Book Reviews

  • Hugh Peyman
    World Scientific, 2018

    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

    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

    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

    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

    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

    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

    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

    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

    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.