1. The Insurgents: David Petraeus and the Plot to Change the American War, by Fred Kaplan (January)
Amid the scandal surrounding David Petraeus's resignation as CIA director this past fall, many have asked whether the general's much-touted military reputation will hold up. In his new book, national security reporter Fred Kaplan, who writes Slate's "War Stories" column, examines the centerpiece of Petraeus's pre-CIA record: leading a group of military minds to rescue U.S. efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq by promoting their "counterinsurgency" strategy. Drawing on dozens of interviews, documents, and e-mails, Kaplan explains how these COINdinistas made tactics like targeting insurgents in key villages and "nation-building" into U.S. policy. Although Kaplan has written an afterword on Petraeus's affair with his biographer, Paula Broadwell, author Peter Bergen writes that this book (unlike Broadwell's) is "devoid of cheerleading for the military or indeed any other kind of political bias."
2. My Share of the Task: A Memoir, by Stanley McChrystal (January)
Speaking of controversial U.S. generals, the man Petraeus replaced in Afghanistan, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, will release his memoir (after some delay) in the new year. The outspoken retired four-star general's book traces his career back to his days at West Point and through to his time as commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, promising to "frankly explore the major episodes and controversies of his eventful career." Assuming that refers to McChrystal's 2010 firing after the publication of a Rolling Stone article that portrayed him as contemptuous of President Obama, the book has the potential to make some news.
3-4. The Big Truck That Went By: How the World Came to Save Haiti and Left Behind a Disaster, by Jonathan Katz and Farewell, Fred Voodoo: A Letter from Haiti, by Amy Wilentz (January)
Two promising books about Haiti -- and the far from promising state it still finds itself in -- are set to be released upon the three-year anniversary of the earthquake that devastated the country in 2010. Jonathan Katz is a journalist who witnessed the earthquake and covered its fallout, including the often dysfunctional response from the international community; his reporting revealed, for instance, that U.N. peacekeepers were likely the source of a cholera epidemic that killed thousands of Haitians after the quake. His book investigates why some $16.3 billion in international pledges has amounted to so little progress in the country. Amy Wilentz, a Los Angeles-based writer who earned praise for The Rainy Season: Haiti Since Duvalier in 1989, offers a more impressionistic, hopeful look at the country in Farewell, Fred Voodoo. Mixing memoir, history, and current events, Wilentz weaves together a kind of profile writ large of the Haitian people, documenting the resilience with which they face what seems like endless hardship.
5. Going to Tehran: Why the United States Must Come to Terms with the Islamic Republic of Iran, Flynt and Hillary Mann Leverett (January)
Former officials in the CIA, State Department, and National Security Council between the two of them, Flynt and Hillary Mann Leverett have long called for the United States to engage with Iran. After heightened rhetoric from Israeli and U.S. politicians and commentators in 2012, the Mann Leverett duo's sure to be controversial new book argues that concerns about Iran's nuclear program have been overblown. The country is ready for a change, they say, calling for a bold overture from the United States akin to Richard Nixon's historic visit to China.