“Margin of Victory: Five Battles that Changed the Face of Modern Warfare” by Douglas Macgregor. Naval Institute Press. 2016, Hardcover, 268 pages, $34.95.
“Margin of Victory” is about change, intelligently and soberly recognizing the need for that change regardless of preconceived notions and the consequences of failing to do so. Each of the conflicts analyzed by Macgregor, all seemingly unrelated at first glance, center on his repeated premise that victory will depend on lessons learned that will drive accepting change and implementing the hard decisions that must accompany transformation – notably in technology, people, strategy and organization. While history provides perspective that must be considered, holding on to outmoded concepts or failing to properly leverage what’s been learned will ultimately lead to decisive defeat.
For those who do not know this, Governing the Commons: The Evolution of Institutions for Collective Action earned Elinor Ostrom a Nobel Peace Prize in Economics. This book, by the author of Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable is of that caliber. A later book,, Skin in the Game: Hidden Asymmetries in Daily Life is easier to read — if you have time for only one go with the latter.
The core message of this book is that you cannot predict or control high impact low probability events, but you can downsize, localize, you can decentralize, and in so doing make much of the ecology “antifragile.”
This book makes the jump from 5 stars (generally I don’t bother to review a book if it is not a four or five star read) to 6 stars — my top ten percent — because of the combination of Questions Asked, glorious color graphics, and the total holistic nature of the book — this is easily a PhD thesis in holistic analytics, true cost economics, and open source everything engineering. Indeed, this book could be used as a first-year reference across any humanities and science domain, they would be the better for it.
5.0 out of 5 stars6 Star Synthesis, Starting Point for Anyone Who Wishes to Think Holistically, July 4, 2015
The author taught me most of what I retain in the way of political science fundamentals during our time together at Muhlenberg College, where he was former Chair of the Department of Political Science and an Associate Dean. We had not kept in touch since I left Muhlenberg in 1974, but in 2014 I reached out to him and bought this book immediately upon learning of its existence.
Published in 2003 by the State University of New York Press, this book was evidently not marketed at all, and little noted. That is a sad commentary on our times, because I find that the author has distilled multiple literatures into one coherent presentation, augmented by an original model that tells a vital story beyond Ecological Economics into Ecological Political Economy (in essence, politics), into Ecological Ethics and Ecological Pedagogy, two topics rarely covered by others.
5.0 out of 5 starsBrings Us Full Circle — Valuable as Remedial Education for All, June 27, 2015
David Korten has been one of my heroes and indirect mentors through his books for over a decade. His book The Great Turning: From Empire to Earth Community resonated deeply with me, and I completely agree that the premise of that book, to wit, people are the new (restored) super-power actualized through local resilience and global community.
This book takes on great importance as we reflect on the United Nations and its Sustainability Development Goals (SDG), combined with The Most Holy Father agreeing to visit the UN in September to deliver and encyclical that has been leaked, on climate change. This book can be considered the middle book, the book that brings a largely unconscious public, generally poorly read, up to speed with “the new story.” It is not a new story, as one reviewer archly observes, it is in fact the original story harking back to a time when our indigenous ancestors respected the Mother Earth, observed plants and animals as co-equal intelligence, forgot nothing through oral history, and generally acted as stewards of the earth. One of the best books showing before (Mayan, Aztec) and after (guns, germs, steel) is 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus.
Author Steven Druker raises an interesting parallel between computer systems and genetic manipulation. While computer systems – especially those that are life-dependent and life-sustaining – are carefully tested and retested to make sure that no “glitch” or “bug” could cause catastrophic harm, alterations to the far more complex genetic code of plants are made without similar precautions. These novel plants are grown, harvested, and consumed with little or no independent testing.
5.0 out of 5 starsWorld-Changing Book Documenting Intersection of Humans, Technology, and Policy-Ethics, February 2, 2015
This is a hugely important work, one that responds to the critical needs outlined by Micah Sifry in The Big Disconnect: Why The Internet Hasn’t Transformed Politics (Yet) and others such as myself writing these past 25 years on the need to reform the pathologically dysfunctional US secret intelligence community that is in constant betrayal of the public trust.
Digital Humanitarians are BURYING the secret world. For all the bru-ha-ha over NSA’s mass surveillance and the $100 billion a year we spend doing largely technical spying (yet only processing 1% of what we waste money on in collection), there are two huge facts that this book, FOR THE FIRST TIME, documents:
5.0 out of 5 starsExtraordinary — Empowering, World-Changing, Rich in Substance, December 6, 2014
This book was recommended to me by Michael Ostrolenk, whom I consider one of the most inspiring transpartisan figures in America today, and endorsed by Elisabet Sahtouris, evolution biologist and “Yoda” to many of us. Given those two recommendations, my own review is pro forma, summary notes for smart people.
This is a most extraordinary book that I found deeply absorbing, inspiring, and practical. It is an original work in every possible sense of the word, and brings to the public insights, concepts, and methods that are essential to creating peace and prosperity among vastly diverse groups whose cultures, mind-sets, life conditions, and existing forms of governance and economics are not just in conflict, but downright pathologically dysfunctional.
Within this rich offering are a few things that are simply not found elsewhere, that could and should redefine and mature Western and Eastern understanding and practice: