Book Reviews

  • Sharmila Joshi, Editor
    Gateway House, Indian Council on Global Relations, 2012
    ISBN:

    South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation is a regional organization that aims to achieve political and economic cooperation of eight nations: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. India, as the largest of these both in terms of land area and population, can overwhelm other SAARC members. Neighbourhood Views is a collection of essays marking SAARC’s 27th anniversary, crafted to examine India’s relations with the other seven member states and offer recommendations. The publication represents a mature and sincere gesture, intended to improve and reinforce relations after a century of bitter divisions throughout the region.

  • Anders Wijkman and Johan Rockström
    Routledge, 2012
    ISBN: 0415539692

    Reckless speculation with natural resources could be more dangerous than speculation in the financial markets, warn Anders Wijkman and Johan Rockström in their book, Bankrupting Nature: Denying Our Planetary Boundaries. Ultimately, the financial world and every human being depend on a stable environment. Wijkman is advisor at the Stockholm Environment Institute, Sweden, and co-president of the Club of Rome. Rockström is a professor in Natural Resource Management, Stockholm University, and executive director of the Stockholm Resilience Center. The book addresses climate change along with the larger issue of an economic system and global population that are no longer sustainable. The globe is confronting multiple interconnected crises that require systematic change rather than minimal adjustments. 

  • Edward N. Luttwak
    Belknap Press, Harvard University Press, 2012
    ISBN:

    Media in the West frequently suggest that China is on a trajectory to become the world’s leading economy and superpower. Edward Luttwak argues that China, because of its history and geostrategic position in the world, confronts a choice. It can become an economic power or military power, but cannot achieve both. In his review, BBC editor Alistair Burnett outlines the argument and evidence. History suggests that a country bordering many states – and China has 14 neighbors – will struggle to overcome wariness and their inclination for balance by forming ties with rivals like the United States. Burnett finds Luttwak’s evidence intriguing, yet warns that China has overcome many challenges and could buck the historical trend.

  • Fawaz A. Gerges
    Palgrave, Macmillan, 2012
    ISBN: 0230113818

    Writing for YaleGlobal over the years, international relations professor Fawaz A. Gerges has issued many astute early warnings on the Middle East – about desires for freedom stirring in the autocratic regimes, the War in Iraq disrupting the West’s battle for hearts and minds throughout the Muslim world, and the enduring nature of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for galvanizing extremism. His book analyzing the US role in the Middle East in recent years is must reading for anyone who cares about the region, suggests Susan Froetschel in her review of Obama and the Middle East: The End of America’s Moment? The assessment shows how political polarization is weakening the US, forcing its president to be more ordinary than extraordinary. Gerges recommends that the US embrace balanced policies to maintain influence in the region.

  • Edward Luce
    Little Brown and Company, 2012
    ISBN: 1408702754

    Unless bolstered by evidence and reasoning, cheery optimism is not reassuring. Edward Luce, with the Financial Times, scolds the United States for squandering its influence in Time to Start Thinking: America and the Spectre of Decline. Politicians and citizens, increasingly polarized over ridiculous issues, studiously ignore the many global-scale problems at hand. The nation could emerge strong once again by bolstering the middle class, investing in education and infrastructure, and emphasizing innovation. Reviewer Alistair Burnett, editor of BBC’s The World, compares the criticism to a stern wake-up call from a friend.   

  • Zachary D. Kaufman, Editor
    Edward Elgar Publishing Limited, 2012
    ISBN: 978 1 78100 221 6

    A tough economy combined with a globe of plenty of atrocities is driving many talented and impatient youth to take action by launching their own non-government organizations and nonprofits. Young social entrepreneurs identify a problem and develop strategies, raise awareness and funds, and hope for sustainability. Social Entrepreneurship in the Age of Atrocities: Changing Our World, edited by Zachary D. Kaufman,is a collection of eight essays by young social entrepreneurs that explore the motivations and challenges. The stories amaze and inspire, writes reviewer Susan Froetschel, and they present the world as a place for great interconnected possibilities.

  • Lester R. Brown
    W.W. Norton and Company, 2011
    ISBN: 978-0-393-33949-9

    Food-price stability depends on good harvests year after year, and extreme weather events increasingly test agriculture’s ability to meet demands of a growing population. In “World on the Edge: How to Prevent Environmental and Economic Collapse,” Earth Policy Institute President Lester R. Brown analyzes the interconnections of water, energy, food security, climate and failing states. Half the book addresses the challenges awaiting governments for the 21st century, and the other half provides a plan, with Brown optimistic that the world can reduce carbon emissions by 80 percent before 2020. The plan’s centerpiece: reducing income taxes and raising taxes on carbon. Reviewer Susan Froetschel recommends the book as an investment guide for the 21st century.

  • Hakan Altinay, Editor
    Brookings Institution Press, 2011
    ISBN: 978-0-8157-2141-3

    Increasingly confounding nations are problems of global scale. To negotiate resolutions, citizens and leaders must delve into global civics lessons and understand the political processes, argues Hakan Altinay, Brookings Institution fellow and editor of Global Civics Responsibilities and Rights in an Interdependent World.  Citizens ignorant of World Bank, World Trade Organization or United Nations operations can’t debate or rally behind decisions. Altinay’s proposal addresses a pressing need, notes reviewer Susan Froetschel, and global civics could strengthen institutions of global governance. If educators develop global civics programs, then reasonable and coordinated policy may soon follow. 

  • Ian Goldin, Geoffrey Cameron and Meera Balarajan
    Princeton University Press, 2011
    ISBN: 0691145725

    Those following political debates or media accounts in the wealthiest nations might assume that global migration brings more problems than benefits. Authors Ian Goldin, Geoffrey Cameron and Meera Balarajan set out to counter the prevailing negative narratives on migration in their book Exceptional People – How Migration Shaped Our World and Will Define Our Future. After recounting the long history of migration and globalization over the last millennium and its crucial role in the progress of humanity, the book critiques current migration policies as fractured and shortsighted and provides policy recommendations for reform. In his review, Rasesh Mohan lauds the authors for providing sound evidence that policies discouraging migration represent lost opportunity.

  • Immanuel Wallerstein
    Berkeley: University of California Press, 2011
    ISBN: 0520267613

    Beginning in 1974, sociologist Immanuel Wallerstein set out to produce an ambitious and innovative history of modern world development that he labels world-systems analysis. Volume IV of the series spans 1789 to the First World War and analyzes the period’s evolving politics and industrial systems along with competing responses of conservatism, socialism, radicalism and liberalism. In an introductory essay to a previous book “The Essential Wallerstein,” the sociologist argued that world-systems analysis is a protest “against neglected issues and deceptive epistemologies” and a call for “intellectual change.” He strives to explain so that his readers might better respond to a modern world. Historian J.R. McNeill reviews the fourth volume and analyzes the impact of Wallerstein’s inspiring career that bridges so many disciplines. 

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