Sunday, April 6, 2008

Robert Bateman

Robert L. Bateman, an infantryman, historian, and prolific writer, is the author of two books -- Digital War, A View from the Front Lines (Presidio: 1999) and No Gun Ri, A Military History of the Korean War Incident (Stackpole, 2002) -- and has contributed to or co-authored seven others.

Near the end of last month I asked him what he was reading. His reply:
I dread this question because it inevitably requires a bit of a confession on my part. I am, for whatever reason, what one might call a "multi-reader." In other words, I am usually working my way through anywhere from five to ten books at the same time.

Yea, I know. It's strange. Or at least other people think that it is strange. I myself thought nothing of it until one Saturday when I was a teenager my father came into the living room chuckling to see me reading. I asked what was so funny about the fact that I was reading and dad said that he had just finished walking around the house and counting all the scattered books that I had resting opened or bookmarked. He found them in the bathroom, several in my room, two in the basement, one in the kitchen, and one on the back porch. So, you see, asking me "what are you reading?" is a bit problematic.

I will, therefore, confine myself to the books in my current, immediate, vicinity. That is to say within reach here at my desk.

First would be the two books in my briefcase, which I read during my commute here in Washington, DC. These are The Navy Times Book of Submarines, a Political, Social and Military History, by Brayton Harris, and my friend Eric Alterman's book Why We're Liberals, A Political Handbook for Post-Bush America.

Sitting on my desk is one book that I just now completed, and about which I wrote a review for the US Army War College journal Parameters, Muhammad, Islam's First Great General by military historian Richard Gabriel. The second book resting open here is Vietnam Awakening, My Journey from Combat to the Citizens' Commission of Inquiry on U.S. War Crimes in Vietnam, by Michael Uhl. I'll be doing a review of that one for Vietnam magazine. Finally, one book through which I am selectively fishing, The Interagency and Counterinsurgency Warfare: Stability, Security, Transition, and Reconstruction Roles, published by the Strategic Studies institute of the Army War College and edited by Joseph Cerami and Jay Boggs.

Obviously I don't want to load your page with synopsis accounts of all of these, but suffice it to say that I find all of them interesting, if for different reasons. As for "pleasure reading" at home, well, I usually limit that to Terry Pratchett's diskworld books (we all have to escape somehow), and others of that ilk.

Bateman was a Military Fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) and has taught Military History at the U.S. Military Academy. Read many of his recent articles at the Committee of Concerned Journalists website.

Visit Robert L. Bateman's website.

--Marshal Zeringue