3 Tips On How To Make It Through A Serious History Book

The Long March

A friend mentioned that he found my approach to reading history so unusual that I thought I might write about it, briefly.


When I first pick up a book, I ignore the words on the jacket flap. Those are usually the product of an overworked 23-year-old publication assistant. They are written up and sent near the end of the editing process to an exhausted author, who by this point is unnerved by the whole process of finishing a book, dealing with an editor, reviewing the galleys, fixing them, fixing the fixes, and so on, and by this point responds, "Sure, whatever." Instead, I first read the table of contents, to get an understanding of what the book aims to cover.

Next, I go to the acknowledgements. When I am reading 10 or 15 books on the same subject, such as American generalship in the Korean War, this is a fast way to see where the author is coming from. Who are his or her intellectual allies? Who gave this work their stamps of approval?

Third, I slowly read the entire index, start to finish. This shows in details what a book really covers. I want to know, Does it get to the five or six issues I am working on for the book I am writing? I will use the index entries to turn to parts of the book to see how it covers major controversies. How are they addressed? What are the author's sources? Does it address interesting recent scholarship? Last week I spent half a day doing this with a book I expect to be important to the book I am writing now, about the educations of the first four American presidents.

By this point, I usually have a pretty good idea of what the book is about. At this point, I will make a decision about whether to read it.

I usually am able to do this all in about an hour, unless the book is big and the index thorough. But on occasion I have taken half a day to do it.

OK, well it interested my friend.

The U.S. Coast Guard Legend-class maritime security cutter USCGC Bertholf (WMSL 750) pulls into Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawii, U.S. to support the Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2012 exercise in this June 29, 2012 handout photo. (U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jon Dasbach via Reuters)

The United States sent Navy and Coast Guard ships through the Taiwan Strait on Sunday, the military said, as the United States increases the frequency of movement through the strategic waterway despite opposition from China.

The voyage risks further raising tensions with China but will likely be viewed by self-ruled Taiwan as a sign of support from Washington amid growing friction between Taipei and Beijing.

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U.S. President Donald Trump departs on travel to Palm Beach, Florida from the White House in Washington, U.S., March 22, 2019. (Reuters/Carlos Barria)

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report on Russian meddling in the 2016 election did not find that any U.S. or Trump campaign officials knowingly conspired with Russia, according to details released on Sunday.

Attorney General William Barr sent a summary of conclusions from the report to congressional leaders and the media on Sunday afternoon. Mueller concluded his investigation on Friday after nearly two years, turning in a report to the top U.S. law enforcement officer.

Read Barr's letter to congressional leaders below:

This is a developing story and will be updated with new information as it becomes available.

Left, Sgt. 1st Class Will D. Lindsay; right, Spc. Joseph P. Collette (U.S. Army/Facebook)

The Department of Defense on Saturday identified the two soldiers who were killed in Afghanistan's Kunduz Province on Friday as an explosive ordnance disposal tech and a Green Beret.

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CARACAS (Reuters) - Two Russian air force planes landed in Venezuela's main airport on Saturday carrying a Russian defense official and nearly 100 troops, according to a local journalist, amid strengthening ties between Caracas and Moscow.

A flight-tracking website showed that two planes left from a Russian military airport bound for Caracas on Friday, and another flight-tracking site showed that one plane left Caracas on Sunday.

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Editor's Note: This article by Gina Harkins originally appeared on Military.com, a leading source of news for the military and veteran community.

If the Marine Corps is serious about getting ready to take on a near-peer enemy like China in the future, then it's time to fold its 13-year-old special operations command and apply those resources elsewhere.

At least that's the argument one retired Marine officer made this week while presenting ways the service can better prepare for large-scale naval operations – and it's causing quite a stir in the Marine Corps special operations community.

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