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The Bush Institute Stand-To Veteran Leadership Program and Team 43 Summer Reading List

We asked our Stand-To Veteran Leadership Scholars and Alumni and our Team 43 members to share books they recommend reading this summer. Take a look.

Article by Katie Kardell July 1, 2021 //   8 minute read

Rich Gross, VLP Class of 2019

First Principles: What America's Founders Learned from the Greeks and Romans and How That Shaped Our Country by Thomas E. Ricks

Great study of how the founders of our country, in particular our first four presidents, looked to their classical education to design the country we live in today. Helps us today better understand the foundations of our democratic republic.

American Dialogue: The Founders and Us by Joseph J. Ellis

Ellis explores four of our early leaders and their thoughts on difficult issues still challenging us today: Jefferson and racism, Adams and economic inequality, Washington and American imperialism, and Madison and the doctrine of original intent. 

Adelle Bish, VLP Class of 2021

Military Veteran Employment: A Guide for the Data-Driven Leader, (2021) Edited by Nathan Ainspan, Ph.D. and Kristin Saboe, Ph.D.  Oxford University Press

This book is a great source of evidence-based information for those working on the creation or improvement of veteran employment programs, with plenty of insights to ensure that HR strategy and practices are supporting veterans beyond the hiring stages.  Case examples, research evidence, compelling stories to help leaders and decision makers optimize veteran talent and improve veteran outcomes - it's all in here!

....and on a more personal level, Kristin is a terrific ambassador and alumna of the VLP!

Ross Dickman, VLP Class of 2021

The Broken Earth Trilogy by N.K. Jemisin

If sci-fi reading is your escape from the daily grind, I cannot recommend this trilogy enough. Exceptional world-building, a driving pace, and compelling story. I couldn't put it down. 

Juan Carlos Hernandez, Team 43

Endurance by Alfred Lansing

This book is about the attempt to cross the Antarctic continent in 1914 by Sir Ernest Shackleton and his crew of 28 men. Their ship becomes trapped in ice and they were unable to continue their mission, so they had to abandon ship and survive for over a year on the frigid weather of the Antarctic. This book is about survival, leadership, overcoming the odds against nature, and maintaining a level of optimism throughout the entire journey - even when being so close to death.

Brian Flom, Team 43

Upstream: The Quest to Solve Problems Before They Happen by Dan Heath

As leaders and selfless-servants, we are quick to react when problems arise by applying solutions that resolve the issue at hand. Upstream focuses on getting “upstream” of a problem by focusing on the system causing the issue.

Matthew Beer, VLP Class of 2019

Power of Moments  by Chip Heath and Dan Heath

Whether you’re building a team, serving a customer, or nurturing personal relationships…moments matter. Creating shared opportunities for connection, pride and insight don’t just happen on their own, and this book reveals research and shares practical ways to intentionally shape and elevate your most important moments.

Derren Burrell, VLP Class of 2021

Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World by David Epstein

As a financial manager, I prefer the generalist who understands how to defend the mission rather than a specialist who is more limited in knowledge.

Measure What Matters by John Doerr

This book is a thorough discussion on OKR and how it helped the likes of Google, Intel, etc dominate the market.

The Knack: How Street-Smart Entrepreneurs Learn to Handle Whatever Comes Up by Norm Brodsky and Bo Burlingham

Excellent read about how to adapt and overcome when it comes to starting and growing a business.

Danielle Pope, VLP Class of 2021

This Party's Dead: Grief, Joy, and Spilled Rum at the World's Death Festivals by Erica Bust

It's not officially released on Amazon until August 2021, but you can purchase it ahead of time at the above link.

After losing my brother in a car accident in December 2019, I have struggled with finding a balance between mourning his loss and celebrating his incredibly impactful life. This book explores seven different death festivals worldwide, festivals that celebrate loved ones that are no longer physically with us. It's a refreshing read and one that has helped me and several of my friends continue our holistic healing journey.

Dr. Umar Latif, VLP Class of 2021

How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence  by Michael Pollan

As the medical field is actively pursuing research into the possible role of psychedelic therapy in veterans to address invisible wounds, PTS and suicide, this book is a fascinating trip into understanding a complex, timely topic.

Matt Brogdon, VLP Class of 2019

Ceremony by Leslie Marmon Silko

Ceremony is the great Native American novel of a battered veteran returning home to heal his mind and spirit after being a prisoner of the Japanese in World War II - by immersing himself in the Indian past can he begin to regain the peace that was taken from him, both by the enemy and his fellow veterans.

Best book I’ve read in two years – fiction.

James Beamesderfer, VLP Class of 2021

Make Your Bed: Little Things That Can Change Your Life…And Maybe the World by Admiral (R) William H. McRaven

 Quick read but packed with some “little things” that can have a big impact.  Great for readers of all ages, including youth.  Read it and share it with your children too!!

The Character Edge, Leading and Winning with Integrity by LTG (R) Robert L. Caslen, Jr and Michael D. Matthews

Good mix of military and civilian examples that show character really does make a difference in how we lead – and get results! 

Mission Transition: Navigating the Opportunities and Obstacles to Your Post-Military Career by Matthew J. Louis

Awesome overview to tips, techniques, resources and tools that every transitioning service member should know – and read well before leaving the military!

Crucial Accountability – Tools for Resolving Violated Expectations, Broken Commitments, and Bad Behavior by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, David Maxfield, Ron McMillian, and Al Switzler 

Great for tips and techniques to hold yourself and others accountable, in life and work.  A big portion is around managing expectations and clear communication. 

Chris Mulder, VLP Class of 2021

Ethics and Cyber Warfare: The Quest for Responsible Security in the Age of Digital Warfare by George Lucas

Recent cyber-attacks have re-highlighted the significance of this domain. Leaders should swiftly learn more about cyber warfare and the ethical and security implications. 

Tina Atherall, VLP Class of 2021

The Art of Gathering: How We Meet and Why It Matters by Priya Parker

An important read to reinvigorate and rethink meetings, gatherings, and setting meaningful intentions and purpose when "gathering".  In the post-pandemic return to gatherings, the author has extended practices from this book into lectures and podcasts which will help shape our new landscape of hybrid social, family, and work gatherings.  "Helping people create collective meaning in modern life, one gathering at a time" - Parker