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Thread: What Are You Currently Reading? 2009

  1. #21
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    Default couple

    Finished a few the last couple weeks.

    "Once a Warrior King" by David Donovan. A LT leads a 5 man adviser team in Vietnam, living with a Vietnamese village, and working with the local militia forces. Great story, and well written. Lots of lessons about the war, small unit tactics, COIN, etc... Was recommended for those going on MiTTs.


    "Watchmen" by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons. A graphic novel aka long comic book, and coming to theatres this week. Famous for its serious and different take on superheroes, their identities, and their motivations. I was really surprised how much I enjoyed it. Not a light or easy read, but really draws you in. Hope the movie lives up to it.


    "Street Without Joy" by Bernard Fall. Another wow book. Sad history of French experience in Indochina, and how they failed to adapt to reality of the people, politics, geography, enemy, or revolutionary warfare. The later chapter when America enters the picture is equally sad and frustrating, as it predicts a poor ending, which proved true. One paragraph stuck out to me with the recent announcements on Iraq and the future Advisory and Assistance Brigades:

    "... Feb 9, 1962, marked the opening date of America's involvement in the new Indochina war. Although the war "adviser" is carefully added to the name of every American operating in the country, it soon acquired the quotation marks usually reserved for assertions no one takes quite seriously any longer. Since 1961 Americans die in Viet-Nam, and in American uniforms. And they die fighting." (Fall, page 346).
    "What do you think this is, some kind of encounter group?"
    - Harry Callahan, The Enforcer.

  2. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by patmc View Post
    Finished a few the last couple weeks.

    "Once a Warrior King" by David Donovan. A LT leads a 5 man adviser team in Vietnam, living with a Vietnamese village, and working with the local militia forces. Great story, and well written. Lots of lessons about the war, small unit tactics, COIN, etc... Was recommended for those going on MiTTs.
    How'd it compare to The Village?

  3. #23
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    Default very similar

    I would say that "Once a Warrior King" is a good follow-up read to "The Village." Both tell similar story and mission, but "Once a Warrior King" was written years after the war, combining characters and events to make it a more fluid story. Its also told in first person, as a narrative, while "The Village" reads more like a history or report (if memory serves me). West's is probably a little more tactical in approach, but overall, can't really pick which is better. Both are good. Recommend both.
    "What do you think this is, some kind of encounter group?"
    - Harry Callahan, The Enforcer.

  4. #24
    Council Member Van's Avatar
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    Default Just finished Roberto Gonzalez' "American Counterinsurgency"

    Don't bother. What a dud.

    The constant comparison between HTS and Phoenix got old after forty or fifty repetative pages, and it hit Godwin on page 100.

    But if you want my copy and don't mind the marginalia, drop me a PM, and I'll pay the postage to get it out of my house. For a more detailed review click here.

    I'm digging back into "Stupid Wars" for catharsis.

  5. #25
    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Default CvC

    Hugh Smith's work on Clausewitz is excellent. About the best analysis of CvC I have ever read, and I think I've read most.

    What becomes evident from this work is that 99% of CvC's critics, simply never read or understood him. Moreover it is not blindingly praising of CvC. Smith does take CvC to task on a couple of issues, especially use of language, and contradictions. Not required reading if you are about to deploy, but probably extremely useful if you are into "Military thought" and this thing we do.
    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

  6. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cavguy View Post
    Got my copy of Tom Ricks' The Gamble from Amazon today. Read halfway through so far, it's a fascinating read.
    I recommend the read thus far.
    Just finished it on the plane home. Made me wonder whether we could have done more back in 04. I vividly remember a conversation with my boss shortly before AL FAJR as we ducked outside for a smoke and he posed the big "what can we do better" question. Being an Aussie it was pretty easy to be flippant when dealing with the big US machine but after a couple of Marlborough's (although he smoked a pipe which was kinda weird) we'd come to the conclusion that greatest single asset the US had in the Iraq fight was money ... we were spending heaps but it was all just horribly directed. Based on that (and several other conversations) he actually fired up the line a proposal to just buy our way to success by paying every swinging dick to get them employed and give them something to do ... sort of where the SOI plan got to. Coming so close to the nightmare that Fallujah had turned into following the 'hands off secure yourselves' approach it never got past his boss.

    The Gamble is also a really interesting discussion for the ethics classes I'm currently embroiled in at Staff College. At what point can I as an officer just disregard an order, particularly after already injecting an opposing POV and being told to get on with it? It appears, based on the book that it is exactly the decision Odierno took with regard to the security presence. If itís correct, the title of the book maybe the largest understatement in the whole publication.

  7. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by patmc View Post

    "Once a Warrior King" by David Donovan. A LT leads a 5 man adviser team in Vietnam, living with a Vietnamese village, and working with the local militia forces. Great story, and well written. Lots of lessons about the war, small unit tactics, COIN, etc... Was recommended for those going on MiTTs.
    There's a really good Aussie title like this ... Tiger Men by Barry Petersen. Tells' the story of a member of the Australian Army Training Team -- Vietnam holed up in the hills with a Montgnard tribe. If you can find it I think it is a much more informative read than Donovan's (which curiously sits right beside it on my bookshelf).

  8. #28
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    Also just finished Lions of Medina about Charlie Coy 1/1 Marines in 1967. Speechless at the stupidity of it all. Amazed at the tenacity and bravery of a small group of blokes.

  9. #29
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    Default North West Frontier guide

    'Lessons in Imperial Rule: Instructions for British Infantrymen on the Indian Frontier' by General Sir Andrew Skeen (Re-published in 2008 by Frontline Books, part of Pen and Sword Books; originally published in 1932 and the fouth edition in 1939).

    The new introduction by Dr Robert Johnson, Oxford University sets the context and the contemporary relevance.

    davidbfpo

  10. #30
    Council Member Mark O'Neill's Avatar
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    Default Did the Amazon 'three for one discounted price ' trifecta

    Ricks' book, not a bad read, but as Niel has previously pointed out, not a whole lot new. I think Linda R's book will stand the test of time a little better.

    I am just over half way through Mullaney's book... excellent book , strikes me as a really impressive young man. Little wonder that Nagl and Yingling were willing to mentor him.

    Killer's book... nice cover (very well done with the publisher too) exhaustive and comprehensive in scope, but I am finding quite a few areas where I agree with Bacevich . And, I am over / a little tired of the faux Hemingway style ".. I smoked a cigar..." , " A few moleskines later...' etc etc

    My best COIN book in the last year remains Marston and Malkasian's edited work.

    Cheers

    Mark

  11. #31
    Council Member Tom Odom's Avatar
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    Appropriately I am reading Pete Mansoor's Baghdad at Sunrise . I am enjoying the book; I had the oppostunity to meet him a couple of years ago while he had the COIN center at Leavenworth.

    Best
    Tom

  12. #32
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    Default Good one.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Odom View Post
    Appropriately I am reading Pete Mansoor's Baghdad at Sunrise . I am enjoying the book; I had the oppostunity to meet him a couple of years ago while he had the COIN center at Leavenworth.

    Best
    Tom

    Mansoor's book resonated with me having been to those areas (quite a bit later than what he writes about). I also do not think that his personal story about command in the 'current' battle has been bettered in any other monograph yet.

    Tom, I guess that you know better than most of us what is going down there now. Might have been there with you next month if things with MNC and my mob had panned out differently.,,

    Best,

    Mark

  13. #33
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    Knocked off Kill Bin Laden over the past couple of nights. Apart from using the world's greatest porn star name for PERSEC reasons (Dalton Fury), it's everything you would expect of a book of this type. Nothing earth-shattering (I think we all expected some level of complicity by various warlords and others in supporting the escape of the tall, bearded one) but provides another account in the mix of books/articles to come out about this period. I was surprised at the amount of detail in the book about SIGINT though ... ????????

  14. #34
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    Just finished Daniel Ford's grittily entertaining and uncannily prescient, "Incident At Muc Wa". Next up is...
    Attached Images Attached Images

  15. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by Backwards Observer View Post
    Just finished Daniel Ford's grittily entertaining and uncannily prescient, "Incident At Muc Wa". Next up is...
    Donlon is often a guest speaker here in Leavenworth, he's retired in the area. Interesting guy.
    "A Sherman can give you a very nice... edge."- Oddball, Kelly's Heroes
    Who is Cavguy?

  16. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cavguy View Post
    Donlon is often a guest speaker here in Leavenworth, he's retired in the area. Interesting guy.
    Sir, thanks for mentioning that. Glad to hear it.

  17. #37
    Council Member Tom Odom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cavguy View Post
    Donlon is often a guest speaker here in Leavenworth, he's retired in the area. Interesting guy.
    As a kid, I remember reading the Reader's Digest Condensed Book that had his story in it.

    and speaking of reading, a friend here got a basic load of Iraq books and I have been reading them as a favor

    Finished Pete Mansoor's Baghdad at Sunrise

    Tom Rick's The Gamble

    Linda Robinson's Tell Me How this Ends

    and now am nearly through Bing West's The Strongest Tribe

    All have their strengths and their weaknesses, depending on the launch point of the author.

    Best
    Tom

  18. #38
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    Tom, are you going to do any reiews of the books you have read? You know since you have gone to all that trouble to read them

  19. #39
    Council Member Tom Odom's Avatar
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    Default Sharpe's Rifles Extravaganza

    Quote Originally Posted by slapout9 View Post
    Tom, are you going to do any reviews of the books you have read? You know since you have gone to all that trouble to read them
    Buddy,

    Given that some of the most important figures in those books are in my immediate world, I will have to pass for now, other than saying each author has a somewhat unique perspective and agenda. I did find that reading the books offered a failrly concentrated swig from the proverbial firehouse regarding players across the board. I found insights and connections on the Iraqi side to be very helpful to me in my day to day existence.

    That said, I am now eagerly waiting for the first 16 of the Richard Sharpe Advneture series of historical novels by Bernard Cromwell on the Peninsular Wars, which will allow me to remote my entertainment from my current reality. I love the Sharpes Rifles series with Sean Bean and look forward to a sustained good read.

    Best
    Tom

  20. #40
    Council Member slapout9's Avatar
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    I understand Tom Ditto On the Sharp's TV shows, have not read any of the books...would like to see the series again.

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