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Stephen Glain's Top Book Recommendations

Want to know what books Stephen Glain recommends on their reading list? We've researched interviews, social media posts, podcasts, and articles to build a comprehensive list of Stephen Glain's favorite book recommendations of all time.

Perils of Dominance is the first completely new interpretation of how and why the United States went to war in Vietnam. It provides an authoritative challenge to the prevailing explanation that U.S. officials adhered blindly to a Cold War doctrine that loss of Vietnam would cause a "domino effect" leading to communist domination of the area. Gareth Porter presents compelling evidence that U.S. policy decisions on Vietnam from 1954 to mid-1965 were shaped by an overwhelming imbalance of military power favoring the United States over the Soviet Union and China. He demonstrates how the... more
Recommended by Stephen Glain, and 1 others.

Stephen GlainThe author, Gareth Porter, makes some very interesting points, backed up by his source notes, that put things in a different perspective for me. For example, he points out how utterly weak the Soviet Union was, throughout much of the Cold War, relative to the US. And how defensive its posture was, relative to the US. How it lacked the technology and weaponry that could have allowed it to do the... (Source)

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Walt Rostow's meteoric rise to power--from Flatbush, Brooklyn, to the West Wing of the White House--seemed to capture the promise of the American dream. Hailing from humble origins, Rostow became an intellectual powerhouse: a professor of economic history at MIT and an influential foreign policy adviser to John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson.
Too influential, according to some. While Rostow inspired respect and affection, he also made some powerful enemies. Averell Harriman, one of America's most celebrated diplomats, described Rostow as "America's Rasputin" for the unsavory...
Recommended by Stephen Glain, and 1 others.

Stephen GlainThis is a wonderful book. I came across it because I read a review and it became clear to me that Walter Rostow, the subject of the book, was a singular personality in the panoply of foreign policy militarisation. It’s a very good read. I believe it’s David Milne’s first book, and he just knocks it out of the park. He opens with this amazing anecdote about Robert McNamara. It was his last day in... (Source)

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For the last sixty years, the CIA has managed to maintain a formidable reputation in spite of its terrible record, burying its blunders in top-secret archives. Its mission was to know the world. When it did not succeed, it set out to change the world. Its failures have handed us, in the words of President Eisenhower, “a legacy of ashes.”

Now Pulitzer Prize–winning author Tim Weiner offers the first definitive history of the CIA—and everything is on the record. LEGACY OF ASHES is based on more than 50,000 documents, primarily from the archives of the CIA itself, and hundreds of...
Recommended by Stephen Glain, and 1 others.

Stephen GlainYes. This book reads like the Keystone Kops. It’s amazing how often the CIA just blundered, going from one screw-up to the next, despite having some very intelligent people. But I once listened to Tim Weiner giving an interview and he said something very profound. He said every president since it was created under Truman has abused the CIA. Too often it’s used to prove a presumed fact, a fact... (Source)

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Recommended by Stephen Glain, and 1 others.

Stephen GlainYes, and this gives it an intimacy which other books of this genre don’t necessarily have. He does a great job of twinning his own experiences and memories with the towering personalities of the Cold War, like Curtis LeMay. LeMay figures very heavily in my book, because he is the ultimate militarist who was also in the military. In my book I am very careful to point out that most of the... (Source)

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The Best and the Brightest

The Best and the Brightest is David Halberstam's masterpiece, the defining history of the making of the Vietnam tragedy. Using portraits of America's flawed policy makers and accounts of the forces that drove them, The Best and the Brightest reckons magnificently with the most important abiding question of our country's recent history: Why did America become mired in Vietnam and why did it lose? As the definitive single-volume answer to that question, this enthralling book has never been superseded. It's an American classic. less

Barack ObamaAccording to the president’s Facebook page and a 2008 interview with the New York Times, these titles are among his most influential forever favorites: Moby Dick, Herman Melville Self-Reliance, Ralph Waldo Emerson Song Of Solomon, Toni Morrison Parting The Waters, Taylor Branch Gilead, Marylinne Robinson Best and the Brightest, David Halberstam The Federalist, Alexander Hamilton Souls of Black... (Source)

Chad DickersonJust finished Best and the Brightest (long and detailed book on the Vietnam War) & if I learned one thing it’s that many assume people in charge of a war have a clear plan that should be supported out of patriotic duty & it’s highly possible they don’t. Skepticism is patriotic. (Source)

Martin BellI started off doing tribal massacres in Nigeria. Then in early 1967 I went to Vietnam and was back there in 1972. David Halberstam was the main New York Times correspondent in Vietnam during that time. Lyndon Johnson lent very heavily on the newspaper’s editor to get him withdrawn because he didn’t like his reports. Halberstam was very truthful about what he found. (Source)

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