About Me

My Photo
I saw active service in conventional, clandestine and covert units of the South African Defence Force. I was the founder of the Private Military Company (PMC) Executive Outcomes in 1989 and its chairman until I left in 1997. Until its closure in 1998, EO operated primarily in Africa helping African governments that had been abandoned by the West and were facing threats from insurgencies, terrorism and organised crime. EO also operated in South America and the Far East. I believe that only Africans (Black and White) can truly solve Africa’s problems. I was appointed Chairman of STTEP International in 2009 and also lecture at military colleges and universities in Africa on defence, intelligence and security issues. Prior to the STTEP International appointment, I served as an independent politico-military advisor to several African governments. I am a contributor to The Counter Terrorist magazine. All comments in line with the topics on this blog are welcome. As I consider this to be a serious look at military and security matters, foul language and political or religious debates will not be entertained on this blog.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

BOOKS I RECOMMEND

I have had countless mails from numerous visitors asking for books I would recommend on military, intelligence and other related issues.

Whereas I do not want to simply write pages of book titles, I have decided to give some of my most valuable books on these issues. Obviously, there are many, many more good books on these subjects. Please note that these books are not listed in any order of preference or importance.

Military:

1. War and our world – John Keegan
2. On War – Carl von Clausewitz
3. On the German Art of War – Bruce Condell and David T. Zabecki
4. Understanding Modern Warfare – David Jordan et al
5. The Art of War – Sun Tsu
6. War of the Flea – Richard Taber
7. Mobiele Oorlogvoering (Mobile Warfare) – Col Roland de Vries
8. The Bear went over the Mountain – Lester W Grau
9. Men against fire – SLA Marshall
10. Seven Pillars of Wisdom - T.E. Lawrence
11. Battle tactics of Napoleon and his Enemies – Brent Nosworthy
12. European Armies and the Conduct of War – Hew Strachan
13. Terrorism – Barry Davies (BEM)
14. War in Peace – (Numerous contributors) Orbis Publishing
15. From the Danube to the Yalu – Gen Mark Clark

Intelligence:

1. Aquarium – Victor Suvorov
2. By way of deception – Victor Ostrovsky
3. The Puppet Masters – John Hughes-Wilson
4. Veil – Bob Woodward
5. Memoirs of a Spy Master – Markus Wolf
6. The World of Espionage – Bruce Norman
7. Legacy of Ashes – Tim Weiner
8. Spy Master – Oleg Kalugin
9. Gideon’s Spies – Gordon Thomas
10. The Double Cross System – J C Masterman
11. Hit Team – David Tinnin
12. I was Stalin’s Agent – W G Krivitsky
13. Secrets of German Espionage – Bernard Newman
14. The Truth about Dirty Tricks – Chapman Pincher
15. The Intelligence War (Numerous contributors) Salamander Book

General:

1. The Prince – Niccolo Machiavelli
2. The Art of the Samurai – Yamamoto Tsunetomo
3. The Coming Anarchy – Robert D Kaplan
4. The Seven Military Classics of ancient China – Ralph D Sawyer
5. Power: The 48 Laws – Robert Greene
6. The Quotable Soldier – Lamar Underwood
7. Victory Secrets of Attila the Hun – Wes Roberts, PhD
8. The Master Strategist – Ketan J Patel
9. Battle – R G Grant
10. The 36 Secret Strategies of the Martial Arts – Hiroshi Moriya
11. Oxford guide to Battles – Richard Holmes & Martin Marix Evans
12. The Chinese Martial Code – A L Sadler
13. Confessions of a Political Hitman – Stephen Marks
14. Military Power – Salamander Books
15. The Warrior’s Honor – Michael Ignatieff

African Military History:

1. Total Defence – Neil Orpen
2. Buffalo Soldiers - Col Jan Breytenbach
3. The Silent War – Reg Shay & Chris Vermaak
4. Commando – Deneys Reitz
5. To the bitter end – Emanoel Lee
6. South Africa’s Border War – Willem Steenkamp
7. Continent Ablaze – John W Turner
8. Trekking on – Deneys Reitz
9. Umkhunto We Sizwe - Thula Bopela and Daluxolo Luthuli
10. Conflicting Missions: Havana, Washington, Pretoria - Piero Gleijeses
11. 32 Battalion – Piet Nortje
12. Warfare by Other Means – Peter Stiff
13. Africa’s Superpower – Paul Moorcraft
14. Images of War – Peter Badcock
15. Flying Cheetahs in Korea – Dermot Moore & Peter Bagshawe

I trust that these books may serve you as well as they have served me.

30 comments:

UNRR said...

This post has been linked for the HOT5 Daily 12/13/2009, at The Unreligious Right

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Thank you, UNRR.

Rgds,

Eeben

Jake said...

Great stuff Eeben. I'll put a few of these on my Christmas wish list. Truth is I could have done with this list a week or so ago ;)

Jake

Buffalo Soldier 9 said...

How do you keep a people down? ‘Never' let them 'know' their history.

Keep telling that history; read some great military history.

The 7th Cavalry got their butts in a sling again after the Little Big Horn Massacre, fourteen years later, the day after the Wounded Knee Massacre. If it wasn't for the 9th Cavalry Buffalo Soldiers, there would of been a second massacre of the 7th Cavalry. Read the book, “Rescue at Pine Ridge”, and visit website/great military history, http://www.rescueatpineridge.com

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Books can hold so many lessons to us all, Jake, especially when it comes to history. Yet, for some reason, we seem to be continually redesigning the wheel.

Rgds,

Eeben

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Absolutely correct, Buffalo Soldier 9. When history is lacking, we seem to lose an understanding of ourselves and our roots.

Thanks for the book title and the link. I shall definately give this a visit and a read.

Rgds,

Eeben

borr1945 said...

Thanks for the list, it will
keep me busy for awhile.

ken

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

You’re welcome, Ken. As we all know, there are thousands of really good books out there with valuable information and lessons for us. These are just some of mine choices.

Rgds,

Eeben

Monkey Spawn said...

What about this one - "Executive Outcomes - Against All Odds"?

Not on the list?

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

That one must have slipped the nest, Monkey Spawn. Seriously though, I didn’t think it good form to include my own book on the list – although it is rather special to me.

Rgds,

Eeben

matt said...

Hey Eeben, that's an outstanding list, and just in time for Christmas.

On another note, I have noticed that the media is starting to react to this R2P or Responsibility to Protect thing I keep harping on over at the blog.
Scott Horton of Harpers wrote this article and I thought I would pass it on to you.

My thoughts are that we can clearly see the damage and crimes against humanity that has resulted by employing Blue Berets or UN troops to do these missions in places like the Congo. I argue, and will continue to argue, that PMC's that have capability, are a resource that can certainly do the job.

Sierra Leone and EO's accomplishments there is a prime example of how effective PMC's can be. For the international community to ignore that, makes the words 'responsibility to protect' hollow and pathetic. It also makes us a witness to a crime that could be prevented. It's like not using the gun in your hand, to stop a criminal that is in the process of raping and murdering an innocent.

It is just another phrase used to raise more money for worthless organizations who specialize in getting donations, yet suck at actually saving lives and ending conflict in Africa. It pisses me off royally. Take care and here is the article below.

http://www.harpers.org/archive/2009/12/hbc-90006226

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

I am pleased that you like the list, Matt – and thanks for the link. I found it rather interesting to read.

I think this responsibility to protect stretches far wider than mere re-active protection. In the majority of conflicts we see today, the civilians are the ones who suffer the most. To protect them, one needs to be pro-active, and that means hunting down those who wish to cause terror and mayhem and stop them, period. One cannot negotiate with swine like that.

My belief is that the UN Peacekeeping Dept is bloated, incompetent and not interested in actually achieving anything. In fact, the damage they do (Africa is a perfect example) borders on extreme crime as they happily stand by and watch horrendous acts being committed on locals – and do nothing. Just take a look at their actions in Rwanda, Angola, DRC, Sierra Leone....But don’t even get me started on those ration-thieves...

The entire Responsibility to Protect may be noble but the manner in which it is implemented is far from noble. But then again, it is just another new phrase which, as you rightly point out, is aimed at collecting more donations for more worthless organisations. It goes hand-in-hand with another misnomer – “ceasefire”.

I enjoyed reading your recent interview/comments on PMCs. Keep up your good work.

Rgds,

Eeben

Krijn said...

A nice list there, Eeben. A bit much for one holliday season, so maybe some books will have to wait untill next summer!

Having read some of the books -Ignatieff springs to mind and that marvelous account of Israeli terrorist hunting in Hit Team- I'd like to add "The coming anarchy" by Kaplan to your list. It has about the same subject matter as Ignatieffs "Warriors' Honour", but extrapolates into the future.

A question: Why not "Blackhawk Down" or the book on Operation Barras (don't remember the author because I lent it out and never got it back...)?

K.

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

I did list “The coming anarchy” Krijn, which I too enjoyed. But, as you know, there are so many good books out there that one draw up pages and pages of them.

“Operation Certain Death” written by Damien Lewis also covered Operation Barras in some detail and was a reference I used in my book. I didn’t list “Black Hawk Down” as I didn’t regard the episode as a very successful mission.

Rgds,

Eeben

Krijn said...

...Note to self: Read first, react later, you stupid pax!...

Sorry about that, Eeben. Aren't books on failed operations interesting? Learning from someone elses mistakes is even better than learning from your own. Often less painfull!

So in that respect I like 'Blackhawk Down' and also 'Hell in a very small place'. I also have a good Dutch book on Screbrenica, but since I'm typing this at barracks I can't remember the exact title. I don't know whether you speak Afrikaans and maybe read Dutch, but it is PROPER lesson in how NOT TO set up a safe haven.

Sincerely,

K.

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

I am usually very good at doing exactly the same, Krijn.

Yes, books on such operations are interesting, especially the “how not to...” part. However, I also had a lot of insight into the entire Mogadishu operation before it went down. I suppose at the end of the day, I ascribe my reticence to “warnings given freely but happily ignored”. You are quite right: Better to learn from someone else’s mistakes than your own, especially in military matters. I haven’t read “Hell in a very small place” so I shall look for that one too.

I do read Afrikaans and understand a bit of Dutch so I shall cast my net out for the book you mention. Thanks for also bringing it to my attention.

Enjoy your day in the barracks.

Rgds,

Eeben

greendemon said...

Hallo Eeben,

I have saved your extensive list for my future reading pleasure.

I would like to recommend to you three excellent authors on - among other things - asymmetric or 4th Generation Warfare:

1) John Boyd
(best known as the father of the OODA loop)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Boyd_%28military_strategist%29

2) Martin van Creveld
wikipedia: "Van Creveld has lectured or taught at virtually every strategic institute, military or civilian, in the Western world, including the U.S. Naval War College, most recently in December, 1999 and January, 2000."
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martin_van_Creveld

3) William S. Lind
wikipedia: "one of the originators of Fourth Generation War (4GW) theory"
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_S._Lind

These gentlemen will one day be widely recognised as the top military thinkers of the late 20th century, and will regain their reference status. Their opinions carry much weight with the Coalition generals or politicos responsible for the Afghanistan-Iraq debacle.

greendemon said...

Also - if it's not considered spamming - I would like to recommend William S. Lind's reading list (or instruction "canon", as used in USMC training); it can be found in two parts, here:
http://www.lewrockwell.com/lind/lind27.html

and here:
http://www.lewrockwell.com/lind/lind28.html

I hope this is of assistance to somebody who has to make decisions in the field.

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Many thanks for your recommendations, greendemon.

I must confess that reading Martin van Creveld’s works, I did not find much new in it. There are however quite a few old concepts given new names but then again, that is only my opinion. I shall follow up the other 2 gentlemen’s works.

Whereas it is not fair for me to criticise, I must wonder if the work of MvC is that valuable given that the Iraq/Afghanistan conflicts have been going on for longer than World War 2. I have always believed that those two strategies were fatally flawed from the beginning.

Rgds,

Eeben

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Many thanks, greendemon. I am sure no one can complain about that – and I certainly don’t regard such important references as “spamming”.

Rgds,

Eeben

greendemon said...

Correction - I meant to type "not much weight" in my first post!

I agree that much of what MvC and the others mentions about warfare is not new - but what is, in war? I think their work is mainly useful as clean, formalised reference material.

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Thanks for the correction, greendemon.

I agree that not much is new in war, hence my previous post where I took issue with the new terminology that has lately come to the fore. As reference material, I agree with you that their works have a definite place.

Rgds,

Eeben

drew8ear said...

Thanks for the book list! I'll enjoy working through it.

Andrew

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Happy reading, Andrew.

Rgds,

Eeben

Kaye said...

Hello Eeben,

In my last response I promised to be back with the titles on Srebrenica that I mentioned.

I've got two:
F. Westerman & B. Rijs; Srebrenica, Het zwartste scenario; Atlas Amsterdam / Antwerp; 1997.

C. Wiebes; Intelligence en de oorlog in Bosniƫ 1992-1995, De rol van de inlichtingen- en veiligheidsdiensten; Boom / Ned. Instituut voor Oorlogsdocumentatie, Amsterdam; 2002.

The latter is part of a series which together forms the NIOD (Netherlands Institute for War Documentation) report on the Srebrenica debacle that brought down the cabinet (the debacle didn't, the report did...).

The former is a journalistic report written as a novel. It is by two journalists who, during the siege managed to dine with Nasser Oric and meet with Ratko Mladic. So they have a unique first person perspective.

Before I end, I'd like to wish you a happy holliday and a good 2010.

Sincerely,

K.

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Thanks, Kaye. I will definitely try to locate the sources you gave as I would be very interested in the view of The Netherlands on these issues.

I also wish you a very blessed and Merry Christmas and a great 2010.
Rgds,

Eeben

tyhz1995 said...

Hello again I have read a number though of course there were some surprises.I generally don't read anything Israeli related as with personal experience I have found them to be overrated.If I may add sir The Forgotten Soldier by Guy Saijer,Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy(I know it's a novel but still germaine).I cannot think of anything else.Carry on.-Tyler

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

I too enjoyed The Forgotten Soldier, Tyler, but I have not read Blood Meridian – I will make sure to get it soon. I suppose any book by written about a personal experience can be seen as being over-rated. I know the EO book was dubbed by some as being exactly that.

Ultimately, all of these lists are also very subjective and can be added to by anyone else.

Rgds,

Eeben

Jens said...

Becoming aware of your blog only recently I somehow miss Pamwe Chete by Ron Reid Daly from your list.
Otherwise a translation to English of Mucka inte med Trolldoktorn! (in English: "Don't discount the witchdoctor"), by former Swedish Liason officer and interpreter with ONUC Stig von Bayer. It's about the role of magic and superstition in the daily life of people in Central Africa, and the use of "whitchcraft" as a tool for political mobilization in the same area.
A biography in English by Edward Hymoff, about von Bayer's service in Congo from 60-64, entitled "Stig von Bayer: International Troubleshooter for Peace" is still available 2nd hand on Amazon.com. Though von Bayer himself, being a rather reserved and modest character, felt rather embarassed by it.

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

A list such as mine is always subjective, Jens. Besides, I tried to keep it short but you are correct – Ron Reid-Daly’s book, along with Barbara Cole’s history of the Rhodesian SAS, are both good books. I do not know those you mentioned and will try to find them. Thanks for that.

Rgds,

Eeben