Here is a short listing of books of interest to diplomats that have not been written by members of the Foreign Service or their families.
Giles Merritt, Oxford University Press, 2016, $29.95/hardcover, 270 pages.
A self-described “skeptical Europhile,” Giles Merritt lays bare the issues surrounding what he argues is Europe’s imminent decline and the best courses of action to slow or reduce it. He offers a clear to-do list for European countries, including a recommendation for stronger unification of national governments across Europe. He also discusses the rise of Asia as a formidable competitor and delves into the strengths and weaknesses of the European Union. This is a timely read for anyone concerned about Europe’s options in a post-Brexit world.
Giles Merritt served as a Financial Times correspondent for 15 years before founding Friends of Europe, a think-tank in Brussels, and Europe’s World, a policy journal. He is the author of several books, including the award-winning World Out of Work (1982).
Catie Marron, Harper-Collins, 2016, $32.50/hardcover, 304 pages.
City squares have been sites for commerce, celebrations, public protest and peaceful gatherings since the time of the ancient Greeks. The square is the one essential public space that has “stood the test of time,” editor Catie Marron writes in the introduction to this unusual book.
Essays by noted contributors—New Yorker editor David Remnick, former Time magazine editor and Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Richard Stengel, novelist Anne Beattie and others—about prominent and some not-so-famous city squares on four continents are organized in three sections that look at these metropolitan gathering places from cultural, geopolitical and historical perspectives.
Catie Marron is chairman of the board of directors of Friends of the High Line and a trustee of the New York Public Library, where she was chairman of the board for seven years. She is a contributing editor to Vogue and the editor of City Parks: Public Places, Private Thoughts (2013).
William I. Hitchcock, Melvyn P. Leffler and Jeffrey W. Legro, Harvard University Press, 2016, $35/hardcover, 216 pages.
This collection of essays focuses on eight “shaper” nations that have decisive influence within their own regional spheres and will likely determine the future course of global affairs: Brazil, China, Germany, India, Israel, Russia, Turkey and the United States. The aim is to identify the sources of national strategy for each nation and evaluate the impact the pursuit of that strategy is having on contemporary world politics. The result is a fresh, new perspective on 21st-century security threats and the kind of strategic thinking needed to effectively meet today’s challenges.
William I. Hitchcock is a professor of history at the University of Virginia, where Melvyn P. Leffler is the Edward Stettinius professor of history. Jeffrey W. Legro is Ambassador Henry J. Taylor and Mrs. Marion R. Taylor Professor of Politics and vice provost for global affairs at the University of Virginia.
Pamela Aall and Chester A. Crocker, CIGI Press, 2016, $38/paperback, $15.38/Kindle, 342 pages.
A compilation of essays by more than 20 experts, Minding the Gap: African Conflict Management in a Time of Change puts conflict management in Africa into perspective, examining both the problems involved and the continent’s evolving capacity to undertake the task effectively. Heavily supported by hard data, this book is a significant contribution in this critical area. (See retired Ambassador Tibor Nagy’s review in the October FSJ.)
Chester Crocker, who served as assistant secretary of State for African affairs from 1981 to 1989, is a distinguished fellow with the Centre for International Governance Innovation’s Global Security and Politics Program and James R. Schlesinger professor of strategic studies at Georgetown University’s Walsh School of Foreign Service. Pamela Aall is a senior fellow with CIGI’s Global Security and Politics Program and founding provost of the U.S. Institute of Peace’s Academy for International Conflict Management and Peacebuilding.
Gregory M. Tomlin, Potomac Books, 2016, $34.95/hardcover, $24.07/Kindle, 400 pages.
In March 1961 America’s most prominent journalist, Edward R. Murrow, ended a 25-year career with the Columbia Broadcasting System to join the administration of John F. Kennedy as director of the United States Information Agency. There he improved the global perception of the United States by deftly promoting public diplomacy in the advancement of U.S. foreign policy. This book tells that story.
Gregory M. Tomlin is a former assistant professor of history at the United States Military Academy at West Point. A career Army officer, he has served in Germany, Korea, Kosovo and Iraq, as well as at the White House as a military social aide for the Obama administration. He is the co-author of The Gods of Diyala: Transfer of Command in Iraq (2008).
Jeffrey E. Stern, St. Martin’s Press, 2016, $26.99/hardcover, 325 pages.
In this story of the Marefat School, young Afghanis speak for themselves about their hopes and dreams for their country and for themselves. A renowned institution located in the slums of Kabul, the school was built by a minority group that is still actively discriminated against, the Hazara. Through a series of exhaustive interviews—with the school’s founder, parents of students, the security director and several students—Jeffrey Stern chronicles the changes effected in a single community by America’s intervention in Afghanistan and its withdrawal. A sensitive, in-depth look at the effects of war on ordinary people, the book demonstrates the power of education.
Jeffrey E. Stern is a writer, photographer and development worker. His reporting from Afghanistan, Kashmir, West Africa and elsewhere has appeared in Vanity Fair, The Atlantic, The New Republic, Esquire, Time, The Daily Beast, the Philadelphia Inquirer, Duke Magazine and other publications.
Alison Holmes with J. Simon Rofe, Westview Press, 2016, $45/paperback, 330 pages.
The character of diplomacy never changes, but how it is carried out and who is doing so depends on time and place, the authors of this challenging but rewarding read argue. Holmes and Rofe aim to broaden the view of what diplomacy can be, offering a global perspective on the conduct of diplomacy today and the ways in which it might develop in the future. They address Western and non-Western modes of diplomacy, as well as the diplomacy of states in different developmental stages, and present three new models of diplomatic practice: community, trans-Atlantic and relational.
Alison R. Holmes is an assistant professor of international studies at Humboldt State University. J. Simon Rofe is a senior lecturer in diplomacy and international studies at SOAS, University of London.
Edited by Walter Laqueur and Dan Schueftan, Penguin, 2016, $22/paperback, $11.99/Kindle, 608 pages.
In print for nearly half a century, and now in its eighth edition, The Israeli-Arab Reader is an authoritative guide to more than a century of conflict in the Middle East. Arranged chronologically and without bias by two veteran historians of the Middle East, Walter Laqueur and Dan Schueftan, this comprehensive reference brings together speeches, letters, articles and reports involving all the major interests in the area.
This edition features a new introduction as well as 50 pages of new material covering developments since 2009, when the seventh edition appeared.
Walter Laqueur, a professor of history and an expert commentator on international affairs, has written and edited more than 25 books. Dan Schueftan is director of the National Security Studies Center and the International Graduate Program in National Security at the University of Haifa. He is the author of numerous books on the history and politics of the Middle East.
Christian Appy, Penguin Books, 2015, $18/paperback, 334 pages.
“Few people understand the centrality of the Vietnam War to our situation as much as Christian Appy,” says documentary filmmaker Ken Burns. “In his sure hands, we have a blueprint that documents the fundamental changes that divisive war ushered in.” In American Reckoning, Appy explores the war’s impact on U.S. culture, national identity and foreign policy from the dawn of the Cold War to the Global War on Terror—in the process demonstrating how vexed and conflicted the legacies of Vietnam remain.
Christian G. Appy, a professor of history at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, is the author of two previous books on the Vietnam War and editor of the series Culture, Politics and the Cold War. His book Patriots won the Massachusetts Book Award for nonfiction.
Paul Pillar, Columbia University Press, 2016, $28.99/hardcover, $28.99/Ebook, 224 pages.
“This book should be required reading for all presidential candidates,” says retired Ambassador Gordon S. Brown in his review of Why America Misunderstands the World in the June FSJ. Paul Pillar explores the reasons Americans’ perspectives about the world and foreign policy have developed very differently from other nations and assesses its effect on U. S. policymaking. “Pillar has skewered the conventional wisdom on a host of issues where our misperceptions of the threat, the motivations of others or even of our own national interest have led to flawed policies,” says Brown.
Paul Pillar is a nonresident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution’s Center for 21st Century Security and Intelligence and at the Center for Security Studies in the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. During a 28-year career in U.S. intelligence he held numerous senior positions, including chief of analytic units at the CIA, and was an original member of the Analytic Group in the National Intelligence Council.
Rana F. Nejem, Whitefox, 2016, $24.99/paperback, $9.59/Kindle, 248 pages.
This book opens with an Arab proverb: “Ask the experienced rather than the learned.” The fact that the author possesses deep personal knowledge of the customs and traditions of the Middle East makes When In the Arab World essential reading for anyone intending to live, work or study in that region.
Rana Nejem, who regularly speaks on the subject of cross-cultural communications and cultural intelligence, began her career as a broadcast journalist with Jordan Television and later worked with CNN before running the public diplomacy and communications section of the British Embassy in Amman for 18 years. In 2013 she founded her own company, Yarnu—named for the Arabic word meaning to do something with calmness and serenity—to coach, train and advise business executives, diplomats and officials.
Linda Heywood, Allison Blakely, Charles Stith and Joshua C. Yesnowitz, University of Illinois Press, 2015, $25/paperback, $14.87/Kindle, 264 pages.
This book originated in a conference on the role African Americans have played in U.S. foreign policy throughout history that attracted numerous scholars and former diplomats. The essays collected from this event chronicle the evolution of the role played by African-American elites and the African-American community as Foreign Service officers and ambassadors of a country that denied them their full social and political rights. (See retired Ambassador Charles Ray’s review in the January-February FSJ.)
Linda Heywood is a professor of African-American studies and history at Boston University and author of Contested Power in Angola: 1840s to the Present. Allison Blakely is Professor Emeritus of History at Boston University. Charles Stith is an adjunct professor of international relations and director of the African Presidential Center at Boston University. Joshua C. Yesnowitz has lectured at Boston University and Suffolk University.
Michael Mandelbaum, Oxford University Press, 2016, $29.95/hardcover, $16.49/Kindle, 504 pages.
A “much-needed and well-documented attempt to review and possibly revise the history of the post-Cold War world,” is how Geneve Mantri describes Mission Failure in his review in the September FSJ. Using a wide-ranging analysis of key case studies since the fall of the Soviet Union, Michael Mandelbaum explores the reasons why the United States has been unsuccessful in its nation-building attempts and in espousing its ideologies abroad, and makes a case for better consideration of the long-term consequences of intervention and how to build nations more effectively.
Michael Mandelbaum is the Christian A. Herter Professor and Director of the American Foreign Policy program at the Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies. He served in the office of Under Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger at the Department of State and, later, as an adviser to President Bill Clinton.
Edited by David Shambaugh, Oxford University Press, 2016, $99/hardback, $39.95/paperback, 568 pages.
No nation in history has risen as quickly or modernized as rapidly as has China over the past four decades. This sixth edition of The China Reader chronicles the diverse aspects of this transition since the late 1990s. Comprehensive in scope, the anthology draws upon primary Chinese sources, as well as on secondary Western analyses by the world’s leading experts on contemporary China. Perfectly suited as a textbook for students and a reference work for specialists and the public alike, the volume covers the full range of China’s internal and external developments.
David Shambaugh, an internationally recognized authority on contemporary China, Sino-American relations and the international relations of Asia, is a professor of political science and international affairs and director of the China Policy Program at The George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs. He is also a nonresident senior fellow in the Foreign Policy Studies Program at The Brookings Institution.
George Friedman, Anchor Books, 2016, $28.95/hardcover, $16/paperback, $11.99/Kindle, 288 pages.
With remarkable accuracy, George Friedman has forecasted numerous trends in global politics, technology, population and culture. In Flashpoints, he focuses on Europe, the world’s cultural and power nexus for the past 500 years—until now. The European Union was crafted in large part to minimize the built-in geopolitical tensions that historically have torn it apart. But as Friedman demonstrates, that design is now failing, as seen in the struggle for Ukraine, the fragmentation of Europe’s eastern frontier, hostility in Turkey and the rise of right-wing extremism throughout the continent. It is a truly timely book.
George Friedman is the founder and chairman of Geopolitical Futures, which specializes in geopolitical forecasting. The author of six books, he was previously chairman of the global intelligence company Stratfor, which he founded in 1996.
Kati Marton, Simon & Schuster, 2016, $27/hardcover, $12.99/Kindle, 304 pages.
Noel Field was a Harvard-educated, promising State Department employee—until he was caught spying for the Soviet Union, betrayed his country, and was eventually arrested and tortured by the KGB. In telling his story, Kati Marton had an unlikely advantage: her parents, Hungarian journalists, uncovered Field’s arrest, and her father was kept in the same cell as Field. They later conducted the only known press interview with Field and his wife, providing Marton with invaluable insights. She draws striking parallels between the events in Field’s life and today’s young radicalized militants joining ISIS forces—a warning of the recurring themes of history.
Kati Marton is an award-winning former NPR and ABC News correspondent and the author of nine books. Currently a director of the Committee to Protect Journalists, she serves on the board of directors of the International Rescue Committee, the New American Foundation and Central European University.
Volker Ullrich, Alfred A. Knopf, 2016, $40/hardcover, $17.99/Kindle, 1,008 pages.
“Timely, given the increase in right-wing intransigence throughout the world, and one of the best works on Hitler and the origins of the Third Reich to appear in recent years,” says Kirkus Reviews about this first installment of Volker Ullrich’s two-volume biography of Adolf Hitler. By contrast with the four major biographies to date, which focus on the societal environment during Hitler’s rise and his invulnerability as a leader, Ascent focuses on the man himself and the life events that shaped him, making use of newly available source material.
Volker Ullrich is an historian and journalist whose previous books in German include biographies of Bismarck and Napoleon. From 1990 to 2009, he was the editor of the political book review section of the weekly Die Zeit.
Robert Kaplan, Random House, 2016, $28/hardcover, $18/paperback, 287 pages.
Part history, part political theory, part nostalgic reminiscing, In Europe’s Shadow shows how Romania has been a crossroads of Eastern and Western culture throughout history. From defending itself from Eastern invaders to its subjugation under Russian influence, Romania has looked to the West but occasionally leaned to the East. While clearly enamored with the country, the author shows how its complex and often dark history has shaped its present-day social environment and its relationship with the United States. (See Tracy Whittington’s review in the September FSJ.)
Robert Kaplan, a best-selling foreign affairs and travel writer, is a senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security in Washington, D.C., and a contributing editor for The Atlantic.