A reading list, quite obviously, is a list of readings; it is a list defined by its content. But a professional reading list is actually more than a list of professional readings. It prescribes its own use: Wrestle with me, it goads. Debate me. Engage. At the very least expect an encounter. The texts listed within serve to further circumscribe the profession and those within it, as professionals. Martha Nussbaum in Not for Profit: Why Democracy Needs the Humanities explains “When people see their ideas as their own responsibility, they are more likely, too, to see their deeds as their own responsibility.” Just as we seek to instill decentralized execution in tactical engagements, introducing critical thinking serves to empower junior leaders to take ownership of their ideas; the list is not a checklist, but a playlist, a library of potential.
There is craft involved when an author places the work reviewed in context, not just temporally and with other similar works, but alongside its counterparts in the arts—in poetry, music, film, or theater. This craft is what makes a book review enjoyable and when the author strings it together just right, it approaches art.
To understand Patton, you have to look at what he wrote and what he read, and it is there that you will find the man. Besides Patton’s well-known journals...Patton also wrote essays on military technology, history, leadership, and strategy. Many of these are now reprinted in 21st Century Patton: Strategic Insights for the Modern Era.
Francis Bacon once wrote, "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. But we must also think, discuss, and write about the knowledge we pursue. 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. The interested reader will also find a group of authors nailing their whispers to the wall making themselves and our community stronger. We're proud to be a part of such a community.
In the end, a static list cannot capture the depth and breadth of the WarBooks, not least because we hope to see the WarBooks continue to grow and evolve just as we and the other contributors to it will. But pausing periodically to reflect on the list and consider the wisdom in it is important…if only to help one to choose the next book destined for our shelf.
The bottom-line is that there already exists a long list of lists advising strategists on what they should read. At best, the analysis presented here provides one more list to consider. To remain open-minded, hopefully a strategic thinker would never limitthemselves to any list. Nevertheless, the hope is that individuals find the results of this survey valuable as they chart their course of self-study and reflection, wherever that may take them.