If you know me at all, you know I read a lot. These are the books that'll be thinking about, as I make my own strategy for whatever comes next.
A Vietcong Memoir-Truong Nhu Tang: We're going to have to go underground. These days, the victory of communism in Vietnam looks pretty inevitable, but for a handful of intellectuals and peasants in 1960, opposing their own enthusiastically oppressive government and the full weight of the American war machine, it seemed anything but so. The strategy of the revolution was political, based around building alliances rather than winning victories. Every tactical success through force left the South Vietnamese government and its American allies more isolated, more extreme, more vulnerable in the end. Amplify the corruption and brutality of the regime, separate them from their allies until only a handful of craven opportunists are left. Expect to suffer, terribly, in the moment. And please, learn from Truong and do not become what you despise.
Distraction-Bruce Sterling: "The year is 2044, and the State of the Union is a farce." After a bitterly contested election, political operative Oscar Valparasio is enjoying one last junket on the campaign's dime when he stumbles into an insane scientific-political conspiracy. Look for optimism at the worst of times, for some serious Alternatives to the Status Quo, and for a book that still smells like the future fifteen years after publican. There's a political realignment in the wind, and I'll catch you on the Upwing.
Certain to Win-Chet Richards: Smaller and weaker entities can triumph over bigger and stronger adversaries through speed, morale, and clarity of focus in an environment of fear and uncertainty. In the long run, the side that is most adaptable will win. This is the best non-military introduction to Col. Boyd's OODA loop, and I believe the framework in which we'll succeed. Get weird. Get seriously, dedicatedly, weird. Come at them from a million angles and never give up. Don't trust leaders (not President Obama, not Michael Moore or Jon Stewart), don't trust your communication networks and social media (and yes, I recognize the irony). Find your tribe and trust them. Adapt, evolve, survive, win.
Every Man Dies Alone-Hans Fallada: A stunning and heartbreaking novel of life under Nazi Germany. Do I think it's going to get that bad? Well, expect the worst and you'll always be pleasantly surprised. The thing is that even if we avoid the most obvious excesses and crimes, great evil at the highest echelons of power will be echoed by increased crudity and petty brutality on the street. We see this already, in a rash of Nazi vandalism less than 24 hours after the election. Decency and decent people are in for some hard times. Figure out what you have that they can never take away, because you'll need it.
The Left Hand of Darkness-Ursula K Le Guin. Le Guin's most recent book is blurbed "Hard times are coming, when we’ll be wanting the voices of writers who can see alternatives to how we live now... We’ll need writers who can remember freedom — poets, visionaries — realists of a larger reality." This is true, and we're going to need to remember freedom, remember reality, hold on to something that won't sink or crush or break. Le Guin is the last of the greats. This story of human connection across an unimaginable cultural and biological gulf is a work of true genius.