Author Topic: What book are you reading now?  (Read 259778 times)

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Offline dangerboy

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Re: What book are you reading now?
« Reply #1375 on: December 19, 2017, 20:46:31 »
Sweet!  I didn't know the 7th was out yet. 

Glad I just finished reading Altered Carbon (just in time for the Netflix series to be out in Feb).  It had some interesting bits about transferring consciousness to other bodies, and the effects it would have on society (esp criminals and hit-people).

Just added that to my want to read list, it looks interesting.
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Offline FJAG

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Re: What book are you reading now?
« Reply #1376 on: January 12, 2018, 20:59:08 »
Okay. I've finished reading Michael Wolff's Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House.

https://www.amazon.ca/Fire-Fury-Inside-Trump-White-ebook/dp/B077F4WZZY/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1515805136&sr=8-1&keywords=fire+and+fury

For full disclosure let me say that I come at this from a right of centre position with an equal distaste for Canadian Liberal Party and American Republican Party for clearly different reasons. Furthermore I have a longstanding disrespect for Trump which reaches back much further than his decision to get involved in politics. I'm somewhat predisposed to believing bad things about him so I won't dwell on particular anecdotes that reinforced my impression of him.

The book itself is generally well written and easy to read. It flows more or less chronologically and smoothly with the exceptions of two breaks in the flow where I had to check to see if my Kindle hadn't skipped a chapter.

It's very obvious that Wolff's primary source in this book is Steve Bannon. While it is also clear that there are other contributors to round out some events, most of the action takes place from a Bannon point of view and effectively sets him up as the hero of the tale. In that respect if your objective is to get Bannon's take on the President and on the internal fights between the three key White House power bases (Bannon; Chief of Staff Preibus; and Jared Kushner/Evanka Trump) then this is your book until he publishes his own.

One of the more interesting tidbits that comes out of this account is that the vast majority of the leaks coming out of the White House were from the three power blocks as they jostled for primacy and out of Trump himself. Apparently Trump spent most of his evening hours on the phone continuously talking to a wide selection of his billionaire friends seeking advice and validation during the course of which he held back very little. Much of that ended up in the press.

There is very little depth to the book perhaps because the White House that it represents has little depth to it and is portrayed as being run by amateurs. Bannon clearly sees himself as the only one there that had a political philosophy and political agenda (which he credits for the election win) and portrays himself as the only adult in the room. He does credit Trump with an innate sense of showmanship.

Surprisingly, quotes by some of the media notwithstanding, the book isn't as critical and condemning of Trump and his coterie as I thought it would be. It's more about chaos than stupidity. In places it seems critical of the way that the main stream media is handling the White House. Perhaps that's because much of the book is coming from Bannon, it isn't written from an extreme left wing/Democrat viewpoint but more from that of an insider with his own ax to grind. You end up taking the thing with more than a grain of salt but much of it sounds quite probable including some of the more salacious comments attributed in the book to Trump's staff and peers.

If there is anyone looking for the whole unvarnished truth about the Trump White House I expect that it will never be found. Ever. I doubt if one will ever find the truth in an organization where truth and facts and alternate facts are a word game to be played indiscriminately. Wolff himself admits that he did have trouble getting consistent viewpoints about events from the various players and therefore had to determine which were the more probable.

Is it a great book? Nope. A worthwhile read? Yup, and I would suggest for both sides of the aisle.

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Re: What book are you reading now?
« Reply #1377 on: January 13, 2018, 00:17:04 »
For fans of sports history I received a copy of Game Change by Ken Dryden for Christmas from my sons.  It is "the story of NHLer Steve Montador—who was diagnosed with CTE after his death in 2015—the remarkable evolution of hockey itself, and a passionate prescriptive to counter its greatest risk in the future: head injuries."  An interesting chronology of Montador as well as other concussion suffers - Keith Primeau for example.
https://www.chapters.indigo.ca/en-ca/books/game-change-the-life-and/9780771027475-item.html
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Offline dangerboy

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Re: What book are you reading now?
« Reply #1378 on: January 15, 2018, 21:02:52 »
Just picked up "The Unwomanly Face of War: An Oral History of Women in World War II" by Svetlana Alexievich. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/32905382-the-unwomanly-face-of-war. This book was originally written in Russian and has been translated into English. It is a history of Soviet women who served in the Red Army in WWII. You hear a lot about how the Red Army treated civilian women (German and Soviet) as they advanced towards Berlin but you don't hear much about how women in the Soviet forces were treated and what they experienced.
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Offline EpicBeardedMan

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Re: What book are you reading now?
« Reply #1379 on: January 15, 2018, 23:52:14 »
A Column of Fire by Ken Follett...another continuation book from The Pillars of the Earth..probably one of the best books I've ever read. Looking forward to cracking this one open.
The military isn't really like a James Bond movie where you go for jet training in the morning and then underwater demolitions after lunch.

Offline dapaterson

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Re: What book are you reading now?
« Reply #1380 on: January 16, 2018, 00:04:04 »
A blast from the past - re-reading a book I originally read as an 11 or 12 year old.  "Alan Mendelsohn, the Boy from Mars" by Daniel Manus Pinkwater.  No summary could do it justice - but after reading it, if you find a copy of Yojimbo's Japanese-English Dictionary, you'll know what to do...
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Offline Colin P

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Re: What book are you reading now?
« Reply #1381 on: January 16, 2018, 11:30:58 »
Just finished the "war of the running dog". It really shows how much the right people at the right time and place can influence events.

Offline CanadianTire

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Re: What book are you reading now?
« Reply #1382 on: January 16, 2018, 13:47:22 »
I just finished "Salt - A World History" by Mark Kurlansky. It's a very interesting read on the human history of salt and salt production and it shows how big an impact salt has had on the world.

And I have just started Martin Gilbert's "The Battle of the Somme". It's been sitting on my bookshelf for close to ten years, I figured it was time to read it.
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Online MarkOttawa

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Re: What book are you reading now?
« Reply #1383 on: January 26, 2018, 22:34:36 »
Just finished.  Put aside Daniel Ellsberg's "Pentagon Papers", er, caper--the RAND man is still very sharp (and consider how young he was when he started learning what then were very serious thermonuclear secrets and what he has over time concluded therefrom).  What is not mentioned in the excerpts is how low down the command chain effective ability to use nukes was in the 1950s/early 60s US services:

Quote
The Nuclear Worrier
Thomas Powers   
January 18, 2018 Issue
The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner   
by Daniel Ellsberg

...he went to work in his late twenties as an analyst for the RAND Corporation in 1959 [after three years as a US Marine officer http://www.ellsberg.net/bio/]. His first and biggest worry was the American effort to defend itself with nuclear weapons. When Ellsberg finally got a look at the plans for such a war he realized immediately that the Strategic Air Command had built a military instrument that not only could but in his view probably would break the back of human civilization.

...What separated Ellsberg from ordinary civilian worriers was his access to the actual war plans for doing it again. By the time he received his first clearances to know official secrets about types and numbers of weapons, the handful of first-generation bombs, assembled one by one by hand at Los Alamos, New Mexico, had been replaced by more and better devices. Fat Man, the fission bomb that destroyed Nagasaki, was blimplike in shape, weighed about 10,000 pounds, and exploded with the energy of 20,000 tons of TNT. By the late 1950s the first few fission bombs had been replaced by ever-expanding numbers (soon to be thousands) of thermonuclear fusion weapons, small enough to fit in the nose cone of a missile or under a jet fighter, and roughly a thousand times more powerful than Fat Man. RAND did many studies for the Pentagon on the best way to defend America with these superweapons, and the best way to fight a war with them.

Ellsberg’s initiation into the secrets did not happen in a day, and it took him awhile to realize that there were many levels of clearances, each more secret, more tightly held, and shared with fewer people than the last. Beyond Top Secret, the highest clearance known to exist by the general public, were the code-word clearances for what is now called “sensitive compartmented information.” These permitted an individual to know certain specific secrets, like the fact that the United States had developed tools—spy planes and reconnaissance satellites—to photograph the Soviet intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) that could carry thermonuclear warheads. The number of Soviet missiles was not the one hundred argued by Air Force alarmists in the Pentagon or the fifty claimed in a National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) in June 1961.

In September of that year Ellsberg learned that the United States would not find it hard to destroy the Soviet missile force. Only four ICBMs were ready to go and they were all at the missile-testing site in Plesetsk, about five hundred miles north of Moscow and a hundred miles south of the White Sea. The four missiles were liquid-fueled and took a long time to prepare for launch. They were standing up in the open and were close enough together to get all four with a single nearby hit. To know this you had to have code-word clearances for Talent and Keyhole, the systems of overhead reconnaissance that filmed the vulnerable Soviet missile force.

There is a widespread belief, Ellsberg writes, that “everything leaks; it all comes out in the New York Times.” That, he says, “is emphatically not true [one wonders what has not, eh?]. ” Even analysts at the heart of the secret world are not cleared for many categories of secret information and are not cleared to know that they are not cleared. While Ellsberg was being initiated into these secrets he did not know that his own father had once enjoyed an early version of a code-word clearance, a “Q” clearance that protected the secret work on fusion weapons in the years after World War II. Ellsberg’s father told him this in 1978, when he also confessed that he had resigned in 1949 from a bomb-related engineering job—“the best job he’d ever had,” Ellsberg writes—because he wanted no part in building anything a thousand times more powerful than the bomb that destroyed Hiroshima.

Ellsberg was astonished. Why had he never known about this? “Oh, I couldn’t tell any of this to my family,” answered the senior Ellsberg. “You weren’t cleared.”

The Doomsday Machine addresses three subjects. The first is the history of Ellsberg’s work at RAND on nuclear war planning just before and during the Kennedy administration, when he discovered what Air Force General Curtis LeMay, commander of the Strategic Air Command, had planned and prepared by 1960 to do to the Sino-Soviet bloc in the event of war. The second is how city-destroying attacks became the air strategy of choice during World War II [still an important subject], with the effect of gradually resigning airmen to the efficiency of nuclear weapons, one of which could do what it had taken three hundred B-29 bombers over Japan to do using conventional bombs...
http://www.nybooks.com/articles/2018/01/18/daniel-ellsberg-nuclear-worrier/

As an aging Cold Warrior, who has had relevant Canadian government jobs, has read for many decades about miltary history, nuclear deterrence theory and related technologies, and has never found satisfactory personal answers--I urge that this book be read.  If not the revelation itself it is at least quite revealing.  In the best thoughtful sense.

Another personal note about how seriously Ottawa Centre takes such matters.  I worked under secondment from External Affairs in my mid-30s from 1982-84 at the Intelligence Advisory Committee in the PCO (as current intelligence coordinator as part of a tiny staff under a wonderful Canadian Army colonel who gave me my head though I had then long hair).  At the time US testing of cruise missiles in Canada was a big political issue (https://www.csmonitor.com/1983/0329/032955.html).

So I went to the PCO library (yes, Virginia, there was one) and found this book: (https://www.amazon.ca/Cruise-Missiles-Richard-K-Betts/dp/0815709323).  Which never had been taken out.  So I stole it, took it home and read it.  Good bunch of essays. TERCOM and all that (http://spie.org/Publications/Proceedings/Paper/10.1117/12.959127).

Mark
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Offline Old Sweat

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Re: What book are you reading now?
« Reply #1384 on: January 27, 2018, 09:55:52 »
I am nearly finished reading Ellsberg's book and second MarkOttawa'a comments. It is a sobering book and one must wonder if the SAC planners in the 50s and early 60s were sane. Perhaps they had such little confidence in the accuracy, reliability and survivability of their delivery systems and weapons that they aimed for overkill many times over. That, however, is not clear in the book and is speculation on my part.

The section on the Cuban Missile Crisis is fascinating, especially to one who experienced it.

Recommended!

A further thought about the planners: it is possible the SAC planners, who would have been operating in a stressful and highly compartmentalized environment, lost a sense of reality in pursuit of their goal of defeating the Soviet-Sino threat. For an imperfect related example, look at the planning of Dieppe, not by Command Operations staff who were enthusiastic amateurs, but by the 2nd Canadian Infantry Division, who seemed to have put legitimate concerns about an obviously unworkable concept of operations aside and pushed on, attempting to make it work
« Last Edit: January 27, 2018, 10:06:06 by Old Sweat »

Offline Grey51

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Re: What book are you reading now?
« Reply #1385 on: February 21, 2018, 21:42:36 »
"War Since 1945" by Jeremy Black.

This is a really fascinating little book that has helped clear up a lot of my.. what I would call romanticized notions of the nature of conflicts during the Cold War.

Offline FJAG

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Re: What book are you reading now?
« Reply #1386 on: February 28, 2018, 00:01:49 »
Revisiting an old friend: The Restaurant at the End of The Universe by Douglas Adams.  ;D

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Offline Journeyman

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Re: What book are you reading now?
« Reply #1388 on: March 19, 2018, 16:28:07 »
Just printed off "Global Threats: Paradox of Progress, 2017" (US National Intelligence Council) for some light, barstool reading.  LINK
(Every four years they put out an updated assessment of things that can mess with a peaceful night's sleep)


...plus browsing through the "Director's Reading List, 2018"  (US Defense Intelligence Agency)  LINK
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Re: What book are you reading now?
« Reply #1389 on: March 19, 2018, 18:34:01 »
Finally finished Persepolis Rising, the latest from the Expanse series.

It took a long time as I was only reading bits while on commercial flights, but I'm still waffling whether the book (and the turn the series is taking) is good or not.  I think it may have jumped the shark.
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Re: What book are you reading now?
« Reply #1390 on: March 19, 2018, 18:35:23 »
Now that is a list of some great reading. Thanks for the links Journeyman.
My more general reading interest was taken by "The Quantum Spy: A Thriller" by David Ignatius.

“The Quantum Spy is David Ignatius at the top of his game! A truly thrilling, superbly crafted spy novel that focuses on pivotal contemporary issues―the competition to achieve quantum computing technology, the high stakes rivalry between the U.S. and China, and the conduct of spycraft in a digital age.”
- General (Ret.) David Petraeus, former Director of the CIA, commander of the Surge in Iraq, and commander of coalition forces in Afghanistan."

https://www.amazon.com/Quantum-Spy-Thriller-David-Ignatius/dp/0393254151/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1521498275&sr=1-1&keywords=david+ignatius+the+quantum+spy

« Last Edit: March 19, 2018, 18:39:59 by Baden Guy »

Offline Colin P

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Re: What book are you reading now?
« Reply #1391 on: April 02, 2018, 10:25:59 »
One more River by Peter Allen about the Rhine crossings of 1945

Offline Chris Pook

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Re: What book are you reading now?
« Reply #1392 on: April 02, 2018, 11:13:03 »
I am nearly finished reading Ellsberg's book and second MarkOttawa'a comments. It is a sobering book and one must wonder if the SAC planners in the 50s and early 60s were sane. Perhaps they had such little confidence in the accuracy, reliability and survivability of their delivery systems and weapons that they aimed for overkill many times over. That, however, is not clear in the book and is speculation on my part.

The section on the Cuban Missile Crisis is fascinating, especially to one who experienced it.

Recommended!

A further thought about the planners: it is possible the SAC planners, who would have been operating in a stressful and highly compartmentalized environment, lost a sense of reality in pursuit of their goal of defeating the Soviet-Sino threat. For an imperfect related example, look at the planning of Dieppe, not by Command Operations staff who were enthusiastic amateurs, but by the 2nd Canadian Infantry Division, who seemed to have put legitimate concerns about an obviously unworkable concept of operations aside and pushed on, attempting to make it work

Thanks to both Mark and OS for the recommendation.  On the list.

Just a thought about the SAC hierarchy.  How many of the planners of 1948 were survivors of the bombing campaigns of 1942-1945? 

RAF (including RCAF) (Wiki) -
Quote
In total 364,514 operational sorties were flown and 8,325 aircraft lost in action. Bomber Command aircrews suffered a high casualty rate: of a total of 125,000 aircrew, 57,205 were killed (a 46 percent death rate), a further 8,403 were wounded in action and 9,838 became prisoners of war. Therefore, a total of 75,446 airmen (60 percent of operational airmen) were killed, wounded or taken prisoner.
  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RAF_Bomber_Command_aircrew_of_World_War_II#Casualties

Quote
Squadrons would normally be tasked to dispatch 12 – 25 aircraft on a night operation and at least one of their crews would be expected to be lost every two night operations. Squadrons losing multiple crews on a single night was quite normal and on several nights during World War II some squadrons lost five or six of their crews in a single night.[203][204][205]

USAF (USAAF, USAAC) (Wiki) -
Quote
Half of the U.S. Army Air Force's casualties in World War II were suffered by Eighth Air Force (more than 47,000 casualties, with more than 26,000 dead)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eighth_Air_Force#World_War_II_(1944%E2%80%931945)

Quote
Around 135,000 men flew in combat in the 8th Air Force
http://www.taphilo.com/history/8thaf/8aflosses.shtml

While it is unseemly for this civilian to question the sanity of the survivors of those campaigns perhaps it is not out of the way for it to be suggested that men who had watched one in two or three of their mates and men under their command fail to return, as they returned day and night to bomb the same targets with precision bomb sights that failed to deliver, might have had justifiably skewed perceptions on scientists and how to conduct bombing campaigns.

If the intent is to "kill them all"  then why not do it fast with the least amount of casualties to the friendlies.


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Re: What book are you reading now?
« Reply #1393 on: April 08, 2018, 13:14:08 »
I just finished reading Death at Nuremberg By W.E.B. GRIFFIN and WILLIAM E. BUTTERWORTH IV Part of A Clandestine Operations Novel, https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/319027/death-at-nuremberg-by-web-griffin-and-william-e-butterworth-iv/9780399176746/

I love learning about military and world history through the wonderful works of W.E.B. Griffin.
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Offline daftandbarmy

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Re: What book are you reading now?
« Reply #1394 on: April 09, 2018, 02:10:16 »
In the Footsteps of Scott

https://www.amazon.com/Footsteps-Scott-Roger-Mear/dp/0586206884

Signed by Gareth Wood, who I used to work with. A good egg...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w9qD8D4Xb9g
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Offline Blackadder1916

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Re: What book are you reading now?
« Reply #1395 on: April 09, 2018, 02:31:09 »
I just finished reading Death at Nuremberg By W.E.B. GRIFFIN and WILLIAM E. BUTTERWORTH IV Part of A Clandestine Operations Novel, https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/319027/death-at-nuremberg-by-web-griffin-and-william-e-butterworth-iv/9780399176746/

I love learning about military and world history through the wonderful works of W.E.B. Griffin.

I also am (was?) a fan of Griffin's novels, however this latest was a bit of a disappointment.  Maybe it's just me but it seems since Griffin's son, Butterworth IV, has teamed up with his father the writing has suffered, characterizations are weaker and plot development is truncated.  I'm not saying they phoned it in, but it was almost as if they had a quota to meet.
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Offline Rifleman62

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Re: What book are you reading now?
« Reply #1396 on: April 09, 2018, 10:22:07 »
Concur with your comments re Death at Nuremberg (Book IV in the CLANDESTINE OPERATIONS series). Seems like Butterworth writes to his Dad's template. I wonder how active Griffin actual is? Didn't enjoy book one/two in the series.
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Offline whiskey601

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Re: What book are you reading now?
« Reply #1397 on: May 05, 2018, 18:18:56 »
A Handful of Hard Men: The SAS and the Battle for Rhodesia

Not a story of gay special forces dudes, although it could happen.

Seriously, this has been a very enjoyable read so far about an unusually resilient group of lads during some very tough times.   

Cheers

Offline FJAG

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Re: What book are you reading now?
« Reply #1398 on: May 05, 2018, 21:30:37 »
Gentlemen Bastards: On the Ground in Afghanistan with America's Elite Special Forces by Kevin Maurer.

https://www.amazon.ca/Gentlemen-Bastards-Afghanistan-Americas-Special/dp/0425253597

A bit so so. Nothing special or enlightening. Basically an embedded reporter's period of time with an ODA working with the Afghan National Civil Order Police in the fall of 2010 in Kandahar.

 :cheers:
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Offline whiskey601

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Re: What book are you reading now?
« Reply #1399 on: May 10, 2018, 17:16:27 »
A Shield and a Sword: Intelligence Support to Communications with US POWs in Vietnam
Studies in Intelligence Vol 60, No. 1 (Extracts, March 2016)

This article (attached in pdf) was referenced by one of my students who chose to research microdot embedded data. Thought I would pass it on, it makes for interesting reading.

Also, can the history buffs on this site direct me to more information on the NVA execution/massacre of an entire ARVN regiment (thought to be about 1800) at base of The Rockpile, in April 1972. (other than the SMJ article and other google search returns.)  I am informed that someone who served in Op Gallant either investigated or documented some of the evidence at the site in 1973, but I can find no information that puts CF or even UN personnel at that site in 1973.  This caught my attention as I previously had studied the US ELINT site at the very same location.

edit: pdf will not attach>> article is here: https://www.cia.gov/library/center-for-the-study-of-intelligence/csi-publications/csi-studies/studies/vol-60-no-1/pdfs/Peterson-Taylor-POW-Communications.pdf
« Last Edit: May 10, 2018, 17:23:39 by whiskey601 »