Page 2 of 4 FirstFirst 1234 LastLast
Results 21 to 40 of 69

Thread: What Are You Currently Reading? 2012

  1. #21
    Council Member pvebber's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Rho Dyelan
    Posts
    130

    Default

    REgarding Human face of war - I picked up the kindle edition for 15$.

    Great suggestion - I really enjoyed it. Found myself really thinking about why some of the criticisms of assumptions raised "Struck home" with me (i.e. I was guilty of). Got me questioning other assumptions I work with.
    "All models are wrong, but some are useful"

    -George E.P. Box

  2. #22
    Council Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Posts
    13

    Default

    Currently reading Leading Up and All In about Gen Petraeus. A little disappointed with All In. Not so much with the book itself by more with the flow and structure the author is using. There's not much of a natural structure and makes for a disjointed read.

    Pete

  3. #23
    Council Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Location
    Hilo, HI
    Posts
    107

    Default

    David Elliott, The Vietnamese War. Revolution and Social Change in the Mekong Delta 1930-1975. Concise Edition. I had previously read excerpts, but finally bought the book, albeit in abridged form.

    This is a must read for serious students of the Vietnam War. Elliott's main sources are the widely cited and compelling Rand interviews of communist defectors and POWs, captured documents, and some minor additions from the less credible official Province History. the result is the insiders' chronicle of the evolution of the revolutionary movement in one Deltaic province, Dinh Tuong.

    The insights are noteworthy: The near destruction of Revolutionary combat forces and cadre by 1969-'70 is attributed to the massive acceleration of kinetic activity that resulted not only in devastating attrition, but the literal, physical depopulation of the rural base of the revolution as peasants fled for their lives to escape allied (mainly US) bombing and shelling, and headed for the safer GVN held areas. COIN in the sense of "draining the swamp," but little else of the substance of, say, FM 3-24. The same massive dislocations of the war, such as the changes in settlement patterns/radical urbanization, also rendered obsolete the old feudal relationships that purportedly provided the grievances on which the Revolution had originally fed, destroying the landlord class as such and taking the old grievance of land tenure essentially off the table; and creating opportunities that led to the formation of a new, peasant bourgeoisie plurality. In the final offensive, Elliott notes, the transit of Revolutionary forces was made more difficult by a populace no longer disposed to be helpful. But Elliott touches upon another, more prosaic explanation for this shift in loyalty. Universal GVN male conscription (not authorized until the aftermath of the Tet offensive), at a time when decimation of the communist units had removed the alternative, resulted in the overnight conversion of the bulk of rural families into ARVN and RF/PF dependents.

    The Revolutionary base areas were never eradicated, though, and were ultimately re-infiltrated by NVA personnel for both main and local forces. But a real eyeopener was the incredible--even allowing for some exaggeration-- rebound in cadre strength, the (presumably local) Party members operating in Dinh Tuong to 7000 at war's end in 1975. And these had been drawn from a shrunken base. The Party compensated for erosion in popular support by limiting recruitment largely to the poorest peasant class, because these were less likely to forsake, under pressure or blandishment, the status and power that Party membership bestowed. A commitment less widespread, yet deeper, as Elliott put it.

    A caveat: As the Rand interviewees' commitment had been sufficiently firm to merit Party membership, narratives may demonstrate a degree of self-justificatory adherence to the Party line. Example: North-South ethnic friction, a potential challenge to Party dogma on Southern impetus for reunification, is touched upon but dismissed as insignificant. Yet traditional, Southern disdain toward Northerners was a very real issue within the general population, likely contributing to the distaste with which Southerners viewed the Diem regime (and subsequent neo-Diemist governments) and its representatives; and no doubt feeding the backlash against NVA as well. (Elliott is not alone in sidestepping the ethnic issue. Since installing Diem, the US had found it impossible to appeal, without ridicule, to Southern ethnicity as a rallying point against Northern aggression, in the face of disproportionate representation of Northerners in the GVN civil service and officer corps.)

    The book invites comparison with other highly laudable single province studies, Race's War Comes to Long An and Bergerud's Dynamics of Defeat. Neither provides comparable analysis of the dissolution of the old social order and consequent removal of the old grievances and shifting of loyalties. In this respect, Elliott's work is the more lucid in its conclusions.
    Last edited by Mike in Hilo; 04-14-2012 at 06:56 AM. Reason: Add final para.

  4. #24
    Council Member
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Posts
    4,021

    Default Hi Mike:

    I must have gone to the same book sale.

    I was more than satisfied with Elliott, The Vietnamese War. Revolution and Social Change in the Mekong Delta 1930-1975 Concise Edition (your link was underlined but not alive); and appreciated your review of the book confirming my impressions. I wasn't there; you were - and I appreciate that as well.

    If possible, you and Cavguy should get together - since he's in Hawaii now - and see if you and he could put together an article on counter-revolutionary warfare comparing Vietnam and Iraq-Astan.

    Regards

    Mike

  5. #25
    Council Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Location
    Hilo, HI
    Posts
    107

    Default

    I appreciate the comment, Mike, and your suggestion. I ought to point out, though, that to us on the Big Island, Oahu is a world away....

    Cheers,
    Mike.

  6. #26
    Council Member Firn's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Posts
    1,297

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Uboat509 View Post
    I just picked up An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, by Adam Smith and The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money by John Maynard Keynes on Nook. I have been meaning to read both for some time. I probably need to read Friedman as well.
    Reading Adam Smith and Keynes as well. I have to confess that Keynes is slow reading even with an background in economics. Reading Smith is a bit like reading Clausewitz in the sense that both are more quoted then read and that you get away with a different feeling then the one you started with. Loved many aspects of it, seen from a "modern" micro and macro view with current affairs in mind.

    BTW the NYTimes has a recent article about the shortages of basic goods in Venezuela and ElPais run articles about YPF and the economic policies of Kirchner and the Argentine government. Such price controls certainly seem to result in the textbook predictions.
    Last edited by Firn; 04-21-2012 at 09:25 AM.
    ... "We need officers capable of following systematically the path of logical argument to its conclusion, with disciplined intellect, strong in character and nerve to execute what the intellect dictates"

    General Ludwig Beck (1880-1944);
    Speech at the Kriegsakademie, 1935

  7. #27
    Council Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Rocky Mtn Empire
    Posts
    473

    Default Thinking, fast & slow

    Daniel Kahneman's latest on why it's so hard to reach correct conclusions. Spoiler alert -- we're hard-wired to fail.

    This isn't a military book in the classical sense, but it provides important lessons on decision-making. Kahneman explains that the brain has two systems for processing thought: the fast, very basic system one, and the more deliberate, critical, analytical system two. Forcing system two to kick in and work appears to be a challenge. He also ties together other contributors in the field: Gilbert, Taleb, Tetlock, etc.

    I plan to use the book in one of my analysis classes. So far, I continue to be amazed at how students who acknowledge the requirement for better analytical thought revert to the comfort zone in their own analyses. I am therefore open to suggestions.

  8. #28
    Banned
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    Durban, South Africa
    Posts
    3,902

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Old Eagle View Post
    Daniel Kahneman's latest on why it's so hard to reach correct conclusions. Spoiler alert -- we're hard-wired to fail.

    This isn't a military book in the classical sense, but it provides important lessons on decision-making. Kahneman explains that the brain has two systems for processing thought: the fast, very basic system one, and the more deliberate, critical, analytical system two. Forcing system two to kick in and work appears to be a challenge. He also ties together other contributors in the field: Gilbert, Taleb, Tetlock, etc.

    I plan to use the book in one of my analysis classes. So far, I continue to be amazed at how students who acknowledge the requirement for better analytical thought revert to the comfort zone in their own analyses. I am therefore open to suggestions.
    Kahneman was discussed in this thread

    It referred to his article: Donít Blink! The Hazards of Confidence

  9. #29
    Council Member Backwards Observer's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Posts
    511

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Old Eagle View Post
    Daniel Kahneman's latest on why it's so hard to reach correct conclusions. Spoiler alert -- we're hard-wired to fail.
    Thanks for the book suggestion. I'm about halfway through; it made me drop my crack pipe a couple of times. An nescis, mi fili, quantilla prudentia mundus regatur?

  10. #30
    Council Member Backwards Observer's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Posts
    511

    Default as above, so below

    Two recommended in comments by SWC member, Mark O'Neill:

    - The Counterinsurgency Era: U.S. Doctrine and Performance - 1950 to the Present by Douglas S. Blaufarb. (1977)

    - Deadly Paradigms: The Failure of U.S. Counterinsurgency Policy by D. Michael Shafer. (1988)

    Going by their respective introductions, look to be heavy going.

    The Counterinsurgency Era - Amazon

    Deadly Paradigms - Amazon
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Last edited by Backwards Observer; 07-20-2012 at 07:13 AM. Reason: graphic

  11. #31
    Council Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Posts
    3,169

    Default Sandstorm: Libya in Time of Revolution

    http://www.amazon.com/Sandstorm-Liby.../dp/159420506X

    This is not, nor does it claim to be, the definitive history of the Libyan Revolution. Obviously the history of the revolution is still unfolding before our eyes, but this book provides a fascinating view of the war from the revolutionaries without romanizing the rebels. Lindsey follows five or more characters throughout the revolution that range from educated liberals with visions of modern democracy, to Islamists with visions of Sharia, and ordinary citizens who were tired of being oppressed by a brutal dictator. I was very familiar with Qadaffi's support for international terrorism, but had little insight on the crimes he committed against his own people to include his Maoist purge to purify their society.

    this book provides great insights into the struggles of fighter, and although most were not trained at all and fought very poorly, they still demonstrated savvy in some areas. Of interest will be the great insights in how the rebels gathered and passed intelligence to NATO to facilitate targeting, how they used the internet, and how they described in some detail the support provided by British and French SOF.

    Throughout the book the author provides a detailed description of the Regime and Qadaffi's behavior which was nothing less than bizzare. It details his support for global terrorism and revolution to include his extensive support for the IRA. Yet in another twist it describes a relatively effective deradicalization program that Libya implemented in their prisons that was considered a model, and yet at the same time Qadaffi's security forces conducted a massive slaughter of prisoners in one of the prisons that further inflammed the anger of the people that eventually exploded into a revolution.

    Highly recommended read (easy and quick read) to gain the personal insights of those involved. The author correctly points out in her last chapter that there will be many challenges ahead and the chances for peace, modernization, etc. are fairly low.

    For those who didn't follow terrorism trends prior to 9/11 this book will also serve as excellent introduction to the state sponsored terrorism so common in the 70's and 80's. The further back you can see the further forward you'll be able to see.

  12. #32
    Council Member ganulv's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Berkshire County, Mass.
    Posts
    896

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Moore View Post
    For those who didn't follow terrorism trends prior to 9/11 this book will also serve as excellent introduction to the state sponsored terrorism so common in the 70's and 80's. The further back you can see the further forward you'll be able to see.
    In the same vein I would recommend Olivier Assayasís Carlos. The 140 minute movie version is good, the 330 minute three-parter is even better. [LINK 1, 2, 3]
    If you donít read the newspaper, you are uninformed; if you do read the newspaper, you are misinformed. Ė Mark Twain (attributed)

  13. #33
    Council Member carl's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    Denver on occasion
    Posts
    2,460

    Default

    There is an old book called The Terror Network by Claire Sterling that goes over that ground too.

    On a different note, I just finished a book called The Unknown Battle of Midway by Alvin Kernan. I've read several Midway books but this one does the best job in clearly explaining what the American carrier aircraft did and where they went. It is a short book and very well written. One thing made clear is we were very very lucky.
    "We fight, get beat, rise, and fight again." Gen. Nathanael Greene

  14. #34
    Council Member Backwards Observer's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Posts
    511

    Default the memory remains

    Starting two on SEAsia, look interesting:

    The vast crescent of British-ruled territories from India down to Singapore appeared in the early stages of the Second World War a massive asset in the war with Germany, providing huge quantities of soldiers and raw materials and key part of an impregnable global network denied to the Nazis. Within a few weeks in 1941-2 a Japanese invasion had destroyed all this, almost effortlessly taking the impregnable fortress' of Singapore with its 80,000 strong garrison, and sweeping through South and Southeast Asia to the frontier of India itself.

    This revolutionary, absolutely gripping book brings to life the entire experience of South and Southeast Asia in this extraordinary period, telling the story from an Indian, Burmese, Chinese or Malay perspective as much as from that of the British or Japanese. Effectively it is the story of the birth of modern South and Southeast Asia and the hopes and fears of the dozens of forgotten armies' marching through the jungle battlefields, so many dying for causes swept away by the reality that emerged in 1945. Even as the British successfully fought back in the bloodiest battles in South and Southeast Asia's history, there was no going back to colonial rule.(amazon blurb)
    Forgotten Armies - Britain's Asian Empire and the War With Japan by Christopher Bayly and Tim Harper - Amazon

    Guardian uk review - 1.22.2005

    NY times review - 4.17.2005

    historynet review - 6.12.2006

    +++

    In September 1945, after the fall of the atomic bomb--and with it, the Japanese empire--Asia was dominated by the British. Governing a vast crescent of land that stretched from India through Burma and down to Singapore, and with troops occupying the French and Dutch colonies in southern Vietnam and Indonesia, Britain's imperial might had never seemed stronger.

    Yet within a few violent years, British power in the region would crumble, and myriad independent nations would struggle into existence. Christopher Bayly and Tim Harper show how World War II never really ended in these ravaged Asian lands but instead continued in bloody civil wars, anti-colonial insurrections, and inter-communal massacres. These years became the most formative in modern Asian history, as Western imperialism vied with nascent nationalist and communist revolutionaries for political control.

    Forgotten Wars, a sequel to the authors' acclaimed Forgotten Armies, is a panoramic account of the bitter wars of the end of empire, seen not only through the eyes of the fighters, but also through the personal stories of ordinary people: the poor and bewildered caught up in India's Hindu-Muslim massacres; the peasant farmers ravaged by warfare between British forces and revolutionaries in Malaya; the Burmese minorities devastated by separatist revolt. Throughout, we are given a stunning portrait of societies poised between the hope of independence and the fear of strife. Forgotten Wars vividly brings to life the inescapable conflicts and manifold dramas that shaped today's Asia.(amazon blurb)
    Forgotten Wars - Freedom and Revolution in South East Asia by Christopher Bayly and Tim Harper - Amazon

    Guardian uk review - 3.4.2007

    ---

    The Sun Never Sweats (Spinal Tap) - Youtube
    Attached Images Attached Images

  15. #35
    Banned
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    Durban, South Africa
    Posts
    3,902

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by carl View Post
    I am. I read the book and liked it, but give me a few days to get to the library so I can review.
    Never got round to this Carl. Perhaps better that way as I doubt this is the place for such a discussion.

    Another book worthy of study is (not necessarily in the way the author want):

    Company Commander - Major Russell Lewis (Author)

  16. #36
    Banned
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Location
    KS / Washington DC
    Posts
    2

    Default

    I've been looking back on the early years of the war in Afghanistan lately with a few good books:

    I just finished reading The Art of Intelligence: Lessons from a Life in the CIA's Clandestine Service. It covers a variety of issues from the CIA's CTC in the buildup to September 11 to lessons learned from the first few years of war, but what I found most interesting was the author's description of his experience serving in Africa. Based on current events in Libya, I found this information to be timely and informative.

    I've moved on to a book the previous author recommends, First In: How Seven CIA Officers Opened the War on Terror in Afghanistan . This covers the JAWBREAKER team's entry into Afghanistan and their challenges in the opening days of the war. Very interesting so far.

  17. #37
    Council Member Firn's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Posts
    1,297

    Default

    In the last couple of months:

    Thinking, Fast and Slow - Brilliant book. It is not surprising that it already has been discussed here. Regression to the mean and the law of small numbers surprised even me, despite having studied statistics at the uni. But then again, if we consider the base rate of those who failed, it is not surprising at all that I was among them.

    Ironically the Marshmallow Study which is cited in the book has a clear shortcoming, which can at least partly be explained by other chapters of the book.

    For the past four decades, the "marshmallow test" has served as a classic experimental measure of children's self-control: will a preschooler eat one of the fluffy white confections now or hold out for two later?

    Now a new study demonstrates that being able to delay gratification is influenced as much by the environment as by innate ability. Children who experienced reliable interactions immediately before the marshmallow task waited on average four times longer—12 versus three minutes—than youngsters in similar but unreliable situations.
    The Checklist Manifesto: It doesn't has the grand span of Thinking, Fast and slow but it made its manifesto very well. It shows how hard but important it is to do consistently the right things in the right way and order. Discipline forced by something like a good checklist can empower initiative and thinking, making a big difference in performance.

    Wages of Destruction: The best economic book I have read about the WWII, from an author which actually studied macroeconomics. This often basic economic knowledge was sometimes obviously missing in Why the Allies won and even more so in Freedoms Forge.

    It always amazed me that such basic and thus key elements like ressources, capital, labour, productivity, monetary policy were not yet investigated with similar scientific rigour before, at least not in a widely available (and cheap) book. Even more so if we consider the amount of ink spent on this period.


    Freedoms Forge: A nice book with good stories but it suffers greatly compared to Wages of Destruction. It is written by somebody who has no professional education in economics and it really tells. If it just had sticked to the stories, maybe with a bit less drama about heroic men and American exceptionalism it would sill be a great book. But the black-and-white description of business and labour and the fact- and senseless attacks on the New Deal of New Dealers often broke the flow. Critic is important but it should be based on facts and those were just not there. This narrow ideological approach does weaken the whole book. And this comes from a convinced capitalist.


    The Halo Effect: It is in its scope similar to the Checklist Manifesto. It limits itself, in this case to a strong attack on the way we often think and write about business, managers and success. This simple, fact-based approach makes the book powerful.
    Last edited by Firn; 10-11-2012 at 11:01 AM.
    ... "We need officers capable of following systematically the path of logical argument to its conclusion, with disciplined intellect, strong in character and nerve to execute what the intellect dictates"

    General Ludwig Beck (1880-1944);
    Speech at the Kriegsakademie, 1935

  18. #38
    Council Member ganulv's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Berkshire County, Mass.
    Posts
    896

    Default

    Have you tried this one, Firn?
    If you donít read the newspaper, you are uninformed; if you do read the newspaper, you are misinformed. Ė Mark Twain (attributed)

  19. #39
    Council Member carl's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    Denver on occasion
    Posts
    2,460

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by JMA View Post
    Another book worthy of study is (not necessarily in the way the author want):

    Company Commander - Major Russell Lewis (Author)
    How do you mean? I just finished The Wrong War, Little America and Losing Small Wars. All had much to say about the British effort in Helmand and Little American and Losing Small Wars were not complimentary.
    "We fight, get beat, rise, and fight again." Gen. Nathanael Greene

  20. #40
    Council Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Location
    Hilo, HI
    Posts
    107

    Default

    Owen West,The Snake Eaters....I highly recommend this book.

    I had as much difficulty putting this one down as I did Owen's father Bing's The Village. Like The Village in an Iraqi context, the theme is advisers being most effective by fighting alongside their host country counterparts. The key to what is essentially a territorial security role is shown to be aggressive patrolling to seek out and engage the enemy. In The Snake Eaters, as engagements are won, the populace begins to shift their allegiance toward the winner, generating important momentum.

    [From what I was privileged to observe, momentum--I mean generating and maintaining it--is a critical principle for both insurgents and COIN forces: So out of curiosity, a question: Did von Clausewitz speak to "momentum?" I looked for it in English and German versions and found nothing....]

    Cheers,
    Mike.
    Last edited by Mike in Hilo; 10-21-2012 at 02:53 AM. Reason: typo

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •