- John Mackinlay's The Insurgent Archipelago just arrived in my mailbox yesterday at long last (because I'm apparently too stupid to order it from the U.S. version of Amazon. Oh well, at least I got the paperback!). Mackinlay's gotten good reviews from his colleague David Betz at KoW, and props from Carl Prine, Gian Gentile, Ken White, Niel Smith (quite the impressive cast of characters!) and others at SWJ. I'm looking forward to this one.
- Just this morning I was sent Jason Lyall's article from the Winter 2010 International Organization, entitled "Do democracies make inferior counterinsurgents? Reassessing democracy's impact on war outcomes and duration." I've just skimmed through it and feel reasonably unconvinced of Lyall's thesis, which is that once you've corrected for various selection biases, democracies and autocracies have similar levels of tolerance for extended counterinsurgency campaigns.
- I still haven't finished the March/April 2010 Foreign Affairs, which contains a cute little article by Sheri Berman comparing state-building in Afghanistan to Louis XIV's consolidation of France.
- That piece neatly dovetails with another book I'm about halfway through, which also focuses on state consolidation and counterinsurgency in medieval Europe: The Revolt of Owain Glyn Dwr, by R.R. Davies. (Somehow I scored the last reasonably-priced copy on the interwebs, I guess -- I think I paid $4 including shipping, and now all I see is $115 and up!) I'm just now getting to the good bits, which is to say the actual burning and looting and whatnot. (Joke, people.)
Co-bloggers, let us know what you're working on!
I'm focusing on some of the "classic" books on COIN and small wars these days - mainly due to a couple of nice Christmas gifts that I'm still working through. Since I spent a bit of time doing COIN, I didn't get a whole lot of reading done on the subject and I'm making up for that now. After finishing "The Sling and the Stone" earlier this week (which I did not particularly enjoy), I'm paging through the following:
Modern Warfare: A French View of Counterinsurgency by Roger Trinquier. It's only 90 pages so it's the low-hanging fruit of the group. It seems to apply mainly to colonial wars, but interesting non-the-less.
The Logic of Violence in Civil Wars by Stathis Kalyvas. It's awfully dense so this is taking some time. So far so good (I'm about a third of the way through), but so far I'm skeptical about it's applicability to U.S. operations because he narrowly defines the conflicts that he analyzes. Time and pages will tell though.
Small Wars Their Principles and Practice by C.E. Calwell. This book gets a bad rap among a lot of COINdinistas. Other than some extremely racist language and dated ideas of norms in war, there are some real nuggets in this tome.
After these I still have a whole pile more to go through along the same vein, but it's been slow-going because of my schedule of late.
I am looking forward to finishing Eliot Cohen's Supreme Command: Soldiers, Statesmen, and Leadership in Wartime, which I abandoned in mid-course... last Summer. This does not speak to the quality of the book, which is excellent, but rather to my being caught in other things and trying now to clear the backlog of books started in a distant past and not finished yet.
When I am done, I will get started on H.R. McMaster's Dereliction of Duty: Johnson, McNamara, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Lies that Led to Vietnam, which I should have read a long time ago but, well, it is never too late...
On that same topic, I will also have a look at Jonathan Caverley's piece on Vietnam and COIN in International Security, which was flagged on Kings of War earlier this week not once but twice.
And because my weekend can not be spent on war narratives only, I am going to continue Column McCann's Let the Great World Spin. It starts on a beautiful scene describing Philippe Petit walking on a wire between the two towers of the World Trade Center in 1974. If you have not yet seen the documentary on this fascinating (and hair-rising) feat, it is here and worth 94 minutes of your weekend time.
I'm a bit behind on this one but here goes. I'm still working on Kalyvas' The Logic of Violence in Civil War. Like Alma, it's not that I've found it boring or anything, I've just been busy with other things (though I did turn the main one in last night!). Sometimes I think we all run a book club because I also have McMaster's book sitting on my shelf.
Today, I picked up the latest copy of Prism, the journal of the new Center for Complex Operations at the National Defense University. It has some articles about state fragility.
Finally, I grabbed Building Peace after War by Mats Berdal from my boss' shelf.