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By Jerry Pournelle S. M. Stirling
Baen BooksISBN: 0-7434-3556-7
Chapter OnePrinceton, New Jersey, United States of America
The student lounge was noisy as usual. Students in bright tunics sipped coffee paid for by their taxpayer parents, and spoke of the Rights of Man and the Citizen. Others pretended to read while looking to see if anyone interesting had come in. In one corner three young men and a girl-she detested being called a 'young lady'-sat playing bridge. They were typical students, children of taxpayers, well dressed in the latest fashions of subdued colors. Their teeth were straight, their complexions were good. Two of the boys wore contact lenses. The girl, in keeping with fashion, wore large brightly colored glasses with small jewels at the hinges. The remains of their afternoon snack probably contained as many calories as the average Citizen would have for the day.
"Three No Trump, made four. That's game and rubber," Donald Etheridge said. He scribbled for a moment on the score sheet. "Let's see, I owe twenty-two fifty. Moishe, you owe eleven and a quarter. Richie gets nine bucks, and Bonnie wins the rest."
"You always win," Richard Larkin said accusingly.
Bonnie Dalrymple smiled. "Comes of clean living."
"You?" Donald smirked.
"Don't you just wish," Richie said. He glanced at his watch. "Getting on for class time. Visiting lecturer today."
Moishe Ellison frowned. "Who?"
"Chap named Falkenberg," Larkin said. "Professor at the CD University in Rome. Going to lecture on problems of the CoDominium. Today it's military leadership."
"Oh, I know him," Bonnie Dalrymple said.
"Is he interesting?" Moishe asked. "I've got a lot to do this afternoon."
"He's dense," Bonnie said. She grinned at the blank looks. "Packs a lot into what he says. Makes every paragraph count. I think you better come listen."
"What did you take from him?" Richard Larkin asked.
"Oh, I wasn't old enough to take his classes. Actually, I didn't know Professor Falkenberg very well, I used to be friends with his son. John Christian Falkenberg the Third. It was when Daddy was stationed at the Embassy in Rome. Johnny Falkenberg and I wandered all over the city. He knew everything about it, it was really fun. The Capitoline Hill, with the statues, and up there is the Tarpeian Rock where they threw traitors off-it's not so high, really. And we'd go to the Via Flaminia. We used to tramp down that and Johnny sang this old Roman marching song. 'When you go by the Via Flaminia, by the Legion's road from Rome-'"
"Wasn't really dating. He was about fourteen and I was twelve, we were just kids out playing around. But we had fun, really. I guess I was studious, then."
"Heh. You still are. You aced me in that last test," Moishe Ellison said.
"Well, if you'd work more instead of running around with that girl-"
Ellison winked, and the others laughed. They got up and walked together toward the lecture hall. The smog was bad outside, but it always was, so they didn't notice. "So how do you know about old man Falkenberg's lectures?"
Bonnie laughed. "Johnny used to take me to his house. Usually there wasn't anyone there but this old black housekeeper, but sometimes the Professor would come home early, and when he did, he'd ask where we d been. Then he'd tell us all about it. All about it, wherever we'd been."
"Actually, it was interesting. Rome was nice then, there were a lot of old buildings I guess they've let fall down now, and the Professor knew about all of them. But he wasn't as interesting as when Johnny told me-I guess I had quite a crush on him." Bonnie laughed.
"That's what's wrong with her," Richie said. "She's never got over her youthful affair with-what was his name?"
"John Christian Falkenberg, the Fourth." Moishe Ellison let the name roll off his tongue.
"Third," Bonnie said. "And maybe you're right."
They reached Smith Hall and went up the marble stairs to the lecture theatre.
* * *
Professor Falkenberg was tall and thin, with a surprisingly deep voice that carried authority. Hasn't changed a bit, Bonnie thought. He could read the phone book and make it sound important.
Falkenberg nodded to the students. "Good afternoon. I am pleased to see that there are still a few students in the United States who are interested in history.
"I wish to examine the origins of the CoDominium. To do that, we will have to look at just what happened to the United States and the Soviet Union whose uneasy alliance has produced our modern world. Friends in the Second World War, enemies in the Cold War-how did it happen that these two divided the world between them?
"There are many aspects to this problem. One is the decline of military power in both nations. That in itself has many facets.
"Today we will discuss military leadership, both as a general case and in the specifics of the powers at the time of interest. I begin with a few brief paragraphs by Joseph Maxwell Cameron, a writer of the last century, who said, in his Anatomy of Military Merit:"
Professor Falkenberg opened his pocket computer and touched a key, then began to read.
* * *
"'Armies are controlled by the actions of two classes of men in authority that are distinct on the surface by levels of rank, but whose significant difference is in the sources of their authority. One class acts on the authority vested in it by the sovereign power. The other acts by authority derived of appointment by the first. This is not a chance relationship but one directed by a natural ruling principle. The 'commissioned' officer acts in the name of sovereign power and, or, by order of its commissioned superiors to himself. The 'non-commissioned' officer exercises equally valid and at times absolute authority, but he holds it from the commissioned officer who appointed him and who can at his discretion remove the office. Few controlling principles are as little understood in current times as these that define the relationships of commissioned and non-commissioned ranks to each other, the government, and to the ordinary soldier. Promotion given as reward, rank seen as caste and pay as incentive in the profession, occupation, or career in arms are the villains that cloud the issues. A private soldier can prove himself of equal value to a general officer, in fact has often done so; and always by being the soldier who knew his business, whatever his immediate motivation. A hierarchy of ranks invented to increase prestige and pay can rob a military body of much of its power while enjoying general approval of what are considered benefits. One of the sure signs of a military system in decay is the appearance of an excess ratio of persons in designated authority over the numbers of those who serve to follow. The optimum ratio may vary a little according to current armaments, but with little else. "'Because of its specific roles and purposes an army has an optimum design and structure of control mechanisms, instrumentation, and appendages. It is at best simple, devoted to the smooth and graceful application of power to motion and impact. In an almost totally industrial and technocratic time, however, the existence of a natural pattern tends to be forgotten as normal members and appendages are tortured and distorted to conform to the caprices of machines. Military monstrosities analogous to anencephalic and three legged children are born and nursed toward ultimate impotence. They are quite horribly obvious except to minds bemused by the magic of technology....'"
* * *
Falkenberg closed his computer and smiled thinly. "Those words were written shortly before the United States acquired, in what was supposed to be peace time, approximately twice as many general officers as it had employed during the conflict known as the Second World War, despite having a much smaller military establishment. Nor was this all. The ratio of officers to men began to creep upward, inexorably; and since the optimum ratio is perhaps five percent, and some elite organizations have done with less, it should be no surprise that as the United States military establishment moved toward one officer for each dozen men-and one general officer for each fifteen hundred-the effectiveness of the system declined accordingly.
"Military managers are easy enough to come by. Real leaders are rare."
* * *
"You were right about the density," Moishe Ellison said.
Bonnie giggled. "He hasn't changed much, that's for sure."
"And you only heard him at home? Wonder his kid didn't go nuts. Whatever happened to him, anyway?"
"He got in some kind of trouble," Bonnie said.
"And no wonder." Richie chuckled.
"I don't know what it was," Bonnie said. "But the next thing I knew, Johnny was off to the CoDominium Academy. We used to write, but when he graduated and was sent off on a ship, well-"
"You sound like you miss him," Moishe said.
"Yeah, hey, you never get that tone of voice when you talk about me," Richie said.
"That'll be the day," Moishe said. "You ever hear from him?"
Bonnie shook her head. (Continues...)
Excerpted from The Prince by Jerry Pournelle S. M. Stirling Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Meet the Author
Jerry Pournelle (right), a past winner of the John W. Campbell Award, has collaborated with Niven on numerous bestsellers. He has also written such successful solo novels as Janissaries and Starswarm. He lives in Studio City, California.
Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle were the joint winners of the 2005 Robert A. Heinlein Award.
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