October 31, 2006

Books to Read While the Algae Grow in Your Fur, October 2006

Ray Bradbury, Something Wicked This Way Comes
Why is it that every time I re-read this, the boys seem a bit more remote, and the old man a bit closer?
Stephen King, Cycle of the Werewolf
Mind candy.
Karen Rose Cercone, Steel Ashes
Mind candy. First in the series of which I reviewed one book (Blood Tracks) at length. There was a third, Coal Bones, but apparently the series never went any further. This is a shame: they're good, fun, books, and after a bit more than a year of living in Pittsburgh I enjoy them even more. (For instance, Amberson Avenue, where one of the villains in Steel Ashes lives, is two blocks from my house.)
Karin Slaughter, Triptych
Mind candy. Not part of her regular series. To say anything beyond what you can read on the cover blurb would spoil an intricately-constructed series of surprises, so I won't. Like all Slaughter's books, good but disturbing.
Stephen Biddle, Military Power: Explaining Victory and Defeat in Modern Battle
Or: the "revolution in military affairs" happened in 1918. More exactly, even early 20th century weaponry, used at capacity, sufficed to create an utterly leathal "storm of steel". What Biddle calls the "modern system" consists of the tactics and operational skills which let armies nonetheless survive and manuveur on the battlefield --- extensive exploitation of all available cover while moving, detached units, combined arms, defense in depth, etc., etc. Biddle's argument is that success in mastering the modern system goes a lot further towards explaining who wins battles than does superiority in resources and materiel, or even superior technology per se. He makes his case through nicely-selected case studies, statistical studies on what systematic data exists, and some not-crazy simulations. (The statistical studies are good by the standards of applied social science, but they use regression, rather than some method more appropriate to causal inference.) Biddle sounds extremely plausible to me, i.e., someone who admittedly knows nothing about military science. One of the big limitations, though, is that he's explicitly confining himself to land warfare among regular armies --- nothing about urban warfare, guerrillas, etc...
Terry Pratchett, The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents; The Wee Free Men; A Hat Full of Sky
Strongly recommended for weekends when you are feeling glum and mildly ill. Many thanks to "Uncle Jan" for copies!

Books to Read While the Algae Grow in Your Fur; Pleasures of Detection, Portraits of Crime

Posted at October 31, 2006 23:59 | permanent link

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