Book Reviews

  • Olivier Roy
    New York: Columbia University Press, 2008

    The vision of a Muslim world united under the banner of Islam and storming the West makes no sense, posits Olivier Roy, research director at the French National Center for Scientific Research, in his book “The Politics of Chaos in the Middle East.” And any policy that presumes such a plan is in play makes no sense either. By declaring a global war on terror, the West inadvertently raised the status of terrorists and failed to prioritize the Middle East’s many separate conflicts. Citizens of the West repeatedly fall prey to politicians who inflate enemies as a distraction for other problems or support groups that work against the long-term interests of democracy or stability - and in her review, Susan Froetschel notes that Roy must be more explicit in explaining the reasons behind the chaos of the Middle East for those readers.

  • Bruce Mazlish, Nayan Chanda and Kenneth Weisbrode
    Stanford University Press, 2007

    The US presided over much of the technological innovation that spurred globalization throughout the 20th century. Yet Americans remain wary about the international influence and global governance. “The Paradox of a Global US,” edited by Bruce Mazlish, Nayan Chanda and Kenneth Weisbrode analyzes the simultaneous US pursuit and hesitation about global connections in politics, religion, media, foreign affairs and security. In her review, Susan Froetschel suggests that the US might have more to fear from its own way of handling globalization than the phenomenon itself.

  • Peter Chapman
    New York: Canongate, 2007

    The United Fruit Company was one of the world’s most controversial multinational companies and journalist Peter Chapman explores the company’s dramatic history, politics and cultural influence in his book “Bananas: How the United Fruit Company Shaped the World.” Chapman targets not only the reckless corporate leaders and corrupt politicians who boosted the company’s stature - but also blames globalization. In her review, Susan Froetschel suggests that the public that becomes fascinated with certain products - then takes them for granted, regardless of political or environmental costs - also bears some responsibility.

  • Nayan Chanda
    New Haven: Yale University Press, 2007

    Globalization, the process of growing interconnectedness, is not a new phenomenon. All that’s new is the ease and speed of the connections. In his book, Nayan Chanda, editor of YaleGlobal Online, follows the exploits of historical traders, preachers, adventurers and warriors in shaping our world, and identifies their modern counterparts at work today. The categories provide insights into globalization’s ongoing process, and Paul Freedman, chair of the Department of History at Yale University, points out how Chanda’s background as an international journalist allows for perceptive observations at both the personal and global levels. Describing Chanda’s analysis as both exciting and sobering, Freedman also ponders why globalization has failed to penetrate some of the poorest places of the world, emphasizing that, despite unprecedented opportunities, the world is still inequitable.

  • in the New Global Economy
    London: Zed Books, 2007

    Unprecedented flows of migrant workers, a result of economic liberalization, characterize the start of the 21st century. Toby Shelley, journalist with the Financial Times, documents how a global economy has come to depend on a work force that endures low wages as well as abuse from employers and governments in his book, “Exploited: Migrant Labour in the New Global Economy.” Shelley argues that a tough “law and order” approach sanctions the abuse, and this review points to the need for a long and specific plan of action that touches many social bases.

  • William J. Baumol, Robert E. Litan and Carl J. Schramm
    New Haven: Yale University Press, 2007

    Capitalism is not a simple monolithic system and comes in more than one form: entrepreneurial, big firms, state-directed and oligarchic. Some forms are better than others at delivering innovation, opportunity, economic growth and wealth, argue authors William J. Baumol, Robert E. Litan and Carl J. Schramm in their book “Good Capitalism, Bad Capitalism, and the Economics of Growth and Prosperity.” In a review, Susan Froetschel points out how nations must take care to avoid the forms that encourage greed, inequality and complacency rather than the passion for innovation and solving problems that confront the globe.

  • Chris Alden
    London: Zed Books, with the International African Institute, Royal African Society, Social Science Research Council, 2007

    China as an emerging power has focused foreign-policy attention on Africa - in search of natural resources and markets for its manufactured goods. Yet the continent is complex and China is not limited to one role, explains Morgan Robinson in her review of “China in Africa,” written by Chris Alden, a senior lecturer in the Department of International Relations at the London School of Economics. Robinson concludes that the relationships between governments and people have evolved in multiple ways, and points out how grassroots interactions, rather than symbolic gestures, will determine China’s destiny in Africa.

  • Michael Mandelbaum
    New York: Public Affairs, 2007

    Democracy spread rapidly throughout the world during the 20th century. But that does not mean the system is free of risks. Michael Mandelbaum, a leading US foreign policy thinker, explores the history of democracy and the necessary conditions for its establishment in his book, “Democracy’s Good Name: The Rise and Risks of the World’s Most Popular Form of Government.” In the book, Mandelbaum focuses on leadership and institutions. In her review, Susan Froetschel keys in on another remarkable aspect of democracy - the fact that large groups of people live with decisions that do not go their way.

  • Stephen Kinzer
    New York: Times Books, 2006

    Regime change has been an integral part of US foreign policy for more than 100 years. Stephen Kinzer tells the story of 14 interventions and coups, from deposing the Hawaiian monarchy in 1893 to the Iraq invasion in 2003. Susan Froetschel examines the author’s narrative style, emphasizing how the expensive and disruptive operations may achieve US economic or political goals for the short term, but can pose devastating consequences generations later.

  • Michael Mandelbaum
    New York: Public Affairs, 2005

    Michael Mandelbaum analyzes the US role as the world’s sole superpower, providing global security as a government service. The US may not continue that role for long though. The biggest threat comes not from rival countries but rather the US public, no longer willing to pay the costs. In this review, Susan Froetschel highlights the author’s approach to understanding the US role in the world order.