What We Are Reading Today: The Afghanistan Papers

What We Are Reading Today: The Afghanistan Papers
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Updated 06 September 2021

What We Are Reading Today: The Afghanistan Papers

What We Are Reading Today: The Afghanistan Papers

Author: Craig Whitlock

Craig Whitlock, an outstanding journalist, has done something remarkable in this book by bringing together first person reports from soldiers, administrators, and politicians about US involvement in Afghanistan since 2001.
The Afghanistan Papers “is a shocking account that will supercharge a long overdue reckoning over what went wrong and forever change the way the conflict is remembered,” said a review on goodreads.com.
Whitlock’s source material is a project called Lessons Learned, interviews with hundreds of participants in the war, including the generals and others who made the decisions. Lessons Learned was produced by a federal agency called the Office of the Special Inspector for Afghanistan Reconstruction.
Whitlock is a journalist working for The Washington Post, where he is responsible for covering the Pentagon and national security.
The Post won the release of the documents after a three-year legal battle with the US government and published them in 2019.
Whitlock has worked as a staff writer for the Post since 1998. He served as the paper’s Berlin bureau chief and covered terrorism networks in Europe, South Asia, the Middle East, and North Africa. He has reported from over 50 countries.
Since 2001, more than 775,000 US troops have deployed to Afghanistan. Of those, 2,300 died there and 20,589 were wounded in action, according to US Defense Department figures.
The Afghanistan Papers is a collection of more than 2,000 of pages of documents and interviews collected by SIGAR.


What We Are Reading Today: Alarums and Excursions by Luuk van Middelaar

What We Are Reading Today: Alarums and Excursions by Luuk van Middelaar
Updated 29 November 2021

What We Are Reading Today: Alarums and Excursions by Luuk van Middelaar

What We Are Reading Today: Alarums and Excursions by Luuk van Middelaar

Crisis after crisis has beset the EU in recent years – Greek sovereign debt, Russian annexation of Crimea, unprecedented levels of migration, and the turmoil created by Brexit.

In this candid and revealing portrayal of a Europe improvising its way through a politics of events and not rules, Luuk van Middelaar makes sense of the EU’s political metamorphosis over its past 10 years of crisis management, according to the review on goodreads.com. Forced into action by a tidal wave of emergencies, Van Middelaar shows how Europe has had to reinvent itself by casting off its legal straitjacket and confronting hard issues of power, territorial borders and public authority.


What We Are Reading Today: Atomic Habits

What We Are Reading Today: Atomic Habits
Updated 28 November 2021

What We Are Reading Today: Atomic Habits

What We Are Reading Today: Atomic Habits
  • Readers are offered tools and strategies to transform daily habits, and can learn how to make time for new habits, improve motivation and design the environment to make success easier

No matter whether your goals are small or big, “Atomic Habits” offers a proven framework for improvement every day.
James Clear, an expert on habit formation, reveals practical strategies to establish good habits and break bad ones by taking daily small steps.
He combines ideas from biology, psychology and neuroscience to create an easy guide for developing producive habits.
Readers will enjoy stories from Olympic gold medalists, award-winning artists, business leaders and comedians
who have used the science of small habits to master their craft.
The book will help readers understand the difference between systems and goals, progress and success — and why, sometimes, one is more important than the other.
Readers are offered tools and strategies to transform daily habits, and can learn how to make time for new habits, improve motivation and design the environment to make success easier.
Clear explains his strategy to develop good habits through a four-step pattern — cue, craving, response and reward — and encourages readers to use a habit tracker as an enjoyable way to measure their progress.


What We Are Reading Today: The Lessons of Tragedy

What We Are Reading Today: The Lessons of Tragedy
Updated 28 November 2021

What We Are Reading Today: The Lessons of Tragedy

What We Are Reading Today: The Lessons of Tragedy

Authors: Hal Brands and Charles Edel

Today, after more than seventy years of great‑power peace and a quarter‑century of unrivaled global leadership, Americans have lost their sense of tragedy. They have forgotten that the descent into violence and war has been all too common throughout human history. This amnesia has become most pronounced just as Americans and the global order they created are coming under graver threat than at any time in decades.
In this book, Hal Brands and Charles Edel argue that a tragic sensibility is necessary if America and its allies are to address the dangers that menace the international order today, according to a review on goodreads.com.


What We Are Reading Today: Calling Philosophers Names by Christopher Moore

What We Are Reading Today: Calling Philosophers Names by Christopher  Moore
Updated 27 November 2021

What We Are Reading Today: Calling Philosophers Names by Christopher Moore

What We Are Reading Today: Calling Philosophers Names by Christopher  Moore

Calling Philosophers Names provides a groundbreaking account of the origins of the term philosophos or “philosopher” in ancient Greece. Tracing the evolution of the word’s meaning over its first two centuries, Christopher Moore shows how it first referred to aspiring political sages and advice-givers, then to avid conversationalists about virtue, and finally to investigators who focused on the scope and conditions of those conversations. Questioning the familiar view that philosophers from the beginning “loved wisdom” or merely “cultivated their intellect,” Moore shows that they were instead mocked as laughably unrealistic for thinking that their incessant talking and study would earn them social status or political and moral authority.
Taking a new approach to the history of early Greek philosophy, Calling Philosophers Names seeks to understand who were called philosophoi or “philosophers” and why, and how the use of and reflections on the word contributed to the rise of a discipline.


What We Are Reading Today: The Discrete Charm of the Machine by Ken Steiglitz

What We Are Reading Today: The Discrete Charm of the Machine by Ken Steiglitz
Updated 26 November 2021

What We Are Reading Today: The Discrete Charm of the Machine by Ken Steiglitz

What We Are Reading Today: The Discrete Charm of the Machine by Ken Steiglitz

A few short decades ago, we were informed by the smooth signals of analog television and radio; we communicated using our analog telephones; and we even computed with analog computers. Today our world is digital, built with zeros and ones. Why did this revolution occur? The Discrete Charm of the Machine explains, in an engaging and accessible manner, the varied physical and logical reasons behind this radical transformation.
The spark of individual genius shines through this story of innovation: The stored program of Jacquard’s loom; Charles Babbage’s logical branching; Alan Turing’s brilliant abstraction of the discrete machine; Harry Nyquist’s foundation for digital signal processing; Claude Shannon’s breakthrough insights into the meaning of information and bandwidth; and Richard Feynman’s prescient proposals for nanotechnology and quantum computing. Ken Steiglitz follows the progression of these ideas in the building of our digital world, from the internet and artificial intelligence to the edge of the unknown.