Today is Black Friday, and that means the beginning of the holiday shopping bonanza. Since you probably need gift ideas for loved ones interested in military affairs, foreign policy, counter-insurgency and art, we present the On Violence Gift Recommendations:
Michael C: Recommendations for books on terrorism, Islamic thought and warfare.
The Accidental Guerrilla - This should come as no surprise if you have read my review on how much I love this book.
The Crisis of Islam - A little gem recommended by my last Battalion Commander, this book puts almost all of Islam into context. It also does a great job showing how takfiri jihadism developed in Islam; and how much of a heresy that philosophy is to their faith.
The Sling and the Stone - As I wrote when I defined contemporary warfare, the Fourth Generation of Warfare is upon us. This book defines that term superbly.
The Lexus and the Olive Tree - Thomas Friedman's first book reads a little dated, but it had more international relations and defined the forces of globalization better than his follow up, The World is Flat, in my opinion. Either book should be required reading in global affairs though.
The Art of Maneuver Warfare - The oldest and probably least familiar book on my list, I read this gem in college and found it amazingly applicable. Robert Leonhard's grasp of maneuver warfare and his ability to explain its concepts are unmatched. Not just applicable to our current fights, but to warfare in general.
The Economist - Not a book, but the best weekly reporting in news journalism.
Michael C's Christmas List (the books I haven't read but hope to get from Santa):
Where Men Win Glory, the new book by Jon Krakauer, took it on the chin from both Dexter Filkins and Andrew Exum, but I loved Into Thin Air and Into the Wild, so I am compelled to read it. Dexter Filkens does some of the best reporting on Afghanistan and The Forever War (not to be confused with the fantastic military sci-fi novel) is his take on the current conflict. Finally, One Nation Under Contract takes on a topic near and dear to the hearts of On Violence and it seems to be the most level-headed approach to wartime and government contracting to date.
Eric C: The Foreign Affairs Movies You Need to Own
Movies on foreign affairs are unfortunately few and far between--it's no ones fault, but portraying the interplay of nation-states is, well, tough. Fortunately after trolling through three lists of films on foreign affairs, I've come up with the five movies you must see about the world of international relations.
Dr. Strangelove or How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb - One of my top three films of all time, a classic on nuclear arms, the cold war and foreign policy.
Casablanca - Seriously, one of the greatest films of all time.
Syriana - So good. So good. Please watch this film twice. If you think it is confusing, email me and I'll explain the subtext of each scene.
Lawrence of Arabia - Another classic film that has more to say on war, leadership, counter-insurgency, the Middle East and colonialism than perhaps any other work of art.
Eric C's Christmas list (the films I haven't seen but want to): The Quiet American (2002) (I also need to read the novel by Graham Greene), Charlie Wilson's War, and Waltz with Bashir (MC's seen it and loved it. Technically a war film, but I still included it.)