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Thread: What Are You Currently Reading? 2009

  1. #41
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default SAS = Sharpe

    The Sharpe Appreciation Society have a website for fans and the less interested: http://www.southessex.co.uk and one of the rifleman actors his own site: http://www.riflemanharris.co.uk/ . Enjoy.

    davidbfpo

  2. #42
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    Default Bing West

    A friend just loaned me The Strongest Tribe and The Village. Definitely look forward to reading them both.
    He cloaked himself in a veil of impenetrable terminology.

  3. #43
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    Ads for "The Unforgiving Minute" keep popping up in the upper right of my screen here at the Council. Has anyone read it? If so, would you say that someone unfamiliar with the military could read/enjoy it?

    I would like to be able to recommend at least one book that would help people understand the military, especially in the context of what is occurring today. The people whom I associate with aren't willfully ignorant, imo. They are just different. Should any of them ever express a desire to read up on something, I'd like to have a recommendation ready.

  4. #44
    Council Member Uboat509's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Schmedlap View Post
    I would like to be able to recommend at least one book that would help people understand the military, especially in the context of what is occurring today. The people whom I associate with aren't willfully ignorant, imo. They are just different. Should any of them ever express a desire to read up on something, I'd like to have a recommendation ready.
    Can't go wrong with We Were Soldiers Once and Young. It's a great window into the military midset.

    SFC W

  5. #45
    Moderator Steve Blair's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Schmedlap View Post
    Ads for "The Unforgiving Minute" keep popping up in the upper right of my screen here at the Council. Has anyone read it? If so, would you say that someone unfamiliar with the military could read/enjoy it?

    I would like to be able to recommend at least one book that would help people understand the military, especially in the context of what is occurring today. The people whom I associate with aren't willfully ignorant, imo. They are just different. Should any of them ever express a desire to read up on something, I'd like to have a recommendation ready.
    There's some decent fiction out there, too, and that's sometimes more accessible to those who don't have a military background and aren't into military history.
    "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

  6. #46
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    I just read the NY Times review for The Unforgiving Minute via the SWJ blog. Judging from what a journalist got from the book, it sounds like what I was looking for. Reading the reviewer's account of the book, I thought to myself, "sounds very similar to the story of every other Infantry Officer I've ever met who was commissioned within 3 years of 9/11." That's exactly what I was looking for. A common story that takes a while to convey - but apparently this guy did a good job of conveying it, if a NY Times columnist was able to understand it. That's the type of target audience I was looking at.

  7. #47
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    Quote Originally Posted by Schmedlap View Post
    Ads for "The Unforgiving Minute" keep popping up in the upper right of my screen here at the Council. Has anyone read it? If so, would you say that someone unfamiliar with the military could read/enjoy it?

    I would like to be able to recommend at least one book that would help people understand the military, especially in the context of what is occurring today. The people whom I associate with aren't willfully ignorant, imo. They are just different. Should any of them ever express a desire to read up on something, I'd like to have a recommendation ready.
    Schmedlap,

    I just finished reading it. Not a bad read and he does have a compelling personal story, although I don't think his experience as a LT is atypical (which isn't meant as a criticism, just categorizing it). The first 1/3rd of the book covers his West Point experience, the second 1/3rd of the book covers his Rhodes/Oxford experience, and the last 1/3rd covers his platoon leader experience and getting out of the Army.

    While the title was probably more of an editor's choice, I felt that it doesn't accurately portray the scope of the book. I went into the book expecting to see more about the "unforgiving minute" and it takes until 4/5ths of the book until you get to it. To be fair, however, it's not a bad juxtaposition to show that despite all the preparation, sometimes events are beyond your control and so you need to be prepared for that harsh reality.

    If you're looking for a book to recommend to those outside the military, I'd offer up "In a Time of War" instead since the "cast" of characters in the book is larger and it really demonstrates the sacrifice of both those who are deployed as well as the spouses/girlfriends/family left back home and the range of emotions that they experience. I think folks would connect more with that than the unique experience of Mullaney (Oxford, traveling the world between terms while at Oxford) prior to actually reporting to a unit.

    On the flip side, the book certainly casts the military in a much more intellectual light than some of the stereotypes out there (between Mullaney's Oxford experience and his mentors at West Point - Nagl, Yingling, Ostlund), so if that's the message you'd like to send in your recommendation, then this book is on target for that.

  8. #48
    Council Member MikeF's Avatar
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    Default Concur

    Quote Originally Posted by Shek View Post
    I just finished reading it. Not a bad read and he does have a compelling personal story, although I don't think his experience as a LT is atypical (which isn't meant as a criticism, just categorizing it). The first 1/3rd of the book covers his West Point experience, the second 1/3rd of the book covers his Rhodes/Oxford experience, and the last 1/3rd covers his platoon leader experience and getting out of the Army.
    I'm about halfway through it now. Mullaney is a classmate of mine with remarkable experiences, wicked smarts, and a good heart, but his book is more of a personal memoir rather than the defining word on warfare as some have alluded.

    He simply did one tour in combat as a platoon leader; I can only imagine what his insight would have been if he had stayed in for combat command, but he choose a different path. I would not be suprised if one day we see Congressman, Senator, or President as a label for him.

    Regardless, the book serves as a great recruiting pitch for USMA and a call for service from the country's best and brightest. In that light, he nailed it.

    v/r

    Mike

  9. #49
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shek View Post
    If you're looking for a book to recommend to those outside the military, I'd offer up "In a Time of War" instead since the "cast" of characters in the book is larger and it really demonstrates the sacrifice of both those who are deployed as well as the spouses/girlfriends/family left back home and the range of emotions that they experience.
    Concur. "In a time of war" wasn't what I thought it was going to be, but I liked it, even though the tone was sad, IMO.

    I have my wife reading it, and aside from when she has questions about jargon or acronyms, she can't put it down, except for the parts that made her cry. Another good one along the same lines is "The long road home". It came out a while back, but is worth the read. It was much more detailed with the combat portion, though.
    Sir, what the hell are we doing?

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  11. #51
    Council Member MikeF's Avatar
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    Default Ugh...Speechless...time to throw up and break things...Ugh

    Quote Originally Posted by Schmedlap View Post
    Dude, she understands irregular and unconventional warfare!!! We should all learn from her covert infiltration, disruption, and deception techniques- quiet forms of anger...Too smart for her own good with no experience under her belt- grievances persists, she cries stupidly. Mike weeps for her woeful bliss.

    Classic.

    v/r

    Mike

  12. #52
    Council Member jkm_101_fso's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Schmedlap View Post
    Thanks, Penn State.

    I guess Matthew's inability to get above a C+ also demonstrates that we are indeed knuckledraggers, in addition to being overly aggressive and confrontational.
    Sir, what the hell are we doing?

  13. #53
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Antidote available

    Take the antidote by another university: http://americanveteranmagazine.blogs...ereotypes.html

    Yes, the first video is troubling, but the link helps to explain and Penn State did apologise.

    davidbfpo

  14. #54
    Moderator Steve Blair's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by davidbfpo View Post
    Take the antidote by another university: http://americanveteranmagazine.blogs...ereotypes.html

    Yes, the first video is troubling, but the link helps to explain and Penn State did apologise.

    davidbfpo
    What I found funny is that the "Anger, intimidation, bad attitude, arrogance, academic ineptitude, poor language skills, inability to adapt, self-righteousness, and so on" line quoted in the AmVets piece as representing veterans who go back to school could be easily and accurately applied to many of the dedicated wanna-be Marxists that I've encountered in classes, as well as a few professors.
    "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

  15. #55
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    Regarding the link provided by davidbfpo, this quote generated a reading on my BS-o-meter. It could be a false reading, but it just sounds weird:
    The SERV program at Cleveland State has demonstrated that student-veterans, like any underserved population on a college campus, will succeed in a system that recognizes and addresses their legitimate transitional issues... Studies show that when student-veterans are given the opportunity to succeed, they will often exceed expectations, and Penn State acknowledged that the university values its relationship with student-veterans on their campuses across Pennsylvania.
    Who knew that we needed some issues addressed? What works well for me is doing the assigned reading before class, showing up on time prepared to discuss it, taking notes during lectures, and doing a little studying after class. Did I overlook some "opportunity to succeed" that I was unknowingly denied? The veterans whom I know, who attend college, share my attitude: this is easy stuff because we have more free time, nobody is shooting at us, we don't have any mindless rules to put up with, and we're only responsible for ourselves.

    That said, while the interaction in the video is unlike anything that I've ever seen from a veteran (but highly common from most of my peers when I was in Business School - one of the primary reasons that I would never want to be a professor), the attitude toward veterans and servicemembers encapsulated in that film is highly accurate and prevalent, from what I've seen.

    I think that the "American Veteran" folks, like other veterans groups, respond to such silliness in the wrong way. It should not meet any kind of public outcry or criticism. It should remain in the public domain, unchallenged, so that everybody can see their true colors. Instances in which enlightened academics and others put their bigotry so clearly on display should not be co-opted in order to engage in the "woe-is-us, we need government money" type of whining. To do so only helps to create a perception that their attitudes are right, but that their presentation is inappropriate. They should be looked at, and given the same amount of time, as some jerk in a restaurant or bar who talks too loud about his views about people of various ethnicity.

  16. #56
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Just finished

    Special Operations and Strategy by James D. Kiras and To Dare To Conquer by Derek Leebaert. Bought both after Wilf recommended them. The former concentrates on WW II through today, the latter purports to cover 'from Achilles to Al Qaeda.'

    Both books essentially make the same two principal points; (1) At the operational and strategic levels, most 'special operations' do not succeed in producing major effects; and (2) many special operations that do achieve success are not performed by special operations forces but rather by 'conventional' units -- or even worse...

    Both also make the valid points that hasty wartime expansion of SOF historically entails lowering standards often creating more problems than are solved and that, regardless of the historical lack of coup de main success, such forces are very important today and should be encouraged to be innovative and flexible (and that, in the west, they are generally not...). Both also make the point that direct action is probably over rated as a tactic and that coordination or operating with conventional forces are problematic.

    Of the two, I believe the Kiras book to be far superior; Professor Leebaert possesses considerable knowledge but he tends to share only part of it; for but one of many examples, he apparently refers to Paddy Mayne but doesn't bother to give him a name. He also has the, to me, disconcerting habit of frequently trying to compare historical events (from Drake's round the world voyage as one instance) to current actions while interjecting political commentary. In short, he teaches International Relations and not strategy, military subjects or history -- and it shows. That specialization does allow him to note the mutual antipathy between SO and conventional forces has been around for centuries.

    Both are good reads but I'd recommend "Special Operations and Strategy" as the better single choice. It's concise, well done and accurate.

  17. #57
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    Finished 'Lone Survivor' last week, 'The Village' before that. Just got my copy of 'Accidental Guerrilla' today (came out two weeks later in Canada). Thought this book would be a big topic of discussion here but haven't seen much, yet. Is there another thread on it somewhere?

  18. #58
    Council Member Van's Avatar
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    DTS, Amazon has some interesting discussion of Accidental Guerrilla hiding in the reviews and comments.

    Right now, I'm enjoying Truppenfuhrung, a translation of the 1933 German troop leading or unit command manual. It's an excellent resource on leadership and a primary source regarding the principles of auftragstaktik.

  19. #59
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    Default Books

    Crucible of War by Anderson. I gained a new perspective on the French and Indian War.
    Wired for War by P.W. Singer. I went to the Patton Museum a couple of weeks ago. I understood the equipment there. This Flash Gordon stuff is interesting.

  20. #60
    Council Member Van's Avatar
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    "Iraq & the Evolution of American Strategy" by some guy from Carlisle Barracks, and Truppenführung, HeeresDienstVorschrift 300 (in translation)

    Putting Iraq in the title of "Iraq & the Evolution of American Strategy" is good marketing, but almost deceptive. It's an excellent discussion of the bizarre nature of national strategy in a democratic state. It shares one failing of most discussions of U.S. foreign policy; the complete absence of any effort to identify U.S. national interests. How can one rationally discuss threats without consideration of what is threatened? Of course, any effort to get Americans to clearly and concisely state U.S. national interests either causes protracted stammering and sputtering, or starts a brawl.

    I could make the case that you don't understand U.S. Army doctrine until you understand Truppenführung. That might be an overstatement, but reading this, it is clear that the U.S. Army is a great German achievement.

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