Capsule Reviews

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Capsule Review,
Nov/Dec
2014
Edited by David Marshall
G. John Ikenberry

During the last two decades, promoting the rule of law has become a global industry. Well-financed activists, governments, and international organizations have championed the cause, touting improved rule of law as a way to reduce poverty, secure human rights, and prevent conflict. All the contributors to this volume affirm the importance of promoting the rule of law in troubled and transitional societies, using tools such as foreign aid and technical assistance.

Capsule Review,
Nov/Dec
2014
Andrew J. Nathan

The Nepalese Maoist movement emerged at an unlikely time: the mid-1990s, when communism was in global retreat. But by 2006, the movement had gained control over most of Nepal’s countryside and had become the largest party in the country’s parliament. This thoroughly researched book reveals how this happened. The leaders were mostly educated youths from marginalized upper-caste families.

Capsule Review,
Nov/Dec
2014
Nicolas van de Walle

The Kagame regime in Rwanda continues to enjoy a solid reputation in the West, earning plaudits for its role in ending the 1994 genocide, promoting economic growth since then, and advocating national reconciliation. Thomson’s provocative study offers a useful corrective to that overly charitable conventional wisdom.

Capsule Review,
Nov/Dec
2014
Nicolas van de Walle

Since its independence in 1961, Tanzania has combined political stability with economic stagnation. The country has been remarkably free of the ethnic strife that engulfed all its neighbors after independence. However, a variety of socialist experiments led to economic collapse in the 1970s, and the country continues to suffer from slower economic growth than those same neighbors. These two books analyze the seeming contradiction.

Capsule Review,
Nov/Dec
2014
Nicolas van de Walle

Although little reliable information exists on the issue, experts widely believe that conflict over land is increasing in Africa, where property rights are often not firmly established and most arable land has not been recorded in authoritative registries. In her ambitious new book, Boone argues that struggles over land are now the defining characteristic of African politics and have an impact on all other political institutions and every interaction between citizens and states.

Capsule Review,
Nov/Dec
2014
John Campbell

Judd Ryker, the daring hero of Moss’ novel, is a U.S. diplomat based in Mali who, over the course of 100 hours, must undo a coup, free a kidnapped Peace Corps volunteer, and stop an attack on the U.S. embassy. As the head of a crisis-response unit, Ryker faces down terrorists and -- almost as dangerous -- vicious bureaucratic infighting at the U.S. Department of State.

Capsule Review,
Nov/Dec
2014
Richard Feinberg

As Darnton notes, parochial bureaucratic interests -- particularly within security forces that rely on perceptions of enduring external threats to justify their influence and incomes -- can act as major obstacles to reconciliation between rival states. What, then, explains the rapprochements between traditional pairs of rivals such as Argentina and Brazil, Argentina and Chile, or Honduras and Nicaragua?

Capsule Review,
Nov/Dec
2014
Richard Feinberg

Immersing herself in Havana’s gay culture, Stout, an American anthropologist, gives readers a street-level view of the turbulent changes under way in Cuba, as Cuban society gradually transitions from conformist socialism to a more market-oriented individualism. In its formative years, the austere Cuban Revolution repressed homosexuality. Today, figures as influential as President Raúl Castro’s daughter Mariela push for equal rights for LGBT Cubans.

Capsule Review,
Nov/Dec
2014
Richard Feinberg

LeoGrande and Kornbluh’s exhaustive and masterful diplomatic history will stand as the most authoritative account of U.S.-Cuban diplomatic relations during the five decades of Cuban President Fidel Castro’s rule -- at least until scholars gain better access to Cuban archives and officials. Skillfully interpreting reams of declassified memorandums, unpublished memoirs, and in-depth interviews with key U.S.

Capsule Review,
Nov/Dec
2014
Andrew Moravcsik

Today, Germany is the “greenest” of the world’s major economies, far ahead of the United States when it comes to environmental policy. Uekötter, who belongs to a new generation of environmental historians, explores why Germany -- a crowded nation of industrial exporters -- has produced one of the world’s most advanced approaches to environmental protection. The conventional view holds that Germans have been rich for long enough to develop (and afford) “postmaterialist” values and had, for a time, a strong and chic Green Party that surfed a global wave of environmentalism.

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