"Alright! Listen up, you goldbricks! This is a must-read book club! This here club is dedicated to the inner Howling Commando in all of us who wants to read non-fiction (and maybe some good fiction?) military, history, action, adventure, and you just might learn you somethin' along the way. Ain't that right Dum-Dum Dugan? ...DUGAN! WAKE UP over there, you stump brain!
(But on a serious note? We have always nicknamed our old, crazy little insider group of martial practitioners as the Howling Commandos and we have always swapped books and movie reviews, so this was a natural extension of all that. Now...feed your inner howling commando.)
Anatomy of Violence by Neuroscientist Adrian Raine
Lombroso was right! “Well, kinda.” Over a hundred years ago Lombroso thought he could measure the shape of the head to predict violent criminals. What he didn't know was that more truth could be found INSIDE the skull, not the skull itself, like with the deficiencies of the size of brain parts, measured by modern MRIs. Plus, many other great and new discoveries in this new 2013 on crime, violence and psychopaths. Real stories, patterns, studies, etc. http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2013/may/25/anatomy-violence-adrian-raine-review
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The Outpost by Jake Tapper
This is about two versions, two concepts of an outpost. One is small, dangerous and “in a fishbowl” way too far north near Pakistan. And the second is the concept of Afghanistan being an outpost itself. This is a detailed book on the toil, the toll and devastation of bad Army ideas and implementation. The damage to our soldiers was devastating. Tough to read, but a must read. An education all unto itself.
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Killer on The Road, by Ginger Strand
In the who, what, where, when, how and why of personal safety, survival and fighting, a significant study must be made of the "Where," subject. Where will you be attacked, ambushed, confronted etc. ? Examine your life, your habits and routine, and your unique trips. This is a book about one aspect of your "where." Highways and surrounding stores, hotels, businesses an the like are more dangerous places. It has been known inside the crime and crime-fighting business that life is more dangerous by highways and one main reason is the criminal's ability to quickly escape. We have also known for decades that serial murderers use these highways to catch prey. This book is a study on this subject. If you are familiar with the big murder cases in the last decades, this book is a clearing house, reference for you. If not, you will learn how the big cases relate to "the road." •
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Kindness Goes Unpunished, by Craig Johnson
Now, I love the Longmire series on A&E cable channel. I am a BIG fan, so it would be natural to test out the Longmire books. This book is the third in the series and I jumped in there, thinking I knew enough about the man characters to do so. And I did. Sheriff Walt Longmire works in a gigantic-sized county in Wyoming, circa modern times, for those who don't know the concept. It is a well cast, well scripted, well shot TV show.
First off, Craig Johnson is a very good writer. He has a knack for weaving in humanity in his characters and he is very good at it. This kept me reading, as I was not to fond of the plot and the events in the plot. It is...complicated...with a drug dealer's accountant who "goes indian" and I do mean indian, as in living inside a teepee, inside a loft, inside Philadelphia, such a convenient plot event to further the "cowboy visits the east" storyline. I may try another book, but I will never miss an episode of the TV show.
19 With a Bullet, by Granger Korff
It's the early 1980s and South Africa has big troubles with Angola. This is a pretty interesting story of a young kid thrust into mortal combat,. It is personal, exciting and informative.
So, I have just finished reading this book twice. Once, then twice, in an effort to remember all the studies and info therein. You will actually become smarter for reading this, despite the title. I have been reading a series of books on the mind and the operation of the brain and then took this book on, which very cleverly explains many of these often dry, scientific subjects in an entertaining way.
So much training mythology (notice I did not say "methodology") concerns itself with choice selection under stress, and as a result the 60-year-old "Hicks Law" has been regurgitated over and over again, rather mindlessly, as a reason not to learn too many things. Hicks is a very broad, misleading and ill-informed law causing a general dumbing-down" of individual potential. Here's a book that inspects the thinking and decision process in very big way, immaculately researched by this expert - the author himself. This is NOT a book about fighting, though police, military and firefighters are often referenced. This is about about thinking fast and slow, and it shoves the abstract, Hicks law further and further over into the dark corner where it belongs.
Rattenkreig, by Robert Taubert, FBI Retired
You may know Robert Taubert as Bob Pilgram, a frequent gun magazine article writer, but some of us know that Bob Pilgram is a pen name for this veteran military man and cop, with decades of impeccable and amazing experience. He has written one of my favorite books on the art and science of gun fighting, that I find myself reading and re-reading over again.
This is not your typical combat shooting book! It has extra information you really need to know and think about! Read more about him and this book here.
Save the Last Bullet for Yourself, by Rob Krott
This is afascinating book about the life of a mercenary in the Balkan and Somalia era. It has day-to-day details of this life. At certain times, Rob gets in a car with his friends, they ride to the front and kill people, then get back home and to the village restaurant for a mediocre dinner! Weird life! I also found his misadventures and descriptions of his fellow mercenaries interesting. So many were criminals or all lying about their "extensive" special forces backgrounds, he and a few real SF vets immediately smelled them out.
Great and smooth writing with irony and humor. This is a great insider look at this lifestyle before the current era of the "professional contractor." What we need is the sequel. After this time period, Rob was in some great battles like in Africa and other hot spots in the world.
By the Sword, by Richard Cohen
To those interested in history, war, swords and daggers, duels and fights, this book is a treasure to read and re-read. Get it. Keep it. Look at it often. "By the Sword is an epic history of sword fighting—a science, an art, and, for many, a religion that began at the dawn of civilization in ancient Egypt and has been an obsession for mankind ever since. With wit and insight, Richard Cohen gives us an engrossing history of the world via the sword."
Wild Bill Donovan,by Douglas Waller -
The Craft of Intelligence,by Allen Dulles -
The Art of Intelligence, by Henry Crumpton -
Without re-hashing the history of the CIA here, suffice to say that in World War II Wild Bill Donovan set the seeds for the CIA with his OSS. Following up with the CIA, Wild Bill's OSS comrade was Allen Dulles who carried on with the clandestine business through the Cold War. And Henry Crumpton was the next generation of agents, working on up through the Afghanistan conflict, and retiring before Bin Laden was killed. In these three books you get 3 generations, a fantastic, working knowledge of the CIA. Make no mistake, there are no James Bond moments of action here. There is very little action, just the very tedious work of creating intelligence networks, and all three books take care not t reveal too much. But each of these are an international history lesson an other level. Crumpton's is also terrific look at the hunt for Bin Laden and the recent history of drones.
This is about a former British SAS, contractor in the Cape Horn, Africa area and Middle east/"Southwest Asia" - as the military likes to call it. It's title is big and the Andy McNabb blurb on the cover reads "one of the best first hand accounts of life in combat ever written." Wow, Andy! The name and the blurb suggests something better than We Were Soldiers Once! But, it ain't. Once you get past this blatant salesmanship though, it is a very good book about the daily life of a contractor that had taken some very dangerous jobs. Inside the book, Phil really does a great job revealing important daily aspects of this life and operations as well as tells us a great, reality story. Nice work, Phil. My favorite parts are when Phil fights off the Somali pirates...and once with a small refrigerator! I bought this book while in England so I don't think it is available in the USA bookstores (but who shops there anymore huh?) Get an electronic version.
The Power of Habit, by Charles Duhigg
This was a reasonably interesting enough book, despite spending way, way too much time on three of four case studies and events. It tries to be a "business book" and succeeds, still, there were some references and sections on training and responding to stimulus - any stimulus - that relates to fighting and combatives. Engrained, physical habits further nails the coffin lid on the impact of Hick's Law in fight training.
It is worth reading, you'll be glad you did, but you won't be overjoyed.
The Cold Six Thousand, by James Ellroy
I have been preoccupied in fiction lately, seduced from non-fiction by several THICK stories as I consumed the James Ellroy books, like the Cold Six Thousand. Most know him from the hit movie LA Confidential - a perfect movie and a perfect book. I guess his best? The others? The others vary in gravitas but I found them hard not to finish off and ponder and kick around like in a pile of rocks. Scabbed and scarred like his tales, Ellroy is a multi-layered person fishing with meat hooks in the haunted houses of American history, policing and post WW-II life. These are no ordinary books. They go other places. The people do other things. They reckon other sinister forces...
A Marine LT. and Vietnam Vet/medal winner takes on the difficult and and often ignored challenge of preparing new troops for the slog and horror of war. He tells war stories intermixed with psychologies, ethics, lessons and words of wisdom. I wouldn't hesitate to give this to a young troop about to face combat, or an old troop, wrestling with what happened.
This is "gonzo journalistic" look at the upper commands in Afghanistan during the Obama years. The prognosis? It doesn't look good. I think this book is a must read for anyone interested in the "Big Game." The book also covers the downfall of General
McChrystal after casual comments he'd made to Hastings. This is a well written, first person narrative on numerous levels of the war, way more important than just the McChrystal affair.
Incognito, by David Eagleman
Another must-read book about the human brain and simple and complicated performance, the things our subconscious mind automatically does. Then it goes on to mention how repetition training can burn many steps into our performance. But, there are numerous other important and timely topics about how we interact with people, products, as well as extensive coverage on crime and punishment. And on another note, it puts yet another nail in the coffin of those obsessed with using Hicks Law as a training model. For more Click hereEagleman Webpage
American Sniper, by Chris Kyle
Yes, I know. Yes, I hear that people are tired of hearing about the SEALs and perturbed about what is percerved as them "tooting their own horn." And then all the unhappy people who declare the Iraq War illegal seem to have come out complaining that Kyle killed too many people and should be unhappy about himself (many of these complainers though are also associated with those who think the US government blew up the Twin Towers all in a puzzle-piece plan that will somehow, someday turn us into a One-World-Order with chips in our head. Computer chips not potato chips. Yes, yes, I heard all this.
BUT hey! This kid is freaken hero with some amazing sniper shots and it reads like you are sitting down talking to him. It is an insider's look at Iraq, the SEALs and snipercraft. It is eye-witness history. It is an account on how insurgents operate in that desert battlefield - how they walk, talk, sneak, shoot, bomb and even die. I had to read it for the entertainment and the intel.
War Fighting, The U.S. Marine Corps Book of Strategy, Tactics for Managing Confrontation -
Warrior Politics, by Robert D. Kaplan -
Whenever you feel disavowed, disenfranchised, disassociated, dispassionate, disapproved disinclined or any one of them disses. Do like me. Get these two books off the shelf and read and reread them.
They'll make you feel all warm and cozy inside, especially when they talk about that Pagan Ethos thing.
The Better Angels of our Nature, by Steven Pinker
Having read this 800-plus page book, I will say it is the greatest book EVER written by anyone on the subject of human violence. It is scientific, comprehensive and hard for me to describe. It makes all other books on the subject look like child's play and further renders books like Grossman's "On Killing" to a little para-military, handbook for pre-teens.
There is absolutely no doubt that the human race has become less violent than its origin centuries - our early centuries. This book proves without any doubt. Civilization and a pure, education is the cure. Tribal, uneducated counties are still left behind (any doubt of that) and ones twisted by over-zealous religions.
This guy - this book is sheer genius. Anyone who claims, even feigns a connection to self defense or crime, war or violence, needs to read this book, and then once a year.
A First Rate Madness, by Dr. Nassir Ghaemi
This is one of the most compelling books I've ever read. And as a side benefit it has the latest 2011, psychology methods, terms and discoveries. It is a history lesson about famous leaders and war, as well as a fascinating evaluation of leadership.
"The premise of Dr. Nassir Ghaemi's book about leadership and mental illness is simple. It need not be reiterated as frequently as Dr. Ghaemi repeats it. But he begins “A First-Rate Madness” by writing, “This book argues that in at least one vitally important circumstance insanity produces good results and sanity is a problem.” To put it only a shade differently: “When our world is in tumult, mentally ill leaders function best.” Or: “In the storm of crisis, complete sanity can steer us astray, while some insanity brings us to port.” - Janet Maslin, New York Times
Warrior, by Jim Hunt and Rob Risch
Frank Sturgis is probably most famous for being a convicted Watergate burglar. But he was far, far more. He was a Marine Raider in World War II, and Air Force Pilot, and an in Army Intelligence in post war Germany. He even fought beside Fidel Castro as a trusted friend in the Cuban Revolution until Castro became a communist, whereupon Sturgis became his lifelong enemy. Working with the CIA he ran numerous missions into Cuba and organized mayhem against the regime, including the Bay of Pigs. He was also doing mercenary work in South America and Angola, Africa. He has been linked to the Kennedy Assassination. This is his life story...
Need I say more?
The Believing Brain, by Michael Shermer -
From Ghosts and Gods to Politics and Conspiracies—How We Construct Beliefs and Reinforce Them as Truths
I am a skeptic. I am such a skeptic I am skeptical of my skepticism.That sounds like a Woody Allen line but that is mine. And Michael Shermer is a renown skeptic. I willl always read his books, but I am skeptical of them.
"A comprehensive theory on how beliefs are born, formed, nourished, reinforced, challenged, changed, and extinguished. This book synthesizes Dr. Shermer's 30 years of research to answer the questions of how and why we believe what we do in all aspects of our lives, from our suspicions and superstitions to our politics, economics, and social beliefs..."
It has become one in my top ten non-fiction books. It affects every aspect of life. Don't leave home and believe something without reading this first.
The Art of Modern Gunfighting, byScott Reitz
When you daydream of taking great shooting courses, your best choices are always a combination of great instructors that are also combat vets. People think of Clint Smith. Paul Howe. And one guy on this list has got to be Scott Reitz. Scott is a retired LAPD SWAT vet involved in numerous shootings and has been an LAPD shooting instructor. Part of his job was to dissect department shootings from a tactical perspective. His new book The Art of ModernGunfighting, Pistol, Volume 1 is a must buy and a keeper. Scott covers the essentials, in more depth and variety than usual instructors do. He also includes coverage of all kinds of handguns. Scott includes interesting LAPD history stories about events and tactics. And the book itself, an oversized paperback, is absolutely beautiful (I should know, I am in the book business). The how-to color photos are brilliant. This book is a must-get, must-read and a real keeper.
Stuntman, by Hal Needham
People today love to ask "who did the stunts in the 'Killer Jones' movie?" And some fan jumps up to say - "Johnny St. Sayoc Krav did! You know he's former SAS!" Well folks, actually teams of specialist stuntmen work on movies and your hero Johnny - who coincidentally just started his own new fighting system, WAS NOT ALONE. There are specialists who jump off buildings, specialists who drive cars, specialists who throw hook punches, who create specific fight scenes, who jump cars, specialists who fall in swimming pools, etc, etc, etc.
There is more than enough proof of this found inside the industry and Hal Needham is just one veteran stuntman who can tell you all about it. Needham writes, "During my stunt career, I broke fifty-six bones; I broke my back twice; I punctured a lung; I knocked out a few teeth; not to mention bruises, cuts, and multiple sprains."
He also suffered severe stunt-related hearing loss. A more upbeat way of saying all of this might be: "Tumbling, rolling, leaping, flying, the action figure that really reacts." That was the slogan for the Hal Needham Stunt Doll,probably the most macho doll ever made.
This was a fun read for me from start to finish. When I was a kid I watched Have Gun Will Travel in the 1950s and Needham was their head stuntman, doubling for Richard Boone and eventually through the years a whole host of stars, even John Wayne a time or two. He even directed Smokey and the Bandit and few other blockbusters you will recognize. Oh, and he was always part of a team of specialized stuntmen or as a director and producer had to use a whole host of specialists and teams for all kinds of stunts. It is a misnomer to say "they only used ol' Johnny St. Sayoc Krav" to do the stunts in this or that movie. It's always a team effort.
Funny back stories, Scary stories. Insider stories.
The Tell-Tale Brain, by V.S. Ramachandran
Probably this book is the newest and latest "brain" book that all of us need to read and know our way around. This is by the renown Neuroscientist V.S. Ramachandran. He covers numerous discoveries on the brain, learning, performance, fight and flight and a number of fascinating subjects. It is a must read if you wish to understand so mnay aspects of humanity, disorders and we we do.
S.O.G., by John L. Plaster
Probabably my number one favorite non-fiction Vietnam book is this one. And no...SOG does not stand for Special Operations Group...
"Surely all readers have heard of MACV SOG, the grand ultimate special operations formation of the Vietnam War. But how many of us-including SOG veterans-really know the history of the so-called "Studies and Observations Group"? Not many. There are some splendid novels by SOG vets...but never before has there been a single volume history like this book by SOG veteran John Plaster, and I can't remember when I've learned so much about Vietnam War special operations in one book as I have in this one..." - Ken Miller
Captive Warriors, by Sam Johnson
Many people are familiar with the POW story of Senator McCain, but there were many other POWs that became politicians. One of them is my Congressman Sam Johnson.
"If hell is here on earth, it is located on an oddly shaped city block in downtown Hanoi, Vietnam," writes Sam Johnson, who lived in that hell for seven years. Col. Samuel R. Johnson, U.S. Air Force, was shot down in April, 1966, while flying his twenty-fifth mission over North Vietnam. Shortly after his capture and imprisonment in the infamous Hanoi Hilton..."
The early 1900s. In a time just after the American gunfighter, and just before the noir detective, men with a certain experience were called upon to solve difficult problems - men like Johan Gunther, former military officer, ex-Texas lawman, and owner of special firm called Remedies in Ft Worth, Texas.
Its 1907. Having served under Teddy Roosevelt in San Juan, President Roosevelt calls upon his former Lieutenant to accompany a US and British Army expedition in faraway Afghanistan to find a missing Colonel. This Colonel was involved with the Russians in the “Great Game” of turning Afghanistan into a pivotal point in a land grab of all the riches of the Asian continent and creating seaport passages for the “new gold” that powers the new tanks and great new battleships - oil.
Join Gunther has he tracks renegade Indians in Montana and then battles foreign spies, vicious bloodthirsty tribesman and political madmen as he journeys across the Atlantic, through the straits of Gibraltar, into India and up the Khyber Pass for a climatic battle at a fortress atop the world.
"The great American hero returns, in a classic, big adventure that is Lonesome Dove meets indiana Jones. I got tired of waiting for these kinds of great books to return, so I wrote one instead. Gunther, like my other character Jack Kellog, is a serial character and he will return." - Hock
In Their Own Words, by Paul Cromwell
This is one of the most important books I have ever read. Now in its 4th edition (keep em coming!) Cromwell still collects inside stories about criminals and their crimes. All kinds of crimes and he collects statistical data.
The who, what, where, when how and why of criminals and crimes they commit. If you think you are teaching self-defense and don't have this book? You're not really.
It is like sitting around with the actual criminals as well as seasoned police vets. International readers? Keep in mind that these are American stories, but I still think much of the deep motivations and actions of these criminals are very much the same world-wide.
I bought the 1st edition in the 1996 in a used college bookstore in Austin, TX, which is my next point. When near such stores, go in them. Most universities have great books of all kinds. Look in their sociology and criminology sections.
Operation Dark Heart by Tony Shaffer
This is the book the Pentagon tried to buy up the whole printing on its release date. I now see why. Not only is thisa an interesting insider story about the intelligence operation in Afghanistan...BUT... the back story is really about Able Danger. The Clinton-era DOD operation that actually identified the 9-11 bombers. The info was passed up the chain and vanished. Tony was an Able Danger supervisor who innocently reported it all years later to the 911 Commission, thinking others must have already also. DOD was shamed and the Able Danger project washed away from the files. Once the news hit the DOD, Tony was a target to be discredited. This led to Tony's demise as a top-flight intelligence operative. So, this book is worth reading on many levels. Read more here Operation Dark Heart
Terror Cops, by Harry Keeble.
All in all an interesting read about today's British Police and their war on terror. It will be hard for American police to fully understand the inner workings of the UK police without some background in the culture and organization.
Keeble gets a gun! He must keep it locked up in the armory. Within the UK cop culture it is understandable the rhetoric we read every time he signs the gun out of the armory - as though he was strapping on a small nuke or something that would destroy half of the Midlands if he sneezed. Meanwhile, I know grannies in Georgia who carry pistolas for decades and have shot people's knee caps off who messed with them. Its all a cultural thing. You gotta be there.
But the book is good and the methods used in the "great fight" are interesting to learn. (no direct link available)
Hellhound on his Trail, by Hampton Sides
This is a captivating book on many levels by a great author about a great man Martin Luther King. Lots of deep research involved in covering this historical event. I found the parts about James Earl Ray's weird background his psyche, and his escapes the most interesting. It also reveals by the way, what a skunk Jessie Jackson was (and is).
Hands Up, by David Cook
It was either written by Cook himself or he dictated it to another. Although a purported autobiography? The voice of book is entirely in the third person. It seemed to me to be a bit, well, grandiose as third parties might brag about someone else, but the man was famous for capturing or killing some 50 felons of the day, according to newspapers, and records.
Cook devoted most of his life to law enforcement and compiled a set of basic rules in the 1870s and 1880s which became almost a standard guide among Western peace officers. While, it might be categorized as "self-preservation" or early street smarts, it is one of the first recorded western procedural standards that would be lost through time unless made popular from the notoriety of Cook's and his adventures. I am not sure Cook ever heard of Sir Robert Peele, or read the Peelien principles and invented his rules from isolated, whole cloth.
Cook's Law Enforcement Code of the West:
I. Never hit a prisoner over the head with your pistol, because you may afterwards want to use your weapon and find it disabled. Criminals often conceal weapons and sometimes draw one when they are supposed to have been disarmed.
II. Never attempt to make an arrest without being sure of your authority. Either have a warrant or satisfy yourself thoroughly that the man whom you seek to arrest has committed an offense.
III. When you attempt to make an arrest, be on your guard. Give your man no opportunity to draw a pistol. If the man is supposed to be a desperado, have your pistol in your hand or be ready to draw when you make yourself known. If he makes no resistance, there will be no harm done by your precaution. My motto has always been, "It is better to kill two men than to allow one to kill you."
IV. After your prisoner is arrested and disarmed, treat him as a prisoner should be treated-as kindly as his conduct will permit. You will find that if you do not protect your prisoners when they are in your possession, those whom you afterwards attempt to arrest will resist you more fiercely, and if they think they will be badly dealt with after arrest, will be inclined to sell their lives as dearly as possible.
V. Never trust much to the honor of prisoners. Give them no liberties which might endanger your own safety or afford them an opportunity to escape. Nine out of ten of them have no honor.
As popular as Cook was in and of his time, today one needs to be a bit of western lawman, historian to know of him and know his work, as it lays under those pop culture, tumbleweeds of the Earps, The Texas Rangers, Pat Garrett and other lawmen that history and semi-fiction have elevated to the top of the mesa. But some still recall Cook and his agency, like Clive Cussler. His 2007 bestseller western is called “The Chase” and is based on, guess what? A clever and effective detective working for a Denver Detective Agency.
"As kindly as his conduct would permit." Is a great Cook line and quite Peelien actually, in a cowboy kind of way. Rules to treat prisoners as well as our fellow man. Good guys. Bad guys. Crime and justice. Right and wrong. Some things can be framed so simply. Even through time. The human race as a whole, craves and builds law and order and religion. These are codes of the east and the west, and maybe are somewhat different for hemispheres, but are the big, genetic codes that seem essential to the survival of our species.
Remember those great action films of the 1980s? I do, and I sure miss them. Good versus evil with gratuitous sex and violence? Gunplay? Action. Shootings. Desperate battles against bad guy? But with more depth and just great, engaging writing?
This book is just a great police, action, adventure episode of a serial, police Texas, detective named Jack Kellog. The best!
The Shallows, by Nicholas Carr - What the Internet is Doing To Our Brains by Nicholas Carr
I heard about and saw this book, but worried about buying it because it seemed way too thick! Ahhh - that's a joke. This is a fantastic book not just about the subject matter of the high speed internet and the re-wiring and quick adaptation of our brains. It is full of training-related lessons on how our brain reacts and learns.
We have learned the hard core facts that the brain is way smarter than what that crude Hicks Law deduced in the 1950s. Chapter two of this book is a 2010 capsulization of the very latest discoveries of the brain. If you buy this book and only read and refer to chapter two alone it is well worth it. This book is a keeper and a re-read for many reasons.
Superfreakonomics, by Levitt and Dubner
Yes the follow-up to Freakonmics. That was a good book and this one is too. The premise of these books is really about the "best laid plans" of men and their surprising, "unintended consequences." These books are really about researching the unintended consequences of what we do. There is plenty of information that relates to crime and fighting. Do read it as well as the original.
Einstein's God, by Krista Tippett
Many of the Canadian seminar attendees are college and high school professors of philosophy. On a lunch break, I once made the statement that I am only interested in the "philosophy of philosophies. The profs let a laugh at the one, noting the irony. You know what I mean. The core thinking that makes all philosophy tick and what really makes humans seek philosophy. Why they settle on any one? By now I guess everyone here knows I feel the same way about martial arts. I am only interested in the "martial of martial arts." The flavor is just a flavor.
You might say I am not interested in religion per say but I am way more interested, fascinated and even obsessed with..."the religion of religions." I truly believe that the human race would be better off understanding the religion of religions rather than smothering themselves in just one.
Was Einstein religious? You bet. But his definition of God was not what the common religions worship. This is a great book of interviews from a variety of experts (yes, one is an expert on Albert's religious views) that are valuable, educational and thought-provoking. Plus, discussions of violence and psychology are also covered making it doubly interesting to me. Good book.
The Three Musketeers, by Alexandre Dumas
Every early summer for years now, I teach in Gent, Belgium. Each year Guy Franks attends. Guy moves well in all phases of martial training and does well with the stick and with the knife. I took to nicknaming him "D'artagnon" - the swashbuckling famous 4th Musketeer from the Dumas books of the Three Musketeers. This year at the end of the seminar he presented me with a wrapped present and once unwrapped I found the Dumas book! I read most of it on the flight back and finished it quickly.
In its day, the 1700s, the book appeared in a serialized magazine format, as did so many popular old books. And, one might say it was the pulp fiction of that day. Composed into a book, it now stands as a classic, as so many of these pulp action stories do such as the works of James Fenimore Cooper.
I read and enjoyed it. It is nostalgic not only because it is a classic but the writing style is classical and not like the "Dick and Jane" prose we see today in these redundant, shallow best sellers that flood out top ten lists.
As the title states, this book is about a new LT. taking over the unit right after the massacre. From a historical perspective it is an interesting read and has some action, but not as much as other Vietnam memoirs. One point stuck with me, as once brought forth by David Hackworth. Bombs and booby traps. Most of the men killed and wounded in this book, even Bray himself were by buried or concealed bombs. It seems that bombs haunt always haunt the troops of all wars.
The Creed of Violence, by Boston Teran
"Jake Slade walked across the dirt road, his spurs spinning with each step. A tumbleweed blew by as he made his play to quick draw..."
Is the western dead? These corny westerns? Look at the books shelves of both new and used books and see the very same titles for decades. Look at the trite dialogue and plot of the recent western movie Appaloosa.
Actually as far as books are concerned, the written western is not dead. The odd part is, you won't find westerns in the western section these days! The new breed of western writers are found in the generic fiction or literary section of bookstores because the newer breed of western writers are so much better it is hard to pigeon-hole them into the "Jake Slade" library category. The writers like Boston Teran are so good that they transcend the tired, old, simplistic pulp. In short, you'll find Larry McMurtry in the literally section.
I don't often list fiction books I read in our book club here, but I thought I would mention The Creed of Violence by Boston Teran as a great read with the spaghetti western flair and a talent for intelligent, deep prose. The so-called "western" is not dead, though there's killing between the covers. This would make a great movie.
Hidden Brain, by Shanker Vedantam -
Predictably Irrational, by Dan Ariely -
Two books on the brain and why we do what we do. Two of the most important books I have ever read. Its about selection, but its actually about politics, life and sex and well...you name it. The Hidden Brain really relates to training the hidden mind and hidden memory and also the hidden performance. Once again...sorry Hick's Law. Bye-bye, Hick's Law. Our capabilities go far beyond what was believed in the 1950s on up to about 2001. I know many of you read all these sales books and belong to sales programs to better sell your school and courses? THIS material is at the real core of what people think they want and want they really want. AND! How irrational we all can be on money, health, business, habits and life choices. Have a read. Ignore these books at your own risk. Lots of studies are documented by these two doctors and specialists on the subject. Pass on the next sales course and read these two books. In fact, read these two books before you do anything significant with your life!
What the Dog Saw, by Malcolm Gladwell
There a number of Malcolm Gladwell books worth reading. The last bestseller, a study of various Outliers (folks who work and experiment on the fringes) was interesting and contained a chapter on achieving expertise in any field, including aspects of physical performance. The general premise being that it takes 10,000 hours of practice. It is a chapter well worth reading. What the Dog Saw is another collection of essays, and one is the intense powers of observations dogs watch humans - their facial expressions and body movements - which links into the virtually hypnotic ways that certain humans move. There are scientists studying this very thing and claim it is at the core of success, not just for athletes but for people in general. Another essay covers the selection of sports candidates for professional teams. This is an excellent look on how to evaluate talent and see it beyond very highly situational aspects. And perhaps the best for us, a chapter on the science of "choking." Why and when people fail to perform. Another chapter is about the truth and failures and flimflams of FBI and other "criminal profilers." Its what every insider wants to say! The other chapters are also very interesting. There is always something interesting in a Malcolm Gladwell book.
These two books are similar and a kind I enjoy reading. Historical, 1st person narratives. The Empire Made Me covers the life of a policeman in Shanghai through the 20s and 30s. Yes, in the
era though they are hardly mentioned. Any WW II combatives zealot would love to read this book for background. The second, Bugles and a Tiger is another Brit officer sent to lead a unit of Ghurkas in the northern India/Afghanistan skirmishes in the 1930s. They are full of history and deeply rich in observational remarks. Both books are rare and will be hard to find.
Just 2 Seconds, by Gavin Debecker-
In the President's Secret Service, by Ronald Kessler -
Gavin Debecker. He both interests me and disappoints me, and this book Just 2 Seconds, is about the critical 2 seconds a nearby protection specialist has to interfere with a assassin. Well, the 187 pages he's written is woven with zen remarks and several mentions of Bruce Siddle (whose expert candle has long extinguished in my eyes) and Killology poster boy Dave Grossman, who seems to have a love/hate relationship with many police trainers. Lots of people and police trainers (me included) have trouble with many Grossman proclamations. Mention these two guys as your main resource experts and you've lost me. Debecker should be quoting research from people like Dr. Daniel Goleman, author of such deep, ground-breaking books on Social Intelligence and Emotional Intelligence. These first 187 pages have a few interesting points. The remaining 400 pages of Just 2 Seconds is a list of attack attempts, each a paragraph, which offer no specific details or tactics, and are therefore, somewhat, largely worthless from an educational stand point. I want tactical details of each event! I wouldn't write the book if I didn't have them. Still, I am sure Debecker's company does a great job in protecting people. It puts me in the awkward position once again of telling you that while this is a must read for someone in the profession? It is still a disappointment.
Or, readers should get the second, "protection" book here, In the President's Secret Service, which might actually have more practical protectional advice and behind the scenes procedures, along with juicy tidbits of gossip on the presidents (the most unpopular? Jimmy Carter!). So. If you are in the protection business, read these two books.
This was a rousing good and thorough history book. It details the life and times of Marine commander Evans Carlson, architect of the Raiders and their raid attacks in the South Pacific. I'll bet very few people know the Marine version of the Chinese “Gung Ho” phrase. Carlson worked with the Chinese military as they fought off Japan and learned the political ways of operation. Gung Ho means “work together” and each night units had nightly gung ho meetings explaining all aspects of their operations and mission. Carlson used it with his earlier Raiders but was declared a communist by many Marine leaders. As the war raged on, and Carlson was back in the USA, the Gung Ho “communist” approach was dropped from the Raiders, as were many aspects of the "quick raid" as the Raiders were laden down with more conventional larger weapons and "chess piece" missions. This is an amazing story.
We Were Soldiers Once and Young, by Harold G. Moore and Joseph L. Galloway
These last two months I have read 11 true, first person narrative books about Vietnam. In this venture, I read this one twice and it stands out as a special story. Full of classsic battlefield action. (Was a Mel Gibson movie)
Knife Counter-Knife Combatives, by W. Hock Hochheim
294 pages - Over 1,400+ how-to photos * FULL COLOR COVER AND INTERIOR
From standing to the ground, from grip-to-grip, situations to scenarios, the most comprehensive knife book on combatives you will find anywhere, at any time!
25 years of Deadly Force Encounters by Law Enforcement
Brubaker is a former FBI agent. This is a great, in-depth study of moment-by-moment police shootings and how they unfolded. Full of important photos, interviews and materials to study. The cover is a bit misleading though. You think you are getting 25 years of all USA police shootings, but actually it is only the state of Minnesota. THAT is explained on the back cover. Which is okay in a way, because these situations are typical of shootings all over the USA.
Triggernomentry, by Eugene Cunningham
This title sound familar? Years back this very old, non-fiction book was often quoted by WW II combatives people, folks like Rex Applegate and other point shooters as a reference to reality, combat shooting. It was a hard book to get back then, but it seems to have been re-released in the late 1990s with a new cover, new intro and is not that hard to find. The book is full of "wild west" stories of gunfighters and their observations on what happened to them. If you are already familiar with these named shootists, there are newer, better, individual biographies published about them now. But this book was once a collector's item in old combatives circles.
The Science of Fear, by Daniel Gardner -
The Survivors Club, by Ben Sherwood -
I have taken some heat through the years when I more or less dismiss Gaven deBecker's Gift of Fear book as sort of a boring crime prevention pamphlet with cool stories. Now more then ever this true with the latest, in-depth publications on fear and situational surving such as these two books. These books also try to be mass-market, story-tellers per situation, but the infromation is packed in science and power research, plus mentionings of a long list of other experts and books to absorb. And, as usual, sadly, the police and military readers must once again throw out and re-assess the often misleading and wrong information we were once told by uneducated experts to be gospel, training staples.
Advanced Patrol Tactics, by Michael T. Rayburn -
Advanced Vehicle Stop Tactics, by Michael T. Rayburn -
These two police books are keepers, not just keepers of the faith but of the safe! They are full of organized tactical measures that need introduction, review, memorization and religious practice. Two of my favorites to read over and over. By Officer Michael Rayburn of Looseleaf Law Publications
A Bloody Business, by Colonel Gerald Schumacher
This title and cover speaks for itself. Its worth reading for historical reasons. After reading about this and others, talking to vets and watching documentaries, it would appear that the most dangerous job in Irag was convoy security. This book, as does the Highway To Hell, listed below, covers these problems.
Deep Survival, Who Lives, Who Dies, by Laurence Gonzales -
Surviving the Extremes, by Kenneth Kamler, M.D.-
These are two great survival books and must-reads! It carries "self-defense" to the next step of "survival/self defense," and tells some great military and civilian stories in the process. I have read both these books twice in the last three years.
An Intimate History of Killing, by Joanna Bourke
This book is far superior than most others and leaves books like the challenged Grossman's On Killing, in the research dust. Called a "tour de force" on the subject, by British Professor History Joanna Burke.
On Combat, by Lt. Col Dave Grossman -
On Killing, by Lt. Col. Dave Grossman -
I poured over these two books with a magnifying glass and slide rule. When Killology's Dave Grossman first published On Killing, it began as a slow-boiled soup that eventually got around to the policing industry. On Killing is a fairly nuts and bolts information book from a compilation of various military facts and studies, but when Grossman draws his conclusions, he faces some heated debate. Debates he still just can't seem to win after all these years. Points he has fudged on now.
By now, most police, military and even gun people are aware of these controversies. Next came, On Combat, a book full of even more conclusions and laced with "Colonel Dave's " patented, self-indulgence and smarminess. Yet, with enough technical wiggle-room to possible skate on all the aforementioned controversies? Just a wiggle. The only redeeming value this book might have had was a rescue by the talented and experienced Loren Christensen, the listed co-author, whose voice was not found in the Grossman 1st person narrative of this book. "Where's Loren?" He's as lost as a back-officer editor on this? I think Loren has three times the common sense and savvy than all of Grossman's extrapolations combined.
While these books are must-reads if you are in our industry, when Grossman diverts from collected facts and begins to make his own Grossman-esque personal conclusions and deductions? Start investigating. I don't trust Grossman on face value anymore, even though there are still enough gushing police around to keep him on the celebrity darling of some of the police, after-dinner-speech, circuit. His "Bullet-Proof" mind tour is really just a standard speech you'll hear from any good police trainer. For more on the pro and con opinions of Grossman, read Click here
Highway to Hell, by John Geddes
"Former SAS veteran "John Geddes" (not his real name) recalls his adventures and ms-adventuresworking in security in Iraq. Good action. Good history. Really good insider info to take note of. And if you are paying attention, lots of training/how-to is told inside of the experiences and stories. John is a CQC Dispatches reader. . Worth reading. I would tell anyone interested in contracting or just modern, adventure to read his book."
BOO! Culture, Experience, and the Startle Reflex, by Ronald C. Simons
This is a college textbook that blows all the common, outdated police and martial "startle" and "flinch" reflex training we see today, right off the charts. There are three kinds of startles, visual (sight), audible (sound) physical (touch). Trainers have mistakenly adopted the one sudden, sound startle with its knee bend, its ducked head and raised arms, as the response toall visual and physical startles. Incoming visual attacks are "direction specific responses" startles. When a fly heads for your eye, you simply swat the fly.
Blood Lessons, byCharles Remsberg
Another in a long line of great works by survival pioneer Charles Remsburg. The book is full of violent encounters and the mistakes made and/or circumstances that occurred that were not mistakes, but had bad luck and bad outcomes. The book is a "getter and a keeper and re-reader." I would rather not see a preface by Dave Grossman but the odd and sad fact his name is mentioned on the cover and has a preface "is-what-it-is." But Remsberg and this great book stand on its own. (I was unable to find this book on amazon, so it's not listed at left.)
Rule the Night Win the Fight, by Edward M. Santos
This book is the very latest and greatest collection of information both tactical and medical/optomic on the subject of low-light gun fighting. It is well worth reading and having handy, especially the power point charts at the end of the book that you can use for your notes and training. (I was unable to find this book on amazon, so it's not listed at left.) (no Amazon link available)
Blackwater, by Jeremy Scahill
Each time I picked up this book to buy it, there was some new news making that version somewhat outdated and obsolete. Then it came out in paperback - new and revised - but then Erik Prince appeared before Congress! I waited again. This newest version covered this Congressional testimony. I got it.The author's viewpoint is not unbiased but the book is full of extraneous information about the international contractor business, and the deaths of the Blackwater employees and related lawsuit issues. It also has a ton of insider information on the CIA.
I think that if you wish to discuss the subjects of contractors and so-called "mercenaries," or are in the personal protection business, you need to read this book to have a working knowledge of the industry and the forces working for and against these types of private enterprises. On another level this is a fascinating, success story of a martial business.
I feel like I am smarter in current events, politics and business for reading the book.
Carnage and Cluture, by Victor Davis Hanson
From Publishers Weekly - "The Western way of war is so lethal precisely because it is so amoral shackled rarely by concerns of ritual, tradition, religion, or ethics, by anything other than military necessity." Ranging from Salamis in 480 B.C. to the Tet offensive in Vietnam, Hanson, a California State at Fresno classics professor, expands the scope of his The Western Way of War: Infantry Battle in Classical Greece, offering a provocative look at occidental aggression as illustrated by nine paradigmatic battles between Western and non-Western armies. Hanson sheds the overly romanticized view of battles as nationalist or ethnic honorifics and vividly portrays the deadly killing machines Western powers evolved for the destruction of non-Western opponents. Throughout, Hanson stresses the technology based lethality of Western warfare, and the role of individual initiative.."
This book is in my top ten books of all time. Great history by one of my favorite authors Victor Davis Hanson. Click here Hansen's grand ability to recognize and analyze sweeping history is an uncanny genius.
Tiger Force, by Michael Sallah, and Mitch Weiss
This book is a John Kerry/John Murtha dream come true. A Pulitzer Prize winning expose on a Vietnam fighting unit that exposed hideous atrocities. One could almost see Kerry and Murtha jumping up and down yelling, "there! See!" Publishers Weekly said-
"Operating in what was defined as enemy country, the platoon engaged in an orgy of atrocities that ranged from taking ears, scalps and teeth to the mass killing of unarmed civilians. Conservative estimates count victims in the hundreds. From 1971 to 1975, the army mounted an investigation, but decided "nothing beneficial"... and so the story remained the stuff of rumor until Toledo Blade reporters Michael Sallah, Mitch Weiss and John Mahr responded to a tip and started interviewing former Tiger Force members..."
This is a disgusting book, but I guess we have to read it, huh?
The Brain that Changes Itself, byNorman Doidge, M.D.
This 2007 publication turns older, even somewhat modern, common perceptions and limitations on the human brain upside down. Strap in and read it, and be prepared to be both surprised and shocked.
And take your old notes on crap like Hicks' Law, the Startle-Flinch-Reflex and other heretofore, training barriers and smash them to bits with these new boots.
Devil May Care, by Sebastian Faulks
I hardly ever read fiction. When I was 11 or 12 years old, I read my first James Bond, paperback book. From Russia with Love. It was my first "adult" book. I struggled though the big words and...stuff. So, I felt a compulsion to read this new, Flemming-Family approved anniversarynovel. It is set in the 1960s! And picks us where Fleming left off. And...its okay. Its like a commemorative because it reminds you of so many action sequences in the prior books. There is even a bad guy with a Dr. No glove that conceals a monkey's paw for a hand. His chief henchman is not Goldfnger's Odd job but rather an oriental killer named, "Chagrin." There is a big fight on a Russian train. A guy gets sucked out of a plane. Just when you think you've exhausted this espionage memory lane? Faulks throws you yet another 007 commemorative. James Bond is an original fiction phenom - from which countless versions have spawned.
Its light, shallow and if you don't picture Sean Connery as the 60s Bond that you already know walking through it all, the characters are just paper-thin. But I smiled often and do not regret reading it. There you go.
Jim Cirillo's Tales of the Stakeout Squad, by Paul Kirchnor
In tribute to a great American law enforcement figure, Paul Kirchner wrote this book after Jim was killed in a car wreck. As a kid growing up in the New York City metro area in the 1950s and 1960s I was fascinated by the adventures and cases of the NYPD and Jim is a part of this rich history. Paul covers the oral histories of the squad and recalls some of the details of the shootings. A rich treasure trove for the tactician. I also especially enjoyed the chapter on how radically Jim shot and ran the typical gun courses of the times, to the shock of the traditional shooters watching. He's a "been there and done that" veteran and wouldn't play the unreal shooting games.
A G-Man's LIfe, by Mark Felt
Felt was Deep Throat! This book passed rather much unheralded in the marketplace. I enjoyed the first half because it covered a young man's escapades as an FBI agent in various cities in the USA. But the second half covers his high command position in the FBI during the end of the Hoover era and Nixon's Watergate. I found this portion profoundly sad. The frustrating struggles he contended with, the conspiracies, the attempts by the White House to control the investigations! The suicide of his wife. The trials trying to convict him of wiretapping malfeasance. This is a book of important, law enforcement history. When I shut the book for the last time, a profound, ironic sadness overcame me for this man's trials and tribulations. And since it put an insider's human face and a human heart on Watergate, I felt sad for an era of our USA. Its an important book on many levels.
Felt died in December, 2008 at the age of 95. Click here
Combat Handgunnery 5th Edition, by Massad Ayoob
For a period of years Karuse Publications - a house responsible for many gun magazines - printed somewhat annual, book editions of this title, Combat Handgunnery and for this particular book in 2002, they asked Massod Ayoob to write. Once on a lengthy trip I had the time to really dissect this book and found it chock full of photos and interesting information. It became one of my favorite handgun and tactics books. It is probably cobbled together from his numerous, valuable articles, but that makes each section more refined and concise. Massod is a true American pioneer and a human data base of gun fighting, gun violence and tactics. This 255-page book is a keeper and a re-reader and a re-reader and read it once again later. (Amazon may have this)
Congo Mercenary, by Mike Hoare
I thoroughly enjoyed this first person narrative of the famous and infamous Mike Hoare as he lead a "paid Army" through several Congo Wars in the 1960s. The 318 page book is a great and ugly insider look at recruitment, logistics, politics, torture, violence, murder and combat versus the Simbas. The book captures the period and the place with excellent flavor.
The Last 100 Yards: The NCOs Contribution to Warfare, By H. J. Poole
Veteran H. J. Poole epitomizes the voice of the veteran NCO. A voice the military often fails to hear. He has authored a series of these style books, published through Posterity Press (but - warning - there are several Posterity Presses). He collects intelligence on how the enemy lives, thinks and operates.
I have enjoyed each book. This one is the first. Poole presents the information in what some have complained as a "slightly guerilla and shotgun style" but the information is just what the troop (and the Pentagon) needs. I found this oversized, 399-page book in a bookstore in Camp Pendleton when on a training session teaching there in 2001. I rarely see this anywhere and have had a real, hard time finding his other books. They all are keepers. I did find this page with some listed for sale. Click here for Poole
Blood and Thunder, by Hampton Sides
- Heavily researched, non-fiction epic of how the west was really won and manifest destiny. It also does much to destroy the modern, "hippy-myth" of the nature-loving, "green," peaceful American Indian, and reveals how many tribes murder, torture and slave-take, amongst themselves AND the new settlers and explorers. This give-and-take escalates into the Army vs. Indians wars, where brutal debauchery and slaughter existed on both sides and EQUAL levels.- Hock
Snake Oil Science, by Barker Bausell
At first I thought this book was just about alternative medicines with a little support psychology. But it is way more. The reasons that medical testing can go horribly awry, the reasons that people believe that wishbones, copper bracelets, bark from a chinese tree, even, oh yes...things like prayer and acupuncture, have crimped or cured their ailments, are a varied lot. Unpredictable. Once you grasp this research, you learn that the same selection and evaluation processes are used by mankind to select religions, politics, mates, governments, socks and party hats. This book, by skeptic and Dr. Barker Bausellis, a bio statistician with the University of Maryland, is one of the most important books I have ever read.
The Afghan Campaign, by Steven Pressfield
From the author of Gates of Fire and the Virtues of War. This is an historical novel, but you can believe every pebble overturned in the tale is based on research and truth ala Professor Pressfield. It is a first-person narrative, page-turner about Alexander the Great's invasion into Afghanistan, as told from a soldier's eyes. I usually pass on fiction, but this is epic! Epric. Epic. - Hock
The River War. by Winston Churchill
Is there anybody better than ol' Churchill? This is an account of Churchill's combat experiences as a young Lancer in the desert war of the Sudan. Remember his speeches? He is among the greatest of writers with a piercing eye and a rapier tongue and this book of his escapades, those he did, those he witnessed, are written like the master wordsmith that he was. I hung on every exotic word. This exciting and amazing book can actually now be downloaded off the internet for free.