Book Bonanza

[by Mark Safranski, a.k.a. “zen“] My usual yuletide haul of books received and purchased….                         The Last of the President’s Men by Bob Woodward Being Nixon: A Man Divided by Evan Thomas Iron Curtain: The Crushing of Eastern Europe 1944-1956 by Anne Applebaum Avoiding Armageddon: […] Read more »

The Chinese Strategic Tradition: A Research Program (II)

This post is the second in a series. It was originally published at The Scholar’s Stage on the 26th of May, 2015. I strongly recommended readers start with the first post in this series, which introduces the purpose and methods of this essay. That post focused on what is published in English on Chinese strategic […] Read more »

T. Greer on Ibn Khaldun’s Asabiyah

[by Mark Safranski, a.k.a. “zen“] T. Greer of Scholar’s Stage has an exemplary post comparing the philosophy of English social contract theorist Thomas Hobbes with medieval Arab historian Ibn Khaldun, who described a critical component of a functional polity – asabiyah.  You should read Greer’s post in its entirety, but here is the take away […] Read more »

Rofer on The Fall of Beria and Putin’s Vanishing Act

[by Mark Safranski, a.k.a. “zen“] Lavrenty Beria (center)  Russian President and brazen strongman Vladimir Putin reappeared Monday, looking wan and a little uncomfortable for the cameras, but jesting at the mad swirl of internet rumors sparked by his extended absence from public view. One of the rumors, which may have been true, was that Putin […] Read more »

Contextualizing the beheading of Coptic Christians in Libya

[ by Charles Cameron — in real estate it’s location, location, location — in thought space it’s context, context, context ] . Timothy Furnish offers us context for the newly released video of Islamic State beheadings of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians (screencap in upper panel, below) with two striking images of precedents, one of which […] Read more »

Gaza now stretches all the way to Disneyland

[ by Charles Cameron -- on the hopelessly interdisciplinary nature of reality ] . ** There really is no limit to the diversity of strands which go into a complex tapestry such as that of Gaza. Jean-Pierre Filiu has written, and Hurst will shortly publish, his History of Gaza. Mark Levine, University of California, Irvine, [...] Read more »

New Book: The Lion’s Gate by Steven Pressfield

[by Mark Safranski, a.k.a. "zen"] The Lion’s Gate: On the Front Lines of the Six Day War by Steven Pressfield  This just arrived hot off the presses on my doorstep yesterday, courtesy of Steve and in terms of writing, The Lion’s Gate appears to be a significant departure for him. While Pressfield has done novels [...] Read more »

Commentary on Politics and Strategy

[by Mark Safranski, a.k.a. "zen"] Infinity Journal has a good article by eminent Clausewitzian strategist Colin Gray on the interrelationship of politics and strategy (free registration required): Politics, Strategy and the Stream of Time ….Second, many scholars appear to be resistant to the conceptually, perhaps even morally, necessary recognition of the implications of the fact [...] Read more »

Adding to the Bookpile

[by Mark Safranski, a.k.a. "zen"]    Cultures of War: Pearl Harbor / Hiroshima / 9-11 / Iraq by John Dower  Berlin Diary: The Journal of a Foreign Correspondent, 1934-1941 by William Shirer Moral Combat: Good and Evil in World War II by Michael Burleigh  Picked up a few more books for the antilibrary. Dower is best known for [...] Read more »

Making Historical Analogies about 1914

[by Mark Safranski, a.k.a. "zen"] The Independent has a short, quasi-sensationalist, article featuring historian Margaret MacMillan discussing what is likely to become the first pop academic cottage industry of 2014….making historical analogies about 1914 and World War I! MacMillan is a senior scholar of international relations and administrator at Oxford ( where she is Warden of St Antony’s College) [...] Read more »