Friday, August 28, 2009

What we're reading #3

We haven't done one of these in a while, so I figure an update is in order.


This should be a big reading weekend for me: the gf leaves for an overseas trip at 0500 tomorrow, so I have the run of the house (and the most unfortunate distraction: my new-ish flat screen) for a week. When I'm not reading (which is to say, tomorrow), I'll be watching Premiership soccer and the Springboks-Wallabies Tri-Nations tilt (ugh, 5pm on tape delay) at Fado.

When I am reading, this is what it's gonna be...

Finishing up Stathis Kalyvas' The Logic of Violence in Civil War. Here's what I wrote about this book on Bernard Finel's blog, to give you some idea of how it's going:
This is going to sound a little over-the-top, and I know I’m probably parroting the “dominant narrative of the COIN crowd” (to paraphrase COL Gentile), but I think it’s the most important book I’ve read on the subject of what animates insurgencies. (In light of our recent exchange about conceptual grouping and abstraction, I’ll caveat that with ‘…to the degree that we can generalize about “insurgency”‘).
I've got a little bit of that left, and then it's on to Brooks and Wohlforth's World Out of Balance: International Relations and the Challenge of American Primacy (about which I know next to nothing) or Avoiding Trivia: The Role of Strategic Planning in American Foreign Policy, edited by Daniel Drezner. Lemme know what you think if you've read either of these -- they're sitting at the top of the "to read" pile.

I'd be remiss if I didn't highlight something I've just read: a paper called "Establishing Legitimacy in Afghanistan" by Thomas J. Barfield (old bio, I think), former President of the American Institute of Afghanistan Studies at Boston U. It's in the June 2004 edition of Iranian Studies, and I only have a pdf file, so no link. It's very good, and you should read it if you can find it. (Or, to use Christian Bleuer's approach, email me if you need it for collaborative research efforts.)

UPDATE: I'm also reminded in the comments that I'm reading a good friend's yet-to-be-submitted Master's thesis, entitled "To Kill or Not To Kill: The Global Jihadist Movement and the Doctrine of Takfir." It's good work, especially considering that I haven't read a whole lot of stuff (and this may be related to my limited language skills) that examines al-Qaeda's grand strategy, so to speak, or the linkage between professed ideology and operations.


As you can probably tell by the dearth of my posting, I haven't been around much the past couple of weeks. I spent a week on a much-needed vacation and then business took me overseas. So the preponderance of my reading is catching up on all the blogs and articles I've missed. But in the spirit of coming off of vacation and before the real world hits again tomorrow, I'll be finishing up a biography on Dmitry Schostokovich before returning to my usual programming.

I've also been offline for a couple days so like Gunslinger, I'm catching up. Still, next stop, King Leopold's Ghost and I've also been wanting to get my hands on Kalyvas' book. Any other suggestions?

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