What We’re Reading: On War, Real and Imagined

Weekly reviews of what's on our bookshelves.

A History of Warfare By John Keegan Waxing philosophical about war is nearly as old as war itself. Sun Tzu, Winston Churchill, Thucydides, Shakespeare; among these authors and countless others, more ink has been used to pen war stories than to sign treaties toward their resolution. War is an extensive canon of life, death, love, hate, tragedy and, if you’re Joseph Heller or Kurt Vonnegut, comedy. Geopolitical Futures is in the business of understanding all things geopolitical. And war, for better or worse, is as much a part of geopolitics as economics or demography or technology is. On several occasions war has altered the direction of human history. It has given rise to new governments while wiping others off the map. If geopolitics is eternal – and we believe it is – then the prosecution of war is timeless as well. Cormac McCarthy may agree. In “Blood Meridian,” the dark exploration of humanity’s inclination toward violence, he wrote, “War was always here. Before man was, war waited for him. The ultimate trade awaiting its ultimate practitioner.” Macabre though that sentiment may be, it forces us to reconcile with reality what is all too often an abstraction: that war is something […]

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Cole Altom
Cole Altom is the managing editor at Geopolitical Futures. He oversees the publishing department, which curates the website, develops Geopolitical Futures’ editorial strategy, consults with analysts, liaises with marketing and maintains the integrity of all published material. Before joining Geopolitical Futures, Mr. Altom worked at Stratfor for seven years, during which time, as managing editor, he handled special projects, served as personnel director for the publishing department, ran the internship program, managed website taxonomy, tracked website analytics, developed new content types and edited and copyedited published material. Mr. Altom earned a bachelor’s degree in international studies and political science at Trinity University in San Antonio. He is a certified English teacher and is conversant in Spanish.
Phillip Orchard
Phillip Orchard is an analyst at Geopolitical Futures. Prior to joining the company, Mr. Orchard spent nearly six years at Stratfor, working as an editor and writing about East Asian geopolitics. He’s spent more than six years abroad, primarily in Southeast Asia and Latin America, where he’s had formative, immersive experiences with the problems arising from mass political upheaval, civil conflict and human migration. Mr. Orchard holds a master’s degree in Security, Law and Diplomacy from the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs, where he focused on energy and national security, Chinese foreign policy, intelligence analysis, and institutional pathologies. He also earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Texas. He speaks Spanish and some Thai and Lao.