So, I’m cheating here. I’m grouping these books together because I read them all for work and I didn’t write reviews right away. Now I am behind and I barely remember reading half of them. There are a few others that I could lump in here but I would recommend them to others but probably not these unless you would also like to read them Army officers are reading for professional development.
Starting with the first listed, A World in Disarray. I read this back in January and I have to look up what it is about in order to write anything about it. Ahhh, that’s right. It is written by the president of the Council on Foreign Relations, a non-partisan think tank and the book argues that the world, as we know it (written in 2017) is changing and we must change with it. If I recall, and I don’t really, it felt like this book was highly critical of the proposed foreign policy decisions being discussed at the time by the new administration. I read it because it was on a professional reading list and the reason for why it was included was the goodreads description blurb. I think I found it interesting at the time but it appears that I gave it the same attention the reading list did.
The New Rules of War is one I do remember clearly. I have known few books to be as highly recommended as this one was. It was suggested by an instructor of a course I attended who believed that it was THE quintessential book for officers to read. It was paradigm-shifting and insert other cliches here. It was fine. It was like if Malcolm Gladwell wrote a book about the future of war. Lots of “but did we stop to think about this” but not a lot of substance. That said, I think it includes some interesting and thought provoking ideas, for example might it be better to use mercenaries rather than US forces to carry out military operations overseas. Obviously the answer is no but I think there really is an interesting philosophical discussion to be had. Just keep wacko Erik Prince far away from it.
On Grand Strategy is a greatest hits album of military strategists written by a preeminent military scholar. That’s it. This book is considered highly and the best of its kind for what it does. The author, John Lewis Gaddis, is a Pulitzer Prize winner for a previous book.
Start With Why is by Simon Sinek and my goodness, the military LOVES Simon Sinek. He wrote a leadership book called leaders eat last which is also an unofficial policy within the military so it makes sense that someone espousing something that we already do to be great, that we consider that person to also be great. It’s some really circular logic and a whole heaping shovel of confirmation bias but what do I know? This book is very redundant. It’s much more like listening to the same Ted Talk but recited by different people on repeat. Start With Why talks about being a leader requires us to explain why we do things, that just asking for or demanding them is not sufficient.
Tribe is one that I wanted to read for quite sometime. I REALLY liked War, also by Sebastian Junger but this was surprisingly short and more it was fine vice I liked it. The book, like title suggests is about how we seek out and find people like us, people to be part of our tribe as we we all want that sense of belonging. It happens even more so with veterans and I am worried about long term repercussions of that but that is a complete tangent.
So, I don’t particularly recommend any of these though they are far from the worst books on a professional reading list. That will always be A Message to Garcia, ugh!