Foreign policy, national security, military history and technology-related books published in 2006 jam this year's Christmas book column. Each volume uniquely addresses current issues and events.
Carnes Lord's "Losing Hearts and Minds" (Praeger Security International) is one of 2006's more salient and disturbing books. Unfortunately, it has attracted little discussion outside the Pentagon and State Department.
Lord, a professor of strategy at the Naval War College, understands that the War on Terror is an ideological struggle, pitting democracy against tyranny and terror. Carnes argues that the United States and the West have not successfully engaged the ideas inspiring Islamist-led terrorism.
It is indeed a tough subject -- the Baker-Hamilton Iraq Study Group barely touched on the terror war's ideological dimensions. Carnes notes how the media and Hollywood frequently compromise American "soft power" (moral, political and information persuasion). His suggestions for improving the "selling" of democracy include a revived and revamped U.S. Information Agency.
Max Boot's "War Made New" (Gotham Books) considers four "revolutions in warfare," from the late 15th century to the 21st. Boot begins with the "French blitzkrieg" of 1494, the French invasion of Italy. He analyzes the gunpowder revolution, and the effects of the first and second industrial revolutions on warfare, and concludes with the information revolution. His chapter on the battle of Koniggratz (1866) is particularly fine.
Glenn Reynolds' "An Army of Davids" (Nelson Current) has become one of the bibles of the digital media revolution. Its antecedent is Howard Rheingold's influential "Smart Mobs" (2003). Reynolds' subtitle aptly summarizes the book: "How Markets and Technology Empower Ordinary People to Beat Big Media, Big Government and Other Goliaths."
Reynolds teaches constitutional law at the University of Tennessee law school. One of his many striking arguments: "Societies that encourage open communication, quick thinking, decentralization and broad dispersal of skills -- along with a sense of individual responsibility -- have an enormous structural advantage as opposed to societies that don't, an advantage that increases in a world of high technology and unconventional war."
Austin Bay is the author of three novels. His third novel, The Wrong Side of Brightness, was published by Putnam/Jove in June 2003. He has also co-authored four non-fiction books, to include A Quick and Dirty Guide to War: Third Edition (with James Dunnigan, Morrow, 1996).
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