Book Reviews

  • David Shambaugh
    Published by Oxford University Press, 2013
    ISBN: 0199860149

    David Shambaugh, professor of political science and international affairs and director of the China Policy Program at George Washington University, is a highly respected analyst of Chinese politics who has written for YaleGlobal. His most recent book focuses on China’s ambivalent involvement in global affairs and quest for global power. Alistair Burnett, editor of the BBC News Program The World Tonight, describes the book as a “treasure trove” on Chinese global participation and the debates within China’s power circles on how to proceed, albeit through an American lens. Both review and book reinforce the opinion that China is involved in global politics but would prefer to boost economic development at home.

  • 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.   

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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. 

  • 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.