A Diamond’s Eye View of the World

a multi-faceted look at the middle east, and the middle west

your army’s bookshelf

Posted by adiamondinsunlight on July 11, 2008

I received another informative email from R yesterday – this one a news-of-the-weird story about the theft of “magical penises” from some village. I’m sparing you that story, but I am posting another book-buying contractor opportunity from our government.

This time, though, the would-be buyer is the US Army – and this is what’s on its wish list:

LI 001, Man who would be King – DVD, 1, EA;
LI 002, Charlie Wilson’s War – DVD, 1, EA;
LI 003, The Kite Runner – DVD, 1, EA;
LI 004, Understand Islam: An Introduction to the Muslim World, Second Revised and Updated Edition By Thomas W. Lippman, 21, EA;
LI 005, Islam for Dummies By Malcolm Clark, 32, EA;
LI 006, Soldiers of God: Wth Islamic Warriors if Afghanistan and Pakistan By Robert Kaplan, 38, EA;
LI 007, God’s Terrorists: The Wahhabi Cult and the Hidden Roots of Modern Juhad By Charles Allen, 20, EA;
LI 008, Bear went over the Mountain: Soviet Combat Tactics if Afghanistan By Lester Grau, 20, EA;
LI 009, Not a Good Day to Die: The Untlod Story of Operation Anaconda By Sean Taylor , 21, EA;
LI 010, Afghan Guerilla Warfare: In the words of the Mjuahideen Fighters By Lester Grau, 38, EA;
LI 011, Ghost War: the Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan and Bin Laden, from the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001 By Steve Cole, 20, EA;
LI 012, Taliban: Militan Islam, Oil and Fundamentalism in Central Asia By Ahmed Rashid, 12, EA;
LI 013, Counterinsurgency Warfare: Theory & Practice (PSI Classic of the Couterinsurgency Era Series) By david Galula, 20, EA;
LI 014, Shipping & Handling, 1, EA;

The army gets bonus points for ordering DVDs – or maybe its an acknowledgment of how increasingly difficult it is to get under-25’ers to actually read, especially if the reading in question involves actual printed pages.

H and I thought that Charlie Wilson’s War was excellent, so I’m thrilled that its now on the Army’s watch list. And while I haven’t yet seen the Kite Runner, the book was excellent. I read it when it first came out – long before it made the best seller lists – and it was one of those quiet thunderclap books that left me wondering where I was when I turned the last page.

I’ve never heard of The Man Who Would Be King, but its apparently a very well regarded 1975 adaptation of a Rudyard Kipling story about two British soldiers who abandon their positions in colonial India to find countries of their own to rule.

Here’s the IMDB summary:

” The Man Who Would Be King” is about two ambitious ex-soldiers stationed in India who set out to become the rulers of an entire country. After finishing their tour of duty in India, Daniel Dravot and Peachy Carnehan have decided that India is “too small for the likes of them,” so they decide to bribe a local ruler and extort money from him, in order to buy twenty Martini rifles, which they will use to take over villages in Kafristan. They face many challenges and perils along the way, including difficult terrain, hostile natives, freezing temperatures, and an avalanche high in the mountains. They eventually come to a small village, Urheb, where they meet Ootah and Billy Fish, an Indian who speaks English; he then becomes their translator. They then train the natives of this village to use the rifles, and soon conquer village after village. During a battle, Daniel is struck by an arrow that seemingly sticks out of his chest. The ignorant natives believe that he must be a God for not having died, and fall down and begin worshiping him. Daniel and Peachy decide that it would be easier for a “God ” to take over the country, so they pretend that Daniel is a god, the son of Alexander the Great who has returned after 2200 years to again rule Kafristan.

Unfortunately for the two men, the villagers ultimately realize that Daniel is not a god, and they kill him, leaving Peachy to return to England with his friend’s head, which he shows (in the movie version, at least) to Kipling as rather gruesome proof of his tale.

I’m not sure what the moral of this story is, at least from the Army’s point of view, but the IMDB reviewer closes by saying that the film’s themes include: 1. ambition 2. friendship 3. taking risks 4. perseverance (not giving up) 5. power 6. honor and dignity.

And perhaps it also serves as a caveat for any Iraq-based infantrymen itching to try out their own Alexander-the-Greatness in, say, Bahrain. Or Qatar.

Meanwhile, I’m feeling great sympathy for the one unlucky soldier designated to receive a copy of Shipping and Handling. Unless, of course, he or she has chronic insomnia 🙂 .

And one final, totally unrelated note:

Lebanon finally has a cabinet – i.e., it now has a fully functioning government.



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