The 2001 reading list appended below features a number of books that we used in researching topics for Highlands Forum meetings; books by Highlands participants; and books recommended by our contributors. We combine both recent and older titles in this list. These titles represent several categories: information theory, science, technology, management, history, and economics. They have been selected both for their topics and for their capacity for broadening our understanding of emerging issues and the way that we think about things. We began compiling an annual list in 2000 at the request of many Highlands participants who read our book reviews on the Web site. This is a continuing work - additional titles will be added during the year and compiled at the end of each in a larger list.
Edited by Alfred D. Chandler, Jr. and James W. Cortada
Reviewed on the Highlands Forum Web site, November, 2001.
The Information Age
is often viewed as an exclusively modern phenomenon, unique and different
from all other ages. The authors of
Cortada and Chandler and their contributors maintain that every new information infrastructure has been shaped by politics and culture, and not exclusively by technological advances. They view technology as an enabler, a handmaiden to the information appetite. Personal communication appears to be the great driver of information structure in America. This is a great history of a people and the nation they shaped with the sharing of information.
There are a few books
that belong on the shelf of every Civil War buff: James M. McPherson's
Things might have
been rather different, too. "What emerges from the panorama of
Winik is an exceptionally
IDEO, the world's leading design firm, is the brain trust that's behind some of the more brilliant innovations of the past 20 years - from the Apple mouse, the Polaroid i-Zone instant camera, and the Palm V, to the "fat" toothbrush for kids and a self-sealing water bottle for dirt bikers. IDEO was a featured presenter at Highlands Forum XIII, "Innovation and Public Organizations" (2-3 September, 1999), and General Manager Tom Kelley was interviewed on the Forum Web site in August, 1999. Not surprisingly, companies all over the world have long wondered what they could learn from IDEO, to come up with better ideas for their own products, services, and operations. In this terrific book from Tom Kelley (brother of founder David Kelley), IDEO finally delivers - but thankfully not in the step-by-step, flow-chart-filled "process speak" of most how-you-can-do-what-we-do business books. Sure, there are some good bulleted lists to be found here - such as the secrets of successful brainstorming, the qualities of "hot teams," and, toward the end, 10 key ingredients for "How to Create Great Products and Services," including "One Click Is Better Than Two" (the simpler, the better) and "Goof Proof" (no bugs).
The nation's leading opinion makers converge to address technology and its impact on society and business. The Forbes ASAP annual Big Issue is the most important magazine special in all of high technology. It has been hailed as "the last great bastion of the essay" by author Stanley Crouch. It is historian Stephen Ambrose's favorite publication to write for, and Tom Wolfe has made it the home for more of his original essays than any other publication in the last decade. Each of the five Big Issues has tackled a burning social question as it relates to technology, including the new meaning of work, the changing nature of time in the digital age, the great convergence (work/play, public/private, science/religion), and what is true. And each issue brings together the best writers and thinkers in search of answers. Big Issue contributors have come from business (Bill Gates, Andrew Grove); science (E. O. Wilson, Stephen Jay Gould); literature (John Updike, Reynolds Price, Elmore Leonard); history (John Keegan, Jacques Barzun); politics (Gore Vidal, Peggy Noonan); sports (Muhammad Ali); and religion (the Dalai Lama). Sixty-three of the best essays from the first five Big Issues are complied in this new collection, with an original foreword by longtime Big Issue fan Peter Jennings.
A landmark book. Published in 1996, Huntington's book is stunningly prescient given the events of September 11th, 2001. He begins by mapping and describing his paradigm of the world's eight current major civilizations: Sinic, Islamic, Hindu, Western, Latin American, African, Orthodox, and Japanese. Much of the book is dedicated to an exposition of the relative rise and fall in fortunes of each. His well-argued thesis is that Western Civilization, led by its core state - the U.S., has been and continues to be in a period of relative decline versus other civilizations. These civilizations, namely Sinic (Chinese) and Islamic, perceive themselves superior and dominating over the long run. The demographic and economic forces propelling these civilizations are lucidly discussed and backed with statistical evidence which is compelling if not disturbing. His analysis of the threatening potential of Sinic and Islamic civilizations to the West is sobering without being xenophobic. His discussion of the role of the West and U.S. in the Soviet-Afghanistan war and the Bosnian-Serb-Croatian conflict provides valuable insight into the causes for the circumstances in which we now find ourselves. Make no mistake, this is a challenging albeit accessible work that requires some intellectual digestion. However, if you're looking a meaningful read about today's world - and the root causes of terrorism and wars that go beyond the usual trite and politically correct explanations of "poverty and ignorance" - then read this book. It will be much more meaningful than the current flood of books on Afghanistan which focus on either travel anecdotes or second-hand information (much of it probably wrong) on Osama bin Laden.
Richard Foster and Sarah Kaplan
Reviewed on the Highlands Forum Web site July, 2001.
Dr. Richard Foster was a featured presenter at Highlands Forum XVII, "Transformation and the Department of Defense" (June 24-26, 2001). In the midst of the transformation process underway within the Department of Defense, this remarkable business book contains interesting and valuable insights on transformation for the private sector and the public sector alike. While directed toward the business reader, and containing case studies from the corporate world, this book nevertheless makes key points essential to executive decision-makers in any organization.
Foster and Kaplan credit some of their inspiration to the late Austrian-American economist, Joseph Schumpeter. Schumpeter described the inevitable process of entrepreneurial capitalism as the "gales of creative destruction". As Schumpeter studied the pattern of development of markets and economies, he noted that destruction and creation were often paired. The juxtaposition of the two words in the title means something closer to "trade" than "obliterate". Coupling destruction with various levels of creation, the authors define for business leaders the tightrope they must navigate to succeed. Foster and Kaplan assert that while business has assumed that their goal is operational excellence first and creative destruction second, economic times have changed and so must the balance of the two goals.
Foster and Kaplan advise corporations to effectively employ creative destruction as part of their strategy and business process. An essential element of this process is constant innovation, and the authors differentiate three levels. The first and most extreme is "transformational" innovation which is close to historic or irreversible change in the way of doing things. The second is "substantial" innovation, which is lesser in degree but still shakes up convention. The third is "incremental" change, which constitutes most companies' everyday change. Substituting "incremental" innovation for "transformational" efforts is not adequate to the task of keeping the organization's position as a leader or influential competitor.
While not overlaying these key points on a public sector organization directly, these are nevertheless thought-provoking and valuable insights to consider as the enterprise formulates its strategy for maintaining healthy growth and leadership in a highly competitive environment.
This is a book that
may seem an unlikely choice, but in the tradition of
is remarkable because it chronicles recent history from an insider's point
of view rarely heard out of Milosevic's Yugoslavia. As Tim Judah writes
in his introduction,
M. Mitchell Waldrop
While it's true that
no one person's vision encompassed all of what we now consider personal
computing, we can't help but focus on individual effort as we try to understand
how we got here. Science writer M. Mitchell Waldrop carefully balances
this hero culture with a historian's mania for completeness in
"Lick," as his students and colleagues called him, was deeply involved in guiding the evolution of personal and networked computing from the 1950s through the 1980s, after leaving a career in cognitive psychology. Waldrop captures his spirit vividly - contrary to our stereotypical view of computer scientists, Licklider was profoundly interested in his fellow humans, and this interest helped him lead the design of technology adapted to human needs.
Waldrop interviewed dozens of contemporaries and examined reams of notes and primary sources to compose this massive biography of influence that stretches from MIT to the Pentagon to Xerox PARC and far beyond. If it sometimes seems that Licklider was a little too well beloved, especially in comparison to some of the more colorful figures in computing's recent history, it is worth remembering that his patience and humility were the very qualities that helped deliver the home-computing revolution we take for granted today.
Williamson Murray and MacGregor Knox
This is a new, exceptional book by Wick Murray, a presenter at Highlands Forum XVII, "Transformation and the Department of Defense" (June, 2001). Murray addresses revolutions in military affairs with useful case studies, a specific focus on whether asymmetric advantages do or do not result, and a very satisfactory executive conclusion. Murray's first conclusion, spanning a diversity of case studies, is that technology may be a catalyst but it rarely drives a revolution in military affairs - concepts are revolutionary, it is ideas that break out of the box. His second conclusion is both counter-intuitive (but based on case studies) and in perfect alignment with Peter Drucker's conclusions on successful entrepreneurship: the best revolutions are incremental (evolutionary) and based on solutions to actual opponents and actual conditions, rather than hypothetical and delusional scenarios of what we think the future will bring us. Finally, he states outright that revolutions in military affairs are not a substitute for strategy as so often assumed by utopian planners, but merely an operational or tactical means.
This book is about
the mystery of why the whole is sometimes smarter than the sum of its
In the tradition of
Drawing upon evolutionary
theory, urban studies, neuroscience, and computer games,
Judith Miller, Stephen Engelberg, and William Broad
Few books that intentionally
target a small audience are destined to become best selling resource books
to the general public.
The authors are veteran
reporters for the New York Times who thought they sensed a story
in 1997 when the Pentagon announced it had decided to vaccinate its 2.4
million soldiers and reservists against anthrax. It seemed a curious move
six years after the Persian Gulf War. Calling upon their expertise as
a science writer with knowledge of weapons; a seasoned foreign correspondent
who tracked international terrorism; and an editor who investigated the
intelligence agencies and the Pentagon, they worked as a team to see what
Among the stories retold, now in a more pulse-raising context, is the little-reported account of the first germ warfare attack on the United States in 1984. Followers of the guru Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh intentionally spread the bacteria salmonella throughout salad bars in Dalles, Oregon. The cult poisoned at least 751 neighboring residents. The mystery of the outbreak remained unsolved for over a year. Inaccurate conclusions and lack of preparedness plagued the investigation by the Department of Health and the FBI. Only after members of the sect confessed to their crimes, was there a solution to the mystery. The authors quote investigators as saying what many repeated in the wake of the October, 2001, anthrax letters: "Call us naïve but we never imagined people could have done such a thing. You don't expect bioterrorism in paradise."
Iraq may have lacked the scale of the Soviet effort, but it did not lack for planning and implementation of biological attacks to meet its regional objectives. After the Persian Gulf War, the Iraqis took a page from the Soviet book and denied that they had ever produced a single germ weapon, though they conceded that they had done some research. The two major biowarfare centers were kept secret from the U.N. by an elaborate shell game. The Iraqis had made enough germs and toxins to kill every human being on the planet and again, a defector became the source of intelligence on the biowarfare effort. The authors also address the question of why Hussein violated the treaty and sacrificed millions of oil dollars. Iraq's influence in the region stemmed from its ability to bully its neighbors. The benefits of keeping their germ, chemical and nuclear programs alive were substantial - they were, in essence, the Iraqi atom bomb. Even if the biological weapons were never used, the rumors of their existence could make little nations take note and might give Western powers reason to pause.
In the post 9/11 world,
our attention is drawn all the more to the possibility of biological attacks.
A threshold has been crossed with the introduction of anthrax into the
postal system as a weapon of terror. As of December, 2001 we still did
not know who the perpetrator was - a nation, organization, surrogate,
or individual. Will there be more attacks and will we be better prepared?
These are the two essential questions that
Conflict is at the heart of international relations and, at the turn of the century, it is occurring in new and vexing forms. This new book looks at conflict both as an important subject in its own right and as a powerful lens through which to view international relations more generally.
Charles Hauss provides a lively introduction to both theory and practice. He opens by tracing the three stages in most typologies of international conflict: origins, ending the fighting, and reconciliation. These are discussed both in terms of traditional theories and new theories, some of the latter from outside the usual boundaries of political science and IR. Hauss argues that such new theories take us further in understanding the kinds of conflicts we have seen since the end of the Cold War and are likely to see in the coming decades. A broad selection of case studies, covering the major conflicts the world has faced since 1990, provides readers with material they can use to form their own judgments about the theories. Hauss is Adjunct Professor in the Departments of Public and International Affairs at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia and American University in Washington DC.
John Arquilla and David Ronfeldt
Reviewed on the Highlands Forum Web site, November, 2001.
Arquilla and Ronfeldt are frequent contributors to the Highlands Forum and their work is sponsored by the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (C3I). Arquilla presented his most recent work (pre-publication) at Highlands Forum XVIII, "A Network-Centric DoD", on December 7, 2001.
This is a timely,
well researched and thoughtful book about the world we have come to inhabit
over the past decade, with a punctuation mark added for September 11.
That said, it is not like so many "quickie books" written to
take advantage of recent events. Authors John Arquilla and David Ronfeldt
of the RAND Corporation have been among the most thoughtful writers about
security and diplomacy in an information age. Their previous works include
The editors are joined by Michele Zanini, Sean Edwards, Phil Williams, John Sullivan, Tiffany Danitz, Warren Strobel, Paul de Armond, Dorothy Denning, and Luther Gerlach, and focus on the nature of what has been thought of as an emerging form of conflict and competition. They explore Netwar's "dual nature...composed of conflicts waged, on the one hand, by terrorists, criminals, and ethnonationalist extremists; and by civil-society activists". The essays lock in on an overarching theme. "What distinguishes Netwar as a form of conflict is the networked organizational structure of its practitioners - with many groups actually being leaderless - and the suppleness in their ability to come together quickly in swarming attacks."
While our attention is focused on the Afghan campaign in the news every night, not all Netwar is of the type practiced by Al-Qaeda and Osama Bin Laden. The broad range of Netwar is demonstrated in the complementary essays. But for those who are interested in what they have to say about the recent terrorist activities, their insights are exceptional: see their essays "What Next for Networks and Netwars" and the Afterword ("September 2001: The Sharpening Fight for the Future"). The latter essay was added to the book after the attacks on New York and Washington. "Theory has struck home with a vengeance. The United States must now cope with an archetypal Netwar of the worst kind. The same technology (and infrastructure) that aids social activists and those desiring good of all is also available to those with the darkest intentions, bent on destruction and driven by a rage reminiscent of the Middle Ages."
Avinash K. Dixit and Barry J. Nalebuff
This has become a
classic in the field of management and strategy. What is the best way
to make decisions when the consequences depend not only on one's own actions,
but also on what other people do? Dixit's and Nalebuff's
Why do catastrophes happen? What sets off earthquakes, for example? What about mass extinctions of species? The outbreak of major wars? Massive traffic jams that seem to appear out of nowhere? Why does the stock market periodically suffer dramatic crashes? Why do some forest fires become superheated infernos that rage totally out of control? Experts have never been able to explain the causes of any of these disasters. Now scientists have discovered that these seemingly unrelated cataclysms, both natural and human, almost certainly all happen for one fundamental reason. More than that, there is not and never will be any way to predict them.
Critically acclaimed science journalist Mark Buchanan tells the fascinating story of the discovery that there is a natural structure of instability woven into the fabric of our world. From humble beginnings studying the physics of sand piles, scientists have learned that an astonishing range of things - Earth's crust, cars on a highway, the market for stocks, and the tightly woven networks of human society - have a natural tendency to organize themselves into what's called the "critical state," in which they are poised on what Buchanan describes as the "knife-edge of instability." The more places scientists have looked for the critical state, the more places they've found it, and some believe that the pervasiveness of instability must now be seen as a fundamental feature of our world.
Historians and philosophers of history have long debated whether the human story is one of constant improvement and progress, or whether history is instead a wheel that leads us again and again to the same place - the same choices, the same errors. To judge by this slender volume, David Fromkin is an unabashed partisan of the first school. In his view, the logic of history leads to "the only civilization still surviving, the scientific one of the modern world," the civilization of capitalism and technology. That view is, of course, arguable, but Fromkin defends it ably and intelligently. General readers will be more interested in Fromkin's overview of world history, a fast-forward tour of the evolution of civilization from a simple congeries of agriculturalists, as in Sumer, to a collectivity of peoples interested in such ideals as morality and peacemaking. Fromkin's whirlwind approach is sometimes vexing - he treats, for instance, the fall of Rome in just a few sentences, ignoring generations of scholarly inquiry on the multiple causes of that decline - but it nonetheless yields a spirited synthesis of past events and patterns. Fromkin closes by remarking that although the future may promise "a nightmare of nationalist, religious, and language-group wars," the worldwide adoption of an American-style federalism that transcends such distinctions is a more attractive possibility. "For all its faults," he writes, "the American way may prove to be the only viable one to deal with the consequences of the modernizing revolution. If so, the world is in luck, for continuing American leadership, like it or not, seems to be what the world has got."