Sunday, June 25, 2006
Random Thoughts Concerning My (Out of Control) "Expeditionary" Bookshelf
I received some good comments from an anonymous commenter on the last EBO post. I'll respond to the comments on a different post. I truly appreciate it when readers comment on my posts. Even if they disagree with my points. I prefer non-anonymous comments (I think most bloggers do), but I am grateful to have any comments at all.
For now, some other thoughts.
As I was unpacking my stuff in my temporary Florida location, I realized that I had packed a lot of freaking books. Since I drive a big pick-up truck I could've packed more, but I certainly could've packed less. You can see a picture of the Sonny's "Expeditionary" Library. (No folks, I don't travel with the whole self when I actually go overseas. Not very tactical. Small paperbacks are the only ones allowed to travel overseas.) Will I read all those books before the winter when I (hopefully) go back to Virginia. Probably not. Do I feel more at home having all those books with me? Absolutely. Among the holdings (in no particular order):
- The Sling and the Stone by Col Thomas X. Hammes. I read this when it first came out about two years ago. I brought it for reference purposes.
- Insurgency and Counterinsurgency in Iraq by Ahmed Hashim . I am currently reading this one. Good reference too.
- The Tiger's Way by H. John Poole. I bought this book last year at the BX in Al Udeid Air Base when I had nothing else to read at the time. Not for everybody.
- On Killing by LtCol Dave Grossman. I am re-reading this one. I was a first lieutenant the first time I read it, a lot has happened since.
- Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson. My good charm book.
- Lord Jim by Joseph Conrad. I read Heart of Darkness a while back. I liked HoD so I decided to read this one before the end of the year.
- Confessions of an Economic Hit Man by John Perkins. I don't really know what to expect from this book, but the title grabbed my attention.
- Veinte poemas de amor y una cancion desesperada by Pablo Neruda. My favorite poet (in any language) is Pablo Neruda. I am fortunate that I can read it in Spanish. Another good charm book that has been with me since I was a freshman in college back in 1992.
- D-Day by Stephen Ambrose. After reading (and watching the awesome HBO mini-series) Band of Brothers, I decided to pick this one up. I might read it before the winter.
- Military Misfortunes by Eliot Cohen and John Gooch. I read Supreme Command by Cohen a few years ago when it was in the Air Force Chief of Staff reading list. This book by Cohen was republished last year and the topic is always fascinating.
- Rendezvous with Rama by Arthur C. Clarke. I bought this paperback in a used bookstore down in Key West a few years ago. I never finished reading it while I was down there, so I brought it along. It's always good to have light paperbacks for when I go "forward".
- War and Destiny by James Kitfield. I saw a Kitfield interview on C-Span last year talking about this book. I enjoyed the interview and I liked Prodigal Soldiers so I decided to get this one too.
- From Beirut to Jerusalem by Thomas Friedman. This book came out a while ago, but I never read it. I might get to it later this year.
- What Went Wrong? by Bernard Lewis. I finished reading this book on 27 Jun 2004 while I was overseas. Don't ask me how I remember that. I don't know why I even brought it here.
- The Brand You 50 by Tom Peters. I bought this book at the airport in Tampa last year. Good motivational book. I am a Tom Peters fan and this is the one Tom Peters book I decided to bring here.
- Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill. Two of my friends, independently, recommended me this book. I took it as a signal and bought the book.
- Competitive Karate by Adam Gibson and Bill Wallace. Good advice for the dojo (when I get back to VA). Not so great for "real-life" fighting. Still, I always like to read good martial arts books.
- Almost a Woman by Esmeralda Santiago. Always good to carry a book by a fellow Boricua. Esmeralda Santiago grew up not too far away from where I grew up in beautiful Puerto Rico. There's also a version in Spanish (Casi una mujer), but Esmeralda originally wrote the book in English. There's very little lost in translation with the way she writes.
- The Coming Anarchy by Robert D. Kaplan. I am saving this from where I go back overseas in a few weeks. It's light and easy to carry with my gear. After reading Imperial Grunts last year I decided to get this one too.
- Once an Eagle by Anton Myrer. This is a paperback I bought a few years ago, but its intimidating size has prevented me from even starting to read it. Maybe next month I'll start. No way this is going with me overseas. Too bulky.
- Developing the Leader in You and Failing Forward by John C. Maxwell. My friend Ida, gave me these books not too long ago. Thanks babe! I finished the first one. Don't know when I'll get to the second one.
- The Marine Corps Way by Santamaria, Martino, and Clemons. This is a business book that tries to apply some USMC principles to civilian business. It's actually pretty good although I've read some bad reviews.
- Platform by Michel Houellebecq. I read this book last year. Somehow I packed it with the rest. Not for everybody. Good book to read at the beach. I might read a few pages when I feel too cheery and want to sprinkle some nihilism to my day.
- Global Brain by Howard Bloom. I bought this book after reading Dan's review at tdaxp. I'll start reading it when my mind clears up a bit more.
- Weapons of Choice by John Birmingham. I bought this paperback after Eddie mentioned it on Live from the FDNF. Fun read so far.
- Chasing the Silver Bullet by Kenneth P. Werrell. It's always interesting to read about weapons development. This book is about Air Force weapons development from Vietnam to Desert Storm. I actually finished reading this book two years ago. It's a good reference though.
- The Transformation of American Air Power by Benjamin S. Lambeth. The best book I've read on airpower history from Vietnam to the Allied Force campaign.
- Airpower in Small Wars by Corum and Johnson. I read this book back in 03. The copy that I have has seen better days, but I still like to have with me as a reference.
- The Battle for Pusan by Addison Terry. I always like to read war stories. I read many WWII and Vietnam war stories, but not too many Korean War ones. That's too bad because my grandpa and my great uncle were veterans of the Korean War.
- Blueprint for Action by Thomas P.M. Barnett. I actually finished reading this book on a plane going to Vegas earlier this year. It's a good book, so I decided to bring it along.
- Beyond Baghdad by Ralph Peters. Yes, I read Ralph Peters' books. I am not buying the new one though. I already read most of it at a Barnes and Noble when I was TDY in Nebraska last December. (I had nothing better to do on a Tuesday night in Omaha. Actually, I think there was something better to do. Heck, doing snow angels out in the parking lot would have been more enlightening.)
I realize that I probably will not be able to finish reading all of those books. (As you can tell from the picture above, there are more books that I did not list.) I just did not feel good leaving them behind in VA for six plus months. I am also working on my PME (Professional Military Education for the civilian readers) by correspondence and learning about my new job. I will also be flying out of here shortly and going back overseas for several months. I might post some pictures of my adventures.
The Sling & The Stone, along with 4GW in general, remains questionable to me, but I enjoyed his proposals for reforms and his examination of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict in “4GW” terms.
I actually bought “The Tiger’s Way” at the Camp Zama BX because it looked fairly straightforward to a person like me with little to no understanding of infantry/ground warfare.
I like Conrad’s books (The book about the island & the anarchists are my two favorites (sorry, the names alude me and internet access is sloooooow....). I picked him up from both a high school appreciation of “Heart Of Darkness” & after reading Kaplan’s references to him in “The Coming Anarchy” & “Warrior Politics”.
“Military Misfortunes” was an excellent read, the sections on naval convoys and the Israeli difficulties were highly invigorating reads. I need to finish up “Supreme Command” (which is sitting in my rack). I had no appreciation for the kind of balance of power issues Clemenceau and Ben-Guiron had to deal with inside their governments and societies.
“From Beirut to Jerusalem” remains one of my favorite reads… I read it in high school, read it again my doomed freshman year and then read it on the beach at Guam in two days last year. I can’t find a way to read this without ending up sympathetic for the plight of the Palestinians, a reaction that usually would stir up debate in the post 9/11 world but that is now mooted because of the disastrous political infighting between Arafat, his proxies and Hamas/Islamic Jihad.
I need to reread “Blueprint For Action” in order to better understand the deep issues and concerns brought up by some of the better bloggers out there (like Lexington Green and Mark Safranski “ZenPundit”). I may end up just re-reading “PNM” too.
Though it was too visceral in places, “New Glory” was a great read to me. “Beyond Baghdad” was really good, and I look forward to “Never Quit The Fight” (out next month) which I hope will have some new essays previously unpublished included. Peters challenges and provokes like no one else IMHO, he just goes too far with his obsessive attacks on the Air Force leadership.
The other books look cool. When the internets speed up and I have more time, I will check them out on Amazon and add them to my wish list.
"The Sling and the Stone "
Very fun. I read this in the Black Hills a few years back. Very good atmosphere.
"Rendezvous with Rama"
Must have read this in early teens. I read the whole series. Pretty good.
"From Beirut to Jerusalem"
Good. Having your apartment blown up by the PLO is always a bitch.
"What Went Wrong? "
I read this, but it's a combination of articles instead of a book. Always sad to see an author age, even when they can still write quite well.
A very good book, and much more readable than my blog! :-)
"Blueprint for Action"
My copy is all marked up. Very provocative. a
Thanks for your comments. You don't know how much I appreciate your feedback.
Sling and the Stone: Good book. I don't concentrate too much in the 4GW aspect of it. Even taking out all the 4GW lingo, the book offers an excellent survey of some of the unconventional conflicts that the world has seen since the end of WWII.
Tiger's Way: The book has some "wacky" concepts about "Oriental" warfare. Overall, is a good effort, but like I said, not for everybody. Especially if you are a civilian.
Conrad: Eddie, the island book is called Victory. The anarchists' book is The Secret Agent.
I liked Supreme Command better than Military Misfortunes. Just because I found the fomer more readable that the latter. Perhaps is due to all the brain cells I've lost since I read Supreme Command back in 03.
From Beirut to Jerusalem is a book I've owned since 2002. I've never read it because since that year I've been either deployed, getting the ready to deployed, or PCSing or getting ready to PCS. Bottom line is I just recovered the book from storage and will finally read it.
BFA: I won't go as far as re-reading the whole book, but I have it here because I think it's another good effort.
Ralph Peters should probably stick to fiction at this point. He's become a cartoon of his former self. I am not spending a dime of my hard earned (and some inherited) money to buy any more of his books. Thanks to Barnes and Nobles and Borders I can skim through his latest book and put it back in the comic book section of the bookstore when I am done skimming. I'll shut up now because an anon commenter told me I should be more careful when I talk about RP. I am trembling in my boots!
Oh the internets are so slow when you are on the boat. Or so I hear.
Cryptonomicon: This book is off the chain! I wish I could write like Neal Stephenson. I particularly liked the chapters set in the Philippines, but the whole book is great. Four stars out of four.
Rama: Mass market paperback = light. Inshallah, will go with me on my next outing.
"What went wrong?" Okay book, but I would not recommend it at this point. Unless you can get it free. By now, there are far better books on the ME than this one.
"Global Brain" My goal is to read this book by December. I skimmed through it and with my current state of mind I dont think I would really enjoy the book.
I realize that the post is kind of lame. Basically a list of books with some random observations...but I want it to give my (half a dozen) readers a window into my mind and my soul. That was tacky.
I disgress... sorry.
What was striking to me about PNM & BFA is the highly original and thoughtful ways people like Dan and Chirol have utilized the "PNM" idea. Thus, I want to at least make an attempt to give both a cursory re-read.
I’m sorry you feel that way about Peters. Aside from his misinformed commentary on the Air Force, I find his writing still quite up to par… witness “Faith As Evolutionary Survival Strategy” from a few months ago. That alone is a better, stronger, more thoughtful piece of writing than 90% of the drivel that is considered international relations, history, military strategy or security studies.
I finally (after it stopped loading the checkout page yesterday morning) ordered “Global Brain”, along with a few others, thank you for the tip Sonny (and that’s a neat blog post Dan).
I greatly enjoyed "The Anarchists", always a fascinating period of time, particulary after reading "The Proud Tower".
I think this post is great. After respecting someone's writings and thoughts, its always fascinating to learn about what they are reading.
Thanks again for the kind comments. I would not mind seeing similar posts in some of the blogs I read regularly, just to see what they are reading and their thoughts on the books.
Having worked with the Navy I know how slow your connections can be most of the time. Even on the secure side. Luckily, my current "deployment" spot has "free" high-speed wireless internet.
I haven't read or know nothing about Perkins' "Economic Hitman" book. This might sound bad, but I bought the book because it was in a "Buy 2 Get One Free One" table at Barnes and Noble. The book also had a cool cover and an interesting title. I know you are sort of supposed to buy books based on more solid grounds than the ones mentioned above, but honestly nothing else was appealing to me as the "third book" from the table. The other books I bought in that outing were "The Way of the Superior Man" by David Deida and "The Battle for God" by Karen Armstrong.
I forgot to thank you for your feedback. I like your blog too. 
Thanks for the feedback. I enjoy reading the DownEast Blog  even though half the time my basic knoweledge of European politics prevents me from fully understanding the issues you cover. You have really good and heated discussions in the comments sections too!
I worked for several years as part of an interagency task force dominated by Navy officers. A rare opportunity at the time for an Air Force officer, but something that will become more prevalent. The Air Force often times has to work with the Navy because of the carrier air assets that are also air component assets.
I read CDR Salamander's blog on a semi-regular basis. In fact, I might put his blog in my blogroll, just to make the reading more regular.