I think that it is great that military commanders now have reading lists (who doesn’t have one these days?). Encouraging military professionals to understand their profession in ways other than by dint of their own experience alone is a worthwhile endeavour and should be encouraged.
This sentiment, of course, depends on the assumption that all books so chosen have a contribution to make towards the noble aims of such an enterprise. But what is one to make of ‘bad books’?
On the Commandant of the US Marine Corps’s Professional Reading List, I found and read this book: The Warrior Ethos by Stephen Pressman. It is required reading for every Marine, regardless of rank or role. And to me, that is a shame.
The book is chock full of bumper-sticker aphorisms, many of which are contradictory, the bulk of which are sexist, some downright misogynist. The book advocates a turn to ‘subjective control’ of the military, rather than ‘objective control’, on the basis that the distinctions between the military culture and the civilian one are unhealthy.
A confusing–even worrying–choice, therefore, and one that needs defending if it is to be appreciated.