In case you are not already reading ahead for the spring semester, we asked IWP faculty members for suggestions for additional winter break reading. Their thoughts may be found below.
To Catch A Spy by James Olson. Jim is the former Chief of Counterintelligence at the CIA, with a long and highly successful career in the clandestine service of the CIA. His book is a perfect follow up to his previous best seller Fair Play: The Moral Dilemmas of Spying. In his latest book, Prof. Olson reviews the efforts of Chinese, Russian, and the heretofore under-researched Cuban intelligence services to penetrate the U.S. government. Through historical analysis and individual case studies, Prof. Olson takes the reader through the labyrinth of counterintelligence and national security issues.
The Federalist Papers in Modern Language: Indexed for Today’s Political Issues, edited by Mary Webster. This is a wonderful guide to the Papers which, of course, were written to explain our Constitution as part of the struggle to have it ratified. Federal courts use the Papers as an interpretative guide in deciding constitutional questions.
Washington’s Immortals by Patrick K. O’Donnell. It’s the story of a Maryland regiment in the Revolutionary War and the key role it played in various battles of that War.
The Landmark Julius Caesar – The Complete Work, a new translation by Kurt A. Raaflaub. Julius Caesar’s Commentaries on the Gallic Wars are a classic. This volume contains those as well as his writing on the Civil War, the Alexandrian War, the African War, and the Spanish War (the latter likely being written to some degree by one of his officers). The work contains many insightful commentaries, tables, and indices and is loaded with maps and footnotes which add immeasurably to the reader’s pleasure and understanding.
Presidential Command: Power, Leadership, and the Making of Foreign Policy from Richard Nixon to George W. Bush by Peter Rodman. What has become a classic book on presidential decision-making in defense and foreign affairs by the late Peter Rodman (a former Pentagon colleague of mine in the Bush 43 Pentagon, and a former colleague of many IWP faculty members when they were at State or the NSC). His principal points are the need for presidents to be fully engaged in defense and foreign policy and maintain direction and control of policy development. A fine introduction by Henry Kissinger (his eulogy of Rodman at his memorial service).
Politics and Culture in International History by Ada Bozeman. A survey of the most important world political systems, from the ancient world to Napoleon. If you wonder why states and nations behave as they do today, use this book and discover that they haven’t changed much since they left the cave.
Diplomacy by Henry Kissinger. Henry’s 1994 survey, an in-depth study from his European-oriented perspective. Valuable and incisive regarding details and analysis. His review of his own diplomacy is a defense but valuable as an insider’s view. Especially good regarding the world wars.
A War Like No Other by Victor Davis Hanson. Review of the nature of the Peloponnesian War between Athens and Sparta (around 400 BC). Shows how both sides improvised with “doomsday” weapons of their day, an ancient reflection on today’s nuclear arsenals.
Power and the Pursuit of Peace by FH Hinsley. One of the first surveys of efforts to organize nations and early attempts to try to understand/control the anarchy of world politics. Early thinkers, including William Penn, Kant, Rousseau, etc.
Europe Under the Old Regime by Albert Sorel. His first chapter on the history of France (1880s) shows how anarchy, treachery, revolt, and violence dominated early Europe. Great reflection on how things haven’t changed much over time.
The Regensburg Lecture by Fr. James V. Schall. Fr. Schall, who knew IWP and lectured here, died last April, so in honor of him I suggest one of his many books (all are well worth reading). This one contains both Pope Benedict XVI’s Regensburg address, which seems to become timelier all the time, and Fr. Schall’s commentary on it.
The Idol of Our Age: How the Religion of Humanity Subverts Christianity by Daniel J. Mahoney. This very readable volume describes a problem as old as time, the drive to bring about the City of God on earth without God, in the context of our present confusion.
City of God by St. Augustine. It is truly a book for our day. Busy folks can get a great deal just out of just Books XI and XIX, but the entire volume is profoundly insightful — one of the truly great books.