I like books that challenge my views, as in the saying attributed to Mark Twain
“What gets us into trouble is not what we don’t know. It’s what we know for sure that just ain’t so.”
So here are two recommendations of books that challenge our views, esp about the things we know for sure.
The Culture of Defeat – On National Trauma, Mourning, and Recovery, Wolfgang Schivelbusch (2001) — Esp Chapter One, about the successful counter-revolution by the post-bellum American South. The regained dominance over their black neighbors, at a high cost — slow modernization, economic inferiority vs. the North and West.
The Culture of War, Martin van Creveld (2008) — About the truth that American cannot face: we love war.
The following are useful books, timely lessons and insights for America.
Manning the Future Legions of the United States – Finding and developing tomorrow’s centurions, Donald Vandergriff (Major, US Army, retired), (2008) — Since we’re burning up the Army and Marines, it’s not too early to consider how we’ll rebuilt our ground forces. We’ll need them again, probably too soon. Vandergriff is one of our top experts on this subject, and this is IMO one of the overlooked gems about this topic.
The Utility of Force – The art of war in the modern world, Rupert Smith (General, UK Army, retired), (2005) — You’ve read much of this, borrowed or stolen in a thousand articles and monographs. I recommend spending some time with the source. IMO one of the finest book about modern warfare.
The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers – Economic change and military conflict from 1500 to 2000, Paul Kennedy (1987) — This is the big book about America, essential reading for anyone seeking to understand what’s happening today.
A Distant Mirror – the Calamitous 14th Century, Barbara W. Tuchman (1978) — William Lind recommended this, which is reason enough to read it. The past is an alien world to us. Books like this are esp vital to read today, as our impoverished imaginations often cannot see alternatives to our modern world. History shows us that the past was radically different, reminding us that the future probably will also be so.
In the comments please suggest other useful books to read about geopolitics.
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To read other articles about these things, see the following: