With the future of US forces in Afghanistan post-2014 still uncertain, I’ve been thinking about what it would mean to be on one of the last deployments there – someone is going to have to do it, after all.
Ex-blogger Andrew Exum once told me that the value that I would bring as an older, over-educated LT was that if I were to go to war, I’d know what books to read before going, or at least where to start looking.
When it comes to Middle East Studies, Afghanistan is on the fringe. If the field is a purely geographical one, it falls outside of the region unless you have a generous cartographer. If the field is thematic, then there are certainly things that bring Afghanistan into the fold. As it were, my schooling brought Afghanistan and its neighbor Pakistan in every now and then – but not often.
I could scour my bookshelf and pull out a dozen books about Afghanistan and start reading, but I think history and anthropology only go so far in a post-COIN/post-OBL 2014.
This is the End of War.
I’m turning to you, dear readers, to help me out in recommending books that you think would be beneficial to a young leader going to Afghanistan. It doesn’t have to be Afghanistan specific – it can be about anything – but I’m hoping to build the definitive list of books that would prepare that young leader for a contemporary deployment to Afghanistan. That list, I am sure, is different from the list that would exist for a different young leader deploying in 2003, 2007, or 2011.
The first book I’ve pulled off of my shelf is “Into the Land of Bones,” a gift from a friend back in New York. I haven’t read it yet.
Please leave your recommendations in the comments. I’ll add my own recommendations as I find them and write short reviews as I finish them.
Update: I’m getting lots of recommendations – some will go on the list, others will go “on deck,” because I’m not quite sure yet.
The End of War Reading List
Into the Land of Bones (gift from a friend) – currently reading
The Defense of Jisr Al-Doreea (recommended by a couple of friends)
The Massacre at El Mozote (recommended by Matthew Bradley)
Every War Must End (recommended by Jason Lemieux)
Black Hearts (recommended by “Jim”)
Can Intervention Work (recommended by “Lincoln”)
A Question of Command: Counterinsurgency from the Civil War to Iraq (recommended by Robert)
Blink: the Power of Thinking without Thinking (recommended by Laura and a friend)
Friend by Day, Enemy by Night: Organized Vengeance in a Kohistani Community (recommended by Laura)
War is a Force That Gives Us Meaning (recommended by Joao Hwang)
Romance of the Three Kingdoms (recommended by Joao Hwang)
The Forever War (recommended by Shelly)
How Wars End: Why We Always Fight the Last Battle (recommended by Tim Mathews)
The Operators (recommended by Nathalie)
The Liberation Trilogy (recommended by Allen)
The Village (recommended by Robert)
Koran, Kalashnikov, and Laptop (recommended by “Kyle”)
The Junior Officer’s Reading Club (recommended by “Kyle”)
The Enlightened Soldier – Scharnhorst and the Militarische Gesellschaft in Berlin, 1801-1805 (recommended by Laura)
Storm Troop Tactics: Innovation in the German Arm (recommended by Laura)
Utility of Force; Art of War in the Modern World (recommended by Laura)
The Sling and the Stone: On War in the 21st Century (recommended by Laura)
Carnage and Culture: Landmark Battles in the Rise to Western Power (recommended by Laura)
Brave New World (recommended by a fellow infantry officer)
Sympathy for the Devil (recommended by Wesley Morgan)
Just for fun
All You Need Is Kill