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One of my guilty pleasures of govdocs is the reading lists and other book lists that agencies post. I find it fascinating to see which books an agency lists – and which they omit.
I only recently discovered one that has been around for a long time. It is the “Intelligence Officer’s Bookshelf” – a regular feature in the Central Intelligence Agency’s Studies in Intelligence – a journal of the Center for the Study of Intelligence. The author is Hayden Peake, who serves in the CIA’s Directorates of Operations and Science and Technology. He has been compiling and writing reviews for the “Intelligence Officer’s Bookshelf” since December 2002.
Here are some samples:
From Vol. 58 No. 3 Includes a review of No Place To Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S. Surveillance State, by Glenn Greenwald. One of three books about Snowden reviewed. Peake says of Greewald’s book that it is “..the most complete, though far from the most objective account of the Snowden affair to date. Lawyer-journalist Glenn Greenwald is the only one of the three authors to have met and interviewed Snowden.”
From Vol 58 No. 2. Includes a review of Civilian Warriors: The Inside Story of Blackwater and the Unsung Heroes of the War on Terror, by Erik Prince; (a “set-the-record-straight” account).
From Vol 57 No. 2. Includes a review of Ian Fleming and SOE’s Operation Postmaster: The Untold Top Secret Story Behind 007, by Brian Lett. Peake says, “Lett goes on to make the sweeping claim that for Fleming, Operation Postmaster ‘was clearly inspirational. He stored it away in his mind and eventually used these men to create James Bond, the perfect Secret Agent….'” and “The successful Operation Postmaster is a small but significant part of SOE history, and Lett tells that story well. The frequent allusions to James Bond are only distractions.”
I think it fascinating that government agencies create “reading lists” of recommended books. The Ninth Circuit Library of the United States Courts has a list called Understanding Freedom’s Heritage: How to Keep and Defend Liberty by Justice Anthony M. Kennedy(!). It is described as being prepared for young people and “includes some acknowledged classics and some idiosyncratic choices.”
The State Department has its Suggested Reading List for Foreign Service Officers.
The newest list I have found is the U.S. Department of Labor’s list of Books that Shaped Work in America. There have been more than a dozen stories about this project in the media. The DOL describes the project this way:
In honor of its Centennial in 2013, DOL, in partnership with the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress, is developing a list of Books that Shaped Work in America. To get started, we’ve asked members of the DOL family, as well as many other esteemed individuals, for suggestions. That includes you! Suggest a book to add to the list.
Of course, this list is a work in progress, and essentially always will be, since — like America itself — work is constantly changing and evolving.
Read more about this initiative.
Each book has its own page at dol.gov, too.
Here is a short essay about the list by Kathy M. Newman, who is a professor of Literary and Cultural Studies at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh:
- Books that Shaped Work in America, by Kathy M. Newman The Washington Spectator (January 28, 2014).
Don’t forget to make your own suggestions for the list!
Have you ever checked out the reading lists of the armed forces? Interesting!
- Reading Lists Aim to Promote Personal, Professional Growth, By Donna Miles, American Forces Press Service (Nov. 22, 2011).
[P]rofessional reading remains an important part of the military culture. Every service, most professional military schools and an increasing number of geographic and combatant commands offer up reading programs and reading lists as part of their professional development efforts.
In fact, many have multiple reading lists, aimed at different groups within the military at different ranks and stages of their careers.
“…What I discovered reading Hemingway, Shakespeare, Dostoyevsky, Faulkner, Updike, Forester, McCarthy and countless other authors shaped my world view and honed my understanding of the most complex terrain in the world: the human heart.” [Navy Adm. James G. Stavridis, commander of U.S. European Command and NATO’s supreme allied commander for Europe]
Hat tip to beSpacific!