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Corps Chief's Reading List

Corps Chief’s Current Reads – The books that MG Sargent is currently engaged in and would like to have meaningful discussion about.

1. Gaddis, John L.. The Landscape of History: How Historians Map the Past. Oxford University Press, 2004.
Synopsis: What is history and why should we study it? This is one of several questions that is addressed in this shot, witty book. The Landscape of History provides insight into the historian’s craft, we all as, a strong argument for why historical study should matter today. This book should appeal to not only fledgling historians, but seasoned social scientists and experienced practioners. Relevance: Part of ensuring our success in the future is a healthy understanding of our past. This book provides an easy-to-read guide to understand the study of our past using the historical method.

Corps Chief’s Past Reads – Additional books that MG Sargent recommends to further your professional reading.

2. Gates, Robert D. A Passion for Leadership. Knopf Publishing, 2016.
Synopsis: Are bureaucracies truly too large and difficult to reform? With so much at stake, and with the vital impact that these same bureaucracies have on our freedom and security, Robert Gates agues they are not. Having demonstrated a propensity for positive change at the CIA, Texas A&M University, and the Department of Defense, Robert Gates offers insight into how major organizations can be transformed in this thoughtful and inspiring book. Relevance: LOE 3 of the Campaign plan discusses a “Culture of Innovation and Best Practices,” which is ingrained in this book. As MSC Officers, we should look to create positive change and reform in all aspects of our organization.

3. Van Straten, James G. A Different Face of War: Memories of a Medical Service Corps Officer in Vietnam. University of North Texas Press, 2016.
Synopsis: This is vividly told story of a MSC Officer serving in I Corps near the DMZ during the early stages of the conflict in Vietnam. He wrote letters to his wife daily, which are the primary source of information in his memoir. He describes in great detail many of the experiences he had during his travels throughout the war-torn country, and his interactions with fellow Officers, NCOs, civilians caught in the conflict, and even political operatives. Relevance: MSC Officers have played a major role in all major conflicts since the corps’ inception. Knowing our history is vital to understanding the sacrifices made by those that shaped the MSC into the corps we proudly serve in today.

4. Dorner, Dietrich. The Logic of Failure. Basic Books, 1997.
Synopsis: This exceptional work by Dietrich Dorner explores whether the human thought pattern can lead to failure at times. Not adjusting processes to keep up with the current OPTEMPO can be a recipe for disaster. A large number of the industrial accidents over the years have been avoidable, but are not due to human error. This book explores the logic behind those decisions, and how to avoid making them. Relevance: This book perfectly aligns with LOE 1 and 3, in terms of developing the field, enabling organizations, and brining innovation to the organization. Learning from the mistakes of the past is critical to leader development and organizational improvement.

5. Nance, John J. Why Hospitals Should Fly: The Ultimate Flight Plan to Patient Safety and Quality Care. Second River Healthcare Press, 2008.
Synopsis: At time this book was written in 2008, it was exponentially safer to be a piece of luggage on a plane, than a patient in a healthcare facility. The “why” is what this book gets to the heart of. The airline industry has made great strides in customer safety over the years, and this book outlines some of the methods employed, so they can in turn be utilized in modern healthcare facilities. Relevance: Part of the job of leaders is to ensure the safety of our organization. This book talks about some best practices that can be used to improve our HRPs and formations.

6. Collins, Jim. Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap...And Others Don't. Harper Business, 2001.
Synopsis: Five years ago, Jim Collins asked the question, "Can a good company become a great company and if so, how?" This book delves into the how of making an organization great, realizing that there are no shortcuts to getting there. The book follows several transformative companies including Fannie Mae, Gillette, Walgreens, and Wells Fargo, and discusses common traits among them that furthered their success. Making the transition from good to great doesn't require a high-profile CEO, the latest technology, innovative change management, or even a fine-tuned business strategy. At the heart of those rare and truly great companies was a corporate culture that rigorously found and promoted disciplined people to think and act in a disciplined manner. Relevance: One of the signs of a great leader is leaving an organization in better shape than you found it. This book explores different ways of crafting a successful unit, and how to bring out the best in your employees as well.

7. Brooks, David. The Road to Character. Random House, 2015.
Synopsis: David Brooks discusses the importance having a high moral character, using a number of history’s greatest thinkers to do so. He provides examples from St. Augustine, George Eliot, Dwight Eisenhower, and Samuel Johnson, showing how each faced their weaknesses and transcended their flaws to become leaders of character. Each one of them chose to embrace one simple but counterintuitive truth: in order to fulfil yourself, you must learn how to forget yourself. Relevance: The expectation is that MSC Officers have a foundation of strong moral and ethical character. Humans are flawed, and this book discusses how to face those flaws and in turn, become more effective Officers and individuals.

8. The Arbinger Institute. The Anatomy of Peace: Resolving the Heart of Conflict. Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc, 2012.
Synopsis: The Anatomy of Peace is a powerful work about getting to the root of our problems, and how intertwined many of the problems actually are. However, the premise of the book is that people with peace in their heart do not wage war, whether as a head of household or state department. This book is highly praised by leaders of many different institutes as a transcendent work in finding peace. Relevance: One of the tenets of leadership is the development of a strong emotional IQ. Leaders will constantly be called on to diffuse conflicts of all types, and this book is instrumental in that mission.

9. Connors, Roger. Change the Culture, Change the Game: The Breakthrough Strategy for Energizing Your Organization and Creating Accountability for Results. Penguin Group, 2011.
Synopsis: The greatest asset any organization is its people. This book demonstrates how to capitalize on this valuable asset, and effectively shape the culture of any organization. This book is part of a series which also includes The Oz Principle and How Did That Happen?, to complete the most comprehensive series ever written on workplace accountability. Relevance: The Army is a “mission first, people always” based organization, which gets right to the heart of what this book is about. If Leaders can harness the talent of their people, the culture can be shaped in a positive direction.

10. The Arbinger Institute. Leadership and Self-Deception: Getting Out of the Box. Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc, 2000.
Synopsis: Leadership and Self-Deception uses an entertaining story to expose the mental processes that can guide our motivations, leading to concealed truths and self-deceptions. However, the book does not just delve into the problem, but also provides solutions. This insightful book teaches us about who were are, and how we can become better by no longer deceiving ourselves. This will lead to improvement in our relationships at work and at home. Relevance: One downfall of many leaders is using false narratives about why we make the decisions we do. This book will help us stop lying to ourselves, and start improving our moral character.