Thursday, January 3, 2013

Paul Bracken

Paul Bracken is the author of Fire in the East and The Command and Control of Nuclear Forces. He is a professor of management and political science at Yale University, and was previously a member of the senior staff of the Hudson Institute under Herman Kahn and a consultant to the Rand Corporation. He serves on several Department of Defense advisory boards and works with global multinational corporations on strategy and technology issues.

His new book is The Second Nuclear Age: Strategy, Danger, and the New Power Politics.

Recently I asked the author about what he was reading.  Bracken's reply:
I just read Colin Wilson's Rasputin and the Fall of the Romanovs (1964). It offers a fantastic view of the inner workings of elites in the Russia of Nicholas and Alexandra , and just how crazy the mix of people and institutions can get. More deeply, Wilson argues that Rasputin illustrates the interaction of big historical mega trends with individuals who literally alter the direction of these trends. Had Rasputin been assassinated in 1910, rather than 1916, Russia might never have got into World War I, and almost surely would have developed into a constitutional monarchy. No Lenin, no Stalin. Maybe no Hitler. No cold war.

Another book I read is The Diary of Anais Nin (Volume Two, 1934-1939). The Diary puts you on the frontier of working psychoanalysis in New York and describes the depressions, madness, and human condition of New Yorkers in the 1930s. Nin assisted the therapist Otto Rank, and then began to see patients herself. It is so interesting to compare the unhappiness of patients in the 1930s with those of today. America is a very different country at a very different period of national development.
Learn more about The Second Nuclear Age at the Times Books website.

--Marshal Zeringue