Summer Book and Podcast Recommendations

Summer Book and Podcast Recommendations

Summer Book and Podcast Recommendations

As temperatures heat up, for many INSA members it’s time for sun, sand and summer reading! Whether it’s for personal or professional growth, INSA staff has it covered in our list of recommended summer reads and podcasts!


How to Hide an Empire: A History of the Greater United States

By Daniel Immerwahr

Recommended by Larry Hanauer, Vice President for Policy

In “How to Hide an Empire,” The author provides a history of American imperialism and military occupation in places like the Philippines, the Virgin Islands, American Samoa, the Panama Canal Zone, and elsewhere, highlighting the extent to which the United States has been – and in many ways still is – a territorial empire in which the locals were treated far worse than mainland citizens.  Given that the United States still maintains a “pointillist” empire of disparate territories whose residents have lesser political and economic rights than mainlanders -- in spots like Guam, Puerto Rico, Guantanamo,  and the Northern Mariana Islands – the lessons of American colonialism remain relevant today.

Black Diamond: A Mystery of the French Countryside

By Martin Walker

Recommended by John Doyon, Executive Vice President

A Bruno, Chief of Police mystery.  When he’s not solving a crime, Bruno is celebrating the cuisine and life of southern France, which in this story, starts with problems in the local truffle market.  Great characters and intrigue. Enjoy with a glass of Bordeaux!





2034: A Novel of the Next World War

By Elliot Ackerman, Admiral James Stavridis

Recommended by Alison Berman, Policy Intern
Also recommended by Policy Intern, Harry Brooks!

As the current relationship between the U.S. and China becomes more tense, this book explores a potential future outcome of a rising China and a declining America that no longer enjoys military superiority. 2034: A Novel of the Next World War is a work of speculative fiction written by Elliot Ackerman, a journalist and Marine Corps veteran, and Admiral James Stavridis, a retired four-star admiral and former Supreme Allied Commander of NATO. In this book, the authors explore how the future of the U.S.-China relationship could spiral into a catastrophe that goes beyond traditional warfare and into the cyber realm.



By H.R. McMaster

Recommended by Harrison Brooks, Policy Intern

Battlegrounds is part memoir, part cautionary tale. McMaster warns that, in an age of partisan vitriol and disillusionment with the American political system, the United States lacks the vision and confidence needed to effectively compete in a rapidly changing world. One by one, McMaster details the next decade’s biggest threats – and opportunities – from Afghanistan to Russia to Iran to, of course, China. Throughout, McMaster weaves in his personal experience working issues in these arenas, which I think provides a rich and necessary lesson in national security leadership.



A Spy Among Friends

By Ben Macintyre

Recommended by Nicholas Damianos, Policy Intern

“A Spy Among Friends” recounts the story of Kim Philby, the notorious MI6 officer and double agent for Russia. Macintyre presents a shocking timeline of events, ranging from Russia’s recruitment of Philby during the Spanish Civil War, his rise in MI6, his time in the United States, and his eventual defection. This story of intrigue, friendship, and devastating betrayal is a can’t miss.





Team of Rivals

By DK Goodwin

Recommended by INSA Member

Great historical perspective of Lincoln leading the US in a trying time!






Good to Great

By Jim Collins

Recommended by INSA Member

How to motivate a company and its workforce!







World Class Quality

By Keki Bhote

Recommended by INSA Member

Toolkit for structured quality improvement!







The Culture Map

By Erin Meyer

Recommended by INSA Member

How to better understand real cultural differences!







Wind of Change by Pineapple Street Studios, Crooked Media and Spotify

Recommended by Peggy O'Connor, Director of Communications and Policy

Did the CIA write a power ballad that helped end the Cold War? This eight-part series follows journalist Patrick Radden Keefe as he explores a rumor he heard from a former CIA source that the Agency was behind the Scorpion's 1990 power ballad, “Winds of Change”. Keefe interviews musicians, historians, ex-CIA, and Scorpion fans and travels the globe in search of the truth. Sure, this is a highly speculative series that could have used better editing, but it is also highly entertaining. The narration is excellent, interviews engaging, and the premise can’t be beat.

The Line by Dan Taberski

Recommended by Cassie Crotty, Policy Intern

The Line is a six-part podcast hosted by Dan Taberski. The Line centers around the accused war crimes of former Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher but also delves into the ethics of wartime decision-making. Gallagher was accused by several SEAL team members of stabbing a wounded Islamic State prisoner and shooting Iraqi civilians during his deployment in Mosul, Iraq. Throughout the podcast, we are immersed in the psychology of special operators. The host attempts to understand what makes SEAL team members unique and how their experiences on and off the battlefield could lead to controversial war crimes.


Iron Butterfly with Megan Jaffer

Recommended by INSA Member

Love learning from women doing real work in the IC!




Spycast with Andrew Hammond

Recommended by Katie Keller, ClearanceJobs

The International Spy Museum's podcast SpyCast, features interviews and programs with ex-spies, intelligence experts, and espionage scholars. Totally feeds your espionage appetite 🙂 Andrew Hammond is wonderful, too!




Recommended by Noel Hardesty, Office Manager and Executive Assistant

I always have a book of crosswords with me when I’m not working. It’s a great way to keep your mind sharp and improve your vocabulary! I’m currently alternating between USA Today’s Crossword Super Challenge and New York Times Thursday Crossword Omnibus. Why crosswords you ask? Because the sense of achievement you get from completing one is addictive and if you’re like me, you will find delight in the wordplay meant to obscure your path to completion. Those ‘aha’ moments  when you solve one are pure adrenaline for the mind.

Peggy O'Connor

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