Thursday, August 29, 2013

Sun-Tzu, The Book of Mormon, and Translation

So I had a great idea for a post that had been stewing for a long time. (In fact, it had been so long it took me about 20 minutes to unbury and find my notes.)  It was about the martial legacy of Gideon in the Book of Mormon. But I realized I had been wasting far too much time on a discussion board in rather pointless arguments with critics. So I decided to try a little experiment.  I wondered how much more productive I could be if I focused on the most important things first.  So I ignored that discussion board and a few hours, 10 pages, and 3,000 words later I had something much longer than a blog post. It turned out so well I'm now polishing "Gideon's Legacy" for submission as a journal article. 

As a result though, I didn't have the blog post I had intended. I did however, find an excellent post about Sunzi and the translation of the Book of Mormon.  Since I'm familiar with and published about both texts I thought he made some very interesting points.  I hope you enjoy his thoughts and thanks for visiting.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Research Roundup

I had quite an exciting couple of weeks while on vacation, so I thought I would give you the update on what is going on. 

PhD Program

That's right! The first morning of my vacation I got into the MPhil/PhD research program in War Studies at King's College London. The school is in London but it is also a "blended learning" program which will allow me to continue to teach and live here in Las Vegas. I will travel there at certain points and complete the research and writing of my thesis on my own.[1] The British PhD is different in that I won't complete any coursework or work as a teaching assistant, I simply have to complete the research and writing.

This presents several challenges since the hiring committees here in America might not be as willing to hire somebody without the teaching experience and broad fields of study. But I think that my years of teaching experience, and the many different classes I've taught will mitigate that fear. My study in London on a Chinese topic will provide the ability to organize study abroad programs on several continents.  My friend with a graduate degree from a British school also says that the overseas degree is "sexy" and still desired, so I think I'll be okay despite the differences in the course of study to gain the degree.

And I also have to worry about funding for the program. There is little internal funding available to cover tuition, though there is some for conference travel and research. I have also found several programs that will assist in money for travel and research. Through some or all of the following such as obtaining funding from my employers, the VA (or GI Bill), the Nibley Fellowship, Fullbright Fellowship, additional student loans, or personal funding I should be able to pay for it. If you know of any sources that may be of use please let me know. Of course I have come this far by trusting in God- I never thought I would gain entry into one of the top graduate programs in the world- and I'm confident that a solution will present itself.

I will be studying the military history of the Jiangxi Soviet. Founded in 1927 and abandoned by 1934 in the Long March, this area witnessed the early leadership of Mao Zedong and Zhu De in their Communist insurgency against the Nationalist government. It will determine the degree to which Mao deserves his status as a brilliant strategist. Since the two leaders were often conflated into one person called Zhu Mao, I seek to study both the strategic and tactical planning as well as the execution of Soviet military operations to better determine the merits of their respective leadership. Finally, since the doctrine of People’s War affects the local population I seek to examine the impact of Soviet military operations on the people of the Jianxi Soviet.[2] Of course, insurgency is also a "sexy" topic in military history and with the public, the rising status of China makes this timely as well.  Scholars have also said that this period is "more or less wide open."  Moreover, I was stunned to find out that many of the sources I need are translated into English. So even though I've been studying Chinese for years, I don't have to rely on it as much as I thought.

Ender's Game

The day I got back from vacation my article on Sunzi and the military logic of Ender Wiggin was published and a copy was sitting on my doorstep.[3] I wrote the article towards the end of 2011 and did edits during the middle of 2012, so it is good to see it out there in time for the movie.  Even though I have "arrived" in a sense, it is still humbling to see my name in print.

Russia at War and Military Philosophers 

While on vacation I received an email from ABC-CLIO press that asked me to update my address and which gave me the publication dates for the two encyclopedias.  I wrote three articles for the various books: The first on the Chinese military philosopher Qi Jiquang from the late 16th century.  The next two were on the Chinese Soviet Border Conflict of 1969, and the Ussuri River Skirmish.  Again, it is humbling to be involved in a quality publication. And since these are reference volumes bought by schools, in a sense I can say I "wrote the book" on subject. 

Warfare 2.0

This volume is a collection of essays on the Book of Mormon from various military historians and interested individuals I have come across.  It is slightly smaller than I envisioned but I am very excited to hear back from the Interpreter.  Again, I am humbled by so many great people that contribute to the project and look forward to seeing the final form it takes.

Ancient Warfare and Modern Lessons

This is my personal effort on warfare in the Book of Mormon. Since the email agreeing to publish my manuscript, I still haven't heard anything back from the editor at Kofford Books. But as you can see above, the publication process often takes a long time so I'm waiting patiently for them to get to my manuscript. Ironically, it looks like I will have two of the chapters in that book published elsewhere by the time it hits bookshelves.[4]

Thanks for reading.  As I talked about the insurgent medium, publishing in more established venues takes much longer and requires much more work. As a result I don't always publish as much here but I appreciate your reading support a great deal.

1. The PhD dissertation in England is called a thesis.  This will most likely be conducted at the Hoover Library located at Stanford. They have an excellent collection on East Asia there and a huge collection of microfilmed records that I need.
2. I can send a copy of my research prospectus upon request. It is about 5 pages that summarizes the question, existing books, and sources I will use.  Reading it gets me excited for my research. 
3. The only review so far complained that my essay is like a Chinese buffet, which I found annoying. 
4.  It is ironic because several presses rejected the book and one reviewer slammed my book in harsh terms. Yet I've managed to publish large parts of it including the controversial defense of preemptive war.