Book Reviews

  • 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.

  • Mark Harrison
    Yale Press, 2012
    ISBN: 0300123574

    Over the centuries, new diseases emerged and followed the trails of commerce, triggering panic and a rash of policymaking. As traders moved goods across longer distances, policymakers and investigators struggled to identify rats and mosquitoes as vectors for bubonic plague and yellow fever, respectively, or contaminated drinking water as a source for cholera. Contagion: How Commerce Has Spread Disease by Mark Harrison, professor of the history of medicine with University of Oxford, focuses on centuries of public response to contagious diseases and development of international boards, standards and regulations. In her review, Susan Froetschel suggests the broad lessons on policymaking could be useful for public managers of other cross-border challenges such as climate change.

  • Karen Eggleston and Shripad Tuljapurkar, Editors
    The Walter H. Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center, 2012
    ISBN: 1931368201

    Demographers, economists and policy analysts pore over population statistics to predict the future. Medical advances throughout the 20th century lowered infant mortality, extended average lifespans and contributed to population growth. As women increasingly choose to have fewer children, more governments can anticipate population decline and a greater proportion of elderly citizens. Asian nations respond to these shifting demographics, combining modern elements of health care with traditional perspectives, explains Aging Asia: The Economic and Social Implications of Rapid Demographic Change in China, Japan and South Korea.  With early policy planning, older populations need not pose financial or social crisis.

  • 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. 

  • Liza Tsaliki, Christos A. Frangonikolopoulos and Asteris Huliaras, Editors
    Intellect/University of Chicago, 2011
    ISBN: 978-1-84150-349-3

    Many facets of globalization have combined to spur intense celebrity activism at the global level. Transnational Celebrity Activism in Global Politics: Changing the World? scrutinizes the motivations, the public response, and influences over international relations and diplomacy.  The collection of essays, edited by Liza Tsaliki, Christos A. Frangonikolopoulos and Asteris Huliaras, suggests that celebrities and their dutiful fans could be unwitting pawns in global geopolitics, reinforcing power and inequality. In her review, Susan Froetschel points to the dangers of a piecemeal approach that delivers social benefits by lottery and argues that governments, better than a handful of individuals, can ensure policies that deliver justice and long-term relief. 

  • Katherine Fierlbeck
    University of Toronto Press, 2011
    ISBN: 978-1-4426-4003-0

    For developed nations with aging populations or developing nations investing in new programs, cross-country comparisons of health-care systems and their financing mechanisms are useful for containing health-care costs. Political scientist Katherine Fierlbeck offers a model for such comparisons with her book Health Care in Canada: A Citizen’s Guide to Policy and Politics. The costs and benefits of Canada’s largely public system versus those of the largely for-profit US system are compared. The two systems were similar during World War II, but diverged on separate financing paths afterward. Canada’s public system has flaws and limits, yet has achieved the superior results, and Fierlbeck offers cautions on cross-border influences from the US and its corporate model of health care.

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