2014-2015 Professional Reading Round-Up

At an earlier point in my career, I used to read a lot of technical security books. From 2006 to 2012 I published a series of Best Book Bejtlich Read posts. Beginning in 2013 I became much more interested in military-derived strategy and history, dating back to my studies at the Air Force Academy in the early 1990s. I stopped reviewing books at Amazon.com and didn't talk about my reading.

Last week I read Every Book I Read in 2015 by T. Greer, which inspired me to write my own version of that post. I have records for 2014-2015 thanks to a list I keep at Amazon.com. I'm modifying Greer's approach by not including personal reading, but I am adopting his idea to bold those titles that were my favorites.

The following are presented such that the most recently read appears first.

2015 Reading (37 books):

Restraint: A New Foundation for U.S. Grand Strategy 
by Barry R. Posen *(I'm joining the "restraint" school. I will say more about this in 2016.)

Learning to Eat Soup with a Knife: Counterinsurge​ncy Lessons from Malaya and Vietnam
by John A. Nagl

On Guerrilla Warfare
by Mao Tse-tung

The Rise of China vs. the Logic of Strategy
by Edward N. Luttwak *(I became a Luttwak fan when I read his book on Rome in 2014. Although I don't agree with everything he writes -- such as his stance on humanitarian assistance -- I find his "logic of strategy" compelling and correct.)

The Dragon Extends its Reach: Chinese Military Power Goes Global
by Larry M. Wortzel

War and Politics
by Bernard Brodie *(I became a huge Brodie fan in 2015, and this book was just as good as the first Brodie book I read, listed below.)

Strategy: Second Revised Edition
by B. H. Liddell Hart

Science, Strategy and War: The Strategic Theory of John Boyd
by Frans P.B. Osinga

The U.S.-China Military Scorecard: Forces, Geography, and the Evolving Balance of Power, 1996-2017
by Eric Heginbotham, Michael Nixon, Forrest E. Morgan

Strategy in the Missile Age
by Bernard Brodie *(This book made me a Brodie fan. I like his clear reasoning and writing style.)

Strategy: The Logic of War and Peace, Revised and Enlarged Edition
by Edward N. Luttwak *(Despite how much I like Brodie's work, this is probably my "book of the year." It gave a voice to many of the frustrations with the way my technical- and tactics-obsessed colleagues in the digital security world approach offense and defense. Introducing the "technical" level of war (below tactics) and the "classic delusion of the 'final move'" described well what happens in traditional digital security practice and thought.)

Boyd: The Fighter Pilot Who Changed the Art of War
by Robert Coram

In Pursuit of Military Excellence: The Evolution of Operational Theory
by Shimon Naveh

The Grey Line: Modern Corporate Espionage and Counter Intelligence
by Andrew Brown *(This book wins the "weirdest book of the year" award. The author makes outrageous claims, with no sourcing, but seems to know what he is talking about.)

Broker, Trader, Lawyer, Spy: The Secret World of Corporate Espionage
by Eamon Javers

The Nature of War in the Information Age: Clausewitzian Future
by David J. Lonsdale

Cyberspace and the State: Toward a strategy for cyber-power
by David J Betz, Tim Stevens

Grant's Last Battle: The Story Behind the Personal Memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant
by Chris Mackowski

There Will Be Cyberwar: How The Move To Network-Centri​c Warfighting Has Set The Stage For Cyberwar
by Richard Stiennon

The Future of Violence: Robots and Germs, Hackers and Drones Confron​ting A New Age of Threat
by Benjamin Wittes, Gabriella Blum *(This book offered valuable insights, including How The World Butchered Benjamin Franklin’s Quote On Liberty Vs. Security.)

Future Crimes: Everything Is Connected, Everyone Is Vulnerable and What We Can Do About It
by Marc Goodman *(This book was surprisingly good. After I read past the "cyber" parts, I found myself thinking differently about "connectivity" and its effects.)

Cyber Policy in China
by Greg Austin

Data and Goliath: The Hidden Battles to Collect Your Data and Control Your World
by Bruce Schneier *(I like that, after documenting privacy concerns caused by public and private actors, Bruce tells the reader to work through the democratic process to reform the system -- not become anarchists.)

Strategic Reassurance and Resolve: U.S.-China Relations in the Twenty-First Century
by James Steinberg, Michael E. O`Hanlon *(The first book in the "restraint" school I read in 2015.)

@War: The Rise of the Military-Inter​net Complex
by Shane Harris *(I was surprised by the amount of backroom information the author obtained. Fascinating insights.)

Spam Nation: The Inside Story of Organized Cybercrime-fro​m Global Epidemic to Your Front Door
by Brian Krebs *(So much more than spam! Must-read.)

Cyber War versus Cyber Realities: Cyber Conflict in the International System
by Brandon Valeriano, Ryan C. Maness *(I disagree with a lot of this book, but I appreciate this sort of research.)

Countdown to Zero Day: Stuxnet and the Launch of the World's First Digital Weapon
by Kim Zetter *(I thought the story of Stuxnet was already well-documented, but this was a great book -- especially during the finalization of the Iran nuclear deal.)

The Barefoot Lawyer: A Blind Man's Fight for Justice and Freedom in China
by Chen Guangcheng *(I was so pleased to testify with the Barefoot Lawyer himself last year -- awesome experience!)

by Lawrence Freedman

Competitive Strategies for the 21st Century: Theory, History, and Practice
by Thomas Mahnken

Computer Capers
by Thomas Whiteside

China and Cybersecurity: Espionage, Strategy, and Politics in the Digital Domain
by Jon R. Lindsay, Tai Ming Cheung, Derek S. Reveron

On War
by Carl von Clausewitz, Michael Eliot Howard, Peter Paret

Strategy: A History
by Lawrence Freedman

U.S. Army War College Guide to National Security Issues: Volume II - National Security Policy and Strategy (5th Edition)
by U.S. Army War College

U.S. Army War College Guide to National Security Issues- Volume I: Theory of War and Strategy (5th Edition)
by U.S. Army War College

Talking another page from Greer, if I were to add entries to my quantum library, they would include the books by Brodie, Luttwak's Strategy: The Logic of War and Peace. I would probably also have to add Clausewitz, if only because everyone in the strategy world obsesses about him.

2014 Reading (24 books):

Forged in Fire: Strategy and Decisions in the Airwar over Europe 1940-1945
by Dewitt S. Copp

A Few Great Captains: The Men and Events That Shaped the Development of U.S. Air Power
by Dewitt S. Copp *(The title of this book was derived from one of my favorite quotes: "No army produces more than a few great captains." Army Chief of Staff Gen George Marshall, eulogizing airman Lt Gen Frank Andrews in 1943.)

The Rise of American Air Power: The Creation of Armageddon
by Michael S. Sherry *(This book made a powerful case that airpower was promoted as a less violent way to win wars, in comparison to the slaughter of World War I. Unfortunately, during World War II, it became probably more violent, demonstrated by the firebombing of Germany and Japan.)

The Icarus Syndrome: The Role of Air Power Theory in the Evolution and Fate of the U.S. Air Force
by Carl H. Builder *(This book helped me understand how and why pilots think as they do, and why a separate Cyber Force is likely necessary, from a personnel standpoint alone.)

Airpower for Strategic Effect
by Colin S. Gray *(Gray is a prolific author, but with this book I decided to no longer read his works. His style is difficult for me to follow.)

The American Way of War: A History of United States Military Strategy and Policy
by Russell F. Weigley

Command in War
by Martin Van Creveld

The Masks of War: American Military Styles in Strategy and Analysis: A RAND Corporation Research Study
by Carl Builder *(Builder writes with penetrating insight regarding how military services see each other.)

American Cold War Strategy: Interpreting NSC 68
by Ernest R. May *(NSC 68 is like Clausewitz -- you have to be conversant with it!)

The Wizards of Armageddon 
by Fred Kaplan *(This book introduced me to Brodie and the other early nuclear strategists. I extracted some excellent lessons from my PhD from it, especially concerning the early Air Force's inability to physically execute the aircraft operations it said it could perform to provide retaliatory options. It reminded me of Libicki's erroneous belief that cyber security vulnerability is the victim's choice.)

History and Strategy
by Marc Trachtenberg

Strategy in the Contemporary World
by John Baylis, James J. Wirtz, Colin S. Gray *(Yes, I read a no-kidding text book.)

The Grand Strategy of the Roman Empire: From the First Century A.D. to the Third
by Edward N. Luttwak *(This book sold me on Luttwak, but I hadn't read about his "logic" yet.)

Historians' Fallacies : Toward a Logic of Historical Thought
by David Hackett Fischer *(This is the sort of book that one can leverage to demolish almost everything you encounter when reading history. It's worth reading several times and I intend to try to avoid the fallacies in my PhD.)

Addressing Cyber Instability
by Cyber Conflict Studies Association

Authoring a PhD Thesis: How to Plan, Draft, Write and Finish a Doctoral Dissertation
by Patrick Dunleavy *(This is a must-read if you are pursuing the "big-book" thesis as found in the British system, as is my situation.)

The Air Campaign
by John Warden III *(I am a big fan of Boyd, Warden, and Deptula and try to read whatever they write.)

Alien: How Operational Art Devoured Strategy
by Justin Kelly, Mike Brennan *(I read this book to be familiar with arguments by those who oppose the utility of an operational level of war, between strategy and tactics.)

The Sources of Military Doctrine: France, Britain, and Germany Between the World Wars
by Barry R. Posen *(I believe Ian Wallace recommended this book. I thought it was great. I already listed Dr Posen's "restraint" work, which I read much later.)

The Air Campaign, John Warden and Classical Airpower Theorists (Revised Edition)
by David R. Mets

Strategic Stability
by Elbridge Colby *(This was some difficult early reading, before I identified my core interests. The concept of "stability" was helpful when I read later works, however.)

Treasury's War: The Unleashing of a New Era of Financial Warfare
by Juan Zarate *(This is an excellent book that documents another major operational mode for US power in the 21st century.)

Cybersecurity and Cyberwar: What Everyone Needs to Know
by P.W. Singer, Allan Friedman

John Warden and the Renaissance of American Air Power
by John Andreas Olsen

The only book to make the "quantum" list, from my 2014 reading, would be Fischer's Historians' Fallacies.

I read a ton of papers and studies in 2014-2015, but these are the books I tracked. I regret that my 2013 reading appears to have disappeared into history. I know that I read Cyber War Will Not Take Place but otherwise I have no concrete records of professional reading in 2013. It was a very busy year with the APT1 report and the FireEye acquisition of Mandiant, so perhaps I didn't read that much.

In any case, I hope you find this list useful and perhaps inspiring, should you share the same sorts of interests, or if you are wondering how to get started in the military, or at least non-business, strategy world.


Unknown said…
Thanks Richard, always enjoy your reading lists. I see you have Martin Van Creveld, I'm assuming you've looked at his "Transformation of War". It's been somewhat discredited by now, but I think still of interest to your studies. Also, I see you have a lot from Sir Freedman - have you looked at Hew Strachan's 'Direction of War'. I love the way he applies 'proper Clausewitz logic', and disproves some others who have misinterpreted results when applying Clausewitz's theories.
Thanks for your comment Sean and for the Hew recommendation. He's on my list but I will move up the priority based on your suggestion!
Anonymous said…
*Thank You* for your thorough reading list.
I noticed that your 3 Lists at Amazon are no longer visible
("Three Seven-Book Lists for Novice, Intermediate, Advanced Readers").
I often used those lists to round out my new hires.
Is there any way to see those lists again? Many thanks.

Unfortunately I deleted them years ago, because I considered them out of date.

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