You know my weakness; I'm not one for squishy Christmas presents.
Feed the mind; build depth; honor the accumulated knowledge of our civization.
Especially for a young man or woman who is either thinking of, or is already engaged in the profession of arms; being well read is essential.
One of the "hail fellow well met" guests we have had on Midrats is John T. Kuehn, Ph.D., CDR USN (Ret), Professor of Military History at the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College in Fort Leavenworth, KS.
I've asked him this year for book recommendations for those who need to flesh out their noodle.
Great choices, and here they are!
- Matterhorn: A Novel of the Vietnam War, by Carl Marlantes (JTK comment: every naval officer should read this book)
- The Master and the Emissary: The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World (JTK comment: mind bending, really)
- A Song of Fire and Ice, George R.R. Martin, The Game of Thrones or whatever is next in the series (JTK comment: just fun. I am on Dance of Dragons)
- Joe Rochefort's War, Elliot Carlson (JTK comment: super naval history for any educated reader)
The Next two are older, but they ARE old favorites. One is very readable. The other is cathartic.
- The Two Cultures, by C.P. Snow (JTK comment: a plea for mutual understanding between the humanities and the sciences)
- Life and Fate, by Vasily Grossman (JTK comment: that rare novel/book that explains World War II in Russia, the Holocausts--to include Stalin's--and the Cold War)
For the stocking stuffer consider Tom Ricks' The Generals: American Military Command from WW II to Today (JTK comment, it is shaking up the blogs and the conversations inside and outside the Beltway).
Salamander comment: I can't pass up a comment about Ricks's book that I just got through reading. First, like John, I highly recommend it, but with a few exceptions where Ricks makes critical oversights.
First, his narrative about AFG describes the war in a way to USA-centric overview. He just skims a discussion on NATO's role from taking over in late '05 to '10 when USA took back the keys, but that part of the book gives me the impression that he simply has not interviewed enough people familiar with the war from a NATO perspective. Second, he is very wrong about Gen. McKiernan.
McKiernan was the one who brought COIN as refined by Petraeus-Mattis to AFG with the uplift of USA forces in late 2008 - he is the one responsible for bringing Shape-Clear-Hold-Build in to the OPLAN before that.
Nothing malicious on Ricks's part, again, it just shows that his source bench is a bit thin for that part of the war and it bugs me.
If you are interested in his extended reading list ... well ... here you go!