December 18, 2017

Holiday Gift Guide for Foreign Policy Bookworms

At the Council we love books; we just wish we had more time to read them. As the year draws to a close, and you think about holiday gifts for family and friends, here are a few book recommendations from several members of our programs team. If you are shopping locally, our partners at The Book Cellar will be happy to help you out.

Promise Me, Dad: A Year of Hope, Hardship, and Purpose
Joe Biden

From Situation Room pressures of a world leader to private agonies of a loving father, Vice President Joe Biden masterfully intertwines the political and the personal in his new book, Promise Me, Dad. At once heart-wrenching and inspiring, it offers a powerful depiction of perseverance in the face of loss, no matter the scale. Biden addressed the Council in November.

Recommended by Irina Gavrilova, Program Coordinator

A Disappearance in Damascus: Friendship and Survival in the Shadow of War
Deborah Campbell

This powerful story chronicles the bond between a Canadian foreign correspondent (Campbell) covering the plight of Iraqis fleeing to Syria, and her brave and fearless Iraqi refugee fixer, Ahlam. The suspenseful tale highlights the strong friendship and resilience of women amidst the complicated politics of the Middle East. Deborah, and Ahlam’s daughter Roqayah, recounted their experiences at our Global Health Development Symposium in September.

Recommended by Tria Raimundo, Director, Global Development Programs

The Seventh Sense
Joshua Cooper Ramo

Ramo has expanded his reputation outside of the “China-hands” community to rise to the top of thinkers on a networked society. Chapter titles from The Seventh Sense alone (MapReduce, The New Caste, and Warez Dudes) should convince you it is worth your time. He may outline a new world, but he’ll no doubt help you brave it. Ramo spoke to a council audience in November.

Recommended by Jon Macha, Director, Public Programs

McMafia: A Journey Through the Global Criminal Underworld
Misha Glenny 

Glenny’s 2008 riveting account of the rise of global organized crime is back at the forefront with an upcoming BBC TV miniseries set to air in 2018. The veteran journalist also took the stage at the 2017 Chicago Forum on Global Cities to discuss sustainable cities in the face of crime, climate change, epidemics, and other threats.

Recommended by Dzena Berbic, Program Officer

The Retreat of Western Liberalism
Edward Luce

Luce pulls no punches in this refreshingly even-handed diagnosis of liberal democracy's ills. A failure of political leadership is as much to blame as the usual culprits of globalization and technology. It's not always comfortable reading but it’s certainly apposite for the current mood and moment in Europe and America. Luce outlined his views for us in April, and Harvard’s Yascha Mounk will explore similar ground on March 27.

Recommended by ​​Iain Whitaker, Director, Strategic Content

Democracy: Stories from the Long Road to Freedom
Condoleezza Rice

Former Secretary of State Rice candidly recounts her time in office, reflecting on the successes and failures of efforts to promote democratic government globally. Rice makes a compelling and hopeful endorsement of democratic global engagement in an era where widespread distrust of government and institutions lingers. Our February 7 event with Freedom House will consider the state of global democracy.

Recommended by Victoria Williams, Program Officer

The Sympathizer
Viet Thanh Nguyen

Set during and after the Vietnam War, The Sympathizer tells the story of a man fractured by his dual identities – half-French, half-Vietnamese, a communist embedded as a mole in the US-backed forces of South Vietnam, who ends up a refugee in the United States after the fall of Saigon. Raw and searing, it ruminates on history, identity, and language. A wonderful complement to Ken Burns’ and Lynn Novick’s epic documentary, The Vietnam War.

Recommended by Amila Golic, Assistant Director, Public Programs 


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