TommyElf (the_elfster) wrote in 50bookchallenge,

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Update Book 5 - Against All Enemies

Start: 12/20/09
End: 12/19/10

1. Into the Path of Gods by Kathleen Cunningham-Guler. 4/5
2. Mortal Engines by Philip Reeve. 4/5
3. The Triumph of the Moon by Ronald Hutton. 3.5/5
4. The Greener Shore by Morgan Llewellyn. 5/5
5. Against All Enemies by Richard Clarke. 4.5/5 -- The critics claim that he had an axe to grind against Shrub's Administration for not appointing him to a position in their Administration. After reading the book, you can definitely say that -- for about 30 pages in the book. The other 273 pages detail a lot of the failings of four Administrations (the current Administration is not included in this book, simply because they weren't running for office in 2004). At several junctures, Clarke points out that America has not been good about keeping events from happening, but thrives on responding to an event in the aftermath. That sort of jives with the supposed commentary of Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto after the bombing of Pearl Harbor: "A military man can scarcely pride himself on having 'smitten a sleeping enemy'; it is more a matter of shame, simply, for the one smitten. I would rather you made your appraisal after seeing what the enemy does, since it is certain that, angered and outraged, he will soon launch a determined counterattack."

While a large portion of the book outlines the entire path that lead to the rise of Radical Islam, as well as detailed failures in the strategies set forth by Shrub and his cabinet after their election; Clarke does an outstanding job of providing realistic recommendations on what should take place after the 2004 election. Some of his prognostications, such as the fall of the House of Saud as a political entity in the Gulf region, did not take place; while it can be argued whether or not Pakistan has made clear steps forward into a government that embraces religious freedom or has become the smoldering sparks of a potential Caliphate based on 14th century concepts (also suggested in the book). "Against All Enemies" provides an excellent historical accounting of just how America had reached that particular point in the so-called "war on terrorism". It is far from a complete accounting, and is subject to the bias of one individual - the author himself, and was acknowledged over and over by him throughout the book's various explanations.

Some people will proclaim the book to be nothing more than one individual's posturing in order to absolve himself of critical failures in an intelligence service that refused to acknowledge a danger from a foreign entity on American shores. Others, myself included, see this book as the start of a post-mortem study on a process that needs critical, judgmental eyes focused upon it as America steps forward into battling a foe that is not as easily defined or choked off through financial spending as the Cold War foes had been. Whichever the case may be for each individual reader, "Against All Enemies" is merely one piece of the puzzle. By no means should it be treated as a "Be-All, End-All" examination of what has and has not been done in counter-terrorism operations. If anything, it can be treated as an excellent starting place which opens many more avenues of examination, which may or may not bear out what has been set forth by Clarke. Like any good forensics examination, corroboration of information from secondary and tertiary sources is what should be considered before stamping the information as "patently false", "wishful thinking", "pure fantasy" or "unvarnished truth".

6. Beyond Fear by Bruce Schneier. [In Progress]

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