Saturday, January 21, 2012


Interesting and insightful . . . S.L.

A Bright Shining Lie - Neil Sheehan

This passionate, epic account of the Vietnam War centers on Lt. Col. John Paul Vann, whose story illuminates America's failures and disillusionment in Southeast Asia. Vann was a field adviser to the army when American involvement was just beginning. He quickly became appalled at the corruption of the South Vietnamese regime, their incompetence in fighting the Communists, and their brutal alienation of their own people. Finding his superiors too blinded by political lies to understand that the war was being thrown away, he secretly briefed reporters on what was really happening.

A Man Called Intrepid - William Stevenson

The incredible World War II narrative of the hero whose spy network and secret diplomacy changed the course of history.

A Passage to India - E. M. Foster

A detailed look at the cultural differences between East and West through a tragic occurrence in colonial India. Written while England was still firmly in control of India, Forster's novel follows the fortunes of three English newcomers to India - Miss Adela Quested, Mrs. Moore, and Cyril Fielding - and the Indian, Dr. Aziz, with whom they cross destinies. The idea of true friendship between the races was a radical one in Forster's time, and he makes it abundantly clear that it was not one that either side welcomed.

A Question of Loyalty: Gen. Billy Mitchell and the Court Martial that Gripped the Nation - Douglas C. Waller

A superb and charismatic Signal Corps officer and innovative air tactician in WWI, Mitchell faced an internal conflict: should he be loyal to his superior officers, whom he regarded as almost treasonably incompetent, or to what he saw as his country's best interests, which included a vastly larger, united and independent air arm? The result was a famous court-martial, which Time magazine correspondent Waller makes extremely comprehensible and gripping to readers more than 75 years on.

After Bali: The Threat of Terrorism in Southeast Asia - Kumar Ramakrishna

This book critically analyses the specific threat of terrorism in Southeast Asia since the Bali blasts of 12 October 2002 and the US-led war on Iraq. It offers a comprehensive and critical examination of the ideological, socioeconomic and political motivations, trans-regional linkages, and media representations of the terrorist threat in the region, assesses the efficacy of the regional counter-terror response and suggests a more balanced and nuanced approach to combating the terror threat in Southeast Asia.

Allah's Torch: A Report from Behind the Scenes in Asia's War on Terror - Tracy Dahlby

Dahlby begins his journalistic account of his pre- and post-9/11 travels there with a study of religious conflict in the Moluccas in 1999. A reluctant interisland passenger along with several hundred Islamic jihadis, he meets a Moluccan elder statesman and his savvy daughter. On a later trip, he finds the country suffering from the aftereffects of 9/11 and American pressure to deal with what is inaccurately perceived as a monolithic jihadist movement—Indonesia's Islam, and its militant factions, are no more monolithic than any other aspect of the country.

Blind Man's Bluff: The Untold Story of American Submarine Espionage - Sherry Sontag, Christopher Drew, Annette Lawrence Drew

Little is known about American submarine espionage during the Cold War. These submerged sentinels silently monitored the Soviet Union's harbors, shadowed its subs, watched its missile tests, eavesdropped on its conversations, and even retrieved top-secret debris from the bottom of the sea.

Blink - The Power of Thinking Without Thinking Malcom Gladwell

Blink is about the first two seconds of looking--the decisive glance that knows in an instant. Gladwell campaigns for snap judgments and mind reading with a gift for translating research into splendid storytelling. Building his case with scenes from a marriage, heart attack triage, speed dating, choking on the golf course, selling cars, and military maneuvers, he persuades readers to think small and focus on the meaning of "thin slices" of behavior.

Charlie Wilson's War - The Extraordinary Story of How the Wildest Man in Congress and a Rogue CIA Agent Changed the History of Our Times - George Crile

No thriller writer would dare invent Wilson, a six-feet-four-inch Texas congressman, liberal on social issues but rabidly anti-Communist, a boozer, engaged in serial affairs and wheeler-dealer of consummate skill. Only slightly less improbable is Gust Avrakotos, a blue-collar Greek immigrant who joined the CIA when it was an Ivy League preserve and fought his elitist colleagues almost as ruthlessly as he fought the Soviet Union in the Cold War's waning years.

Chinese Foreign Relations: Power and Policy since the Cold War - Robert G. Sutter

China is rightly considered an emerging power in world affairs as Chinese leaders, backed by growing economic and military strength, engage in innovative diplomatic approaches that pave the way for China's international role. But this is only part of the story of China's rise. As Robert G. Sutter meticulously shows in this thoroughly updated and balanced assessment, the record of twists and turns in Chinese foreign relations since the end of the Cold War highlights a very different perspective. Domestic problems, nationalism, and security concerns continue to preoccupy Beijing, complicating China's influence and innovations in foreign affairs. On the international front, the actions of other powerful nations and growing dependence on the world economy complicate as well as enhance China's advance to international prominence.
Providing a comprehensive introduction to Chinese foreign relations, Sutter shows Chinese leaders exerting growing influence in world affairs but remaining far from dominant. Facing numerous contradictions and tradeoffs, they move cautiously to avoid major confrontations, costly commitments, or mistakes that could undermine their one-party rule as they deal with an international environment posing numerous challenges as well as opportunities for Chinese interests.

Code-Name Bright Light - The Untold Story of U.S. POW Rescue Efforts During the Vietnam War George J. Veith

An accounting of US Personnel Recovery Efforts during Vietnam. The author used multiple FOIA requests and extensive research to chronicle the triumphs and failure of DoD and DoS Personnel Recovery Efforts. A must read for commanders and staffs to see the evolution of PR during Vietnam and the correlation between the challenges then to the challenges we face now.

That's it for now - more to follow when I get a chance to come up for air. - STORMBRINGER SENDS

Today's Bird HERE


  1. Quite a collection of reading material. I have only read one of them, 'A Man Called Intrepid'. It was a real eye-opener. One tidbit I recall from it was the story of the Brit PBY that spotted the Bismark. Seems there was a slight *ahem* 'irregularity' in it's crewing. There were American Airmen on board.
    (This was before America joined the war.)

  2. Thanks for the great reading list!