Saturday, July 19, 2008

A few books

Picked up a few used books this week:

The Far West and the Great Plains in Transition 1859-1900 by Rodman Paul
I've been wanting to find a larger overview of this time period in the West that goes beyond storytelling about cowboys and gunfighters and looks at the social, economic, political development.

Rebuilding Brand America: What we must do to restore our reputation and safeguard the future of American business abroad by Dick Martin

I'm not a big fan of the "America as brand" approach but this focuses on how businesses can contribute to changing views about America and that fits into my interest in non-governmental approaches to strategic communications.

Manifest Destiny and Mission in American History by Frederick Merk

The history of political ideas isn't always about the great philosophers. Many ideas, visions and memes come and go and have short term or long term influence and become part of the landscape of ideas. But the underlying idea of spreading the ideals, culture, and institutions of democratic republicanism had been a feature of American culture for decades before the emergence of Manifest Destiny in the 1840s and long after it faded away at the end of the 19th century. Tom Barnett's "shrink the gap" grand strategy fits in very comfortably with this longstanding meme of spreading the institutions of liberty.

Rise of the Vulcans: The history of Bush's war cabinet by James Mann

This last one I started reading and could not put down, it was very interesting. Over the past few years I've been reluctant to read some of the accounts of decision-making in the Bush administration because there are so many things that we won't know until they leave office and start writing memoirs and opening up access to documents at the presidential library etc. Plus I was skeptical that people could be objective given how contentious the politics have been over the past few years, but this book is fair and a good read.


subadei said...

I absolutely love used books. More so, used bookstores a sadly dying breed. You get so much for a mere pittance. Of course it helps that my nf tastes (like yours) aren't exactly mainstream.

phil said...

I too love used book stores and enjoy just getting lost in the labyrinth of shelves. The two I went to last week down in the DC suburbs are some of the best I've come across and I've been going to them for a couple of decades and always find something to buy.