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Thread: What Are You Currently Reading? 2010

  1. #81
    Council Member Van's Avatar
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    Well, yes.

    Thucydides didn't complete the history of the Peloponnesian war, and the conclusion is usual based on Xenophon (who is easily one of the greatest writers of all time). Kagan integrated the two, added in a couple more primary and ancient secondary sources, deconflicted a bunch of stuff, and put it into clear prose.

    Thucydides is good, and stands alone pretty well, but Kagan gives you a more readable and complete picture.

  2. #82
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    Default Marlborough

    I’m in the first part of Churchill’s biography of the Duke of Marlborough, Marlborough, written in 1933. I was taken by this passage (especially as it was written pre-WWII):

    “It is customary to say that he [Marlborough] learned the art of war from Turenne. This is going too far. No competent officer of that age could watch the composed genius of Turenne in action without being enriched thereby. But no battle ever repeats itself. The success of a commander does not arise from following rules or models. It consists in an absolutely new comprehension of the dominant facts of the situation at the time, and all the forces at work. Cooks use recipes for dishes and doctors have prescriptions for diseases, but every great operation of war is unique. The kind of intelligence capable of grasping in its complete integrity what is actually happening in the field is not taught by the tactics of commanders on one side or the other—though these may train the mind—but by a profound appreciation of the actual event. There is no surer road to ill-success in war than to imitate the plans of bygone heroes and to fit them to novel situations.”
    Phil Ridderhof USMC

  3. #83
    Council Member zenpundit's Avatar
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    Default Now reading....


  4. #84
    Council Member Backwards Observer's Avatar
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    Just started - Enter The Dragon - China's Undeclared War Against The U.S. In Korea 1950-51 (1988) by Russell Spurr. Looks interesting.

    The 1980 campaign to rehabilitate the much-beloved General Peng Dehuai, the most prominent military victim of the Cultural Revolution (and a major figure in this narrative), undoubtedly helped my researches. So too did emerging new Chinese perceptions about the background of the Korean War. "We are taking an entirely new look at the origins of that war," one Chinese friend told me recently. Another acidly observed that "China was conned into a costly struggle for which it got little thanks." Such views have not yet surfaced officially - not while North Korea's durable dictator, Kim Il Sung, continues to play off Peking against Moscow - but this underlying disillusionment, or perhaps a new-found urge to put the Chinese viewpoint forward proved helpful. (pp. xix-xx)

    Russell Spurr was based in Hong Kong for more than 20 years as the China and Far East correspondent for the London Daily Express and ABC Radio Network, and the chief correspondent and deputy editor of the Far Eastern Economic Review. He was one of the first Western correspondents to report from Beijing after the establishment in 1949 of the People's Republic of China.

    During World War II Spurr was in the Royal Indian Navy, and served in motor gunboats through most of the Burma campaign. After the Japanese surrender, he was assigned to Kure, Japan, where he first viewed the vacant dock built for the Yamato and began to pursue the story of its demise, told in his first book A Glorious Way to Die. He is also the author of the highly acclaimed Enter the Dragon. (from Newmarket Press Author bio)
    http://www.newmarketpress.com/author.asp?id=335

    Amazon Link - http://www.amazon.com/Enter-Dragon-U.../dp/1557042497

    Google Books - http://books.google.com.au/books?id=...page&q&f=false

  5. #85
    Council Member USMC-03's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Van View Post
    Donald Kagan's Peloponessian War.
    I read that one several years ago; very good book.

    I just finished Agincourt by Bernard Cornwell. Right now I'm working on Caesar by Theodore Dodge along with The Commentaries, The Road to Serfdom by Fredrick Hayek and rereading Lincoln on Leadership by Donald Phillips.

  6. #86
    Council Member Bob's World's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PhilR View Post
    I’m in the first part of Churchill’s biography of the Duke of Marlborough, Marlborough, written in 1933. I was taken by this passage (especially as it was written pre-WWII):

    “It is customary to say that he [Marlborough] learned the art of war from Turenne. This is going too far. No competent officer of that age could watch the composed genius of Turenne in action without being enriched thereby. But no battle ever repeats itself. The success of a commander does not arise from following rules or models. It consists in an absolutely new comprehension of the dominant facts of the situation at the time, and all the forces at work. Cooks use recipes for dishes and doctors have prescriptions for diseases, but every great operation of war is unique. The kind of intelligence capable of grasping in its complete integrity what is actually happening in the field is not taught by the tactics of commanders on one side or the other—though these may train the mind—but by a profound appreciation of the actual event. There is no surer road to ill-success in war than to imitate the plans of bygone heroes and to fit them to novel situations.”
    This has always been true, the art of battle command appears to be a rare talent if history is any judge. There is a great quote by Gen Sherman praising Gen. Grant in this regard. Sherman thought himself a better officer by practically every measure, and from what I have read, most historians agree with his assessment. What he said about Grant though was essentially (from memory) "Where he beats me and every other general is his ability to ignore his fears about what might be happening or going to happen and focus on the battle at hand." In essence his ability to envision far beyond what his eyes, reporting or intel were telling him, see the bigger picture, and have the moral and physical courage trust those instincts and execute upon them. Grant had the ability to do that at all levels, both tactically in a fight he was in, and strategically in designing and executing a campaign to defeat the Confederate Nation, as well as their military, understanding the difference and importance of each.
    Robert C. Jones
    Intellectus Supra Scientia
    (Understanding is more important than Knowledge)

    "The modern COIN mindset is when one arrogantly goes to some foreign land and attempts to make those who live there a lesser version of one's self. The FID mindset is when one humbly goes to some foreign land and seeks first to understand, and then to help in some small way for those who live there to be the best version of their own self." Colonel Robert C. Jones, US Army Special Forces (Retired)

  7. #87
    Moderator Steve Blair's Avatar
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    Sherman was actually rather weak tactically.
    "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

  8. #88
    Council Member M-A Lagrange's Avatar
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    Default Futurist and theoritical only

    An Introduction to Planetary Defense: A Study of Modern Warfare Applied to Extra-Terrestrial Invasion
    Travis S. Taylor (Author), Bob Boan
    (Author), R.C. Anding (Author), T. Conley Powell (Author)
    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/158...SIN=1581124473

    For extreme modern warfare geek only…

  9. #89
    Council Member J Wolfsberger's Avatar
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    Default The Centurions

    A reprint of Jean Larteguy's classic novel of the French in Algeria will be released in January 2011: The Centurions

    If you're interested, I suggest pre-ordering. This publisher's runs are usually small.
    John Wolfsberger, Jr.

    An unruffled person with some useful skills.

  10. #90
    Council Member Backwards Observer's Avatar
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    My brain hurts from reading the Clausewitz thread, so I downloaded the kindle version of How We Know What Isn't So: The Fallibility Of Human Reason In Everyday Life by Thomas Gilovich. Hopefully I won't learn anything from it.

    There is still another, less direct price we pay when we tolerate flawed thinking and superstitious belief. It is the familiar problem of the slippery slope: How do we prevent the occasional acceptance of faulty reasoning and erroneous beliefs from influencing our habits of thought more generally? Thinking straight about the world is a precious and difficult process that must be carefully nurtured. By attempting to turn our critical intelligence off and on at will, we risk losing it altogether, and thus jeopardize our ability to see the world clearly. Furthermore, by failing to fully develop our critical faculties, we become susceptible to the arguments and exhortations of those with other than benign intentions. In the words of Stephen Jay Gould, “When people learn no tools of judgment and merely follow their hopes, the seeds of political manipulations are sown.” As individuals and as a society, we should be less accepting of superstition and sloppy thinking, and should strive to develop those “habits of mind” that promote a more accurate view of the world. (p.6)
    How We Know What Isn't So - Amazon

    How We Know What Isn't So - Google Books

    Thomas Gilovich - Wikipedia
    Last edited by Backwards Observer; 12-19-2010 at 07:49 PM. Reason: spelling

  11. #91
    Council Member Spud's Avatar
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    Finally got some down time to get a bit of reading done.

    Cracked through The Fourth Star http://www.amazon.com/Fourth-Star-Ge...ref=pd_ys_iyr6 pretty quickly. Enjoyed it too as I learnt a bit more about some of the guys who were making decisions around me over the past few years.

    Spent a bit of time with Victory Point http://www.amazon.com/Victory-Point-...ref=pd_ys_iyr2. To be honest I really wanted to get into this as I deployed into AFG immediatly post this event and the CJSOTF was still focused on it. Should've been a great book but the author has a really weird style mixing tenses and narratives. Moreoover it is just a littl too USMC fan boy to take really seriously. Bet the Corps loves it though.

    Have just finished Black Hearts http://www.amazon.com/Black-Hearts-P...ref=pd_ys_iyr4 ... holy dooley that's a confronting read and a great lesson in both leadership failures and recruiting policies ... relax the standards to let less than high calibre people in and this is the end result. Anyone whoever proposes further relaxing entrance standards needs to read this.

    Current moving through The Bush War in Rhodesia http://www.amazon.com/Bush-War-Rhode...ref=pd_ys_iyr5 Enjoying it so far but seems pretty typical of books of this style.

    Still have Counter-Strike from the Sky, The Al-Jazeera Effect and New Dawn to get through in the next couple of weeks.

  12. #92
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default What Are You Currently Reading? 2010

    Moderator at work

    New thread created to enable easier searching, so now split into years, started with 2007.
    davidbfpo

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