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Thread: What Are You Currently Reading? 2009

  1. #81
    Council Member Backwards Observer's Avatar
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    Two outstanding memoirs from enviably erudite and grounded foreign-service wallahs:

    Ninety-Day Wonder: Flight To Geurrilla War by John Ryder Horton

    http://www.amazon.com/Ninety-Day-Won...1157275&sr=1-1

    Tiger In The Barbed Wire: An American In Vietnam 1952-1991 by Howard R. Simpson

    http://www.amazon.com/Tiger-Barbed-W...1157183&sr=1-2

    Also, Richard McKenna's justly popular, The Sand Pebbles, is perhaps one of the great works of American Fiction. The film is pretty (expletive) good, too..."Holman, come down!"

    http://www.amazon.com/Sand-Pebbles-B...1158273&sr=1-1

    The Mad Magazine take, "The Sam Pebbles", from 1968...

    http://www.thesandpebbles.com/mad_ma...andpebbles.htm

  2. #82
    Council Member Van's Avatar
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    Default A RAND study...

    "Analytic Support to Intelligence in Counterinsurgencies" by Walter L. Perry which is turning out to be a fresh volume of buzzword bingo. [sarcasm] Renaming the classic guerrilla phase I, II, and III; proto-insurgency, small scale insurgency, and large scale insurgency does so much to improve our understanding of insurgency and how to deal with it...[/sarcasm] Some of the quantitative stuff might interest software designers, but will only annoy soldiers.

    And getting ready to pick up "Anthropological Intelligence" by David Price. Its introduction looks like a pathological pacificist's apologia, but there might be some meat as it goes along.
    Last edited by Van; 05-03-2009 at 07:37 PM. Reason: misuse of it's and its

  3. #83
    Council Member Spud's Avatar
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    Default Had a quick search but didn't see it

    Loretta Napoleoni's Insurgent Iraq: Al Zarqawi and the New Generation. Was written before the JDAM slammed into him but is still quite a good read. She seems to objectively cover off on the myths and legends created for and by this bloke over time.

  4. #84
    Council Member AmericanPride's Avatar
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    I'm wrapping up Tanner's the Military History of Afghanistan -- interesting series of events in Afghan history, but I had expected more analysis of what drove those events.

    I'll be moving on to Modern Afghanistan: A History of Struggle and Survival next.
    When I am weaker than you, I ask you for freedom because that is according to your principles; when I am stronger than you, I take away your freedom because that is according to my principles. - Louis Veuillot

  5. #85
    Council Member ODB's Avatar
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    Horse Soldiers by Doug Stanton
    ODB

    Exchange with an Iraqi soldier during FID:

    Why did you not clear your corner?

    Because we are on a base and it is secure.

  6. #86
    Council Member CPT Foley's Avatar
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    Default Where's The Fiction?

    I mentioned it recently in another post, but I'll raise it again. I'm worried about our (U.S. Military) lack of appreciation for literature/fiction/poetry as valuable tool to enhance cultural awareness in the GWOT.

    Tom Friedman & Judith Milller & Robert D. Kaplan are great journalists, I'd recommend them too. But I think they would be the first to admit that they don't know the cultural nuances of the Arab world that Alaa Al Aswany or Naguib Mahfouz convey in their fiction.

    If you wanted to truly understand mentality of a 19th Century Russian, what really made them tick, would you read history, or would you read Turgenev, Dostoevsky, Gogol? You would read both! And we don't. I realize there is a major dearth of Arab literature, but get your hands on what you can, if you are serious about understanding the Arab world.

  7. #87
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    In response to the fiction request, which is really valid, I was waiting at the PX for a haircut and came across a random novel on the rack. "The Underdogs" by Mariano Azuela. Apparently it is "the greatest novel of the Mexican Revolution" about a Mexican Indian that fights with rebels and becomes a general under Pancho Villa. I started reading it while waiting for a barber, and its pretty good so far. Not a long read.

    Also reading: "The Idea of Pakistan" by Stephen Cohen. Really interesting history and analysis of Pakistan, with a focus on the idea vs the actual state of Pakistan, and the inherent problems that arise from the difference. I have Weaver's "Pakistan: In the Shadow of Jihad and Afghanistan" and Ahmed Rashid's "Descent into Chaos" on the shelf to follow it (When I get some quality reading time."

    "Utility of Force" by Rupert Smith. Excellent book, but I'm reading it a little bit as a time as there are a ton of ideas to absorb and think about. Very worth the time!
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  8. #88
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    Currently reading Rites of Peace: The Fall of Napoleon and the Congress of Vienna

  9. #89
    Council Member reed11b's Avatar
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    Just finished reading three books on PMC's in Iraq. None were very good, though "Big Boy Rules" was the best of the three. Anyone know of better books that don't either make contractors out to be superheroes "these brave men and women of Blackwater can leap over tall buildings and kill terrorists with laser beams from there eyes!" or supervillains, "these neofascits of Blackwater kill small children and innocent Iraqis to help Bush's cronies make more money"
    Reed
    Quote Originally Posted by sapperfitz82 View Post
    This truly is the bike helmet generation.

  10. #90
    Council Member carl's Avatar
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    The Treasure of the Sierra Madre by B. Traven.

    One of the most memorable novels I've read. Far better than the movie. There is a passage describing a small Mexican Army unit attacking a hacienda. Very impressive if at all true. After reading that, I never much worried about the Mexican Army's ability to handle things inside Mexico.
    "We fight, get beat, rise, and fight again." Gen. Nathanael Greene

  11. #91
    Council Member CPT Foley's Avatar
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    Thanks for the tip. I'll definitely check out "The Underdogs."

  12. #92
    Council Member carl's Avatar
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    you can download The Underdogs for free at Project Gutenburg.
    Last edited by Jedburgh; 05-17-2009 at 05:12 AM. Reason: Added link.
    "We fight, get beat, rise, and fight again." Gen. Nathanael Greene

  13. #93
    Council Member Van's Avatar
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    Default "Anthropological Intelligence" by David Price

    Just finished Anthropolological Intelligence by David Price. An encyclopaedic study of the use and abuse of social science in WW II. All his agonizing over the role of anthropologists serving their country in harms' way didn't impress me much, but the discussion of anthropologists in Germany and working at the internment camps in the U.S. was interesting and disturbing.

    This one gives a lot of context for the extreme guilt issues of the outspoken anti-military anthropologists that get mentioned in SWC.

  14. #94
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    Quote Originally Posted by reed11b View Post
    Just finished reading three books on PMC's in Iraq. None were very good, though "Big Boy Rules" was the best of the three. Anyone know of better books that don't either make contractors out to be superheroes "these brave men and women of Blackwater can leap over tall buildings and kill terrorists with laser beams from there eyes!" or supervillains, "these neofascits of Blackwater kill small children and innocent Iraqis to help Bush's cronies make more money"
    Reed
    I thought Robert Young Pelton's "Licensed to Kill" was pretty good. He talked about the many negatives of using PMCs, spent some time on the Sandline adventures in Africa and Papua New Guinea, but also didn't demonize the men out there with the guns. A friend of mine worked for a smaller British PMC in Iraq, and the book was pretty in line with what he told me.

  15. #95
    Council Member reed11b's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Granite_State View Post
    I thought Robert Young Pelton's "Licensed to Kill" was pretty good. He talked about the many negatives of using PMCs, spent some time on the Sandline adventures in Africa and Papua New Guinea, but also didn't demonize the men out there with the guns. A friend of mine worked for a smaller British PMC in Iraq, and the book was pretty in line with what he told me.
    Thank you.
    I keep hearing good things about the book, but I have not found it yet. I'll keep looking.
    Reed
    Quote Originally Posted by sapperfitz82 View Post
    This truly is the bike helmet generation.

  16. #96
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Recent reading

    'The Circuit' by Bob Shepherd, pub. 2008, is an excellent description of the international commercial security industry, better known as PMC; the author is an ex-SAS NCO's account starting before 9/11 and good chapters on Afghanistan. Ends with a call for greater regulation and ending contracts that should belong to the state. I suspect only in hardback, maybe wait till in paperback. See: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Circuit-Sold.../dp/0330455737

    'Churchill's Wizards: the British genius for deception 1914-1945' by Nicholas Rankin, pub. 2008; a broadbrush approach and a very useful list of sources to exploit. having read much on this topic I was slightly disappointed, but as a starter a good choice. See: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Churchills-W.../dp/0571221955

    davidbfpo
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 05-23-2009 at 01:05 PM. Reason: Add links

  17. #97
    Council Member Brandon Friedman's Avatar
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    I'm reading Steven Pressfield's The Afghan Campaign, about Alexander's battles with the Afghan tribes 2,300 years ago. Just now getting into it and I hope it's as good as Gates of Fire.

  18. #98
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    The Village War by William R. Andrews.....Mike F cited this VN book in his April '08 SWJ contribution on how AQIZ became entrenched in Zaganiyah...Took a while to acquire and read it.....

    An old work (1973), and heavy among the sources cited are the oft-quoted Rand interviews. But Andrews chronicles the methodology of insurgent takeover of a Deltaic community, and offers a still timely reminder of the devastating impact of armed propaganda....In these case studies, the initial surfacing of selected clandestine cadre was an armed propaganda event conducted by a visiting armed propaganda team: denunciations by plants amongst the assembled villagers and orchestrated trial, then public evisceration and beheading of a selected, hapless village elder, his wife and children. Not surprisingly, obedience ensued.

  19. #99
    i pwnd ur ooda loop selil's Avatar
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    Default I got this book of fiction yesterday

    A good read. I figure the author (William F. Owen) must be full of himself (poke poke poke poke), but I must say I wish he had gone ahead and written more fiction. I gave the book to my dad to read and he was in much of that territory (61-63). No real idea what he did there but his commentary will be interesting. Mr. Owen should have written more fiction he has a talent for it.
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    Lone Survivor: The Eyewitness Account of Operation Redwing and the Lost Heroes of Seal Team 10

    There's nothing like a good tactical story for those of us who are too shallow for strategic thought.
    "Pick up a rifle and you change instantly from a subject to a citizen." - Jeff Cooper

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