A Roundup of Recent Reading Lists

Books in the vault, Deck C, Folger Shakespeare Library, 9/11/09

Everyone who is someone and every organization that is something seems to be putting out a reading list these days. Perhaps I can persuade Chris to put one together for TDI sometime. In the meantime, several lists have popped up recently that are worth the time to peruse. They are particular good for sparking arguments over what was omitted and should be added.

The first is from LTG H.R. McMaster (scroll halfway down for the sidebar), the newly appointed Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs. He actually put this together a few years ago to outline his reading choices for military professionals. The list should be familiar to military historians and folks working in defense-related fields. It definitely delivers a sold grounding in theory and practice and informs McMaster’s view of the relationship between war and policy.

However, policy-making veteran Heather Hurlburt pointed out that McMaster’s list included no works written by women or non-Westerners. So she compiled a list of additional selections written primarily by women, including several contributors to the current ongoing national security conversation. As for non-Westerns, she only offers the ubiquitous Sun Tze, so there is room for more recommendations on that score.

The next comes from the membership of War on the Rocks and addresses the Vietnam War. It is an impressive mix of classic works on the subject and newer revisions based on declassified primary sources from all of the belligerents. The list also includes personal memoirs and novels. As a former Special Operations Forces historian, I lament the exclusion of any titles related to the covert side of that conflict.

The last list comes from Professor Andrew Bacevich, by way of West Point’s Modern War Institute. His list of five works includes Stanley Kubrick’s film adaptation of Dr. Strangelove. Bacevich also cites the theologian Reinhold Neibuhr’s The Irony of American History. His admiration for Neibuhr’s work is shared by former President Barack Obama.

So, has anyone read anything interesting lately?

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Shawn Woodford
Shawn Woodford

Shawn Robert Woodford, Ph.D., is a military historian with nearly two decades of research, writing, and analytical experience on operations, strategy, and national security policy. His work has focused on special operations, unconventional and paramilitary warfare, counterinsurgency, counterterrorism, naval history, quantitative historical analysis, nineteenth and twentieth century military history, and the history of nuclear weapon development. He has a strong research interest in the relationship between politics and strategy in warfare and the epistemology of wargaming and combat modeling.

All views expressed here are his and do not reflect those of any other private or public organization or entity.

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One comment

  1. Foreign literature? Well Moshe Dayan would probably say “Story of my life”
    De re militari, Vegetius, Polybius, Exercitus Romanum, Miyamoto Musashi book of five rings? Discorsi di tito livio? Richelieu? Chanakya? Cornelius Nepos, punic wars? Talhoffer or Lichtenauer? Clausewitz: vom Kriege? Arrian and Quintus Curtius on Alexander? Tacitius? Carl Gustav chronicles? Dai-Nippon Teikoku Kaigun study compendium?
    Of course, I am eagerly awaiting “Blitzkrieg from the ground up” by Dr. Zetterling.

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