Lowest Common Denominator–Old Think–High School,
January 14, 2003
Cynthia A. Watson
Although–or perhaps because–the author is a reputable and accepted member of the US national security “club,” and fully capable of writing innovative and ground-breaking materials, this book is horridly old think, even pedestrian, to the point that I was quite disappointed in having spent the time and money on it. The “author” is responsible for just 39 pages of overview, and what a superficial overview it is–without substantive reference to asymmetric warfare, environmental security, public health, or any of a myriad of emerging threats that are vastly more important to the future of US national security that a rehash of the Cold War.The balance of the book is a mind-glazing and largely useless chronology, list of personalities, and list of references and organizations that is both uninspiring, and severely constrained by the US-centric and beltway-centric perspectives of the author. The US Institute of Peace, among many, many other vital organizations, is not listed, and the eight web sites that appear to have been hastily added make a mockery of the concept of a book as a vehicle for imparting information.
With all due respect to the accomplishments and good intentions of the author and the sponsoring publisher, one would be better off browsing Amazon (or to be more specific, the 300+ books on national security and intelligence that I have reviewed) for a couple of hours, than in attempting to find any deep thoughts of lasting value in this reference work. In all respects, it is the lowest common denominator. Instead, I strongly recommend Joe Nye's book on understanding international relations, and the Schultz Godson et al book on security studies.