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Small Wars Council Book Club Read a book, discuss it here with your fellow Council members.

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Old 08-20-2013   #1
graphei
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Default First SWC Book Club Marching Orders

In the SWC Recruiting thread, I mentioned starting a book club. Well, I'm making good on that threat While I doubt it will do anything to swell our ranks, it may foster a small increase in community spirit. Perhaps? Maybe? We'll see what happens. While it doesn't take the place of sitting in the same room with likeminded people discussing a great read, we can do our best to break the digital barrier and start a discussion here. One advantage this format has is that resources can be preserved for later. Even if someone doesn't participate, they may be able to glean some useful information from the discussions.

Anyway, this is something I've wanted to do for a long time. It's rather ironic for as engaged as we've been in the Middle East for the past 40 years, the lack of understanding about Islam and the history in that corner of the world is so sad it's laughable. The mixture of emotions 'Islam' evokes (while understandable) and the level of misinformation out there is a recipe for disaster. Extremists of all stripes count on their adversaries to be ignorant. I'll try to pick books that touch on as many different topics of interest as possible, but the underlying current will be Islamic Studies.

Without further ado, my first selection is, Religion and State: The Muslim Approach to Politics by L. Carl Brown. Professor Brown is an emeritus Professor of Foreign Affairs at Princeton. While this book is getting a bit long in the tooth, it's still very timely. He does an outstanding job of providing the right mix of history and theology to understanding Politics and Islam. It's a book that I used when I was first starting out, and I find myself returning to it all the years later.

A matters of business:
- We'll work through one book (perhaps an article or two?) every two months. Everyone is busy, but that should be a doable pace. This should be enjoyable!
- I'll announce the new book 3 weeks before the next cycle starts. That should give everyone time to hunt down a copy.
- There will be a lot of jargon and foreign words. If the definition doesn't jive for you, please ask and reference the page number! However, by the end you'll know your tafsir from your tawhid.
- If you want to take issue with something in the book, please do! However, to reinforce community standards, be prepared to back it up with a source or two. If you can link to that source so others can evaluate their evidence for themselves, even better!
- I'll add more as necessary.

Since this is a bit of a late start, how about we shoot for September 16th to kick off the reading?

Cheers!

Last edited by davidbfpo; 08-21-2013 at 09:01 AM. Reason: SMC becomes SWC, typo happens
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Old 08-21-2013   #2
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Sounds great. I would love to be in on this.
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Old 08-22-2013   #3
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I'm in. I ordered the book today.
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Old 08-22-2013   #4
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Default Sounds good...

Having already read the book in question I'll be on time and (perhaps) on target!
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Old 08-25-2013   #5
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Default New Forum for Book Club

I added a new SWC forum for the book club under the Small Wars Community of Interest.
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Old 08-25-2013   #6
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Great jumpstart Mav. It looks like I have time for this now, given my bud commute each workday. I will try to be in on this one, but iff not then definitely the next.
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Old 08-26-2013   #7
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SMJED, thank you for giving this its own forum. I've started plugging SMJ on twitter, ADN, and linkedin. Hopefully, a couple of my friends will trickle over

Sir, glad to hear you will be joining us (soonish).

I cannot begin to tell all of you how thrilled I am this is actually happening. It's a nerd's dream come true. Honestly, if I could plan this type of content for a living, I'd be the happiest gal on Earth.

Time for dinner, a glass of wine, and some reading.
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Old 08-26-2013   #8
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I want get to read the book for awhile but I am looking forward to it's discussion. This should be a most interesting thread.
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Old 08-27-2013   #9
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Default Swj not smj

It's SWJ not SMJ. This is a quite common mistake, why I don't know. I've seen it hundreds of times.
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Old 08-27-2013   #10
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I am in if I can find the book in my library
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Old 08-27-2013   #11
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SWJED- I realized the mistake when I looked at the post the following morning. Mea culpa! The dangers of posting on the web late at night!

Omarali, you may have a difficult time finding these books at your local library. However, if they participate in the Interlibrary loan program they should be able to find them.
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Old 08-28-2013   #12
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It would be nice to have some similar discussions revolving around material available online, which are more manageable for those of us in the outer corners.
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Old 08-28-2013   #13
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Dayuhan, I do realize some of these books will be difficult or even impossible to get ahold of for some of the members here. However, researching and vetting enough sources to replace what one book covers is time I just don't have, unfortunately. If there are any hidden millionaires lurking who want to fund such an project, I'll gladly take their money!

With that said, I will definitely include academic articles and reference materials that are free and online in the future.
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Old 08-28-2013   #14
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Default Seek and ye shall find ...

Da book (da pdf link).

Regards

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Old 08-28-2013   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by graphei View Post
Dayuhan, I do realize some of these books will be difficult or even impossible to get ahold of for some of the members here. However, researching and vetting enough sources to replace what one book covers is time I just don't have, unfortunately. If there are any hidden millionaires lurking who want to fund such an project, I'll gladly take their money!

With that said, I will definitely include academic articles and reference materials that are free and online in the future.
Not saying online articles would be a substitute for books, only that they could make appropriate subjects for discussion. They might in some circumstances be easier to manage than books, as the discussion would be more focused and more people would have the time to read and digest.

However, since Mike has deprived me of my excuse... I'll see what I can do
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Old 08-28-2013   #16
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As the book club matures please post a separate thread for each book discussion. That would go a long way in terms of ease of access - especially for potential participants - Thanks - Dave D.
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Old 08-28-2013   #17
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Dave- I definitely planned on it. I think my sanity would suffer otherwise!

I might get a list of vocabulary up as a reference at some point this weekend.

Dayuhan,

Quote:
We'll work through one book (perhaps an article or two?) every two months.
Already thought of it.

I chose this book to go first for a number of reasons. Most importantly is that Brown does a great job of covering a good amount of history, vocabulary, and 'current' events while explaining things in an approachable fashion. It's a very condensed version of Islam 101, basically. Articles, however, tend to assume the reader has a fairly good background knowledge to begin with. It's why they can have such manageable discussion points. If you don't have that background, they're 30 pages of misery.

Perhaps the next thing we read will be an article. I have one in mind already
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