September 6, 2018 | By Iain Whitaker

Global Affairs Books For The Fall

Every June Book Expo America brings the nation’s publishing houses together with book wholesalers, retailers, and marketers in New York. The event provides an opportunity to collect an unwieldy amount of free as-yet-unpublished books (pro tip: they’re not really free if you end up paying for an extra checked bag). Equally important, it offers an advanced look at the topics that this most trend-conscious of industries believes will interest the American public six months hence. In the wider genre of global affairs, several titles stand out from the previews of fall and winter releases.

Coming just a few months after an election dominated by fake news and claims of foreign meddling, Book Expo in 2017 was unsurprisingly replete with ruminations on the bleak state of democracy. This theme continued into 2018, but with more specific inquiries into the drivers of our fractured politics.

 

This fall also marks the tenth anniversary of the collapse of Lehman Brothers and the onset of the great recession, an event that the publishing industry arguably did a better job of capitalizing on than many others. Most of the major players in those dizzying events of 2008 long ago published their best-selling recollections, and so the ten-year anniversary books are focused more on the legacy of the crash, and whether any lessons have been learned.

And if you want to dive deeper into this topic, two of the key protagonists - former FDIC chair Sheila Bair and former US Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson - will join Bloomberg's David Westin on September 27 to consider what lessons were learned during the fateful fall of 2008.

In the realm of US foreign policy the titles previewed at Book Expo offer constrasting reactions to a year of America First. Authors appear to be split into two camps on the question of whether the liberal international order that the United States created after World War II has failed, is worth trying to save, or what global strategy might replace it.

  • The University of Chicago’s John Mearsheimer argues that America’s assertive post-Cold War foreign policy has been costly and often counter-productive in The Great Delusion: Liberal Dreams and International Realities (Yale University Press, September 25). Council President's Club members can hear the author make the case for a more restrained US foreign policy at a live taping of WBEZ's Worldview on October 16.
  • In The Jungle Grows Back: The Case for American Power (Knopf, September 18) Brooking’s Robert Kagan, who will present his thesis at the Council on October 9, contends that America’s retreat from leadership will invite dangerous, rival powers to challenge its interests and influence, returning the world to a “jungle” state of chaos.
  • Council president Ivo Daalder and CFR’s James Lindsay’s The Empty Throne: America’s Abdication of Global Leadership (Public Affairs, October 16) takes a long view of the unraveling of the international order created by the United States after World War II. They argue America has lost its appetite to lead and President Trump has capitalized on this complacency, with worrying implications for international peace and prosperity. Hear from them in conversation with WBEZ's Steve Edwards on the Council's stage on October 25
  • And Mearsheimer's erstwhile collaborator, Stephen Walt of Harvard’s Kennedy School, offers a robust, Realist critique of liberal hegemony in The Hell of Good Intentions: America’s Foreign Policy Elite and the Decline of US Power (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, October 16). He'll share his views with a Council audience on November 19.

 

Beyond the urgent policy questions of how, where, and when America should engage with the world, Book Expo also presented several books exploring developments that have tended to be outshouted by the talking heads on cable news. 


 

While the general mood of global affairs titles at Book Expo 2018 was gloomy, this fall will also see the release of major titles from two of the nation’s most compelling historians, which each describe America’s successful (and somewhat reassuring) passage through moments of historic peril.

 

Happy reading! And if you like to buy locally, our partners at The Book Cellar will be happy to help you out with any of these titles.

About

The Chicago Council on Global Affairs is an independent, nonpartisan organization that provides insight – and influences the public discourse – on critical global issues. We convene leading global voices and conduct independent research to bring clarity and offer solutions to challenges and opportunities across the globe. The Council is committed to engaging the public and raising global awareness of issues that transcend borders and transform how people, business, and governments engage the world.

The Chicago Council on Global Affairs is an independent, nonpartisan organization. All statements of fact and expressions of opinion in blog posts are the sole responsibility of the individual author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Council.

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