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Reviews - Politics

Not only did the major world powers fail to stop the slide towards genocide in Rwanda, they helped make it possible.

Linda Melvern: "A People Betrayed. The Role of the West in Rwanda's Genocide"

Rwanda, 1994: around one million people die in a deliberately orchestrated campaign of murder. For five years, Linda Melvern has worked on the story of this great crime, and this book of investigate journalism is the result. It demonstrates how the great powers ignored clear signs of the coming catastrophe, refused to recognise the genocide when it began, and ignored obligations under international law, specifically the genocide convention. Secret documents leaked from within the UN Security Council prove that the circumstances of the genocide were suppressed or ignored. The author gained access to documents in Rwanda's capital, Kigali, that include the precise details of how international funding was used to pay for the huge quantities of machetes, hoes, razors, and axes which were imported, stockpiled and distributed throughout the country before the genocide began.

The book also contains a detailed account of how the genocide unfolded and tells the stories of two vital eyewitnesses, Major-General Romeo Dallaire, the Canadian Force Commander of the UN peacekeepers, and Philippe Gaillard, the Swiss Chief Delegate of the International Committee of the Red Cross, the only agency to stay behind in Rwanda when the genocide began.

Price: 26,40 EUR (Paperback)

 

 

Written by acclaimed historian Douglas Brinkley, this is the first full-scale, intimate account of John Kerry's Navy career - just in time...

Douglas Brinkley: "Tour of Duty - John Kerry and the Vietnam War"

Brinkley has drawn on extensive interviews with everyone who knew Kerry well in Vietnam. Kerry also entrusted to Brinkley his letters home and his voluminous "War Notes" -- journals, notebooks, and personal reminiscences written during and shortly after the war.

Throughout "Tour of Duty" Brinkley deals with such explosive issues as U.S. atrocities in Vietnam and the bombing of Cambodia. In a series of unforgettable combat-action sequences, Brinkley recounts how Kerry won the Purple Heart three times for wounds suffered in action and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Navy's Silver Star for gallantry in action.

When Kerry returned home a highly decorated soldier, he joined the Vietnam Veterans Against the War, becoming a prominent antiwar spokesperson. Kerry ran for public office, eventually becoming a U.S. senator. He never forgot his fallen comrades. Working with Senator John McCain, he returned to Vietnam numerous times looking for MIAs and POWs, becoming the leading proponent of "normalization" of relations with Vietnam. When President Clinton officially recognized Vietnam in 1995, Kerry's three-decade-long tour of duty had at long last finally ended.

Price: 26,90 EUR (Hardback)

 

 

This behind-the-scenes account shows the 2003 American invasion of Iraq was contentious, not just in the arena of global public opinion, but within the tight-lipped world of the White House.

Bob Woodward: "Plan of Attack"

Bob Woodward gets the people who count to talk. While his lordship used the power of judicial summons, Woodward offers a deal. If you talk, he will faithfully present your side of the story. If you do not, your rivals will - and they'll end up looking good, often at your expense. That threat has persuaded Washington power brokers to cooperate on a series of bestselling Woodward books - and now it has worked its magic again to produce Plan of Attack, the inside story of the war against Iraq.

Thanks to interviews with 75 key players, including on-the-record sessions with President Bush, as well as access to memos, transcripts of phone calls on secure lines (including those to Tony Blair), even Power Point presentations from military computers, this book is packed with the kind of high-grade information that traditionally stays hidden until the publication of memoirs years after the event. Here is the inside track on a crisis that is barely a year old and still unfolding. Woodward's style is not to present an overall analysis, still less a polemic, but simply to lay out the facts and viewpoints of the main actors. He rarely joins the dots, as those in the Bush administration might say. But it hardly matters: the dots themselves are compelling enough.

Price: 28,90 EUR (Hardback)

 

 

This powerful, unsettling book gives us a rare glimpse behind the closed doors of global financial institutions and became a touchstone in the gloabalization debate

Joseph Stiglitz: 'Globalization and its Discontents'

As a former Chief Economist at the World Bank, Chairman of President Clinton's Council of Economic Advisors and winner of the Nobel Prize for Economics, Stiglitz uses his unique experiences and command of economics to systematically destroy the myth that governments have no role to play in a globalised world.

Globalisation is not working, and not working for the poor in particular, and Stiglitz lays the blame at the door of the developed world, acting through such bodies as the IMF and World Bank, who have mismanaged the processes of privatisation, liberalisation and stabilisation in developing countries. Not only are these institutions secretive and democratically unaccountable to those that their decisions directly affect but they are also inherently political bodies that possess an almost messianic belief in the rationale of the markets to alleviate poverty. Through a case study analysis, Stiglitz convincingly shows that the IMF actually made the plight of developing countries worse.

Stiglitz calls for a fundamental change in the governance of globalisation to reconnect those disenfranchised by global institutions. Development economics needs to find some kind of synergy with the distinct cultures and organisations of the developing world. Only then will the process of globalisation be sustainable and equitable.

Price: 30,50 EUR (Hardback) and 14,50 EUR (Paperback)

 

 

One reason the invisible hand of market economics may be invisible is that it may not exist, so says Stiglitz in this analysis

Joseph Stiglitz: 'The Roaring Nineties - Seeds of Destruction'

This book has numerous merits. Most prominent, perhaps, is Stiglitz's encyclopedic command of the issues: deficit reduction, telecom deregulation, the California energy crisis, the 1997 tax cuts, Enron, creative accounting, the IMF, Fed interest rates, stock options, banking regulation - you name it. More important, though, is the analytical sophistication with which Stiglitz approaches these issues. There's no graphs or differential equations (this isn't a technical work) but you can feel Stiglitz's genius at work cutting through all of the BS.

Stiglitz sees the 1990s as a brilliant economic success, but also a period in which faulty accounting, conflicts of interest, and botched deregulation schemes inflated a bubble that, when it burst, gave rise to the 2001 recession. This is not a partisan tract ("More regulation! Punish big business!"), but Stiglitz has vast disagreements with the free market camp in the GOP and the New Democrats who see lower taxes and less regulation as the solution to every problem. His disagreements with them are not ideological, but economic.

You certaintly won't agree with everything he says but it's still a really fantastic contribution to the debate over the bubble and the recession.

Price: 30,90 EUR (Hardback, Paperback coming in June)

 

 

A groundbreaking work and elegant analysis of the central conflict of our times

Benjamin R. Barber: 'Jihad vs. McWorld'

Benjamin R. Barber, Rutgers University Whitman Professor of Political Science, is a leading thinker regarding the subject of democracy. For Barber, as he argues in several of his works, democracy should be both participatory, far beyond the act of voting, and inclusive. In Jihad vs. McWorld, Barber worries that the very existence of democracy and the nation-state, on which it has primarily depended, are threatened. This threat results from what he describes as the two core tenets of our age: globalism and retribalization.

The globalizing and integrating forces of technology, ecology, economics and pop culture ("McWorld") have spawned a disintegral, anti-modernizing fundamentalist reaction ("Jihad") that puts aggressive, commercializing secularism on a crash course with the billions of people who feel marginalized by the global economy and threatened by homogenizing consumerism and its materialist values. While fundamentalist reaction is no ally of democracy, the forces of McWorld have shown little interest in it either, and democracy is likely to be the real casualty of the struggle between Jihad and McWorld unless its concerns with pluralism, participation, empowerment and democractic liberty become central to those who oppose Jihad.

Price: 14,80 EUR (Paperback)

 

 

"In the flood of literature on terrorism, this essay stands out as unusual, and unusually enlightening and provocative." Noam Chomsky

Ted Honderich: 'After the Terror'

Ted Honderich investigates the morality of the September 11th attacks and what terrorism tells us about ourselves and our obligations. Did we have a responsibility for what took place? Did we respond to it as we should have? What are we to do now? After the Terror inquires into the "natural fact" of morality and the worked-out moralities of philosophers. It reaches to the moral core of our lives.

Honderich offers a careful examination of what constitutes a decent life, and how poverty and inequality prevent millions from attaining it. Honderich's condemnation of the terrorists resists many of the easy conclusions so prevalent in contemporary discourse and takes a more thoughtful and philosophical look at its evilness and effect on society. What Honderich has to say will cause disagreement and discomfort among some, yet it is in his relentless and passionate questioning that greater moral clarity will ultimately be found.

Price: 17,80 EUR (Paperback)

 

 

Tracing al-Qaeda's roots back to the jihad against the Soviets in Afghanistan, Corbin picks up the complicated trail that led to 9/11 and beyond

Jane Corbin: 'The Base'

Jane Corbin is an award winning senior reporter working for the English news channel BBC. She has spent the last years studying the growth of terror movements, particularly in the Middle East.

'The Base' takes you inside the world of al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden. An enormous strength of this book is Corbin's in-depth knowledge of her subject matter. She has been studying bin Laden's organization for four years, and was familiar with bin Laden and al-Qaeda long before 9/11.

The Author has followed in bin Laden's footsteps through the Middle East, Africa, Europe and America. Corbin uses her extensive range of sources, including her own experiences, to draw a remarkable portrait of Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda organization. She carefully examine how they carried out the attacks, including the synchronized bombings of the two US Embassies in Africa, the U.S.S. Cole attack in Yemen, and the recent attacks in America, using four commercial airliners to target the Twin towers and Pentagon. Finally, the book constitutes not just a damning indictment of the West's failure to respond to this threat but also a warning, based on the assumption that there will be further attacks.

21,50 EUR (Paperback)

 

 

This is a very good book to read at the current time. Although it is a bit dated, it presents an extremely detailed and in depth look at Saddam Hussein's regime.

Kanan Makiya: 'Republic of Fear'

First published in 1989, just before the Gulf War broke out, Republic of Fear was the only book that explained the motives of the Saddam Hussein regime in invading and annexing Kuwait. This edition, updated in 1998, has a substantial introduction focusing on the changes in Hussein's regime since the Gulf War.

This book describes the experience of Ba'thism from 1968 to 1980 and analyzes the kind of political authority it engendered, culminating in the personality cult around Saddam Hussein. Fear, the author argues, is at the heart of Ba'thi politics and has become the cement for a genuine authority, however bizarre.

Examining Iraqi history in a search for clues to understanding contemporary political affairs, the author illustrates how the quality of Ba'thi pan-Arabism as an ideology, the centrality of the first experience of pan-Arabism in Iraq, and the interaction between the Ba'th and communist parties in Iraq from 1958 to 1968 were crucial in shaping the regime.

24,90 EUR (Paperback)

 

 

A timely and important account of the Bush administration's squandered foreign-policy opportunities

John Newhouse: 'Imperial America'

John Newhouse describes the ways in which America's relationship with much of the world went wrong after the events of September 11, 2001, the moment when most nations were ready to accept U.S. leadership in a war against terrorism.

Newhouse poses important questions and discusses the reasons why Pakistan is probably the most dangerous country in the world. He devotes attention to the threats posed by Iran and North Korea, and the administration's bungled, dangerously inept attention to them. Woven through with illuminating anecdotes and vivid portraits of the players "Bush, Rumsfeld, Cheney, Powell, Blair, Chirac, Putin, and others" Imperial America is a brilliantly clear, timely, and powerfully thought-provoking expos of recent American foreign policy: how it has been made and perilously mishandled.

Price: 26,80 EUR (Hardback)

 

 

A study of a master spy,Lost Crusader offers vital insight into the Cold War, Vietnam, and the inner workings of the CIA

John Prados: 'Lost Crusader'

From his years as America's point man in Vietnam to his mysterious death in 1996, William E. Colby was one of the most enigmatic figures of the Cold War. Whether it was in CIA operations against Russia, anti-Communism in Western Europe, covert action in Southeast Asia, or its involvement in the Watergate affair, Colby stood at the center of the agency's secret activities.

Lost Crusader for the first time uncovers the real story of this master spy, from his beginnings in the OSS to his tumultuous years as Director of Central Intelligence in the 1970s. Reviled by many outside the CIA for his role in Vietnam, he was later cast as a scapegoat by the Nixon White House during the Church and Pike congressional investigations of CIA activities.

Price: 40,- EUR (Hardback)

 

 

If you would like to read a highly intelligent, easy-to-read and up-to-date explanation of international power and politics, this is the perfect book

Noam Chomsky: 'Hegemony or Survival: America's Quest for Global Dominance'

Noam Chomsky, renowned political writer and professor of linguistics, cuts through myth, propaganda and political amnesia in his first major new work in a decade.

The book heads straight into big issues that most commentators skirt around - in fact, the most important issues facing the world today. He argues convincingly that the United States is the biggest threat to world peace, conducting and sponsoring far more terrorism around the world than the official enemies. Compared with conventional commentaries, this could sound like an extreme position. It shouldn't after you read the numerous carefully researched examples. The book documents 50 years of the US backing coups, launching invasions, installing compliant dictators (regime changes), sponsoring terror campaigns and conducting economic warfare, showing how the same basic policies have operated, whether under Kennedy, Nixon, Clinton or the Bushs. He recalls often-forgotten events and analyses the duplicity and propaganda used to hide or justify them.

Price: 25,80 EUR (Hardback)

 

 

Whatever one thinks of the Bush administration's foreign policy, the health of the U.S. political system clearly requires the articulation of realistic alternatives

Michael Hirsh: 'At War with Ourselves'

As correspondent for Newsweek, Michael Hirsh has traveled to every continent, reporting on American foreign policy. Now he draws on his experience to offer an original explanation of America's role in the world and the problems facing the nation today and in the future. Using colorful vignettes and up-close reporting from his coverage of the first two post-Cold War presidents, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, Hirsh argues that America has a new role never before played by any nation: it is the world's Uberpower, overseeing the global system from the air, land, sea and, increasingly, from space as well. And that means America has a unique opportunity do what no great power in history has ever done--to perpetuate indefinitely the global system it has built, to create an international community with American power at its center that is so secure it may never be challenged.

Price: 28,50 EUR (Hardback)

 

 

An utterly entrancing new collection of essays - controversial, inspirational and passionate.

Arundhati Roy: 'The Ordinary Person's Guide to Empire'

This collection of speeches and essays is about the subjects dearest to her heart, subjects of importance to anyone interested in democracy, in global justice, and in the direction certain powerful agencies beyond our control are taking the world.

Critic:
`Roy is excellent at putting across the rational arguments and web of facts that are necessary to back up her opinions. She has a good command of both the big picture and the small and allows people to speak for themselves, pushing those who are often forgotten into the foreground of the debate.' Natasha Walter, Guardian

Price: 17,40 EUR (Hardback)
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