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From A to B: How Logistics Fuels American Power and Prosperity Hardcover – November 1, 2011
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Wow -- was I disappointed in the seemingly disjointed and haphazard manner in which this book was presented. Instead of a tight and focused look on the underpinnings and means in which modern logistics operate, the reader is left with a series of seemingly disjointed and disconnected vignettes on the development of robotic cars, to a tangent on how mass transportation will never be effective in the United States. Although I have always enjoyed stories intertwined with real world examples of real people overcoming challenges -- even these sidebars in this book felt forced.
My final impression was these were a series of short articles written in the past and sandwiched into a book.
Here's to hoping the next effort is a little more flushed out, focused and relevant.
Using many of his past writings as a baseline, Axe takes us on a tour of the land, sea and air elements of what's happening now and what's coming next in American logistics. These are, at times, sobering (convoy operations in Iraq in 2004-2005 using makeshift armor and prayer), spellbinding (an at-sea refueling operation that , in and of itself, is worth the price of the book), and infuriating(the carefully canned narrow-view statements of various industry hacks). The glimpses of the future are equally stunning: autonomous cars, vast sea bases, airships, and space marines (I dare you to say that last one aloud without giggling).
Flaws? Axe makes clear up front that this is not meant to be an in-depth treatment of the subject, and he's right. Because this is pieced together from lots of his previous work, the transitions between some subjects are pretty tenuous. But I should also make clear that although there are clear outlines of his previous postings from War is Boring and Danger Room, there is a wealth of new material here worth your time.
If nothing else, I guarantee that you will never use the term "hybrid car" the same way again.
Additional reporting could have fleshed this book out into a clarifying picture of the unique, global, American logistical capability, and an examination of its benefits and costs. Without that, this book is unfortunately no greater than the sum of its parts: a number of loosely-connected essays about the tangible technology of modern American logistics --- cars, trucks, ships, and aircraft --- along with ongoing efforts to get robots, blimps, and space-planes worked into the American logistical system.
Trains are a notable, and acknowledged, omission. An unacknowledged omission is the less tangible element: all of the communications gear, computer algorithms, global networks, and armies of nerds who make all the moving machinery work on schedule. As a field reporter, Axe seems to have seen a lot more of the machinery on the ground --- and in the lab --- than the nerds in the back office.
The book is a fun read, and Axe's writing style is light and clear, but while Big Logistics Machinery is a vaguely unifying theme, it doesn't really come together to a point. While the last 5 paragraphs of the last chapter try to provide a focused conclusion, they are far too brief to pull together the disparate strands.
A certain brand of technology enthusiast (me among them) will enjoy the essays, but there's not enough here to provoke any debate after the book has been read, and occasional minor technical inaccuracies may aggravate even the technology buffs.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Amateurs talk tactics - Professionals talk logistics.
I read From A to B: How Logistics Fuels American Power and Prosperity when it came out only a few years ago. Read more
David is an excellent war reporter and keeps a fantastic blog. This is a well written page turner and certainly touches on "How Logistics Fuels American Power and Prosperity" but... Read morePublished on December 30, 2011 by Justin Woulfe