Through a Child’s Eyes

In early 2014 I was invited by Seth Godin to participate in a new website project called HugDug by contributing book reviews. I decided to write about my favorite books, but submitted just four reviews before HugDug, alas, closed down at the end of the summer, just after I’d posted one of them here. Since they’re not readable anywhere else, I figured, why not post the rest of them on my blog, too. Here is the first of the series: My Favorite Books. — JDM # # # This is a strange thing: all I write is nonfiction, but all I read is fiction. I don’t read, in other words, the kinds of books I write. I read books for the same reasons I eat food: 1) it’s delicious, and 2) if I don’t I will soon run down like an unwound clock. (For those who remember clocks that you wind up.) Reading book nourishes my soul in a way that allows me to look at the world and see it in a new way, which is really the only way you can see if you’re going to attempt to write something new. One of the very best of those new-way-of-seeing books to come along in a long while is The Ocean at the End of the Lane, by Neil Gaiman. Neil Gaiman is to fiction what Seth Godin is to business books. By which I mean: a) all I need to know is that he wrote it, and I’m already in, and b) there is freshness and unaffected originality spilling over in every page, every line, and c) reading it,...

If You Want to Change the World …

I don’t generally repost other people’s writings. Today is an exception. This morning, I thought about this speech while I was making our bed after breakfast. (That will make sense as you read on.) After first reading it more than a year ago on SOFREP, my friend Brandon Webb’s site, I’ve been wanting to share it here. Today, in honor of Independence Day, I figured it’s about time. What follows is a commencement speech given at the University of Texas, Austin, in May 2014, by Naval Admiral William H. McRaven. In June 2000, Captain McRaven (he was still a captain back then) was the man who signed Brandon’s certificate of graduation when he completed SEAL sniper school. More than a decade later, now a four-star admiral, he would be credited with organizing and executing Operation Neptune’s Spear, the spec ops mission that killed Osama bin Laden. The following month he was made commander of SOCOM, the entire U.S. Special Operations Command. When this man talks about changing the world, it’s not just theory … even when he starts out by suggesting you make your bed every day. — JDM It’s been almost 37 years to the day that I graduated from UT. I remember a lot of things about that day. I remember I had throbbing headache from a party the night before. I remember I had a serious girlfriend, whom I later married (that’s important to remember, by the way), and I remember that I was getting commissioned in the Navy that day. But of all the things I remember, I don’t have a clue who the commencement...