Thursday, July 2, 2009

What we're reading

In what I hope will be institutionalized as a regular feature, we're going to tell you what reading material will be joining us on the plane, in the car, or at the picnic this Fourth of July weekend.

Gulliver:
  • Ahmed Rashid's acclaimed 2000 book Taliban: Militant Islam, Oil and Fundamentalism in Central Asia
  • "The People in Arms: A Practitioner's Guide to Understanding Insurgency and Dealing With it Effectively," by retired Army colonel G. L. Lamborn (courtesy of SWJ).
  • "The Kill Company," Raffi Khatchadourian's 19-page New Yorker feature on COL Michael Steele and the 2006 killing (murder?) of eight Iraqis by a squad from Steele's 3/101. [I've actually already finished this one, and it's very, very thought-provoking. Find a copy!]
Alma:

"The Kill Company" is on my list too, as well as Lawrence Wright's "The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11" (I know, it's about time).

Anyone has something more joyful for a Fourth of July?

Gunslinger:

Other than a ton of articles for work, I'll be reading the "The Soloist" by Steve Lopez (it is a long weekend after all - I can't read COIN all the time) and "The Rough Riders" by Teddy Roosevelt.

MK

I'll be finishing off Woodward's The War Within before turning to meatier stuff, like:And if I can find it, I'd like to pick up a copy of Abdulkader Sinno's book Organizations at War in Afghanistan and Beyond.

Lil

Gerard Prunier's Africa's World War: Congo, the Rwandan Genocide and the Making of a Continental Catastrophe and I need to find a silly novel to read in the sun...any suggestions?

5 comments:

  1. As far as those Afghanistan selections go, Rashid's book is a narrative that does not do much to inform about the "how and why" in a pursuasive manner (it would die a quick death in even a grad-student level seminar). Sinno's book is the antidote to this. However, the post 2001 in Sinno's book is not helpful. That's when you should pick up Rashid's new book.

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  2. Christian -- Thanks for the comment.

    Rashid's book, for me, is useful in that it gives a look in on how the Taliban were treated in contemporary media during the pre-9/11 period. It's not so much a work of history as a journalistic accounting, and considering it from that perspective (as basically a collection of news articles, woven together as a narrative) I think it's worthwhile.

    I'm about halfway through Descent Into Chaos, as well.

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  3. Christian - how do you feel about Sinno's chapter in Tarzi and Crews?

    I thought his explanation of the Taliban's rise to power (out-Pashtun-ing their competitors) a bit over-determined, and he seemed to leave Pashtun identity un-problematized. But I'm relatively new to this problem-set.

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  4. Sinno's chapter in crews/tarzi is not much new. But I really appreciate Sinno's contribution. And as far as it being over-determined, that's what American polisci people do these days (I may be generalizing a bit).

    And IMO, Pashtun identity as a variable is grossly over-rated.

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  5. The Rough Riders is excellent as a "you are there" book.

    Whether it has any contemporary significance is another question.

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