Here is a list of the books and media I’ve read over the years that I have either (a) enjoyed the most or (b) learned the most from.
Within each category, authors are listed alphabetically. Where more than one book is listed for an author, I’ve listed the books in order of preference.
Dante Alighieri, Inferno
Ray Bradbury, Dandelion Wine; Fahrenheit 451Willa Cather, O Pioneers!; My Antonia
Albert Camus, The Stranger
My latest op-ed, “Two cents about COIN,” appeared today on Antiwar.com. It discusses the the growing faith of U.S. political and military leaders in the military doctrine of COIN, or manpower-intensive counterinsurgency warfare.
You can find the op-ed here as well as pasted below; if you enjoy it, please consider sharing it on your Facebook wall, mentioning it on Twitter, or linking to it on your blog. Thanks, as always, for reading.
Jonathan Glover’s Humanity: A Moral History of the Twentieth Century is one of the best and most important books I have ever read. Excerpts below:
An extimate for the period from 1900 until 1989 is that war killed 86 million people. Eighty-six million is a small proportion of all those alive during the ninety years, and is a small number compared to those who have died from hunger and preventable diseases.
“How to Think About Politics,” my most recent essay, is being featured in the August issue of Fogged Clarity. I’ve also pasted it below. If you enjoy it, please consider linking to it, sharing it, or passing it along to others who might be interested. Thanks, as always, for reading.
How to Think About Politics
First, question everything, beginning with the political ideas you inherited from your parents, family, community, church, and school.
A few of my recent posts at Wide Awake Minds, in case you missed them:
-A few of the things you can do in a great university, in which I argue that if students want to make the most of their school years in general and their college years in particular, they must take ownership of their education and elect to do what is difficult. I propose a few of the ways in which college students can do so.
I recently discovered the work of Erazim Kohak, a Czech philosopher and Professor Emeritus at Boston University who has written extensively on environmental ethics. I am 30 pages into Kohak’s The Embers and the Stars: A Philosophical Inquiry into the Moral Sense of Nature, and it is incredible so far. A few excerpts below, with more to come.
Reflection and speculation remain no more than cunningly devised fables if they are not grounded in what, paraphrasing Calvin Schrag, we could call the prephilosophical and prescientific matrix of self-understanding and world-comprehension.
Happy New Year! At the end of each of the past three years, I’ve written a post listing the best books I’ve read over the course of the year in order to bring these books to the attention of others. My lists from 2007 and 2006 are available here and here.
As usual, I’ve put the titles of the five books most important to me this year in bold, and I’ve linked each book to its Amazon.
Watch how the cloud sings
All you wanted to say or find.
–“Let the Coin Decide”
And the migration of my parents
Has not subsided in me. My blood goes on sloshing
Between my ribs, long after the vessel has come to rest.
And the migration of my parents has not subsided in me.
Winds of long time over stones. Earth
Forgets the steps of those who trod her.
Two must-reads on current events:
-David Brooks on the Obama-Clinton race.
-”Bush’s War,” a PBS Frontline documentary with extraordinary cinematography and interviews with key players involved in the political decisions surrounding the invasion and occupation of Iraq. I highly recommend watching it (it’s free online), or at least poking around the website a bit. The site includes an annotated video timeline and transcripts from over 400 interviews.
“Biography, psychology, sociology, history,” (historian John Demos) has written: “four corners of one scholar’s compass, four viewpoints overlooking a single field of past experience.