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3:14AM

GP Director's Commentary on the Table of Contents

Table of Contents

 

PREFACE: The Shape Of Things To Come 1

CHAPTER ONE. The Seven Deadly Sins Of Bush-Cheney 5 

CHAPTER TWO. A Twelve-Step Recovery Program For American Grand Strategy 36

CHAPTER THREE. The American Trajectory: Of Great Men And Great Powers 73

CHAPTER FOUR. The Economic Realignment: Racing To The Bottom Of The Pyramid 160 

CHAPTER FIVE. The Diplomatic Realignment: Rebranding The Team Of Rivals 208

CHAPTER SIX. The Security Realignment: Rediscovering Diplomacy, Defense, And Development 252

CHAPTER SEVEN. The Network Realignment: The Rise Of The Sysadmin-Industrial Complex 294

CHAPTER EIGHT. The Strategic Realignment: Resurrecting The Progressive Agenda 350

CODA: The Future Perfect Tense 417

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS 423

GLOSSARY 427

NOTES 433

INDEX 473

For the full Table of Contents, click here

This book's TOC--meaning its basic structure--has the most tortured history of any of my three books with Putnam.

Part of that is because I wrote an original book proposal for a project Mark Warren and I called, "How to Become a Grand Strategist," that Neil Nyren liked but said really wasn't the book that Putnam wanted me to write next.  Instead, Neil really wanted a book that answered the "now what?" question that would naturally arise at the end of the Bush administration.

Despite agreeing to the new idea and writing an almost entirely new book proposal to make that deal happen, I still had it in me to try and make this book include the "How to" part.

So I spent a lot of time thinking of how I might do that, and what I came up with was a 4-part, 14-chapter structure that was based on John Boyd's OODA loop model of decision-making (observe, orient, decide, and act).

So Part One was to be something along the line of "The process [of grand strategy] observed." Part Two was to be "The American Orientation," including the history chapter and the stuff on Bush (7 Deadly Sins) and going forward (12-Step Recovery).  The original order in Part Two was "Sins," history, and then "12-Steps," and I wrote them in that order.   But that order was later shifted, with the history dropping back one slot and "12-steps" moving up one.  Part Three was the five realignments ("The Realignments to be Decided").  Part Four was to be "Getting into the Act," where I'd put the "How to" Chapter.

So in many ways, I was simply breaking up the "How to" book and using those pieces as the "bread" to the new sandwich where the "meat" was the history and the realignments.  When I explained the new structure to my Mom, she immediately noted this and warned me against trying to sneak the other book into this one.  It was prescient advice on her part.

But I started writing the book with the four-part plan in hand.

Why?

Well, regarding Part Four, I simply did want to sneak the other book in, because Mark and I both felt it was a cool concept and deserved life somewhere (I have since written a 6,000-word article based on that planned chapter, but it has not found publication with Esquire and I'm not sure it ever will as--in many ways--it just does not yet work for me at this point in my career).

 

With regard to Part One, I was simply intimidated by the process of starting the book on Part Two, thinking I needed to establish my bona fides in the subject matter of grand strategy itself, while re-introducing the readership to my ideas in the process.  Looking back, this was a giant case of what Mark calls "pre-writing," or when you just start writing as a warm-up for what you really want to write and eventually you write through all that stuff and the real point of the matter emerges.  I did this plenty in Pentagon's New Map, on a section-by-section basis within chapters.  Usually I would write maybe hundreds or even thousands of words to start a section that would end up getting cut by Mark because he'd say, "It was right here when you finally got to the heart of the matter and started writing."

So, a common problem for me, but really, it's just how I warm up, so you have to look at it like that.  I simply false start a lot until I find the angle of approach that makes sense.  It's not wasted time whatsoever.  In fact, it's absolutely essential to my thinking/writing process.

So, in retrospect, I wrote Part One's three chapters simply as a warm-up to the real point of the book.  I guess I needed to write through my own thoughts regarding grand strategy, plus review the basics, plus review all my main concepts in PNM and BFA before I got muscled-up enough to begin GP--simple as that.

I wrote Chapter One at about 3,500 words.  I based it on a rant post I made back in February 2007 (What grand strategy is to me), meaning I took that original post and just started rewriting it and
expanding it.  I fiddled with this small piece for several days.  Bits of it made it into GP as chapter intros, specifically in the diplomatic and strategic realignment chapters.  I loved the little beasty and
still do.  I sold it to a Zurich-based think tank that is publishing it as a sort of guide to students thinking about grand strategy.

Chapter Two, Part One, became my "A-to-Z of American Grand Strategy" (A is for Articulation, B is for Balance of Power, and so on).  I thought it was cute as hell, and spent a lot of time dreaming up the list and then writing each entry.  It ended up running about 9,000 words.  It did not even make the initial cut with Warren in our first edit.  He simply talked me out of it, saying it was too contrived for the book's purposes and delayed the real start of the book.  I also sold this chapter to the same Zurich-based think tank as a follow-on deal to the one above.  Both will go into a special report on grand strategy the institute is publishing and hopefully will be posted online (not sure of the language, but we'll make sure an English version makes it up somewhere).

Chapter Three, Part One, was a 20 questions drill that allowed me to present all the major ideas from PNM and BFA.  This drill was, as I stated above, an exercise in pre-writing.  But it was also reflective of my fear that I needed to reintroduce myself to readers since my last book would precede this one by over 3 years.  It also ran about 10,000 words, making the complete Part One about 23,000 words.  I ended up giving this chapter to a non-profit foreign policy-focused foundation on the east coast for use in their new publication.  Eventually, it will see the light of day online.

Now, both Chapter One ("The creed of an American grand strategist") and Chapter Three (the twenty questions) actually made it into the original submission to Neil Nyren (as chapters one and two), but--and I remember this phonecall well--he pretty much rejected them out of hand, saying he really felt the book should start with the "Seven Deadly Sins" (originally in Part Two, Chapter 4, but in the submission it was chapter 3), feeling like we were asking the reader to wade through too much unnecessary boilerplate.  He told me I had a following and didn't need to regurgitate my stuff so much (chapter two) nor did I want to start the book with such an esoteric bit on grand strategy (chapter one).  I immediately agreed because I was excited that he liked the "Seven Deadly" and "12 Steps" chapters so much (in fact, he called me with this decision after reading only through the first four chapters).

So much for Part One.

I did write an Intro to Part Two, and eventually folded that into a later Chapter intro (economic realignment).   I didn't even bother writing an intro to the originally planned Part Three (realignments) because, by then, I knew the whole "parts" approach was kaput.

Part Four never happened.  As I detailed in the blog at the time, I just felt like the realignment chapters grew exponentially in complexity and depth that the last one, the strategic realignment, really served as the book's conclusion.  It just felt like the end.

I wrote an intro to Part Four and then tried to write the "How to Become a Grand Strategist" chapter after deciding to ditch the planned first chapter of Part Four that was to examine the super-empowered nature of individuals today (something I ended up doing better in the Network chapter previously).  But I found that I just couldn't make the "How to" chapter work.  It simply didn't fit.

So then I took the Part Four intro and put it on the beginning of my little sci-fi-ish writing experiment called the "eulogy," which consisted of the text of the eulogy that my son Jerome delivers at my "third funeral" in the year 2099.  I used the mechanism of his recounting my life to provide a glancing scenario drill on the rest of the 21st century--a fun projection forward.  I loved the piece and still do.  We submitted it to Neil and he said no, stating that it was just too out of context and tone with the rest of the book and he didn't want reviewers to pounce on that and use it to ruin perceptions of an otherwise brilliant book.  I gave in quickly on that one too, not because I'm a pushover, but because Neil is way smarter than I am on such things and he was simply right.

The "eulogy" is now being marketed to a variety of pubs likely to have some interest in its unusual content.  No word on that yet, but I hope to see it published in some manner.

What Neil suggested instead of the "eulogy" was simply to take the original intro to Part Four (now the intro to the eulogy) and make that a "coda" on the book. 

And that's what I did.

I think these were all great decisions--all around, and I really thank Neil and Mark for helping me make them.  I was wrong to try to wrap the first proposed book around the second one, thus the first and fourth planned parts never made it into the final product.  I was simply unsure I had enough in the middle two parts to justify a book.  

I was very wrong on that score, especially in terms of the volume of words.  As usual, I fear I won't have enough to say, when, in the end, we have to cut tens of thousands of words.

But it was an interesting process to go from 14 chapters to just 8, and to junk the whole parts structure.   Much like a film, I planned to shoot so much more stuff than ever got into the final cut, but again, that's inevitable and essential to my creative process, so no sense in bitching about it. 

Plus, so far I've found good homes for three of the four cut chapters, and hope to land the last one too, so everything seems to work out for the best.

What we ended up with is, in my opinion, what I was really looking for all along.  You have to deal with Bush right off.  Then you need to say, "this is how we will course correct" (the original plan was to tell the history first and then deliver the 12-steps, but Mark reversed their order and it helped the flow a ton, in my mind, plus made both easier to edit). Then you give the history, and after all that context, you can take the reader through a series of increasingly complex explanations regarding realignment--very base-to-superstructure in its trajectory.

The lesson of the process?  Flexibility is everything, and it truly is a collaborative process between Neil and Mark and Jennifer Gates (my agent) and I.

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