Book Reviews

  • Richard Haass
    Penguin , 2017
    978-0399562365

    World leaders confront numerous global problems – nuclear proliferation, climate change, terrorism and more. The most ideal solutions require global coordination. Richard Haass, the president of the Council on Foreign Relations, argues for updating global governance to address such challenges, especially as the world transitions toward multipolar power with more widely distributed power centers. “Haass challenges conventional views on international relations in a global setting, but readers from around the world inevitably will disagree with some of his conclusions,” explains Kai Chen, assistant professor at the School of International Relations, Xiamen University. “Many countries and non-sovereign actors lack will or capability to embrace sovereign obligations.” Chen identifies the deep web – connecting criminal enterprises of all types – as a leading global challenge, one not mentioned by Haass. Countries inevitably disagree on priorities and the source of so much disarray.

  • Ehsan Ahrari
    McGill-Queen's University Press, 2017
    ISBN: 978-0773548169

    The United States and its allies have little to show after devoting trillions of dollars to combat terrorism emanating from the Middle East, northern Africa and Afghanistan. If anything, the terrorism threat has expanded around the globe as jihadists return to their home countries and extremist groups like the Islamic State manipulate would-be jihadists via social media.  The Islamic Challenge and the United States, written by Ehsan M. Ahrari with Sharon Leyland Ahrari, offers thorough analysis of the many ongoing conflicts, the intricate foreign relations, and many factors contributing to global terrorism. Ahrari blames the autocratic rulers who resist education and critical thinking skills among their citizens, reinforcing inequality and injustices. The book by the former professor at the US Air War College and the National Defense University both focuses on strategy and prompts readers to empathize, to review their own biases. Governments of the West must develop new strategies, rejecting autocracy and supporting all reasonable citizens to shape their own governance, regional development and mechanisms for genuine security.

  • William Hickey
    Palgrave Macmillan, 2017
    978-1137576309

    Anyone reliant on limited natural resources, from developers to citizens, must prepare for inevitable innovation and transitions. Author William Hickey, a long-time contributor to YaleGlobal Online, proposes a new paradigm of localization as a new way for Asian economies to achieve prosperity by simultaneously developing their natural resources, education systems, employment and local empowerment. In her review, Rachel Wu describes Energy and Human Resource Development in Developing Countries: Towards Effective Localization as a stimulating manifesto for resolving the challenges of poverty and climate change.    

  • Jørgen Ørstrøm Møller
    Iseas-Yusof Ishak Institute, 2016
    ISBN: 978-9814762557

    Global economic systems are not working for much of the world’s growing populations. Many blame limited natural resources and globalization for rising inequality, and fall prey to political promises of fast relief. The world desperately needs new inspiration and guidelines for “living and getting along in a very crowded world of 8 billion inhabitants with shrinking resources and scant employment opportunities,” explains reviewer and author Will Hickey. He praises The Veil of Circumstance by Jørgen Ørstrøm Møller for offering a set of ideas, arguments and approaches for how people might start a conversation and reach solutions.  Both the author and the reviewer are frequent contributors to YaleGlobal Online.

  • Anne Garrels
    Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2016
    ISBN: 978-0374247720

    Russia is by far the world’s largest country in terms of territory, leaving many of its citizens far removed from the power centers of Moscow. NPR journalist Anne Garrels reported from Russia throughout her career and observed the country’s opening to the world since 1991. Her book Putin Country analyzes the numerous social and economic changes by detailing the struggles of ordinary Russian families in Chelyabinsk, an industrial city. Russians face an identity crisis, and reviewer Julia Sinitsky concludes that the book is timely amid a worldwide backlash against globalization and neoliberal values.

  • Jeffrey E. Garten
    HarperCollins Publishers, 2016
    ISBN: 978-0-06-240997-3

    Individuals can control globalization, and Jeffrey E. Garten analyzes the methods for by selecting ten individuals who contributed to connecting the world from the 12th to 20th centuries. The methods vary from brute force, methodical documentation and deception to persistence, secrecy, curiosity and cooperation. All of Garten’s subjects had talent for recognizing, forming and exploiting networks, explains Susan Froetschel in her review, and she concludes, “From Silk to Silicon is a stirring reminder that individuals can make a difference, if not for the world, then for their families and communities by seeking opportunity in globalization and new technologies.”  

  • Gabriel Weimann
    Woodrow Wilson Center Press and Columbia University Press, 2015
    ISBN:978-0-231-70449-6

    Cyberspace is a leading arena for battling extremism, argues Gabriel Weimann, professor of communications at the University Haifa and author of Terrorism in Cyberspace: The Next Generation. He was a fellow at the Wilson Center in 2013-2014. Extremists are adept at communicating over social media to attract recruits. Weimann’s book analyzes trends in cyberterrorism and demonstrates how “the war on terrorism is being played in the realm of narratives.” Governments struggle to present counter-narratives. Susan Froetschel reviews the book, pointing out that the failure of governments to acknowledge legitimate grievances and entrenched inequality risks provoking anger that leads to extremism.  

  • George Rupp
    Columbia University Press, 2015
    ISBN: 978-0-231-17428-2

    Individualism, associated with Western culture, is a powerful force spreading around the globe that is often resisted by traditional communities. Respect for the role of community is essential for modern societies, argues George Rupp in Beyond Individualism: The Challenge of Inclusive Communities. Rupp has served as president of Columbia University, Rice University and the International Rescue Committee. Globalization may favor individualism over inclusion, Rupp notes, yet inclusion – engaging with others rather than rejecting their convictions – is essential for resolving major challenges like climate change or inequality.

  • Roger Hood and Carolyn Hoyle
    Oxford University Press, 2015
    ISBN: 978-0-19-870174-3

    The world is divided over the death penalty: 140 nations are abolitionist in law or practice while 39 nations, including the world’s two largest economies – China and the US - still rely on the penalty to deter serious crimes. But nations also disagree about methods and which crimes are serious enough to warrant death. Executions of foreign nationals in particular can expose inconsistent policies. The Death Penalty by Oxford professors Roger Hood and Carolyn Hoyle argues for the penalty’s worldwide abolition. Leila Toiviainen in her review describes the book as “scholarly but readable and compassionate.”     

  • Anders Åslund
    Peterson Institute for International Economic, 2015
    ISBN: 978-0881327014

    In transitioning away from communism to independence since 1991, Ukraine struggled more than its neighbors, including Poland or Hungary. For more than two decades, Ukraine wavered between loyalty to Russia and stronger ties with the European Union.  Discontent and protests, Russia’s annexation of Crimea, and intervention in the country’s east have exacerbated struggles with inequality, high debt and corruption. Anders Åslund, an economist with the Peterson Institute for International Economics, served as an economic advisor to Ukraine’s President Leonid Kuchma from 1994 to 1997. He urges immediate reforms and austerity measures. In her review, Julia Sinitsky praises Åslund’s analysis, but questions the wisdom of austerity during a sensitive period. She also expresses doubt on his optimistic outlook but expresses hope that the book may inspire agents of change for Ukraine.

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