Book Reviews

  • Stephen R. Brown
    St. Martin’s Press, 2009
    ISBN: 0312616112

    Stephen R. Brown’s explores the history of six European merchants, dispatched by their governments to expand global trade in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. In separate expeditions to Asia, the Americas and Africa – the merchants essentially established their own private fiefdoms taking control over natural resources that belonged to others, dominating local economies and cultures. Governments encouraged the monopolies, yet also distanced themselves from brutal consequences. Francesca Trivellato, reviewer and Yale professor of history, suggests the tales offer lessons for government-corporate entanglements of the modern era.

  • Benjamin K. Sovacool
    Praeger, 2009
    ISBN:978-0-313-35540-0

    Politicians, utility managers and corporations throughout the United States often insist that policies favoring renewable energies or conservation would disrupt job creation and economic growth. But with worldwide economic crisis and volatile price swings in energy costs, the public has become more skeptical. The impediments to new energy forms are social and political, based on greed, argues Benjamin Sovacool, research fellow for energy governance at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore, in his book, “The Dirty Energy Dilemma.” In her review, Susan Froetschel lauds Sovacool’s analysis that points to a need for new public interest in energy science, delivery and politics - as essential as personal finance for the 21st century.

  • Edited by Richard Giulianotti and Roland Robertson
    Blackwell Publishing, 2009
    ISBN: 978-1-4051-6269-2

    The pace of globalization is intense for some sports like cricket and soccer, while other sports such as hockey or basketball are more parochial. Why some sports attract more attention than others is analyzed in a collection of essays, “Globalization and Sport,” edited by sociology professors Richard Giulianotti and Roland Robertson. The book reveals that the study of globalization of sport, like any other activity, is a rich and multidisciplinary affair, open to the analysis of historians, anthropologists, economists and many other specialists. In her review, Susan Froetschel expresses appreciation for how an understanding of sport’s mysterious ability to combine connection with competition could offer lessons in other areas of global governance.

  • Olivier Roy
    New York: Columbia University Press, 2008
    ISBN:978-0-231-70032-0

    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.

  • Amar Bhidé
    Princeton University Press, 2008
    ISBN:978-0-691-13517-5

    An old saying goes, “It doesn’t matter whether we win or lose, but how we play the game,” and the same goes for policymakers and business executives who hope to spur innovation. Innovation that sustains prosperity is more likely in a connected rather than an isolated or restricted world, explains Columbia professor Amar Bhidé in “The Venturesome Economy.” Trying too hard, limiting options, competing by excluding others - all can backfire. Like it or not, businesses and users are in a great adventure in pursuit of easy and best practices, otherwise known as innovation. In her review, Susan Froetschel notes that globalization and innovation go hand in hand.

  • Kishore Mahbubani
    New York: Public Affairs, 2008
    ISBN:978-1-58648-466-8

    Rapid modernization contributes to the rise of Asia in terms of economic and social power, and Kishore Mahbubani’s book, The New Asian Hemisphere: The Irresistible Shift of Global Power to the East, documents that rise. Mahbubani, dean and professor with the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, the National University of Singapore, explains why it’s in the best interest of the democratic West and global institutions to accommodate additional power centers and even celebrate an increasing number of responsible stakeholders in world affairs. Fair distribution of power and global democracy can contribute to a more stable and peaceful world.

  • Michael Mandelbaum
    New York: Public Affairs, 2007
    ISBN:978-1-58648-514-6

    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.

  • Bruce Mazlish, Nayan Chanda and Kenneth Weisbrode
    Stanford University Press, 2007
    ISBN:978-0-8047-5156-8

    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
    ISBN:978-1-84195-881-1

    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
    ISBN:978-0-3001-1201-6

    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.