Professor Daniel Byman recommends Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan.
August, 1943: Australian surgeon Dorrigo Evans is haunted by his affair with his uncle’s young wife two years earlier. His life, in a brutal Japanese POW camp on the Thai-Burma Death Railway, is a daily struggle to save the men under his command. Until he receives a letter that will change him forever.
A savagely beautiful novel about the many forms of good and evil, of truth and transcendence, as one man comes of age, prospers, only to discover all that he has lost.
Professor Elizabeth Arsenaultrecommends The Spread of Nuclear Weapon by Scott Sagan and Kenneth Waltz.
A long-time staple of International Relations courses, this new edition continues the important discussion of nuclear proliferation, while looking at the regions and issues now at the forefront of the nuclear question.
Over the past fifteen years, The Spread of Nuclear Weapons has been a staple in International Relations courses because of its brevity and crystal-clear explanations. The new edition, An Enduring Debate, continues the important discussion of nuclear proliferation and the dangers of a nuclear-armed world.
Professor Andrew Herr recommends The Black Swan: Second Edition: The Impact of the Highly Improbable by Nassim Nicholas Taleb.
A black swan is an event, positive or negative, that is deemed improbable yet causes massive consequences. In this groundbreaking and prophetic book, Taleb shows in a playful way that Black Swan events explain almost everything about our world, and yet we—especially the experts—are blind to them. In this second edition, Taleb has added a new essay, On Robustness and Fragility, which offers tools to navigate and exploit a Black Swan world.
Professor James Carafano recommends Fighting to the End: The Pakistan Army's Way of War by C. Christine Fair.
Since Pakistan was founded in 1947, its army has dominated the state. The military establishment has locked the country in an enduring rivalry with India, with the primary aim of wresting Kashmir from it. To that end, Pakistan initiated three wars over Kashmir-in 1947, 1965, and 1999-and failed to win any of them. Today, the army continues to prosecute this dangerous policy by employing non-state actors under the security of its ever-expanding nuclear umbrella. It has sustained a proxy war in Kashmir since 1989 using Islamist militants, as well as supporting non-Islamist insurgencies throughout India and a country-wide Islamist terror campaign that have brought the two countries to the brink of war on several occasions. In addition to these territorial revisionist goals, the Pakistani army has committed itself to resisting India's slow but inevitable rise on the global stage.
Despite Pakistan's efforts to coerce India, it has achieved only modest successes at best. Even though India vivisected Pakistan in 1971, Pakistan continues to see itself as India's equal and demands the world do the same. The dangerous methods that the army uses to enforce this self-perception have brought international opprobrium upon Pakistan and its army. And in recent years, their erstwhile proxies have turned their guns on the Pakistani state itself.
Why does the army persist in pursuing these revisionist policies that have come to imperil the very viability of the state itself, from which the army feeds? In Fighting to the End, C. Christine Fair argues that the answer lies, at least partially, in the strategic culture of the army. Through an unprecedented analysis of decades' worth of the army's own defense publications, she concludes that from the army's distorted view of history, it is victorious as long as it can resist India's purported drive for regional hegemony as well as the territorial status quo. Simply put, acquiescence means defeat. Fighting to the End convincingly shows that because the army is unlikely to abandon these preferences, Pakistan will remain a destabilizing force in world politics for the foreseeable future.
Professor Sean McFate recommends his book, The Modern Mercenary: Private Armies and What They Mean for World Order
It was 2004, and Sean McFate had a mission in Burundi: to keep the president alive and prevent the country from spiraling into genocide, without anyone knowing that the United States was involved. The United States was, of course, involved, but only through McFate's employer, the military contractor DynCorp International. Throughout the world, similar scenarios are playing out daily. The United States can no longer go to war without contractors. Yet we don't know much about the industry's structure, its operations, or where it's heading. Typically led by ex-military men, contractor firms are by their very nature secretive. Even the U.S. government-the entity that actually pays them-knows relatively little.
In The Modern Mercenary, former industry insider Sean McFate lays bare this opaque world, explaining the economic structure of the industry and showing in detail how firms operate on the ground. A former U.S. Army paratrooper and private military contractor, McFate provides an unparalleled perspective into the nuts and bolts of the industry, as well as a sobering prognosis for the future of war. While at present, the U.S. government and U.S. firms dominate the market, private military companies are emerging from other countries, and warlords and militias have restyled themselves as private security companies in places like Afghanistan and Somalia. To understand how the proliferation of private forces may influence international relations, McFate looks back to the European Middle Ages, when mercenaries were common and contract warfare the norm. He concludes that international relations in the twenty-first century may have more in common with the twelfth century than the twentieth. This "back to the future" situation, which he calls "neomedievalism," is not necessarily a negative condition, but it will produce a global system that contains rather than solves problems.
The Modern Mercenary is the first work that combines a broad-ranging theory of the phenomenon with an insider's understanding of what the world of the private military industry is actually like.
Associate Director David Maxwell recommends Instruments of Statecraft: U.S. Guerrilla Warfare, Counter-Insurgency, Counter-Terrorism, 1940-1990 by Michael McClintock. As we consider Unconventional Warfare, Political Warfare, and Counter-Unconventional Warfare in the 21st Century and look to operate in the strategic gap between peace and conflict or between diplomacy and war, this book looks at the US experience in the Cold War and provides many lessons for consideration.
Professor Tammy Schultz recommends Out of the Mountains: The Coming Age of the Urban Guerilla by David Kilcullen.
When Americans think of modern warfare, what comes to mind is the US army skirmishing with terrorists and insurgents in the mountains of Afghanistan. But the face of global conflict is ever-changing. In Out of the Mountains, David Kilcullen, one of the world's leading experts on current and future conflict, offers a groundbreaking look at what may happen after today's wars end. This is a book about future conflicts and future cities, and about the challenges and opportunities that four powerful megatrends--population, urbanization, coastal settlement, and connectedness--are creating across the planet. And it is about what cities, communities and businesses can do to prepare for a future in which all aspects of human society--including, but not limited to, conflict, crime and violence--are changing at an unprecedented pace.
Kilcullen argues that conflict is increasingly likely to occur in sprawling coastal cities, in peri-urban slum settlements that are enveloping many regions of the Middle East, Africa, Latin America and Asia, and in highly connected, electronically networked settings. He suggests that cities, rather than countries, are the critical unit of analysis for future conflict and that resiliency, not stability, will be the key objective. Ranging across the globe--from Kingston to Mogadishu to Lagos to Benghazi to Mumbai--he offers a unified theory of "competitive control" that explains how non-state armed groups such as drug cartels, street gangs, and warlords draw their strength from local populations, providing useful ideas for dealing with these groups and with diffuse social conflicts in general. His extensive fieldwork on the ground in a series of urban conflicts suggests that there will be no military solution for many of the struggles we will face in the future. We will need to involve local people deeply to address problems that neither outsiders nor locals alone can solve, drawing on the insight only locals can bring, together with outsider knowledge from fields like urban planning, systems engineering, renewable energy, conflict resolution and mediation.
Professor James Carafano recommends Six Months in 1945: FDR, Stalin, Churchill, and Truman--from World War to Cold War by Michael Dobbs.
When Roosevelt, Churchill, and Stalin met in Yalta in February 1945, Hitler’s armies were on the run, and victory was imminent. The Big Three wanted to draft a blueprint for a lasting peace—but instead they set the stage for a forty-four year division of Europe into Soviet and Western spheres of influence. After fighting side by side for nearly four years, their political alliance was beginning to fracture. Although the most dramatic Cold War confrontations such as the Berlin airlift were still to come, a new struggle for global hegemony had got underway by August 1945 when Truman used the atomic bomb against Hiroshima. Six Months in 1945 brilliantly captures this momentous historical turning point while illuminating the aims and personalities of larger-than-life political giants.
Professor Andrew Herr recommends Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman.
In the international bestseller, Thinking, Fast and Slow, Daniel Kahneman, the renowned psychologist and winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics, takes us on a groundbreaking tour of the mind and explains the two systems that drive the way we think. System 1 is fast, intuitive, and emotional; System 2 is slower, more deliberative, and more logical. The impact of overconfidence on corporate strategies, the difficulties of predicting what will make us happy in the future, the profound effect of cognitive biases on everything from playing the stock market to planning our next vacation—each of these can be understood only by knowing how the two systems shape our judgments and decisions.
Engaging the reader in a lively conversation about how we think, Kahneman reveals where we can and cannot trust our intuitions and how we can tap into the benefits of slow thinking. He offers practical and enlightening insights into how choices are made in both our business and our personal lives—and how we can use different techniques to guard against the mental glitches that often get us into trouble. Winner of the National Academy of Sciences Best Book Award and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and selected by The New York Times Book Review as one of the ten best books of 2011, Thinking, Fast and Slow is destined to be a classic.
Professor Jeffrey Mankoff recommends The Limits of Partnership: U.S.-Russian Relations in the Twenty-First Century by Angela Stent.
The Limits of Partnership offers a riveting narrative on U.S.-Russian relations since the Soviet collapse and on the challenges ahead. It reflects the unique perspective of an insider who is also recognized as a leading expert on this troubled relationship. American presidents have repeatedly attempted to forge a strong and productive partnership only to be held hostage to the deep mistrust born of the Cold War. For the United States, Russia remains a priority because of its nuclear weapons arsenal, its strategic location bordering Europe and Asia, and its ability to support--or thwart--American interests. Why has it been so difficult to move the relationship forward? What are the prospects for doing so in the future? Is the effort doomed to fail again and again?
Angela Stent served as an adviser on Russia under Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, and maintains close ties with key policymakers in both countries. Here, she argues that the same contentious issues--terrorism, missile defense, Iran, nuclear proliferation, Afghanistan, the former Soviet space, the greater Middle East--have been in every president's inbox, Democrat and Republican alike, since the collapse of the USSR. Stent vividly describes how Clinton and Bush sought inroads with Russia and staked much on their personal ties to Boris Yeltsin and Vladimir Putin--only to leave office with relations at a low point--and how Barack Obama managed to restore ties only to see them undermined by a Putin regime resentful of American dominance and determined to restore Russia's great power status.
The Limits of Partnership calls for a fundamental reassessment of the principles and practices that drive U.S.-Russian relations, and offers a path forward to meet the urgent challenges facing both countries.
Professor Steven Levine recommends The Future, Declassified: Megatrends That Will Undo the World Unless We Take Action by Matthew Burrows.
Twenty-five years ago when Mathew Burrows went to work for the CIA as an intelligence analyst, the world seemed frozen. Then came the fall of the Berlin Wall and the implosion of the Soviet Union; suddenly, unpredictability became a universal theme and foresight was critical. For the past decade, Burrows has overseen the creation of the Global Trends report—the key futurist guide for the White House, Departments of State and Defense, and Homeland Security. Global Trends has a history of making bold predictions and being right:
* In 2004, it argued that al-Qaeda’s centralized operations would dissolve and be replaced by groups, cells, and individuals—the very model of the 2012 Boston bombings.
* In 2008, it included a scenario dubbed October Surprise, imagining a devastating late-season hurricane hitting an unprepared New York City.
In The Future, Declassified, Burrows—for the first time—has expanded the most recent Global Trendsreport into a full-length narrative, forecasting the tectonic shifts that will drive us to 2030. A staggering amount of wholesale change is happening—from unprecedented and widespread aging to rampant urbanization and growth in a global middle class to an eastward shift in economic power and a growing number of disruptive technologies. Even our physical geography is changing as sea levels rise and faster commercial shipping routes open up through a warming Arctic region.The book concludes with its most provocative section: four fictional paths to 2030 with imagined storylines and characters based on analysis by the most authoritative figures in the intelligence community. As Burrows argues, we are living through some of the greatest and most momentous developments in history. Either we take charge and direct those or we are at their mercy. The stakes are particularly high for America’s standing in the world and for ordinary Americans who want to maintain their quality of life. Running the gamut from scary to reassuring, this riveting book is essential reading.
Associate Director David Maxwell recommends Armed with Expertise The Militarization of American Social Research During the Cold War by Joy Rohde.
During the height of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Pentagon launched a controversial counterinsurgency program called the Human Terrain System. The program embedded social scientists within military units to provide commanders with information about the cultures and grievances of local populations. Yet the controversy it inspired was not new. Decades earlier, similar national security concerns brought the Department of Defense and American social scientists together in the search for intellectual weapons that could combat the spread of communism during the Cold War. In Armed with Expertise, Joy Rohde traces the optimistic rise, anguished fall, and surprising rebirth of Cold War–era military-sponsored social research.
Seeking expert knowledge that would enable the United States to contain communism, the Pentagon turned to social scientists. Beginning in the 1950s, political scientists, social psychologists, and anthropologists optimistically applied their expertise to military problems, convinced that their work would enhance democracy around the world. As Rohde shows, by the late 1960s, a growing number of scholars and activists condemned Pentagon-funded social scientists as handmaidens of a technocratic warfare state and sought to eliminate military-sponsored research from American intellectual life.
But the Pentagon's social research projects had remarkable institutional momentum and intellectual flexibility. Instead of severing their ties to the military, the Pentagon’s experts relocated to a burgeoning network of private consulting agencies and for-profit research offices. Now shielded from public scrutiny, they continued to influence national security affairs. They also diversified their portfolios to include the study of domestic problems, including urban violence and racial conflict. In examining the controversies over Cold War social science, Rohde reveals the persistent militarization of American political and intellectual life, a phenomenon that continues to raise grave questions about the relationship between expert knowledge and American democracy.
Professor Elizabeth Arsenault recommends The Savage Wars Of Peace: Small Wars And The Rise Of American Power by Max Boot.
America's "small wars," "imperial wars," or, as the Pentagon now terms them, "low-intensity conflicts," have played an essential but little-appreciated role in its growth as a world power. Beginning with Jefferson's expedition against the Barbary Pirates, Max Boot tells the exciting stories of our sometimes minor but often bloody landings in Samoa, the Philippines, China, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, Mexico, Russia, and elsewhere. Along the way he sketches colorful portraits of little-known military heroes such as Stephen Decatur, "Fighting Fred" Funston, and Smedley Butler. From 1800 to the present day, such undeclared wars have made up the vast majority of our military engagements. Yet the military has often resisted preparing itself for small wars, preferring instead to train for big conflicts that seldom come. Boot re-examines the tragedy of Vietnam through a "small war" prism. He concludes with a devastating critique of the Powell Doctrine and a convincing argument that the armed forces must reorient themselves to better handle small-war missions, because such clashes are an inevitable result of America's far-flung imperial responsibilities.
Professor James Carafano recommends India Grows At Night: A Liberal Case for A Strong State by Gurcharan Das.
Indians wryly admit that “India grows at night.” But that is only half the saying; the full expression is: “India grows at night…when the government sleeps,” suggesting that the nation may be rising despite the state. India's is a tale of private success and public failure. Prosperity is, indeed, spreading across the country even as governance failure pervades public life. But how could a nation become one of the world's fastest-growing economies when it is governed by a weak, ineffective state? And wouldn't it be wonderful if India also grew during the day—in other words, if public policy supported private enterprise? What India needs, Gurcharan Das says, is a strong liberal state. Such a state would have the authority to take quick, decisive action; it would have the rule of law to ensure those actions are legitimate; and finally, it would be accountable to the people. But achieving this will not be easy, says Das, because India has historically had a weak state and a strong society.
Professor David Worn recommends Dying Every Day: Seneca at the Court of Nero by James Romm.
From acclaimed classical historian, author of Ghost on the Throne a high-stakes drama full of murder, madness, tyranny, perversion, with the sweep of history on the grand scale.
At the center, the tumultuous life of Seneca, ancient Rome’s preeminent writer and philosopher, beginning with banishment in his fifties and subsequent appointment as tutor to twelve-year-old Nero, future emperor of Rome. Controlling them both, Nero’s mother, Julia Agrippina the Younger, Roman empress, great-granddaughter of the Emperor Augustus, sister of the Emperor Caligula, niece and fourth wife of Emperor Claudius.
James Romm seamlessly weaves together the life and written words, the moral struggles, political intrigue, and bloody vengeance that enmeshed Seneca the Younger in the twisted imperial family and the perverse, paranoid regime of Emperor Nero, despot and madman.
Professor Carter Malkasian recommends Goodbye To All That by Robert Graves.
In this autobiography, first published in 1929, poet Robert Graves traces the monumental and universal loss of innocence that occurred as a result of the First World War. Written after the war and as he was leaving his birthplace, he thought, forever, Good-Bye to All That bids farewell not only to England and his English family and friends, but also to a way of life. Tracing his upbringing from his solidly middle-class Victorian childhood through his entry into the war at age twenty-one as a patriotic captain in the Royal Welsh Fusiliers, this dramatic, poignant, often wry autobiography goes on to depict the horrors and disillusionment of the Great War, from life in the trenches and the loss of dear friends, to the stupidity of government bureaucracy and the absurdity of English class stratification. Paul Fussell has hailed it as ""the best memoir of the First World War"" and has written the introduction to this new edition that marks the eightieth anniversary of the end of the war. An enormous success when it was first issued, it continues to find new readers in the thousands each year and has earned its designation as a true classic.
Professor Elizabeth Arsenault recommends The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien.
A classic work of American literature that has not stopped changing minds and lives since it burst onto the literary scene, The Things They Carried is a ground-breaking meditation on war, memory, imagination, and the redemptive power of storytelling.
Professor Andrew Herr recommends The Geography of Thought: How Asians and Westerners Think Differently ... and Why by Richard E. Nisbett.
A “landmark book” (Robert J. Sternberg, president of the American Psychological Association) by one of the world's preeminent psychologists that proves human behavior is not “hard-wired” but a function of culture.
Everyone knows that while different cultures think about the world differently, they use the same equipment for doing their thinking. But what if everyone is wrong?
The Geography of Thought documents Richard Nisbett's groundbreaking international research in cultural psychology and shows that people actually think about—and even see—the world differently because of differing ecologies, social structures, philosophies, and educational systems that date back to ancient Greece and China. As a result, East Asian thought is “holistic”—drawn to the perceptual field as a whole and to relations among objects and events within that field. By contrast, Westerners focus on salient objects or people, use attributes to assign them to categories, and apply rules of formal logic to understand their behavior.
From feng shui to metaphysics, from comparative linguistics to economic history, a gulf separates the children of Aristotle from the descendants of Confucius. At a moment in history when the need for cross-cultural understanding and collaboration have never been more important, The Geography of Thoughtoffers both a map to that gulf and a blueprint for a bridge that will span it.
Professor Jeffrey Mankoff recommends Putin's Kleptocracy: Who Owns Russia? by Karen Dawisha.
The raging question in the world today is who is the real Vladimir Putin and what are his intentions. Karen Dawisha’s brilliant Putin’s Kleptocracy provides an answer, describing how Putin got to power, the cabal he brought with him, the billions they have looted, and his plan to restore the Greater Russia.
Russian scholar Dawisha describes and exposes the origins of Putin’s kleptocratic regime. She presents extensive new evidence about the Putin circle’s use of public positions for personal gain even before Putin became president in 2000. She documents the establishment of Bank Rossiya, now sanctioned by the US; the rise of the Ozero cooperative, founded by Putin and others who are now subject to visa bans and asset freezes; the links between Putin, Petromed, and “Putin’s Palace” near Sochi; and the role of security officials from Putin’s KGB days in Leningrad and Dresden, many of whom have maintained their contacts with Russian organized crime.
Putin’s Kleptocracy is the result of years of research into the KGB and the various Russian crime syndicates. Dawisha’s sources include Stasi archives; Russian insiders; investigative journalists in the US, Britain, Germany, Finland, France, and Italy; and Western officials who served in Moscow. Russian journalists wrote part of this story when the Russian media was still free. “Many of them died for this story, and their work has largely been scrubbed from the Internet, and even from Russian libraries,” Dawisha says. “But some of that work remains.”
Associate Director David Maxwell recommends George Kennan: An American Life by John Lewis Gaddis.
Widely and enthusiastically acclaimed, this is the authorized, definitive biography of one of the most fascinating but troubled figures of the twentieth century by the nation's leading Cold War historian. In the late 1940s, George F. Kennan—then a bright but, relatively obscure American diplomat—wrote the "long telegram" and the "X" article. These two documents laid out United States' strategy for "containing" the Soviet Union—a strategy which Kennan himself questioned in later years. Based on exclusive access to Kennan and his archives, this landmark history illuminates a life that both mirrored and shaped the century it spanned.
Note: If we are going to study Political Warfare (or as Michael N. Schmitt and Andru E. Wall call it “unconventional statecraft,” in their article "The International Law of Unconventional Statecraft," we should really study the father of Political Warfare, George Kennan, who famously wrote in his policy planning memo in 1948 that Political Warfare employed all means short of war to achieve national objectives and it is Clausewitz in peacetime. (P. 318) Although written more than 60 years ago at the start of the Cold War, I suggest that his views on Political Warfare have as much relevance today as then.
Professor James Carafano recommends Reagan at Reykjavik: Forty-Eight Hours That Ended the Cold War by Ken Adelman.
The dramatic, first-hand account of the historic 1986 Reagan-Gorbachev summit in Iceland—the definitive weekend that was the key turning point in the Cold War—by President Reagan’s arms control director, Ken Adelman.
In October 1986, Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev met for a forty-eight-hour summit in Reykjavik, Iceland. Planned as a short, inconsequential gathering to outline future talks, the meeting quickly turned to major international issues, including the strategic defense initiative and the possibility of eliminating all nuclear weapons—negotiations that laid the groundwork for the most sweeping arms accord in history the following year.
Scrupulously researched and based on now-declassified information, Reagan at Reykjavik tells the gripping tale of this weekend that changed the world. Filled with illustrative accounts of the private discussions between Reagan and his team, Ken Adelman provides an honest and up-close portrait of President Reagan at one of his finest and most challenging moments.