Three Essential Books
1. ENEMY COMBATANT: A British Muslim's Journey to Guantanamo and Back By Moazzam Begg
This book was written by one of the first detainees to be let out of Guantanamo. Not available in the United States, it can be ordered on-line from any English book dealer. Begg, a wealthy Briton of Pakistani descent, is a typical upper-middle class person growing up in the last third of the twentieth century. Sick of the persistent racism, he moves to Afghanistan with his family to install water wells and try to improve the lives of the people.
Enemy Combatant is the best illustration of how the same set of facts can appear to support two completely opposite interpretations and how there can be no way to resolve the differences. This book is full of excellent observations. It shows how the regime in Guantanamo is really torture, especially for the innocent, because the detainees must emerge permanently damaged from years in solitary confinement.
2. WASHINGTON'S CROSSING By David Hackett Fischer
Washington's Crossing should be read simultaneously with Enemy Combatant. David Hackett Fischer, a professor at Brandeis University, is a cultural historian. Washington's Crossing is a factual account of the Battles of Trenton and Princeton.
In 1973, Richard Ketchum, the editor of the American Heritage series on the War for Independence, wrote a book called THE WINTER SOLDIERS - The Battles of Trenton and Princeton. A superb book, which I recommended to everyone, that is still in print after 33 years, my attitude upon seeing WASHINGTON'S CROSSING was, I know all this already. In truth, although I knew many of the facts, especially the military and political ones, Winter Soldiers is to Washington's Crossing as a Model T Ford is to a Ferrari. They are both cars, with four wheels and an engine.
Washington's Crossing is thoroughly researched on both sides of the conflict. The English and Hessian soldiers are humanized with facts and explanations of their culture. New historical sources, the improvement of scholarship engendered by the computer, and fine writing make Washington's Crossing a real joy. When read in tandem with Enemy Combatant, it becomes clear that the Bush Administration and right wing of this country are destroying the fundamental values that propelled the United States to its current greatness, and which will not survive another decade of these attitudes.
3. MY BATTLE of ALGIERS by Ted Morgan.
Ted Morgan is John Negroponte's cousin. Negroponte is Bush's Director of National Intelligence. Morgan, whose orgininal name was Sanche de Gramont (Ted Morgan is an anagram of de Gramont) is the son of a French diplomat and John Negroponte's Greek aunt. Morgan's father was posted to the United States when Ted was 5, so Ted grew up in America. This book is brilliantly written, a memoir, and Morgan's 19th book of non-fiction. A combat veteran of Algeria's Civil War, where urban guerilla warfare was invented, if Morgan knows all this history of the western colonization of the Arab world, then the White House must, too.
Especially interesting is that the western colonizers, as a matter of policy, prevented the indigenous people from getting an education. There is no better way to keep people down than to keep them ignorant. Across Africa, Asia and the Arab world, even in Russia, mass education did not start to happen until the 1950's, 60's and '70's. This explains the great awakening happening today. The third world is only on its second generation of literate people, as opposed to the United States where even in 1940, at the start of World War II, 2% of the women were college graduates (whereas in the Congo, for example, there were only a handful of college graduates when the country became independent in 1960.)
The western self-image of being benevolent civilizers of the developing world is not supported by the facts.
4. MEMOIRS Volume 2, Reformer 1945-1960 by Nikita Khrushchev
This book is due to be published on August 2, 2006. Normally, I do not recommend books that I have not read. The first volume was great. The second volume I'm hoping will be almost as good. Published by Penn State Press. A third volume will follow.
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Contact: Joshua Leinsdorf
My Battle of Algiers by Ted Morgan Ted Morgan is John Negroponte's cousin.
Negroponte is Bush's Director of National Intelligence. Morgan, whose original name was Sanche de Gramont (Ted Morgan
is an anagram of de Gramont) is the son of a French diplomat and John Negroponte's Greek aunt. Morgan's father was posted
to the United States when Ted was 5, so Ted grew up in America. This book is brilliantly written, a memoir, and Morgan's
19th book of non-fiction. A combat veteran of Algeria's Civil War, where urban guerilla warfare was invented, if Morgan
knows all this, then the White House must, too.