've read in a while
    If you wanna learn a bit more about that, I'd suggest Max Weber's The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism.

    v/r

    Mike

  10. #70
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Here's another

    that sheds light on 'American patriotism' as well: "Albion's Seed: Four British Folkways in America (America: a Cultural History) " (LINK).

    This one, less scholarly but fairly accurate for all that, is from the now senior Senator from Virginia:"Born Fighting; How the Scots-Irish Shaped America " (LINK).

  11. #71
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    Thanks for the lead on the Scotch/Irish - my ancestors were militia engaged against the Brits and the tribes. In those days, young teens were bearing arms. Now days, there would be collective cries of outrage if a 17 yr old was in Iraq or Afghan, sorry for the digression.

  12. #72
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Not a problem, digression I mean...

    As a 15 year old ArNG Cannoneer and 16 year old Marine Tanker, I resembled that. (Do not try this at home. Professional on closed course)

  13. #73
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    Those last two suggestions by datroy and MikeF look like two books that I could tear through in a day. As if I needed another reason to look forward to the end of this tedious semester.

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    PH Cannady
    Correlate Systems

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    ...haven't had much time to read for pleasure lately, but I finally got around to starting Polly Moh's Military Intelligence and the Arab Revolt, which is a very good read thus far. Focused on the WWI Hejaz campaign, it would make a excellent companion read to Yigal Sheffy's British Military Intelligence in the Palestine Campaign, 1914-1918 - an outstanding and highly recommended read which I picked up a few years back.

    For those with an interest in the subject and era, there's also Empires of Intelligence: Security Services and Colonial Disorder After 1914, by Martin Thomas, which is far broader in scope than the two mentioned. It is an excellent read as well, although it starts off slow and pedantic. As an aside, I have to say that the author is a great guy in that he was very helpful in answering a couple of questions I shot him out of the blue about source material.

    Next up, as time permits, is Priya Satia's Spies in Arabia: The Great War and the Cultural Foundations of Britain's Covert Empire in the Middle East. This one did not receive reviews that were as positive as the others, but I figured reading it in following would make for a useful comparison.

    What I'd really like to lay my hands on is the The Middle East Intelligence Handbooks 1943-1946; its a five-volume set and priced way out of my range. And the price seems to keep changing upward, not down. It would be nice to find the collection sitting in an old used book store in an alley somewhere, priced at a more reasonable level.....
    Last edited by Jedburgh; 04-28-2009 at 01:46 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by datroy View Post
    The Puritan Origins of American Patriotism

    http://www.amazon.com/Puritan-Origin.../dp/030010099X

    One of the best books I've read in a while
    Let me change that - one of the best books I've ever read. The last 20 pages alone are worth the price of the book.

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    "Leadership Secrets of Attila the Hun" by Wess Roberts

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    "Zwei Armeen und Ein Vaterland" by Jörg Schönbohm. The author was a general in the Bundeswehr, who was given the mission to dissolve the East German army (NVA) and integrate NVA soldiers and resources into new Bundeswehr units in the wake of the re-unification of Germany. It's a fascinating read so far about a herculean task.
    He cloaked himself in a veil of impenetrable terminology.

  19. #79
    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jedburgh View Post
    ...haven't had much time to read for pleasure lately, but I finally got around to starting Polly Moh's Military Intelligence and the Arab Revolt, which is a very good read thus far. Focused on the WWI Hejaz campaign, it would make a excellent companion read to Yigal Sheffy's British Military Intelligence in the Palestine Campaign, 1914-1918 - an outstanding and highly recommended read which I picked up a few years back.
    As someone brought up to believe that T.E. Lawrence was mostly irrelevant to the outcome of Allenby's Operations, you've got me sold! Seems like an excellent work. Many thanks.
    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

  20. #80
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default The Bottom Billion

    The Bottom Billion: Why the poorest countries are failing and what can be done about it, by Paul Collier (Pub. October 2008, Oxford University Press).

    Normally I avoid books on development and economics, but this short book is crisp and enlightening - it is a bestseller. Particularly about the failures in Africa, of the locals and those faraway. Something for AFRICOM's reading list?

    Got rave reviews and here is just one (UK): This authoritative and strongly reviewed book has become a 'must-read' for those involved in or concerned about aid and development. Written for a wide, general audience, the politics and economics involved are explained in exceptionally clear style. 'Read this book. You will learn much you do not know. It will also change the way you look at the tragedy of persistent poverty in a world of plenty' "Financial Times"

    He has gone onto write another book (not read): 'Wars, Guns and Votes: Democracy in dangerous Places'. Link is to an interview of the author: http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/...ord-university


    davidbfpo

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