This Book Joins my List of Great Books at Wrong Price,March 29, 2008
If the author will get in touch with me I can publish the book for sale at a cost of no morethan $39.95. If a digital copy of the book is available, I would like to post it immediately.
This book is an example of what happens when authors do not demand control over the pricing of their work.
This is an important topic, and no doubt a superb book, but this publisher is “out of control” and should be driven out of business by smart buyers who refuse to spend money foolishly. As a publisher myself, I can tell you that books like this cost no more than a penny a page to print.
Sadly, Amazon has refused my suggestion that they offer authors a direct publishing deal in which digital copies are delivered to Amazon where they can be sold as micro-text for micro-cash, or sold by the chapter, or sold as a digital transfer to the nearest FedExKinko’s where they are perfectly capable of printing a hard copy book “one at a time.”
I care deeply about using knowledge to save Humanity and the Planet, and seeing prices like this on worthy books makes my blood boil. Search Amazon for this topic, there are at least ten other books on this topic that are more honorably priced.
Edit of 5 Jul 09: At 288 pages, the paperback should be no more than $30.00 instead of $49.00. Authors are encouraged to publish their own books via reliable online “as needed” publishers.
I publish books and know they cost a penny a page to produce in lots of 2500 or more.
The title and the content are superb.
The pricing is despicable and I will ignore this book for that reason.
I urge the authors to approach me, I can publish this book for sale at no more than $34.94 (it costs about $10,000 to print, Amazon pays 45% of the list price to publishers).
This is outrageous in every sense of the word. No author should allow their work to be handled in this fashion. The individual chapters should be available directly from Amazon for micro-cash, and this publisher should be put out of business.
I am a former spy, with three clandestine tours and three Headquarters tours behind me, and I consider this book to be beneath contempt. Indeed, I believe that individuals such as this author do the Nation a grave dis-service, and should be shunned.
Being a spy is both challenging and enervating. It is not a game and it is not for diletantes who quit when the going gets tough. This is an immature book, an opportunistic book, and it is largely worthless…beneath contempt (as is the similar book by that silly little girl with a cartoon book cover).
The book has many inaccuracies. The one that stands out is the class size. The class size was NOT an increase over the norm, but rather a return to the norm from the period before a series of Directors of Central Intelligence including Woolsey, Deutch, and Tenet, destroyed the clandestine service, finishing the job started by Stanfield Turner.
For those who wish to consider applying for the clandestine service I continue to recommend Miles Copeland’s “Without Cloak or Dagger,” and Allen Dulles timeless “The Craft of Intelligence.” See my two lists for serious books about intelligence as a global craft focused on decision support and the health and death of Nations.
Books like this dishonor the brave men and women who are actually good enough to make it to the field where they risk their lives as well as their marriages to serve the Nation. The author is not among them for very good reasons, and should be ignored on this topic about which he knows nothing. CIA “training” actually starts in the field, the “farm” is simply a means of weeding out the mis-fits.
Edited 23 August 2007 after a visit to the Middle East, and additional reflection on how Nations turn stupid. FOX News is, as we speak, leading a massive campaign to deceive Americans into thinking that we must attack Iran. Iran is Persian. They are running circles around us as our Army hollows out and our four carriers steam within range of Iranian Sunburn missiles. Adding two images and several hot links to books that make it quite clear that this book is by, of, and for idiots.
Edited after over a year to reflect the deep impression that “Civilization and Its Enemies” by Lee Harris has made on me. Amazon does not allow edited reviews to increase the star level, so I will say that after Harris, I would raise this book to two stars with the following obervation: having the right instincts–wanting to go after Iran in particular, and Syria–does not justify lying to the public or failing to do your homework.
Of the 3,000 or so volumes in my current library, I have only reviewed 950. I do not write negative reviews as a rule. This is my third exception to the latter rule. The most ignorant book was one on predicting revolution, the second most ignorant book was one on sources of conflict, and this is the third.
The authors, who demonstrate how far one could get in the Cold War military without reading or thinking, call this a military assessment. It is not. It is a one-track discourse on why we need to use our heavy metal military to wipe out Syria and Iran and intimidate Libya and Pakistan. It avoids discussing Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, Central Asia, Muslim Africa, and Muslim Pacifica. This is not analysis, this is flim-flam.
By way of context in my specific criticism of this book, let me just note that the bibliography does not reflect any appreciation for strategy, e.g. Colin Gray’s “Modern Strategy”, or Col Dr. Max Manwaring and Ambassadors Corr and Dorff’s “The Search for Security”, or Willard Matthias “America’s Strategic Blunders” or Adda Bozeman’s “Strategic Intelligence & Statecraft” or Jonathan Schell’s “Unconquerable World.” I looked in vain for any sign the authors might comprehend the strategic context in which their specific beliefs and recommendations can only be seen as ill-advised. For example, a reference to Shultz, Godson, and Quester (at least one of whom is a neo-conservative), “Security Studies for the 21st Century”, or Robert McNamara and James Blight “Wilson’s Ghost”, or Dean Jeffrey Garten’s “The Politics of Fortune”, or Republican and conservative Clyde Prestowitz’s “Rogue Nation”, or Ambassador Mark Palmer’s “Breaking the Real Axis of Evil”. No cognizance of Kissinger, even.
Never mind all those *democratic* thought leaders, like Senator David Boren et al (and including Bob Gates), “Preparing America’s Foreign Policy for the 21st Century”, or Joesph Nye on “The Paradox of American Power” or William Shawcross (a Brit) on “Deliver Us From Evil: Peacekeepers, Warlords and a World of Endless Conflict”, or Paul Krugman’s “The Great Unraveling.”
I did not expect to find, but mention as a final setting of the stage for a very critical review, just a sampling of books relevant to getting the war on terror right: books like Chalmer’s Johnson, “The Sorrors of Empire” or Derek Leebaert’s “The Fifty Year Wound: The True Price of America’s Cold War Victory” or Ziauddin Sardar and Merry Wyn Davies on “Why Do People Hate America” (which could be sub-titled, most relevantly for the authors under review, “and why doesn’t America understand the real world”), or any of the last 100 non-fiction books on national security that I have reviewed here, generally to very favorable judgements by Amazon visitors.
Finally, I contrast this book with Richard Clarke’s book “Against All Enemies: Inside America’s War on Terror” which I recommend very highly. Clarke is real, these people are not.
I finally figured it out. This is a puff piece of, by, and for FOX Cable News viewers.
There are no footnotes in this book. It is a rambling opinion piece. Let us not confuse rank with brains, or opinions with thought. This is a double-spaced book that could probably be distilled to 30 pages of core reading, all summed up as “we’re always right, no matter the cost.” This book also adopts the Richard Perle neoconservative game plan of using terrorism as a pretext to invade Syria and Iran. I assure each and every one of you, a universal draft is planned for after the election. Your sons and daughters will be sacrificed to the lack of strategic thinking that this book represents.
The book ends on two false notes. Although the authors demonstrate a semblance of balance in calling for better public diplomacy and especially the restoration of the US Information Agency, they continue to emphasize money for guns and the early use of the military in expeditionary mode, rather that a truly transformative strategy that begins with understanding the full range of threats facing us (bacteria are more dangerous than terrorists), devising a strategy for dealing with those threats by using *all* of the instruments of national power, and then a balanced budget that achieves all of that without sacrificing the earning potential of future generations.
Finally, we have thirteen pages of photographs where the authors proudly display their field trip photos, and what leaps out to the veteran’s eye is that they were always in air-conditioned rooms and cars and never broke a sweat. As my good friend Robert Young Pelton likes to say (he is author of “The World’s Most Dangerous Places”–you should all read it), these guys live and think in a bubble–they don’t get into the gutter, they don’t smell the shit, and they have no idea how close their fantasy world is to destruction from forces that are beyond their comprehension.
Iraq, and the planned war on Syria and Iran, are indeed a recurrence of Vietnam in the sense that ignorance and arrogance among the elite in power, and apathy among the public and within Congress, are creating a most costly global quagmire that will shortly explode in Australia, Thailand, Central Asia, Latin America, and Africa. The authors have learned nothing from history nor from the many non-partisan American strategists and scholars available to advise them.
I don’t think this book is worth the purchase price, except as an example of the kinds of books, and kinds of people, that place loyalty to ideology above and apart from the public interest.
The authors have one thing right: this is a battle of wills. They do not appear to realize that there are not enough guns on the planet to execute their strategy, and that legitimacy is an intangible value that was lost to America from 2001 to date. This book is a blueprint for a nuclear winter in which America self-immolates. An Israeli tactical nuclear attack on Iran will kick off the end of the American Empire, and that may well be the best thing that could happen, to awaken the somolent Republic. We must indict and impeach Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Rudy Gulliani, and we must indict and sentence to death Larry Silverstein for his role in the controlled demotion of the World Trade Center including WTC 7 which was not hit by anything, it was also brought down to destroy evidence and complete the highly profitable elimination of asbestor at the cost of thousands of NYC lives. I am quite certain the insurance companies were part of the scam, because I have read and viewed more than enough evidence to be certain all the buildings were brought down by Larry Silverstean and his despicable little band of murderers.
The title is misleading, and most people who buy this pamphlet misrepresented as a book are going to be very disappointed. This a 40 page stream of conscious review of various categories of life that lacks footnotes, a bibligraphy, or an index.
Based on my own broad experience and friendship with futurists of note, I consider this specific paper to be interesting if you don’t read a lot and want a very shallow overview of numerous areas in the time it takes to fly from one state to another, but I find it very disturbing to read randomized references to ideas that I have seen developed and documented by others in a much more thorough fashion over the past 25 years or so.