Author: MAJGEN Mick Ryan - COMADC

Most years, we get surprised by something in the security environment.  It is probably fair to say however that this year, we have had a couple more surprises than we were expecting.  Here in Australia, we had the terrible bushfires, which has now been followed by the global COVID-19 pandemic. 


Over the coming weeks and months, we all must face the challenges presented by COVID-19.  We will do so as individuals, as family members, as military and national security professionals and as citizens of our respective countries.  One of the key tools that nations and institutions are using is social distancing.  For many this means remote working and self-isolation.


But like many clouds, there is a silver lining.  For those who are well enough to do so, this is an opportunity to catch up on some professional reading.  Whether it is that book that has been sitting on the bedside table for too long, or something you have been recommended and not had a chance to buy, we are all likely to have a little extra time that might be used to continue building our professional knowledge.


To that end, over the weekend I contacted some of my friends and colleagues around the world to assemble a list of reading suggestions.  With the ridiculously long title “At Home During the Pandemic – A Contingency National Security Reading List” I hope you find something interesting to read over the coming weeks.  While it is mainly comprised of books related to national security, a couple of those who provided recommendations suggested poetry and fiction.  I included them.  And I would emphasize that this is a list of suggestions of what to read during a pandemic, not what to read about a pandemic (although one may have snuck in).


Thank you to all those who provided additions to this list.  I have listed the reading recommendations in alphabetical order of those who provided them, along with their twitter handles.  Enjoy!


  • Army Mad Scientist (@ArmyMadSci): William Forstchen, One Second After
  • Dave Barno (@DWBarno76): Ian Toll, Pacific War Trilogy
  • Genevieve Bell (@FeralData): Thomas Rid, Rise of the machines: A Cybernetic History;  and Robert Hass, Field Guide 
  • Jo Brick (@ClausewitzRocks): Cathal J. Nolan, The Allure of Battle: A History of How Wars have been Won and Lost
  • Joe Byerly (@JByerly81): Homer, The Odyssey (Emily Wilson translation)
  • Danielle Cave (@DaniellesCave): Zeynep Tufekci, Twitter and Tear Gas: The Power and Fragility of Networked Protest
  • August Cole (@August_Cole): William Gibson, Agency; and, Peter Tieryas, Cyber Shogun Revolution
  • Mick Cook (@Mick_Cook): HR McMaster, Dereliction of Duty: Johnson, McNamara, the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Lies that Led to Vietnam
  • Jasmin Craufurd-Hill (@JasminCHill): Jared Diamond, Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed
  • Charles Edel (@CharlesEdel): Anne Applebaum, Iron Curtain: The Crushing of Eastern Europe, 1944-1956
  • Toni Erskine (@Toni_Erskine): Stephen M. Walt, The Hell of Good Intentions: America’s Foreign Policy Elite and the Decline of US Primacy; and, Audrey Kurth Cronin, Power to the People: How Open Technological Innovation is Army Tomorrow’s Terrorists
  • Nate Finney (@NKFInney): Albert Camus (translated by Gilbert and Marculescu), The Plague 
  • Aimee Fox (@DrAEFox): Kara Dixon Vuic, The Girls Next Door: Bringing the Home Front to the Front Lines; and, Jennifer Mittelstadt, The Rise of the Military Welfare State
  • Mike Hatherell (@MKHatherell): Daron Acemoglu and James A. Robinson, The Narrow Corridor: States, Societies, and the Fate of Liberty
  • Michael Horowitz (@MCHorowitz): Robert Gilpin, War and Change in World Politics
  • Marija Jovanovich (@Maz_Jovanovich): Robert Blackwill and Jennifer M. Harris, War by Other Means: Geoeconomics and Statecraft. 
  • Elsa Kania (@EBKania): Mara Hvistendahl, The Scientist and the Spy: A True Story of China, the FBI and Industrial Espionage
  • Andrew Liptak (@AndrewLiptak): Sean McFate, The Modern Mercenary: Private Armies and What They Mean for World Order
  • Tyrell Mayfield (@TyrellMayfield): Chris Voss, Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It
  • Mitch Mitchell (@DirectorDCDC): Henry Kissinger, World Order; and Kerry Brown, Contemporary China
  • Clare O’Neil (@ClareONeill): Graham Allison & Philip Zelikow, Essence of Decision: Explaining the Cuban Missile Crisis; and Frederick Lewis Allen, Since Yesterday: The 1030’s in America, September 3 1929 to September 3, 1939
  • Natalie Sambhi (@SecurityScholar): Philip K. Dick, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?; and, Eka Kurniawan, Beauty Is A Wound
  • Jessica Scott (@JessicaScott09): Andy Greenberg, Sandworm.
  • Lesley Seebeck (@LesleySeebeck): John Lewis Gaddis, The Landscape of History: How Historians Map the Past
  • Pauline Shanks Kaurin (@KaurinShanks): Yvonne Chiu, Conspiring with the Enemy: The Ethic of Cooperation in Warfare
  • Peter W. Singer (@PeterWSinger): Rick Atkinson, The Liberation Trilogy
  • Heather Skousgaard (@DrSkous): Tim Marshall, Prisoners of Geography: Ten Maps That Tell You Everything You Need to Know About Global Politics
  • John Spencer (@SpencerGuard): Marko Kloos, Terms of Enlistment