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2020 War on the Rocks Holiday Reading List

This year perhaps more than most a good book is a welcome companion for the wintry season. To that end, here is our annual roundup of favorite books from the War on the Rocks family. We hope you’ll find something for everyone on this list, whether your taste runs to nonfiction or sci-fi.

Happy holidays from all of us to all of you.

David Barno

The Wizard War by R.V. Jones. A classic World War II account of the British battle for scientific supremacy over the Third Reich. R.V. Jones was a 28-year old scientist at the beginning of the war who quickly rocketed to the top of British scientific intelligence, and whose brilliant insights on German rocketry, radar and direction-finding capabilities helped saved countless allied lives. Written with droll humor, this book provides fascinating insights not only into the critical wartime relationships and fast-moving science, but into life as a civilian in war-torn Britain. Of key importance to us today, this account describes a remarkable wartime marriage of civilian scientists and senior military leaders that the United States would be hard-pressed to duplicate in a future conflict.

Apollo’s Arrow by Nicholas A. Christakis. One of the first, and so far best books out on the coronavirus pandemic and its implications. The author, a physician, sociologist and Yale professor, jumps out ahead of the pack to provide vital insights on the sudden emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic, and how its cascading effects will shape much of the rest of this century. Christakis breaks down this staggering event and its projected aftermath into recognizable phases, but the timelines he chooses may rattle you: immediate (through 2022), intermediate (perhaps through 2024), and post-pandemic (2024 and beyond). This is a timely and important book that can help us grapple with what is happening now, and begin to think about how this cataclysmic global disruption will forever alter significant elements of our world.

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