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Weekly Roundup for 14 Dec 2014

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Mercenaries, Hybrid Armies and National Security by Dr. Caroline Varin: Almost all the reading I’ve been doing recently has been non-fiction, and I just finished this book last week. I really liked it. While it included a lot of theory, the history and analysis of the French Foreign Legion, Executive Outcomes, and US Government contractors during the Iraq War was informative and quite interesting. I have to say that I learned some stuff, and the author was refreshingly open-minded about what might motivate “mercenaries.” If you dig this kind of stuff, I would recommend this book for a scholarly consideration of the practice of hiring out violence.

Mercenaries, Pirates, Bandits, and Empires – Private Violence in Historical Context edited by Dr. Alejandro Colas and Dr. Bryan Mabee: This book is a collection of essays on a topic not dissimilar to the above book, unfortunately it was so enmeshed in international relations theory and so full of axe-grinding, I didn’t enjoy it at all, and can’t really say that I learned anything. Too much of the discussion was about theories put forward by other scholars that were obviously wrong and let me tell you why, but not with any level of clarity. If you are in a post-graduate international relations program, maybe you’ll get something out of this, but if you are and if you read it, the lesson I’d like for you to take away is: don’t write this way.

Gunfight at the O.K. Corral: This is the 1957 movies directed by John Sturges and starring Burt Lancaster as Wyatt Earp and Kirk Douglas as Doc Holliday. Now, Tombstone is one of my favourite movies, and I’m sorry, but not even the legendary Kirk Douglas can hold a candle to Val Kilmer’s version however this is a really enjoyable movie. The approach is more of developing the characters of Earp and Holliday as they become friends and slowly draws us into the conflict in Tombstone. Do yourself and favour – if you like Westerns and haven’t seen this, check it out.