Eagle
American Diplomacy

Books of Interest
Summer 2017

Clack

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.

 

 


Highlight map

 

 

 


 

Support American Diplomacy RSS Mailing-list Subscription Email American Diplomacy Facebook

New Books Of Interest, May/June 2017

BookCover Book Cover Book Cover  

The End of the Cold War, 1985-1991

Robert Service
Public Affairs, 2015 and 2016
688 pp
ISBN: 978-0-330-51729-4

The Crucible of Islam

G.W. Bowersock
Harvard University Press, 2017
240 pp.
ISBN-10: 0674057767

Easternization: Asia's Rise and America's Decline from Obama to Trump and Beyond

Gideon Rachman
Other Press, 2016
336 pp
ISBN: 978-1-59051-851-9

 
Book Cover Book Cover Book Cover Book Cover

Knowing the Adversary: Leaders, Intelligence, and Assessments of Intentions in International Relations

Keren Yarhi-Milo
Princeton University Press, 2014
362 pp
ISBN: 978-0-691-15915-7
ISBN: 978-0-691-15916-4

Fighting for Credibility: U.S. Reputation and International Politics

Frank P. Harvey and John Mitton
University of Toronto Press, 2016
312 pp.
ISBN: 978-148-752-0540

Why Wilson Matters: The Origin of American Liberal Internationalism and Its Crisis Today

Tony Smith
Princeton University Press, 2017
352 pp.
ISBN: 978-069-117-167-8

Decolonization: A Short History

Jan C. Jansen and Jurgen Osterhammel
Princeton University Press, 2017
237 pp.
ISBN: 978-069-116-5219

Translated from German by Jeremiah Riemer


Cover
The End of the Cold War, 1985-1991

Robert Service
Public Affairs, 2015 and 2016
688 pp
ISBN: 978-0-330-51729-4

 

"A well researched and highly readable history of the Cold War… that benefits from extensive digging in both American and Russian sources… A fast-paced narrative that leans toward diplomatic history… Service places great emphasis on the part played by four individuals who should take most of the credit for facilitating the peaceful end of a contest that could have resulted in nuclear holocaust: Reagan, Schultz, Gorbachev and Shevardnadze." New York Review of Books

"Service takes the vast literature on the Cold War's end, adds newly available archival sources, and pulls it all together into a single massive history of how 'Washington and Moscow achieved their improbable peace.' …To cover as many elements as Service does requires very tight writing, even in a big book such as this one: as a result, he settles for sentences rather than paragraphs to cover the necessary ground." —Foreign Affairs

"The End of the Cold War: 1985-1991 serves as a reminder that the hawks' memory of Reagan's Soviet diplomacy is selective and, ultimately, just plain inaccurate…Service succeed[s] in giving the reader a comprehensive account of the meetings and debates in the years leading up to the Soviet collapse." —Washington Post

About the Author
Robert Service is a British historian, academic, and author who has written extensively on the history of Soviet Russia. Service is the author of twelve books and is currently a professor of Russian history at the University of Oxford, a Fellow of St. Antony's College, Oxford, and a senior fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution.

 

Cover
The Crucible of Islam

G.W. Bowersock
Harvard University Press, 2017
240 pp.
ISBN-10: 0674057767
ISBN-13: 978-067405776
Little is known about Arabia in the sixth century CE.  G. W. Bowersock seeks to illuminate this most obscure and yet most dynamic period in the history of Islam—from the mid-sixth to mid-seventh century— exploring why arid Arabia proved to be such fertile ground for Muhammad's prophetic message, and why that message spread so quickly to the wider world.

In Muhammad's time Arabia stood at the crossroads of great empires, a place where Christianity, Judaism, and local polytheistic traditions vied for adherents. Mecca, Muhammad's birthplace, belonged to the part of Arabia recently conquered by the Ethiopian Christian king Abraha. But Ethiopia lost western Arabia to Persia following Abraha's death, while the death of the Byzantine emperor in 602 further destabilized the region. Within this chaotic environment, where lands and populations were traded frequently among competing powers and belief systems, Muhammad began winning converts to his revelations. In a troubled age, his followers coalesced into a powerful force, conquering Palestine, Syria, and Egypt and laying the groundwork of the Umayyad Caliphate.

The crucible of Islam remains an elusive vessel. Although we may never grasp it firmly, Bowersock offers the most detailed description of its contours and the most compelling explanation of how one of the world's great religions took shape.

"A book of explosive originality and penetrating judgment… Bowersock has done justice to the history of the Arabian peninsula as a whole in the century before Islam." New York Review of Books

 

About the Author
G. W. Bowersock is Professor Emeritus of Ancient History at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton.


 

Cover

Easternization: Asia's Rise and America's Decline from Obama to Trump and Beyond

Gideon Rachman
Other Press, 2016
336 pp
ISBN: 978-1-59051-851-9

Easternization won the British 2016 Orwell Prize.

Gideon Rachman provides a provocative analysis of how a new era of global instability raises a range of arguments and prognostications that policymakers will face in dealing with Asia in the 21st Century. Using economics, geo-politics, security, official thinking, and public attitudes the packs a lot of information into a short book for non-experts.  As the growing wealth of Asian nations transforms the international balance of power this shift to the East is shaping the lives of people all over the world, the fate of nations, and the great questions of war and peace.

A troubled but rising China is now challenging America's supremacy, and the ambitions of other Asian powers—including Japan, North Korea, India, and Pakistan—have the potential to shake the whole world. Meanwhile the West is struggling with economic malaise and political populism, the Arab world is in turmoil, and Russia longs to reclaim its status as a great power.
.
"An extraordinarily thoughtful and eloquent guide to a world in the midst of profound transition. Rachman navigates deftly an international landscape full of powerful and often contradictory currents." —Ambassador William J. Burns, President, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and former Deputy Secretary of State

"Rachman's level-headed book can be read in one long sitting… For those that have already accepted the idea that the West will not—and cannot possibly—dominate as it did at the end of the last century, then Rachman's book provides both rigor and useful paradigms to order one's thoughts." ASIAN REVIEW OF BOOKS

About the Author:

Gideon Rachman is chief foreign affairs commentator for the Financial Times. He joined the FT in 2006, after fifteen years at The Economist, where he served as a correspondent in Washington D.C., Brussels, and Bangkok. In 2010 Rachman published his first book, Zero Sum World, which predicted the rise in international political tensions and turmoil that followed the global financial crisis. In 2016 he won the Orwell Prize, Britain's leading award for political writing, and was also named Commentator of the Year at the European Press Prize, known as the "European Pulitzers."


 

Cover

Knowing the Adversary: Leaders, Intelligence, and Assessments of Intentions in International Relations

Keren Yarhi-Milo
Princeton University Press, 2014
362 pp
ISBN: 978-0-691-15915-7
ISBN: 978-0-691-15916-4
States are more likely to engage in risky and destabilizing actions such as military buildups and preemptive strikes if they believe their adversaries pose a tangible threat. Yet despite the crucial importance of this issue, we don't know enough about how states and their leaders draw inferences about their adversaries' long-term intentions. Knowing the Adversary draws on a wealth of historical archival evidence to shed new light on how world leaders and intelligence organizations actually make these assessments.

Keren Yarhi-Milo examines three cases: Britain's assessments of Nazi Germany's intentions in the 1930s, America's assessments of the Soviet Union's intentions during the Carter administration, and the Reagan administration's assessments of Soviet intentions near the end of the Cold War. She advances a new theoretical framework—called selective attention—that emphasizes organizational dynamics, personal diplomatic interactions, and cognitive and affective factors. Yarhi-Milo finds that decision makers don't pay as much attention to those aspects of state behavior that major theories of international politics claim they do. Instead, they tend to determine the intentions of adversaries on the basis of preexisting beliefs, theories, and personal impressions. Yarhi-Milo also shows how intelligence organizations rely on very different indicators than decision makers, focusing more on changes in the military capabilities of adversaries.

Knowing the Adversary provides a clearer picture of the historical validity of existing theories, and broadens our understanding of the important role that diplomacy plays in international security.

About the Author:

Professor Keren Yarhi-Milo is an Assistant Professor of Politics and International Affairs at Princeton University's Politics Department and the Woodrow Wilson School for Public and International Affairs. 
"Knowing The Adversary: Leaders, Intelligence Organizations, and Assessments of Intentions in International Relations," received the 2016 Furnnis Award for best book in the field of international security. Also, it is Co-Winner of the 2016 DPLST Book Prize, Diplomatic Studies Section of the International Studies Association. This book explores how and why civilian leaders and intelligence organizations select and interpret an adversary's signals of intentions differently. Professor Yarhi-Milo's articles have been published in International Studies Quarterly, International Organization, International Security, and Security Studies.  

 

 

Cover

Fighting for Credibility: U.S. Reputation and International Politics

Frank P. Harvey and John Mitton
University of Toronto Press, 2016
312 pp.
ISBN: 978-148-752-0540

When Bashar al-Assad used chemical weapons against his own people in Syria, he clearly crossed President Barack Obama's "red line." At the time, many argued that the president had to bomb in order to protect America's reputation for toughness, and therefore its credibility, abroad; others countered that concerns regarding reputation were overblown, and that reputations are irrelevant for coercive diplomacy.

Whether international reputations matter is the question at the heart of Fighting for Credibility. For skeptics, past actions and reputations have no bearing on an adversary's assessment of credibility; power and interests alone determine whether a threat is believed. Using a nuanced and sophisticated theory of rational deterrence, Frank P. Harvey and John Mitton argue the opposite: ignoring reputations sidesteps important factors about how adversaries perceive threats. Focusing on cases of asymmetric US encounters with smaller powers since the end of the Cold War including Bosnia, Kosovo, Iraq, and Syria, Harvey and Mitton reveal that reputations matter for credibility in international politics. This dynamic and deeply documented study successfully brings reputation back to the table of foreign diplomacy.

"Fighting for Credibility is a useful corrective for the all-too-convenient argument that reputations do not matter. Harvey and Mitton present a highly nuanced, well researched, and deeply documented counter-argument that clearly demonstrates that credibility does matter. They make a compelling case that there are indeed conditions under which a state's reputation may be worth fighting for."
(Frank Zagare, UB Distinguished Professor, State University of New York, Buffalo)

 

About the Authors:

Frank P. Harvey is Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at Dalhousie University where he also holds the Eric Dennis Chair of Government and Politics.

John Mitton is a PhD candidate in the Department of Political Science at Dalhousie University and a Fulbright Visiting Researcher at the University of Southern California.


 

CoverDecolonization: A Short History

Jan C. Jansen and Jurgen Osterhammel
Princeton University Press, 2017
237 pp.
ISBN: 978-069-116-5219

Translated from German by Jeremiah Riemer

 

The end of colonial rule in Asia, Africa, and the Caribbean was one of the most important and dramatic developments of the twentieth century. In the decades after World War II, dozens of new states emerged as actors in global politics. Long-established imperial regimes collapsed, some more or less peacefully, others amid mass violence. This book takes an incisive look at decolonization and its long-term consequences, revealing it to be a coherent yet multidimensional process at the heart of modern history.

The authors trace the decline of European, American, and Japanese colonial supremacy from World War I to the 1990s. Providing a comparative perspective on the decolonization process, they shed light on its key aspects while taking into account the unique regional and imperial contexts in which it unfolded. Jansen and Osterhammel show how the seeds of decolonization were sown during the interwar period and argue that the geopolitical restructuring of the world was intrinsically connected to a sea change in the global normative order. They examine the economic repercussions of decolonization and its impact on international power structures, its consequences for envisioning world order, and the long shadow it continues to cast over new states and former colonial powers alike.

"This is a work not only valuable for its discussion of the topic, but for placing it in a context sorely needed in today's hydra-headed discussions of the term and the word from which it is derived… . Perhaps this book's greatest virtue is reminding us of what a global phenomenon it was by concentrating on the vast French colonial empire, as well as the Portuguese, German, Japanese and, yes, American realms."—Martin Rubin, Washington Times

"For those waiting for a nuanced, comprehensive, yet readable account of decolonization in the twentieth century, Jan Jansen and Jürgen Osterhammel provide it here. In six crisp thematic chapters, the authors succeed brilliantly in explaining this complex historical phenomenon for the specialist and general reader alike. A major achievement."—Christopher Goscha, Université du Québec à Montréal

About the Authors:

Jan C. Jansen is a research fellow at the German Historical Institute in Washington, DC. Jürgen Osterhammel is professor of modern and contemporary history at the University of Konstanz. He is a recipient of the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize, Germany's most prestigious academic award. His books include The Transformation of the World: A Global History of the Nineteenth Century (Princeton).

 

CoverWhy Wilson Matters: The Origin of American Liberal Internationalism and Its Crisis Today

Tony Smith
Princeton University Press, 2017
352 pp.
ISBN: 978-069-117-167-8

 

The liberal internationalist tradition is credited with America's greatest triumphs as a world power—and also its biggest failures. Beginning in the 1940s, imbued with the spirit of Woodrow Wilson's efforts at the League of Nations to "make the world safe for democracy," the United States steered a course in world affairs that would eventually win the Cold War. Yet in the 1990s, Wilsonianism turned imperialist, contributing directly to the invasion of Iraq in 2003 and the continued failures of American foreign policy.

Why Wilson Matters explains how the liberal internationalist community can regain a sense of identity and purpose following the betrayal of Wilson's vision by the brash "neo-Wilsonianism" being pursued today. Drawing on Wilson's original writings and speeches, Tony Smith traces how his thinking about America's role in the world evolved in the years leading up to and during his presidency, and how the Wilsonian tradition went on to influence American foreign policy in the decades that followed—for good and for ill. He traces the tradition's evolution from its "classic" era with Wilson, to its "hegemonic" stage during the Cold War, to its "imperialist" phase today. Smith calls for an end to reckless forms of U.S. foreign intervention, and a return to the prudence and "eternal vigilance" of Wilson's own time.

Why Wilson Matters renews hope that the United States might again become effectively liberal by returning to the sense of realism that Wilson espoused, one where the promotion of democracy around the world is balanced by the understanding that such efforts are not likely to come quickly and without costs.

"[Smith] wants to reclaim Wilson's historical memory to bolster the very idea of liberal internationalism, which he correctly considers under assault. For Smith, the problem is not that the United States stands for liberal values and seeks to promote democracy abroad; for too many, doing so has become synonymous with military force and overthrowing governments. The association of Wilson's precepts with the recent wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya has caused many to question the wisdom of a vigorous American role in the world. The result, Smith argues, is that 'neo-Wilsonianism sabotaged the very tradition from which it had emerged.'"—Derek Chollet, The National Interest

"Smith is one of the most prolific scholars of the Wilsonian legacy in America's foreign policy. Here, he makes a powerful appeal to uphold the standards Wilson established and protect them against their recent abuse by conservative neo-Wilsonians. For everyone concerned about America's international position today, this book is a must-read."—Klaus Schwabe, RWTH Aachen University

"Wilsonianism, which arose from Woodrow Wilson's efforts to promote a democratic rules-based international order in the ruins of World War I, has been appropriated in the modern era by so-called 'neo-Wilsonians' advocating wars of regime change and imposed nation-building abroad. In this compelling book, Smith cogently argues for reviving this foundational foreign-policy concept's original conception as a guide to avoid overreach and thereby better align America's interests and values in a turbulent world."—Robert S. Litwak, Wilson Center

"In Why Wilson Matters, Tony Smith rescues Woodrow Wilson from the pundits and policymakers who have distorted and abused his ideas. He shows that Wilson's views on foreign policy were subtle, reality-based, and far from utopian, and Wilson reemerges as a surer guide to the dilemmas of contemporary world politics than the 'neo-Wilsonians' who have led the United States astray in recent years. Meticulously researched and beautifully written, this book shows how U.S. foreign policy could be principled and pragmatic, and above all more effective."—Stephen M. Walt, Harvard Kennedy School

"Tony Smith is a committed liberal internationalist who believes American foreign policy has gone off the rails since 2001, mainly because the liberals in charge misunderstood the teachings of their founding father, Woodrow Wilson. They failed to appreciate the prudence and realism behind Wilson's prescriptions, and instead demonstrated hubris and a love of big stick diplomacy, which led them to make disastrous decisions. Why Wilson Matters is an impressive book and should be widely read."—John J. Mearsheimer, University of Chicago

About the Author:

Tony Smith is the Cornelia M. Jackson Professor of Political Science at Tufts University. His many books include America's Mission: The United States and the Worldwide Struggle for Democracy and The Crisis of American Foreign Policy: Wilsonianism in the Twenty-First Century (both Princeton).


bluestar

 

 




white starAmerican Diplomacy white star
American Diplomacy Publishers Chapel Hill NC
www.americandiplomacy.org