The Best Defense

One of the best military reading lists ever: Direct to you from the Australian army

Best Defense is in summer re-runs. This item originally ran on April 11, 2014.

It's been awhile since I've seen a reading list this good, and so comprehensive. An education itself. One thing I especially like about it is that it doesn't just list books, it tells you why you might want to read each one.

It also has some very helpful introductory essays. For example, there is this comment on how to read an official history:

Learn to read between the lines, particularly the lines of the official histories. Official historians expect their professional readers to be able to read between the lines. For example in speaking of Singapore, the War Office history says, 'Many stragglers were collected in the town and sent back to their units.'

What does this statement suggest? In an advance stragglers are to be expected. Men become detached from their units for quite legitimate reasons. We provide for them by establishing stragglers' posts to collect them and direct them back towards their units. But when we get large numbers of stragglers behind a defensive position, and a long way back at that, it suggests that units have been broken up or that there has been a breakdown of discipline somewhere. And that in turn suggests that the general situation had reached the stage when a lot of people had lost confidence, when morale was at least beginning to break down.

Also, General Paul Van Riper's essay on his own professional education is worth an evening all by itself.


The Best Defense

'The Square': A great political film

Best Defense is in summer re-runs. This item originally ran on March 25, 2014

The other night I cooked green chili chicken and my wife said we should watch The Square, so of course we did.

It is a documentary about the continuing Egyptian revolution, and no matter what your views, or even if you care, it is worth watching. Not only does it tell you more about what is happening in Cairo, it is a great study of how revolutions unfold, and cannibalize themselves. One of my kids said it reminded her of Battle of Algiers -- which of course is one of the Best Defense 10 top war films of all time.

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