Chief of Staff's Reading List for 2009

  • Published
  • By Gen. Norton A. Schwartz
  • Chief of Staff of the Air Force
The professional development of Airmen remains one of our key priorities; to that end we've carefully selected each book on my 2009 reading list. I consider professional reading important for every Airman: officer; enlisted; and civilian.

This year my reading list includes twelve books. You owe it to yourself, our Air Force, and our Nation to continually increase your knowledge. The reading list is one small step in this direction.

This year's reading list is organized into three areas: 1) Military History; 2) Mission, Doctrine, Profession; and 3) Our Nation and Our World. Every quarter this year I will highlight three books from the list and explain why I think they are pertinent to your professional development.

The first book speaks to our Military History. American Patriot: The Life and Wars of Colonel Bud Day, by Robert Coram, details the life of a heroic man in the United States Air Force. Coram's superb biography of the most decorated living American veteran begins with Bud Day's childhood and follows him through joining the Air Force, marrying his high school sweetheart, and flying demanding missions in Vietnam. It is a truly remarkable story of a great Airman and Medal of Honor recipient.

The second book, Modern Strategy by Colin S. Gray, makes sense of the strategic history of the 20th Century and what this implies for the 21st Century. Gray recently wrote a thought-provoking Strategic Studies Quarterly article about Airpower and Irregular Warfare, and this book is an excellent backdrop for better understanding the demands on our Air Force.

The third book for this quarter is Beating Goliath: Why Insurgencies Win, by Jeffrey Record. This book examines the phenomenon of victories by the weak over the strong, and more specifically, insurgencies that succeeded against great powers. Mr. Record reviews eleven insurgent wars from 1775 to the present and suggests why the seemingly weaker side won. He concludes that external assistance correlates more consistently with insurgent success than any other explanation.

I hope you enjoy these books. I truly believe reading plays an important part in the professional development of Airmen and that these books will provide valuable insight into our changing Air Force and world. The entire 2009 reading list can be found at