I read this book because it entered the Army Chief of Staff reading list last year.
The author, David Kilcullen, begins by discussing his qualifications and more importantly, declares his biases or specifically, the lack thereof. Kilcullen is an Australian and acknowledges that he is not registered to vote in the United States nor does he affiliate with any particular party’s politics. Books like this often seem politicized so it was refreshing for the author to be so candid. In Blood Year, he is highly critical of both the Bush and Obama presidencies and decisions they made that led to the rise of ISIS and the instability in the Middle East. His criticism does not seem biased, nor does his praise, sparse as it is. Without a doubt, this makes the book much more credible. It absolutely impacted my understanding of the U.S. counterterrorism policy but also helped enlighten me to the way that others perceive it. Blood Year gave me a much better and more concrete understanding of opinions that I do not share. As the issue itself is political in nature, I won’t discuss it thoroughly as this is not the forum and I am a government employee. I will say that, read with an open mind and desire to learn, this book will probably change a perspective or two, regardless of your own affiliation. At the very least, it will make you seek more information.
Another great aspect of the book is that Kilcullen does not become mired in the ancillary while at the same time not skipping the significant. Many books on the Global War on Terror focus on the anecdotal and miss the bigger picture. Kilcullen is able to discuss the higher level impacts and decisions while using his personal experience at the lower levels to supplement his narrative.
The baseline of the book though is not just a criticism of the failures of US policy. It also offers means to solve the problems created by previous poor decision making. Kilcullen examines policies, both in the U.S. and abroad, that have been discussed and explains the impact such policies might have.
Overall, this was an excellent book that far exceeded my expectations. Listen to the CSA and read it!