Thursday, December 23, 2004

Not-so-Pulp Fiction

Instead of giving an account of my favorite books of 2004 a la Anthony, I thought I'd try something a little different. Below is a list of some of my favorite works of fiction dealing with martial and/or security issues--broadly defined. Furthermore, I have teamed the books up to give "perspective clusters." This list is hardly all-inclusive and I welcome any suggections in the comments section below--and Cogs, the Flashman series is in my cart at Amazon, I just need to find the time!

Development and Security. The Ugly American by William Lederer and Eugene Burdick and A Man of the People by Chinua Achebe. Both of these works offer excellent perspectives about political instability and development. See also Max Havelaar or the Coffee Auctions of the Dutch Trading Company by Multatuli.

Military Culture. Once an Eagle by Anton Myrer and Gates of Fire: An Epic Novel of the Battle of Thermopylae by Steven Pressfield. Two quite amazing, but different, accounts of the military ethos and profession of arms.

Civil-Military Relations. Starship Troopers by Robert A. Heinlein and A Soldier's Duty: A Novel by Thomas E. Ricks. Read in tandem these books offer an interesting investigation of what constitutes proper civil-military relations and the place of the military in society.

General Interest. Owen Parry's (aka Ralph Peters) historical fiction novels are also quite exceptional. This series follows the exploits of Major Abel Jones, a Welsh immigrant formerly in the Queen's service, throughout the American Civil War. They are written more in the detective genre, so do not expect to be reading about battle after battle.

(Ralph's novels on contemporary and future military affairs are also quite good. While individual mileage may vary, my favorites are Twilight of Heroes and The Devil's Garden. The former book deals with counterdrug operations in South America and the latter deals with the geopolitics of oil in Azerbaijan.)


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