Paul Sharp and Geoffrey Wiseman, eds. Leiden: Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, 2012. €50.00/$69.00. 233 pp.
According to the editors, the importance of diplomacy in contributing to the overall effectiveness of US foreign policy has been underestimated in the United States by governments, foreign-policy practitioners and academics alike. Contributors look at both the potential and the limitations of American diplomacy for strengthening world peace and security.
American Empire: The Rise of a Global Power – the Democratic Revolution at Home, 1945–2000
Joshua B. Freeman. New York: Viking, 2012. $36.00. 530 pp.
Freeman, a historian, presents a history of America’s evolution into a world power, examining the country’s post-war expansion and how its success at home led to cultural, political and technological influence abroad.
The Betrayal of the American Dream
Donald L. Bartlett and James B. Steele. London and New York: PublicAffairs, 2012. £17.99/$26.99. 288 pp.
The authors argue that actions carried out by a ‘ruling elite’ of companies and individuals in Washington and on Wall Street – including outsourcing by major companies, unfair trade practices, a tax regime that favours the wealthy, and deregulation – have systematically ruined America’s middle class.
The Bush Leadership, the Power of Ideas and the War on Terror
David B. Macdonald, Dirk Nabers and Robert G. Patman, eds. Farnham: Ashgate, 2012. £55.00/$99.95. 207 pp.
Ten contributors examine the role played by the leadership of President George W. Bush and by his administration’s stated belief in the ‘power of ideas’ in shaping the ‘war on terror’ and the post-9/11 foreign policy of the United States more generally.
The Cause: The Fight for American Liberalism from Franklin Roosevelt to Barack Obama
Eric Alterman and Kevin Mattson. New York: Viking, 2012. £21.99/$32.95. 561 pp.
Liberalism has been a ‘central force’ in post-war America, say the authors, but its adherents have sometimes suffered from a tendency to ‘overpromise and underperform’. This volume tracks both the achievements and the missteps of the American liberal movement from the New Deal through to the present.
Dangerous Convictions: What’s Really Wrong with the U.S. Congress
Tom Allen. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013. £15.99/$24.99. 236 pp.
Using the 2011 debt-ceiling crisis as a case study, Allen explores the strict bipolarisation of Congress. He posits that political debates between Democrats and Republicans are characterised by ultimately incompatible world views, and that the Republican preference for ‘smaller government, lower taxes’ is an ideological barrier to tackling the challenges of the twenty-first century.
Elusive Victories: The American Presidency at War
Andrew J. Polsky. New York: Oxford University Press, 2012. $29.95. 445 pp.
Polsky looks at how seven US presidents – Abraham Lincoln, Woodrow Wilson, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, George W. Bush and Barack Obama – have exercised their powers as commander-in-chief, concluding that, while each man’s approach to war differed, all faced constrained choices and unforeseen consequences.
The Fall of the US Empire: Global Fault-Lines and the Shifting Imperial Order
Vassilis K. Fouskas and Bülent Gökay. London: Pluto Press, 2012. £17.99/$28.00. 196 pp.
Casting the United States as an empire, the authors present reasons why it appears to be in decline, including its failures in Iraq and Afghanistan; the ‘great recession’ and the excessive ‘financialisation’ of its economy; and the effects of resource depletion and environmental degradation.
From Jeremiad to Jihad: Religion, Violence, and America
John Carlson and Jonathan Ebel, eds. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2012. £19.95/$29.95. 299 pp.
Observing that religion and violence have both been ‘central feature[s] of America’s history, culture, and standing in the world’, the contributors examine episodes in which the two were united: moments when religious violence helped to define American ‘ideas, institutions, and identities’.
Ira Stoll. New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013. $27.00. 276 pp.
Although US President John Kennedy is a liberal hero, Stoll argues that, by the standards of both his time and our own, the Democrat was a conservative; his two great causes were anti-communism and economic growth.
Mr. President: How and Why the Founders Created a Chief Executive
Ray Raphael. New York: Knopf, 2012. $27.95. 324 pp.
This study looks at how the office of the president was created, despite early misgivings among the Founding Fathers about concentrating executive powers in the hands of a single individual. The office quickly became more powerful and more partisan than the founders ever intended, argues Raphael.
Peerless and Periled: The Paradox of American Leadership in the World Economic Order
Kati Suominen. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2012. £30.95/$35.00. 312 pp.
Do the results of the financial crisis signal the end of America’s global leadership? According to Suominen, the answer is no: there is still no viable alternative to the US-built and -sustained global financial order. That said, the country must do more to correct serious imbalances both at home and abroad.
Planning Reagan’s War: Conservative Strategists and America’s Cold War Victory
Francis H. Marlo. Washington DC: Potomac Books, 2012. £18.99/$29.95. 242 pp.
Drawing on recently declassified documents and interviews with former White House officials, Marlo looks at President Ronald Reagan’s Cold War grand strategy, examining its intellectual roots, its key priorities and its role in undermining the Soviet state. He asks what lessons it holds for the contemporary struggle against global terrorism.
Presidents and Civil Liberties from Wilson to Obama: A Story of Poor Custodians
Samuel Walker. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012. £70.00/$115.00. 546 pp.
Walker looks at how America’s presidents have approached civil liberties, examining First Amendment rights, due process, racial justice, women’s rights, gay rights and national-security issues. Walker argues that not only have presidents been poor champions of civil liberties, some have in fact been the worst violators of these liberties.
Sound the Trumpet: The United States and Human Rights Promotion
Lawrence J. Haas. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2012. $39.95. 181 pp.
In this history of US efforts to promote human rights, Haas looks at how a succession of governments since the Second World War have attempted to advance freedom and democracy around the world. While these efforts have not always been successful, Haas concludes that the world is still a better place because of them.
Spying in America: Espionage from the Revolutionary War to the Dawn of the Cold War
Michael J. Sulick. Washington DC: Georgetown University Press, 2012. $26.95. 304 pp.
The author, a former director of the CIA’s clandestine service, recounts the stories of dozens of American and foreign spies who have helped other countries uncover key US secrets, thus illuminating the evolution of American espionage and counter-espionage.
Twilight of the Elites: America After Meritocracy
Christopher Hayes. New York: Crown Publishers, 2012. $26.00. 292 pp.
Meritocracy may seem like a fair social system, says Hayes, but in the United States, meritocratic structures have accelerated inequality, heightened the ‘social distance’ between the country’s elites and the rest of the population, and produced corruption, failure and distrust. The time has come to work for a new ‘Era of Equality’, he concludes.
The Twilight War: The Secret History of America’s Thirty-Year War with Iran
David Crist. New York: Penguin, 2012. $18.00. 638 pp.
Crist notes that the US and Iran have been engaged in a secret war since the Islamic Revolution, revealing new information about the contentious relationship between the two countries, including secret negotiations in the wake of 9/11, and Iran’s quest for nuclear technology.
Who Stole the American Dream?
Hedrick Smith. New York: Random House, 2012. $30.00. 624 pp.
Smith isolates the factors over the last four decades that he believes have led to the ‘dismantling’ of the American Dream. He argues that laws and policy changes have made it difficult for ordinary citizens to stay afloat and have transferred wealth from the middle class to banks, thereby stunting economic growth.
Politics and International Relations
Accelerating Democracy: Transforming Governance Through Technology
John O. McGinnis. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2013. £19.95/$29.95. 213 pp.
McGinnis argues that democracies have always used the technology of their times to gather information for better governance. He suggests that this task is more urgent today because of the rapid rate at which technology advances, and the potential dangers it poses.
The Challenges of Intra-Party Democracy
William P. Cross and Richard S. Katz, eds. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013. £50.00/$99.00. 224 pp.
Although intra-party democracy is viewed as a normative good, there is no single or uniformly preferred form. The authors argue that different versions result from choices made for the purposes of organising and dividing power internally.
Common Goods and Evils? The Formation of Global Crime Governance
Anja P. Jakobi. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013. £55.00/$85.00. 336 pp.
Growth in the number of global regulations, and in the international organisations behind them, indicates that global crime governance is becoming an important component of world politics. Jakobi examines data covering the similarities and differences in crime governance around the world and asserts that, contrary to popular belief, it is most successful when distanced from normative arguments.
The Democracy Project. A History. A Crisis. A Movement.
David Graeber. London: Allen Lane, 2013. £14.99. 330 pp.
Graeber, an anthropologist who was involved with the earliest protests of the Occupy movement, explores the origins, aims and activities of the movement, arguing that it represents a crucial challenge to the existing order.
Development, Security, and Aid: Geopolitics and Geo-economics at the US Agency for International Development
Jamey Essex. Athens, GA: The University of Georgia Press, 2013. $24.99. 200 pp.
A study of the US Agency for International Development in which Essex explores the tension between the organisation’s humanitarian efforts and its mandate to advance American foreign policy.
Diplomatic Sites: A Critical Enquiry
Iver B. Neumann. London: C. Hurst & Co., 2012. £15.99. 190 pp.
Neumann investigates the reality behind diplomatic sites, noting that while diplomacy increasingly takes place in non-Western settings, debates on diplomacy still centre on traditional points of contact, such as the conference table, press conference or ministerial offices.
Global Security Upheaval: Armed Nonstate Groups Usurping State Stability Functions
Robert Mandel. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2013. £29.95/$32.50. 288 pp.
Mandel contends that central governments are not the sole, nor even the most important, source of a nation’s stability. Instead, he argues that subnational and transnational non-state forces are a major source of global insecurity, and calls on officials to adopt an ‘emergent actor’ approach to stable governance.
Gridlock: Why Global Cooperation is Failing When We Need It Most
Thomas Hale et al. Cambridge: Polity, 2013. £17.99/$26.95. 357 pp.
The challenges of global governance are considerable and a ‘gridlock’ has developed in global policymaking, according to this volume. The contributors explain the problems of cooperation and agreement today, and provide possible ways to solve them.
Justice for Earthlings: Essays in Political Philosophy
David Miller. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012. £55.00/$95.00. 260 pp.
This volume explores how conceptions of justice have developed as societies have become more multicultural. Arguing that philosophy has mostly ignored these developments, the contributors examine the influence of cultural constraints on individuals’ choices.
Mediation and Liberal Peacebuilding: Peace From the Ashes of War?
Mikael Eriksson and Roland Kostić, eds. Abingdon: Routledge, 2013. £80.00/$135.00. 195 pp.
Drawing on case studies including Bosnia-Herzegovina, Afghanistan, Sudan and Sierra Leone, this volume examines the theories, practices and consequences of Western ‘liberal’ models of peacebuilding. The negotiation and implementation phases of interventions are assessed, as well as the political motives behind them.
Peacebuilding and International Administration: The Cases of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo
Niels van Willigen. Abingdon: Routledge, 2013. £80.00/$135.00. 248 pp.
Van Willigen analyses the role and effectiveness of international administrations in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo, claiming that these administrations have not succeeded in strengthening political institutions, leaving them reliant on international support and dominated by an ethnic-nationalist ideology.
Recovering International Relations: The Promise of Sustainable Critique
Daniel J. Levine. New York: Oxford University Press, 2012. £60.00/$99.00. 352 pp.
This book analyses key divides in modern international relations, exploring the limitations and strengths of competing approaches. Levine provides a detailed history of the development of the discipline, drawing on the sociological work of the Frankfurt School in particular.
War, Conflict and the Military
Aid, Insurgencies and Conflict Transformation: When Greed is Good
Rob Kevlihan. Abingdon: Routledge, 2013. £80.00. 152 pp.
Kevlihan explores the impact of aid on intra-state conflict, challenging the widely accepted idea that it prolongs civil wars. The author focuses his research on Northern Ireland, Sudan and Tajikistan, concluding that insurgents’ attempts to benefit from aid and social services have lessened conflicts in the long-term.
America’s Black Sea Fleet: The U.S. Navy Amidst War and Revolution, 1919–1923
Robert Shenk. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press 2012. 400 pp.
Shenk details the activities of the United States’ Black Sea Fleet in the aftermath of the First World War, including its role in several humanitarian and diplomatic crises. The author discusses the role of the Admiralty in diplomatic affairs in the region, exploring an under-researched area of naval history.
At War in Distant Waters: British Colonial Defense in the Great War
Phillip G. Pattee. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 2013. £30.00/$59.95. 288 pp.
Pattee examines Britain’s strategy to defend its maritime commerce during the First World War, arguing that what seemed to be minor sideshows in distant waters may in fact have been key to its naval strategy.
The Battle of Midway: The Naval Institute Guide to the Battle of Midway
Thomas C. Hone. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 2013. £30.95/$38.95. 384 pp.
This anthology pulls together accounts by individuals who fought on both sides of the battle of Midway, including memoirs, articles, excerpts from other Naval Institute books and relevant government documents. The core of the book focuses on events leading up to the battle and the battle itself, with a separate section examining how others have interpreted the battle’s engagements.
China’s War with Japan 1937–1945
Rana Mitter. London: Allen Lane, 2013. £25.00. 458 pp.
Mitter observes that with rising tensions in the South China Sea, few analysts have explored the ‘unfinished business’ between Japan and China dating back to 1945. He concludes that China’s war with Japan is crucial to understanding the rise of modern China.
Civil–Military Relations and Shared Responsibility: A Four-Nation Study
Dale R. Herspring. Baltimore, MD: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2013. £34.00/$65.00. 368 pp.
Through his observations of the military organisations of the United States, Russia, Germany and Canada, Herspring concludes that the optimal form of civil–military relations is one of shared responsibility between the two groups.
Clausewitz and Contemporary War
Antulio J. Echevarria II. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013. £22.99/$40.00. 224 pp.
Based on the belief that grasping Clausewitz’s methodology is key to understanding his central work, On War, Echevarria details the purposes and methodology behind the classic text, before applying its teachings to the debates surrounding the nature of contemporary conflict.
The Combat Soldier: Infantry Tactics and Cohesion in the Twentieth and Twenty-First Centuries
Anthony King. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013. £65.00/£125.00. 538 pp.
King examines the social aspects of cohesion in infantry units in combat. Comparing differing approaches to creating cohesion, King traces the transformation of Western warfare and examines wider processes of change in the armed forces and civilian society.
Conflict Resolution and Human Needs: Linking Theory and Practice
Kevin Avruch and Christopher Mitchell, eds. Abingdon: Routledge, 2013. £80.00/$135.00. 264 pp.
As a study of ‘basic human needs’ theory and interactive problem-solving, this book examines how these theories may affect peace building in current and future conflicts. It is divided into two parts: ‘Basic Human Needs in Theory’ and ‘Basic Human Needs in Practice’.
Costly Democracy: Peacebuilding & Democratization After War
Christoph Zürcher et al. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2013. £33.95/$40.00. 189 pp.
The authors examine the relationship between peace builders and domestic elites when discussing the establishment of democracy. Using Afghanistan, Bosnia, Rwanda, Timor, Namibia, Mozambique and Tajikistan as case studies, they suggest that the interests of both parties often coincide but rarely align.
Dirty Wars: The World is a Battlefield
Jeremy Scahill. London: Serpent’s Tail, 2013. £15.99. 646 pp.
Drawing on evidence from Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia and beyond, investigative journalist Jeremy Scahill seeks to expose America’s covert foreign policy, looking at elite military units that operate both globally and domestically on direct orders from the White House.
Exit Strategies and State-Building
Richard Kaplan, ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012. £22.50. 337 pp.
Contributors analyse current and past cases of force withdrawals following intervention and post-conflict rebuilding, considering the critical questions arising from the ‘end stage’ of state-building and military and political intervention. They note that states and institutions have devoted considerable resources to such missions in the last few decades.
Healing the Wounded Giant: Maintaining Military Pre-eminence While Cutting the Defense Budget
Michael E. O’Hanlon. Washington DC: Brookings Institution Press, 2013. £19.95. 120 pp.
O’Hanlon considers how best to balance national security and fiscal responsibility during times of economic stress in the United States, and argues that the defence cuts resulting from prolonged sequestration or deficit-reduction plans would be too deep.
Logics of War: Explanations for Limited and Unlimited Conflicts
Alex Weisiger. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2013. £27.95/$45.00. 320 pp.
While most wars end quickly and at a relatively low cost, some high-intensity wars continue for long periods and bring about a disproportionate amount of death and suffering. Weisiger tests three explanations for a nation’s decision to go to war and to continue fighting at all costs.
Military Engagement: Influencing Armed Forces Worldwide to Support Democratic Transitions (Volume I: Overview & Action Plan; Volume II: Regional & Country Studies)
Dennis Blair, ed. Washington DC: Brookings Institution Press, 2013. £34.99/$49.95. 450 pp.
Arguing that established democracies can and should assist countries governed by authoritarian regimes to achieve democratic governance, Blair presents a two-part guide to doing so. The first volume is a handbook for the armed forces of democratic nations, instructing them on the best ways to influence their military counterparts in authoritarian states. The second is a collection of national and regional case studies of military-assisted democratic transitions.
Military Medical Ethics for the 21st Century
Michael L. Gross and Don Carrick, eds. Surrey: Ashgate Publishing, 2013. £70.00/$124.95. 312 pp.
This study addresses the need to examine the theory and practice of military medical ethics as wars become more asymmetrical. Topics covered include medical neutrality and treatment of the wounded; enhancement technologies for war fighters; the potential risks of dual-use biotechnologies; and patient rights for active-duty personnel.
Pirate Alley: Commanding Task Force 151 Off Somalia
Terry McKnight and Michael Hirsh. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 2012. $29.95/£22.50. 233 pp.
Rear Admiral Terry McKnight provides an account of operations in the Gulf of Aden in 2009, which disrupted several hijackings and resulted in the capture of 16 pirates. The authors also offer potential solutions and ideas for a comprehensive strategy to combat Somali piracy.
Providing Peacekeepers: The Politics, Challenges, and Future of United Nations Peacekeeping Contributions
Alex J. Bellamy and Paul D. Williams, eds. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013. £65.00/$125.00. 512 pp.
The authors seek to explain why states contribute forces to UN missions and to identify those factors that inhibit them from doing more. The book includes 16 case studies and ultimately offers recommendations for how the UN could recruit more peacekeepers.
Proxy Warfare and the Future of Conflict
Andrew Mumford. Cambridge: Polity Press, 2013. £14.99/$19.95. 180 pp.
Mumford examines the phenomenon of proxy warfare from the Cold War to the ‘war on terror’, presenting a framework to explain its appeal. He argues that proxy warfare is increasingly relevant to contemporary security.
Routledge Handbook of Ethics and War: Just War Theory in the Twenty-First Century
Fritz Allhoff, Nicholas G. Evans and Adam Henschke, eds. Abingdon: Roudledge, 2013. £125.00. 418 pp.
Intended as a comprehensive overview of contemporary interpretations of and alternatives to the Just War tradition, this volume examines how the four elements of Just War theory – jus ad bellum, jus ad bello, the state actor and the soldier – are affected by new debates and developments in the field.
The Soldier and the Changing State: Building Democratic Armies in Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Americas
Zoltan Barany. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2012. £19.95/$29.95. 456 pp.
Contending that building armies supportive of democratic governance is the ‘quintessential task’ of newly democratising regimes, Barany looks at 27 specific cases, including countries recovering from war and civil war, and those emerging from colonial or apartheid-style regimes, to determine which factors help to support the development of democratic armies.
Transnational Dynamics of Civil War
Jeffrey T. Checkel, ed. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013. £55.00/$95.00. 306 pp.
This book explores the transnational aspects of civil wars by bringing together analyses from international-relations theory, sociology and transnational politics. The contributors highlight the causal mechanisms that link international and local issues, and the methods required to measure these connections.
Jan Mieszkowski. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2012. £21.50/$24.95. 244 pp.
The unique character of modern war is a result as much of imagined experiences as it is of real events, argues Mieszkowski. He observes that, since the Napoleonic period, battles have become so large that they can ‘only be grasped in the imagination’.