George F. Kennan: An American Life by John Lewis Gaddis
Zero History by William Gibson
Just picked these up.
Zero History will have to wait until I read Spook Country, which sits on my shelf. Gibson is good; along with Steven Pressfield he is one of the few living writers of fiction that I will take the time to read.
The Kennan bio is a long awaited and much talked about book about the prickly and difficult father of Containment. Gaddis, an eminent diplomatic historian and a conservative in a field that still tilts leftward and where many of his peers count opposition to the Vietnam War as the formative political experience of their lives, has probably written the most important book of his career as Kennan’s official biographer.
Will review in the future.
December 31st, 2011 at 10:59 am
I will continue to encourage everyone to read The Sovereignty Solution: A Common Sense Approach to Global Security by Anna Simons, Joe McGraw, and Duane Lauchengco. This may be the most important book of the year.
December 31st, 2011 at 3:48 pm
Since the argument that most of the states of the middle east were “invented” could be made would not a study of their attributes and characteristics be worthwhile say in the areas of medicine, science, technology, patents, education, human rights, law, ethnic cleansing, initiating war? I would think such a study would be informative unless one claims that all middle east inventions are equal.
January 2nd, 2012 at 5:13 pm
@ MikeF: I definitely want to read that one….
@ zen: I can’t seem to read both fiction and non-fiction outside of my work reading. For some reason, non-fiction has cut into all my fiction reading time. The thing about reading about policy or foreign policy is that it is ever frenetic, intellectually and emotionally. It just sucks you in. I wonder if this is a cognitive feature that has partly led to our current FP difficulties? Human nature is such that terrors seem to ever expand and we see nothing but problems that need solutions?
January 2nd, 2012 at 6:51 pm
For me, reading fiction is feeling like the kid who skipped his broccoli to eat a cupcake. 🙂 The books I feel I “need” to read – Mike pointed out one above – to be on top of my game, crowd out books I ought to read. Blogging cuts into reading time as well.
Regarding the cognitive issue you have raised Doc Madhu, not exactly. I think it is a feature of a habitual overreliance on analysis in our intellectual culture which tends to focus on what can’t be done, worst case scenarios, risks and costs and narrows our mental vision to “silos of excellence”. It would be a better and healthier balance if we did more synthesis, creative thinking, generated insights, asked more questions and adopted more frequently a “big picture” or panoramic view. Not replacing analysis, but complementing it.
January 3rd, 2012 at 12:07 pm
not sure why you read Gibson, but i was less impressed with his last two, less about the future and more about atrsy girls who do cool stuff funded by rich guys.
January 3rd, 2012 at 4:50 pm
Zen, what other fiction authors do you read?
January 3rd, 2012 at 7:26 pm
On the literary fiction front, I’ve found Harold Bloom to be pretty reliable. His book, The Western Canon, is a very good introduction—with a very long reading list at the back. Bloom’s book on Shakespeare (Shakespeare And The Invention of the Human) is also a good exploration into Shakespeare’s view of human nature.
I just read Paul Johnson’s little book, Socrates, and was reminded of the Greek canon of plays—a few I’ve not read since high school (which was a long, long time ago), but plan to add to this year’s list.
January 4th, 2012 at 3:06 am
In terms of literary fiction, Dostoyevskii, Solzhenitsyn, Bulgakov, Zamyatin, Sinclair Lewis, Steinbeck, George Orwell, Mark Twain, Kipling, Saul Bellow. For scifi/pop/pulp fiction Arthur Conan Doyle, Ayn Rand, JRR Tolkien, Philip K. Dick, Robert E. Howard, Stephen R. Donaldson, Frank Herbert. Come to think of it, I read most of the Game of Thrones books a year or two ago and Daniel Suarez’s two book series.
Gibson must edging into realism these days. 🙂
April 23rd, 2012 at 8:13 am
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