Review: Civilization and Its Enemies–The Next Stage of History

5 Star, Change & Innovation, Civil Society, Complexity & Resilience, Consciousness & Social IQ, Culture, Research, Future, History, Information Society

Amazon Page
Amazon Page

5.0 out of 5 stars A Rare “Must Read for Liberal and Conservative Alike,

January 29, 2005
Lee Harris
Very few books cause me to question–even reverse–intellectual views that have been 52 years in the making. This book has done so. Although I have been uneasy for many years with America’s loss of its warrior ethic and fit society, and the abdication by many Americans of their civic responsibility to understand foreign events and forces that threaten our way of life, this book for the first time in my somewhat extensive reading, has both crystallized the “fire alarm” nature of 9/11 in a unique manner, and caused me to hold the neo-conservative and unilateral militarists in somewhat greater regard. It even caused me to appreciate Zionism is a new light (while still despising corruption, lies, deception of allies, and inherent genocide–but still, a new look)–quite an accomplishment.

This is a difficult book to read–I recommend that it be read quickly, for flavor, rather than slowly, for trying to understand each sentence and each page could result in a loss of interest and quitting on the author before reaching the end. It’s easier if you simply plug ahead and mark the high points–the book is full of gems of insight.

It is a very intelligent book, the *opposite* of the blind bible-thumping “there’s only one book that matters” true believers that I am accustomed to hearing from, yet this book very elegantly complements the obsessive views of the bible-thumpers. This awesome book comes down to one question: what are you willing to die for? and one challenge: how many of you (us) are willing to die for anything at all?

The most important point that I drew out of this book was its legitimate and here-to-fore unarticulated criticism of intellectuals and liberals for having forgotten that their hard won liberties came at the cost of blood, and that utopian ideals are fantasies that distract one from the harsh truths of the real world. Others will focus on the author’s more publicized point, that Al Qaeda is a ruthless enemy that hates us to the point of wanting to simply die while we die with it, and that is a useful point, but the two go together: we cannot be effective against our external enemy unless we also recognize our internal enemy, those mind-sets that prevent us from being effective in defending our values and our liberties.

There are three flaws or missing contexts in this book, and I mention them only to stress that while I hold this book in very high regard and am more accepting or tolerant of the neo-conservative viewpoint as a result, it is a partial view, nothing more. It does not address the corruption within our own society, where elected presidents, corporate CEOS, the churches, the New York Times, charities, and–today–the Boy Scouts–are all found to lack ethics and be frauds; it does not address the external diseconomies imposed by immoral capitalism; and it does not address the stark realities overseas that are going to wipe us out without any help from terrorists: the 59 plagues, the 18 genocides, the 32 failed states, the loss of potable water, etc.

In short, this author is absolutely world class on the fundamentals of recognizing that some people, you simply have to hunt down and kill. He does not address what I think of as “track two”: we need to stabilize & reconstruct the rest of the world so as to minimize the number of people we have to hunt down and kill.

He makes a good and excellent case for acting unilaterally, and for ignoring–even being dismissive of–the fraud of “sovereignty” that is represented by the United Nations and all these little “piss-ant” countries that are comprised of an elite that loots the country, and masses of impoverished, illiterate, “peasants” that represent potential hoards of human locusts carrying disease, crime, and instability wherever they migrate to….

He does not, however, satisfy me in addressing the lack of good faith among leaders who correctly choose to defend the nation with unilateral militarism, but also choose to lie to the public and betray the public trust by concocting false claims and by manipulating secret intelligence to their own ends.

On balance I find this book to be extremely important–one that liberals as well as conservative must read. It stresses the role of family as an antidote to gangs (something Lee Kuan Yew of Singapore champions constantly, and the Chinese generally have understood for centuries). The author also criticizes modern education for presenting “finished” or ideal concepts, and not providing the students with the life experience to learn the hard way that life is about compromise, trade-offs, partial satisfaction, etcetera. He ends by celebrating creative destruction and the value of commitment, including blind faith commitment when crunch time comes and one has to be obedient to the leaders we have trusted with our survival.

I value what this author has done. I take from this work three goals for the future:

1) We must reconstitute our society as a fit society with a warrior ethic and an inclination to study the outside world, not simply retreat into drugs/alcohol and sedative soap operas;

2) We must, as a society, agree that ruthlessness and the will to fight to the death matters, when faced by enemies that have no thought of compromise and have demonstrated by suicide that they are more than willing to do so themselves; and

3) We must–this is the part the author does not cover (see my lists for books that do)–formulate a grand strategy, a sustainable grand strategy, for addressing the 20 global problems that J.F. Rischard has identified, so as to prevent those problems from spawning more terrorists and sending our way more plagues, more illegal immigrants, more criminals.

This book is easily one of 25 books that I would recommend to every American and to most foreigners.

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2003 Harris (US) Beautiful Minds (Ralph Peters, Maverick Analyst)

Analysis, Articles & Chapters, Historic Contributions
Ralph Peters
Ralph Peters

Ralph Peters stands out in Phi Beta Iota’s tag cloud because among the 2000 or so authors represented here, he has both multiple non-fictions books to his name that we have reviewed, and he has given provocative presentations on more than one occasion to the multinational public intelligence audience that we began nurturing in 1992.  Below by Shane Harris is both a PDF for retension assurance, and at the logo, the original online article from Government Executive.

Shane Harris
Shane Harris
Online Source
Online Source

Review: Red Dragon (Fiction)

5 Star, Biography & Memoirs, Justice (Failure, Reform)

Amazon Page
Amazon Page

5.0 out of 5 stars Superb Insights into Law Enforcement Methods, Broken Minds,

September 21, 2002
Thomas Harris

This author has joined Robin Cooke (the medical disaster novels) as my other “must read” fiction author.

The homework he has done, and the manner in which this book teaches us what absolutely astonishing things can be done by a combination of good street work (don’t screw up the site) and good lab work (truly impressive means of making connections, such as classifying the precise brand of gasoline or cleanser based on residual aromatics) just held me spell-bound.

On the darker side, the manner in which he connected childhood abuse and neglect to split personalities and demonic self-concepts that thrived on killing animals and then people, can only cause one of reflect on how many times thoughtless actions by families as well as social workers might have unintended consequences.

The brief love story between a blind woman and the antagonist, who considered himself disfigured, is very well integrated into the plot and adds real value.

Super book, highly recommended.

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Review: Enigma

5 Star, Intelligence (Government/Secret)

Amazon Page
Amazon Page

5.0 out of 5 stars Communicates the Challenges, Captures the Thrill,

October 22, 2001
Robert Harris
For captivating true life signals intelligence there are several books one can go to, including those by James Bamford on the American system (Puzzle Palace, Body of Secrets) but for really getting into the enormity of the challenges and the thrill of the individual code-breakers when they succeeded, this is the book I recommend.

It completely ignores the enormous contributions made by the Poles (who gave the English two Enigma machines at the beginning of the war) as well as the heroic deeds of Tommy Brown (youngest George Medal winner at 16, survived with code materials taken from a sinking German ship), but I have found no better novel to communicate the absolute goose-bump emotional roller-coaster that the Bletchley Park gang experienced.

If anything, this novel convey a human side to code-breaking that offsets the modern-day obsession with massive computers.
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