355. Books on military science
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James Carroll House of War: The Pentagon and the Disastrous Rise of American Power, 2006.
Award-winning author James Carroll covers the Pentagon’s history and explains why its outsized power threatens the United States and the world.
Barbara Ehrenreich Blood Rites: Origins and History of the Passions of War, 1997.
Journalist Barbara Ehrenreich seeks to explain the fascination of violence for humans. She examines the “killer instinct” from ancient times through modern.
Chris Hedges War is a Force that Gives Us Meaning, 2002.
Chris Hedges, a former war correspondent and an ordained Presbyterian minister, has faced life-threatening situations in war-torn areas worldwide. He’s survived ambushes, imprisonment, and beatings. War can be seductive, he says, because it gives people purpose, meaning, and even exhilaration. That’s why he says we need to understand the horror it is.
In post-cold-war America, General David Petraeus led a group that remade the nation’s military. They focused on small wars against insurgents and terrorists, hoping for “nation-building” based on US interests. Fred Kaplan describes how they maneuvered to make their vision into policy.
David Lipsky Absolutely American: Four Years at West Point, 2003.
For most of US history, West Point has been the training ground for elite army officers. David Lipsky followed one group of these cadets during their studies, training, and personal lives, providing an inside look at their formation.
Cathal J. Nolan The Allure of Battle: A History of How Wars Have Been Won and Lost, 2017.
Great battles are no longer the determiners of victory they once were. Instead, wars are mostly won by outlasting and out-sizing the enemy. Cathal J. Nolan looks at great battles throughout history to find out how they fit into the war in which they were fought.
Richard Rhodes Arsenals of Folly: The Making of the Nuclear Arms Race, 2007.
American historian Richard Rhodes paints a fascinating portrait of the Cold War nuclear arms race between the United States and the Soviet Union. He recounts how we came within hours of outright atomic war in 1983 and how that near-miss led to the arms reduction campaign that could have been disarmament had it not been for behind-the-scenes influences on Ronald Reagan in Reykjavik, Iceland, at the 1986 summit meeting. The fallout from the entire era, he says, influenced the War on Terror.
Jeremy Scahill Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army, 2007.
Investigative journalist Jeremy Scahill examines the first ten years of the company Blackwater Worldwide, a North Carolina-based group that provides mercenary services. Scahill looks at its role in the US military.
Jeremy Scahill Dirty Wars: The World is a Battlefield, 2012.
Security contractors, Navy SEALS, the CIA’s Special Activities Division, the Joint Special Operations Command, and others make up the covert military of the United States. These secretive organizations are tasked with global assassinations and drone and cruise missile strikes. Jeremy Scahill exposes how these shadow forces were used by the George W. Bush administration and then expanded under Barack Obama.
Sun Tzu The Art of War, 5th-century B.C.E.
Written in China over two thousand years ago, Sun Tzu’s military strategy book has been used by cultures worldwide–on the battlefield, in politics, and in business.
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