A studying listing from Brookings Overseas Coverage whilst you apply social distancing

A reading list from Brookings Foreign Policy while you practice social distancing

By Madiha Afzal, Daniel L. Byman, Adrien Chorn, Sam Denney, Katherine Elgin, James Goldgeier, Emilie Kimball, James Kirchick, Caroline Klaff, Filippos Letsas, Michael E. O'Hanlon, Ted Reinert, Bruce Riedel, Amanda Sloat

Because the coronavirus outbreak retains many people confined to our houses, now could also be a singular alternative to sort out some long-form studying. Right here, individuals from throughout the Brookings Overseas Coverage program provide their suggestions for books to complement your understanding of the world exterior your window.

Madiha Afzal recommends

Boko Haram: The Historical past of an African Jihadist Motion

It is a very lucid e book by Alexander Thurston on Boko Haram’s lethal terrorist insurgency in Nigeria. Boko Haram has killed tens of 1000’s of individuals and displaced greater than two million others, however has not acquired sufficient consideration globally, together with from lecturers. Nigeria is the seventh most populous nation on the earth; it’s about half Muslim and half Christian, and its post-colonial conception of nationalism conceals harmful fissures. This e book gives a complete therapy of Boko Haram’s origins, and likewise situates the group inside Nigeria’s sophisticated and little-understood political context.

Daniel Byman recommends

"The Caravan" book cover

The Caravan: Abdallah Azzam and the Rise of International Jihad

Thomas Hegghammer tells the story of the origins of the trendy Sunni jihadi motion by the biography of Abdallah Azzam, one among its first leaders. Azzam was a scholar, a preacher, an organizer, a warrior, and plenty of different issues, and his name to motion impressed 1000’s to hitch the anti-Soviet combat in Afghanistan. Azzam’s life is fascinating, and by inspecting it Hegghammer explains why and the way the Sunni jihadi motion emerged when it did — the origin story of a motion that may produce teams like al-Qaida and the Islamic State.

Adrien Chorn recommends

Help Dependence in Cambodia: How Overseas Help Undermines Democracy

"Aid Dependence" coverThis e book by Sophal Ear is an effective begin for many who need context and exposition to Cambodia’s decline in democracy and good governance after the large effort of the worldwide neighborhood to revive peace and stability to the post-conflict state. It’s also good for many who have an interest within the impacts of help on governance generally. On this case, the creator articulates how the worldwide neighborhood sadly set a priority for help dependence within the nation that curtailed sustainable and numerous improvement, weakened the rule of regulation, and decreased governmental accountability. The e book additionally explains how a rustic that has sustained one of many highest financial progress charges on the earth may also concurrently be “one damaged authorities away from catastrophe.”

Sam Denney recommends

Our Man: Richard Holbrooke and the Finish of the American Century

Instructed from the attitude of a Marlow-esque narrator, this e book is equal elements an exploration of a deeply flawed but good American profession diplomat, and a scathing dialogue of the hubris and blind potential of U.S. overseas coverage from the 1960s to the 2000s. By means of Packer’s “Our Man,” Holbrooke’s supreme lack of self-awareness, unrelenting perception in himself (perhaps higher described as conceitedness), and dogged dedication to resolve exhausting issues grow to be stand-ins for a similar qualities in america. On the finish of the day, the e book can be a pleasure to learn, a piece of biography that reads on the tempo of a vivid novel.

Katherine Elgin recommends

"Mr Putin" cover

Mr. Putin: Operative within the Kremlin

I simply re-read “Mr. Putin,” and it’s as related at this time because it was when it was initially printed — maybe much more so. Brookings Senior Fellow Fiona Hill and Cliff Gaddy have woven collectively an excellent and rigorous evaluation of the person who guidelines Russia, made much more salient by current developments. It’s a timeless e book, and a straightforward learn besides, with lovely prose and clear takeaways.


James Goldgeier recommends

The Again Channel: A Memoir of American Diplomacy and The Case for Its Renewal

"The Back Channel" coverAmbassador William J. Burns, who held a big selection of high-level positions on the State Division and abroad through the course of his overseas service profession, has written a beautiful memoir. The e book gives insights into the personalities and processes that produced among the most consequential U.S. overseas insurance policies over greater than three a long time, and Burns displays deeply on a variety of points of worldwide significance by which he participated, such because the momentous collection of occasions surrounding the top of the Chilly Conflict, the failed U.S.-led efforts to forge an enduring peace between Israelis and Palestinians, the rise and fall of U.S.-Russia relations, the mission to kill Osama bin Laden, and the negotiations to halt the Iranian nuclear program. He has additionally posted on-line almost 100 declassified cables and memos he wrote throughout his illustrious profession.

Emilie Kimball recommends

Powerful Love: My Story of the Issues Price Preventing For

"Tough Love" coverFormer ​Nationwide Safety Advisor Susan Rice (additionally beforehand a senior fellow at Brookings) combines outstanding storytelling with hanging evaluation of our nation’s overseas coverage on this e book. Having the extraordinary success to name her my boss whereas serving on the Nationwide Safety Council (NSC), it’s a delight to relive the recollections of touring to Kenya with Barack Obama on his first journey as president; establishing regular diplomatic relations with Cuba; transcribing cellphone calls with Vladimir Putin; and revolutionizing the NSC vacation get together the place Ambassador Rice led the dancing. The e book provides her distinctive perspective into the nationwide safety decisionmaking course of and the significance of surrounding your self with colleagues at each step of the way in which who offer you powerful love.


And the Band Performed On

"And the Band Played On" coverThe definitive e book on the early years of the final nice epidemic to hit America, “And the Band Performed On” is an epic account of the politics and personalities that formed America’s response, or lack thereof, to AIDS. Written by Randy Shilts, the primary and, for a very long time, the one reporter on the AIDS beat and probably the most consequential homosexual journalist of the 20th century, it spares nobody — the federal government, the media, the homosexual neighborhood — in its harsh evaluation. Watching individuals collect in massive crowds these previous few days in defiance of scientific recommendation and plain good sense, I’m haunted by related warnings that went unheeded to stanch the unfold of HIV. So, too, are there echoes of the Reagan administration’s lackluster response. It even encompasses a younger NIH researcher named Anthony Fauci.

Caroline Klaff recommends

A Thousand Splendid Suns

"Thousand Splendid Suns" coverI extremely advocate Khaled Hosseini’s novel “A Thousand Splendid Suns” (particularly the audiobook model, learn by Atossa Leoni). Following the intersecting tales of two younger ladies in Afghanistan from the 1970s by the early 2000s, this e book contends with themes of home violence, famine, and battle, amid a rotating forged of combatants, each native and worldwide — together with the Soviet-backed communists, the Mujahideen, the Taliban, and “the People.” As a younger girl working in overseas coverage who has grown up with the worldwide battle on terror, this e book places a relatable, human face on the results of a long time of violence and political instability.

Filippos Letsas recommends

The Yr I Was Peter the Nice: 1956—Khrushchev, Stalin’s Ghost, and a Younger American in Russia

"The Year I Was Peter the Great" coverEmbark on a riveting journey to the Soviet Union of 1956 with “The Yr I Was Peter The Nice,” a memoir written by legendary Marvin Kalb. Counting on a diary he stored as a younger diplomatic attaché on the U.S. embassy in Moscow, Kalb has written a outstanding eyewitness account of the 12 months that modified Soviet Russia as soon as and for all, and one which outlined the longer term trajectory of a real icon in American journalism. Energetic, charming anecdotes, and interesting historic context, the e book recounts Kalb’s travels from one finish of the altering nation to a different, and his numerous conversations with odd Russians — and even Nikita Khrushchev himself, who graciously nicknamed him “Peter The Nice.”

Michael O’Hanlon recommends

Changing into Kim Jong Un

Becoming Kim Jong UnIf you happen to’re searching for an ideal learn in coming weeks, strive my colleague Jung Pak’s “Changing into Kim Jong Un: A Former CIA Officer’s Insights into North Korea’s Enigmatic Younger Dictator.”It’s a riveting historical past of the younger, brash, brutal, and moderately intelligent chief of North Korea. If you happen to bought uninterested in listening to about him in 2017 and wish to transfer onto one thing else — you could not have that luxurious, as a result of he could not transfer on for half a century from the perches of energy in nuclear-armed North Korea, the place america got here pretty near battle simply 30 months in the past, and will achieve this once more. Jung developed her experience on this topic because the CIA’s high watcher of Kim for eight years, so along with an especially properly written biography, you’re getting a way of how the CIA researches, research, and thinks concerning the world’s most harmful individuals whenever you learn this e book.

Cover of "Des Democrtes en Amerique"

Des Démocrates en Amérique

“Changing into Kim” is just not due out till April 28, nonetheless, so earlier than that, and when you learn French, you could wish to take a look at Célia Belin’s “Des Démocrates en Amérique: L’heure des choix face à Trump,” the very best factor concerning the Democratic presidential main marketing campaign of 2020 that I’ve learn. Celia targeted on the large concepts part of the marketing campaign — when a number of candidates and a number of other worldviews competed for the hearts and minds of voters in Iowa and New Hampshire, earlier than the horse race took over. This Frenchwoman understands us amazingly properly!

Ted Reinert recommends

The Final Palace

The Last PalaceOur Brookings Governance Research colleague Norman Eisen served as U.S. ambassador to the Czech Republic from 2011 to 2014, and in “The Final Palace,” he tells the story of Czechoslovakia and Europe’s turbulent 20th century by the lens of the actually distinctive U.S. ambassador’s residence in Prague. The eccentric and terribly profitable Jewish businessman Otto Petschek constructed this curved mansion within the capital of this new state within the coronary heart of Europe within the interwar interval. It was subsequently lived in by a German normal through the battle, the postwar U.S. ambassador who tried to stop the nation from falling to Soviet dominance, and Shirley Temple Black, the previous youngster film star who witnessed each the crushing of Prague Spring in 1968 and the dramatic Velvet Revolution and eventual triumph of democracy in 1989 when she returned to Prague as U.S. ambassador. In fact, historical past didn’t finish in 1989, and the e book can be a warning concerning the fragility of democracy and rule of regulation. It’s fantastically written, and private — we comply with not solely the story of monetary barons, generals, and diplomats, but in addition the journey of Eisen’s mom from being a younger Jewish girl of very modest means within the turbulent Czechoslovakia of the 1930s and 1940s to seeing her son transfer to Prague as her adopted nation’s ambassador. For individuals who take pleasure in studying about European historical past, “The Final Palace” is a gem.

Bruce Riedel recommends

The Weapons of August

"The Guns of August" coverMy favourite e book is Barbara Tuchman’s basic “The Weapons of August.” She recounts the drive in direction of World Conflict One in August 1914. The narrative is fantastically written and interesting. The message is obvious: Conflict plans developed lengthy earlier than the battle drove occasions on the bottom relentlessly. Practice schedules for mobilization and deployment of the armies mattered way over the efforts of political leaders and diplomats to avert disaster. The results of the occasions of August 1914 was a world battle that killed and wounded tens of hundreds of thousands. It started a century of battle continuing by World Conflict II and the Chilly Conflict. Tuchman explains why all of it started. “The Weapons of August” got here out within the early 1960s. President John F. Kennedy was so impressed by it that he ordered the Pentagon to ship a replica to each normal. JFK’s dealing with of the Cuban missile disaster and the Chinese language invasion of India within the fall of 1962 mirrored his appreciation of the calamity that initiating battle can carry. I simply learn “The Weapons of August” for the tenth time, it’s that good.

Amanda Sloat recommends

The Righteous Thoughts: Why Good Individuals Are Divided by Politics and Faith

"The Righteous Mind" coverAs all People — Republican and Democrat — are having a shared expertise in response to coronavirus, now is an effective time to contemplate why our nation is so divided and why good individuals see the world in several methods. “The Righteous Thoughts” by Jonathan Haidt exhibits how ethical judgments come up from intestine emotions moderately than cause. He explains why liberals, conservatives, and libertarians have completely different intuitions about proper and flawed, in addition to how every group has some legitimate considerations. These differing views are more likely to form how each events focus on coverage responses to COVID-19.