Pick of Recent Books that Most Probably Influence the Academic Thought

Jaanika Erne |

I was recently asked which book would I recommend to be translated into the Estonian language. The Bible and Qur’an having already been translated, I recommended (and what else to do if your freedom of movement is constrained) the following books. To the list you could also add the books that have helped you to better understand the World.

1. Francis Fukuyama. The Origins of Political Order: From Prehuman Times to the French Revolution (Farrar, Straus and Giroux; Reprint edition), 27 March 2012

Amazon Review:

Francis Fukuyama, author of the bestselling The End of History and the Last Man and one of our most important political thinkers, provides a sweeping account of how today’s basic political institutions developed. The first of a major two-volume work, The Origins of Political Order begins with politics among our primate ancestors and follows the story through the emergence of tribal societies, the growth of the first modern state in China, the beginning of the rule of law in India and the Middle East, and the development of political accountability in Europe up until the eve of the French Revolution.

2. Eric Walberg. Postmodern Imperialism: Geopolitics and the Great Games (Clarity Press), 15 June 2011

Amazon Review:

The game motif is useful as a metaphor for the broader rivalry between nations and economic systems with the rise of imperialism and the pursuit of world power. This game has gone through two major transformations since the days of Russian-British rivalry, with the rise first of Communism and then of Islam as world forces opposing imperialism. The main themes of Postmodern Imperialism: Geopolitics and the Great Games include: * US imperial strategy as an outgrowth of British imperialism, and its transformation following the collapse of the Soviet Union; * the significance of the creation of Israel with respect to the imperial project; * the repositioning of Russia in world politics after the collapse of the Soviet Union; * the emerging role of China and Iran in Eurasia; * the emerging opposition to the US and NATO. As the critical literature on NATO, the new Russia, and the Middle East is fragmented, this work brings these elements together in historical perspective with an understanding from the Arab/ Muslim world’s point of view, as it is the main focus of all the “Great Games”. It strives to bridge the gap between Western, Russian and Middle Eastern readers with an analysis that is accessible and appeals to all critical thinkers, and at the same time provides the tools to analyze the current game as it evolves. The Great Games of yore – Britain vs. Russia and their empires in the 19th century, and the US vs. the Soviet Union in the 20th century – no longer translate merely as the US vs. Russia or Russia/ China. A major new player is a collective one, NATO, which today is as vital as the emperor’s clothes to justify the global reach of US imperialism. Today, the “playing field” – the geopolitical context – is broader than it was in either the 19th or 20th century games, though Eurasia continues to be “center field”, where most of the world’s population and energy resources lie. The existence of Israel is an anomaly which seriously complicates the shaping of the geopolitical game. Its roles in the Great Games as both colony and an imperial power in its own right, is analyzed in the context of the history of Judaism and its relations with both the western Christian and the Muslim worlds.

“Imperialism is as alive today as in the days of the original Great Game. Central Asia and the Middle East are as strategically important today for the US and Great Britain as they were in earlier games, if for different reasons. Postmodern Imperialism is a continuation of Kwame Nkrumah’s Neocolonialism: The Last Stage of Imperialism (1965) and carries forward the struggle of the pen against the sword.” – GAMAL NKRUMAH, international editor, Al-Ahram Weekly.

3. Zbigniew Brzezinski. The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy And Its Geostrategic Imperatives (Basic Books; Twelfth Impression edition), 18 September 1998

Amazon Review:

The Grand Chessboard presents Brzezinski’s bold and provocative geostrategic vision for American preeminence in the twenty-first century. Central to his analysis is the exercise of power on the Eurasian landmass, which is home to the greatest part of the globe’s population, natural resources, and economic activity. Stretching from Portugal to the Bering Strait, from Lapland to Malaysia, Eurasia is the ”grand chessboard” on which America’s supremacy will be ratified and challenged in the years to come. The task facing the United States, he argues, is to manage the conflicts and relationships in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East so that no rival superpower arises to threaten our interests or our well-being.The heart of The Grand Chessboard is Brzezinski’s analysis of the four critical regions of Eurasia and of the stakes for America in each arena—Europe, Russia, Central Asia, and East Asia. The crucial fault lines may seem familiar, but the implosion of the Soviet Union has created new rivalries and new relationships, and Brzezinski maps out the strategic ramifications of the new geopolitical realities. He explains, for example: Why France and Germany will play pivotal geostrategic roles, whereas Britain and Japan will not. Why NATO expansion offers Russia the chance to undo the mistakes of the past, and why Russia cannot afford to toss this opportunity aside. Why the fate of Ukraine and Azerbaijan are so important to America. Why viewing China as a menace is likely to become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Why America is not only the first truly global superpower but also the last—and what the implications are for America’s legacy. Brzezinski’s surprising and original conclusions often turn conventional wisdom on its head as he lays the groundwork for a new and compelling vision of America’s vital interests. Once, again, Zbigniew Brzezinski provides our nation with a philosophical and practical guide for maintaining and managing our hard-won global power.

4. William T. Cavanaugh, Jeffrey W. Bailey, Craig Hovey (ed.). An Eerdmans Reader in Contemporary Political Theology (Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company), 18 November 2011

Amazon Review:

An Eerdmans Reader in Contemporary Political Theology gathers some of the most significant and influential writings in political theology from the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Given that the locus of Christianity is undeniably shifting to the global South, this volume uniquely integrates key voices from Africa, Asia, and Latin America with central texts from Europe and North America on such major subjects as church and state, gender and race, and Christendom and postcolonialism.

Carefully selected, thematically arranged, and expertly introduced, these forty-nine essential readings constitute an ideal primary-source introduction to contemporary political theology — a profoundly relevant resource for globally engaged citizens, students, and scholars.

5. Rupert Matthews. Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism, including the full original text by Lenin (Annotated), 19 January 2012

Amazon Review:

Lenin wrote “Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism” in the spring of 1916, though it was not published until the summer of 1917. The timing was fortuitous for what had been a minority view of interest to few when he wrote it had come to be a powerful message with resonance with many by the time it was published. So, although one of Lenin’s shorter works, it is widely recognised as being one of his most immediately influential.

The work marked a new turn in Lenin’s ideology and in his understanding of economics. For most of his life, Lenin had been concerned with events and conditions in his native Russia, but now he looked at events beyond the borders of the Tsarist state and sought to find confirmation of his politico-economic views in the world of colonial superpowers.

The version published here is the original 1917 version, translated from the Russian edition of Zhzni Znaniye Publishers, Petrograd, in June 1917.

The introduction by historian Rupert Matthews sets the book in its historic setting and explains why it was such a profoundly influential work when it first came out.

6. Bo Mou (ed.). History of Chinese Philosophy (Routledge History of World Philosophies), 5 December 2008

Amazon Review:

The History of Chinese Philosophy is a comprehensive and authoritative examination of the movements and thinkers that have shaped Chinese philosophy over the last three thousand years. An outstanding team of international contributors provide seventeen accessible entries organized into five clear parts:

Identity of Chinese Philosophy

Classical Chinese Philosophy (I): Pre-Han Period

Classical Chinese Philosophy (II): From Han Through Tang

Classical Chinese Philosophy (III): From Song Through Early Qing

Modern Chinese Philosophy: From Late Qing Through 21st Century

This outstanding collection is essential reading for students of Chinese philosophy, and will be of interest to those seeking to explore the lasting significance this rich and complex philosophical tradition.

7. Chung-Ying Cheng, Nicholas Bunnin (eds.). Contemporary Chinese Philosophy (Routledge), 25 February 2002

Amazon Review:

Contemporary Chinese Philosophy features discussion of sixteen major twentieth-century Chinese philosophers. Leading scholars in the field describe and critically assess the works of these significant figures.

  • Critically assesses the work of major contemporary Chinese philosophers that have rarely been discussed in English.
  • Features essays by leading scholars in the field.

Includes a glossary of Chinese characters and definitions.

8. Aaron L. Friedberg. A Contest for Supremacy: China, America, and the Struggle for Mastery in Asia (W. W. Norton & Company), 15 August 2011

Amazon Review:

An explosive examination of the fast-escalating Sino-American struggle for geopolitical predominance.

There may be no denying China’s growing economic strength, but its impact on the global balance of power remains hotly contested. Political scientist Aaron L. Friedberg argues that our nation’s leaders are failing to act expeditiously enough to counter China’s growing strength. He explains how the United States and China define their goals and reveals the strategies each is now employing to achieve its ends. Friedberg demonstrates in this provocative book that the ultimate aim of Chinese policymakers is to “win without fighting,” displacing the United States as the leading power in Asia while avoiding direct confrontation. The United States, on the other hand, sends misleading signals about our commitments and resolve, putting us at risk for a war that might otherwise have been avoided. A much-needed wake-up call to U.S. leaders and policymakers, A Contest for Supremacy is a compelling interpretation of a rivalry that will go far to determine the shape of the twenty-first century.

9. Daniel A. Bell. Beyond Liberal Democracy: Political Thinking for an East Asian Context (Princceton University Press), 2006

Amazon Review:

Is liberal democracy appropriate for East Asia? In this provocative book, Daniel Bell argues for morally legitimate alternatives to Western-style liberal democracy in the region. Beyond Liberal Democracy, which continues the author’s influential earlier work, is divided into three parts that correspond to the three main hallmarks of liberal democracy–human rights, democracy, and capitalism. These features have been modified substantially during their transmission to East Asian societies that have been shaped by nonliberal practices and values. Bell points to the dangers of implementing Western-style models and proposes alternative justifications and practices that may be more appropriate for East Asian societies.

If human rights, democracy, and capitalism are to take root and produce beneficial outcomes in East Asia, Bell argues, they must be adjusted to contemporary East Asian political and economic realities and to the values of nonliberal East Asian political traditions such as Confucianism and Legalism. Local knowledge is therefore essential for realistic and morally informed contributions to debates on political reform in the region, as well as for mutual learning and enrichment of political theories.

Beyond Liberal Democracy is indispensable reading for students and scholars of political theory, Asian studies, and human rights, as well as anyone concerned about China’s political and economic future and how Western governments and organizations should engage with China.

10. Nicola Casarini. Remaking Global Order: The Evolution of Europe-China Relations and its Implications for East Asia and the United States (Oxford University Press, USA), 9 November 2009

Amazon Review:

Remaking Global Order is an excellent read for those interested in the balance of power triangle between the United States as the hegemon, and the European Union and China as the most prominent second tier challengers. The author’s ability to bring multiple analytical and empirical perspectives to bear on the EU-China nexus gives this book its strength. He integrates a wide literature (with a strong focus on IR) and secondary sources with primary sources based on interviews with an impressive range of key informants. Indeed, this reviewer would have liked to hear more of the interviewees’ voices. Casarini achieves an interpretive narrative explanation of causal pathways to a specific outcome and the value of this book lies in its ability to link the EU’s multiple faces in international relations with the evolution of the global system in parallel national, bilateral and multilateral processes. Maureen Benson-Rea, University of Auckland, writing for Journal of Common Market Studies.

11. Tsuyoshi Hasegawa (ed.). The Cold War in East Asia, 1945-1991 (Cold War International History Project) (Stanford University Press), 2 March 2011

Amazon Review:

The Cold War in East Asia studies Asia as a second front in the Cold War, examining how the six powers—the United States, the Soviet Union, China, Japan, and North and South Korea—interacted one another and forged the conditions that were distinct from the Cold War in Europe. The contributors are among the foremost historians of the new Cold War history, and this book draws on a wide array of newly available archival information in many languages, with particular strength in the use of Russian and Chinese archival material. The Cold War in East Asia shows how as a second front the Cold War in East Asia influenced the shape of the Cold War’s first front—the East-West confrontation centering in Europe—and third front in the developing world.

Each chapter, while focused on particular countries and particular timespans, situates its story within a broad overview. And the volume stresses the uniqueness of the region’s historical experience and explains how it serves as the background to some of the key conflicts in East Asia today.

12. Geir Lundestad. The United States and Western Europe since 1945: From “Empire” by Invitation to Transatlantic Drift (Oxford University Press, USA), 29 September 2005

Amazon Review:

Based on new and existing research by a world-class scholar, this is the first book in 20 years to examine the dynamics of the American-European relationship since 1945. Lundestad examines how the relationship between the United States and Europe is becoming increasingly strained, and offers a topical view of the future of this relationship.

13. Geir Lundestad. The Rise and Decline of the American “Empire”: Power and its Limits in Comparative Perspective (Oxford University Press, USA), 7 April 2012

Amazon Review:

The Rise and Decline of the American “Empire” explores the rapidly growing literature on the rise and fall of the United States. The author argues that after 1945 the US has definitely been the most dominant power the world has seen and that it has successfully met the challenges from, first, the Soviet Union and, then, Japan, and the European Union. Now, however, the United States is in decline: its vast military power is being challenged by asymmetrical wars, its economic growth is slow and its debt is rising rapidly, the political system is proving unable to meet these challenges in a satisfactory way. While the US is still likely to remain the world’s leading power for the foreseeable future, it is being challenged by China, particularly economically, and also by several other regional Great Powers.

The book also addresses the more theoretical question of what recent superpowers have been able to achieve and what they have not achieved. How could the United States be both the dominant power and at the same time suffer significant defeats? And how could the Soviet Union suddenly collapse? No power has ever been omnipotent. It cannot control events all around the world. The Soviet Union suffered from imperial overstretch; the traditional colonial empires suffered from a growing lack of legitimacy at the international, national, and local levels. The United States has been able to maintain its alliance system, but only in a much reformed way. If a small power simply insists on pursuing its own very different policies, there is normally little the United States and other Great Powers will do. Military intervention is an option that can be used only rarely and most often with strikingly limited results.

14. Bart Gaens. (Author, Editor), Juha Jokela (Author, Editor), Eija Limnell (Author, Editor). The Role of the European Union in Asia (The International Political Economy of New Regionalisms) (Ashgate), 1 November 2009

Amazon Review:

Establishing strategic partnerships is a key objective for the European Union. These partnerships provide frameworks for flexible and long-term cooperation with global and regional players. This book focuses on the EU’s strategy toward China and India and explores ways of promoting a stronger and more versatile role for the EU in Asia. The volume examines the emergence of China and India as global powers and the implications for the EU’s common policies and strategies. It focuses on the role of the EU within Asia in terms of its political, security-related and cultural impact in addition to economic presence, and it explores the interplay of the EU, China and India in global governance and in utilizing and promoting multilateralism, especially in the context of climate change and energy security. The contributors discuss avenues for the EU to pursue its interests in Asia and to achieve its objectives in global governance and multilateralism through partnerships with China and India, while retaining its special relationship with the United States.

15. Russell J. Dalton, David M. Farrell, Ian McAllister. Political Parties and Democratic Linkage: How Parties Organize Democracy (Comparative Study of Electoral Systems) (Oxford University Press), 15 December 2011

Amazon Review:

Is the party over? Parties are the central institutions of representative democracy, but critics increasingly claim that parties are failing to perform their democratic functions. Political Parties and Democratic Linkage assembles unprecedented cross-national evidence to assess how parties link the individual citizen to the formation of governments and then to government policies. Using the Comparative Study of Electoral Systems and other recent cross-national data, the authors examine the workings of this party linkage process across established and new democracies. Political parties still dominate the electoral process in shaping the discourse of campaigns, the selection of candidates, and mobilizing citizens to vote. Equally striking, parties link citizen preferences to the choice of representatives, with strong congruence between voter and party Left/Right positions. These preferences are then translated in the formation of coalition governments and their policies.

The authors argue that the critics of parties have overlooked the ability of political parties to adapt to changing conditions in order to perform their crucial linkage functions. As the context of politics and societies have changed, so too have political parties. Political Parties and Democratic Linkage argues that the process of party government is alive and well in most contemporary democracies.

16. Yildiz Atasoy (ed.). Hegemonic Transitions, the State and Crisis in Neoliberal Capitalism (Routledge Studies in Governance and Change in the Global Era), 29 January 2009

Amazon Review:

More than 15 years have passed since the end of the Cold War, but uncertainty persists in the political-economic shaping of the world economy and state system. Although many countries have institutionalized neoliberal policies since the mid-1970s, these policies have not taken hold to the same degree, nor have their effects been uniform across all countries. Nevertheless there has been widespread deepening of inequalities, and, therefore, scepticism towards the neoliberal project. Uncertainty prevails not only in the relations between states, but also in the relations between forces of capital, citizens, and political power within states. Moreover, there is conceptual confusion in our understanding of the events and processes of neoliberal global transformation. This collection of essays provides a comprehensive theoretical and empirical examination of neoliberal restructuring as a complex political process. In an effort to penetrate and clarify this complexity, the book explores the connections between the economy, state, society, and citizens, while also offering current examples of resistance to neoliberalism.

The book provides a forum for rethinking politics that represents a turn to societal forces as essential not only to the uncovering of this complexity but also to the formulation of democratic possibilities beyond global hegemonic projects. The book does not seek to produce a new model for social change, nor does it dwell on the spatial aspects of modernity’s new form or the emergence of a new state hegemony (China) or new forms of rule (empire) in managing the world capitalist economy. Instead, the book argues that an understanding of hegemonic transformations requires the problematization of global power as embedded in historically specific social relations.

17. Gérard Duménil, Dominique Lévy. The Crisis of Neoliberalism (Harvard University Press), 1 January 2011

French economists Gérard Duménil and Dominique Lévy proceed from the somewhat heterodox proposition that ruling ideas arise not from their persuasive power or inner logic but from the interest of ruling groups…Duménil and Lévy move directly to the social and political history that led us to this turn, the underlying situation in which such intellectually bankrupt ideas could prevail. And what might become of a world that can no longer sustain such beliefs…Though elements of their analysis proceed (in their words) “à la Marx,” the book is scarcely what one might thereby expect–that is, the opposite of [an] unreflective apologia for capitalism’s premises…The two argue…that neoliberalism is not a collection of theories meant to improve the economy. Instead, it should be understood as a class strategy designed to redistribute wealth upward toward an increasingly narrow fraction of folks. This transfer is undertaken, they argue, with near indifference to what happens below some platinum plateau–even as the failures and contradictions of the economic system inevitably drive the entire structure toward disaster. Duménil and Lévy offer two provocative and interlocking schemas. They decline the bluntest of Marxist oppositions, which supposes a world divided only between owners and workers. But they equally abjure the endless proliferation of categories and distinctions, the slippery slope of micro-differences that leads to the paradoxical homily of conventional American thought: that individuals are just that, and thereby classless–and that everybody is middle-class. One might well see in this the shadow of Thatcher’s other hyperbolic dictum of neoliberalism: ‘There is no such thing as society. There are only individuals and families.’

–Joshua Clover (The Nation)

18. Lincoln Dahlberg, Sean Phelan (eds.). Discourse Theory and Critical Media Politics (Palgrave Macmillan), 12 October 2011

Amazon Review:

Discourse Theory and Critical Media Politics offers a systematic examination of the relationship between post-Marxist discourse theory and critical media politics. The volume interrogates discourse theory – as read via the work of Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe – through an engagement with major approaches to critical media politics, including autonomist Marxism, Bourdieuian field theory, cultural studies, Habermasian public sphere theory, and semiotic theory. Contributors draw from a range of perspectives and disciplinary backgrounds to critically explore key theoretical issues in media politics, including the relationship between media practices and political practices, discourse and materiality, discourse and institutions, discourse and affect, the media and mediality, media and radical democracy, and the politics of new social movements. The book concludes with a chapter by leading international media studies scholar Peter Dahlgren, which in light of the book’s contributions assesses the value of discourse theory to a critical media politics.

19. Frederic Merand. European Defence Policy: Beyond the Nation State (Oxford University Press, USA), 25 July 2008

Amazon Review:

This book explains the creation of the European Union’s Security and Defence Policy–to this day the most ambitious project of peacetime military integration. Whether hailed as a vital step in the integration of Europe or berated as a wasteful threat to U.S. power, European citizens are increasingly interested in the common defense policy. Today, “European Defence” is more popular than the European Union itself, even in Great Britain.

Merand addresses the fundamental challenge posed by military integration to the way we think about the state in the 21st Century. Looking back over the past 50 years, he shows how statesmen, diplomats and soldiers have converged towards Brussels as a “natural” solution to their concerns but also as something worth fighting over. The actors most closely associated to the formation of nation-states are now shaping a transgovernmental security and defense arena. As a result, defense policy is being denationalized. Exploring the complex relations between the state, the military, and citizenship in today’s Europe, Merand argues that European Defence is a symptom, but not a cause, of the transformation of the state.

This book is an original contribution to the theory of European integration. Drawing on the work of Pierre Bourdieu, Merand develops a political sociology of international relations which seeks to bridge institutionalism and constructivism. His careful study of practices, social representations and power structures sheds new light on security and defence cooperation, but also on European cooperation more generally.

20. Imranali Panjwani. The Shi’a of Samarra: The Heritage and Politics of a Community in Iraq (Library of Modern Middle East Studies), 30 January 2012

Amazon Review:

On 22 February 2006, the main dome of the al-Askariyya shrine in Samarra was blown up. In the aftermath, sectarian strife between Shi’i and Sunni communities in Iraq and the wider region resonated around the world. The assault on Samarra, which was built in the period of the Abbasid caliphate in the ninth century CE, therefore came to represent for many a symbol of the destructive civil conflict which engulfed Iraq following the 2003 US-led invasion. ‘The Shi’a of Samarra’ explores and analyses the cultural, architectural and political heritage of the Shi’a in both Samarra and the Middle East, thus highlighting how this city functions as a microcosm for the contentious issues and debates which remain at the forefront of efforts to rebuild the modern Iraqi state. Its examination of the socio-political context of the Shi’a/Sunni divide provides important insights for students and researchers working on the history and politics of Iraq and the Middle East, as well as those interested in the art and architecture of the Islamic world.

21. David Arase, Tsuneo Akaha (eds.). The US-Japan Alliance: Balancing Soft and Hard Power in East Asia (The Nissan Institute/Routledge Japanese Studies Series), 23 April 2011

Amazon Review:

Japan’s use of Soft power in its international politics is as yet understudied. Soft power presents as many challenges as promises. This book explores the way Japan uses soft power in its relationship with the US, its Asian neighbours and Europe and aims to contribute to a deeper understanding of the role of soft power in international relations.

Hard power, on the other hand, is more tangible and has received far greater scholarly scrutiny than soft power. However, as this collection makes clear, hard power has its limitations and counterproductive consequences as an instrument of policy. This book makes it clear that hard power alone will not provide Japan with the peace and security it desires. A smart balancing or mixture of hard and soft power is required.

Is Japan up to this challenge? While this book cannot give a definitive answer to this question, the excellent line-up of contributors present their best analyses of the effectiveness of Japan’s current attempt at balancing the two components of national power in meeting its bilateral and multilateral security challenges.

The US-Japan Alliance is suitable for upper undergraduates, postgraduates and academics in International Politics, Political Science, Security studies and Japanese studies.

Winner of The Masayoshi Ohira Memorial Special Prize, 2011.

22. Mark Bovens, Deirdre Curtin, Paul ‘t Hart (eds.). The Real World of EU Accountability: What Deficit? (Oxford University Press), 20 August 2010

Amazon Review:

The Real World of EU Accountability reports the findings of a major empirical study into patterns and practices of accountability in European governance. The product of a 4-year, path-breaking project, this book assesses to what extent and how the people that populate the key arenas where European public policy is made or implemented are held accountable. Using a systematic analytical framework, it examines not just the formal accountability arrangements but also documents and compares how these operate in practice. In doing so, it provides a unique, empirically grounded contribution to the pivotal but often remarkably fact-free debate about democracy and accountability in European governance.

With four empirical chapters covering the Commission and its agencies, the European Council, and Comitology committees, it shows that a web of formal accountability arrangements has been woven around most of them, but that the extent to which the relevant accountability forums actually use the oversight possibilities offered to them varies markedly: some forums lack the institutional resources, others the willingness. But in those cases where both are on the increase, as in the European Parliament’s efforts vis a vis the European Commission, fundamentally healthy accountability relationships are developing. Although ex-post accountability is only part of the larger equation determining the democratic quality of European governance, this study suggests that at least in this area, the EU is slowly but surely reducing its ‘democratic deficit’.

23. Farah Godrej. Cosmopolitan Political Thought. Method, Practice, Discipline (Oxford University Press), 13 October 2011

Amazon Review:

  • First book to directly confront the substantive and methodological significance of non-Western writings for the field of political theory
  • Critiques both traditional cosmopolitanism and comparative political theory
  • Brings normative, rather than critical, perspective to study of non-western political texts

Cosmopolitan Political Thought is a normative argument for applying the idea of cosmopolitanism to the discipline of political theory itself. It is inspired by two recent turns in political thought: the emergence of a normative interest in the idea of cosmopolitanism and a new paradigmatic framework called “comparative political theory.” The first phenomenon is driven by a recovery of ancient Stoic and Greek claims about the kosmou polites or “world citizen.”  The second, related, turn comes from a recognition of the relationship between traditional political theory and non-Western political ideas. Godrej argues that both of these movements suffer from important epistemological gaps. In order to be genuinely cosmopolitian, she states, political theory must not only be more conscious of the thinkers, texts, and concepts that it studies, but it must also approach these texts and concepts through the eyes of those who live and experience them. The result will be a serious challenge to our accepted solutions to political life, and a re-envisioning of our self-understanding and task as political theorists.

Readership: Scholars and upper-level undergraduate and graduate students in political theory, comparative theory and comparative religion.

24. Shu Guamg Zhang. Economic Cold War: America’s Embargo Against China and the Sino-Soviet Alliance, 1949-1963 (Cold War International History Project) (Stanford University Press), 1 August 2002

Amazon Review:

Why would one country impose economic sanctions against another in pursuit of foreign policy objectives? How effective is the use of economic weapons in attaining such objectives? To answer these questions, the author examines how and why the United States and its allies instituted economic sanctions against the People’s Republic of China in the 1950s, and how the embargo affected Chinese domestic policy and the Sino-Soviet alliance.

The literature on sanctions has largely concluded that they tend to be ineffective in achieving foreign policy objectives. This study, based on recently declassified documents in the United States, Great Britain, China, and Russia, is unusual in that it looks at both sides of “the China embargo.” It concludes that economic sanctions provide, in certain circumstances, an attractive alternative to military intervention (especially in the nuclear age) or to doing nothing. The author argues that while the immediate effects may be meager or nil, the indirect and long-term effects may be considerable; in the case he reexamines, the disastrous Great Leap Forward and Anti-Rightist campaign were in part prompted by the sanctions imposed by the United States and its allies. Finally, though the embargo created difficulties within the Western alliance, Beijing was driven to press the USSR for much greater economic assistance than Moscow thought feasible, and the ensuing disagreements between them contributed to the collapse of the Sino-Soviet alliance.

Going beyond the rational choice approach to international relations, the book reflects on the role of mutual perceptions and culturally bound notions in shaping international economic sanctions. In addition to contributing to a better understanding of the economic aspects of Cold War history, the book attempts to give more empirical substance to the developing concept of “economic diplomacy,” “economic statecraft,” or “economic warfare” and to relate it to the idea of conflict management.

25. Kwasi Wiredu (ed.). A Companion to African Philosophy (Blackwell Companions to Philosophy), 1 January 2004

Amazon Review:

This volume of newly commissioned essays provides comprehensive coverage of African philosophy, ranging across disciplines and throughout the ages.

  • Offers a distinctive historical treatment of African philosophy.
  • Covers all the main branches of philosophy as addressed in the African tradition.

Includes accounts of pre-colonial African philosophy and contemporary political thought.

26. Lavinia Stan, Lucian Turcescu. Church, State, and Democracy in Expanding Europe (Oxford University Press, USA Religion and Global Politics), 22 September 2011

Amazon Review:

  • Theoretically bold, empirically supported analysis proposing that strict separation of church and state is not a sine qua non condition for the consolidation of democracy in post-communist countries
  • Examines the impact of religious actors and dogmas on politics, and of the political use of religious symbols and actors
  • Draws on new sources of information following the collapse of the communist regime

Lavinia Stan and Lucian Turcescu examine the relationship between religion and politics in ten former communist Eastern European countries. Contrary to widespread theories of increasing secularization, Stan and Turcescu argue that in most of these countries, the populations have shown themselves to remain religious even as they embrace modernization and democratization.
Church-state relations in the new EU member states can be seen in political representation for church leaders, governmental subsidies, registration of religions by the state, and religious instruction in public schools. Stan and Turcescu outline three major models: the Czech church-state separation model, in which religion is private and the government secular; the pluralist model of Hungary, Bulgaria and Latvia, which views society as a group of complementary but autonomous spheres – for example, education, the family, and religion – each of which is worthy of recognition and support from the state; and the dominant religion model that exists in Poland, Romania, Estonia, and Lithuania, in which the government maintains informal ties to the religious majority.
Church, State, and Democracy in Expanding Europe offers critical tools for understanding church-state relations in an increasingly modern and democratic Eastern Europe.

Readership: Political scientists, sociologists of religion, and theologians; students interested in politics, religion and politics, Eastern European communist and post-communist history and politics, the sociology of religion, post-communist democratization, post-communist transitional justice, religious views about sexuality, and education; government officials interested in religion and politics in Eastern Europe in general.

27. Harsh Pant. THE US-INDIA NUCLEAR PACT. Policy, Process, and Great Power Politics (Oxford University Press India), 1 September 2011

Amazon Review:

  • Examines the US-India nuclear agreement
  • Presents all debates related to the nuclear question

The US-India nuclear agreement has virtually rewritten the rules of the global nuclear regime by underlining India’s credentials as a responsible nuclear state that should be integrated into the global nuclear order. Using the analytical framework of the levels of analysis approach, this book examines a range of factors at the structural, domestic, political and individual level that have been instrumental in shaping the recent trajectory of US-India relationship, and which made the nuclear pact possible. The negotiating process as it evolved in the US and India is analysed with a special focus on how political leaderships in the two states managed domestic opposition to the pact. The author locates the US-India nuclear agreement in the context of the broader debate in international relations over the role of international institutions in global politics. He contends that the successful conclusion of the agreement highlights the importance of strategic considerations in driving the non-proliferation priorities of great powers.

This monograph will be of considerable interest to scholars and students of international relations, strategic studies and political science particularly those concerned with Indo-US relations. It will also be useful for diplomats, policymakers, journalists, and the general reader.

Readership: Scholars and students of international relations, strategic studies and political science particularly those concerned with Indo-US relations; diplomats, policymakers, journalists, and the general reader.

28. André Broome. The Currency of Power: The IMF and Monetary Reform in Central Asia (International Political Economy) (Palgrave), 13 April 2010

Amazon Review:

This book examines how the International Monetary Fund engages in the politics of ideas to shape domestic institutional change. Drawing on case studies from post-Soviet Central Asia, Andr Broome explains that how governments interpret their policy options mediates the IMFs influence over economic reform during periods of crisis and uncertainty.

Broome’s fascinating study does much to demystify the role of the International Monetary Fund in promoting economic liberalization around the world. Extensive fieldwork in post-Soviet Central Asia grounds an exemplary analysis of the normative and material conditions required for enduring policy change. His depiction of the Fund as reputational intermediary is subtle and convincing. Students of international economics, international political economy, and regional studies will find here an accessible and rewarding introduction to the real world of monetary and financial policy reform.’ – Louis W. Pauly, Canada Research Chair in Globalization and Governance, University of Toronto, Canada ‘The Currency of Power is an insightful account of how the International Monetary Fund influences policies and policy-orientations among borrower governments. The book takes an original, fresh angle in looking at three central Asian Republics (Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and the Kyrgyz Republic). Because these ‘frontier’ cases are under-studied, this focus makes for a valuable contribution in and of itself. But a further, fascinating pay-off is the contrast between countries in some ways starting with a blank slate in a formal institutional sense after the collapse of the Soviet Union, but also bound by a dense web of Soviet and pre-Soviet everyday, informal practices. Broome shows a deft touch in making sure that both formal and informal institutions are kept in the frame of his explanation, and in skilfully teasing out their interactions through the tumultuous transition period. The book does the field a major service by puncturing several tenacious myths about the International Monetary Fund: it de-bunks the too easy sound-bite of the purported ‘Washington consensus’; it persuasively demonstrates that the Fund is not just a tool of the United States or other powerful members; and it shows that the IMF rarely has the power to impose policies on unwilling borrowers. Instead, Broome presents a compelling and energetically-argued case that the intellectual and reputational role of the IMF has been far more important in shaping policies and institutions among borrower countries. Rather than the power of the purse strings, it is the IMF’s templates and blinkers that do most to influence policy change among governments, especially during periods of high uncertainty. In examining these neglected cases and adroitly weaving together concepts from different schools of thought, The Currency of Power marks a very valuable scholarly contribution that will be of interest to all those studying international organisations and international political economy.’ – Jason Sharman, Professor, Centre for Governance and Public Policy, and Queen Elizabeth II Fellow, Griffith University, Australia.

29. Liaquat Ahamed. Lords of Finance (Cornerstone Digital), 30 September 2011

Amazon Review:

THIS HAS HAPPENED BEFORE.The current financial crisis has only one parallel: the Wall Street Crash of 1929 and subsequent Great Depression of the 1930s, which crippled the future of an entire generation and set the stage for the horrors of the Second World War. Yet the economic meltdown could have been avoided, had it not been for the decisions taken by a small number of central bankers.In Lords of Finance, we meet these men, the four bankers who truly broke the world: the enigmatic Norman Montagu of the bank of England, Benjamin Strong of the NY Federal Reserve, the arrogant yet brilliant Hjalmar Schacht of the Reichsbanlk and the xenophobic Emile Moreau of the Banque de France. Their names were lost to history, their lives and actions forgotten, until now. Liaquat Ahamed tells their story in vivid and gripping detail, in a timely and arresting reminder that individuals – their ambitions, limitations and human nature – lie at the very heart of global catastrophe.

30. Arvind Subramanian. Eclipse: Living in the Shadow of China’s Economic Dominance (Institute of International Economics), 16 September 2011

Amazon Review:

If you want to understand the true magnitude of the shift in economic power that is currently changing the world, Eclipse is the book to read–provocative, well argued and elegantly written. –Liaquat Ahamed, Pulitzer Prize winning author of Lords of Finance.

31. Michael Crichton. Rising Sun (Perfection Learning), 1 January 2010

Amazon Review:

Readers who fear that the Japanese are taking over the U. S. economy will not be reassured.

32. Georg Zoche. “Clash of Currencies”, 13 June 2011

Amazon Review:

How the US dollar was modelled after the Nazi Reichsmark, financed wars and caused the crisis of 2008. And why Britain’s proposed global currency is the way to go. A handbook on monetary power, written in a clear language.

Based on protocols of the Federal Reserve meetings, the book is using the financial crisis of 2008 as a showcase to reveal the mechanisms of the bubble trick, explaining where the money went and uncovering the interrelations of monetary power, war and crisis.

On the basis of documents of the Third Reich, the writings of Sir John Maynard Keynes, the diary of Henry Morgenthau, diplomatic cables, Federal Reserve files and many other documents, the book is showing how the US dollar was modelled after the Nazi-Reichsmark and implemented as world key currency through what might be called one of the biggest frauds of the last century.
Today – with a change of the current global monetary order becoming foreseeable –, the British proposal of a supranational currency that was put forward in 1942 by Sir John Maynard Keynes has attracted the renewed attention not only of UN experts, the IMF as well as the BRIC-nations. The book explains, in which ways Keynes’ visionary proposal is more up to date than ever before.

33. Norah Gallagher, Wenhua Shan. Chinese Investment Treaties. Policies and Practice (Oxford International Arbitration Series), 26 March 2009

Amazon Review:

  • A close analysis of the implications of bilateral investment treaties for those seeking to invest
  • in China – the largest market in the world
  • A comprehensive commentary on this fast-growing area of investment law
  • More clearly focused on China than guides on BITs that are currently available
  • Looks at the historical background, and analyses recent changes in the investment regime
  • Written by a leading scholar in Chinese economic law and a practising specialist in international arbitration, both experts in Chinese investment treaties

China’s success in attracting foreign direct investment (FDI) in the last decade is undisputed, and unprecedented. It is currently the second largest FDI recipient in the world, a success partially due to China’s efforts to enter into bilateral investment treaties (BITs) and other international investment instruments. The second title to publish in the new Oxford International Arbitration Series is a comprehensive commentary on Chinese BITs

Chinese investment treaties have typically provided international forums for settling investment disputes such as the International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID). Given the continuous growth of FDI in China, the emergence of state-investor disagreements in China and the dramatic rise of investment treaty based arbitrations world wide in recent years, it is anticipated that there will be an increasing number of investment arbitrations involving the central and local governments of China. This book will provide a detailed review and analysis of China’s approach to foreign investment. It will consider the current role of investment treaties in China’s foreign economic policy, analyse and interpret the key provisions of the BITs, and discuss the future agenda of China’s investment programme. It will look at how this investment regime interconnects with the domestic system and consider the implications for a foreign investor in China.

Readership: The book will be of interest to legal practitioners involved in investment disputes, as well as corporations seeking foreign investment in China. This title will also be relevant among academics, specifically those seeking to understand the changes in Chinese treaty practices.