Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War
Recommended by: Chuck Alsup, INSA President
A must-read for anyone who aspires to lead in the national security sector or who seeks to understand the complexities and anxieties of national security decision making at the strategic policy level. The obvious passion and intensity of Gates’ narrative transports the reader right into the middle of very private meetings with Presidents, Flag Officers and foreign leaders, and heartfelt encounters with troops and junior leaders on distant battlefields. Gates’ efforts to bring urgency to disparate Pentagon priorities and to hold senior leaders accountable are notable and inspiring. His commitment to his Nation and to the young people he reluctantly sent into harm’s way is palpable throughout the book and provides the reader with a moving example of what leadership and personal responsibility are all about.
In the Eye of the Storm: Political, Diplomatic, and the Military Struggle for Croatian Independence
Recommended by: Jean Cocco, Intern
Ante Gugo has collected and painstakingly researched the most significant events which characterized the dissolution of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and the creation of the Republic of Croatia. Gugo provides an intriguing account of the Yugoslav War and the impact it had on the Balkans. For any student or individual interested in history and the perils of war–this book is one to add to the list.
A Bag of Marbles
Recommended by: Suzanne Wilson Heckenberg, COO
I recently chose a memoir for the entire family to read that was published in 1973. Although the informal book club did not manifest quite like I had anticipated (these things rarely do), it did ultimately resonate. An autobiography, A Bag of Marbles tells Joffo’s story (age 10) of escaping Nazi occupied France in 1941 along with his brother. It instills hope in the human spirit during the most tragic of times and a lesson to all on what one can endure. Since choosing this novel, I have learned that there is a film adaptation and a graphic novel for younger children.
Frozen in Time: An Epic Story of Survival and a Modern Quest for Lost Heroes of World War II
Recommended by: Peggy O'Connor, Communications Director
In 1942, a U.S. military cargo plane crashed in Greenland; soon after, a B-17 bomber, assigned to the rescue mission, also crashed; and, not much longer after that, a Coast Guard rescue plane carrying one of the B-17 survivors disappeared in a storm. This book offers a well-researched account of these events and tells the harrowing story of the Coast Guard crew’s survival (some of them) and rescue. I listened to the audio version and would often find myself sitting in my car at the office or in front of my house not wanting to get out. The narrative was a bit overly dramatic at times, but I was thoroughly engrossed in the story. Most importantly, I cared deeply for the characters. I cried for their bravery and cheered their persistence. A great summer read.
The Perfect Weapon
Recommended by: Jacqueline Schultz, Intern
Technology is great until it isn’t. In his novel The Perfect Weapon, New York Times columnist, David Sanger, addresses the various ways in which cyber has been used as a strategy of conducting war. Chronicling the origins of the cyber debate with Operation Olympic Games, Sanger explores how it is rewriting the rules of warfare today. The recent Russian hack into the Democratic National Committee offers just one example of the way in which this new capability can have a long-lasting effect on a country’s national security. Cyber capabilities are used by governments and individuals alike to disrupt, deceive, and deflect. Through breadth of research, deep insight, and real-world examples, Sanger communicates the seeming similarities and vast differences between nuclear and cyber capabilities.
Our Latest Longest War: Losing Hearts and Minds in Afghanistan
Aaron B. O'Connell
Recommended by: Christian Vickland, Intern
Edited by Marine veteran and assistant professor of American History at the Naval Academy, Aaron O'Connell, Our Latest Longest War is a compilation of essays about the Afghanistan War from those who lived and shaped it. Afghan and U.S. politicians and diplomats offer insight into the policy and decisions that guided the trajectory of the conflict, while U.S., Afghan and ISAF military convey the harsh and frustrating realities of fighting the Taliban. The book is largely critical of the U.S. and NATO’s approach, emphasizing how the West’s ignorance of Afghan culture led to impractical plans that delivered poor results. Published in July 2017, the book remains relevant as 2019 marks the first-year military personnel deployed to Afghanistan could have been born after 9/11.
What are you reading this summer? Share your recommendation (email: info@INSAonline.org) and we’ll add it to our list!