Francis Bacon—the English author, lawyer, philosopher, scientist, and statesman—wrote in his essay Of Studies, "Reading maketh a full man; conference a ready man; and writing an exact man." Reading was the beginning of study for Bacon, and the reading he advised in the pursuit of knowledge ranged widely: histories for wisdom, poetry for wit, mathematics for subtlety, natural philosophy for depth, morality for gravity, and logic and rhetoric for persuasion. But we must also think, discuss, and write about those things we learn through reading. This notion would be echoed in 2011 by Admiral James Stavridis who, addressing the students of the National Defense University in Washington, D.C., advised we spend our time in reading widely, thinking deeply, and writing constantly. We must write, he suggests, since "it is essential in communicating what we have learned and allowing others to challenge our views and thus make them stronger."
From Bacon to Stavridis, we've taken this advice to heart here at The Strategy Bridge, and the #Reviewing series is one monument to our belief in its truth. The interested reader will find here a collection of our reading, thinking, and writing—of our #Reviewing—for 2016. Among these titles are history and theory, fiction and poetry, natural science and moral philosophy, humor and sadness. The interested reader will also find a group of authors nailing their whispers to the wall, to borrow another phrase from Admiral Stavridis, making themselves and our community stronger. We're proud to be a part of such a community.
Mission Creep: The Militarization of U.S. Foreign Policy? Gordon Adams and Shoon Murray (Eds). Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press. 2014.
Read a review by Ian Platz here.
"The authors deftly present an even-handed view where the Defense Department has expanded into new missions and encroached on the turf of other agencies, but has not done so alone. They contend the increasing militarization of foreign policy was not an overnight change beginning with the George W. Bush administration after 9/11 and accelerated under President Obama. Instead, they describe a consistent and long term process with Congress, the United States Agency for International Development, the Department of State, and other parts of the Executive, all helping in their own unique institutional ways, to facilitate this shift and pull greater power to the Pentagon."
America's War for the Greater Middle East: A Military History. Andrew J. Bacevich. New York, NY: Random House, 2016.
Read Dave Mattingly's review here.
"Thwarting this network of groups, “Most of which are local, some of which are regional, and some which are global, was going to entail a very long contest. How long? How much longer than it had already run?" Wisely the general did not hazard a guess. No one had a clue."
Strategy: Context and Adaptation from Archidamus to Airpower. Richard Bailey, James W. Forsyth Jr., and Mark O. Yeisley (Eds). Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 2016.
Read Dave Lyle's review here.
"Strategy: Context and Adaptation is definitely a book about strategy, offering many useful insights and practical takeaways for anyone interested in the field...But its greatest value is its function as a time capsule for the SAASS method of teaching timeless ideas, providing a method for the exploration of a subject area that by its very nature can never be formally captured or simply defined. In its essence, SAASS is not about hard-to-find classrooms,or groups of instructors and students stretching from the past and present. Like the classical methods that inspired it, SAASS in its essence is not the physical location where it resides...but rather the living method by which its graduates collaborate to view, investigate, question, shape, and ultimately act in ways that create continuing strategic advantage and serve the vital interests of our nation and its allies."
Success and Failure in Limited War: Information and Strategy in the Korean, Vietnam, Persian Gulf, and Iraq Wars. Spencer D. Bakich. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2014.
Read David Dixon's review here.
"In the Information Institution Approach, Bakich gives critical importance to whether or not key decision makers have access to multi-sourced information and whether the information institutions themselves have the ability to communicate laterally. When information is multi-sourced and there is good coordination across the diplomatic and military lines of effort, Bakich predicts success. When information is stove piped and there is poor coordination, he predicts failure. Where the systems are moderately truncated, Bakich expects various degrees of failure depending on the scope and location within the state’s information institutions."
Citizen Soldier [Motion Picture]. Bert Bedrosian (Co-producer), Christian Tureaud, and David Salzburg (Co-producers and Directors). United States: Strong Eagle Media, 2016.
Read a review from Andy Forney here:
"Citizen Soldier's depiction of combat aims for a visceral reaction and challenges viewers to place soldiers’ sacrifices within the context of our ongoing wars. And it does an admirable job, leaving you tense and guessing about the outcome of the battles and ambushes the “Thunderbirds” fought their way through. The documentary’s focus on the trials of National Guard soldiers in our present conflicts, however, ignores the wider consequences of a repeatedly deployed and increasingly depended-on reserve echelon. The continued reliance upon and the “regularization” of the National Guard should force the Army, Congress, and American society to examine the role of the Guard in our current and future military operations, whether we want to watch it or not."
Marie von Clausewitz: The Woman Behind the Making of On War. Vanya Eftimova Bellinger. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2015.
Read B.A. Friedman's review here.
"Marie has been given short shrift for her contributions to her husband’s intellectual development, but Bellinger’s research makes it clear that she was at least as influential as Scharnhorst and Gneisenau."
Syren's Song. Claude Berube. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 2015.
Read Joe Byerly's review here.
"Since 2001, the landscape of warfare has drastically changed. Drones, armed non-state actors, and private security firms have become common on the battlefield, and their influence continues to evolve and grow. While their involvement in the future of warfare is uncertain, more than likely they will be as commonplace in future conflicts as tanks, airplanes, and submarines are today. In his latest book, Claude Berube offers readers a vivid glimpse of this possible future."
War by Other Means: Geoeconomics and Statecraft. Robert D. Blackwill and Jennifer M. Harris. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2016.
Read a review by Spencer Bakich here.
"There isn’t much grand about America’s post-Cold War grand strategy. Such is the consensus among the academic scholars, think-tankers, pundits, and many former national security officials who have chastised U.S. foreign policymakers for lacking strategic sophistication, or worse, failing to craft a coherent grand strategy at all...In their well-crafted and important new book, War by Other Means: Geoeconomics and Statecraft, Robert Blackwill and Jennifer Harris join this discussion orthogonally, arguing that the United States has altogether abandoned the economic dimension of grand strategy."
The Butcher's Trail: How the Search for Balkan War Criminals Became the World's Most Successful Manhunt. Julian Borger. New York, NY: Other Press, 2016.
Read a review by Dave Mattingly here.
How Everything Became War and the Military Became Everything: Tales from the Pentagon. Rosa Brooks. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2016.
Read Joe Byerly's review here.
"How Everything Became War and the Military Became Everything is an important addition to the professional body of literature on the evolution of warfare, providing readers with ideas on the future of warfare and the required institutions, legal frameworks, and strategies that need to be in place to maintain stability against an increasing number of threats to the post World War II order. While the nature of war has remained unchanged, the character of warfare is continuing to evolve and as Brooks points out, if we fail to act, we run the risk of unraveling the very fragile norms of warfare and human rights developed in that momentous summer of 1945."
All The Ways We Kill and Die: An Elegy For A Fallen Comrade, And The Hunt For His Killer. Brian Castner. New York, NY: Arcade, 2016.
Read Michael Peterson's review here.
"Castner has written a compelling account of how particular technologies put their stamp on a certain kind of war. In going far beyond that, to explore the human dimensions and costs of that war, and to point to the possibility of hope and resilience for its veterans, Castner’s achievement is as much literary as it is a technical. All The Ways We Kill and Die offers insight both into the ways that wars can be fought, and how they may be survived."
The U.S. Naval Institute on Naval Strategy. Thomas J. Cutler (Ed). Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 2015.
Read B.A. Friedman's review here.
"The strategic mind of the navalist is on full display in the latest Wheel Book from the U.S. Naval Institute. Naval Strategy, edited by Thomas J. Cutler, is paired well with the earlier installment, Naval Tactics by Captain Wayne P. Hughes Jr., USN (Ret.). Cutler’s volume, however, is the meatier one as it includes articles by Admiral J.C. Wylie, Sam Tangredi, Milan Vego, Samuel Huntington, Sir Julian Corbett and Admiral James Stavridis, amongst others. The essays by Wylie and Corbett are themselves worth the price of admission."
Retire the Colors: Veterans & Civilians on Iraq & Afghanistan. Dario DiBattista (Ed). Albany, NY: Hudson Whitman/Excelsior College Press, 2016.
Read Jon Farr's review here:
""Retire the Colors is a reference to the command given at the end of a service or ceremony directing the color guard to retrieve the national and unit colors and remove them from the ceremony. Rendering honors and retiring the colors marks the official end of the ceremony, and frequently, the transition to the informal social activities afterward. The reference is appropriate for this anthology of stories dealing with transition between military service and the civilian world.
Just War Reconsidered: Strategy, Ethics, and Theory. James M. Dubik. Lexington, KY: The University Press of Kentucky, 2016.
Read Pauine Shanks Kaurin's review here:
"Just War Reconsidered is an absolute and urgent must-read for scholars of Just War, ethics, and strategy, as well as anyone involved in the enterprise of war—military and civilian alike. And after reading it, an energetic dialogue needs to develop and be sustained as the implications of this important contribution are gradually worked out."
High Command: British Military Leadership in the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars. Christopher L. Elliott. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015.
Read a review by T.S. Allen here.
"The fact that our most cherished ally is no longer able to analyze its own strategic situation, or participate fully in our strategic debates, should be distressing. Britain’s generals, brilliant as they may be, are trapped in a series of historical and organizational labyrinths. Needless to say, this situation may change, and Elliott is one of many voices calling out for reform. Until then, America must remain wary of allies who promise more than they can deliver."
A War [Motion Picture]. René Ezra and Tomas Radoor (Producers) & Tobias Lindholm (Director). Denmark: Nordisk Films.
Read Brandon Neilan's review here.
"Ultimately, this film is about many things. Stale and hollow storytelling is not one of them. A War is ripe with the chaos that is war. Watching it, one is struck by courage, tragedy, death, grief, and the circumstantial bureaucracy of war. One has thrust upon them the impact of deployment on family, the demands of brotherhood, and its connections beyond the blurred lines of battle."
Consequence: A Memoir. Eric Fair. New York, NY: Henry Holt & Company, 2016.
Read Daniel Sukman's review here.
"In the rush to fulfill mission requirements—or in some cases to limit the official number of boots on the ground—the military should not be so quick to defer essential missions and jobs to the private sector. Fair helps us to understand why."
Victor in the Rubble. Alex Finley. Smiling Hippo Press, 2016.
Read Olivia Garard's review here.
"Simply, Victor in the Rubble is a delight. It produces that same sense of glee that comes from opening an MRE to find a pop tart perfectly whole rather than smashed into a gazillion crumbles. Alex Finley, a former CIA officer, has crafted a magical satire of the Intelligence Community post-9/11, Iraq, and the 2004 intelligence reforms."
Where Youth and Laughter Go: With "The Cutting Edge" in Afghanistan. Seth Folsom. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 2015.
Read a review by Editors of The Strategy Bridge and an interview with the author here.
"Where Youth and Laughter Go is worth revisiting. America faces weighty decisions in the years ahead, and Folsom’s experience is instructive. There are limits to what can be done. If you debated the strategy of the surge, or if you believe it didn’t last long enough, or if you believe we ought to go back again, you should read this book."
The Conduct Of War, 1789-1961: A Study Of The Impact Of The French, Industrial, and Russian Revolutions on War and Its Conduct. J.F.C. Fuller. New York, NY: Routledge, 2016.
Read Craig Beutel's review here.
"To get the most out of this book you need to get past the obvious prejudice that Fuller has, undoubtedly colored by his exasperation with the leaders who muddled through World War One and those who sidelined him during World War Two. If you can do this, The Conduct of War is an excellent historical introspection into the character of war and its utility for achieving political advantage."
A Passion for Leadership: Lessons on Change and Reform from Fifty Years of Public Service. Robert M. Gates. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2016.
Read a review by Brad DeWees here and a review by Jonathan Silk here.
"From the autumn of his lifetime in public service, Gates offers a final lesson for reformers. When the ideas for change stop flowing, leave. “The reality of reforming bureaucracies is that when a leader thinks he is done, he probably is done.” This is a straightforward statement, but its implications are radical: leadership is reform, and reform should be constant."
God and Sea Power: The Influence of Religion on Alfred Thayer Mahan. Suzanne Geissler. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 2015.
Read Steven L. Foster's review here.
"Few, if any students or practitioners of strategy can argue the importance of Admiral Alfred Thayer Mahan’s influence on sea power theory, as well as his impact on the American military institution as a whole. As with any theorist, however, we tend to examine his body of work, and to look at the factors that shaped who he was as a strategist and a mariner. Most works only give a cursory glance at the things that influenced Mahan’s character across all facets of his life. In God and Sea Power, author Suzanne Geissler goes beyond that, following the closely-interwoven relationship between Mahan’s faith and his work as a sailor, leader, and strategist."
Fire on the Water: China, America, and the Future of the Pacific. Robert Haddick. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 2014.
Meeting China Halfway: How To Defuse Emerging China-U.S. Rivalry. Lionel Goldstein. Washington, D.C.: Georgetown University Press, 2015.
Read T. Greer's review here.
"Our analysis is built on a foundation of sand. We offer bold proclamations and precise policy proposals designed to cajole, convince, or coerce a hostile nuclear power whose decision making process is utterly opaque to us. We theorize much, and assume more, but we still do not know why the Chinese do what they do. Most critically, we do not know how to find the knowledge we lack. This is an intellectual challenge we have not begun to meet. Understanding Zhongnanhai is a wonderful methodological puzzle—but a puzzle with nuclear stakes. Until we solve this puzzle, I doubt any number of policy prescriptions will be enough to ensure peace in the West Pacific."
Shanghai 1937: Stalingrad on the Yangtze. Peter Harmsen. Philadelphia, PA: Casemate Publishers, 2013.
Nanjing 1937: Battle For a Doomed City. Peter Harmsen. Philadelphia, PA: Casemate Publishers, 2015.
Read T. Greer's review here.
"One of the more egregious omissions in Western scholarship has been the treatment of China’s great War of Resistance, waged against Japan from 1937 to 1945. Given the countless volumes written about other campaigns of World War II this omission is inexcusable; this was, after all, not only a war American soldiers and spies participated in, but the ultimate reason Americans were involved in the Second World War in the first place. Fortunately, our picture of China’s part in World War II has brightened considerably over the last decade...Books focused on individual campaigns are just now being written and published. Peter Harmsen...is at the forefront of the effort to tell the story of China’s experience in World War II from the perspective of the soldiers who fought it."
JFK and LBJ: The Last Two Great Presidents. Godfrey Hodgson. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2015.
Read a review from Johnathan Parker here:
Hodgson fails to satisfactorily qualify JFK and LBJ as the titular “Last Two Great Presidents.” He does, however, succeed in building up Johnson’s reputation, one that is often denigrated for his part in escalating U.S. participation in Vietnam. Because of Hodgson’s account, we might consider reversing Reston’s characterization of the two: perhaps it was Johnson and his social reform success who made men think while Kennedy and his foreign policy dominance made men like Khrushchev act.
Incoming: Veteran Writers on Returning Home. Justin Hudnall, Julia Dixon Evans, Rolf Yngve (Eds). San Diego, CA: SSWA Press, 2015.
Read Pauline Shanks Kaurin's review here.
"The pieces in this volume are staccato in pace, including powerful imagery and flashbacks, and representing a fleeting moment in time, a feeling, a picture, or an idea, rather than a traditional narrative arc that we have come to expect in war writing. Incoming is a volume about individual moments and battles rather than war. In this lies its power and impact."
Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging. Sebastian Junger. New York, NY: Hachette Book Group. 2016.
Read a review by Mark Jones here.
"Though brief, in this enjoyable book readers—whether veteran or not—will walk away with a greater appreciation for the challenges facing those weary from war at their homecoming. Those who study war will also uncover profound wisdom, both in the conduct of war and the care of its combatants. If it is incomplete in the defense of its underlying ideology, it does, however, succeed as a warning, a reminder of the cost of war and a challenge to society cultivate the solidarity that brought us “to this extraordinary moment in our history.” If, as Junger implies, solidarity brought us this crossroads in our history, “it may also be the only thing that allows us to survive it.”"
American Diplomacy: Sixtieth-Anniversary Expanded Edition. George F. Kennan. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2012.
Read Eric M. Murphy's review here.
"If any one man can be said to have made the Cold War and the history of the twentieth century—recognizing that structures and institutions hold much or perhaps even most sway in the making of history—that man may be George F. Kennan. "
Blood Year: Islamic State and the Failures of the War of Terror. David Kilcullen. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2016.
Read Dave Mattingly's review here.
"The bottom line is that the rise of ISIS has exposed the weakness of a strategic approach, which, for too long, focused just on neutralizing terrorist plots and killing or capturing senior terrorist leaders. This approach looked and often felt, as if it was proactive—taking the fight to the enemy. But in reality, as the defeats of 2014-15 have shown, it was too narrowly focused to succeed."
The Army Officer's Guide to Mentoring. Raymond A. Kimball. West Point, NY: The Center for the Advancement of Leader Development and Organizational Learning, 2015.
Read Jim Greer's review here.
"For those who wish to be either a mentor or protégé, or those who wish to foster effective mentorship in their organization, Kimball’s Army Officer’s Guide to Mentoring is an excellent how-to manual. His observations, insights, and best practices are drawn from the experiences of those who have profited from effective mentor-protégé relationships. They are practical, easy to implement, and sure to make each reader more aware of his or her own approach to and effectiveness as a mentor."
Lawfare: Law as a Weapon of War. Orde F. Kittrie. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2016.
Read Dave Mattingly's review here.
"The examples presented throughout the book demonstrate not only how successful lawfare has been in the past, but arguably that the United States should continue to apply it throughout its international diplomatic and military strategies...Lawfare is a must read and belongs in the library of strategic thinkers, in and out of the government!"
21st Century Knox: Influence, Sea Power, and History for the Modern Era. David Kohnen (Ed). Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 2016.
Read Gary Sampson's review here.
"This book and its distillation of ideas and thinking that came from Knox’s “50 years before the mast” during a time period during which Knox had a front row seat as the U.S. Navy changed from a small, relatively weak force into one with truly global responsibilities and missions, is an essential read for all naval officers."
Beyond Glory [Motion Picture]. Noah Lang and Rebecca Reynolds (Producers) & Larry Brand (Director). United States: 8180 Films.
Read John Q. Bolton's review here.
"This film is a patriotic tribute to simple men, placed in unbelievable situations, who did only as they felt duty demanded. Their virtues and ethics combine with their humility to present a well-rounded appreciation for what it means to serve both one’s nation and one’s comrades. By presenting these stories in such human terms, Lang has done an amazing service, making abstract stories relatable to not only veterans, but to everyday Americans as well. Beyond Glory is time well-spent and a fitting tribute to the Medal recipients."
What is the Worst That Could Happen? The Politics and Policy of Crisis Management. Hugh Liebert, Thomas D. Sherlock, and Jack Morrow (Eds). Cornwall-on-Hudson, NY: Sloan Publishing, 2016.
Read Regina Parker's review here:
"Let us not turn away in the face of unattainable limits. Instead, we should push those limits and make our best attempt to imagine the unthinkable and prepare accordingly. That being said, there is no free lunch. How much time and money ought the U.S. government allocate to wargaming worst cases, or on a smaller scale, ought you devote to reading this book? The first question is too large for this review, but I will say that What Is The Worst That Could Happen? was well worth my $37.95 and an afternoon’s time, and I am confident that any reader of The Bridge will feel the same."
Occupied [TV Series]. Karriann Lund, Jo Nesbø, Erik Skjoldbjærg (Creators). Norway: TV2 Norge and Yellow Bird Productions.
Read a review by Marc Milligan here.
"Climate change caused by human activity is settled science. Implications for the future of public health, the economy, and the global order of states are recognized as a real concern around the world. The European Union is strong, but NATO is not. Mid-East turmoil has compromised oil production there. The United States global hegemony is over. Complete energy independence from the rest of the world has resulted in an isolationist stance wherein the US has withdrawn from NATO as well as her other international obligations. The US remains a seeming world power with respectable military and diplomatic influence, but only grudgingly and apparently by force of reputational versus relational power. This is the scene, but not the story, and the focus is not America."
Imperial Crossroads: The Great Powers and the Persian Gulf. Jeffrey R. Macris and Saul Kelly (Eds). Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 2012.
Read Carlo Valle's review here.
"No single book can address all perspectives or answer all the questions but Imperial Crossroads goes further into the past than most others and allows us to better understand long-term trends the relations between great powers and the states in the Persian Gulf."
Destiny and Power: The American Odyssey of George Herbert Walker Bush. Jon Meacham. New York: Random House, 2015.
Read Adin Dobkin's review here:
"Lying beneath this humanity is the unrelenting belief that each day of tedium, each crippling struggle, progresses one toward that individual peak. It’s the foundation that built Bush into a steward that led the U.S. through shifting times, though he scarcely heaped much praise from it in the moment. Rather, he bore through it, finding solace in the records he took on paper and in dictation: his journals. The ones with which Meacham has used to fill the pages of Destiny and Power, and in doing so, craft a legacy in a time with even less certainty and even more fear than the one George H.W. Bush occupied."
The Evolution of Modern Grand Strategic Thought. Lukas Milevski. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2016.
Read a review by Spencer Bakich here.
"In an impressive new book, Milevski argues that grand strategy is a conceptual nomad, an idea whose course has been driven solely by immediate historical contingency, with little theoretical grounding or guidance. Over the course of nearly two hundred years, writers on grand strategy have demonstrated a curious case of presentism in their approach to studying and refining the idea. Spurred by the necessity of solving immediate problems, grand strategy has been pushed in one direction after another, whipsawed by the emergence of new contingencies."
The Road Back from Broken. Carrie Morgan. CreateSpace Independent Publishing, 2015.
Read B.A. Friedman's review here.
"Hemingway lets us know. Jake's inability to connect with those around him is as emotional as it is physical, and the first-person narrative allows the reader to experience some measure of that isolation. Fitz, however, is not alone in his head with the reader. His failing connections with those around him are not completely severed lifelines. The third-person omniscient perspective allows Morgan to explore not just Fitz's feelings but how his injuries affect those around him, those trying to help him, and those who depend on him. The shift in perspective from one to the other underscores a shift in our own perspective on the injuries of war since Hemingway's own experience: no one should have to travel the road alone."
On War and Politics: The Battlefield Inside Washington’s Beltway. Arnold L. Punaro. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 2016.
Read Andy Priest's review here.
"The book has a kind of realness, good and bad, that is so often missing in the meticulously well edited, yet yearningly hollow, works of beltway and military leaders today. There is no one takeaway from this book; it’s truly the sum of its Marine Corps and Beltway parts."
Through the Valley: My Captivity in Vietnam. William Reeder Jr. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 2016.
Read Luke O'Brien's review here.
"As the United States finds itself once again providing special operations and fire support to a host nation fighting an enemy bent on its destruction, the same psychological pressures and realities faced by Reeder are being confronted by both coalition personnel as well as all manner of people either captured or occupied by the Islamic State. New craters. Old volcanos. And as we continue to pour support into this fight, there comes with it the same human costs that responsible decision makers and leaders would do well to understand."
Allied Master Strategists: The Combined Chiefs of Staff in World War II. David Rigby. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 2012.
Read Kenneth W. Letcher's review here.
"The collaboration exhibited in this British-American alliance was essential to both the Americans and British because it gave both an arena for strategic military issues to be discussed below the level of the President and Prime Minister. While this give and take discussion on issues may not rise to the level of master strategists, it definitely positively contributed to the war effort."
Decoding Al-Qaeda's Strategy: The Deep Battle Against America. Michael W. S. Ryan. New York, NY: Columbia University Press, 2013.
Read a review from Chris Zeitz here:
It is worth reviewing Al Qaeda’s strategic DNA for insights into what the group and its various factions would seek to achieve if given the opportunity. This leads the author to a prescription to contest Al Qaeda’s Salafist ideology by pointing out their extensive references to Maoist and Western strategists. I am skeptical that this would be a beneficial approach from agencies within the U.S. at least. But, the value of this book is its message that the flea remains vigorously at work against the dog, even if we would like to ignore that itch from time to time.
The Lost Mandate of Heaven: The American Betrayal of Ngo Dinh Diem, President of Vietnam. Geoffrey Shaw. San Francisco, CA: Ignatius Press, 2015.
Read a review by Nathan Wike here.
"The Lost Mandate of Heaven: The American Betrayal of Ngo Dinh Diem, President of Vietnam is a must read for policy-makers, and is extremely worthwhile for the military and other governmental agencies. It contains lessons that may assist in stopping a conflict before it starts, or to help manage it once conflict has begun."
The Strategist: Brent Scowcroft and the Call of National Security. Bartholomew Sparrow. New York, NY: PublicAffairs Books, 2015.
Read Diane Maye's review here.
"Sparrow’s account of Scowcroft is full of insight and surprises. Readers will take pleasure in Sparrow’s depiction of the NSC debates, executive-level relationships, and the nuanced recollections of a consummate strategist. Anyone interested in understanding the unique role of the NSC in foreign policy and executive-level decision-making during the Nixon, Ford, Reagan, or first Bush administrations will be interested Sparrow’s work. This book also has practical use for journalists, political scientists, as well as students of U.S. security strategy, foreign policy, and American government."
The World According to Star Wars. Cass R. Sunstein. New York, NY: Dey Street Books, 2016.
Read R. Taj Moore's review here.
"Even if Star Wars objectively is not-so-great as a film series, its enduring themes found in thousands of years of narratives tap into something universal that manages to overcome any creative or other shortcomings. “There’s a deep human desire for common knowledge and common experiences,” he writes. And the hero’s journey is one nearly everyone can relate to. His book also explores human behavior, covering how people succeed, decision-making (freedom to choose, he highlights, is a key Star Wars value), and father-son dynamics. At a high-level, it might be said that Sunstein wrote a book about relationships—how each generation creates ways to connect to the next, how children redeem their parents, and how law develops over time. "
The U.S. Naval Institute on Naval Cooperation. Sam J. Tangredi (Ed). Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 2015.
Read Dave Mattingly's review here.
"Throughout much of history, the world’s oceans and seas belonged to no one, yet everyone. For that reason, nations that depend on the sea for trade, as a source of food, and more recently, as a source of minerals, have cooperated to some extent. Naval Cooperation is a compilation of USNI Proceedings articles written over the last ten years discussing a range of topics related to cooperation. "
Here, Bullet. Brian Turner. Farmington, ME : Alice James Books, 2005.
Read Olivia Garad's review here.
"Mere description cannot approach the inner essence of the experience of war, but poetry can...Rather than attempting to bridge this insurmountable gap, Turner leads us to the edge, pushing us there without pushing us off. Turner later contends, “I have no words to speak of war.” Instead, he translates bullets, moving from Bismarck’s blood and iron to ink and lead. What follows is a collection of poems infused with “the language of blood,” endowed with experience, taking us to edge, showing us what otherwise cannot be seen, and leaving us there to reflect."
No One Avoided Danger: NAS Kaneohe Bay and the Japanese Attack of 7 December 1941. J. Michael Wenger, Robert J. Cressmen, and John F. Di Virgilio. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 2015.
Read Brandee Leon's review here.
"This short book is rich in detail, offering insight on the participants on both sides. Personal anecdotes by surviving men, and about those who died fighting, offer insight into the lives of those who tried to defend their base."
Practise to Deceive: Learning Curves of Military Deception Planners. Barton Whaley. Annapolis, MD: U.S. Naval Institute Press, 2015.
Read Mick Cook's review here.
"Barton Whaley’s Practise to Deceive, a posthumously published work, is not a manual on how to conduct military deception, nor is it a “do-it-yourself” guide for deception planners. It is, however, a valuable resource that will aid the deception planner through discussion and analysis of 88 case studies."
Ancient Chinese Thought, Modern Chinese Power. Yan Xuetong. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2011.
Read John Barrett's review here.
"In ancient philosophy, humane authority was balanced against the concept of hegemony, in which men simply sought to accrue power for the sake of it. The key argument is that through stability, well thought out support, and a solid moral base, a government can wisely guide its people. Mr. Yan makes an exceedingly well-researched argument that the philosophies of these Chinese scholars should be incorporated into the present pantheon of Western-based theories which continue to dominate international relations theory."
Red Team: How to Succeed by Thinking Like the Enemy. Micah Zenko. New York, NY: Basic Books, 2015.
Read Chris Ingram's review here.
"Allocating resources to red teaming can be costly, access to necessary information can be frustrating, and the importance of the boss’s support is critical to the success of any alternative analysis team. If the boss does not support the red team, and is not open to the criticism uncovered by its analysis, it can be a fruitless endeavor. Zenko provides a handy roadmap to the mistakes of others as a guide to future organizations. In an arena where failure results in loss of life or treasure, Red Team will be a critical resource for leaders that want to give their organization the best chance at success."
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