Sunday, November 2, 2008

A Few Good Books

The General's War: The Inside Story of the Conflict in the Gulf by Michael Gordon and Bernard Trainor

I read this book in the summer and could not put it down. A great account of the higher level decision-making in the Gulf War. Two things stood out for me while reading this: the extent to which the ghost of Vietnam influenced decisions and the chaotic nature of the planning.

The Birth of Plenty: How the Prosperity of the Modern World was Created by William Bernstein

I read this a few years ago. This book is an excellent exploration of a subject that I'm very much interested in: the transition from the pre-modern world to modernity and the development of mass prosperity.

The Conservative Intellectual Movement in America by George Nash

I'm working my way through this book now and it is excellent. Anyone interested in politics and American history needs to read this book.

The Cattle Towns: A Social History of the Kansas Cattle Trading Centers Abilene, Ellsworth, Wichita, Dodge City and Caldwell, 1867-1885 by Robert Dykstra

What fascinates me here is that these classic Wild West towns were entrepreneurial ventures. With cattle being brought up from Texas and the railroads moving west, the town builders were trying to find profitable locations to bring the two together and foster commerce.

Free Soil, Free Labor, Free Men: The Ideology of the Republican Party before the Civil War by Eric Foner

An excellent account of the different factions that formed the Republican Party in the 1850s and the ideas that motivated them. I'm particularly intrigued by the Free Labor ideology which seems to be an 1850s version of an entrepreneurial liberalism. Unfortunately only one chapter is devoted to it. I would like to find a more extensive study of the Free Labor ideology.

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