Intellectual spring cleaning: it’s time for a military “Do Not Read” list; and some sources that should be on that list

By Aaron P. Jackson, Ben Zweibelson and William Simonds

Published in: Defence Studies, Vol. 18, No. 2 (2018)

Abstract: Military reading lists, intended to promote professional reading and in turn enhance education and develop critical thinking skills and sound judgement, recommend key texts to military personnel. This is a noble intent but the lists themselves, while generally good, are not flawless. Critiques of military reading lists often focus on what sources they are missing. This article offers its own critique but from a different perspective. It does so by analysing why some sources, which have become outdated, are based on faulty or incomplete research, have been thoroughly disproven, or some combination of the above, nevertheless linger on military reading lists. It then offers a short list of such sources, which it recommends be either removed from existing reading lists or accompanied by other sources that place the original source in appropriate historical context. Where applicable, it also recommends alternative sources that provide insights into the same subject matter. In so doing, this article is intended generate debate and to assist militaries to achieve a better balance between evaluation, induction and retention of valid knowledge on one hand, and rejection of outdated or flawed knowledge on the other.

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