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

The Long March

A U.S. service member reads 'The Gamble' by Tom Ricks

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.

World War II veteran and Purple Heart recipient Maj. Bill White, who at 104 is believed to be the oldest living Marine, has received a remarkable outpouring of cards and support from around the world after asking the public for Valentine's Day cards. "It hit me like a ton of bricks. I still can't get over it," he said. (CLIFFORD OTO/THE RECORD)

STOCKTON — Diane Wright opened the door of an apartment at The Oaks at Inglewood, the assisted care facility in Stockton where she is the executive director. Inside, three people busily went through postal trays crammed with envelopes near a table heaped with handmade gifts, military memorabilia, blankets, quilts, candy and the like.

Operation Valentine has generated a remarkable outpouring of support from around the world for retired United States Marine, Maj. Bill White. Earlier this month, a resident at The Oaks, Tony Walker, posted a request on social media to send Valentine's Day cards to the 104-year-old World War II veteran and recipient of the Purple Heart.

Walker believed Maj. White would enjoy adding the cards to his collection of memorabilia. The response has been greater than anyone ever thought possible.

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Editor's Note: This article originally appeared on Radio Free Europe/Radio Free Liberty.

A spokesman for the Taliban has told a Pakistani newspaper that the militant group is hoping to reach an Afghan peace deal with U.S negotiators by the end of January.

The comments by Suhail Shaheen on January 18 to the Dawn newspaper come after negotiators from the Taliban and the United States met for two days of talks in Qatar.

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The three Americans killed in a C-130 crash in Australia on Thursday were all veterans (left to right) Ian H. McBeth, of the Wyoming and Montana Air National Guard; Paul Clyde Hudson, of the Marine Corps; and Rick A. DeMorgan Jr., of the Air Force. (Coulson Aviation courtesy photo)

The three Americans killed in a C-130 air tanker crash while fighting Australian bushfires on Thursday were all identified as military veterans, according to a statement released by their employer, Coulson Aviation.

The oldest of the three fallen veterans was Ian H. McBeth, a 44-year-old pilot who served with the Wyoming Air National Guard and was an active member of the Montana Air National Guard. McBeth "spent his entire career flying C-130s and was a qualified Instructor and Evaluator pilot," said Coulson Aviation. He's survived by his wife Bowdie and three children Abigail, Calvin and Ella.

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MIAMI/JERUSALEM (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump said on Thursday he will release details of his long-delayed peace plan for the Middle East before Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his election rival Benny Gantz visit the White House next week.

The political aspects of the peace initiative have been closely guarded. Only the economic proposals have been unveiled.

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The Pentagon moved a total of $35 trillion among its various budget accounts in 2019, Tony Capaccio of Bloomberg first reported.

That does not mean that the Defense Department spent, lost, or could not account for $35 trillion, said Bryan Clark, a senior fellow with the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments think tank in Washington, D.C.

"It means money that DoD moved from one part of the budget to another," Clark explained to Task & Purpose. "So, like in your household budget: It would be like moving money from checking, to savings, to your 401K, to your credit card, and then back."

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