Max Brooks Helps the DOD Think about Warfare—through Fiction

Paul Hair

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Think tanks and the Department of Defense aren’t interested in what most people have to say. But they are often interested in teaming up with celebrities. Max Brooks is one such celebrity. The author of World War Z (and son of comedian Mel Brooks) is a non-resident fellow at the Brent Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security of the Atlantic Council, and a non-resident fellow at the Modern Warfare Institute at West Point. He’s encouraging military personnel and national security experts to use fiction to help them think about warfare and national security challenges.

Brooks has been working with national security thinkers for quite some time. According to his bio, “World War Z was read and discussed by the sitting Chairman of the Joint Chiefs and Brooks has been invited to speak at a variety of military engagements—from the Naval War College, to the FEMA hurricane drill at San Antonio, to the nuclear ‘Vibrant Response’ wargame.”

On top of this, “Together with his colleagues from the MWI, Brooks has co-edited two books on teaching military science through science fiction: ‘Strategy Strikes Back: How Star Wars Explains Modern Military Conflict’ and ‘Winning Westeros: How Game of Thrones Explains Modern Military Conflict’.”

Brooks doesn’t just want people to read novels and short stories to help them think about war in new ways; he wants them to read comic books too.

Back in June, the Modern War Institute published, “War Books, Special Edition: Max Brooks on Reading Comics to Understand War, Part 2.” (MWI published part 1 in Sep. 2017.) And if you’re guessing that his recommendations are only of titles from mainstream publishers or well-known ones, you’d be wrong. As far as I can recall, I had not heard of any of them prior to reading about them on his MWI lists.

As an aside, comic books and national security actually have a long history together. Back in 2017, the DOD produced a 2-minute video on how comic book creator Will Eisner contributed to the U.S. Army periodical, PS Magazine. Watch it below.

Military and national security leaders are always seeking an advantage over enemy forces. Sometimes they want new ways to stimulate thought to achieve that end. Turning to fiction for such stimulation is one of the latest trends. And authors like Max Brooks seem happy to be a part of it.

For further reading on fiction and warfare, check out my Sep. 4, 2018 TLP post, “How the Military Is Using Fiction to Think about the Future.”

Make sure you also read my speculative fiction story, “Human after Next.” It provides a unique vision of future warfare.

Paul Hair is an author of fiction and nonfiction. Buy his books at Amazon!

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