I used to do more book reviews when I first started blogging. Now, I keep track of the books I read, but I rarely review them. I like reading other reviews on blogs though and I certainly read enough to make some suggestions, so I think I’ll start back up.
The first book is The Heart and the Fist by Eric Greitens. If you follow me on Twitter, you probably saw one of my three thousand tweets (ok, maybe like two) tweets about it. I have not loved a book this much since I read One Bullet Away by Nathaniel Fick.
Actually, in a lot of ways, the two books are very similar. Both books are about college boys who want to be warriors (and both reference the idea of modern day Spartans and feeling that they were born in the wrong time period) and find themselves drawn to the military. While Fick heads for the Marines, however, and turns his book into a(n awesome) Iraq war memoir, Greitens goes to Navy OCS and then BUD/S to become a SEAL and spends his book wondering about the relationship between force and humanitarian work, between courage and compassion. He comes to the conclusion that simply giving people what they need isn’t enough and that being good requires equals measures of strength and caring.
This philosophy leads him to develop an organization called The Mission Continues, which challenges returning wounded and disabled veterans to overcome their difficulties and use their military experience and leadership abilities to continue serving their communities at home. The Mission Continues website sums it up nicely: “While it is very important to tell our returning veterans ‘thank you’ for their service, we believe that it is also important to tell them ‘we still need you.’” What an amazing idea, right? Now go get this book and read the story of how his philosophy developed. You won’t regret it. And if you do, read it again because you probably missed the point.
The second book is not going to get anyone excited. Well, probably not anyone except for the bookseller who thinks you’re a terrorist for asking for a book about the transfer of bomb technology. It’s Exporting the Bomb by Matthew Kroenig.
The first sections of the book are dedicated to explaining the hypothesis and theory. I’ve never been into theory and research design. On a good day, it makes my eyes glaze over. When I spend the week on a brain candy binge and then pick up a book with sentences such as “To control for potentially confounding factors, I then evaluate the effect of each of the explanatory variables, including both control variables and the cubic splines,” it puts me in a coma. But then I skipped to the end of the theory chapter and got into case studies and came back to life.
The book actually comes from an interesting (and somewhat understudied) aspect of nonproliferation: the supply side. A lot of research has been done on why states pursue nuclear weapons, but not so much on why states with nuclear weapons technology would pass it on to states that don’t already have it. The case studies are much more interesting reading, but you’re still probably not going to want to read this book unless you’re really into nuclear weapons (like me), international security policy (like me), and history (like me). But if you do read it and make it through the research design chapter, don’t try to talk to me about it. I’ll fall asleep before you can say “cubic splines.”
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