Capsule Reviews

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Capsule Review,
SEPT/OCT
2014
Walter Russell Mead

Hard Choices is more a manifesto than a memoir. It is best understood as Clinton’s attempt to position herself for the intense political battles she will likely face in the next few years as the front-runner for the Democratic nomination for president in 2016. Still, it is a rich and even compelling read, hinting at how Clinton wants to be seen in the culminating years of her political career. The memoir pulls off a deft political balancing act; Clinton distinguishes herself from President Barack Obama even as she highlights her loyalty to the man she served as secretary of state.

Capsule Review,
SEPT/OCT
2014
G. John Ikenberry

Governments around the world have fallen on hard times, and the crisis seems especially acute among the liberal Western states that until recently enjoyed decades of unprecedented prosperity and stability. Western powers that ushered in the Industrial Revolution and the rise of the liberal order are now barely able to perform rudimentary tasks. When beleaguered Western leaders look over their shoulders, they see authoritarian Asian countries -- especially China and Singapore -- gaining ground.

Capsule Review,
SEPT/OCT
2014
G. John Ikenberry

The Western liberal tradition rests on free markets, limited government, human rights, and the rule of law. But as Jahn notes, those concepts originated as guides to the organization of domestic politics, and the effort to project them onto the international system, which began in the early nineteenth century, has been marked by tensions, dilemmas, tradeoffs, and contradictions.

Capsule Review,
SEPT/OCT
2014
G. John Ikenberry

This pathbreaking book illuminates a quiet revolution that has reshaped international law, and it will change many readers’ views about the new global legal system. Today, at least 24 international courts and organizations review administrative decisions, assess government compliance with international law, and pass judgment on constitutional questions. These include global bodies, such as the International Court of Justice, the International Criminal Court, and the World Trade Organization, and regional legal bodies in Africa, Europe, and Latin America.

Capsule Review,
SEPT/OCT
2014
G. John Ikenberry

Reich and Lebow have joined a long list of writers who have announced the end of U.S. hegemony and the coming of the next world order. In fact, they argue that hegemony has been dead for many decades. “Hegemony is a fiction propagated to support a large defense establishment, justify American claims to world leadership, and buttress the self-esteem of voters,” they proclaim.

Capsule Review,
SEPT/OCT
2014
Richard N. Cooper

Many countries are going gray, as the average age of their citizens increases. Two quite different factors are driving the change: people are living longer, and they are having fewer babies. The potential fiscal strains arising from greater longevity have received a lot of attention; the implications of falling birthrates, much less. With this book, Kramer aims to correct the imbalance. He believes that falling birthrates pose a serious threat to a number of wealthy countries, not only to their economic well-being but also to their national security.

Capsule Review,
SEPT/OCT
2014
Richard N. Cooper

Hardly a week goes by without news of some malfeasance committed by a large American or European bank. Lewis zeros in on one particularly explosive charge: the claim that major banks engage in predatory trading behavior.

Capsule Review,
SEPT/OCT
2014
Richard N. Cooper

The diffusion of applied knowledge, both within and between countries, is one of the sources of economic growth. The spread of such knowledge is also necessary to deal with climate change. Yet economists and environmentalists alike know little about the process. This useful book -- a thorough piece of practical research -- looks closely at how clean energy technologies such as gas turbines, advanced batteries, solar photovoltaics, and coal gasification emerged and spread to China.

Capsule Review,
SEPT/OCT
2014
Richard N. Cooper

The rapid growth of cross-border business, education, and travel has brought people of different cultural backgrounds closer together than ever before -- and has thereby increased the likelihood of miscommunication and misunderstanding. Meyer boldly attempts to characterize the diverse cultural practices of Asians, Europeans, and North and South Americans in eight areas: communication, performance evaluation, persuasion, leadership and hierarchy, decision-making, trust building, dealing with disagreements, and scheduling.

Capsule Review,
SEPT/OCT
2014
Richard N. Cooper

This book might have been titled In Praise of Sweatshops. It is a serious attack on well-meaning European and U.S. organizations that lament the working conditions in the factories of many developing countries, sometimes calling for boycotts against the multinational firms that purchase from such factories or that even own them. But Powell argues persuasively that sweatshops, where the conditions are admittedly appalling by Western standards, represent an improvement -- often a significant improvement -- over the alternatives available to their workers.

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