Categories
Security Technology Foreign policy

Death From Above

“Death from above” . Image: AK Rockefeller/Flickr

This book review was originally published by the Center for International Maritime Security (CIMSEC) on 28 May, 2015.

Andrew Cockburn. Kill Chain: The Rise of the High-Tech Assassins. Henry Holt Publishers. 307pp. $28.00.

It’s not often that a book review coincides with current events. Books, particularly nonfiction, are usually written and published months, if not years after an event has occurred. That’s because good nonfiction is written in retrospect: writers have spent some time absorbing their subject, researching and analyzing the facts; authors are hesitant to be rash in judgment or thought.

However, there are exceptions. Some pieces of nonfiction, particularly journalists’ works, are appropriate now — not later. Andrew Cockburn’s new book, Kill Chain: The Rise of the High-Tech Assassins, is one of them.  Cockburn’s book is timely.  In just the past few weeks there has been a flood of reporting from media outlets stating that a drone strike killed an American and an Italian hostage when targeting a group of Al-Qaeda members operating near the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.

Categories
History Diplomacy

John Quincy Adams — The Grand Strategist

John Quincy Adams, the 6th president of the United States. Image: J.C. Tichenor/Wikimedia

This article was originally published by the Center for International Maritime Security (CIMSEC) on 7 May, 2015.

Who knew that John Quincy Adams (1767-1848) was so interesting? Or that he was probably the most sleep deprived and crankiest U.S. President ever to live in the White House?  Or that he wrote in a journal  every day — totaling some 17,000 pages and 51 volumes — since he was twelve until the day he died on the floor of Congress in 1848?

The word “fascinating” doesn’t begin to describe this man. But unfortunately for John Quincy Adams, his father has seemed to eclipse him in many ways.  David McCullough’s wonderful biography of John Adams, which was turned into a popular HBO series, cemented the founding father’s stature in the collective American conscience.  Thus, many of us only know John Quincy as a sequel, a trivial pursuit question: “Which eighteenth-century U.S. President had a son who also became a U.S. President?”  It is always, it seems, this way with sequels.  They never quite measure up in our minds and in our hearts.