My War-ish Reading List

Inspired by others, here is my War-ish reading list:

Two Classics:

The Art of War by Sun-Tzu

The Prince by Niccolò Machiavelli

General Purpose-ish

The American Threat: National Security and Foreign Policy By James L Payne

The New Face of War: How War Will Be Fought in the 21st Century by Bruce D. Berkowitz

How Wars Are Won: The 13 Rules of War – from Ancient Greece to the War on Terror by Bevin Alexander

Brave New War: The Next Stage of Terrorism and the End of Globalization by John Robb

The Pentagon’s New Map Thomas P.M. Barnett

Wired for War: The Robotics Revolution and Conflict in the 21st Century by P. W. Singer

Maneuver Warfare / 3GW

Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card (A short intro to Maneuver Warfare – aka 3GW – thinking embedded in a fun to read Science Fiction novel)


War Nerd by Gary Brecher (This is a  book mostly about 4GW by an insightful asshole)

The Principles of War for the Information Age by Robert Leonhard

Utility of Force by Rupert Smith

The Sling and the Stone by  Thomas X. Hammes

Moving toward some 5GW thinking

Unrestricted Warfare by Qiao Liang and Wang Xiangsui ( Forget the dumb criticism that this is anti-US book. This book broadens ones mind as to what conflict can be, is leads in to a key idea of 4GW and 5GW, that is the  Weaponization of things not thought to be Weapons)

An Army of Davids by Glenn Reynolds (The emergence of Strategic Citizens)

The Starfish and the Spider: The Unstoppable Power of Leaderless Organizations by Brafman and Beckstrom

Strategic Denial and Deception: The Twenty-First Century Challenge edited by Roy Godson and James Wirtz

World Was Going Our Way: The KGB and the Battle for the Third World by Christopher Andrew

The Grand Jihad by Andrew McCarthy


The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order by Samuel P. Huntington

Dirty Tricks or Trump Cards: U.S. Covert Action and Counterintelligence by Roy Godson

The Other Path: The Economic Answer to Terrorism by Hernando De Soto

The Candy Bombers by Andrei Cherny

Is broken? I can’t add items to shopping cart.

I haven’t been able to add items to my cart all weekend.

WHen I “click” on to add to cart, a “loading” layer comes on the screen…and then nothing.

While this will save me money, it is quite annoying.

It sucks.

5GW related – The Foundation Trilogy

I didn’t actually read Asimov’s Foundation Trilogy. Somehow, I had managed to not read it after all of these years.

Instead, I listened to a Radio/Podcast adapation from the BBC.

The 5GW actors are sort of Puppet Master 5GWers, acting over long timeframes using magic a new science to make perfect predictions over long time frames.

It was mildly entertaining.

It has no lessons for those looking for 5GW lessons for the real world.

Now Shipping? The Handbook of 5GW

I ordered the print version of The Handbook of 5GW last night from It does appear to be in stock and shipping even though the Pub date is September.

Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #251,817 in Books as of 13 Aug 2010

Shhhh….its almost here

The Handbook of 5GW

The Handbook of 5GW

Clearing the Antilibrary

These are things I have been reading but really haven’t mentioned.

The Candy Bombers by Andrei Cherny
This was a great history book on the personalities and politics (stories both big and small) around the Berlin Airlift. I didn’t know much about this incident other then a mental paragraph or so filed away. This is a book about unlikely heroes behind the scenes, diplomacy, public diplomacy, the cold war and politics. It was both fun and enlightening. I highly recommend it. It is a keeper.

The Coldest Winter by  David Halberstam
This was an excellent one-volume political and military history of the Korean War

Shadow of the Sword by  Jeremiah Workman with John Bruning
This a good memoir of heroism and PTSD from the Iraq war.

The Edge of Disaster by Stephen Flynn
This is a Resiliency-as-national-goal public policy book. It is a slim quick read with some interesting suggestions.

The New URL for the War Nerd is…


I was wondering why there wasn’t anything new popping up in RSS.

Here are my War Nerd book notes (short version: I liked it and think it was a valuable read).

Quick Book Notes: The New School of Information Security by Shostack and Stewart

The authors state that the practice of Information Security is flawed in many ways (something I don’t disagree with in many ways).

This is not a book about information security, but a call for the practice of it to change…to grow up so to speak.

The authors want the practice of InfoSec to be based on hard data and suggest that many approaches just don’t do very much, or are not worth the cost.

With shout-outs to the OODA, Moneyball, security economics, and psychology, it is an interesting read.

For the last six months I have been doing network engineering (rather then information security engineering), so I have been looking at the practice of information security with an outsider’s PoV. While I still enjoy much of the tactical work of network security and other aspects of information security, at the strategic level, I question many of the ‘best practices”.  Too much is driven really by auditor’s canned interpretations of SOX requirements. Information Security program often just are checklist of controls mandated by auditor’s. Whether the control is useful or not or cost-effective is a secondary consideration.


Book Notes – “War Nerd by Gary Brecher”

I finished reading “War Nerd” which is collection/bookification (yeah I made up the word) of Gray Brecher’s “War Nerd” web column.

The author is annoying, smug, and geeky.

I quite enjoyed the book. You should buy it. If you start reading it, keep reading.

It is a very readable analysis region-by-region of what is referred to in XGW as 0GW and 4GW – he doesn’t use though terms. If you don’t think 0GW exists anymore, read this book.

Here is the authors “mainpoints” or view on warfare as it is now (the very last thing written in the book):

1. Most wars are asymmetrical / irregular.
2. In these wars, the guerrillas / irregulars / insurgents do not aim for military victory.
3. You can NOT defeat these groups by killing lots of their members. In fact, they want you to do that.
4. Hi-tech weaponry is mostly useless in these wars.
5. “Hearts and Minds,” meaning propaganda and morale, are more important than military superiority.
6. Most people are not rational, they are TRIBAL: “my gang yay, your gang boo!” It really is that simple. The rest is cosmetics.

Here is the author being interviewed on Public Radio (don’t believe any of the biographical info though) – he is clearly an asshole – but an interesting one:

Book Notes: John Poole’s Dragon Days: Time for “Unconventional” Tactics

John Poole‘s Dragon Days is mostly about 4GW and a little bit about what I call 5GW (aka SecretWar).

The Interesting points to me where:

– US light infantry should add criminal investigative techniques

– US light infantry should all add real SERE capability so they don’t need 2GW-ish bombardment (with its 4GW blowback) if they get into a fix.

– China seems to be the PuppetMaster behind lots of the conflict and enemies the US is facing – so China is sort of engaged in a non-kinetic 4GW and maybe a 5GW (though he doesn’t use that term) against the US

– Poole thinks that the release of the book Unrestricted Warfare was a deception operation to get the US focused on hi-tech warfare (which makes me think he really didn’t read it)

BookTV Podcast with “The Utility of Force” author Gen. Rupert Smith…

…can be subscribed to here. That’s how I listened to it. The webcast version link crashed my browser.

It was quite interesting. He seems to be presenting a similar framework to Lind or XGW. Of course, since he is British, he sounds even smarter then he really is (which is smart to begin with). I am getting the book. He was also on the also on the Daily Show.

I just finshed reading Michael Yon’s new book “Moment of Truth in Iraq”…

…and I really liked it.

The book is 3 things:

– First-rate first-person war reporting
– An account of what is going on tactically in Iraq
– A partial handbook on COIN/4GW and the importance of the non-kinetic activities

    I highly recommend it. The PurpleDad is getting my copy.

    My Antilibrary [Updated]

    I wasn’t asked, but here is a sample of my antilibrary:

    Real Digital Forensics by Jones et al.

    Why is it in my queue? I am an Information Security Engineer by profession, but I don’t do much with forensics. It is an area I would like to learn more about,

    The Mind Map Book by Buzan et al.

    Why? Mind Mapping may be a learning organizing life hack I can add to my personal skills. I hate drawing though, so I have put it off.

    The Tao of Democracy by Atlee et al.

    Why? I do not remember. The book is in shinkwrap, so I can’t even thumb through it!

    Human Action by Mises

    Why? The is the classic book of the Austrian school of economics. I bought it 2 years ago while on an econ kick. It remains unread do to its bulk, and because I suspect I have gotten the gist from other sources.

    The Education of Henry Adams by Henry Adams

    Why? This is a classic book of Americana I feel guilty in not having read.

    My wish list is full of unread and likely never to be read books.

    Photo: I Started Reading “The Exploit” Over Lunch

    Sometimes, you just need to make a Sushi run:

    I started reading "The Exploit" over lunch

    Sparse Elegance: Charles Koch’s “The Science of Success”

    This is not a self-help book. It is an excellent slim introduction to free market economics and economic thinking masquerading as a business book.

    While I picked up the “Science of Success” to see how he applied economic thinking to running a business, I was blown away the authors clarity and elegance in describing economic thinking.

    I also found his business system – MBM (Market Based Management) The Science of Human Action Applied to Organizations – to be interesting. It was not a how-to guide though.

    The Science of Success

    Book Notes: Nicholas Wade’s – “Before the Dawn: Recovering the Lost History of Our Ancestors”

    I bought and finally read Nicholas Wade’s – “Before the Dawn: Recovering the Lost History of Our Ancestors” after catching references to it around the blogosphere (e.g. TDAXP)

    I loved it.

    This book makes an interesting pass at writing down the “pre-history” of humans mostly based upon on genetics and human DNA analysis.

    Wade notes the following as the themes driving the book:

    – There is a clear continuity between the ape world of 5 million years ago and the human world that emerged from it.

    – A principle force in the shaping of human evolution has been the nature of human society.

    – The human physical form was attained first, followed by continued evaluation of human behavior.

    – Most of human prehistory occurred in, and was shaped by the last ice age.

    – The adaptaions for three principal social institutions – warfare, religion, and trade – had evolved by 50,000 years ago.

    – The ancestral people had a major limitation to overcome: they were too aggressive to live in settled communities.

    – Human evolution did not halt in the distant past but has continued to the present day.

    – People probably once spoke a single language from which all contemporary languages are derived.

    – The human genome contains excellent records of the recent past, providing a parallel history to the written record.

    Everybody should read this book. I am passing my copy onto my family

    I just finished reading Greg Bear’s Quantico

    It is a near-future thriller about Bioterror and hints around the edges at the future events in the Mideast, terrorism, the US Intelligence Community and hi-tech National Security gadgets.

    It was just okay.

    It was really about hi-tech bioterror. Secondary themes were about how the USGOV and the IC isn’t doing enough…and is doing too much. And of course, the villain can’t be a Muslim.

    While some of the gadgetry (Bear is a Science Fiction writer) was interesting (stuff like in this post), most of the characters are cardboard. There is no sense of the importance and scope of 4GW with the importance of messages, information and perceptions.

    Mystery Tom Clancy Novel? WTF is “So They Went and Elected a Jewish President”

    Does anybody know anything about a Tom Clancy novel entitled: So They Went and Elected a Jewish President?

    123 Meme

    I was tagged by Shane/Deichmans with the 123 Meme.

    Here are the rules:

    1. Pick up the nearest book (of at least 123 pages).
    2. Open the book to page 123.
    3. Find the fifth sentence.
    4. Post the next three sentences.
    5. Tag five people.

    I won’t tag anybody since I am about month behind on this, but here is my result otherwise:

    The book is Dragon Days by H. John Poole.

    The violent dispersal of public prayer services in Baaren led to local citizens taking over the town and government forces taking it back by aerial bombardment and ground assault. In 1995, the province experienced sabotage of railroad tacks and oil fields. The following year, approximately 5,000 Uighurs were arrested after a series of attacks on Chinese interests.

    The book is partially on what I would call 5GW or near-5GW, 4GW tactical forces (as light infantry based on SERE coupled with criminal investigation capability).

    Book Notes – “The Unconquerable World: Power, Nonviolence, and the Will of the People” by Jonathan Schell

    I bought this book about 2 years ago, but I just recently got around to reading it after some recent related posts.

    So I read through the book with those posts in mind, along with looking for 5GW ideas and xGW ideas in general.

    My notes:

    • The book of course doesn’t use terminology like 4GW and 5GW, but it is in the ballpark.
    • The book does outline its own conflict taxonomy: Total War (think 2GW and 3GW), People’s War (think 4GW) and Non-violent Action and Activism (think 5GWish).
    • He does not quite get all the way to a 5GW theory though.
    • 5GW-ish Examples used: Ghandi, MLK, non-violent movements in eastern Europe and Russia that (helped) bring down the USSR.
    • The People’s War Section (aka 4GW) covers Mao and China, and Vietnam.
    • “It was the genius of the inventors of people’s war to challenge this deceptively self-evident proposition [Pslog: That an enemy is defeated when they are ready to do are will] by discovering, in the very midst of battle, the power of politics. What if, the inventor’s of people’s war asked, the people on the losing side declines to do the will of the conqueror and, taking a further step, organized itself politically to conduct its own business? In people’s war, political organization did not stand on its own; it was interwoven with the military struggle into Mao’s seamless fabric.”
    • The general purpose strategies for states in relations among each other are: Universal Empire (aggressive), seeking to maintain a balance of power (defensive), collective security by a group a sates pooling together.
    • Quoting a 5GW statements of John Adams on the American Revolution: “The revolution was in the minds of the people, and in the union of the colonies, both of which were accomplished before hostilities commenced”
    • He is a lefty, and found those parts of the book off-putting.
    • I quite liked the historical parts on China, Ghandi and MLK.

    “Leverage Factors”

    I just started reading The Meaning of the 21st Century by James Martin this evening.

    What I read on page 10 and then page 11 jumped out at me:

    Leverage Factors

    In this book, I use the phrase leverage factors to refer to relatively small and politically achievable actions – such as minor changes in rules – that can have powerful results. There are many examples of leverage factors: A tiny catalyst can cause a major chemical reaction, for instance. Antitrust laws have a major effect on the evolution of capitalism’s tendency toward creating monopolies. Injecting a tiny amount of vaccine into our blood can trigger our immune system to produce enough antibodies to make us immune to disease. Most harmful momentum trends have leverage factors that could help us avoid much of the harm.


    We need to separate in our minds the momentum trends and leverage factors from the overwhelming noise of smaller issues. By identifying them we can think about how to make the future better.

    A 5GWer when planning a campaign, should look for leverage factors to maximize effects while minimizing costs (effort, money, resources, security/deception/secrecy activity).

    [Cross-posted at Dreaming 5GW]

    Recently Read: “The Secret History of the PWE”

    I just finished the The Secret History of PWE: The Political Warfare Executive, 1939-1945 written by David Garnett.

    The Political Warfare Executive was the UK Secret Service doing propaganda in WW2.

    It was an interesting read. I especially liked the country by country sections on what messages were used.

    One thing stood out at me. Given the urgency of the situation (aka survival) to the UK, there was still still lots of political/bureaucratic in-fighting.

    I guess that explains part of the US problem.

    Wikipedians Against “Unrestricted Warfare”

    Some Wikipeadians are usuggesting the article for the book Unrestricted Warfare should be deleted:

    I think it’s fair to say that while it does seem to be based on an authenic document, the translation and emotive cover of the book has the smell of a black propaganda effort, or at the very least, irresponsible sensationalism. This would not be inconsistent with the proto-neocon organisation Team B’s mistranslations of Russian documents in the late 1970s, and related CIA misinformation which indirectly convinced the then head of CIA William Casey into believing the agency’s own lies, lies suggesting that Russians were the masterminds behind seemingly unrelated global terrorist activities.”


    This is an important book which put out many concepts into the mainstream of national security thinking.

    I agree the article isn’t the greatest, and have suggested an alternative outline:

    The article should be something like this:

    1 Intro
    2 Authors
    3 Version
    3.1 Chinese Version
    3.2 FBIS Version
    3.3 FBIS abridged version
    3.4 Print Version
    3.4.1 Cover & Subtitle Controversy
    3.4.2 Introduction Controversy
    3.4.3 Publisher Controversy
    4 Overview of the Concepts
    5 References
    6 Other Links

    A Friend of ManBearPig Strikes Out at the Goracle’s New Book

    I have been dreading the thought of watching the Goracle’s movie or new book for an upcoming essay.

    Here is what Thomas Mitchell – who must be an associate of ManBearPig – wrote about the book:

    His new book, “The Assault on Reason,” is precisely that — a relentless assault on reason, as well as science, history, Republicans, news media, the president, corporations, the wealthy and any ignoramuses who do not fall in line with his soft-core socialist friends.

    It is a 320-page daisy-chain of platitudes, sophomoric clichés punctuated by vaguely relevant quotations ripped straight from the pages of “Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations” and smatterings of pseudoscientific citations to prop up lame contentions.

    I am not going to buy the book. I figure I can sample it B&N or check it out of the library.

    [Originally uploaded by StephenGA]

    [Originally uploaded by jiixiij]

    “Positioning” by Al Ries and Jack Trout: Anything for 4GW or 5GW?

    I recently read Positioning by Al Ries and Jack Trout.

    This is really mostly a marketing/business book, but I am looking for ideas I can swipe from elsewhere fro 4gw/5gw.

    I love the subtitle: The Battle for Your Mind. I am going to crib and re-use that soon.

    The authors define positioning as what you do to the mind of the prospective customer of your product. Finding a position for product in the prospects mind is the key. This is difficult because all prospects are over communication- they got to much coming at them…and they is only so much room in their mind.

    The authors also suggest that successful positioning will not involve the introduction of something new and different into the prospects mind, but will instead try to tie into something else already in the prospect mind.

    That sort of sounds like the “embrace and extend” idea to me.

    The authors write:

    …the average person cannot tolerate being he or she is wrong. Mind-changing is the road to advertising disaster.

    The authors suggest since people are over-communicated to, that they try to keep things simple to cope (optimizing the OODA…hmm). Therefore, if you are going to target a person’s mind, keep the message super simple and focused. They write:

    You have to sharpen your message to cut into the mind. You have to jettison the ambiguities, simplify the message, and then you simplify it some more if you want to make a long lasting impression.

    Here is example I came up with for simplifying a message:

    Instead of PNM, Gap-shrinking, DoEE, SysAdmin, A-Z…think
    “doing right by bringing liberty and justice to all”. BTW, the “justice
    for all” as a substitute message comes from a commentator on Barnett’s
    site. If I find the link I will add it.

    Anyways, the book has some useful ideas for 4GW as information warfare/strategic communications/political theater/ message-sending. It has some application to the memetic engineering aspects of 5GW.

    Lastly, I want to mention briefly a positioning exercise they mention that they performed for the Catholic Church (I think for some lay leaders)that I found interesting.

    They started with:

    What is the the role of the Catholic Church in the Modern World?

    …and worked there way to:

    […]the role of the Church as that of keeping Christ alive in the minds of each new generation and relating his word to the problems of their time.

    Wow. Simple. Direct. Focused.

    [Cross-posted to Dreaming 5GW