Tag - Book Review

The Year 2013 In Books

TruthI’m trying something different this year with my book list. I’m going to make a short comment after listing each book.

But first, the usual questions: are there any themes from this year? Any intellectual currents present in my reading list that I didn’t realize at the time but see now that it’s complete?

First, I read a great deal of Late Classical history, including late Rome, Byzantine, and the early years of the Arab/Muslim Empire. My reading in this area got very granular and specialized. I seemed to know, subconsciously, that I would be studying this stuff in grad school in the near future, although at the time that decision was a long way off.

Second, I read a lot of fiction this year. More so than I do most years. Going forward I am trying to keep the ratio at 3 non-fiction for every 1 fiction. I found fiction to be refreshing and also helped me to make better connections between the non-fiction works I was reading because my mind was fresh and cleared out. There is a place for reading popular fiction.

Third, I read a lot of poetry this year as well. And when I say read a lot of poetry, I mean, I bought a book of poetry and read the entire book. Not straight through, but I’d read a chapter at a time, read something else and then come back to it. This is another habit I hope sticks around. Poetry is good for the soul. It connects us to the longings and shortfalls and loves and desires of others. This remains essential to being human.

You can read the rest of the story here.

Thomas Ricks, The Generals: American Military Command from World War II to Today

A review

Over the last thirty years or so, criticism of the military has been rare. It seems to be taboo. Harsh assessments of the generals are usually seen as unwarranted, or unpatriotic, or an unwelcome return to the vicious and misguided discourse of the Vietnam War. Washington Post writer Thomas Ricks is not reluctant to criticize our military elite. The Generals is an informed criticism of the top officers from the Second World War to the present. Ricks’s book, though not always well argued and misfiring in places, is exceptionally timely and should be read by all engaged citizens. Understanding the military should not be based on official statements, sentimental notions of war, or tired rallying cries of a past war.
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