How do civil wars start?: And how to stop them
by Barbara F. Walter, Viking £18.99 / Crown $27
The amount of interest this book has awakened in the United States is a disturbing testament to the current levels of concern about political division and violence in the United States. Drawing on examples such as Yugoslavia, Syria, Libya and Myanmar, Walter, a professor at the University of California, argues that the United States meets many of the criteria that predict civil conflict, including a politics of ethnic resentment, democratic decline, widespread gun ownership and a fearful population.
freezing order: A True Story of Russian Money Laundering, Murder, and Surviving the Wrath of Vladimir Putin
by Bill Browner Simon & Schuster £20 / $28.99
The author has been trying to get the West to take seriously the threat of Putin’s Russia for many years. In return, the Putin regime has persecuted him around the world. by browder New book chronicles this struggle and is part thriller, part political recipe. After the invasion of the Ukraine, it has deservedly risen to the top of the best-seller lists.
Leadership: Six Studies of World Strategy
by Henry Kissinger Allen Lane £25 / Penguin $36
Now 99 years old, Kissinger is still writing books. Here he describes six leaders he has known: Lee Kuan Yew, Konrad Adenauer, Richard Nixon, Charles de Gaulle, Margaret Thatcher, and Anwar Sadat, and draws general lessons about the character and intellect of leaders who can change the world.
The Rise and Fall of the Neoliberal Order: America and the World in the Free Market Era
by Gary Gerstle OWN £21/$27.95
A history of modern America in the “free market age” that was hailed as an “instant classic” by the FT review. Gerstle argues that the unleashing of the market economy was the central theme of the last 50 years of US history. In this book, he traces the ideas, people, and events that defined a “neoliberal order,” ending with the populist backlash of the Trump years.
One party after another: The disruptive life of Nigel Farage
by Michael Crick Simon & Schuster £25
Nigel Farage has never been elected to parliament but, as Godfather of Brexit, he has good reason to be one of the most influential politicians in post-war Britain. A lively, chaotic and sometimes sinister figure (witness his close friendship with Donald Trump and admiration for Viktor Orbán), farage it’s an ideal subject for Crick, one of Britain’s most experienced political journalists.
Liberalism and its discontents
by Francis Fukuyama Profile £16.99 / Farrar Straus and Giroux $26
Fukuyama has been one of the most influential political theorists in the West for more than 30 years. Here he discusses the growing challenges to the classical liberalism he believes in, including identity politics, a neoliberalism that has led to rising inequality and a global resurgence of authoritarianism. the book recommends ways to revive the liberal cause.
The avoidable war: The dangers of a catastrophic conflict between the US and Xi Jinping’s China
by Kevin Rudd Public Affairs £25 / $32
Rudd, a Mandarin-speaking former Prime Minister of Australia, has become one of the most influential Western commentators on China-West relations. Correctly, he takes the prospect of a war between the US and China very seriously and lays out a plan to avert disaster, which he calls “managed strategic competition”.
missing: The Twilight of Christianity in the Middle East
by Janine di Giovanni, Bloomsbury €20
An award-winning war correspondent with particular experience in the Middle East, di Giovanni focuses on the persecution and “disappearance” of Christian communities in the Middle East, the religion’s birthplace. Focusing in particular on Egypt, Gaza, Iraq and Syria, he examines the impact of Islamist militancy and tells the stories of the individuals and families affected.
revenge of power: How autocrats are reinventing politics for the 21st century
by Moises Naim St Martins Press £23.99 / $29.99
A leading international affairs journalist tackles one of the great political conundrums of our age: why is authoritarianism making a comeback? Naím deftly combines reporting with social science research to identify the new tactics used by authoritarians, highlighting the three “P’s”: populism, polarization, and “post-truth.”
Dismantling global white privilege: Equity for a Post-Western World
by Chandran Nair Berrett-Koehler £19.99/$24.95
The Black Lives Matter movement has fueled the “white privilege” debate in the US Nair, a Malaysian intellectual, argues that white privilege is a global phenomenon, rooted in colonialism. In a measured and highly readable book, he argues that forms of white supremacy manifest themselves in everything from geopolitics to international business, culture, media, education, fashion, and sports.
The Atlantic Royalists: Empire and international political thought between Germany and the United States
by Matthew Specter, Stanford University Press £24.99 / £30
“Realism” is one of the most influential theories of international relations. Concentrating on power relations between states and often denounced as immoral, it has powerfully influenced statesmen like Kissinger. Specter’s new story traces the ideology back to the era of imperialism and interwar German geopoliticians, including Nazi lawyer Carl Schmitt, who envisioned a world order divided into blocs, each dominated by a great power.
dancing on bones: History and power in China, Russia and North Korea
by Katie Stallard Oxford University Press £22.99/$29.99
The stage for Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine was set by a long essay by the Russian leader, pondering the shared history of Russia and Ukraine. That will not have come as a surprise to Stallard, a former correspondent in both Moscow and Beijing, whose book amusingly demonstrates how the manipulation of history is central to the authoritarian politics of China, Russia and North Korea.
the great experiment: How to make diverse democracies work
by Yascha Mounk, Bloomsbury £20/Penguin $28
The populations of Western democracies have become much more ethnically diverse in recent decades. That seems to be fueling the rise of populist politics linked to ethnonationalism, most obviously with the election of Donald Trump. Mounk, a political theorist, makes a powerful argument that emphasizing individual rights, rather than group rights, is crucial to reconciling diversity and democracy.
tell us what you think
What are your favorites from this list and which books have we missed? Tell us in the comments below.
spinning dictators: The Changing Face of Tyranny in the 21st Century
by Sergei Guriev and Daniel Treisman, Princeton University Press £25/$29.95
The authors believe that the nature of authoritarian leadership is changing. Modern authoritarians rely less on brute force. Instead, they argue, leaders like Viktor Orbán and the late Lee Kuan Yew of Singapore “hide autocracy within formally democratic institutions.” East book offers an entertaining and disturbing guide to how this is done.
The power of the crisis: How three threats, and our response, will change the world
by Ian Bremmer Simon & Schuster £20/$28
The growing nationalism and international conflicts make it much more difficult to solve the common problems facing humanity. This is a clear and compelling study of three pressing threats: climate change, technology, and global health emergencies. Bremmer optimistically concludes that international crises can also create new impetus and opportunities for international cooperation.
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