Been looking at my bookshelf the past couple of days for something to read.
Tonight I decided to start reading Bill Yenne’s Indian Wars: The Campaign for the American West. I bought this back in July, and it’s been sitting on my shelf.
I bought this after reading John Nagl’s Learning to Eat Soup With a Knife, comparing British and American counterinsurgency operations. Nagl noted that the U.S. military had a long tradition of fighting small wars, including the Indian Wars which have been going on since the founding of our nation.
Interested in the operations and strategy of the Indian Wars, I bought Bill Yenne’s book. We often hear the war on terrorism referred to as the Long War, but the Indian Wars were the military campaign ever waged by the U.S. military. To understand our war on terrorism, it helps to understand our own history of small wars and long military campaigns.
I also have an interest in this book because its focus is on the American West, in which I am particularly interested.
Finished reading former Lt. Gov. Bill Hobby’s How Things Really Work: Lessons from a Life in Politics.
Bill Hobby was the longest serving Lt. Gov. in Texas history - serving for 18yrs. His father - William Hobby, Sr. - was governor of Texas, and his mother - Olveta Culp Hobby - was the first head of the Department of Health, Education and Welfare (renamed the Dept. of Health and Human Services, after a separate Dept. of Education was created in 1979) in the Eisenhower administration. Hobby also served as parliamentarian for Lt. Gov. Ben Ramsey.
Having been around politics for so long, Hobby has a lot of tales to tell, such as his fight with the Killer Bees, which he compares to the 2003 redistricting fight in the Texas Legislature. He doesn’t mince words about what he thinks of current political battles and issues.
Throughout his work, one prominent theme emerges: respect the process. As Hobby says in his last chapter, “Dedicate yourself to the process of governing. Make the system work.”
If you are interested in political science, political history, and particularly, Texas politics, this is a good book to read.
I have mentioned this in a previous post, but the book which absolutely changed my life is The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli.
I love the study of history. Part of my study of history involves reading literature from the period I am studying. As I primarily studied the Middle Ages, I read a lot of Medieval literature: Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, The Song of Roland, Beowulf, Le Morte D’Arthur, etc. In this vein, I read The Prince while I was studying the Renaissance and Reformation periods.
After reading this short work, my life was completely changed. I had had an interest in political history, but not much interest in the practice of politics or the theory. Machiavelli changed all that.
I began to study more political theory and became more interested in the practice of politics. I eventually changed my major in college to political science and started interning for State Representatives and working on campaigns. Then I moved to Austin, so that I could further a career in politics.
Not only did it change the path of my career, but it have me a firm grounding in pragmatism and political realism.
Who knows; if I had never read The Prince, I might not be where I am today (I might actually be doing something that pays).
On Thursday, I noted that I had finished reading The Texas Left: The Radical Roots of Lone Star Liberalism.
Too often, Americans criticize their ideological opposites without having a firm understanding of the history of that ideology. This ignorance often leads to false charges, generalisations and ad hominem attacks.
Obviously, most people see Texas as a predominately conservative state (and that is largely true), but they tend to overlook and/or ignore the tradition of the Left in Texas and its place in Texas history.
In The Texas Left, David Cullen and Kyle Wilkison aid in furthering our understanding of political history and have put together a collection of essays that cover the history of the Left in Texas.
Beginning with the Radical Republicans and continuing through to the modern era, the authors cover the plethora of movements that have risen and fallen over the course of Texas history: the Texas Farmers Alliance, the Populists, the Socialist Party, the Labour movements (unionism in Texas), the Civil Rights movement, feminism, and the Tejano Left (LULAC, MALDEF, etc.). Some, like the Socialist Party, were short lived while others have had a more lasting impact.
For some reading on a similar topic, see my post: The American West, Agrarian Populism and Democracy