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Reading Now….


Explaining Creativity:the Science of Human Innovation by R. Keith Sawyer

Antifragile: Things that Gain From Disorder by Nassim Nicholas Taleb 

Taking a break for a bit from .mil topics in order to refresh my perspective on strategy and policy with new learning elsewhere. Reading a lot on creativity of late and a comprehensive post or paper may be the ultimate result.

Taleb’s book has been the focus of some interesting online exchanges elsewhere. Previously I wrote of Antifragile:

One of the  ”must read” books for 2013. I watched Taleb kick around some of the concepts in Antifragile on his Facebook page and then observed friends like co-blogger Scott Shipman and Dr. Terry Barnhart comment as they started reading shortly after the book’s release. There are many things in Antifragile (including, it seems, a fair piece on the epistemic deficiencies of Socrates) and this is a book to read with care – not least because I intuitively agree with a number of Taleb’s arguments which means reading with a critical eye will require more effort. 

I like the “antifragile” concept. It’s useful. So I have my sharpie in hand as I read.

What are you reading these days?

11 Responses to “Reading Now….”

  1. Lexington Green Says:

    Byron Farwell, Burton: A Biography of Sir Richard Francis Burton
    William Philpott: Three Armies on the Somme: The First Battle of the Twentieth Century
    Maj. Gen. Sir George Younghusband, A Soldier’s Memories
    Conrad Black, Franklin Delano Roosevelt: Champion of Freedom
    Pope Benedict XVI, Jesus of Nazareth (Vol. 1) 

  2. zen Says:

    I always liked Burton as a historical figure. The Victorians had a superior blend of curiosity, manly and aggressive ambition, refinement and admiration for the talented generalist as pioneer in science, business, the humanities or politics. An echo of the Roman patricians of the Republic without the latter’s extremes

  3. Robert Colot Says:

                   The Revenge of Geography      Robert Kaplan 
     The Signal and the Noise          Nate Silver                             .
                   The Generals                             Thomas Ricks                         
    George F. Keenan: A Life        John Gaddis                            .
                   Samuel Adams: A Life               Ira Stoll                              
    Bleeding Talent                           Tim Kane                                
    Invisible Armies                          Max Boot                               
    Makers: The New Industrial Revolution Chris Anderson

  4. J. Scott Shipman Says:

    Our Oriental Heritage, Will Durant (I read this series in the early 80’s, but need to brush up on this period and I’m not in a hurry…)
    St Francis of Assisi, G.K. Chesterton
    Rereading A World Lit Only By Fire, Manchester (one of my all-time favorite books)
    Creativity and Intuition, Yukawa (a Boyd book)
    and a bunch of Navy academic stuff…
    On NNT; keep your sharpie close-by; wicked good book, but ego to spare. Concur on antifragility as a concept, though very difficult to adequately explain as it tends to the counter-intuitive—particular when he’s parsing the differences with a robust system.
    UPDATE: Not sure how I missed The History of The Church, by Eusebius—a very good read thus far. 

  5. Critt Jarvis Says:

    1st read… Plutocrats: The Rise of the New Global Super-Rich and the Fall of Everyone Else by Chrystia Freeland

    3rd pass, pulling out terms – Military Strategy: A General Theory of Power Control by J.C. Wylie

    2nd pass, deep read & pulling out terms – A Systemic Concept for Operatinal Design by John F. Schmidt (paper)

    3rd pass, pulling out terms – Opting Out of War: Strategies to Prevent Violent Conflict by Mary Anderson and Marshall Wallace

  6. T. Greer Says:

    Yesterday just finished Robin Waterfield translation of Polybius’ Histories

    Now reading:

    Mark Edward Lewis, Sanctioned Violence in Early China.

    Roger Ames trans. Dao De Jing along with D.C. Lau’s translation of the same book

    Karen Ho, Liquidated: An Ethnography of Wall Street

    I read about one chapter a week from:

    Paul Kennedy, Rise and Fall of the Great Powers 

    Plutarch’s Lives, Vol II trans by John Dryden

    Alex de Tocqueville, Democracy in America trans. by Gerald Bevan  

    Also try to read from the Book of Mormon or the New Testament (usually KJV but sometimes the Lattimore trans) every day.

  7. PB Says:

    Science Fiction Prototyping: Designing the Future with Science Fiction by Intel’s resident futurist Brian David Johnson. I’ve become intrigued by the use of storytelling in futurism/scenario planning.

    Tom Stoppard’s The Inspector Hound and other Plays. Over the past ten years or so I’ve gotten away from reading fiction, plays and poetry and I’m just starting to work them back into my reading program. I’ve been wanting to read Stoppard for a while now.

    Zen at War by Brian Daizen Victoria. Looks at the role Zen Buddhism played in Japanese militarism. 

    I haven’t started it yet but I recently picked up a used copy of Grand Strategy: Practices and Principles by John Collins. The book has an Army War College Library stamp, I wonder who has read this book over the years?

    Listening to the audiobook of The Admirals: Nimitz, Halsey, Leahy, and King–The Five-Star Admirals Who Won the War at Sea by Walter Borneman during my commute. 

  8. J.ScottShipman Says:

    Hi T. Greer, 
    I do the same thing with the KJV/Lattimore readings. Updated my comment above to add Eusebius’ History of The Church. Eusebius is described as the “Herodotus” of the Church, but this translation reads much better. 

  9. zen Says:

    I want to read Zen at War. I have not yet read Colonel John “the Warlord” Collins’ book, but it is on my list. Plutarch and De Tocqueville are must reads for everyone.  have Creativity and Inuition on my book pile.  Reviewed Gaddis here and Anderson here.

  10. L. C. Rees Says:


    New Testament (KJV)
    Uncontrolled: The Surprising Payoff of Trial-and-Error for Business, Politics,Society by Jim Manzi
    The Cambridge Ancient History VII Part 2 The Rise of Rome to 220 B.C.
    Pox Americana: The Great Smallpox Epidemic of 1775-82 by Elizabeth A. Fenn
    Rational Choice in an Uncertain World: The Psychology of Judgement and Decision Making by Reid Hastie and Robyn M. Dawes
    Abraham Lincoln and the Structure of Reason by David Hirsch and Dan Van Haften


    The Measure of Reality: Quantification and Western Society, 1250-1600 by Alfred W. Crosby 

  11. T. Greer Says:

    @J. Shipman – Glad to find another fan of the Lattimore translation! While I occasionally use them for reference, I find that the NIV and some of the other popular translations do not have enough… well, I suppose ‘dignity’ is the best word for it. I am extremely impressed with Lattimore’s ability to translate with clarity and dignity. He is the first place I go to when archaisms in the KJV threaten to confuse instead of enlighten.


    @Zen- Tocqueville has been a constant companion of mine for a long time; I read him first during the summer before my 16th birthday. Not a month has passed since where I have not picked it back up for one reason or another. (A few years ago there was a meme going around where a lot of folks in the libertarian-leaning blogosphere wrote a post describing the ‘key works’ of their intellectual biography. I was surprised by how many of their political/intellectual ‘journeys’ began as a late high school reading of Nietzsche or Ayn Rand. I wonder how differently my politics would now be had I read Rand before Tocqueville instead of the other way around!) Plutarch, on the other hand, is new. I am counting him as my ‘Fiction’ read for the month. ^_~ 

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