Book Reviews

  • Leila Toiviainen
    Melbourne University Press , 2018
    ISBN: 9780522873528

    Gillian Triggs served as president of the Australian Human Rights Commission for five years, vehemently defending the rights of indigenous people, asylum seekers and refugees. Indigenous people represent just over 3 percent of Australia’s population of 24 million, and the number of refugees and asylum-seekers in the country since 1977 represents about 1 percent. Leila Toiviainen reviews Speaking Up by Triggs and points out the book “underscores a contradiction for the world’s developed nations – ongoing disdain for both newcomers as well as the descendants of the original occupants of these wealthy lands.” Though leaders in Australia attacked Triggs for her insistence on protections for vulnerable populations, Triggs remains optimistic for a bill of rights for that country.

  • Chandran Nair
    Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc., 2018
    ISBN: 9781523095148

    Survival of the world’s livable habitat depends on 6 billion people living in developing nations to resist the lifestyles practiced by 1 billion people living in the world’s wealthiest nations. Reckless consumerism has become more threat than comfort, wasting limited resources and poisoning water and air, and government intervention is required. The only solution, author Chandran Nair concludes, is corporations selling less. Susan Froetschel reviews The Sustainable State by Nair and suggests a role reversal is due on leadership: “Developing nations should no longer feel pressured to catch up with advanced nations, and wealthier nations could slow their frenetic pace, becoming more vibrant while learning to live with less.”

  • Hugh Peyman
    World Scientific, 2018
    978-981-3231-99-3

    China’s fast rise from poverty since 1980 with patient ambition and long-term strategic planning may be a well-known story though Hugh Peyman, investment researcher based in Shanghai, offers new perspective with China’s Change: The Greatest Show on Earth. “Peyman argues that China’s success is not about ideology, doctrine or politics, but about process, knowing how to set goals and conceive ideas in a practical way,” explains journalist Humphrey Hawksley in his review. “He paints a picture of a Western democratic system that has lost its way, held back by short-term thinking and conditioned by the electoral cycle.” China’s one-party rule may allow more debate on managing change than many assume and certainly more long-term planning, and Peyman maintains that the West could learn from China’s processes. The book does not detail the consolidation of power by Xi Jinping.   

  • Humphrey Hawksley
    The Overlook Press, 2018
    978-1468314786

    China ranks 11th among countries with the most coastline, well after Indonesia, Russia, the Philippines and Japan. Supported by the US-led international security and trade rules, China has steadily risen to become Asia’s largest economy and home to the continent’s most powerful navy. “Embedded in China’s thinking is securing itself against foreign intervention,” explains BBC foreign correspondent and longtime YaleGlobal contributor Humphrey Hawksley in Asian Waters. Only the United States could take China on. Hawksley  describes conflicts throughout the Asia Pacific region, explaining how China plots long-term strategies while US policies shift  abruptly under disparate leaders. In her review, Susan Froetschel warns that over-reach could treacherous for any nation hoping to dominate Asia Pacific waters.

  • 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.

  • Francis Wade
    Asian Arguments, 2017
    978-1783605279

    Muslim and Buddhist people lived side by side in Southeast Asia for centuries. But the political changes in Burma associated with colonization followed by dictatorship, then gradual reopening of the country renamed Myanmar with the introduction of democracy, have fueled resentment. Neighbors turned on neighbors, with Muslims marginalized and denied citizenship. UN spokespeople have called the plight of the Rohingya people the “world’s fastest growing refugee crisis.” Journalist Francis Wade explores the history of this ethnic conflict. Reviewer David Dapice, economist of the Vietnam and Myanmar Program at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, concludes that Myanmar cannot hope to achieve stability or peace without subduing the hatred.

  • Gareth Evans
    Melbourne University Press, 2017
    9780522866445

    Gareth Evans’ extensive career has spanned law, politics, education and human rights. A member of the Australian Parliament for 21 years, he also served as foreign minister with influential roles in developing the UN peace plan for Cambodia, the international Chemical Weapons Convention, the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum and the ASEAN Regional Forum, and the Canberra Commission on the Elimination of Nuclear Weapons. His memoir, relying on a thematic rather than chronological approach, reflects an inspiring life, one committed to striving for a better world. “The red thread running through the book is his deep concern about creating a safe, just and equitable world,” explains Nayan Chanda, founding editor of YaleGlobal Online in his review for Global Asia. “Concerns such as these, and his belief that the world can be made a better place, reveals the ‘incorrigible optimism’ that has driven him to undertake what often could appear as a fool’s errand.”

  • Peter Greste
    Penguin, 2017
    978-0670079261

    The 9/11 attacks on New York and Washington, DC, heightened intense national security and transformed journalism, too. “Observers of global events transformed into reluctant participants,” notes Leila Toiviainen in her review of The First Casualty by journalist Peter Greste. Toiviainen is a researcher with the University of Tasmania.  “The so-called ‘war on terror’ triggered a global war waged against journalism by both governments and the terrorist groups they battle.  The book describes Greste’s many years reporting for BBC News and Al Jazeera as well as his imprisonment in Egypt. For Greste, journalists work “to reveal the hidden agendas of politicians and speak truth to power.”  

  • John Zarobell
    University of California Press, 2017
    9780520291539

    Art is flourishing with exponential population growth and a growing middle class in emerging economies. In Art and the Global Economy, John Zarobell of the University of San Francisco explores art’s many contributions to local economies and globalization’s influence over the art industry. He suggests that boundaries are eroding, and the traditional art centers welcome artists from around the world. “Any artist can cultivate global relationships, small institutions can initiate global dialogue, and small shows with new approaches can capture global attention,” notes Susan Froetschel in her review. Zarobell’s book offers convincing arguments that art’s value extends far beyond price tags and contributes to building communities.

  • 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.