Category Archives: Books

Full Spectrum Dominance – William Engdahl

For the faction that controls the Pentagon, the military industry and the oil industry, the Cold War never ended. It went on ‘below the radar’ creating a global network of bases and conflicts to advance their long-term goal of Full Spectrum Dominance, the total control of the planet: land, sea, air, space, outer space and cyberspace …

The book discusses the military strategy of the United States in modern times, which the author describes it as “Full Spectrum Dominance”. This strategy means a total dominance of the United States over all fields: military, culturally, in space, energy, etc.

The book presents many captivating and forceful arguments, showing deep thinking over some events that shook the world. The research is extensive, but some conclusions seem at times far fetched.

Not everything he says is wrong though. If Engdahl’s book is read in parallel with The New Digital Age by Jared A. Cohen and ex-Google CEO Eric Schmidt, many of the possibilities and opportunities created by digitalisation may well be used for military purposes.

Engdahl is a profound thinker, using a realpolitik analysis apparatus to make a critique of the neo-conservative military doctrine. Pentagon is seen as a cunning force, having no scruples in imposing its will.

The author, William Engdahl, is an American writer with a degree in engineering and jurisprudence from Princeton University and a graduate study in comparative economics at the University of Stockholm. He is an original thinker, writing and commenting on the major events in the world.

Make your bed – Admiral William H. McRaven

None of us are immune from life’s tragic moments. Like the small rubber boat we had in basic SEAL training, it takes a team of good people to get you to your destination in life. You cannot paddle the boat alone. Find someone to share your life with. Make as many friends as possible, and never forget that your success depends on others.

The book is a powerful and succinct self-development book by the retired 4-star admiral, William McRaven. He gives several life advices based on his experience and SEAL training.

Admiral McRaven was the legendary head of the US SEALs, during the bin Laden operation. Apparently, he was much appreciated within the US special operations forces. His book is not a memoirs, but just a sum of good life advice.

Now President of the University of Texas at Austin, the author based his book on the commencement speech at the university in 2014.

His first advice is to start the day with an accomplished task, such as making the bed. Each accomplished task gives confidence and pulls another accomplished task in the day and so on.

I find his advice useful and wise. Success brings success indeed.

The biggest critique to the volume is its brevity, at only 173 small pages with large font. However, the book seems written by the admiral himself, as the style of writing is rather simple and straightforward; but nonetheless elegant.

The book has a beautiful hard cover, a timeless masterpiece.

A book I fully recommend reading for its beauty, simplicity and wisdom.

Shatterpoint – Matthew Woodring Stover

Jedi do not fight for peace. That’s only a slogan, and is as misleading as slogans always are. Jedi fight for civilization, because only civilization creates peace. We fight for justice because justice is the fundamental bedrock of civilization: an unjust civilization is built upon sand. It does not long survive a storm.

If there is one word to describe the book, that word is tense. The novel is situated in the Star Wars universe, during the Clones War, set after Attack of the Clones. It follows an adventure of the Jedi Master and senior member of the Jedi Council, Mace Windu.

Windu receives a troubling message from his former padawan, Depa Billaba, who is fighting to establish peace on Windu’s home planet of Haruun Kal.

Mace Windu, more than a fighter, a deep thinker caught in a web of darkness.

Windu comes to the planet and a series of adventures and troubles start for our hero. The book is tense, psychological, gradually the action picking up pace towards the end.

Matthew Stover is a good storyteller and adds depth and memorability to characters. There are many wisdom gems throughout the book, that makes the reader think of the role of the Jedi.

As a side note, shatterpoint is apparently a Force ability that can sense the importance of an event. An interesting idea.

Overall, I liked the book. It was a bit too tense for a relaxing reading, but enjoyable and with a fluid plot.

[Feature picture is a superb drawing by DarthTemoc called This is called Vaapad]

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People – Stephen R. Covey

Habit 1: Be Proactive

Habit 2: Begin with the End in Mind

Habit 3: Put First Things First

Habit 4: Think Win/Win

Habit 5: Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood

Habit 6: Synergize

Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw

This is a self-development book with a huge success since it was released in the 1989. Like many self-development books, you are right both if you think it works or of you think it doesn’t.

The author encourages the reader to divide its life into personal and public spheres and try to improve both by using the good habits he describes. There is no study or research behind the results, except the author’ personal experience and common sense. His Christian belief and principles, clearly confessed in a short paragraph at the end of the volume, is the basis of his philosophy.

While now synergize and proactive are overused, back in the day they were innovative concepts. Much in vogue in the business schools, the book was popular with managers and people who just want to improve.

There is nothing new or exceptional in the author’s advice, but just common sense for an active and fulfilling life. The relationship with family, kids, relationships at work are important. Being humble and organized are vital in Stephen Covey’s philosophical system.

At times, the book seems to force the reader into buying more; being too commercial and aggressive. The advice seems shallow sometimes, without research to back the statements. The arguments appear exaggerated in some circumstances.

The author passed away in 2014, after an accident, unfortunately.

Overall, an interesting book, useful for those who want to find their way in life or who are at cross roads.

 

Revan (Star Wars: The Old Republic, Book 1) – Drew Karpyshyn

If they managed to kill you, then you weren’t worthy of serving me,” Nyriss explained. “If you killed them, then you proved that they were a waste of resources. Either way, I would be left with the most suitable candidate for the job.

The book comes from an exceptional writer, Drew Karpyshyn, the brain behind storylines such as Knights of the Old Republic, Darth Bain trilogy, Jade Empire, Mass Effect 1 and Mass Effects 2. He builds exceptional plots, creates memorable characters and has a beautiful story writing.

In Revan, Karpyshyn continues the story of the hero from Knights of the Old Republic, in the Star Wars universe. Revan, our protagonist, is now married, quietly settled on Coruscant, outside the Jedi Order. But he senses a menace coming and goes to prevent it. Meanwhile, a young Sith Lord is building his reputation as an efficient assassin with good political instincts. The Emperor patiently builds his web against the Republic. What will the outcome when their paths intersect?

The book is superbly written, with a great plot. While Revan does not do much, he inspires others. He is not the saviour, the perfect character, but a human with great will.

The Star Wars universe is brilliantly constructed, with just enough descriptions to give a vivid image, without being too long. The planets of Dromund Kaas, Nathema and others have strong individual features.

Compared with the personage in the legendary video game, Revan as a hero is disappointing. He is not the infallible warrior and great strategist anymore, but still holds great wisdom and willpower.

The book is the first a series, being continued by Annihilation, where the nephew of Revan is not a Jedi, but an intelligence operative of the Republic.

Overall, Revan is an excellent reading, less entertaining than Darth Bane, for example, but still recommended for the fans of the universe.

 

Mortal Engines (Mortal Engines Quartet Book 1) – Philip Reeve

“Crome smiles. “Do you really think I am so shortsighted?” he asks. “The Guild of Engineers plans further ahead than you suspect. London will never stop moving. Movement is life. When we have devoured the last wandering city and demolished the last static settlement we will begin digging. We will build great engines, powered by the heat of the earth’s core, and steer our planet from its orbit. We will devour Mars, Venus, and the asteroids. We shall devour the sun itself, and then sail on across the gulf of space. A million years from now our city will still be traveling, no longer hunting towns to eat, but whole new worlds!”

In a steampunk world, where cities are wandering the land using huge wheels and tracks, a boy becomes witness to the start of a new era. The focus of the book is the city of London, moving now on tracks over the land, swallowing smaller towns and looking for dominance in the new Municipal Darwinism.

In a steampunk dystopia, it’s town eat town world.

Thrown from London and thought dead, victim of fateful event, Tom, Third Class Apprentice to the Guild of Historians, is the protagonist of the story. His adventure brings him to air towns, baloons, pirate suburbs, anti-tractionists, who believe cities should not move, and encounters even cyborgs.

The story is creative, superbly written and the world created is truly a wonder. A film was released in 2018 following the book.

The book seems dedicated to young readers: the protagonist is a boy, many things that occur to him are due to simple luck and the story has many just-in-time moments. However, the intrigue is captivating and there is noir background to the adventure.

A great book to read, particularly for your readers.

The New Digital Age – Eric Schmidt, Jared Cohen

There are an untold number of cultural similarities that have never been fully explored because of the difficulty of communication; in a future revolutionary setting, seemingly random connections between distant populations or people will entail knowledge transfer, outsourcing certain types of duties and amplifying the movement’s message in a new and unexpected way.

The book is written by the former CEO of Google, Eric Schmidt, and Jared Cohen, former CEO of Google Ideas, and presents a vision of the future.

This future is largely dominated by digital, including in the medical field, in house appliances, with driverless cars, new ways of a state to govern, all interconnected.

There are information privacy concerns, a discussion on Assange’s Wikileaks motives and Navalny’s corruption exposures.

The media is in the era of instant information. Trust is important to determine the veracity of news. News become instant and losses quickly it’s value. As anyone can become a source of news, veracity becomes more important.

An important point made repeatedly by the book is that anything written online remains forever. There is no erase button. No privacy settings or even deleting emails can block that [the book was written in 2013, before the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation].

States are much interested in the use of data and a fragile equilibrium is set between security concerns and individual privacy.

The book is very forward-looking and opens a few delicate debates. However, while putting forward many interesting ideas, I felt that I am reading nothing new. I struggled since 2016 to finish the book.