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Battle-Ready Books: Gen. Dempsey's Annual Picks

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey released his reading list today -- what can be described as an annual literary roll call of badass military books to promote professional development in the armed forces.

This is the 18th annual list for the general, who has a master's degree in English from Duke University and taught English at West Point. Noticeably missing from this year's list: a certain New York Times columnist who got two spots from Dempsey last year. The general included Thomas Friedman's The World is Flat and The Lexus and the Olive Tree in 2011.

A recurring winner, though, is also my favorite book of all time: The Art of War by Sun Tzu.

"I challenge you to read these books with a critical eye," Dempsey said. "Challenge assumptions, broaden your perspectives, and look for lessons to apply yourself and to your units."

Here's the general's 2012 reading list:

  • A Message to Garcia by Elbert Hubbard
  • The Age of the Unthinkable: Why the New World Disorder Constantly Surprises Us and What We Can Do About It by Joshua Cooper Ramo
  • The Art of War by Sun Tzu
  • The Art of War by Antoine Henri Jomini
  • The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable by Nassim Nicholas Taleb
  • Boyd: The Fight Pilot Who Changed the Art of War by Robert Coram
  • Command of the Air by Giulio Douhet
  • George Washington and the American Military Tradition by Don Higginbotham
  • The Influence of Sea Power on History by Alfred Thayer Mahan
  • Maritime Strategy by Julian S. Corbett
  • Monsoon: The Indian Ocean and the Future of American Power by Robert D. Kaplan
  • On War by Carl von Clausewitz
  • Once an Eagle by Anton Myrer
  • Soldier and the State by Samuel P. Huntington
  • The Starfish and the Spider: The Unstoppable Power of Leaderless Organizations by Ori Brafman and Rod A. Beckstrom
  • Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action by Simon Sinek
  • Twentieth Century American Biography Series: George C. Marshall by Mark A. Stoler
  • 7 Deadly Scenarios: A Military Futurist Explores War in the 21st Century by Andrew F. Krepinevich