- By Thomas E. RicksThomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here it is. It isn’t a bad list, and it has some very good books on it. David Hackett Fischer is my favorite historian. John Keegan is good reading. Fred Anderson’s book on the French and Indian War will change your view of the creation of the United States. And there are many books from my publisher, Penguin Press, which is nice to see.
But it is also kind of goofy. Fox Conner is an interesting figure, but a book you want to throw at someone who may not have read a good biography of Eisenhower, MacArthur, Patton or Bradley? And if you had to pick one book on counterinsurgency, would it really be Douglas Porch’s recent screed? (As the Naval War College Review‘s book reviewer put it, "Some might object that this book is written in an angry spirit, highly polemical, and deeply one-sided." Full disclosure: As I understand it, this book, which I have not yet read, attacks my newspaper coverage of the Iraq war.)
I also don’t think you can represent strategy today without including something by Sir Hew Strachan. And instead of a book by a British diplomat about Afghanistan, what about Emile Simpson’s War From the Ground Up?
The one thing that would justify this idiosyncratic list is if it represented the personal views of General Odierno, because then it would have the benefit of offering insight into the thinking of the Army chief of staff. But there is no indication of that in the introduction, so I am guessing it is a staff product.
Speaking of reading lists, here’s a good article by Joe Byerly.