Just finished the latest Lee Child, slowed down by all the other stuff I’ve had to do lately. It’s a rattling good read and, although it spends more time developing institutional character, than personal characters—the US military machine is one of the main protagonists—it is full of brisk insights into human nature.

It appealed to me that, although the hero is relentlessly manly and martial, he sneers at a group of soldiers’ reverence for the The Art of War by Sun Tzu. No doubt, by “stopped watch” chance, this work contains the occasional truth or illuminating thought, but, as far as I’m concerned it’s a collection of hopelessly dated, “spiritual”, fake-wise aphorisms that men in suits can quote at each other in an effort to persuade themselves that pushing bits of paper around (or, indeed, just pushing bits around) is as important or brave as pushing ahead from a captured beachhead.

The book has been useful to me, however. The presence of this volume in a man’s office (and it’s always a man) is as sure an indication that he is a jerk as his wearing a blazer with a crest on it or owning an expensive, ugly watch.