Too often the impulse when going through a reading list is to critique it, and point out the holes. I’ve been guilty of this myself.

But I think the more fruitful approach is to look for the books you didn’t expect and to wonder why they were included. What does the picker see that you perhaps didn’t?

I mention this because I was reading Max Brooks’ list on books on insurgency and he makes an important distinction with his categories: First, he looks at the insurgents themselves, too often overlooked. Only then does he turn to the counterinsurgents who lead most military reading lists on the subject. Then he turns to the scholarly studies. Then he has a history list. And finally, he tops it off with 60 suggestions from other people.

And yeah, I would have included The Defense of Jisr al-Doreaa.

In other reading list news, here’s a holiday season offering from the estimable War on the Rocks.