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Professional DeveloPment Bookshelf:  Reviews of books that teach us about ouR cRaft
Professional DeveloPment Bookshelf: 100 Decisive Battles from ancient times to the PresentBy Maj. John H. Alderman IV     ...
Professional DeveloPment Bookshelf:    Reviews of books that    teach us about ouR cRaftBy Maj. John H. Alderman IV       ...
Professional  DeveloPment  Bookshelf:    Reviews of books that    teach us about ouR cRaftBy Maj. John H. Alderman IV     ...
Professional DeveloPment Bookshelf:    Reviews of books that    teach us about ouR cRaftBy Maj. John H. Alderman IV       ...
ProfessionalDeveloPmentBookshelf:   Reviews of books that   teach us about ouR cRaftBy Maj. John H. Alderman IV           ...
Professional     DeveloPment     Bookshelf:        Reviews of books that        teach us about ouR cRaftBy Maj. John H. Al...
Professional       DeveloPment       Bookshelf:          Reviews of books that          teach us about ouR cRaftBy Maj. Jo...
Professional     DeveloPment     Bookshelf:        Reviews of books that        teach us about ouR cRaftBy Maj. John H. Al...
ProfessionalDeveloPmentBookshelf:   Reviews of books that   teach us about ouR cRaftBy Maj. John H. Alderman IV           ...
Professional DeveloPment Bookshelf:   Reviews of books that   teach us about ouR cRaftBy Maj. John H. Alderman IV         ...
Book Reviews from the Georgia Guardsman
Book Reviews from the Georgia Guardsman
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Book Reviews from the Georgia Guardsman

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Book Reviews from the Georgia Guardsman

  1. 1. Professional DeveloPment Bookshelf: Reviews of books that teach us about ouR cRaft
  2. 2. Professional DeveloPment Bookshelf: 100 Decisive Battles from ancient times to the PresentBy Maj. John H. Alderman IV I found myself thinking of even familiar battles in a newPublic Affairs Office way because Davis had given them more, or different,Georgia Department of Defense context than I had seen before. The results sections extended my understanding of the battles and helped meW fit them together – making the book’s chronological order e can learn a lot from taking a little time to even more useful. analyze battles and asking ourselves what There are some surprise inclusions and exclusions decisions, or technology, or logistics, or of battles; but narrowing it down to 100 battles over thepersonalities were key to victory... or defeat. But military course of 3,500 years of history had to be tough. Morehistory books that describe these battles share the important is that the battles span both time and place, andcommon challenge of reaching the right level of detail each of the battles was decisive in its own way.for a quick study. So, for example, Davis covers the battle of Crécy but Too little detail and you get what amounts to a not the more famous battle of Agincourt – because Crécydictionary entry of places and people; too much detail is more important strategically and Agincourt basicallyand it’s hard to cover a lot of ground while drawing repeats the tactics used at Crécy.broader conclusions. Overall, 100 Decisive Battles serves as both a 100 Decisive Battles gets the mix just right. Each thorough grounding in the most important battles andbattle gets a few pages, and Davis describes the historical tactics of history – and as a great general reference on thesetting and results of each one in crisp, entertaining prose. subject. It is broad enough to teach us how to think aboutFor every battle he includes a short, precise description maneuver, logistics, and decision-making, yet specificof why that battle is important, a description of the battle enough to give us useful examples.itself, and then an explanation of the results and effects. I don’t think it’s too strong a statement to say that thisHe then offers his references for further reading. Most book should be on the bookshelf of every professionalbattles include maps, and some have illustrations. military officer. Throughout, his analysis is spot on. More than once, June 2010 | 18
  3. 3. Professional DeveloPment Bookshelf: Reviews of books that teach us about ouR cRaftBy Maj. John H. Alderman IV vision and make decisions. And the key is making thePublic Affairs Office right decisions. If executives make decisions that othersGeorgia Department of Defense can make, or that they can make unnecessary by issuing policy, they are wrong, Drucker contends.W Perhaps the best-known example from this book hat can Guardsmen learn from a business is Drucker’s observation that a well-run factory is a executive’s handbook written half a century quiet factory. If he visited a factory where everything ago? Lots, actually. was dramatic, and people were rushing about excitedly First published in 1967, The Effective Executive making things happen – it would be less well-run thanis business guru Peter F. Drucker’s close look at how a quiet factory where good planning, solid policies andexecutives operate and how they can improve themselves thorough systems and procedures had made things…in order to improve their organizations. Rather than a quite regular.focus on managing people, it’s really about managing “A recurrent crisis,” he writes, “should alwaysone’s self. have been foreseen.” So the job of the leader, then, is Executives, Drucker writes, mainly contribute by to anticipate problems and provide training, equipment,affecting their organization’s ability to perform and obtain systems or decisions to keep problems from developing.results. By “executive” he generally means business A major takeaway is that, whatever his rank, a leaderexecutives. But his working definition – people who are acts like “top management” when she focuses on whatexpected to get the right things done – sounds a lot like she can do to serve the needs of the entire organization –the basic definition of a “leader.” from whatever position she’s in. And that is a lesson we While it is more obvious that this book would be could all do well to keep in mind.great for battalion commanders and chiefs of staff, I Throughout, the prose is lightened by illustrationsfound its lessons very useful – decisive even – as a and observations from business and the military. AfterTroop Commander, and figure the lessons would apply to all, military leaders make tough decisions all the time,thoughtful leaders from squad level, up. and the high stakes of our field means we have to get For example, Drucker has a healthy appreciation things more right more often than most business leadersfor decentralized decision-making. Leaders must make – or we face more awful consequences.decisions, not just carry out orders. Executives must focus It’s not the simplest manual on leadership, but it istheir efforts and time on what other people need and can one of the very best. I first read this book when I was ause to make the organization successful. Meetings should young lieutenant, and the ideas in it completely changedbe held only for a purpose. the way I approach leadership. I wish I had read it sooner. Essentially, executives do two things: provide a July 2010 | 20
  4. 4. Professional DeveloPment Bookshelf: Reviews of books that teach us about ouR cRaftBy Maj. John H. Alderman IV in such a way that a student of history can draw his orPublic Affairs Office her own conclusions about the action. Rather than feelingGeorgia Department of Defense uneven in its treatment, it keeps the atlas interesting and makes it more a tool of instruction.T The maps are beautiful. Perfectly scaled and he perennial trick to understanding a given illustrated, there is enough detail to give the reader some battle or campaign is matching the detail of terrain to analyze to help see how commanders’ decisions written description to the visualization of a map were shaped – similar to the utility provided by staff rides.illustration. The West Point Atlas of War series spans The maps are rarely unclear or cluttered, with a clearcenturies of warfare in a simple, effective manner that and concise black-and-white color scheme. Another nicesupports both close reading and general browsing. First detail is the inclusion of local place-names, which givepublished in the 50’s under the auspices of Gen. Esposito a feel for what the commanders may have seen on theat the Military Academy, many of the maps are available ground. Unremembered places like Catherine’s Furnace,online. Barber’s Point, and Todd’s Tavern show up next to the The books are harder to find, but if you’re lucky, you names we know well only because a battle took place acan still pick up reprints at larger bookstores. The most little farther down the road.recent reprint included separate volumes on the American The atlas maps and descriptions are probably best atCivil War, World War I, and the European and Pacific teaching an understanding of the higher-order decisionstheaters of World War II. The latter is the one that most that shape wars. The volume on the Pacific Theater, foropened my eyes. example, was the first book that really helped me fully Just as Paul Davis’s 100 Decisive Battles (featured visualize and understand the division-level maneuverin this column this past June) perfectly balances scope that surrounded or supported some of the smaller-scaleand detail, so too does The West Point Atlas. For each (or seemingly unconnected) battles with which I hadbattle or campaign, a map of the area of operations (and previously been familiar.sometimes area of interest) is set with a concise description Ultimately, a robust appetite for and understanding ofof the action. Sometimes, the two are perfectly matched; the various factors which have affected major battles andsometimes, the maps may only illustrate the decisive part campaigns in the past allows any commander to betterof the action. contextualize any challenges faced by his or her own Throughout, the prose is lively and appropriately unit. The West Point Atlas of War series effectively putsdetailed, a good read that balances analysis with reporting salient facts and mitigating factors into a visually andin some pretty neat ways. So, for example, sometimes the intellectually compelling format that makes it easy fornarrative is explicit in its condemnation or praise for a commanders to make use of the lessons hard-learned incommander’s decision. At other times, facts are presented battles past. August 2010 | 20
  5. 5. Professional DeveloPment Bookshelf: Reviews of books that teach us about ouR cRaftBy Maj. John H. Alderman IV as he becomes a leader and starts shaping teams, we seePublic Affairs Office it all over again from a different angle.Georgia Department of Defense Ender’s Game really becomes an exploration of the methods – a philosophy, really – of training junior leaders.A Ender is thrown into a real maelstrom of experiences science fiction book? On the Professional and people, and he encounters different attitudes toward Development Bookshelf? You better believe command, leadership, followership, and decision making. it! Right up there on the shelf next to Starship He has to handle superiors less talented, and subordinatesTroopers. more talented, than he is. Ender’s Game is the story of a young boy becoming Most useful to us as readers are the lessons Endera leader under unique and trying circumstances. Set learns about how those without power can influence thosein the relatively near future, the novel spins a fairly in power through example, or counsel, or even directstraightforward tale. Earth has been attacked by aliens challenge. The parallels to be drawn by a new lieutenanttwice, and now the planet is desperately trying to prepare – in charge but inexperienced – are clear. The same couldfor the rematch they know is coming. So, they are be said for junior NCOs.selecting and developing leaders at very early ages and A minor theme explores the power of rhetoric:pouring everything into the hope that one of them will be, Methods to shape thoughts and action with words andessentially, perfect. ideas. In fact, we come to see the ability to communicate Like all good fiction, this storyline is about developing effectively as the leader’s best tool.character and solving problems. In this case, how does a Card is a fantastic storyteller. His characters have ansociety select and develop leaders? What makes a good edge to them, and project a peculiar kind of reality. So,combat leader, and how does a trainer pull that out of although the book is practically a manual on leadership,a candidate for leadership? What does that candidate go it never feels like one. In fact, it is plenty enjoyable just tothrough as the transformation takes place? read as a space yarn. But that would be to miss the point. That selection and development process forms So, if you need a change of pace, or prefer to learn bythe core of the novel. Card takes us inside two minds: example and consideration, give this novel a shot. Youone shaping a leader through direct counseling and by will probably immediately see why it has been on theindirect situational challenges; the other, Ender, growing Marine Corps Reading List since its inception.into that leader as he is poked and prodded along. Then, September 2010 | 20
  6. 6. ProfessionalDeveloPmentBookshelf: Reviews of books that teach us about ouR cRaftBy Maj. John H. Alderman IV man who is foundered under the weight of ammunition hePublic Affairs Office will never use.”Georgia Department of Defense And if you accept his basic premise, then you should give careful consideration to this new equation of riskT assessment. What might we gain in mobility in exchange his slim little volume on logistics is so brilliant that for accepting the risk of having fewer reloads? it would be tempting to read the first short essay or At its core, The Soldier’s Load and the Mobility of a two, declare yourself Enlightened, promise never Nation is about the creation and preservation of combatto load your Troops down with extra gear again, and move power so that it can be used at the decisive point. And thaton. proves a pretty good model for leadership in general. Famed historian Col. S.L.A. Marshall’s basic premise Soldiers manage their fuel and ammunition to maintainis: “No logistical system is sound unless its first principle pressure on an enemy; pilots manage energy to maintainis enlightened conservation of the power of the individual superior position in a dogfight; managers balance the needfighter.” for information against the cost of distracting their people In other words, don’t weigh down your folks with from their daily tasks by holding too many meetings.unnecessary stuff. Marshall illustrates his points with vignettes from Marshall’s famous studies of the great mass of gear various wars to keep things interesting. Along the way hewe ask our troops to carry into combat have affected makes some pithy observations on decision making, thegenerations of leaders. Staff gets much of the blame: To psychology of combat, staff work, maneuver, and morale. “economy of foRces opeRates in the spheRe of supply just as Relentlessly as it does in its application to the stRiking foRces.”mitigate their fears of every possible contingency, all sorts Another valuable inclusion in the book isof extra equipment is added to the basic combat load. straightforward leadership philosophy that ties everything Because Marshall also believes that “In war, all effort, together: “The ability to command the loyalties of yourall policy, should be directed toward speedier delivery of men, to learn to think rapidly and resolutely in their behalfa greater volume of a more efficient fire at the decisive while teaching them to do likewise, and to strive alwayspoint,” this study of logistics is all about the intersection to avoid wasting their force and energy so that it may beof logistics and leadership. For him, strategic leadership applied in strength at the vital time and place - that ismarshals resources effectively; tactical leadership leadership of the highest possible caliber.”motivates and inspires subordinates by doing the same. Whatever their position or duty, leaders are responsible Some of Marshall’s ideas are challenging and for managing resources to accomplish missions. So,practically unthinkable. Send troops into combat with Marshall’s approach will prove useful in its relentless focuslittle food or ammunition? Are you kidding? Yet, as on necessary things, of unencumbering subordinates, andMarshall writes, “the Soldier with only five clips in his maximizing operational effects.pocket but spring in his gait is tenfold stronger than the October 2010 | 20
  7. 7. Professional DeveloPment Bookshelf: Reviews of books that teach us about ouR cRaftBy Maj. John H. Alderman IVPublic Affairs OfficeGeorgia Department of Defense approachable. Much of it reads like a book of aphorisms; some of it is repetitive and mystical, a little too EasternA for many readers. nyone who has ever fenced, or wielded a close- For these reasons, this is a book best savored. You’ll combat weapon, or studied martial arts understands want to have enough time to reflect on what you read – but how a weapon can serve as an extension of the not so much time that you lose the threads of the majorbody. This understanding entails a comprehension of the themes running throughout the works. I recommend asrelationship between action and reaction, vulnerability interactive an experience as you can manage: Discuss itand the strike. with others, or capture your thoughts and reflections in Knowledge of these things proves useful whether the margins of your book as you read. Agree or disagree,employing a tank platoon, or a light infantry battalion, your reactions matter and, if captured, can help you betteror a fighter aircraft. But these are lessons which can be understand and develop your own philosophy of conflict.learned more immediately (and perhaps easily) with a Some of the lessons will be more challenging.close-combat weapon. “‘Mountain and sea’ means that it is bad to do the same Probably, it is for this reason that Miyamoto Musashi’s thing over and over again,” writes Musashi. Yet, onThe Book of Five Rings – collected here with Yagyu reflection and in context, understanding the need to match“the peRfoRmance of an expeRt seems Relaxed but does not leave any gaps. the actions of tRained people do not seem Rushed.”Munenori’s Family Traditions on the Art of War – has tactics to the situation at hand, and not repeat stale tacticssurvived through the ages as a key text of the martial arts. – these are things with which we can identify. The translator, Thomas Cleary, refers to these as “texts Other lessons will be clearer immediately. “When youon conflict and strategy,” meant to be useful in all walks of strike a blow, do not keep your mind on where you hit; afterlife. Both authors, too, stress repeatedly that the “martial striking, bring your mind back to observe your adversary’sarts” are meant to be applied in all situations. condition,” writes Munenori. Students of maneuver – and This approach truly makes these works of conflict many pilots – will recognize this admonition againstphilosophy more than strategic thought (or even business “tunnel vision” from early in their training.method) alone. The end result Miyamoto and Munenori The bottom line is that if one approaches this bookwould have us reach is more a state of mind – a way with an open mind, and a willingness to apply somewhatof approaching problems, martial or otherwise – with abstract lessons to today’s situation, The Book of Fivea proper balance of focus and openness, of passive and Rings may help you reach “the next level” in your strategicaggressive physical and mental states. thinking. Of course, this also means the book is not always easily January 2011 | 20
  8. 8. Professional DeveloPment Bookshelf: Reviews of books that teach us about ouR cRaftBy Maj. John H. Alderman IVPublic Affairs Office those of S.L.A. Marshall) which revealed that, historically,Georgia Department of Defense the vast majority of Soldiers (and pilots) in combat either never pull the trigger, or miss that target, even at pretty closeW ranges. The historical examples aren’t perfect (certainly atching the A-Team as a kid, it never occurred to there are exceptions!) but they’re there. me how odd it was that although Hannibal and He demonstrates, in part, that humans and animals the boys traded hundreds of bullets with each alike have powerful urges not to kill members of their ownweek’s bad guys, practically no one was ever hit. Sure, species. Grossman explores why, and the training that hastires were hit. Drums of gasoline were hit, and fireballed been implemented in the last century to help correct thatinto the air. Makeshift welded contraptions were hit. But deficiency.not people. Grossman goes on to help us understand why and As ridiculous as this now seems, perhaps the show was how combatants do kill, a model based on the demandsmore realistic than we think. At least, that’s a conclusion of authority; group absolution; predisposition of the killer;one might reach after reading On Killing, a psychological distance from the victim; and the attractiveness of killingtour de force by former Ranger and paratrooper Dave the victim. And he explores what happens later, the visceralGrossman. reaction most people have to killing, even if they are willing Grossman’s book thoroughly explores the psychology to do it in the first place.of humans killing other human beings: What it takes, Finally, he turns his attention on society – on the TV “ouR chants in basic tRaining... weRe not just meant to make us disdainful of the dangeR of ouR own deaths, but moRe willing to kill in combat, as well.”mentally, as well as the costs, psychologically. Reasons shows, movies, and video games that desensitize us towhy it is hard to kill, and the things we do to make it easier. killing and to death not at all unlike military training meantThe reaction most people have to killing, and what can be to make us more comfortable with killing. Is that a gooddone to ease the difficulties that often later result. idea for our society? Even in the Army we don’t seem too eager to talk about On Killing reminds us that this subject is worthit in such blunt terms – unless we are boasting, or talking considering, and perhaps even discussing with our fellowabout blood making the grass grow. Both can be useful; but Guardsmen. Certainly these considerations can affect howneither is a particularly effective way to improve ourselves we prepare ourselves and our units for combat. It certainlyprofessionally. And we should be honest: While Peace may did both for me.be our Profession, killing is our business. Army or Air, As for those of us who have never been to combat, andand especially on today’s battlefield, any of us entering a perhaps never will – these days, many around us have.combat zone had best be prepared to kill. Reading this book is also a great way to help us understand Grossman builds off of previous studies (particularly them better. March 2011 | 20
  9. 9. Professional DeveloPment Bookshelf: Reviews of books that teach us about ouR cRaftBy Maj. John H. Alderman IV vast areas of research (with references for further study).Public Affairs Office So this is a great resource for leaders trying to developGeorgia Department of Defense themselves or their subordinates. The book is especially well-timed for Army Guardsmen,N explaining concepts of Resilience that underlie training o one need tell Soldiers that stress can affect implemented in the Army over the last year or so. decisions. But what can we do about that? What I find most interesting about The Stress Effect is Doctor Henry Thompson’s book, The Stress that while the concepts in each chapter can stand alone,Effect, sets out to help leaders make better decisions they very effectively build upon one another. Explanationsdespite (and perhaps even using) stress. “The trick,” he of stress, plus explorations of emotion and intelligencewrites, “is to keep stress as an ally, not an enemy.” lead to the critical concept of Building Stress-Resilient A veteran Ranger and paratrooper, Lt. Col. Thompson Emotional Intelligence.has been into the sleep-deprived, ultra-high-stress combat Emotion is key. It seems like we spend a fair amountthat pushes Soldiers to their limits even as it demands of time urging young leaders to take the emotion outsuperior-quality decisions with the highest of stakes. He of decisions. This can be vital; but it’s also a littlehas subsequently applied and refined his experience and disingenuous. “the tRick is to keep stRess as an ally, not an enemy.”education as an esteemed organizational psychologist and Those emotions are markers and motivators. Theyleadership consultant in the corporate world. The result can be enormously useful in motivating people, oris a book uniquely useful to us Guardsmen, who must be understanding what motivates them – or in how they willsuccessful in both arenas. respond to a decision. Understanding our own emotions The Stress Effect examines the art and science of can be vital in maintaining accurate situational awareness,decision making, including different models people use, especially in stressful situations.and the important differences between intuitive and rational The Stress Effect concludes with seven best practicesdecision making. It then looks at types of intelligence; the to build stress resilience. Thompson’s ARSENAL systemeffects of emotions and stress on decision making; how to of Awareness, Rest, Support, Exercise, Nutrition, Attitude,manage stress; and how to build resilience. and Learning provides a great roadmap to focusing our There’s a fair amount of science here – the chemistry efforts and maximizing our effect.of emotions, the anatomy of the brain – but this is well- For the growing and professional leader, The Stressbalanced by practical application and illustrated by real- Effect provides immediate effect on how we do business –world examples, both civil and military. Not only does as well as a system of systems from which we can furtherThompson clarify complex concepts, he also condenses develop our own way of living. April 2011 | 20
  10. 10. ProfessionalDeveloPmentBookshelf: Reviews of books that teach us about ouR cRaftBy Maj. John H. Alderman IV helicopters had not been worked out; coordination betweenPublic Affairs Office police and military forces was awful.Georgia Department of Defense Over time, lessons from Sinoia led to new training, equipping, and focus that transformed the force into a newF weapon. ighting a Counterinsurgency (COIN) with the Scouts and intelligence teams maintained Observation massive resources of the United States behind you Posts on likely or known areas of insurgent operations. is daunting enough. But what if you had so many Once enemy elements were spotted, small teams of lightconstraints that you also had to manufacture your own infantry (called “sticks”) were transported by helicoptersweapons, including bombs that used super-bounce balls (the French “Alouette” light utility aircraft) to the targetas shrapnel? area and dismounted onto blocking positions. Additional, J.R.T. Wood’s Counter-Strike from the Sky is a larger sticks would be dropped by World War II-erasuperbly detailed historical account of a relatively modern Dakota aircraft in further blocking positions to box in thecounterinsurgency fought in the 1970s in the country of insurgents.Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) under just these constraints. Practically simultaneously, gunship versions of theThe resultant, curious mixture of old equipment, low Alouette would circle overhead and begin destroying thetechnology, innovation, and daring airborne maneuver enemy. Additionally, the (somewhat aging) Rhodesian Airmakes a thought-provoking solution to an age-old problem. Force would send in aircraft such as the Canberra, Hunter, Wood’s book (some editions include a DVD as well) or Vampire to provide close air support. In coordinationchronicles their weapons, strategy, armament, and tactics with these fires, the sticks would sweep through andin a direct, matter-of-fact manner that seems characteristic destroy the remaining enemy troops.of the British military. The last few chapters, a detailed This fast-moving, hard-hitting combined arms forcehistorical account of the massive cross-border raid, proved deadly. This Fireforce developed into an aerialOperation Dingo, is practically a book by itself, and clearly ballet of fixed and rotary attack and transport aircraft, withdemonstrates the height of airmobile, deep-strike vertical intricate Command and Control necessary to maintainenvelopment tactics as exercised by the Rhodesians. situational awareness and unity of command. As a result of a widening guerilla war in which the Modern warriors of both the Army and Air Guardinsurgents were increasingly difficult to bring to battle, the have great lessons to learn here. The integration of airSAS and Rhodesian Light Infantry, as well as associated and ground elements of combat power are clear, as are thepolice and intelligence forces, developed a concept that effects of unfettered innovation. The Fireforce is a greatcame to be known as “Fireforce.” reminder that the best solution need not be as dependent Its genesis probably was the Battle of Sinoia in 1966, on technology or the newest weapon system as on thewhen their troops were first transported by helicopter into intelligent use of weapons available.combat. The battle was disappointing: Weapons were A final note: get the edition with the DVD. It’s low-ineffective; air and ground radios were incompatible; tech, but packed with personal accounts and video of thecommon practices such as a standard left-hand orbit for countryside to help you visualize the battles. May 2011 | 20
  11. 11. Professional DeveloPment Bookshelf: Reviews of books that teach us about ouR cRaftBy Maj. John H. Alderman IV unit? How do we train officers? What’s the model for NCO/Public Affairs Office officer working relationships? What demeanor should aGeorgia Department of Defense junior officer project? So Starship Troopers isn’t just a romp through spaceM – or a memoir of basic training. It’s more a series of obile Armor. Light, fast, maneuverable suits philosophical discussions between characters that provide with jump jets, guns, rockets, bombs, hand thoughts like this one to new officers: flamers, radar, IR goggles, heads up display, “I gave you a talk on how rough it’s going to be. Icommo suites, and a prototype Blue Force Tracker. That’s want you to worry about it, doing it in advance, planningthe hook for this book. what steps you might take against any combination of bad But there’s so much more going on. news that can come your way, keenly aware that your life New members of the military have a tough time. They belongs to your men and is not yours to throw away in amust find their own place in an organization infinitely suicidal reach for glory…and that your life isn’t yours tobigger than they are, even while learning skills, customs, save, either, if the situation requires that you expend it.”regulations, culture, and people, all at once. Most are Anyone ever express that sentiment to you quite sonewly adult, too, further complicating things. clearly? Finding one’s place in the organization is essentially Some of these philosophical points are what make somewhat this book is about. I think that’s why it remains people refer to this book as “controversial.” For example:popular and is so often recommended to junior leaders. In a free society, who gets to vote? In the book’s future, The great science fiction makes it a fun read. The only Veterans – and not even current service members –“Mobile Infantry” – future versions of Marines, Rangers, get to vote. Other folks are free, but they don’t determineskirmishers, or Cavalry, depending on your taste – jump the course of government. His point, however, is one thatonto alien planets, maraud, dispatch bad guys with bombs ties selflessness and service to governance and society.and mini-nukes, get extracted, and head off to the next In fact, this is a good example of why leaders can re-system. Good. Times. read the book over time, finding new ideas in it that reward “theRe aRe no dangeRous weapons; further reflection (as with Gulliver’s Travels, for example). Starship Troopers is a great work, not just because it is fun only dangeRous men.” – but because it is instructive and provocative. Final note: If you have had the misfortune of seeing We follow the protagonist through alternating memories the Verhoeven movie from the 90s which shamelessly usesof combat, Mobile Infantry enlistment, leadership training, the name of this novel, I recommend you banish it fromand even high school. Through these experiences, Heinlein your mind. In many cases it actually inverts Heinlein’sintroduces and plays with all sorts of ideas. Why do we philosophies and erases the leadership lessons offered. Thefight? Who fights? What’s the division of labor in a small less said about it, and the sooner it is forgotten, the better. June 2011 | 20

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