Category Archives: Education

A Question of Honor, or the lack thereof

A Question of Honor,

or the lack thereof

by: john harrison

Serious athletes should avoid at least three of of the Ivy League universities in the future. So should all serious students intent on an education. Real gentlemen and real ladies need not apply, they will not be welcome there.

New Jersey’s Princeton University has suspended its entire men’s Swim Team over the offensive content on a team message service. This marked the third such action against an Ivy League athletic squad since this November, 2016. The move comes after New York’s Columbia University suspended its wrestling team and Harvard University in Massachusetts canceled its men’s soccer season.

However, collective punishment is simply wrong. It is both absolutely wrong headed and utterly ignoble to knowingly punish innocent people on purpose, no matter how noble the aim, no matter how pure the goal. The ends do not justify the means. How often must we relearn this? It is basic to a civilized society. One would have hoped that a truly great university would have understood this. Sadly, one would have been wrong, three times in a row.

Common sense tells anyone that collective punishment is lazy, counterproductive and particularly unfair to those who follow the rules. Clearly common sense, ethics and even simple morality are in short supply even at the highest levels at Princeton, Harvard and Columbia universities.

In Discipline with Dignity, a respected classroom management book by Richard Curwin and Allen Mendler, the conclusion is clear: “Group punishments are almost always ineffective. They generate resentment in the innocent students who learn to think that they might as well break the rules because they will be punished anyway, and they teach the rule violators that they will not have to take responsibility for their actions. Focus instead on teaching correct behavior through natural and logical consequences.” It is extraordinary that Columbia, Princeton and Harvard need to relearn this.

Let us remember again that the ends never justify the means. Mussolini may well have made the trains run on time. Togo may well have wanted to solve the critical Japanese problem of lack of natural resources. And, Stalin may have been a sincere communist. However, what all three of these have in common is that they all, along with Hitler and all the other despots from the beginning of time, repeatedly engaged in collective punishment. Collective punishment is a weapon, it is a preferred tool, of a tyrant. Innocence is not only not a defense, it is not even relevant.

Collective punishment, is absolutely banned under international law. Think about that for a minute. Under the 1949 Geneva Conventions, collective punishment is defined as a war crime. What have Columbia, Harvard and Princeton done? Where is the outrage?

Anyone that goes to Princeton, Harvard or Columbia do so at the risk of their athletic career, and their much more importantly, of their very soul. They will not be taught to excel, they will be taught that only power matters, not law, not morality, not ethics, just raw power.

If the problem at these universities was really an entire team culture issue, then that is a coach problem and easily solvable. A team should reflect the culture of the university. Unfortunately, it seems that the Harvard soccer team, the Princeton swim team and the Columbia wrestling team do reflect what can only be described as an abusive culture at these universities, and in the worst possible way.

The leaders of these three universities should be ashamed. The NCAA should investigate and punish these universities for their reprehensible actions. They have dishonored themselves and their universities in the most basic of ways. Of all of the people in America, they should have known better. We trusted them with our youth. They have abused our trust, and our children.

 

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Dog Bites Man, Man Bites Back

Dog Bites Man, Man Bites Back

by john harrison

Two items of interest, both almost hidden in the news this morning (4/28/2016). People Magazine and other sources are reporting that Harvard has fielded the first openly transgender man to compete in NCAA Division 1 sports. The second is that a House Committee has passed legislation requiring women to register for the draft.

The law of unintended consequences is about to bite back hard. While it may well be true that it would would be strange even for an adolescent male to claim female gender identity just to peek at women in the bathroom, it goes way to far not to recognize that there are a lot of second tier male athletes that could make a lot of money, get into a lot of colleges that would otherwise be closed, if they competed in college level sports as a woman. A transgender competing as a man just opened that door.

While Bobby Riggs lost a famous tennis match against Billie Jean King years ago, nonetheless he could have made a lot of money playing as a woman on the woman’s tennis tour. Others will see this as an opportunity and act on it. All of the advances women have made in sports due to Title 9 are now at risk. Think if Caitlyn Jenner competed, probably even today.

The opening of the draft to women is the logical result of opening all combat positions in the armed services to women. While some expected that putting women in combat positions would lead to the end of the draft for everybody, the exact opposite is now moving forward in Congress.

The House Armed Services Committee approved legislation requiring women to register for the draft. In 1981 the Supreme Court ruled that since women were banned from combat positions anyway, it was not discriminatory to require only men to register for the draft. Anyone with knowledge of that case recognized that opening combat positions to women placed young women at risk of being drafted for those same positions.

It may still happen that that the draft will be abolished rather than add women to the lists. On the other hand we live in a dangerous world; we are in a shooting war in at least some sense in the Middle East already; but our armed force strength is relatively low and going lower. People think that the draft was instituted to raise large armies and in part that is true, but most of all it was created to deliver reliably the exact number of men that could be trained at any given time. It does not overstate the case to say that in the future a president may well be faced with the horrific choice of either bringing back the draft for everybody or to go nuclear on the battlefield.

The two leading presidential candidates who will deal with these important issues for all of us are Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton and Mr. Donald Trump. I for one am more sanguinary than sanguine about our prospects.

On Going To War

On Going To War

by: john harrison

Several of my former students at Bishop O’Connell High School have asked me about serving in the military. In particular the ones that are soon to be commissioned, but also some now already in the service want to know more about my experience with  leading men in combat who in many cases are much older than they are, and are certainly much more experienced than they are. Understandably, the ones headed to Iraq or Afghanistan are always very concerned about how they will react to combat, to battle. This is what I have told them.

I was commissioned at 20 years old. My Platoon Sergeant, Jim Bunn, was 34 at the time. Not only did he have many years of experience in the Army, he had already been to Vietnam. How then do you become the “leader” of such men?

It gets worse, while I had completed a year and a half of college. One of the men in my platoon, a Specialist 4, had two masters degrees. While that is not as likely in today’s all volunteer Army, you will still constantly have people serving under you who are smarter than you are, and who know more about what they are doing than you do. How do you deal with that and remain the leader?

What I had was years of study of military history and even more important I had Officer Candidate School or OCS. I was also very lucky in the men around me, both above me and below, and in the Army’s system of command. One of the things that you will realize very quickly as a junior officer is that in spite of ignorance in some areas, there are still many things that you know that no one else in the platoon knows no matter what their experience or age. More important, you are their platoon leader, and this makes all the difference. 

While it is the real job of a platoon sergeant to train his platoon leader without the platoon leader knowing, that does not mean he knows everything. The platoon sergeant may never have actually called in an airstrike, or artillery, or dust-off. He may know a lot about how to make C-Rations (MRE’s ancestor) palatable in the field, or how to motivate young men, but he may never have had a chance to research a subject overnight sufficient to give a good class on it the next day and about lots of other things that a platoon leader must be able to do.

There are all sorts of parts to the job of being a good platoon leader. At first there are some you will be good at and some you will suck at. However, it is still without question, the all-time, best job I have ever had, 2nd Lieutenant, Infantry, Platoon Leader.

You are expected to make mistakes, but your men, and in particular your platoon sergeant want you to be good at your job. They want to laugh at the other guy’s lieutenant, not their lieutenant. In a good platoon they will help you, they will also try to hide your mistakes from those above, and you will make a lot of mistakes. If you listen, particularly to your platoon sergeant, they will help you to act correctly, but the decisions and the responsibility for those decisions will always be yours.

I was very lucky. My first battalion commander, Col. John P. Geraci, was good enough to be recently enshrined in the Ranger Hall of Fame, my first First Sergeant, MSg Theron “Bull” Gergen was already a celebrity in the world of Rangers when I met him and was one of the first enshrined there. Cap. Thomas Gaffney was my first CO, but it was his second war. I had competence and hard won experience all around me. As I said my Platoon Sergeant, Jim Bunn had only recently returned from Vietnam when he joined the platoon. You may have to search for it, but real experience is available if you look.

However, you still need to be careful because some people seem to feel feel that they are building themselves up when they are tearing others down.  While only a moron would believe that this is true, or useful, these people exist in every service. They are the beetles of doubt. Avoid them. 

Hazing for example does not prove you are tough, it proves that you are undisciplined.  Any officer or NCO that lets himself or the men under his command be hazed should be fired, plain and simple.  If I saw it. I would relieve the officer or NCO on the spot, and so would any competent officer.  Why, because hazing has nothing to do with making people better. It has everything to do with allowing some people to feel superior by abusing their authority.  Those kinds of people should not have authority.

Multiple tours proves nothing.  Assuming they are trained, the best soldiers in history were generally pretty good the first time they fought and got better thereafter.  But, everyone has a limit, too.  If you go to war often enough, you will be killed, and over time when men recognize this, it changes them. In any event what did they do during those tours? What happened during those tours? What did they experience, besides just being there?

Even participation in a big battle prove nothing.  As far as the individual infantryman is concerned, a big battle is when they individually have to fight as hard as they can to stay alive.  A squad can undergo as much or more in a single squad action as they would in a big battle that perhaps makes the history books, or the evening news.  In any event, a squad in a big battle might be pulling the shit burning detail the whole time.  While they would know a lot about burning shit, their actual knowledge of battle would be limited. What did they do in that battle? How is it relevant now?

That said, everyone needs to be shot at the first time and they are different thereafter because then they are a veteran.  They know something about them self that others do not know about themselves. When I say shot at, I mean exactly that, not riding around in a truck when a bomb goes off, or sitting in a bunker at a base camp under attack, but out in the field in a combat infantry platoon, or tank squadron fighting an enemy that is trying to kill you, and that is pretty good at it. Then you are a real combat veteran. It is your reaction to the enemy fire that is important, not so much the fire itself. 

The stuff I have read about actions Iraq and Afghanistan, leads me to believe that very few of those who have served in these regions are actually what I would call “combat veterans”.  But, that was also true of Vietnam and every other American war.  There were less than 60,000 trigger pullers in Vietnam when there were over 550,000 troops there.  Probably about 90% of the jobs are still held by REMFs. 

We need the people in the rear, so while I have pulled their chain, I am not really deprecating them, but they are not infantry/tanker/artillery veterans no matter what their MOS.  No matter how many tours they served unless it was in a unit that actually fought the enemy they are not combat veterans. It is doing an infantryman’s job under fire, not just being under fire, that is important.

Anyone in the military who has not been in actual combat wonders how they will react when the bullets fly.  Unfortunately, there is only one way to find out.  Generally after the first jitters are over the problem is not a lack of courage, but actually an excess of bravery.  It needs to be tempered.  Green troops often take too many risks and thereby suffer too many casualties. 

One of the things I was always proud of was that while my platoon suffered a lot of casualties, they were spread over multiple actions over several months.  We did not do stupid, we killed the right people and in general did not allow them to kill us. 

In a sense combat is very much like basketball in that it is a team sport.  Anybody not working on building the team, making the team better has no place in the military.  Anybody who is putting down a fellow soldier, rather than sharing hard earned experience probably has little real experience to share and is not a real soldier however many tours they may have.

It is not how many doors did they kick down, but how many doors did they kick down that had an enemy inside with a machine gun pointed at the door. What did they do then? What did the man covering the entry do? Those are the real questions.

As far as how good is the Army of today, I do not know, but I would be very surprised if they are not better than in Vietnam and WW II if only because they are much better educated.   For example, less than half of the Marines in WW II had a high school degree now almost all do. Education does make a difference.

While being an “infantryman” is easy, being a good infantryman that can go upon today’s very lethal battlefields with a reasonable expectation of both accomplishing your mission and coming back is a rather more difficult proposition. It takes brains. It takes the ability to learn and apply skills that many times you do not even know you have. It takes courage, both the courage to act and the courage not to act even though you may know down deep in you soul that all you want in the world right then is to be able to do one thing, just one thing. However, you do not do that one thing, you do what you are supposed to do instead. When you have done that, you are a combat Infantryman.   

Being really good Infantry is a learned skill.  It is not easy. It is not simple.  It is not just issuing a guy a rifle and expecting them to know what they are doing.  There are a lot of little things that make the difference between living and dying. If you do not know those little things and do not do them almost as second nature then you are not very likely to survive. It is really that simple.

Audi Murphy, the most decorated soldier in World War II was a farm boy. As was Medal of Honor winning Sgt. Alvin York from World War I. In training, the Army only spends relatively a few hours on the rifle range and shoots relatively a few rounds. In the past America was famous for fielding armies of men that could shoot and shoot well. However, that was mostly because they brought that skill with them to the service.

My brother is a former Marine and an excellent pistol shot. He says that it takes about 5,000 rounds to make a really good pistol shot. It is not likely that you will have the opportunity to shoot that much in the military. In addition, today with the demonization of guns in America very few have had any experience with guns when they enter the service. You will not be getting a platoon full of Alvin Yorks and Audi Murphys. Most of them will not be able to shoot that well at first, and some may even be afraid of the weapon that they carry. That could get them, and you killed.

If you are going to teach other men how to shoot, you need to know yourself. Volunteer for range duty every chance you get. Hang out with people that know how to shoot. It may literally save your life and the lives of men in your platoon. Go to the range. Shoot. Listen. Learn. Practice. Shoot.

The next point is a little more difficult but no less important. While it is necessary to be able to hit a target, it is even more necessary to identify that target first. Both Murphy and York were boyhood hunters. You cannot buy that experience; you cannot even train it; you must experience it and that takes time. Make the time.

Whenever I walk outside to this day, I look for good machine-gun positions, good sniper positions. I look for places I would hide, or I would hide my platoon even though I have not led a platoon in 50 years. However, if you have ever been shot at in the military you will do it too, and you will do it for the rest of your life. Strangely, my wife Sandy, who has never hunted, sees far more than I do when we walk in the woods, so it is a talent as well as a craft that can be practiced. Either way, practice it. You will be surprised at what you see, at how much better you get.

I always felt that I was extraordinarily lucky in the Army.  My battalion trained together as a unit for 6 months before we deployed.  The battalion CO, Col. Geraci, was a Marine in World War II, an Army platoon leader in in Korea, and had already served two tours in Special Forces A teams in Vietnam before he was our commander.  My company commander, Cap. Gaffney, had earned a battlefield commission in Korea, was riffed back to sergeant, made Sergeant Major in Special Forces, served in “A” Teams in Vietnam, and then came back as a Captain to take us to Vietnam. I have already mentioned our First Sergeant, Bull Gergen and my Platoon Sergeant Jim Bunn. These were all men that you could learn from.

And when we were done training, I thought we could kick anybody’s ass which is probably why I once attacked a Mainforce VC battalion with my platoon. Kicked their asses too even though we could not destroy them. Too many to kill, although we and the United States Air Force did our level best all day one day trying to kill them all.

You are not really feeling inadequate if you feel doubt about your ability to fit in to this life.  You are feeling being untested, and you will feel that way until you are shot at doing your job.  It is an essential part of the job. And, while you are correct now that you are untested, after that you will be a veteran, a combat veteran.

I think that the most important thing that I could tell you is to be prepared to improvise. We spent almost all of our time training on how to patrol, on doing ambushes and counter ambush drills, and most of all on how to fight in the jungle. However, we spent almost all of our time actually fighting, doing it in the cities during Tet ‘68. The two have little in common.

Nobody in the battalion had ever done what the Army called then, Fighting In a Built-up Area. Nobody in the battalion was an expert at it when we first did it. I actually used more ideas that I got from watching Victory At Sea and other WW II documentaries as a kid than I did from my Army training. The one thing I learned is that if it works, it is not a stupid idea. In Vietnam we used to take our helmets off, hold them up and move them around for the enemy to shoot at so we could find out where they were hiding. It worked, because unlike us, they had not watched hours of cowboy shows and war movies. If it works, do it, then do it again.

As I said, the best job I have ever had in my life was that of being a second lieutenant, infantry, platoon leader. Best job by far. In that I envy you.  Good luck.

The 100+ Top Colleges and Universities

By john harrison

This list of the 100+ top colleges and universities was created by the government from data collected from students with federal loans, i.e., that is to say most, but not all university students today. Unlike other “best college” lists that you may have seen, this list is based on hard facts, no opinions, no prejudice, and the order of the schools was determined by how much their graduates make 10 years after graduation. Rather than a Value Added Tax, it is in a special sense a Value Added Assessment of a college education.

As many commentators are now discovering, many colleges are simply a bad choice from a purely economic perspective. Even a quick review of the governments data shows that there are a lot of colleges whose graduates earn less than a high school graduate on average earns. While that does not mean that a college education was necessarily a “bad choice” even for these students, since a poet for example rarely earns as much as high school graduate, it does mandate a look at the economics of higher education. As this government report shows, at most universities, that often shocking tuition sticker price, is simply a lie.

Other than Harvard, Georgetown and Stanford, in that order, these top universities generally fall into one or more of four categories. Most of the truly top universities specialize in training their students: 1. to become an entrepreneur (Babson College); 2. to work in a health or medical related field (MCPHS University); 3. to work in a science/engineering field (MIT); 4. or, they are technical schools preparing their graduates for very specific jobs. (U. S. Merchant Marine Academy)

Many of these top universities are still very small schools, some with few of the trappings of a classic American College experience. They may not have a football team at all, much less be an NCAA Division 1 powerhouse, but they are earning powerhouses for their graduates.

And finally, many of these universities have names that you may never have heard of before. They are not just small, in some cases, they are also obscure and very small. However, their graduates make money, sometimes lots of money, and in many cases these universities charge much less than the national average tuition. Yes, there are real bargains out there if you look, and sometimes more important, if your student fits into a specific category, college can be free or almost free. All of the service academies are excellent schools and they are all free of monetary charge. At the U. S. Merchant Marine Academy, tuition is only $4,275 but it ranks 4th in 10 year earnings just after #3, MIT. That is not shabby at all.

The total cost of a college degree can be staggering, but so can the reward be for a graduate of the top schools. However, like buying a car, or worse a cell phone plan, determining the real cost vs. sticker price of a college education is difficult if not impossible for the average person. One thing is clear almost immediately from this data, price, or tuition, is almost entirely irrelevant to getting a good education for a career in a lucrative field.

Equally clear, if you can get into Harvard, Georgetown, or Stanford—go. The return on your investment will be repaid many times over in future earnings no matter what tuition you actually pay. In any event according to the government, the average tuition actually paid at Harvard is only $14,049, making it at Number 7 in 10 year earnings one of the bargains of the century.

Like the low average tuition at many state schools, Georgia Tech at $11,053, these average tuitions in the list must be examined closely. If you are in-state, the tuition even at a famous world class university can be almost reasonable. While UCLA’s average tuition is $13,723, its in state rate is even less and this is truly a great university.

However, if you are out of state, the tuition at that state university can be as expensive as at any private university. In fact many state schools are using the higher tuition paid by out of state students to make up for cuts in state funding. A few out of state student paying two or even three times the tuition paid by an in-state student can mean a lot of extra money for the school.

Harvard like most of the Ivies (i.e., Princeton, $8,413) grants considerable tuition assistance to many of its students, thus they have a low average tuition. A full ride scholarship or two can really bring the tuition average down. At Number 57 on the list, Washington University in St. Louis, the tuition is $33,484, but the average tuition at number 56, University of California—Berkeley, is less than half that at $13,769. Ten years out, a Berkeley graduate can expect to earn $400 a year more than a graduate from Washington University in St. Louis even though they will have paid $80,000 less in tuition to get their degree.

Tuition expense then is relative. Many, particularly those students in demand for some reason, can and do actually bargain with schools on the net tuition that they will have to pay. While some colleges will deny it, they often offer more financial aid to first year students in order to get them in the door and then raise the tuition, or lower the assistance later. The University of Dayton, so far alone among institutions of higher learning, has forsworn the practice. The important point is that you have the most economic leverage to negotiate about tuition before you enroll. Use it.

Given that the total cost of a college education can easily amount to $250,000 or more for a single student, it is only reasonable to ask what are you going to get for all of this money? Look at the list and see what others have gotten. It surprised me, and I think it will surprise you as well.

So, first you need to choose a university; then you need to get in; and you really need to graduate. Finally, you need to pay for it.

The chance of getting in to one of these universities varies across the board as well. Unless you are an extraordinary student, or rich, or famous, or come from a powerful family, getting into Harvard or Georgetown likely will remain a dream. However, many of the other schools on this list are much easier to get into. Particularly many of the higher priced universities listed are becoming easier to get into as the pool of college applicants shrinks. A realistic student will be able to pick a school that fits their academic profile, SATs, grades, class rank, their bank account and their educational objective.

A final consideration on graduation rates, graduation rates are more important, and are much more varied among even academically similar universities than is generally realized. At Harvard and Georgetown, pretty much, if you can get in, you will almost certainly graduate. The universities that are most selective are also the ones that do the best job at getting their students to graduate. Most are well into the 90 percentile. Whether this is because the are very good at selecting students that will thrive at their kind of school, or they are actually good at educating them is irrelevant, that ever so valuable degree is more likely to be obtained there than any place else.

While you can get just as good an education and earning potential at a school with a low graduation rate, in fact the low graduation rate may be there in order to protect academic standards, it has to be harder to graduate in such an environment, but many prospective students ignore this risk. Ask about the graduation rate.

It should be noted that the list shows what graduates of these schools have earned 10 years after graduation, but not what people are studying today? Are they related? Harvard, Georgetown, Stanford and many more schools have been around for a long time and have very consistent records of success, some of the universities on the list are newer. Some specialize in lower income occupational fields like teaching rather than training doctors or nurses. All of these factors influence the data collected.

In addition, there are very few universities at the top of earnings, only 14 have graduates averaging above $80,000 per year 10 years out; there are many more in the middle and some very respected institutions at the bottom. Part of this can be explained by the occupation choices of the universities’ students and by the economic environment near these universities where the graduates found jobs.

Importantly though, many of those in the middle earning tiers are surprisingly affordable and some are relatively easy to get into as well. Look around the list and be surprised.

Good Luck.

# Name Location Tuition       % that Grad-uates       Annual pay 10 years out
1 MCPHS University (formerly, Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences) Boston, MA $34,345 73% $116,400
2 Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences Albany, NY $29,600 71% $110,600
3 MIT Cambridge, MA $21,816 93% $91,600
4 U. S. Merchant Marine Academy Kings Point, NY $4,275 75% $89,000
5 St. Paul’s School of Nursing-Queens Rego Park, NY $29,587 79% $88,700
6 St. Paul’s School of Nursing Staten Island, NY $21,937 71% $88,200
7 Harvard University Cambridge, MA $14,049 97% $87,200
8 University of the Sciences Philadelphia, PA $25,883 73% $85,800
9 Babson College Wellesley, MA $28,057 90% $85,500
10 Georgetown University Washington, DC $27,801 93% $83,300
11 Stevens Institute of Technology Hoboken, NJ $30,808 78% $82,800
12 Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Troy, NY $32,986 85% $81,700
13 California Maritime Academy Vallejo, CA $16,974 58% $81,100
14 Stanford University Stanford, CA $15,713 95% $80,900
15 Massachusetts Maritime Academy Buzzards Bay, MA $16,546 64% $79,500
16 Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology Terre Haute, IN $33,087 75% $78,900
17 Harvey Mudd College Claremont, CA $24,311 90% $78,600
18 University of Pennsylvania Philadelphia, PA $22,948 96% $78,200
19 Washington & Lee University Lexington, VA $23,916 90% $77,600
19 Worcester Polytechnic Institute Worcester, MA $33,483 82% $77,600
20 SUNY Maritime College Throggs Neck, NY $17,815 48% $77,300
21 Lehigh University Bethlehem, PA $29,418 87% $76,800
22 Duke University Durham, NC $28,058 94% $76,700
23 Princeton, University Princeton, NJ $8,413 96% $75,100
24 Bentley, University Waltham, MA $29,886 86% $74,900
24 Kettering University Flint, MI $30,683 59% $74,900
25 Maine Maritime Academy Castine, ME $19,687 76% $74,700
25 Colorado School of Mines Golden, CO $24,980 68% $74,700
26 California Institute of Technology Pasadena, CA $25,667 93% $74,000
26 Georgia Institute of Technology Atlanta, GA $11,053 81% $74,000
27 University of Colorado Denver Denver, CO $13,954 43% $73,800
28 Villanova University Villanova, PA $33,371 89% $73,700
29 Polytechnic Institute of New York Brooklyn, NY $26,141 60% $73,500
30 Columbia University in the City of New York New York, NY $22,672 94% $72,900
31 Carnegie Mellon University Pittsburgh, PA $33,386 87% $72,000
32 Cornell, University Ithaca, NY $26,484 93% $70,900
33 Lafayette College Easton, PA $30,804 90% $69,800
34 University of Notre Dame Notre Dame, IN $27,845 95% $69,400
35 Johns Hopkins University Baltimore, MD $26,596 92% $69,200
36 Fairfield, University Fairfield, CT $35,212 81% $69,000
37 Bucknell University Lewisburg, PA $33,419 91% $68,800
38 Clarkson University Potsdam, NY $25,431 71% $68,400
39 Illinois Institute of Technology Chicago, IL $18,984 65% $68,200
40 Tufts University Medford, MA $29,271 92% $67,800
41 Santa Clara University Santa Clara, CA $34,956 85% $67,700
42 Dartmouth College Hanover, NH $29,587 95% $67,100
43 Boston College Boston, MA $33,070 92% $67,000
43 Case Western Reserve University Cleveland, OH $25,341 79% $67,000
44 University of the Pacific Stockton, CA $30,318 57% $66,400
45 University of Southern California Los Angeles, CA $28,352 91% $66,100
46 Yale University New Haven, CT $16,743 97% $66,000
47 Milwaukee School of Engineering Milwaukee, WI $21,336 56% $65,700
48 Missouri University of Science and Technology Rolla, Mo $21,336 64% $65,500
49 New Jersey Institute of Technology Newark, NJ $17,467 56% $65,300
50 George Washington University Washington, DC $30,206 80% $64,500
51 Northwestern University Evanston, IL $28,544 94% $64,100
52 College of the Holy Cross Worcester, MA $32,118 92% $63,700
53 Claremont McKenna College Claremont, CA $22,957 92% $63,600
53 Manhattan College Riverdale, NY $25,584 74% $63,600
54 Charles R Drew University of Medicine and Science Los Angeles, CA $22,741 62% $63,000
55 University of Chicago Chicago, IL $25,335 92% $62,800
56 University of California- Berkeley Berkeley, CA $13,769 91% $62,700
57 Washington University in St. Louis St. Louis, MO $33,484 94% $62,300
58 Loyola University Maryland Baltimore, MD $36,046 84% $62,100
59 Bryant University Smithfield, RI $32,984 81% $61,900
60 Union College Schenectady, NY $32,533 86% $61,800
61 Colgate University Hamilton, NY $17,711 90% $61,500
62 Pepperdine University Malibu, CA $24,446 81% $61,400
63 Drexel University Philadephia, PA $33,742 67% $61,100
64 Wake Forest University Winston Salem, NC $34,139 87% $61,000
64 University of San Francisco San Francisco, CA $31,915 68% $61,000
65 Vanderbilt University Nashville, TN $17,340 92% $60,900
65 California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo San Luis Obispo, CA $17,112 71% $60,900
65 Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University-Daytona Beach Daytona Beach, FL $34,497 58% $60,900
65 Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University-Prescott Prescott, AZ $35,470 57% $60,900
65 Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University-Worldwide Daytona Beach, FL $17,890 50% $60,900
66 University of Richmond Richmond, VA $24,505 84% $60,800
66 Boston University Boston, MA $34,603 84% $60,800
67 Northeastern University Boston, MA $31,500 81% $60,100
67 Michigan Technological University Houghton, MI $14,446 65% $60,100
68 Rice University Houston, TX $16,730 92% $59,900
69 Brown University Providence, RI $25,005 95% $59,700
70 University of California-San Diego La Jolla, CA $14,421 86% $59,600
70 Providence College Providence, RI $34,841 86% $59,600
71 University of California-Los Angeles Los Angeles, CA $13,723 91% $59,200
72 University of Maryland-College Park College Park, MD $16,299 83% $59,100
73 St Joseph’s College of Nursing at St Joseph’s Hospital Health Center Syracuse, NY $16,769 68% $59,000
73 Emory University Atlanta, GA $28,463 89% $59,000
73 Saint Mary’s College of California Moraga, CA $33,876 65% 59,000
74 Capitol College Laurel, MD $19,406 36% $58,900
75 Brandeis University Waltham, MA $29,578 90% $58,800
75 New York University New York, NY $37,971 84% $58,800
75 Stonehill College Easton, MA $30,743 83% $58,800
76 University of Virginia-Main Campus Charlottesville, VA $17,149 93% $58,600
77 Davidson College Davidson, NC $19,143 92% $58,500
77 Saint Joseph’s University Philadelphia, PA $32,823 79% $58,500
77 Crouse Hospital College of Nursing Syracuse, NY $12,223 49% $58,500
78 SUNY at Binghamton Vestal, NY $16,541 80% $58,400
78 Pace University-New York New York, NY $24,961 53% $58,400
79 Williams College Williamstown, MA $20,935 96% $58,100
80 University of Baltimore Baltimore, MD $16,780 38% $58,000
81 University of Michigan-Ann Arbor Ann Arbor, MI $16,287 90% $57,900
81 Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University Blacksburg, VA $19,993 83% $57,900
82 Creighton University Omaha, NE $26,521 75% $57,800
83 Mount Carmel College of Nursing Columbus, OH $22,871 63% $57,700
84 Molloy College Rockville Centre, NY $22,986 64% $57,500
85 Barnard College New York, NY $26,487 90% $57,400
85 Brigham Young University-Provo Provo, UT $13,070 78% $57,400
86 Hamilton College Clinton, NY $19,961 92% $57,300
87 Kettering College Kettering, OH $17,483 60% $57,200
88 University of California-Davis Davis, CA $15,054 81% $57,100
89 George Mason University Fairfax, VA $18,305 66% $57,000
90 Rochester Institute of Technology Rochester, NY $25,155 63% $56,900
91 Amherst College Amherst, MA $19,449 95% $56,800
91 The College of New Jersey Ewing, NJ $21,976 86% $56,800
92 Wellesley College Wellesley, MA $21,930 92% $56,700
92 Laboure College Milton, MA $28,130 33% $56,700
93 University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Champaign, IL $18,798 84% $56,600
93 Syracuse University Syracuse, NY $28,912 81% $56,600
93 Virginia Military Institute Lexington, VA $17,802 74% $56,600
94 College of William and Mary Williamsburg, VA $24,377 90% $56,400
94 Quinnipiac University Hamden, CT $35,159 76% $56,400
95 University of San Diego San Diego, CA $31,593 75% $56,300
96 Trinity College Hartford, CT $26,419 85% $56,100
97 University of Scranton Scranton, PA $32,228 83% $56,000
97 Muhlenberg College Allentown, PA $29,528 86% $56,000
98 American University Washington, DC $33,437 78% $55,900
99 Saint Johns University Collegeville, MN $22,866 78% $55,900
100 University of California-Irvine Irvine, CA $11,944 86% $55,800

See even more schools at: https://collegescorecard.ed.gov

This Mockingbird Was Fired, Not Killed

By: john harrison

My lawsuit against Bishop O’Connell High School was tried over three days in front of Judge Daniel Fiore II in Arlington Circuit Court. Rather than face a jury and admit that although Bishop O’Connell had acknowledged months before that it owed me $1,570.40 in salary that it still refused to pay almost three years after it was due, on the first day of trial the school finally agreed to just pay me the back salary it still owed.

So, that was a clear win on Count I (Breach of Contract-Suit for Salary Due and Unpaid) of my lawsuit. Up until trial the school had been refusing to pay me the money it had already admitted that it owed months before unless I signed a confidentiality agreement keeping both payment of past due salary and the school’s refusal to pay back salary it had admitted owing a secret. Since I declined to keep these facts secret Bishop O’Connell would not agree to pay until the judge got on their case and they finally dropped their demand for a confidentiality agreement on the first day of trial. Score one for the good guys.

The result in Count II (Breach of Contract-Wrongful Termination) was not as good. Because they had handed me a check for the full amount due before the trial opened, the jury never learned that O’Connell had already admitted breaching my contract in Count I while they considered whether it had also breached it a second time under Count II.

Under Count II the Bishop O’Connell attorney urged the jury to find that under the contract the school had broad discretion to fire and that the student demonstrations, whether or not I had anything to do with those demonstrations, were a sufficient trigger to fire me.

In the alternative, she argued that it was important that the new assistant tennis coach/social studies teacher Mark Borgiasz had testified that he had seen three students, including Julie Olafsson one of the leaders of the student demonstration, enter my classroom at the beginning of first period and later at the end of first period he had seen them in the Chapel with the other demonstrators. She urged that the Borgiasz testimony allowed the jury to infer that I knew of and had encouraged the student demonstrations. Therefore, she said, the school was justified in firing me simply to help end the student demonstrations.

In any event, because the jury found for the school; and I did not get the $10,000 remaining on my contract when the school fired me.

Since the school did not even try for a motion to dismiss at the conclusion of the plaintiff’s case it was clear to everyone in the courtroom that the issue of whether the firing was proper needed to be rebutted by evidence from the school. The case was not going away. However, since juries do not have to explain their verdicts we will probably never know which of O’Connell’s arguments the jury bought.

Early in the trial the Bishop O’Connell attorney asked me when I was testifying whether it was true that I had asked Julie Olafsson to testify but that she had refused. My attorney objected and the judge directed me not to answer since the question was clearly improper under the rules. However, it was a nice bit of lawyer set up for Mr. Borgiasz’s testimony, since the school somehow knew that Julie had told me she could not come to the trial because of commitments at her college in North Carolina. While Julie and the others did not come to my classroom at the beginning of first period and then leave in time to get to join the student demonstrators in the chapel, and therefore Mr. Borgiasz’s testimony that he had seen them do that was wrong; any logician will tell you that it is impossible to prove a negative.

At the trial we learned that the students had been respectfully praying in the chapel on April 17th 2012 during 1st period when Dr. Vorbach broke the sanctuary and ordered them out. We also found out that my initial non-renewal and subsequent termination were all Dr. Vorbach’s ideas, not Ms Prebble’s. And, that the school believes that its contract gives it the discretion to fire a teacher even if the teacher had no part in whatever was causing the school’s problems. That really should give pause to every teacher still working at O’Connell.

Meanwhile, Superdance made less than $100,000 this year, or put another way, less than half of what it has made in the past, and the Soup drive struggles as well.  While Michael J. Donohue, a spokesman for the Arlington Catholic Diocese which owns and operates Bishop O’Connell, told the media after the student protest of my firing that, “change is difficult” I doubt that this was the kind of change he was looking forward to under the new administration at Bishop O’Connell.  It gets worse though.

Since Dr. Vorbach arrived at Bishop O’Connell, multiple serious scandals have plagued his administration. A senior Bishop O’Connell employee used a school check for a political contribution. This is improper for a 501(c) 3 institution and it imperiled the tax-exempt status of the entire Arlington Catholic Diocese.  If you believe the school’s explanation, it was technically an embezzlement of school funds. If that was true why does the employee still work there? Why does he still handle school funds? Why is he still authorized to sign school checks?

There have been repeated allegations of cheating by the Bishop O’Connell boys basketball program that it knowingly used an overage player, Junior Etou, from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Many have wondered why this diocese high school in Arlington, Virginia, would be recruiting even eligible high school basketball players from the over 6,500 miles away Democratic Republic of the Congo in the first place.

In addition, the school’s basketball program had a close association (they practiced in the Bishop O’Connell gym, they had their own key to the school, they supplied well over half of the varsity basketball players), with an AAU sports organization run by the now twice-convicted drug dealer, Curtis Malone.

According to Sports Illustrated, while this already convicted drug dealer was so closely associated with O’Connell he was convicted a second time of selling large quantities of both heroin and cocaine out of his home in Prince Georges County. Like several DC Assault players, Junior Etou lived in the drug dealer’s home while he was on the Bishop O’Connell varsity basketball team.

Another former DC Assault player, Michael Beasley, also lived with Curtis Malone at about the same time. While he made it to the NBA, Beasley has struggled with repeated drug related issues.

Worse, according to Deadspin one of the basketball players, supplied to the Bishop O’Connell varsity basketball team by the drug dealer’s sport organization DC Assault, had nonconsensual sex on school grounds with an underage Bishop O’Connell student. Worse still, another basketball player, also supplied to the school’s varsity basketball team by the drug dealer’s sport organization, took a video of the sex act on Bishop O’Connell school grounds and posted it on the internet. Unbelievably, Dr. Vorbach did not discipline either of the student varsity basketball players, nor fire an assistant coach, a coach, a teacher, or an administrator for failing to supervise students that they were responsible for while the students were on school grounds. Nor did he cut the Bishop O’Connell ties to the drug dealer’s sports organization. That is strange.

Stranger still, according to Deadspin again, at least six current Bishop O’Connell varsity basketball players come from the close ties the school still has to the successor to the convicted drug dealer’s sports organization, DC Premier. Unfortunately, DC Premier is run by the same men that had helped the twice convicted drug dealer Curtis Malone run DC Assault.

But, the theme Dr. Vorbach chose for the 2011-2012 school year had been “Integrity.”

While it would be nice to have won Count II as well as Count I, everyone that has had experience with jury trials knows that the fact that the judge allowed the jury to decide the issue means that it was an open question and therefore the result could have gone either way.

Katelyn Stoskus came back from college and testified for me. It takes guts to stand up to a skilled trial lawyer’s cross-examination, but Kate was superb. Andrew Mills also took two days off from work to testify, but the O’Connell witnesses admitted everything he was going to say under cross-examination so he finally got to watch the trial for a while. “Boomer” Buckreis and Ms Prebble were the most helpful O’Connell witnesses for us.

Other students and former students came by the courtroom to lend support as did several parents of students and former students as well. They all got a chance to see the American justice system at work.

I loved teaching the students at Bishop O’Connell; even Ms Prebble admitted at the trial that my classes had been “life changing” for many students. In fact everyone at the trial that said anything about my teaching was highly complimentary. I was humbled by the support that the students gave me after I was fired and I hope to continue the friendships we formed while I was there. I particularly want to thank Katelyn Stoskus, Andrew Mills, Julie Olfasson, Alexa Gennings, Maddy Lynch, and all of the others, students, parents and teachers, that supported me.

While Bishop O’Connell High School seems now to be in a downward spiral with enrollment dropping  to about two-thirds of what it was when I was there even though it now accepts nearly every student that applies, and it is still hemorrhaging most of its best and experienced teachers, it may yet recover and be again the almost mystical place of learning it once was. . .

Self-Plagiarism Cannot Be Defined, because it does not exist

by john harrison

The idea of “self-plagiarism” is an utter impossibility. Plagiarism, properly defined is nothing more, and nothing less, than the presenting the work of another as your own. (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/plagiarize) Presenting your own work, as your own work, can never be plagiarism. Most people who speak of “self plagiarism” are really complaining of is an author has reused their own work without noting that it had been used before. While it may be against an academic rule or contract, and therefore wrong to represent as new something that has been used before, it is still intellectually dishonest to call the re-use of a person’s own work “self plagiarism.”

Mischaracterizing a work as “new” may be a breach of an academic standard or of a contract, and at its worst; it may also be a lie. However, calling this “self- plagiarism” is at best simply another, and bigger lie. It is entirely disingenuous to engage in willful deceit merely to boot strap an accusation of potentially questionable conduct against another into something that sounds far worse than it is. Then, to pretend that it something that it cannot possibly be only adds to the insult. Not only does such a fabrication not discourage academic dishonesty assuming that the reuse of prior work is prohibited, it joins the dishonesty and it joins it at an even more intellectually degenerate level.

The term “bootstrap” comes from the idiom “to pull oneself up by one’s bootstraps,” which connotes getting out of a hole without anything to stand on. The idea of a “bootstrap” is to assume an unknown to be true for the purpose of allowing a discussion to proceed, it is not to assume a false proposition in order to prevail in an argument.

How you can discourage something by doing yourself precisely what you supposedly want to decry is beyond my ken. Because it is always a lie, even making a charge of “self plagiarism” lacks academic rigor, i. e., knowledge of the meaning of a technical term before use, and proper use thereafter. It also exhibits an appalling lack of intellectual integrity, knowingly using both a misrepresentation and a logical fallacy to advance an argument.

In 1988 John Fogerty, of Credence Clearwater Revival (aka CCR), was sued by his former label Fantasy Records for what amounted to a claim self-plagiarism, and actual copyright infringement. Fantasy owned the rights to the CCR song library and sound. Saul Zaentz, the owner of Fantasy, claimed that John Fogerty’s newly recorded song Old Man Down the Road was a musical copy of the CCR song Run Through the Jungle that Fantasy Records owned. However, the trial court made a landmark decision when it ruled that an artist cannot plagiarize himself. Fogerty v. Fantasy, Inc. (92-1750), 510 U.S. 517 (1994).

In this case neither Fogerty nor Fantasy was trying to prevent another artist from appropriating Fogerty’s or the CCR style, rather Fogerty wanted to protect his own right to use it. The court’s brief pretrial ruling addressed this by categorizing Fogerty’s, albeit distinctive, style as a legally unprotectable idea unless also embodied in an expression that had already been copyrighted and was thus entitled to copyright protection. Therefore, Fogerty could not be liable merely for employing his own style even after selling all of his previous works using that style to Fantasy Records. However, the court ruled that if an individual song or songs were substantially similar to a previous copyrighted song, then there could be actionable copyright infringement liability. Therefore, as a matter of law the court in effect ruled that while there could be copyright infringement even by an author of the work, there is no such thing as “self plagiarism.”

Even a charge of “self plagiarism”, since it is also always a lie it, always evidences a serious lack of academic integrity. That is, a charge of “self-plagerism” always includes a deliberate misstatement of a material fact with the clear intent that others rely on it.

Simply stated, real plagiarism always contains an element of moral turpitude on the part of the plagiarizer, but repeating or reusing prior work does not necessarily contain any imputation of moral turpitude on the part of the author. This is the lie. It is very important to note that, while it is possible that an author who has improperly reused their own work in violation of a rule against such use has simply made a mistake, the only explanation for a charge of “self-plagiarism” is that the maker of the charge intended to lie and then did so.

Book List for High School World History Students

Book List: This book list was created when I taught at Bishop O’Connell High School in Arlington Virginia. It is heavily weighted toward World History rather than American History although it includes some of the latter.  I have read all of the books on the list, however a few of the reviews were taken from Amazon or other sources in the interest of getting the books on the list in time for the start of the semester.  I have noted these.

The order is: Author’s 1st Name, Author’s Last Name, Book Title, Review and appreciation. (Do not think just because I wrote more about some books that I like them better. I like them all. In all, there are about 185 books listed—one, or more has your name on it. There must be one that you will like.), Genre; Reading Difficulty Code*. The ending number, the Reading Difficulty Code, is used to estimate the reading difficulty of each book and is explained below at the end. The titles in bold are my strongest recommendations to read. Please remember that the genesis of this list was a high school World History course, so it is very light in American history.

Mortimer Adler, How To Read A Book A great book on reading, but more on the why rather than the how to read. Adler was one of the founders of the Great Books program that is still followed at St. John’s College in Annapolis, Md. English 3

Jacques Barzun, From Dawn to Decadence The history of man by an expert observer. This one is long, not an easy read, but worth every page. It is not the first world history book you should read because it assumes a great deal of knowledge. However, as the second or third book read, it would be difficult to improve on it. History 3

John Berendt, The City of Fallen Angels Venice today, as observed by a great storyteller who lived there recently. If you get the chance, go to Venice! You will only regret it if you miss a chance to go. Memoir 1

Max Boot, War Made New: Technology, Warfare and the Course of History An interesting history of war from 1500 to today. Not as good as some of his other books, but well worth reading. Simply stated, technology changes things and sometimes it changes them in surprising ways. Learn from the past and be prepared. War, history 2

Dale Carnegie   How To Make Friends and Influence People   A life-changing, life-enhancing, book for many, many people. The first of many books on how to get along better with those around you, and it is still one of the best people to people advice books available. I re-read it regularly. People, relationships 1

Virginus Dabney  Virginia, The New Dominion The history of Virginia. A wonderful well-written book that covers the centuries. I liked this book so much I have read it several times. This is the way all history books should be written. History Virginia 2

Will & Ariel Durant  The Story of Civilization, 11 Volumes These books are an intellectual achievement of the first order. They treat history as the story of man, rather than one war after the other and in doing this they reveal a history that is both better and still improving as we live. Eleven volumes are a lot to ask, but one book a summer is a do-able deed that will repay itself time and again. Each volume counts as two books. If you take the time, you will be repaid with true wisdom, acquired in the least expensive way. That is, learn by reading about others making mistakes rather than by making all of them yourself. World History 3

Mark Heisler The Lives of Riley A biography of Coach Pat Riley of the Lakers and the Heat. Riley calls it coaching. I call it leadership, and really effective leadership practiced, on purpose, at a very high level. This is a very well written analysis of the Riley leadership system. Leadership is both a craft and an art. Anyone can learn a craft. Moreover, even the most gifted leaders will be incomplete if they too do not learn their craft first. Biography 1

John Keegan A History of Warfare, The same as Keegan’s other book listed below, but with more wars. Also a great book by the best living military historian. War 2

Mary McCarthy Venice Observed Venice by an observant, fascinating and very literate woman. Go to Venice. You will love it and you will see living history. A great look at the art and city of Venice. Memoir 2

David McCullough Brave Companions Several fascinating stories about truly remarkable people told by a master storyteller. History 1

Lynn Montross War Through the Ages The best one volume history of warfare in English. Easy to read. I really like this book, and I re-read it often. Out of print, hard to find, but worth it. Try various libraries. If you want to get an “A” in my course, you should read this book. No, you can’t borrow my copy. War 1

CP Snow Public Affairs Several essays by the late, great, C. P. Snow including Two Cultures. One of the most significant and ground-breaking essays of the 20th Century. I recommend it highly. Essays 1

William Strunk, Jr., E.B. White The Elements of Style This little book is essential to really learning all of the important rules of grammar and how to write real sentences. It is effective. Every one should have a copy. I re-read mine every year. It is that useful; it is that important. English 1

Sun Tzu The Art of War The original book on strategy. Like John Churchill, the Duke of Marlborough, and General Douglas MacArthur Sun Tzu also believed that the best way to win a war was to do it without a battle. Strangely such victories will not get you a reputation as a great captain. There must be blood for that. Strategy 3

Carl Von Clausewitz On War The classic book on military strategy in the grand style. It was also used very effectively by Col. Summers in his book, On Strategy, to dissect the Viet Nam War. Both books are still studied at the National War College in Washington, D. C.. Strategy 3

Jared Diamond Guns, Germs and Steel The history of geography’s effect on the lives of humans. An engrossing, original book that will expand your understanding of the “why” of history. It is an analysis of the history of man using a multi-disciplinary approach creating a unique look at world history from a completely different perspective. History Geography 3

Anthony Everitt Cicero This man fought Julius Caesar, and continued to fight him even though he knew he could not win. Cicero was not a physically brave man, but he had a rare character that required him to be brave in defense of his beliefs, and so he was. It is a story of courage and commitment to the ideal of rule by the people rather than rule by a despot, however well intentioned, however efficient that despot may be. It is a story of true character, of courage and unfortunately, of bullheadedness. Biography 2

Martin Ewans Afghanistan, a Short History of it People and Politics Afghanistan sits athwart the legendary caravan routes between Europe and Asia. It has always been in the way. Only Alexander the Great truly conquered it. And, even he had to leave 10,000 of his best troops behind to garrison it and marry the fabled Roxanne daughter of a local chieftain. Alexander the Great knew his business as a conqueror, while it took him three years and more casualties than it had cost him to conqueror Persia, Afghanistan never revolted against Alexander while he lived. However, they have revolted again and again against every other conqueror and always successfully to this point. The Romans left bones there. The British left bones there. The Russians fought and lost there, and now the Americans continue to fight in those sun blasted or ice crusted mountains we call Afghanistan. This book tells the story of the place, a place of much importance to Americans today. History 1

Adrian Goldsworthy In the Name of Rome The story of the men that created the Roman Empire. From Scipio Africanus who combined apparent mysticism with an iron determination to Julius Caesar the aggressive, charismatic, aristocrat we meet them all. All of Rome’s greatest generals are examined and their victories explained in detail. Great book. Great story. History Rome1

Edith Hamilton The Roman Way Great story, wonderful writing. Also, very short! History 1

Edith Hamilton The Greek Way Great story, wonderful writing. Also, very short! History 1

Victor Davis Hanson Wars of the Ancient Greeks (Smithsonian History of Warfare) “Hanson, for those who somehow have missed him until now, is a professor of Classics at California State and also is a part time farmer, both of which have contributed to his writing as a military historian. As a classicist, Hanson is well versed in the sources in their original Greek, and as a farmer he understands how agriculture affected the experience of the Greeks at war. For it was the farmers of the early Greek polis who developed modern western warfare. Unlike other cultures, the Greek farmers couldn’t afford to support professional armies or hire mercenaries, and they couldn’t spend a great deal of time away from their farms campaigning. The Greek way of war was to gather up the militia, which comprised all the able bodied men of property who could afford the armor and equipment of a hoplite, march out to a convenient flat field to meet the men of the polis they were warring with, and in a matter of hours, get it over with in quick, brutal, decisive battle. Expounded at greater length in Hanson’s groundbreaking “The Western Way of War,”

Greek battle is covered well here, from its earliest heroic developments in the Bronze Age, through the classic Greek era of the democratic polis, the Persian and the Peloponnesian Wars, and finishing with Alexander. . . Important battles, including Marathon, Plataea, Delium and Gaugamela, are covered in depth.Anyone interested in the ancient Greeks owes it to themselves to read this and, if possible, “The Western Way of War.” It is utterly impossible to properly understand Hellenic culture without understanding how and why they fought. I recall with some hilarity the introduction to a book of poems by a well-known feminist writer who proclaimed that America must choose to be either Sparta or Athens, her obvious thesis being “Sparta – Warlike! Bad! Athens – Peaceful and Artistic! Good!” It’s not that simple. Sparta admittedly was fascist, but pretty much stayed at home oppressing the helots, while Athens became a predatory imperialist democracy, bringing tragedy on itself and the Greeks in the process. Sparta’s women had a great deal of freedom while Athens locked theirs away in women’s quarters of the home. It’s also significant to remember, as Hanson points out, that the great artists, writers, and philosophers were also warriors at need. It may be hard to imagine Socrates or Aeschylus in the bronze panoply of a hoplite, but it happened. and generally these men believed that their war records were their greatest contribution.  Ancient Greece 1

Victor Davis Hanson Carnage and Culture Landmark battles in the rise of Western power. This book explores the battle of Salamis, Cortes conquest of Mexico and the Tet ’68 Offensive. It is long but well worth the read. Hanson brings a fresh look at history and perceptive analysis of the landmark battles that shaped western history. Almost by himself Hanson has resurrected interest in ancient Greece. He was one of the first to tell the truth and expose the lies about the magnificent feat of arms that was the American and South Vietnamese victory called Tet’68. Very readable. War History Ancient Greece 1

Victor Davis Hanson A War Like No Other: How the Athenians and Spartans Fought the Peloponnesian War An original view of Greek history by an engaging writer. Also very readable. While very conservative politically himself, Mr. Hanson does not let that interfere with telling what actually happened when he writes history. He loves the subject too much to shortchange it by putting ideology before the historian’s obligation for truth. You will like this man’s history books whether or not you agree with his politics. War History Ancient Greece 1

David Potter Emperors of Rome It is a shame that so few academic histories are as well written as this book. Although it is difficult to encompass all of Imperial Rome in one volume, particularly in one with the many excellent illustrations, nonetheless Potter succeeds as well as any author ever has. Only at the already confusing end of the empire does the book falter. However, with the beginning and middle of the empire, and delightfully with the fascinating, but relatively unknown, Aetius at the end of the empire, Potter pulls it off magnificently. It is simply, a great read about remarkable people doing remarkable things for hundreds of years. While the book looks like a coffee table decoration, it reads like a novel. You get to know the characters that made, maintained and lost the greatest empire ever. You understand their motivations and their challenges: personal, institutional, and religious. After reading the book, you will surprise yourself when you encounter a situation in your own life and find you remember these circumstances, the solutions tried and found wanting by Rome, and most important what worked. It is in these explanations that Potter excels. It was not that Rome did not know how to continue as a great empire, her leaders chose not to continue the empire and the people of Rome let them. Potter explores this in detail, with marked lessons for our own time, leaders and people. Rome/statecraft small wars and great leaders 1

Stephen Tanner Afghanistan: A Military History from Alexander the Great to the War against the Taliban “While this book does not equal the breadth and fluidity achieved by Ahmed Rashid in “Descent Into Chaos,” it nevertheless manages to fully convey the difficulties army commanders from Alexander the Great to Gen. Petreaus have faced and will apparently continue to face in the country of Afghanistan. A sobering tale of seemingly eternal tribal warfare and trying to maintain the peace after a seemingly easy invasion. This book pretty much covers the whole military history of Afghanistan up to about 2007 and is well worth the read. Could do with more maps to help explain battles etc., but overall highly recommended.” (Amazon review) History 1

Peter Ackroyd The Life of Thomas More One of history’s original figures. A great and honorable man, a politician, a judge, a diplomat, an author still read, an honest lawyer and, a saint. Unusual don’t you think? Particularly the honest lawyer part. As a Saint of the Church and a great man of the world as well, Thomas More defined what it means to have character, and to live with integrity in an imperfect world. Biography 2

Hilaire Belloc How the Reformation Happened Hilaire Belloc is known as a “Catholic” historian, but that makes him neither inaccurate nor hard to read. This is possibly his most famous book and it answers from a Roman Catholic perspective how and why Catholic Christianity suffered the shipwreck called the Protestant Reformation. History of the Reformation 2

Mario Biagioli Galileo Courtier “In the court of the Medicis and the Vatican, Galileo fashioned both his career and his science to the demands of patronage and its complex systems of wealth, power, and prestige. In this fascinating cultural and social history of science, Biagioli argues that Galileo’s courtly role was integral to his science—the questions he chose to examine, his methods, even his conclusions.” (Amazon review) History the Church & science 2

Robert Bolt A Man For All Seasons This is the best play ever written about the struggle to maintain personal integrity and live in the real world. St. Thomas More was a true giant; Robert Bolt’s play is too. In addition, the language is simply beautiful. A play. You can do this one either by reading the play, or watching the excellant movie. I recommend the movie, since plays are intended to be watched, to be backed by stagecraft, and the interpretation of the actors. Of course, I read it as well. St Thomas More 1

C. K. Chesterton St. Thomas Aquinas St. Thomas Aquinas almost single-handedly recaptured Aristotle from the pagans, and made him a secular philosopher of note. C. K. Chesterton writes lucid prose with a philosopher’s touch. A converted Catholic, he has the convert’s zeal without arrogance. A wonderful read about one of history’s original thinkers and my, and the Roman Catholic Church’s, favorite philosopher. Biography 1

C. K. Chesterton St. Francis of Assisi This was one of the first if not the first book that Chesterton wrote after he converted to Roman Catholicism. It is well written and brilliant, and a good read for any age. He writes so well he makes the transcendent as understandable as the mundane and there was a lot of both in St. Francis of Assisi. Biography 1

Winston S. Churchill Marlborough: His Life and Times, Books One, & Two. (2) This was Winston Churchill’s famous forebear, John Churchill, the first Duke of Marlborough. John Churchill was the general that never lost a battle, nor failed to take a city that he had besieged, but nonetheless owed his position more to his wife’s friendship with Queen Anne than to his own excellent generalship. A romantic tale romantically told. At a thousand pages each these two volumes are a lot to ask, but John Churchill was an extraordinary man, probably even more extraordinary than his now much more famous descendant Winston L. S. Churchill. (The “S” in Winston S. Churchill’s name, by the way, stands for Spencer. He was directly related to the late Princess Diana Spencer Windsor.)(See also the review for The Battle for Europe below.) Biography leadership and politics 3

Judith Herrin The Formation of Christendom This very learned work examines the period between the 4th and 9th centuries in order to determine what made Europe’s history so different from that of the rest of the world. Challenging, but gracefully written. The late, lamented Father Louis at Bishop O’Connell HS recommended it highly, and I agree. History Europe 2

Christopher Hibbert The House of Medici: Its Rise and Fall “ At its height Renaissance Florence was a centre of enormous wealth, power and influence. A republican city-state funded by trade and banking, its often bloody political scene was dominated by rich mercantile families, the most famous of which were the Medici. This enthralling book charts the family’s huge influence on the political, economic and cultural history of Florence. Beginning in the early 1430s with the rise of the dynasty under the near-legendary Cosimo de Medici, it moves through their golden era as patrons of some of the most remarkable artists and architects of the Renaissance, to the era of the Medici Popes and Grand Dukes, Florence’s slide into decay and bankruptcy, and the end, in 1737, of the Medici line. Christopher Hibbert, an Oxford graduate, has written more than fifty books, including Wellington: A Personal History, London: The Biography of a City, Redcoats and Rebels, and The Destruction of Lord Raglan.” (Amazon review) Florence history 3

John Keegan The Face of Battle: A Study of Agincourt, Waterloo, and the Somme Battle studied and taught by the best living historian of the art. This is the book that made his reputation as a military historian. He also writes very readable prose. One of my favorites. War 2

Nicola Machiavelli The Prince Politics told by an expert. A Karl Rove wannabe in the age of the Borgias. Short and deceptively easy to read. There is a lot in this slender volume. Do not make the mistake of thinking this is a small book just because it contains relatively few pages. Essay 3

William Manchester Winston S. Churchill, 2 Volumes, (2) The greatest Prime Minister of England, ever. The best read on the subject. Churchill was one of the great statesmen, politicians, historians and adventurers of all time. I like him, you will too. Biography 1

James J. O’Donnell Augustine: A New Biography St. Augustine updated. I like Aquinas better, but both were brilliant servants of the Church. Biography 3

James Reston, Jr., Dogs of God From the author of Warriors of God. This covers the events of 1492, when Spain was throwing off the yoke of the Vatican and consolidating its control over its own land. A good writer tackles a difficult subject. History, Spain 3

James Reston, Jr., Warriors of God. The story of Saladin and Richard the Lionhearted. In fact, cotrary to modern belief, Saladin was the chivalrous knight and Richard was the barbarian. Very well written and accurate. Reston does his research then he writes with verve and feeling. You will like this book if you have an once of romance in your soul. History, knightly chivalry, the Crusades. 2

Kirkpatrick Sale Christopher Columbus and the Conquest of Paradise The Fifteenth century is brought to life as the author tells the story of Columbus and his discovery of the new World. Columbus has been alternately venerated as a great discover and maligned as the despoiler of paradise. This book explores the man and the effects of his discovery dispassionately. History Spain, the New World. 3

Earl Charles Spencer Spencer Battle for Europe: How the Duke of Marlborough Masterminded the Defeat of the French at Blenheim. Having read Winston Churchill’s much longer life of Marlborough, it seemed to me that Mr. Spencer relied heavily on Churchill’s prior work. However, this may be unfair since both Spencer and Churchill meticulously mined and primarily relied on the private material at Blenheim Castle, and as long as both of them are honest and through, it would be more surprising if their tales differed, rather than the reverse. If you have been a very active general, and John Churchill was very active. If you have repeatedly fought the best generals and best armies of your time, and, John Churchill fought them all except his friend and fellow genius Prince Eugene of Savoy; and nonetheless, your biographer can still say that you never fought a battle that you did not win, nor besieged a town that you did not take, then you are indeed a Great Captain and leader of men. Churchill was this and much more. As the title indicates this is a retelling of the story of a great, complex and important battle. Blenheim was not just murder by the thousands. Like the Greatest Generation, Churchill, accomplished something, both military and political, and even more important long lasting with his victories–particularly with this victory. Unlike Alexander the Great whose empire immediately disintegrated upon his death, the political results achieved by Churchill’s military prowess survived his critics and, even, his incompetent, if not quite treasonous successors. In effect Churchill served England for generations, and ultimately provided the man, who would quite literally save England from her greatest, most powerful enemy–Hitler. To soundly defeat the greatest army of the age, led by competent, respected generals is always remarkable. However, since the purpose of war is political change, not victory per se, probably the greatest military victory ever, Hannibal’s victory over the Rome at Cannae is instructive regarding Churchill’s career. Cannae, although it is the classic battle of annihilation, had almost no effect other than to kill a lot of people. After the tragic loss, Rome reacted like it always had: it prayed to its gods, created a new army, and appointed a new general who decisively defeated their impertinent opponent. No one did that to Churchill, and in an age where men married for money or property, he married for love, and they remained in love as long as they lived. Romance and war in one true story—how can you be so lucky? Biography, Battle study 1

Irving Stone The Agony and the Ecstasy: A Biographical Novel of Michelangelo “The Agony and the Ecstasy (1961) is a biographical novel of Michelangelo Buonarroti written by American author Irving Stone. Stone lived in Italy for years visiting many of the locations in Rome and Florence, worked in marble quarries, and apprenticed himself to a marble sculptor. A primary source for the novel is Michelangelo’s correspondence, all 495 letters of which Stone had translated from Italian by Charles Speroni, published in 1962 as I, Michelangelo, Sculptor. The Italian government lauded Stone with several honorary awards for his cultural achievements highlighting Italian history. Stone wrote a number of biographical novels but this one and Lust for Life about Vincent van Gogh are his most well known, in large part because both had major Hollywood film adaptations. Part of the novel was adapted to film in The Agony and the Ecstasy (1965) starring Charlton Heston as Michelangelo and Rex Harrison as Pope Julius II celebrating the 500th anniversary of Michelangelo’s David, New American Library releases a special edition of Irving Stone’s classic biographical novel-in which both the artist and the man are brought to life in full. A masterpiece in its own right, this novel offers a compelling portrait of Michelangelo’s dangerous, impassioned loves, and the God-driven fury from which he wrested some of the greatest art the world has ever known.” Wikipedia Fictional biography 2

H.W. Brands The First American: The Life and Times of Benjamin Franklin Benjamin Franklin wrote books, played seriously with lightening and charmed beautiful women well into his 80’s. This is a very readable book about a very interesting man. The quote of his that I like the best is: “The existence of wine proves that God loves us and wants us to have fun.” Franklin was perhaps the first, true citizen of the world. Biography 1

David Cecil, Lord Melbourne This was the late President John F. Kennedy’s favorite book. While it can be hard to find, it is an excellent read about an interesting, urbane, man and an interesting time to have lived. Melborne’s wife, Caroline Lamb, was a trip. It was she that said of her lover Lord Byron that: “He was mad, bad, and dangerous to know.” He gave a copy of the book to Jacqueline Bouvier before he asked her to marry him, in order that she might better understand what she was getting into and who he thought he was. Biography 1

Tim Pat Coogan Michael Collins: The Man Who Made Ireland, This book is about the man that literally created modern Ireland in a negotiation with Winston L. S. Churchill, after he had defeated the British Army as head of the IRA. It is a study of character and integrity as much as it is a story of the Irish people and their war for independence from England. Unfortunately Collin’s character cost him his life. He was murdered, ambushed, by ultras that did not approve of the price of peace. Good book. Fascinating, courageous man. Biography 3

Duff Cooper Talleyrand This venal man was important to both Napoleon and the Bourbon Kings. He is the type of man that could and would serve a Hitler as well as he would serve a Churchill. I do not understand him, but it is his kind that allows evil to exist in this world. Meet him, and learn to recognize danger. He may have been exactly what Hannah Arendt was talking about when she said that “evil is banal.” Biography 2

Bernard Cornwell The Sharpe Novels (24) The exploits of a superb British Infantry Officer in the Napoleonic wars. A rollicking good read, and highly accurate as well both of the times and of light infantry tactics and warfare generally. Spend a few days with some of the best light infantry soldiers ever. Of course, they were not airborne, so they can’t be the best, but they were very good, and the truth is the reason they were was that they had learned the importance of rapid accurate shooting from the Americans during our Revolutionary War. Great stuff. Historic Fiction 1

Kathleen Dalton Theodore Roosevelt, A Strenuous Life The life of a man that lived life to the fullest, and created much of modern America. While Franklin gets all of the press today, this is the greatest Roosevelt. Ms Dalton has many new insights to the man.This is the only biography of Theodore Roosevelt that I have read that was written by a woman and I have read over ten. How a man’s man like TR avoided this all of these years is a mystery. While the book itself is certainly well written much more important is that it has some very interesting insights into the character of an intriguing man. No one that is honest, and Ms. Dalton certainly appears such, could make Theodore Roosevelt’s life story boring, egocentric, certainly, prissy, occasionally, but boring, never. This is an interesting, well written book with many valid observations.Ms. Dalton succeeds in conveying a view of TR that other historians have missed, or glossed over, or never saw. I can’t tell if this is because of better scholarship, use of new or previously undiscovered sources, or simply because as a woman she was more sensitive to these issues than the other biographers that I have read. In any event it makes no difference since her insights do much to explain TR’s life. In the past biographers focused on what happened, and so much happened to TR in such a short time that they often missed explaining the why part of TR’s story. Ms. Dalton does this very well.Frankly I resisted buying this book because I had already read so many others about TR that I wondered how Ms. Dalton could have enough new to say to justify the time of reading another long biography of TR. She justified my investment in time very well. So, much so that when a new books comes out by Kathleen Dalton I will buy that too. Biography 1

Thomas Fleming The Illusion of Victory Like many of the recent crop of books about WW I this is more of an argument than a book of history. In that sense the book is well argued, but in the back of my mind as I read it, I wondered where the argument stopped and the facts began. As it is, it is a well-written, very interesting story of many of the military and political things that went wrong, and why they went wrong, before, during and after World War I. It is a wonder how Mr. Fleming could tolerate spending so much time with someone, Woodrow Wilson, that he obviously detested. The acceptance of the still troubling idea of a nation state for almost every little group that demands it can be traced directly to Wilson. Few ideas have caused as much misery as the principle of a right of self-determination for all peoples. Leaders as disparate as Ho Chi Minh and Eamon de Valera both heeded this call. One of the author’s points is that it is important to understand how bad things can get when there is little or no objective information available for a democracy at war. How are the decision makers, the voters, to know what is the right thing to do if they are being force-fed a constant torrent of lies. Propaganda, particularly the British propaganda, during World War I took on a life of its own that still influences even supposedly objective histories of the war today. According to the author, there are many victories that little deserve that name and many defeats that are still unknown. Read it; see if you agree. WWI, War, & anti-stupid 2

Amanda Foreman Georgiana: Duchess of Devonshire The story of a truly interesting woman in a time when there were a lot of interesting women and when they were very important to the progress of civilization. Georgiana would have been an important woman in any age. A recent movie was based on her life, The Duchess (2008), played by Keira Knightley. Biography 2

C. S. Forester Horatio Hornblower Series (11) This series will tell you a lot about Napoleon, Lord Nelson and others at this time. It was my favorite series for a number of years and he is still one of my favorite authors. Very accessible. I have read all eleven books several times. They are that good. Historic fiction, a novel 1

C. S. Forester The General A great storyteller looks at WW I and is appalled. A short book but a truly significant one. While it may be hard to understand, it is possible to be a professional, knowledgeable, conscientious, hard working and self-disciplined soldier, but nonetheless be an utter disaster as a general. Sadly, there were many of these incompetents in WW I, on both sides. I liked this book because it tells a true story through fiction. You will learn more about what went wrong in WW I from this slender volume than you will from many weighty tomes of history. Anti-war, or anti stupid. 1

Benjamin Franklin The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, Many say that this is the best autobiography ever written. It is the story of the first real American in the sense that we use it today. At first, he was a reluctant American believing that loyalty to the British Crown was the wisest choice. The process by which he changed his mind is remarkable. Biography 2

Antonia Fraser Marie Antoinette: The Journey The life and death of Marie Antoinette. Great writing by a truly great historian about a truly misunderstood woman. Marie Antoinette was not the porcelain doll that many believe. She was in an impossible position—but at the end, when it really mattered, she went to her death with exquisite courage that should have shamed her murderers. History 3

Paul Fussell The Great War and Modern Memory, The Classic essay on the importance of WWI to our modern society. Important. It is a truly brilliant essay. You will find yourself saying: “Why didn’t I think of that?” on almost every other page. Memoir 2

Robert Graves Good-Bye to All That: An autobiography by one of the great writers of the 20th Century. He also lived a truly adventurous life. Auto-biography 2

Winston Groom A Storm In Flanders The story of part of WWI by the same man that wrote Forrest Gump. He was a historian first, and he still is. It is just that he writes like a novelist. This book is a wonderful read. History 1

Ernest Hemingway Farewell To Arms A great writer looks at WW I from the vantage point of a participant in that unbelievably bloody struggle. This is truth presented as fiction. Novel 1

Ronald Hoffman Princes of Ireland, Planters of Maryland: A Carroll Saga, 1500-1782, The story of Maryland well told. Maryland was Catholic; Virginia was high church Episcopal. The great families shared the Chesapeake Bay Basin. Then, the Chesapeake Bay was a highway, not an obstacle because everyone that mattered had a boat, and no one had a car. History 2

John Keegan The First World War A very readable book about a very important war by today’s most popular and most astute historian of warfare. A little British bias is a small price to pay for this level of analysis. This is a great wide-angle view of the war. History 1

Dumas Malone Jefferson, the President The best biography of the enigma of Thomas Jefferson. It comes in four volumes because Jefferson actually did a lot during his long life. Each volume counts as one book. Strangely, Jefferson, even including his ownership of slaves, is a hero of freedom and even stranger, he earned the title. Biography 3

Andrew Mango Ataturk Mustapha Kemal Attaturk, the founder of modern Turkey, a true democratic, secular, Islamic republic. It is the only one left. It is very important, particularly in today’s world to understand the profound differences in the Moslem world. Turkey will be important in your future. Biography Turkey 2

David McCullough Mornings on Horseback The early days of Theodore Roosevelt. Great read, great man. TR was fun to be around, and therefore reading about him is also a lot of fun. I really like Theodore Roosevelt; he never just existed—he lived. Biography 1

Patrick O’Brien The Aubrey-Maturin Novels. (21) A serious literary achievement, as well as a good look at the history of the Napoleonic wars. All 20 books in the series really amount to one continuous narrative story. Start with the first one and you will be glad. Historic Fiction 2

Erwin von Rommel Infantry Attack The story of Rommel’s World War I experience as an infantry commander on several fronts. He was brave; he was bold: he had initiative; and most of all he was one of the ultimate leaders of men in combat. Recently re-issued in both paperback and hardback by Barnes & Noble. The man knew warfare; after you read this book you will too. Auto-biography 2

Siegfried Sassoon Memoirs of an Infantry Officer A great poet, and young infantry lieutenant, both a war hero and a war protestor looks at a hard war—World War I. I really liked this book, but it would probably be better not to read it until you already have some knowledge of World War I. You will appreciate it that much more then. Memoir 2

Michael Shaara The Killer Angels: A Novel of the Civil War A book about battle and a man, Joshua Chamberlain, who was a real hero as well as useful in both war and peace. A great true war story, better told in fiction. Chamberlain and his men lived and delivered the sprit of the bayonet at Gettysburg. Doing it saved Little Round Top, the Union Army and the United States of America. Along the way it also won Chamberlain the Medal of Honor, and the right to accept Lee’s surrender at Appomattox. This is real, and probably the best book on battle that I have ever read. Historic fiction 1

A. J. P. Taylor Bismarck The man that first united the modern nation state of Germany. While he had no further territorial ambitions for Germany, the new Kaiser did and fired the old man. After a disastrous war, his former subordinate, and ultimate if short lived, successor Ludendorf fired the Kaiser and packed him off to exile in Belgium. Biography 1

Barbara Tuchman The Guns of August How WW I started told by one of the best historians ever. Some call this war “accidental,” find out why they are wrong. An important book that the late President John F. Kennedy read right before the Cuban Missile crises, and a good thing he did. You will understand why when you study the 1960’s. History 2

Janet Wallach Desert Queen: The Extraordinary Life of Gertrude Bell: Adventurer, Adviser to Kings, Ally of Lawrence of Arabia She was an Arabist, an adventurer and a good friend of both T.E. Lawrence and Winston L. S. Churchill. A female mover and shaker in a man’s world, she, Churchill and Lawrence basically created modern Iraq after World War I.  Although you could fairly blame the war, Iraq War II, on them, it would not be fair. “W” did that one all by himself. Biography 2

Dean Acheson Present At Creation The Cold War world before it became cold, as told by one of its smartest practitioners. Dean Acheson was the Secretary of State under President Harry Truman and formulated the successful Cold War policy that became known as “containment.” This policy, pursued by eight presidents, was the principal reason for the Viet Nam War and the reason the Berlin Wall went up, and then finally came down. Memoir 1

Stephen Ambrose Band Of Brothers: E Company, 506th Regiment, 101st Airborne From Normandy To Hitler’s Eagle’s Nest The Second World War through the eyes of an incomparable group of paras. If there was fighting, the 101st Airborne Division was there first and it was the last to leave. It was the first entire division awarded a Presidential Unit Citation; ultimately it earned two such honors in WW II. This is the Army’s equivalent of giving every man in the division a Distinguished Service Cross, the Army’s second highest award for valor—second only to the Medal of Honor—twice. This is a great book with great writing about a great group of regular guys that were also real heroes. Lt., by the end of the war Major, Dick Winter was a man among men when that was a very dangerous thing to be. Airborne! History War Airborne 1

Jon Lee Anderson Che Guevara: A Revolutionary Life Another of life’s truly original figures. A mystic, a doctor, a revolutionary leader, a philosopher of asymetrical warfare with a one and two record (Cuba-win, Africa and Ecuador-loss) and a murderer. Strange. His continuing great personal popularity, almost throughout the world, is stranger still. His story is as significant as it is simply fascinating. Biography 2

David Arnold Gandhi A man of peace that set his country free from the greatest empire the world has ever known without a war. Interesting book. Even more interesting man. He raised non-violence to an art form and inspired the later work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., in America. Biography, ethics, non-violence 2

Michael Asher Lawrence Lawrence of Arabia has fired the imagination of several generations of students. Lawrence always lived his life on his terms, and the world responded with awe. This biography is short, accessible and accurate. I recommend it. Biography 1

Paul Aussaresses The Battle for the Casbah This is the book on the use of torture for counterterrorism. The French used torture extensively in Algeria and it got them information, and then a much bigger revolt that no amount of troops could contain. This dark reality was known but never admitted to until General Aussaresses published this honest, searing book. Torture is always squalid and almost always counterproductive. It can produce information, but only at a price too high to pay. Everyone forgets that while you can kill those you torture—what do you do for those that have done the torture for you? What do you do for them? How do you return what you have taken from them—their humanity? Who do they practice on, the Christians? How can they ever go home and answer this question? “What did you do in the war Daddy?” “Me? Why son I tortured people for the United States of America.” No one should ever say that. Torture, asymmetric warfare 1

Jerry Berry My Gift for You I guess I should say up front that I served in 3/506th Airborne Infantry and that Jerry Berry is my friend. Having said that, it means that I also know the truth of many of the stories related in the book, and they all happened. He also talks a bit about me in the book. If you are interested in the way people actually fought the Viet Nam War, if you are interested in the history of the greatest American combat division, the 101st Airborne Division, or if accurate descriptions of courage under fire are what you want to know about then, read this book. It will tell you this, and much more, in lucid, factually accurate prose. There are no axes ground in this book except that the valor of those that fought the war has often been overlooked in a search for more ammunition for more arguments about the war. The battle of Tet ’68 was one of the largest infantry battle ever fought by the U. S. military. There were both more troops engaged, over 1.5 million; vs. about 1.1 million in the Battle of the Bulge, another famous 101st Airborne battle, and Tet ‘68 lasted longer. We, the Unites States armed forces, particularly the Marines and the Army won both of those battles after taking some hard hits in the beginning. (I know there were no Marines at the Bulge, but there were a lot in Viet Nam including my brother.) How many American know that we won the battle of Tet ’68? How many Americans know that there were more Marine causalities in Viet Nam than in all of World War II? There is a real argument to make that the Viet Nam War is America’s most talked about, but least understood war. While the book emphasizes the involvement of my unit,the 3/506th, in truth the stories told are very close to that of every infantryman in every war. The story shown at the end of the movie Full Metal Jacket is substantially the same as the story of the death of Private Andrew Daniel on February 3, 1968. Daniel was airborne, Full Metal Jacket dealt with the Marines. Both show war the way it really happens. This is the infantry at work, street fighting and it does not get any bloodier than that. Daniel, like Berry, was my friend. Viet Nam 1

Alan Bullock Hitler, a Study in Tyranny, Hitler is evil, and evil is inexplicable. However, this book comes as close as you can to telling the story of a completely evil man that caused even more evil. Bullock is a masterful English biographer who is in full command of his subject. Biography Evil 1

Pat Conroy The Great Santini Growing up hard is always hard, but it may teach you how to write great fiction is one message in this book that several students have recommended as a book they really liked. I liked it too. Memoir 2

Allan Drury Advise and Consent A fictional account of a nomination battle in the United States Senate. Anyone that thinks Government is dull should read this account written by a lifetime newsman that knew where the bodies were buried, and why. It is fiction only because that is the only way the author could tell the truth about politics as it is practiced in Washington, D. C. Politics Fiction 1

Bernard Fall A Street Without Joy A classic on Viet Nam, in this case the French experience in South East Asia. This is a marvelous book that tells the truth about what happened to the French in Indochina after WW II. I read it before I went to Viet Nam, and again after I returned. I learned from it both times. What more can you say about a book. War Viet Nam 2

Anne Frank The Diary of Anne Frank The story of the holocaust as told by one of the victims. A short, powerful and very important book that everyone should read. It is the saddest story I have ever read–worse, it is true. Compelling and frightening at the same time. Never Again! It must not happen again. Auto-biography 1

Paul Fussell Thank God for the Atom Bomb This is an alternate view of the use of the atomic bomb in WW II. Its effects still rpoduce heat, only in this case it is academic heat. Fussell, like millions of other WWII infantrymen, having just defeated the Italians and the Nazis were on ships on their way to invade Japan to end World War II. Therefore, he has a very personal view of the atomic bomb. I personally believe that dropping the atomic bombs saved millions of lives, particularly millions of Japanese lives that would have been lost in an invasion of Japan. There are others that have a differing view. Read and make up your own mind. Ethicsin war 1

David Halberstam The Best and the Brightest Why Viet Nam? Here is one view of the story. While this is not a view that I agree with, it is well argued, makes several good points and is accepted as correct by many otherwise intelligent people. WarVietNam 1

Mia Hamm Go For The Gold The first autobiography of Mia Hamm. She writes well about what it means to have character and integrity and still compete at the highest level. Auto-biography 1

Ernest Hemingway For Whom the Bell Tolls One of our greatest writers looks closely at the Spanish Civil War. One of my all time favorite books, and authors. This is war made real. Novel 1

Ernest Hemingway The Sun Also Rises The same great writer looks at the lingering effects of WW I. These linger, even today. Great, intelligent book but read something about World War I first. Novel 2

John Hersey Hiroshima The atomic bomb from the view of the recipient. Horrific, yes—necessary? You decide. . . However, before you decide you may also want to read Thank God For The Atom Bomb by Paul Fussell. Fussell and several million other American soldiers were on their way to the Pacific after having fought all through the European Campaign to finish the war against Japan when the bomb made that trip unnecessary. An invasion would have created far more casualties for both sides. About a quarter of a million Americans were already dead and the Joint Chief’s estimate was one million more American casualties to subdue Japan through invasion. What is your ethical judgment and why. Ethics in war 1

Alistair Horne A Savage War of Peace: Algeria 1954-1962 The history of the French-Algerian War. An important book, particularly today. It was out of print and selling on e-bay for more than $250.00 a copy before the publisher reissued it recently as a paperback. It is that important; Horne is that good as a historian. Read it and learn how many mistakes “W” et. al., made during Iraq II. Asymmetrical warfare. 2

Sebastian Junger War Sebastian Junger of Perfect Storm fame tackles our current adventure in Afghanistan. For 15 months Junger and a cameraman were embedded with a single platoon in eastern Afghanistan. They lived with them, patrolled with them, hid from bullets with them and tried to understand both them and the idea of war. Junger can write and this writing about war, firefights and the military, has the ring of truth. He and a photographer that accompanied him also created a movie, Restrepo, that is available on Amazon. Together they are two looks at the same thing. Afghanistan War 1

Robert F. Kennedy Thirteen Days: A Memoir of the Cuban Missile Crisis The story of the closest we ever came to nuclear war as told by one of the most important participants. And, we came very close; but for John F. Kennedy, there very probably would have been a nuclear exchange. Another way of saying that is; the end of the world as we know it. You would probably not be here—literally. That is why we say politics is important. It can in truth, kill you, kill everyone you love—and everybody else on this planet. Either you are involved in politics, or you are not a member of America’s ruling class. America 1

Robin Bruce Lockhart Reilly, Ace of Spies The real man, the real British spy, whose exploits inspired the James Bond books by Ian Fleming. The stories are incredible, even more incredible is that most of them are true. While it does not end well for Reilly, he was a man among men, really dangerous men, for a long time. Biography, Spies 1

William Manchester American Caesar The remarkable stories of Douglas MacArthur. He earned five stars and lived at least four great stories – three wars and the creation of modern, democratic, Japan. A wonderful, important book about a great and flawed man. This biography puts MacArthur, warts and all in proper perspective. A vain, difficult, fascinating man, and a genius at battle. Of all the American commanders in WW I, WW II and Korea, Douglas MacArthur was by far the most effective at the least cost of American life. He knew how to fight hard, and he knew how to win without fighting at all which is Sun Tzu’s definition of a truly great commander of men. One of the best, most enlightening, biographies that I have ever read. Biography 1

Caroline Moorhead Gelhorn The life of an extraordinary woman, Martha Gelhorn. Writer, war correspondent and wife of Ernest Hemingway among others. A romantic, independant woman of marvelous, diverse interests, you will find her life as multi-faceted as it is engrossing. This is adventure on a grand scale. She proved that a woman if she was determined, could live her life her way, even in a man’s world, even with a man’s man as her husband, or lover. I would love to have met her. Biography 2

Stephen B. Oates Let the Trumpet Sound: Life of Martin Luther King, Jr., Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s biography. An important man who is still looking for his biographer. In the meantime this is an excellent effort. Biography 2

Thomas E. Ricks Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq A look at Iraq War II. An indictment of the utter, probably criminal, incompetence of the George W. Bush administration’s war in Iraq. The Bush II administration’s lack of candor, competence and compassion for our own soldiers was on a scale that is almost incomprehensible, but unfortunately is true. This was the first time we ever attacked a country that had not attacked us first. This was the first time we went to war because of a mistake. There were no WMDs. “Opps.” This was the first time we attacked the wrong country. This was the first time we lost almost 20 times as many men after the President had declared “Mission Accomplished” as we had during the “war.” If you have come to believe that I think that the George W. Bush administration was an utter disaster for America—you are entirely correct. War & Anti-stupid 1

Arthur M Schlesinger, Jr. Robert Kennedy and His Times The best biography of Robert F. Kennedy. Perhaps the best political biography in English. Robert F. Kennedy was a man of strong character, with the capacity to change. He could also be difficult, but ultimately it was his compassion and ability to understand the plight of others that defined him as a man–that and an almost reflexive personal courage. Biography Politics

Neil Sheehan A Bright Shining Lie, John Paul Vann and America in Viet Nam Another book about Viet Nam that I do not agree with. Why? Because the book makes many points that I do agree are accurate reflections of either the war or its effects. However, it also represents a historically acceptable view at this time of the Viet Nam War and most important it is well written. Just because I do not agree with something does not mean that it is wrong. Although it is a very good indication of that as far as I am concerned. Nonetheless, it is a good, well written, well argued, and important book–even its central conclusions are entirely wrong. See what you think. The reason for the numerous Viet Nam books on this list is not just becaue I served there. It was an asymetrical war, war today is more likely to be asymetrical . It is a war about which there is still a lot of controversy. It is also a war that people use to “prove” various ideas to be truisms. Sometimes they are correct, sometimes they are not. You need to be knowlegeble to make an informed decision. Viet Nam 2

William L. Shirer The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich The how and the why of Hitler. Shirer told the whole, horrific story early, and since then, no one has told it better. Long, but highly readable, Hitler was many things besides evil—but never boring. “All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.” This quote may, or more likely may not, be a quote from Edmund Burke—but it is nonetheless true, and it happened in Germany in the 1930’s. Read this absorbing book and find out how. Germany 2

E. B. Sledge With the Old Breed: at Peleliu and Okinawa WW II in the Pacific with the Marines on the ground. One of the greatest “I was there” war books ever. If you ever think you have had a bad day, read any chapter in this book and see if you do not change your mind. Speaking both biblically and accurately: “War is Hell.” War 1

Theodore C. Sorensen Kennedy A biography of John F. Kennedy by the man that wrote his speeches. It is as beautifully written as the speeches, and the man was on the inside of a lot that happened during a difficult, yet exciting time for our country. It is the Kennedy biography I like the best. Honest writing. Biography 1

John Steinbeck The Grapes of Wrath A great American writer looks at the Great Depression. Not my favorite Steinbeck book, but a good one. My personal favorites are Tortilla Flat, Travels with Charley, or Cannery Row. Probably Steinbeck’s most relevant book to our materialistic age is The Winter of Our Discontent. I really liked it when I was in high school. Introduce yourself to the Joad family, or any of these books. America 2

Patrick Symmes Chasing Che It is a travel book more in the spirit of Steinbeck’s Travels With Charlie than it is with In Patagonia by Bruce Chatwin. It is a ramble, through southern South America, along the journey made by Che before he was “Che” and through the mind of Symmes. All three are interesting places to go. I guess my one surprise was the amount of trouble that he had with his BMW motorcycle. The insights into the historical person Che became later are there, sort of sprinkled through the book as is a good look at the youth. He is not an adulator and he neither hides nor dwells on the dark side of being a committed revolutionary. Of course, Che was not yet committed at least when he started this journey. A warrior doctor along with the idea of a warrior priest has always seemed to be an oxymoron to me. The creation of exactly that which you have trained, at great cost, to fight must require conviction of a special kind. That Che was committed there can be no doubt – but why to this life course remains elusive for me. He was sensitive man, and a murderer, a doctor and a soldier, a revolutionary and a mystic. Like Thomas Jefferson’s utterly inexplicable slave holdings, these realities are also the reasons he still fascinates me. I like the book. I think I would like the author and I recommend it as an interesting look at a difficult man and a romantic journey that I and perhaps you would have liked to have joined, and may still enjoy in spirit. Biography 1

Evan Thomas Robert Kennedy, His Life Evan Thomas tried to write history, but we are left with long journalism. Like any newspaper it is well written, the sentences short, the topic sentences placed first and all of the commas properly in place. The history is there. The drama is there. The “good Bobby” and the “bad Bobby” are there, but judgment and insight are missing. Also, Thomas uses Robert Kennedy as a vehicle to tell the story of the late 60s. Without any evidence I simply will not believe that the man John F. Kennedy called a “monk” and for much of his life did not like socializing with because he was a moralizer, also cheated on his wife and assisted his brother in doing the same to his wife. There is no explanation, and most important no evidence of any such transgressions by Robert Kennedy. In the absence of any evidence these stories become rumors, and while there may be a place for them in a magazine like People, they have no place in a serious biography. Yes, Robert Kennedy could engage in incredibly boorish, childish, behavior. But, he was also able to go into the streets, the mean dangerous streets, after Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was murdered and quiet those streets with a quote from memory written by a long dead Greek poet. The trip to the ghetto took courage. The recognition of the need for the trip and the speech took compassion. And, the quote he used illustrated enlightenment under great pressure. Robert Kennedy was a man well worth spending time with. Contrast Thomas’s view with Schlesinger’s biography mentioned above and make up your own mind. Biography 1

Barbara Tuchman Stilwell and the American Experience in China Biography of a great, underappreciated American general that lost several battles in the beginning of WWII, figured out why, and then began to beat the Japanese in the jungle at their own game. However, almost as soon as he began to win, he was fired. Find out why being really good at your job was not enough this time. Biography 2

George Weigel Witness to Hope: The Biography of Pope John Paul II, John Paul II. There will be better biographies of this man and pope, but this was a great man in our time. Biography Church 3

Theodore H. White The Making of the President, 1960 The story of how to run a successful presidential campaign. An original. A classic. If you are at all interested in politics, then you must read this book. This is the best book on politics as it is actually practiced in this country ever written. It is the real thing. It is also well written and a romantically told story of America. It will also show you how much America has changed. American Politics 1

Elie Wiesel Night The classic story of the Holocaust told by a victim that lived, remembered and has stood witness ever since. It was difficult for me to read more for the content than for the writing, which is first rate, Evil 3

Juan Williams Thurgood Marshall American Revolutionary The story of the man that created and then enforced the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King’s dream. You needed both King to provide the voice and Marshall to provide the legal muscle to create the civil rights revolution of the 60’s. Biography 1

Bob Woodward Bush at War (3) Any of the three books by this author about the current war in Iraq is a good choice. Personally, I prefer the first, and the last books in the series. Journalism as history 1

Desmond Young Rommel, the Desert Fox A biography of German General Erwin von Rommel written by a man Rommel personally captured during World War II in North Africa. The world’s greatest tank commander started in WWI as an infantry officer. Well written. Absorbing. Important. Recognized as an honorable man and superb warrior even by his enemies it was inevitable that Rommel was implicated in the plot against Hitler; he was forced to take poison in order to save his family from Hitler’s wrath. You should read Rommel’s own book about his gripping experiences in WW I as well. Rommell won Germany’s highest award for valor in both wars. This book is great history, but most of all it is simply a great read about an extraordinary man. Biography 1

Chris Mathews Jack Kennedy: Elusive Hero This book brilliantly fulfills its author’s promise to tell us what the late John Fitzgerald Kennedy was like–as a child, as a man and as a husband. Chris Matthews’ book is not intended to be a full-scale biography; rather it is devoted to exploring the human being named Jack Kennedy. It very capably succeeds in its mission. As such, this book is not strictly about what John Kennedy did. It is about who he was.

However, the book could have benefited from considerably more rigorous editing, particularly in the later portions of the book. Another reviewer has already noted that Mr. Matthews incorrectly states that Robert Kennedy’s middle name was “Fitzgerald” instead of “Francis.” In addition, Matthews states, as JFK himself did, that the phrase “Victory has a hundred fathers; defeat is an orphan.” was a quote although no one has ever been able to find the original statement. He has “fighters” rather than B-29 bombers dropping the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. He misses that General Creighton Abrams was in charge of the troops that put James Meredith into Ole Miss, and that the purpose of Operation Mongoose was not to “topple” Fidel Castro, rather it was to kill him.

These errors are disquieting, but the writing is so fluid and the conclusions are so perceptive as the author illuminates the man that was Kennedy that the book approaches closer to that elusive man than any other author has. Since Kennedy has had many biographers that have grappled with his numerous contradictions: loving, adulterous, family man, religious-sinner, and most of all what was it that made his often self-centered company so attractive to so many. Matthews answers more of these fascinating questions than any other biographer has so far.

Eric Frank Russell   Wasp   This book is a classic in the sense that it is timeless because the story it tells repeats itself constantly, but we never seem to learn. If you want to know how to disrupt a society, then this book is a text book. If you want to know how not to respond to such an attack, which is in many ways remarkably similar to that that took place in New York City on 9/11/01, then this is your book.  The idea of such warfare is to provoke a disproportionate reaction, wildly disproportionate if at all possible.  It is also a very fun read. Great book. Very perceptive.  This book is short, but nonetheless explains the theory and practice of insurgent warfare perfectly. It is a crime that it is out of print. If George W. Bush had read it, Osama Bin Laden would have had a much shorter life and thousands of American soldiers, Marines, sailors and airmen would still be alive. It makes the complex simple and understandable is the way only fiction can. War 1

❊     1 – Easiest to read, no preparation needed except a good chair,

2 – Either more difficult to read, or some preparation would be useful,

3 – Difficult to read and very difficult to fully appreciate without some preparation.