Sunday, September 25, 2011

A Drinking Club with a Book Problem

Jim and I have been kicking around the idea of starting up a monthly discussion of some printed work.

In other words - a MilPub Book Club.

We thought we'd throw this out and see if there are any other takers. Our thought is that it'd work like this;

Every month one of us would throw out a suggestion for something for us to read. We thought that it wouldn't have to be restricted to military affairs and politics, but since that's what we talk about most we thought that they'd probably turn out that way. Jim says no fiction or historical fiction, and I would suggest trying to keep it to items published within, say, 20 years, to keep from circling back to the Classics. Journal articles are OK, but I'd suggest we try and keep it a little more strenuous than the typical Atlantic magazine piece. Yes?

We'd then take three or four weeks to read the thing, and then the original poster would open the dance with a "open discussion" post, giving his synopsis of the work and perhaps some commentary, whereupon we'd all get to chime in/pile on/discuss.How's that sound? Anyone else like the idea?


  1. Have you seen the size of my "to-read" pile? I thought not.

    It's high enough so I couldn't participate on a regular basis.

  2. Pluto-

    You could always recommend a good candidate from your to-read pile as an added incentive to get you started.

    I think we would also have to have the option of not reading a particular selection due to time constraints or something else?

  3. Pluto: I'm with seydlitz - anything in your reading list pile that would be of interest militarily, politically, or economically would be worthwhile. Let us help you with your homework!

  4. I'm onboard. But I would ask for a waiver on the 20-year restriction. Why confine ourselves to fledglings?

  5. Who is going to mail a copy to me in Greece if I can't get it locally?

  6. mike: What I'd like to do is try and avoid going back to the same well again and again, so let's say if we want to talk Clausewitz we need to find a recent commentary on him. Or Sun Tzu, Fredrick, Liddell-Hart, etc.

    Not saying we CAN'T revisit the old standards, but I'd like to try and do what Andy was suggesting - get some fresh ideas and new thinking in here, rather than circling the same old drain...

    Al: I'll take that one on!

    All: Al has a point, and jim wanted to suggest making the timeline longer - say eight to 12 weeks, to allow for people to get hold of the book or article in question as well as allow for time for contemplation, drunken rants, whatev...

  7. We need time to read.

    And we need selections. Howsabout we have three or four and then we just talk about them, pros and cons based on what little we know, not having read the book, or rather completed it.

    I'm thinking that might be a nice twist. If you have read and thought about the book as a whole, you can't recommend it. It has to be a book you have either not completed or one that you have not even begun to read . . .

    We agree on the best one, and then read, although one can opt out at the selection, no one should ever have to read a book . . . at least not in this context.

  8. My wife is in a womens' book club. They meet monthly and discuss a book that's been selected by whoever it is that's in charge of doing so (I'm not sure). Problem they've encountered is finding sufficient copies of the book at the library or even to purchase. And then purchasing presents an issue. A lot of these women say, "hey, I'm not going to spend up to $30 to buy a book I may not even like just to spend an afternoon gabbing with my neighbors."

    Finding sufficient copies might not be an issue with the MilPub book chowder society and marching band, spread out geographically as we are. But I'm not real excited about spending serious $$ on some military or political tome that one of you thinks will improve my mind. I think most of you know that I'm pretty well burned out on "experts"; at my age, I'm not all that interested in what they have to say. I mean, would you buy a book from Andrew Exum? Or would you buy the memoirs of George Casey?

    I know there's now a culture amongst the younger folk at these military sites to actually buy lots of these books (you can tell that by the HTML links to Amazon). That's OK. As I've noted before, I used to buy books at the Pentagon bookstore, the best source of military stuff there was. But I no longer purchase books. I'm a fast reader and I can get through a book rapidly. I also don't like keeping books. And finally, I can't afford to buy 'em.

    It's a great idea and I'll participate if I can.

  9. Interesting idea, I'm game.

  10. aL,
    i'm buying my books on ebay. I'd also recommend Amazon.
    I'd rather be water boarded than read anything from abu m crowd, BUT i'm gonna do Kilcullens latest book.
    I find it a spurious comment that any o6 can improve his mind. I thought they slammed shut upon selection.

  11. Per Publius's concerns:

    Interlibrary loan should be able to secure most of the title we would choose. Also, as Jim mentions, eBay & Amazon offer most books for ~$10.

    I think this is a great way to interact with ideas that may not reflect our usual ways of thinking, but that have influenced the moment. I think it's a rare idea for the military crowd. Col. Lang has attempted the idea sporadically @ his "The Athanaeum", but we would bring a different, more free-wheelin' approach to the project, IMHO.

    Pluto: I do hope this can be motivation for you, as we would all like to read something from your list, I'm sure.

  12. Biggest problem is if they will ship to Greece. Actually, I can have books sent to one of our offspring in the States who can therow it in a padded envelope and mail is as a "gift of no commercial value" and it will get here faster than if coming from a commercial source that has to show it as a purchase with the resulting customs delays.

  13. I'm in...which book are we starting with?

  14. sheer,
    I'm waiting for Chief to issue the LOI.

  15. To all,
    I rec'd my cy od Kilcullans book THE ACCIDENTAL GUERILLA from ebay yesterday, and plan to do this as our first book. Chief and i are agreed on this selection.
    pls pub a time frame of what is expected of the group.