The inscription on the Eagle and Fledglings statue at our U.S. Air Force Academy reminds us that “man’s flight through life is sustained by the power of his knowledge.” I believe knowledge isn’t a final destination – something we “get” and hold on to forever – but is instead a neverending pursuit. This year’s Chief of Staff’s reading list is designed to encourage Airmen toward pursuing knowledge that grounds them in history, sustains them in today’s flight, and propels them toward our limitless horizon. I encourage you to begin reading books from this list and, as the slogan says, “Read it, learn it, live it!”
You can access the complete reading list at www.af.mil/library/csafreading/ and each of these books will be available through our Air University schools and Air Force libraries. The list’s historical focus is based on my conviction that, in a time of accelerating change, it’s essential we fully understand the heritage upon which we’re building our future. We must understand the history that’s made us the Air Force we are today, and we must understand the historical and political contexts, which framed the debates of the past and color people’s thinking today.
Accordingly, this year’s list includes four books I consider important to understanding our military heritage. While last year’s list focused on early American history and the birth of our great nation, this year’s list moves forward in history and includes titles dealing with America’s birth as an international power. The list also includes titles offering historical context to current Department of Defense-wide initiatives, such as transformation and efforts to improve joint, interdependent operations.
I’ve also included six books devoted to exploring Our Air Force Heritage. Last year’s list was dedicated largely to Billy Mitchell and the general concept of air power. This year, the books focus primarily on World War II-era Airmen and Army Air Forces leaders – giants that have left important and lasting legacies such as Spaatz, Doolittle, and Chennault. But the list also includes an important book covering space leaders of the last half-century and introduces the Vietnam-era “Misty FACs,” who battled valiantly over the Ho Chi Minh trail in Southeast Asia.
Five books headline the Our Mission, Doctrine, and Profession section. These books teach critical transformational and combat lessons and should frame our thinking about air power today. The last two books in this section further expand our thinking about the value of lean corporate processes and how to lead organizational change.
Finally, I recommend reading five books to help you understand Our Nation and World. All of them focus on political, economic, social, and cultural development in the Middle East, which will help readers understand and appreciate the heavy influence of history on conflicts and resentments in the region today.
I hope you’ll make the time to read and enjoy this collection of great books. As you know, developing Airmen is one of my highest priorities and I consider the pursuit of knowledge a central part of any Airman’s development. I remain constantly amazed by who you are and what you do every day for the Air Force and our great nation. Thank you, and keep it up.
CSAF reading list
Our Military Heritage
• The Philippine War 1899-1902 – Brian McAllister Linn
• The Last Days of Innocence: America At War 1917-1918 – Meirion & Susie Harries
• The Air War: 1939-1945 – Richard J. Overy
• Victory on the Potomac: The Goldwater-Nichols Act Unifies the Pentagon – James R. Locher III
Our Air Force Heritage
• Master of Airpower: General Carl A. Spaatz – David R. Mets
• I Could Never Be So Lucky Again: An Autobiography of General James H. “Jimmy” Doolittle with Carrol V. Glines
• Beyond Horizons: A Half Century of Air Force Space Leadership – David N. Spires
• Courage and Air Warfare: The Allied Aircrew Experience in the Second World War – Mark K. Wells
• Chennault: Giving Wings to the Tiger – Martha Byrd
• Bury Us Upside Down – Rich Newman & Don Shepperd
Our Mission, Doctrine, and Profession
• Learning Large Lessons: The Evolving Roles of Ground Power and Air Power in the Post-Cold War Era – David E. Johnson (RAND)
• 10 Propositions Regarding Air Power – Phillip S. Meilinger
• Sir John Fisher’s Naval Revolution – Nicholas A. Lambert
• Lean Thinking: Banish Waste and Create Wealth in Your Corporation – James P. Womack & David T. Jones
• Leading Change – John P. Kotter
Our Nation and World
• From Babel to Dragomans: Interpreting the Middle East – Bernard Lewis
• Middle East: A Brief History of the Last 2000 Years – Bernard Lewis
• A History of the Arab Peoples – Albert Hourani
• The Dream Palace of the Arabs – Fouad Ajami
• The Foreigners Gift – Fouad Ajami