>Your Summer Reading List (Staff Suggestions)
Posted: July 16, 2010 Filed under: Summer Reading
Is it that time yet? That point during summer vacation when you start to feel a little bit (dare I say it?) bored
? Even if you don’t want to admit that you’ve fallen into a bit of a summer-time slump, we’ve got your back. It’s likely that all you need is a bit of intellectual stimulation. And the staff
of the World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh is here to help!
We’ve compiled a short list of books that we like (and we think you’ll agree). So, without further ado…here are our first recommendations:
A Thousand Splendid Suns is a breathtaking story set against the volatile events of Afghanistan’s last thirty years—from the Soviet invasion to the reign of the Taliban to the post-Taliban rebuilding—that puts the violence, fear, hope, and faith of this country in intimate, human terms. It is a tale of two generations of characters brought jarringly together by the tragic sweep of war, where personal lives—the struggle to survive, raise a family, find happiness—are inextricable from the history playing out around them.
This book was selected because it’s a fascinating page-turner that weaves amazing storytelling with a realistic look at life in Afghanistan. If you enjoyed The Kite Runner (by the same author), chances are good that you’ll like this book, as well. (In fact, many people we’ve spoken with believe that this book far surpasses the author’s first.) This is a great book to curl up with on a rainy day, or to take to the beach with you. (Just don’t become so engrossed in it that you forget to reapply sunblock!)
In this brilliant new book, the award-winning New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman demystifies the brave new world for readers, allowing them to make sense of the often bewildering global scene unfolding before their eyes. With his inimitable ability to translate complex foreign policy and economic issues, Friedman explains how the flattening of the world happened at the dawn of the twenty-first century; what it means to countries, companies, communities, and individuals; and how governments and societies can, and must, adapt.
While not his newest book (that would be Hot, Flat, and Crowded –
also recommended!), this book is an interesting, easy-to-understand introduction to the concept of globalization. The world is becoming increasingly interconnected (or, as Mr. Friedman would say, “flat”), and it is important for everyone to understand what that means. If you have already read this book, and the follow-up, Hot Flat and Crowded,
we recommend taking a look at some of his older works. Longitudes and Attitudes
(2003) contains a number of Mr. Friedman’s post-September 11th columns and is an interesting read — the content is more foreign-policy focused than his more recent books — and looks at some of the ways 9/11 changed the United States. His books are all educational and interesting, with personal anecdotes and stories to help illustrate his points. We happen to think that they’re especially great books to read while traveling (the paperback versions, anyway!).
Is the world destined to suffer endless cycles of conflict and war? Can rival nations become partners and establish a lasting and stable peace? How Enemies Become Friends provides a bold and innovative account of how nations escape geopolitical competition and replace hostility with friendship. Through compelling analysis and rich historical examples that span the globe and range from the thirteenth century through the present, foreign policy expert Charles Kupchan explores how adversaries can transform enmity into amity–and he exposes prevalent myths about the causes of peace.
A more academic selection, How Enemies Become Friends
moves away from the standard foreign policy question, “Why does war break out?” and instead looks at where and why peace
breaks out. Written by an academic (Dr. Kupchan is a Professor of International Affairs at the School of Foreign Service and Government Department at Georgetown University, and is a Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations), this book delivers a solid thesis and historical examples. Recommended by our President, Steve Sokol, and Council friend Steve Clemons of The Washington Note
, we’ve already put it on our reading lists!
Check back next Friday for some more book recommendations from the staff here at the Council. In the meantime, let us know in the comments — do you agree with our choices? Disagree? Do you have any suggestions?
Ed. Note – for convenience, we’ve linked you to Amazon.com, but these books are available in many stores [and can possibly even be found at your local library!)