The Didact's Best Books of 2015

With the New Year just around the corner, I thought it worth putting together a list of the best books that I've read this year. Readers- all 2.3 of you- can take or leave my opinion, of course, but the selections below have certainly entertained as well as enlightened me; I have no doubt that they will do the same for others.

You can find my ratings for all of the books that I've read through here. As I had stated at the beginning of the year, any book that merits a 3/5 or higher will get a link to its Amazon purchase page. Note that I am not- at present- an Amazon Affiliate of any kind, so I have no financial incentive of any kind to try to get you to click on those links.

The Didact's Top 5 Non-Fiction Books of 2015


1. Mohammed and Charlemagne Revisited: The History of a Controversy by Emmet C. Scott
Quite possibly the most revolutionary book about history that you will ever read. This book completely upends everything most of us were taught in school about the so-called "Dark Ages", and has the additional and very considerable benefit of destroying a great many simple and naive illusions that we might have about the origins and impact of Islam.





An absolute must-read for any masculine man (and feminine woman) living and working in the SJW-infested West today. This indispensable guide does not bother with telling you what an SJW is- there are other works for doing this. Instead, it tells you how an SJW works, why SJWs are so dangerous, and gives you a clear strategy for first dealing with, and then fighting back against, them and their devious ways. This is one that must be read repeatedly as a reference guide.



3. The Transformation of War by Martin Van Creveld
This book is nearly a quarter-century old, yet its message about the fundamental changes of the art of war remains as urgent, and as brilliantly articulated, today as it was on the day it was published. This book is the first, and probably easiest to read, of William S. Lind's 7 books that form the "4GW canon"; having read three out of those seven books now, I am very much looking forward to reading through the rest as I struggle to understand and come to grips with the theory and practice of 4th-Generation Warfare. Exceptional, essential reading. 




John Boyd is not, by any stretch of the imagination, a household name. Yet his impact has been far-reaching and profound. He was one of the best fighter pilots that the USA has ever produced- indeed, quite possibly the best, ever, despite never having a single aerial kill to his name. He was obsessed by the quest to synthesise knowledge, to solve problems that crossed disciplines and subjects. He played an instrumental role in designing the three greatest warplanes that the USA has ever made. He profoundly influenced, and indeed fundamentally re-shaped, the way that the US Army and Marine Corps fight. He was, quite simply, a legend- but a poorly understood and appreciated one. Robert Coram's masterful biography does a very great deal to shed some much-deserved light upon one of the greatest thinkers and doers of his, and any other, age.



William S. Lind's arguments about 4th-Generation Warfare are unquestionably controversial. They are deeply unpopular in many circles. Yet there can be no question that he is on to something critically important and fundamental to our understanding of the ways in which war will be fought in the future. His collection of columns can be dry and technical at times, but his writing is generally superb, and his predictions about the disastrous Wilsonian "Syracuse Expedition" that America undertook in Iraq were uncannily and disturbingly accurate.



The Didact's Top 5 Fiction Books of 2015


1. One Bright Star to Guide Them by John C. Wright
One could argue that this novella isn't actually all that original, being essentially a sort of "remix" of C. S. Lewis's Narnia stories written by a grown-up version of the young child who read those stories and loved them. Yet I challenge anyone to read through this wonderful little book, get to the end, and not find himself deeply moved by the magnificent ending, which captures perfectly the spirit of love and Christian devotion that guided Lewis himself and now guides Mr. Wright. This book was nominated for a Hugo Award during the classless spectacle that was the 2015 awards process- a nomination that, I am delighted to say, came about as a direct result of the Sad/Rabid Puppies movements. It was, of course, denied such an award because those awards long ago descended into mutual back-scratching and fart-sniffing between the Torlocks and their allies- so we helped them nuke their own ceremony. Despite that hilarious disaster, this novella remains a superb example of Mr. Wright's sublime skills as a writer.


The second and best book of the Broken Empire trilogy, this book sees the anti-hero, Jorg Ancrath, become a king through means both fair and very, very foul. The writing is superb, the characters are a delight to read, and the story is absolutely gripping. The only bad thing about it is that the final book in the series, Emperor of Thorns, rather lets down the side because of its pretty limp-wristed ending.




This is the book that more or less wraps up the "main" part of the Posleen War storyline. It is also the funniest, best written, and most memorable book in the entire series. The characters are both believable and hysterically funny; the pop-culture references are brilliantly done; and John Ringo's signature style finds full expression in this book. The only downside is that you have to read through the previous 4 books in order to fully appreciate how good this one is- which is no bad thing, necessarily, it's just that those books are of varying quality compared to this one.


4. The Tuloriad (Legacy of the Aldenata Book 12) by John Ringo and Tom Kratman
I'm a big fan of John Ringo's work (obviously). I'm also a big fan of LTC Kratman's writing. This book is a truly rare treat; you get to see two masters of military science fiction at their peaks, writing a superbly crafted story that blends the narrative style of Greek epic poetry with the demands of modern sci-fi, and combines both with the unique characteristics of both writers. Thus, you get John Ringo's uproarious sense of humour mixed in with Tom Kratman's rather more bloodthirsty narrative style, and you get the full benefit of both men's deep understanding of the art of war.



5. Darkship Thieves by Sarah A. Hoyt
I have read other fiction books that I liked better than this one. But they're all by the same authors- Jay Allan, John Ringo, Tom Kratman, and Mark Lawrence, mostly. And those books were all very good, to be sure. Sarah Hoyt, however, is unique because- for the first time in a very long time, I was able to read a book by a female author, with a female protagonist, that didn't have a complete Mary Sue as the heroine. In this particular case, in fact, the main character of the book actually starts off being a bit hard to handle, and grows considerably throughout the story as she comes to love and cherish the genetically altered man that rescues her at the very beginning. Excellent writing and characterisation round out this superb work of space-opera sci-fi.


Hall of Fame


Starship Troopers by Robert A. Heinlein
It simply does not matter how many times I read this book. I learn something new from it every time. No book has ever been so influential upon my thinking. This is the book that completely changed the way I thought about and understood politics, civic duty, and of the vitally important trinity of family, faith, and flag that it has become so fashionable to ignore. This book is the greatest military sci-fi novel ever written- nothing and no one has ever managed to top it. And yet, the brilliance of this book is that it manages to be that brilliant a "juvenile" novel, while simultaneously being the most thought-provoking and important self-contained civics textbook that you will ever read.

That's it for 2015. The book list page for 2015 will be taken down and turned into a standalone post, so you'll be able to check it out anytime you want. In its place will be a new page for 2016. (The same things will be done with my albums page.)

One of the greatest pleasures for any introvert, however, is the fact that there is no such thing as "too much reading". And I am very much looking forward to reading much, much more in the coming year.

Comments

  1. Have you ever read Armor, by John Steakley? Published in 1983.

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    Replies
    1. I have not. I'll put it on my to-do list for 2016 and let you know what I thought of it.

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  2. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-qZndiIEHUA

    The relevant point is in the first minute.

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    Replies
    1. Yeah, I agree- that isn't my definition of a dog either.

      The fact that you wrote most of the actual material in the books done in collaboration with John Ringo makes sense, there was a distinct but very interesting change in style and tone from, say, Hell's Faire to Watch on the Rhine. Personally, I rather liked it, though as a fan of the Carrera series I would suggest that Mr. Ringo might want to think about incorporating a few more crucifixions into his next book in the Hedren War series (when- if?- that ever gets released)...

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  3. Where "most" is defined as 100% minus a couple of sentences. Now one of the things John DID put in was "snorting VX." That was pure Ringo.

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