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Books of Interest
March/April 2017

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Margaret Pearson is American Diplomacy's new Contributing Editor for Books and a former State Department Senior Foreign Service Officer. She is a strong advocate for the importance of public diplomacy in the conduct of foreign affairs. In her 27-year career with the Department of State she has held posts in Asia and Europe as well as Washington, D.C.

After two years of Chinese language training in Washington and Taibei Ms. Pearson became a Cultural Affairs Officer in Beijing in 1981 where she worked on the recently minted Fulbright Program, developed U.S. Film Festival in China, and worked with the U.S., Chinese, and foreign press. On her return to Washington she headed the China Desk at the United States Information Agency. Subsequently, she had two assignments at NATO Headquarters in Brussels, one in the US Mission to NATO's press office and the other seconded to the NATO International Staff as Deputy Director of NATO's Press and Cultural Service. In this position she chaired NATO's Public Affairs Council, managed the awarding of public affairs program grants among NATO member nations, and oversaw the NATO Press and Culture budget. Additional assignments included Public Affairs Advisor for the State Department's Bureau of European and Canadian Affairs during the collapse of the Soviet Union and the breakup of Yugoslavia and the subsequent Bosnian War. Later she took assignments as Press Spokesperson and Director of Information at the US Embassy in Paris and Special Advisor for Eastern European Community Property Affairs (Holocaust and Post-WWII property provenance issues) which she managed from Turkey with frequent travel to Hungary, Poland, and the Czech Republic. Prior to her retirement, she was a Senior Examiner and head of the Final Review Panel at the State Department Board of Examiners, the office responsible for evaluating candidates for the US Foreign Service. Ms. Pearson holds a B.A. degree from Tulane University and an M.A. degree from California State University, San Diego.

 

 


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New Books Of Interest, March/April 2017

Cover Cover Cover Cover
Global Adventures on Less Traveled Roads: A Foreign Service Memoir
By James R. Billington
A World in Disarray: American Foreign Policy and the Crisis of the Old Order
By Richard Haass
Everything Under the Heavens: How the Past Helps Shape China's Push for Global Power
By Howard W. French
How Everything Became War and the Military Became Everything
By Rosa Brooks
Cover Cover Cover  
The EURO: How a Common Currency Threatens the Future of Europe
By Joseph E. Stiglitz
A Year at the Edge of the Jungle, A Congo Memoir: 1963-1964
By Frederic Hunter

A Great Place to Have a War
By Joshua Kurlantzick

 



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Global Adventures on Less Traveled Roads: A Foreign Service Memoir
James R. Billington

January 10, 2017
334 pages
ISBN/EAN13: 1540790398/ 978-1540790392

This autobiographical memoir traces Foreign Service Officer Jim Bullington's journey along less-traveled roads from redneck roots to a career as a diplomat and U.S. Ambassador. His adventures include challenging segregation as a college newspaper editor in Alabama; three tours of duty as a "warrior diplomat" in Vietnam; service in exotic posts in Southeast Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa; a job as municipal Foreign Minister for the City of Dallas; six years as Peace Corps Director in Niger; and post-retirement recall to diplomatic duty in Senegal to help end a 30-year insurgency. The book recounts his personal as well as professional life, including his marriage to Tuy-Cam following their narrow escape from behind North Vietnamese lines during the 1968 Tet Offensive. It provides a behind-the-scenes look at the practice of American diplomacy, featuring struggles with Washington bureaucrats as well as hostile foreign leaders.

Born in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Jim Bullington is a graduate of Auburn, Harvard, and the Army War College. His 45-year career in diplomacy and international affairs included 22 years working abroad. In retirement, he is a writer, speaker in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

 

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A World in Disarray: American Foreign Policy and the Crisis of the Old Order
Richard Haass

Penguin Press, January 10, 2017, 352 pages

ISBN: 978-03995-62365

Things fall apart; the center cannot hold. The rules, policies, and institutions that have guided the world since World War II have largely run their course. Respect for sovereignty alone cannot uphold order in an age defined by global challenges from terrorism and the spread of nuclear weapons to climate change and cyberspace. Meanwhile, great power rivalry is returning. Weak states pose problems just as confounding as strong ones. The United States remains the world’s strongest country, but American foreign policy has at times made matters worse, both by what the U.S. has done and by what it has failed to do. The Middle East is in chaos, Asia is threatened by China’s rise and a reckless North Korea, and Europe, for decades the world’s most stable region, is now anything but. As Richard Haass explains, the election of Donald Trump and the unexpected vote for “Brexit” signals that many in modern democracies reject important aspects of globalization, including borders open to trade and immigrants.

In A World in Disarray, Haass argues for an updated global operating system—call it world order 2.0—that reflects the reality that power is widely distributed and that borders count for less. One critical element of this adjustment will be adopting a new approach to sovereignty, one that embraces its obligations and responsibilities as well as its rights and protections. Haass also details how the U.S. should act towards China and Russia, as well as in Asia, Europe, and the Middle East. He suggests, too, what the country should do to address its dysfunctional politics, mounting debt, and the lack of agreement on the nature of its relationship with the world.

A World in Disarray is a wise examination, one rich in history, of the current world, along with how we got here and what needs doing. Haass shows that the world cannot have stability or prosperity without the United States, but that the United States cannot be a force for global stability and prosperity without its politicians and citizens reaching a new understanding.

Dr. Richard Haass is president of the non-partisan Council on Foreign Relations. He served as the senior Middle East advisor to President George H.W. Bush and as Director of the Policy Planning Staff under Secretary of State Colin Powell. A recipient of the Presidential Citizens Medal, the State Department’s Distinguished Honor Award, and the Tipperary International Peace Award, he is also the author or editor of twelve books on foreign policy and international relations.

 

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Everything Under the Heavens: How the Past Helps Shape China's Push for Global Power
Howard W. French
Alfred A. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, Mar 14, 2017, 352 pages

ISBN-13: 978-0385353328

"Everything under the Heavens” is an an incisive investigation of China's foreign policy including its ideological and historical roots. The PRC’s quest for a zone of deference in East Asia is deeply rooted in China’s ancient belief that it is the source of civilization and the central kingdom around which lesser nations and peoples should be grateful to revolve. The diplomatic and strategic practices stemming from this world view lie at the heart of China’s 21st century power projection. For many years after its reform and opening in 1978, China maintained an attitude of false modesty about its ambitions. That role has been set aside. China has asserted its place among the global heavyweights, revealing its plans for pan-Asian dominance by building its navy, increasing territorial claims to areas like the South China Sea, and diplomatically bullying smaller players. Underlying this attitude is a strain of thinking that casts China's present-day actions in decidedly historical terms, as the path to restoring the dynastic glory of the past. Understanding how that historical identity relates to current actions, in ways ideological, philosophical, and even legal, can help to forecast just what kind of global power China stands to become--and to interact wisely with a future peer.

HOWARD W. FRENCH wrote from Africa for The Washington Post and at The New York Times was bureau chief in Central America and the Caribbean, West and Central Africa, Japan, and China. He is the
recipient of two Overseas Press Club awards and a two-time Pulitzer Prize nominee. He is the author of China's Second Continent: How a Million Migrants Are Building a New Empire in Africa; he has written for The Atlantic, The New York Review of Books, The New York Times Magazine, and Rolling Stone, among other national publications. He is on the faculty of the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.

 

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How Everything Became War and the Military Became Everything
By Rosa Brooks
Simon & Schuster, August 2016, 448 pages

How Everything Became War and the Military Became Everything
Tales from the Pentagon
Rosa Brooks

Simon & Schuster, August 2016, 438 pages

ISBN: 978-1-4767-7786-3

The first serious book to examine what happens when the ancient boundary between war and peace is erased.

Once, war was a temporary state of affairs—a violent but brief interlude between times of peace. Today, America’s wars are everywhere and forever: our enemies change constantly and rarely wear uniforms, and virtually anything can become a weapon. As war expands, so does the role of the US military. Today, military personnel don’t just “kill people and break stuff.” Instead, they analyze computer code, train Afghan judges, build Ebola isolation wards, eavesdrop on electronic communications, develop soap operas, and patrol for pirates. You name it, the military does it.

Rosa Brooks traces this seismic shift in how America wages war from an unconventional perspective—that of a former top Pentagon official who is the daughter of two anti-war protesters and a human rights activist married to an Army Green Beret. Her experiences lead her to an urgent warning: When the boundaries around war disappear, we risk destroying America’s founding values and the laws and institutions we’ve built—and undermining the international rules and organizations that keep our world from sliding towards chaos. If Russia and China have recently grown bolder in their foreign adventures, it’s no accident; US precedents have paved the way for the increasingly unconstrained use of military power by states around the globe. Meanwhile, we continue to pile new tasks onto the military, making it increasingly ill-prepared for the threats America will face in the years to come.

Rosa Brooks is a Senior Fellow at the New America Foundation, a columnist for Foreign Policy, and a law professor at Georgetown University. She previously worked at the Pentagon as Counselor to the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy; in 2011, she was awarded the Secretary of Defense Medal for Outstanding Public Service. Brooks has also served as a senior advisor at the US Department of State, a consultant for Human Rights Watch, and a weekly opinion columnist for the Los Angeles Times. Her articles and essays have appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, and dozens of other newspapers and magazines, and she is a frequent television guest,

By turns a memoir, a work of journalism, a scholarly exploration into history, anthropology and law, and a rallying cry, How Everything Became War and the Military Became Everything transforms the familiar into the alien, showing us that the culture we inhabit is reshaping us in ways we may suspect, but don’t really understand. It’s the kind of book that will leave you moved, astonished, and profoundly disturbed, for the world around us is quietly changing beyond recognition—and time is running out to make things right.
Rosa Brooks is a Senior Fellow at the New America Foundation, a columnist for Foreign Policy, and a law professor at Georgetown University. She previously worked at the Pentagon as Counselor to the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy; in 2011, she was awarded the Secretary of Defense Medal for Outstanding Public Service. Brooks has also served as a senior advisor at the US Department of State, a consultant for Human Rights Watch, and a weekly opinion columnist for the Los Angeles Times. Her articles and essays have appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, and dozens of other newspapers and magazines, and she is a frequent television guest.

 

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The EURO: How a Common Currency Threatens the Future of Europe
Joseph E. Stiglitz
W.W. Norton and Company
August 16, 2016, 448 pages
ISBN: 978-0-393-25402-0

In 2010, the 2008 global financial crisis morphed into the “eurocrisis.” It has not abated. The 19 countries of Europe that share the euro currency―the eurozone―have been rocked by economic stagnation and debt crises. Some countries have been in depression for years while the governing powers of the eurozone have careened from emergency to emergency, most notably in Greece.

In The Euro, Nobel Prize–winning economist and best-selling author Joseph E. Stiglitz dismantles the prevailing consensus around what ails Europe, demolishing the champions of austerity while offering a series of plans that can rescue the continent―and the world―from further devastation.

Hailed by its architects as a lever that would bring Europe together and promote prosperity, the euro has done the opposite. As Stiglitz persuasively argues, the crises revealed the shortcomings of the euro. Europe’s stagnation and bleak outlook are a direct result of the fundamental challenges in having a diverse group of countries share a common currency―the euro was flawed at birth, with economic integration outpacing political integration. Stiglitz shows how the current structure promotes divergence rather than convergence. The question then is: Can the euro be saved?

After laying bare the European Central Bank’s misguided inflation-only mandate and explaining how eurozone policies, especially toward the crisis countries, have further exposed the zone’s flawed design, Stiglitz outlines three possible ways forward: fundamental reforms in the structure of the eurozone and the policies imposed on the member countries; a well-managed end to the single-currency euro experiment; or a bold, new system dubbed the “flexible euro.”

With its lessons for globalization in a world economy ever more deeply connected, The Euro is urgent and essential reading.

Joseph E. Stiglitz is a professor of economics at Columbia University and the recipient of a John Bates Clark Medal and a Nobel Prize. He is also the former senior vice president and chief economist of the World Bank.

 

CoverA Great Place to Have a War
Joshua Kurlantzick
A Council on Foreign Relations Book
Simon & Schuster
January 2017, 336 pages
ISBN 978-1-451-66786-8

Kurlantzick mines extensive interviews and recently declassified CIA records to give a definitive account of the secret war in Laos which lasted from 1961 to 1973,
and was the largest covert operation in U.S. history. The conflict forever changed the CIA from a relatively small spying agency into an organization with vast paramilitary
powers. Kurlantzick asserts that the transformation began in 1961, when President Dwight D. Eisenhower approved operation Operation Momentum, a plan to create a proxy army of
ethnic Hmong to fight communist forces in Laos, in order to minimize U.S. military involvement and keep the war hidden from the public at home, as well as most of Congress.
The CIA had previously been a relatively small player in American policy, concentrating on intelligence and political work. After the Laos war the Agency was remade "into a stronger, bigger beast.”

Joshua Kurlantzick is a senior fellow for Southeast Asia at the Council on Foreign Relations.

 

CoverA Year at the Edge of the Jungle, A Congo Memoir: 1963-1964
Frederic Hunter
Cune Press, 2016, 210 pages

ISBN: 978-161-4571254

In 1963 Frederic Hunter had the unusual experience as a neophyte diplomat for USIA to open a post in a remote part of the Congo. He had just completed his Junior Officer training in Belgium. Fearing the Congo’s total disintegration, the U.S. embassy in Leopoldville decided to open posts in every region of the country. The one in the Equateur would be a single-officer cultural center manned by Hunter. This memoir quotes from letters Hunter wrote during that year at the edge of the jungle.

After the Foreign Service Frederic Hunter served as Africa Correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor. He is an award winning playwright and screenwriter and has taught Modern African Literature. His Africa experience is the basis for several of his novels.

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