In yesterday's Guardian is this excellent essay by Pankaj Mishra, looking at the recent crop of books investigating US actions in Iraq and Afghanistan, and 'asking whether a new president will change the crazy logic of American militarism'. Here are the books he picks out from the new crop: Dexter Filkins - The Forever War: dispatches from the War on Terror (Bodley Head) Dexter is an American journalist. Raphael Patai - The Arab Mind (published 1973) This book is one the Neo-cons think is gospel - and opines that the only thing the denizens of the Middle East undertstand is force. 'With a heavy dose of fear and violence, and a lot of money for projects...we can convince these people we are here to help them'. It gives anthropology a bad name... Bob Woodward - The War Within: A secret Whitehouse history 2006 - 2008 (Simon and Schuster) Ricardo Sanchez - Wiser in Battle (Harper Collins) the memoir of the US Lieutenant General. This contains this fantastically temperate speech (!) from George Bush, showing how Vietnam was playing on his mind. [align=center]'Kick ass! ... We must be tougher than hell! This Vietnam stuff, this is not even close. It is a mind-set. We can't send that message. It's an excuse to prepare us for withdrawal ... There is a series of moments and this is one of them. Our will is being tested, but we are resolute. We have a better way. Stay strong! Stay the course! Kill them! Be confident! Prevail! We are going to wipe them out! We are not blinking!'[/align] I just hope I never see that on a T shirt... to continue with the books.. Ahmed Rashid Descent into Chaos (Allan Lane) Thomas Ricks Fiasco (Penguin) Tariq Ali The Duel: Pakistan on the Flight Path of American Power (Simon and Schuster) Mashra compares Filkin's The Forever War to Neil Sheehans A Bright Shining Lie. I agree with him this is the best book on Vietnam I've read (and I've read a fair few..) and worth getting for background to the way the current President's advisors are handling things. Lawrence Freedman A Choice of Enemies - America confronts the Middle East (Weidenfield and Nicholson) - US foreign policy decisions from 1979. Jimmy Carter's diaries are worth a read as well. There you go. Some light reading for the long cold winter nights - or long hot sandy days, depending.