Friday, October 16, 2009

Topic: On the Importance of Books

10-second review; The headline in the Wall Street Journal for October 7, 2009, reads: “Behind Afghan War Debate, A Battle of Two Books Rages.” (Internet version)

Source: Peter Spiegel and Jonathan Weisman. Wall Street Journal, October 7, 2009, Internet Version.

Quote: “The struggle to set the future course of the Afghan war is becoming a battle of two books—both suddenly popular among White House and Pentagon brain trusts.”

Summary: The two books, Lessons in Disaster by Gordon M. Goldstein and A Better War by Lewis Sorley, offer different interpretations of strategies discussed during the Vietnam War and are possible strategies to use in the Afghan war. Essentially the issue is whether to follow the military experts’ advice without question, the surge, or to try some form of working with factions of the Taliban which might not be committed to Muslim extremism.

Comment: The reason I highlight the books being debated is that one purpose of books is ideas, ideas that cannot be explored as effectively in any other medium. Books and the ideas in them are relevant to today’s problems. Pictures and films and talk shows cannot explore ideas in the way that thoughtful readers can use ideas by reading books. RayS.

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