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10 Books Victor Davis Hanson Recommends to Understand the War in Syria

Should America intervene after Assad's use of chemical weapons? These titles may help you make up your mind.

Dave Swindle


September 3, 2013 - 10:30 am

Is Assad laughing at American leaders’ ignorance of history and war? His 11 year old certainly is in a post on Facebook, daring Obama to attack Syria.

Click here to visit the Freedom Academy Book Club for the Recommendations.

On August 13 I named PJ Media’s columnist Victor Davis Hanson as one of my foundational influences on both foreign policy and culture. The headline stated bluntly why one should consider Hanson’s contributions at PJ Media and National Review and especially his many books of military and classical historyThe Price We Pay for Our Ignorance of Military History Is Dead Americans.  I cited from this excerpt from page 12 of The Father of Us All: War and History Ancient and Modern, explaining a key reason why both our political leaders and the public at large remain so confused about how to respond to the potential of war in Syria:


Did the two people making the decisions about Syria — Barack Obama and Valerie Jarrett — ever take a single course in military history? Have they read a single book about the origins of the Syrian conflict? Or is their UN ambassador Samantha Power’s foreign policy manifesto A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide their all-purpose guide?

To learn more of the history behind this conflict and weigh potential U.S. involvement, check out these three titles Hanson recommends:

Syria, the United States, and the War on Terror in the Middle East  by Robert G. Rabil

syria and war on terror

The Truth about Syria by Barry Rubin


The Syrian Rebellion by Fouad Ajami


Click here to visit the Freedom Academy Book Club for *7 more new recommendations from Hanson.


* VDH added another title to his list.

David Swindle is the associate editor of PJ Media. He writes and edits articles and blog posts on politics, news, culture, religion, and entertainment. He edits the PJ Lifestyle section and the PJ columnists. Contact him at DaveSwindlePJM @ and follow him on Twitter @DaveSwindle. He has worked full-time as a writer, editor, blogger, and New Media troublemaker since 2009, at PJ Media since 2011. He graduated with a degree in English (creative writing emphasis) and political science from Ball State University in 2006. Previously he's also worked as a freelance writer for The Indianapolis Star and the film critic for He lives in Los Angeles with his wife and their Siberian Husky puppy Maura.

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All Comments   (7)
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Why do we need to read a book?
We know that Obama is a liar, we know that Kerry is duplicitous, we know that McCain is a nut. C'mon these guys are not going to do America any good. Nothing they say can be believed.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
From his other postings at PJMedia I gather that Victor Davis Hanson is just another bloodthirsty lunatic stroking our fear.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Nine books? Really? Please. I can boil it down to one sentence.

The United States has no abiding national security interests in Syria.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Rush Limbaugh said today that he has heard from several of his sources that the sarin gas attack in Syria was staged by the rebels on their own people so as to draw in the US. That the dead numbered in the 100's and not nearly 2k.

Curiously, the secretary of state testified before the senate this afternoon that the Russians are telling the US the same thing. That the sarin gas attack was staged by the syrian rebels to draw in the USA.

The situation is clear as mud.

Further the person who asked Kerry the question as the veracity of the report about the gas attack in syria was Barbara boxer and not a republican. After Kerry answered that the Russians had said it was a set up, Kerry hastened to add that the Russians have been very helpful in a whole set other areas--then Kerry rattled them off.

Boxer wanted to know if Kerry had heard any dissenting voices within the intelligence community. Kerry gave the distinct impression that he was hearing only voice--that of DNI James Clapper-- which for some reason tends to impeach the story.

Has anyone heard what Israeli intelligence is saying about the matter. Their sources should at least as good as the Russians--and certainly better than the DNI on this matter.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Hey, Professor Hanson?

Will this be on the final?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Do we have to read all that do decide we don't want to get involved?

Just askin'. . . .
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I'd like to suggest that everybody start first with "The Clash of Civilizations" by Samuel P. Huntington.

I believe the Syrian crisis constitutes an intra-civilizational conflict between Muslim factions, predominantly a Sunni vs. Shiite struggle that started about 1400 years ago. We will have to cross the civilizational boundaries once again, to get into this mess. We have no friends in Syria, but it will be real easy to make everyone our enemies, just as Obama has dramatically accomplished in Egypt. This is a time to stand on the sidelines and cheer.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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