Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Books Roundup

As I got more interested in foreign policy this year the best book I read is by Thomas P.M. Barnett. His The Pentagon's New Map is a must read if you want a foundation to talk intelligently about the world today and what political steps we can take to affect change. You should also read it because he's one of the grand strategists that is readable and this book is highly influential. (If you find yourself interested in this you can study it chapter-by-chapter with the author himself as he submitted to an hourly interview/discussion on Hugh Hewitt's radio show. Link is here.) Since discovering Vince Flynn's violent, muscular, patriot fiction last year I finished up all of his recent novels and then read his newest - Protect & Defend - a few weeks ago. All but his first are worth reading and show the simple tension between feckless politicians who see America's enemies as theoretical and a man whose talents are for ending the lives of those enemies. Politically savvy and fun to read. Lastly, I have to mention Jeffrey Overstreet's book Through A Screen Darkly. It is part film review, with some theory and a whole lot of anecdote and heart. Even while disagreeing with his conclusions you can't help but admire his infectious love of cinema and be drawn in with him.

3 comments:

A. Walter said...

Glad you liked Overstreet's book. I'll look into the Barnett title. BTW, since you've finished Flynn's books you might check out Brad Thor, if you haven't before--he came to Third Place this year, and he seemed to be just as "on the ball" as Flynn. BTW, did you get to Proper Confidence this year?

Brian said...

Speaking of Brad Thor I just started reading his work and have his second novel (Path Of The Assassin) on my nightstand right now so we're on the same wavelength there.

If you do pick up Barnett you will find him much more optimistic than his counterparts in geopolitical strategy. He's on my list of five books to read to understand the dangers we face in our world today:

1. The Looming Tower - Lawrence Wright
2. America Alone - Mark Steyn
3. While Europe Slept - Bruce Bawer
4. The Pentagon's New Map - Thomas P.M. Barnett
5. Guests Of The Ayatollah - Mark Bowden

Bowden is a master of narrative non-fiction and along with Michael Lewis I will read anything he wants to write about.

I have started and stopped reading Confidence three times now. It isn't that I don't like it - in fact I want to like it very much - but it feels like I'm reading parts C.S. Lewis/Francis Schaeffer/Peter Kreeft in less accessible prose. I plan to stick it out and just read the whole thing through and fully assess it then.

A. Walter said...

Interesting list... those 5 titles. Bowden was at 3rd Place this year (very impressive guy), and that book sounds like a really great read.

Speaking of geopolitics, have you read Walter Russell Mead yet? I think it was on Prager's show that I heard him a couple weeks ago; he was plugging his new one, God and Gold. If only I had the time to read that... But I did read his Power, Terror, Peace, and War when it came out a couple years ago. It's short and excellent.

Newbigin's book went slowly the first time I read it. But I don't think I had trouble with his prose (he's definitely no more difficult than Lewis can be at times--I've still never gotten through Lewis's essay "Why I Am Not a Pacifist," even though I really want to.) I probably told you, but the first time through Proper Confidence I read each chapter twice before going on to the next one, but that was because the ideas were so big and so new to me. I hope you make it through the book one day!