Book Reviews

  • Michael Wolff
    Henry Holt and Company, 2018
    978-1250158062

    Michael Wolff insists he had no agenda in writing Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House. In interviews, he claims the wish to write that “this unexpected president is actually going to succeed,” before adding “This is worse than everybody thought.” Susan Froetschel reviews the book that focuses on battles between two White House factions and the global implications, especially since the departure of strategist Steve Bannon. The book is a cautionary tale for the world about relying on the Trump administration or the judgment of the American people.

  • Bruce Riedel
    Brookings Institution Press, 2017
    978-0815731375

    Protests erupted throughout the Muslim world in response to Donald Trump’s announcement on US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. “Over the course of a seven-decade alliance with the United States, Saudi Arabia has consistently emphasized one foreign-policy goal – resolution of the Palestinian conflict with Israel and end to Israeli occupation,” writes Susan Froetschel who reviews “Kings and Presidents: Saudi Arabia and the United States Since FDR” by Bruce Riedel. Riedel had a 30-year career with the US Central Intelligence Agency before serving with the US National Security Council, the Department of Defense and NATO. Froetschel identifies the unresolved Palestinian crisis as the book’s most persistent theme. The timely book offers lessons in the value of insightful intelligence, meticulous diplomacy and experienced leadership.

     

  • 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.    

  • Gerard Toal
    Oxford University Press, 2017
    9780190253301

    Russia is intent on wielding influence over former Soviet states, and two books with similar titles examine the effort. “Near Abroad, written by political scientist Gerard Toal and The Near Abroad penned by historian Zbigniew Wojnowski give insights into Russia’s post-soviet foreign policy and the deeply ingrained belief systems driving its diplomacy on the world stage,” writes Julia Sinitsky in her review. “These motivations, often oversimplified by western political analyst as merely power plays, often have deeply ingrained historical and cultural roots." Russia will never be a disinterested neighbor.

  • 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.”  

  • 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.