Reading List, part three: Potomac’s Holiday Gift Guide

Potomac Books titles can be great gifts for those interested in military history, world and national affairs, foreign policy, defense and national security, terrorism, and intelligence. To narrow down the list, we’ve picked some of Potomac’s recent titles. From former politicians to CIA agents and war battles to war movies, this list has it all.

The Legacy of H.W.

George H. W. Bush

George H. W. Bush: Character at the Core

George H. W. Bush ranks among America’s most distinguished men of the last century. A war hero, businessman, politician, and the forty-first president of the United States, Bush has spent most of his life dedicated to public service. Author, Curt Smith worked with Bush for more than twenty years, including during his presidency, when Smith wrote more speeches for Bush than anyone else. George H. W. Bush: Character at the Core shows how Bush’s courtesy and belief in work, religion, and American exceptionalism helped the patrician connect with Middle America and take his place among the most revered statesmen of his time.

Transforming the global economy

Packing for India

Packing for India: A Life of Action in Global Finance and Diplomacy

A narrative description of the transformation of our world economy told through Ambassador David Mulford’s life experience as a scholar, private investment banker, Under-Secretary of the U.S. Treasury, and Ambassador to India. In Packing for India, Mulford explores the underpinnings, vulnerabilities, and great promise of a global economy that through the spread of capital, products, people, and technology has transformed economic realities and aspirations around the world. Packing for India is also a deeply personal memoir of experience and transformation, a firsthand account of key events, and a reflection on world leaders and on the United States’ role in international finance.

 More than just spies

Stories from Langley

Stories from Langley: A Glimpse Inside the CIA

Applicants to the Central Intelligence Agency often asked Edward Mickolus what they might expect in a career there. Mickolus, a former CIA intelligence officer whose duties also included recruiting and public affairs, never had a simple answer. If applicants were considering a life in the National Clandestine Service, the answer was easy. Numerous memoirs show the lives of operations officers collecting secret intelligence overseas, conducting counterintelligence investigations, and running covert action programs. But the CIA isn’t only about case officers in far-flung areas of the world, recruiting spies to steal secrets. For an applicant considering a career as an analyst, a support officer, a scientist, or even a secretary, few sources provide reliable insight into what a more typical career at the CIA might look like. Stories from Langley is a collection of personal essays detailing the adventures, advice, and experience of generations of CIA support and technical officers.

 Poison gas on the western front

Trial by Gas

Trial by Gas: The British Army at the Second Battle of Ypres

World War I has long captured the macabre imagination for the seemingly willful manner in which nations sent their young men to die in droves while fighting over essentially the same patch of land for four long years. The vision of those senseless deaths becomes even harsher and more depraved when we consider how many soldiers were killed by poison gas. Trial by Gas by George H. Cassar is a study of the British Army at the Second Battle of Ypres in WWI, a battle that marked the first use of poison gas on the western front.

One hundred years of war films

War on the Silver Screen

War on the Silver Screen: Shaping America’s Perception of History

Americans have been almost constantly at war since 1917. In addition to two world wars, the United States has fought proxy wars, propaganda wars, and a “war on terror,” among others. But even with the constant presence of war in American life, much of what Americans remember about those conflicts comes from Hollywood depictions. In War on the Silver Screen Glen Jeansonne and David Luhrssen vividly demonstrate how war movies have burned the images and impressions of those wars onto the American psyche more concretely than has the reality of the wars themselves. War on the Silver Screen draws on more than a century of films and history, including classics such as All Quiet on the Western FrontApocalypse Now, and The Hurt Locker, to examine the legacy of American cinema on twentieth- and twenty-first-century attitudes about war.

 Working at both ends of the spear

Warrior Diplomat

Warrior Diplomat: A Green Beret’s Battles from Washington to Afghanistan

Grappling with centuries-old feuds, defeating a shrewd insurgency, and navigating the sometimes paralyzing bureaucracy of the U.S. military are issues that prompt sleepless nights for both policy makers in Washington DC and soldiers at war, albeit for different reasons. Few, however, have dealt with these issues in the White House situation room and on the front line. Michael G. Waltz has done just that. In Warrior Diplomat: A Green Beret’s Battles from Washington to Afghanistan, Waltz recounts experiences as both a policy official and Special Forces officer in the Bush and Obama administrations, Waltz offers a unique, firsthand account of  the American war effort in Afghanistan.

 The lasting impact of military service

Red, White, and True

Red, White, and True: Stories from Veterans and Families, World War II to Present

Red, White, and True offers readers a collection of voices that reflect the experiences of those touched by war—from the children of veterans who encounter them in their fathers’ recollections of past wars to the young men and women who fought in the deserts of Iraq and Afghanistan. The diversity of perspectives collected in this volume validates the experiences of our veterans and their families, describing their shared struggles and triumphs while honoring the fact that each person’s military experience is different. These individual stories of pain and struggle illustrate the inescapable damage that war rends in the fabric of society and celebrate our dauntless attempts to repair these holes with compassion and courage.

 A journalist’s life through his daughter’s eyes

Croswell Bowen

Croswell Bowen: A Writer’s Life, a Daughter’s Portrait

Croswell Bowen is the life story of a journalist who wrote his way through the major events of the mid-twentieth century. His daughter, Betsy Connor Bowen, follows the path left by her father as he wrote about the Wall Street crash of 1929, the Great Depression, World War II, the McCarthy era, the presidency of John F. Kennedy, and the Vietnam War. This is a riveting account of the life and times of an American journalist and a daughter’s quest to find her father through his work at the intersections of journalism, democracy, and liberalism.

 Take a look at the whole Fall/Winter 2014 season here for more gift ideas.

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