LinkedIn tracking pixel

Summer Reading Suggestions from IWP Professors

Photo from a cruise during the IWP 2022 Greece trip

Now that summer is in full swing, our professors share their reading recommendations. Read about spies, natural law, the colonization of Africa, the Civil War, and more in this list that includes fiction and non-fiction, classics and books that are hot off the press.

From Dr. Marek Jan Chodakiewicz, The Kosciuszko Chair in Polish Studies, Director of the Center for Intermarium Studies

Black Mischief, Evelyn Waugh. From Dr. Chodakiewicz: “A fun summer read.” From the publisher: “Set on the fictional African island of Azania, the novel chronicles the efforts of Emperor Seth, assisted by the Englishman Basil Seal, to modernize his kingdom.”

From Dr. Christopher C. Harmon, Former Director of Counterterrorism Studies Programs in Asia and Europe for the U.S. Government

Warfare in Peacetime, Christopher C. Harmon. From the publisher: “Warfare in Peacetime offers an expansive and elaborated portrait of overseas proxy wars. The structure and substance will prepare observers, analysts, and participants seeking to understand challenges before American and other statesmen. The work helps frame the morass in Syria, with all its foreign links; the contest for influence in Libya, where innumerable hands vie for dominance; the fighting in Yemen, where Houthi Shia organizations backed by Iranian sponsors battle Sunni tribes; and life along the borders of Russian expansionism, where Ukrainians plea for outside assistance, including weapons from Washington. Such ongoing “warfare in peacetime” has a thousand precedents in a dozen ages, including our day, and some of the patterns are explored along with detailed case studies.”

From Professor John Sano, Former Deputy Director of the CIA’s National Clandestine Service

First Casualty:  The Untold Story of the CIA Mission to Avenge 9/11, Toby Harnden. From Prof. Sano: “It is a very poignant and moving portrayal of an elite group of CIA officers who were the first boots on the ground after the towers fell on Sept. 1st.”

Lost in the Cold War: The Story of Jack Downey, America’s Longest-Held POW, Thomas Christensen, John Downey, and Jack Lee Downey.  From Prof. Sano: “It is the story, in large measure based on the memoirs of Jack Downey himself, of a young CIA officer (only 23 years old at the time of his capture) who was shot down during the Korean War and held captive for 20 years in various Chinese prison camps – often in solitary confinement.  He was not released until 1973, a year after President Nixon’s opening of relations with the PRC and the U.S. government finally acknowledging Downey’s CIA affiliation.”

From Professor Paul Schilling, who has served with the Central Intelligence Agency’s Office of General Counsel

The Durham Report, John Lambton. From Prof. Schilling: “The Report examines the Department of Justice’s counterintelligence investigation into former President Donald Trump, his 2016 Presidential Campaign, and his Administration. It contrasts the legally prescribed procedures for counterintelligence investigations with those actually followed in the Trump investigation.  Some may note another contrast:  that between the prosecutorial results of this effort – a plea agreement with a line FBI attorney – and those of previous investigations into intelligence-related scandals, notably the Iran-Contra Affair that resulted in the criminal convictions of several, then-senior Administration officials. Although admittedly detailed and lengthy, the Report is key to understanding how things got off track and thus how the situation might be remedied.”

Land of Tears: The Exploration and Exploitation of Equatorial Africa, Robert Harms. From Prof. Schilling: “Land tells the story of the opening of the Congo River Basin and surrounding rainforest to European colonialism during the period from 1876 to 1905.  It focuses on the key roles played by four individuals: King Leopold II of Belgium; Henry Morton Stanley, an English-born explorer working for the King; Pierre de Brazza, an Italian who served and explored for the French as a French military/political officer; and Tippu Tip (Hamid bin Muhammad), a Zanzibarian Muslim warlord.  Readers new to the location and time period may be struck by the outsized role these four individuals played and how their actions have influenced developments in the region down to the present day.  The book has a ‘page-turner’ quality that is enhanced by well-executed maps of every location and major action mentioned in the text, something not always seen in historical works.”

The Divine Comedy, Dante Alighieri. From Prof. Schilling: “Written in 1308-21 by the poet Dante, a native of Florence, Italy, the Comedy is a classic of the Christian faith and, more generally, of Western literature.  It depicts in beautiful poetic form Dante’s journey through the three parts of the Christian afterlife:  Hell, Purgatory, and Heaven.  While some read only The Inferno, the first of the three, the Comedy’s richness and beauty become apparent when all three are read together.   Among the various English translation editions available, those with ample footnotes and illustrations are preferable.

The German War: A Nation Under Arms, 1939-1945, Nicholas Stargardt. From Prof. Schilling: “Against the backdrop of the voluminous literature on the Second World War in Europe, this book provides a fresh insight into the conflict. It follows the War from the perspective of several German-Christian and German-Jewish families. This detailed focus provides a gripping and disturbing insight into the German society of that era, the horrors of Nazism, and its tragic effect on the families in question.”

Crossroads of Freedom: Antietam, James M. McPherson. From Prof. Schilling: “Crossroads examines the September 1862 Civil War battle of Antietam, the bloodiest one-day fight in the Civil War and a key turning point in Civil War history.  The Union victory at Antietam gave President Lincoln a firm foundation on which to issue the Emancipation Proclamation and helped foreclose possible European recognition of the Confederacy.  Crossroads, while not lengthy or pretending to be comprehensive, does a good job of setting the stage, both politically and militarily, for the onset of the War and its early conduct, moving then to the Battle itself and its aftermath. In the shadow of the better-known Battle of Gettysburg, Antietam is often overlooked. Crossroads will acquaint readers with it and perhaps encourage them to visit the beautiful, fully preserved Battlefield. Only an hour’s drive from the District of Columbia, the Battlefield is open to bicycling and is a cyclist’s dream in the summer and fall.”

From Dr. Wayne Schroeder, Nonresident Senior Fellow, Transatlantic Security Initiative, Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security, Atlantic Council

The Origins of Victory: How Disruptive Military Innovation Determines the Fates of Great Powers, Andrew J. Krepinevich. From Dr. Schroeder: “Andrew Krepinevich, one of America’s most brilliant military strategists, outlines in The Origins of Victory the role of disruptive military innovation in the Great Power Competition of the twenty-first century.  This ‘must-read’ defense book canvasses all the innovative technologies that will drive defense competition between the great powers — autonomy, artificial intelligence, quantum computing, hypersonics, robotics, and many others. The key theme is that the US must compete — and compete in a way that leverages innovative technologies to our ultimate advantage.  For those interested in military history, Krepinevich also surveys the role of technology in earlier eras of defense competition, including the UK’s pre-World War I naval transition to steam and iron, Germany’s pursuit of the blitzkrieg revolution between the two world wars, the rise of U.S. naval aviation and radar, and the U.S. precision-guided munition revolution of the ’80s and ’90s.”

From Professor Dennis Teti, Former Senior Advisor with the House Budget Committee; Former consultant for the House Financial Services Committee

Mere Natural Law: Originalism and the Anchoring Truths of the Constitution, Hadley Arkes.

From Prof. Teti:

“It is not hyperbole, but a sober report on the real state of things, to say that students in schools public and private are now being taught to hate their country.” (p. xxv)

Most IWP students will find their careers in national security and international affairs.  Our curriculum and faculty, among the most outstanding practitioners in these areas, provide students with the arts and sciences necessary to defeat governments and peoples who threaten our national interest as an independent polity.  But why defend America?  If it’s just a question of knowing the techniques, why not find your career working for some other government that pays you more for your services?

The answer begins by recognizing that the American political and social order is uniquely rooted in moral truths which establish and encourage a national character of freedom, virtue, and respect for human dignity—in other words, the best way of life for human beings.

Dr. Arkes was the keynote speaker at IWP’s 2017 commencement exercises, receiving a Doctorate of Laws, Honoris Causa.  Natural Law, he argues, is not a “theory” but a fundamental fact of human action and thought.  In this accessible book, Arkes walks us through his understanding of Natural Law, demonstrating that even when people try to deny it, they cannot help thinking and acting on its principles.  Moreover, as our Declaration of Independence proclaims, our human rights to live, be free, and pursue happiness find their deepest justification in those “laws of nature and of nature’s God.”

Arkes explains his approach mostly by analyzing judicial opinions on religious freedom, sexuality, the problem of abortion, and others.  But beyond legal thought, he helps all of us to think and act in these and other matters by looking to Natural Law as an objective standard of judgment beyond conventional left/right opinions.  Taken seriously, Natural Law liberates us from the subjectivism, relativism, and nihilism that have poisoned civic discourse, bringing us back to that natural love for America upon which our professional careers must ultimately rest.

From Dr. John J. Tierney, Jr., Former Special Assistant and Foreign Affairs Officer, U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency

Five Came Back: A Story of Hollywood and the Second World War, Mark Harris. From Dr. Tierney: “Five Came Back tells the untold story of how five great film directors (Ford, Wyler, Stevens, Capra, Huston) made movies during World War II and how these films kept the American public and soldiers alert to the need for diligence and attention to win the war. A little-known story that, from hindsight, is amazing. A greatly praised book and excellent, especially for today’s ‘political culture.’”

From Dr. David Thomas, Former Analyst, Foreign Intelligence Directorate, DIA

The Peacemaker: Ronald Reagan, the Cold War, and the World on the Brink, William Inboden. From the publisher: “A masterful account of how Ronald Reagan and his national security team confronted the Soviets, reduced the nuclear threat, won the Cold War, and supported the spread of freedom around the world.”

Code Name Blue Wren, Jim Popkin.  From the publisher: “The incredible true story of Ana Montes, the most damaging female spy in U.S. history, drawing upon never-before-seen material.”

Spies and Lies: How China’s Greatest Covert Operations Fooled the World, Alex Joske. From the publisher: “Spies and Lies is a ground-breaking exposé of elite influence operations by China’s little-known Ministry of State Security. Revealing for the first time how the Chinese Communist Party has tasked its spies to deceive the world, it challenges the conventional account of China’s past, present and future.”

From Dr. Sara Vakhshouri, Founder and President, SVB Energy International

Cobalt Red: How the Blood of the Congo Powers Our Lives, Siddharth Kara. From the publisher: “An unflinching investigation reveals the human rights abuses behind the Congo’s cobalt mining operation—and the moral implications that affect us all.”