The Logic of Failure

I have been having a good time reading The Logic of Failure and applying it to Civil War literature.

The author does a fine job of mining complex failure for lessons and then proposing tools and behavior to reduce failure in difficult situations. I can't help but compare it to the accounts of failure in popular Civil War literature.

In the Logic of Failure, one coping strategy is to reduce the number of variables facing you in an uncertain situation as setbacks accumulate. This translates into the general of a smitten host (or victorious host) standing still or moving away to plot next steps in a more stable environment. And that also happens to be a recipe for drawing venom from the author of pop literature.

Failure in pop literature is subject to literary requirements. First, the decision point has to be reduced to one or two factors to enable ease of writing and reading; second, the decision has to be framed in terms such as the reader can pound his armchair in vicarious participation; third, decisions should be cast as dramatically smart or stupid; fourth, the reader is invited into a world of clarity where the participants groped through "intransparency." Which is one reason "fog of war" writing is such a hard sell.

I'll post more on this subject here later tonight.

(Make that Saturday.)