Books to choose from for the book review



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Books to choose from for the book review
Charles Tilly & Sidney Tarrow (2007): Contentious Politics (Paradigm Publishers)
Revolutions, social movements, religious and ethnic conflict, nationalism and civil rights, and transnational movements: these forms of contentious politics combine in Charles Tilly's and Sidney Tarrow's Contentious Politics. The book presents a set of analytical tools and procedures for study, comparison, and explanation of these very different sorts of contention. Drawing on many historical and contemporary cases, the book shows that similar principles describe and explain a wide variety of struggles as well as many more routine forms of politics. Tilly and Tarrow have written the book to introduce readers to an exciting new program of political and sociological analysis.

Cynthia Cockburn (2012): Antimilitarism: Political and Gender Dynamics of Peace Movements (Palgrave Macmillan)


People come together in movements to end war from many political traditions. They are socialists, communists and anarchists, people of a variety of faiths, secularists, pacifists and feminists. They share a belief that peace is possible, but have divergent views on the causes of militarism and strategies to end it.

As both peace activist and social researcher, Cynthia Cock...morePeople come together in movements to end war from many political traditions. They are socialists, communists and anarchists, people of a variety of faiths, secularists, pacifists and feminists. They share a belief that peace is possible, but have divergent views on the causes of militarism and strategies to end it.

As both peace activist and social researcher, Cynthia Cockburn is well placed to ask, 'How coherent and cohesive are we?' The book presents original case studies of anti-war, anti-militarist and peace movements in Japan, South Korea, Spain, Uganda and the UK, of international networks against military conscription and the proliferation of guns, and of singular campaigns addressing aggression against Palestinians and the expansion of NATO. The stand-alone chapters make ideal course readings.

Scanning the political spectrum, but always with a gender lens, the author carefully uncovers the movements' many tensions and antagonisms, looking for the source of alliance that may make of these and a multitude of other groups, organizations and networks worldwide an unstoppable movement for change. Between the nihilist view that violence is inevitable and the utopian belief in the possibility of a violence-free world is an achievable goal of violence reduction, both in times of war and in times called peace. Violence is, much more often than we think, a choice.


Dambisa Moyo (2012): Winner Take All: China's Race for Resources and What It Means for the World


Commodities permeate virtually every aspect of modern daily living, but for all their importance—their breadth, their depth, their intricacies, and their central role in daily life—few people who are not economists or traders know how commodity markets work. Almost every day, newspaper headlines and media commentators scream warnings of impending doom--shortages of arable...moreCommodities permeate virtually every aspect of modern daily living, but for all their importance—their breadth, their depth, their intricacies, and their central role in daily life—few people who are not economists or traders know how commodity markets work. Almost every day, newspaper headlines and media commentators scream warnings of impending doom--shortages of arable land, clashes over water, and political conflict as global demand for fossil fuels outstrips supply. The picture is bleak, but our grasp of the details and the macro shifts in commodities markets remain blurry. Winner Take All is about the commodity dynamics that the world will face over the next several decades. In particular, it is about the implications of China’s rush for resources across all regions of the world. The scale of China’s resource campaign for hard commodities (metals and minerals) and soft commodities (timber and food) is among the largest in history. Although still in its early stages, already the breadth of China’s operation is awesome, and seemingly unstoppable. China’s global charge for commodities is a story of China’s quest to secure its claims on resource assets, and to guarantee the flow of inputs needed to continue to drive economic development. Moyo, an expert in global commodities markets, explains the implications of China’s resource grab in a world of diminishing resources

Emil Souleimanov (2013): Understanding Ethnopolitical Conflict: Karabakh, South Ossetia, and Abkhazia Wars Reconsidered


This book seeks to explore the relevance of major theoretical and methodological approaches currently dominating the field of ethnic conflict and civil war research, testing their efficacy by applying them to three major South Caucasus conflicts of the late 1980s and early 1990s.
Souleimanov explores the causes and dynamics of ethnic conflict and civil war, distinguishing between onset-based and process-based theories. He introduces a scheme of periodization which links the phase of low-scale inter-ethnic violence with the phase of sustainable organized violence, asserting the crucial importance of elites and their use of opportunity in power asymmetry as a key factor in instigating full-scale civil war.
As a merger of theoretical and empiricist approaches, this book focuses on the case-specific contextual richness of the local conflicts in Karabakh, Abkhazia, and South Ossetia to draw solid theoretical conclusions as well as providing suggestions for the improvement of current theories.
Gabrielle Rifkind & Giandomenico Picco (2014): The fog of peace: the human face of conflict resolution NEW
Institutions do not decide whom to destroy or to kill, whether to make peace or war; those decisions are the responsibility of individuals. This book argues that the most important aspect of conflict resolution is for antagonists to understand their opponents as individuals, their ambitions, their pains, the resentments that condition their thinking and the traumas they do not fully themselves grasp. Gabrielle Rifkind and Giandomenico Picco here present two very different experiences of international relations - Rifkind as a psychotherapist now immersed in the politics of the Middle East, and Picco as a career diplomat with a long and successful record as a negotiator at the UN.Developing links between psychology and politics, the authors explore what lies behind the aggressive façade of negotiations and how, underneath the mask, there is a human being. Should we talk to the enemy? What happens if the protagonists are nasty and brutish, tempting policy-makers to retaliate? How do nations find the capacity not to hit back, trapping themselves in endless cycles of violence? Presenting a unique combination of psychological theories, geopolitical realities and first-hand peace-making experience, this book sheds new light on some of the worst conflicts in the modern world and demonstrates, above all, how empathy can often be far more persuasive than the most fearsome weapons. By exploring the question of intervention versus non-intervention, and examining how the changing nature of warfare and technology has both armed the warmonger, whilst empowering the individual through social media, this is a highly topical, comprehensive overview on international diplomacy and the complexities of peace-making.


Henry F. Carey (2012): Privatizing the Democratic Peace: Policy Dilemmas of NGO Peacebuilding (Palgrave Macmillan)


NGOs have become one of the main instruments in building peace, especially as UN sanctioned peacekeeping missions begin to streamline or withdraw from countries and bilateral peacekeeping sponsored by powerful states. During the last three decades, the UN has relied more and more on NGOs and sub-contractors in peacebuilding. The greater the number of multidimensional challenges and dilemmas that emerge for these NGOs, the more are the sponsoring governments and intergovernmental organizations and host states directly affected by these transitional efforts. Henry F. Carey analyzes the difficult choices, consequences and lessons learned from the UN and foreign governments commissioning NGOs and other subcontractors working on six peacebuilding policy goals: reconciliation, security, human rights, the rule of law, foreign aid, and election monitoring. The study examines the effects of the UN and powerful states increasingly relying on NGO peacebuilding in diverse cases like Bosnia, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Haiti, Liberia, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Sudan, the Philippines, Chechnya, Iraq, Pakistan, and Afghanistan.

Isak Svensson (2012): Ending Holy Wars: Religion and Conflict Resolution in Civil Wars


Ending Holy Wars: Religion and Conflict Resolution in Internal Armed Conflicts explores how religious dimensions affect the possibilities for conflict resolution in civil war. This is the first book that systematically tries to map out the religious dimensions of internal armed conflicts and explain the conditions under which religious dimensions impede peaceful settlement. It draws upon empirical work on global data, based on the Uppsala Conflict Data Program (UCDP), and complements this quantitative data with several smaller case studies (Sri Lanka, Philippines and Indonesia).
The book shows how religious identities and incompatibilities influence the likelihood of agreements and the mechanisms through which parties and third-party mediators have been able to overcome religious obstacles to negotiated settlements. These findings pave the way for a discussion on how conflict theory can better incorporate religious dimensions, as well as how policy can be designed to manage religious dimensions in armed conflicts.

Jeni Whalan (2014): How peace operations work: power, legitimacy, and effectiveness. NEW


This book proposes a new approach to studying the effectiveness of peace operations. In seeking to uncover how peace operations work, the approach offers five distinctive analytical contributions. First, it studies peace operations through a local lens, examining their interactions with actors in host societies rather than their genesis in the politics and institutions of the international realm. In doing so, it highlights the centrality of local compliance and cooperation to a peace operation’s effectiveness. Second, the book structures a framework for explaining how peace operations can shape the behaviour of local actors in order to obtain greater cooperation. That framework distinguishes three dimensions of a peace operation’s power—coercion, inducement, and legitimacy—and illuminates their effects. The third contribution is to highlight the contribution of local legitimacy to a peace operation’s effectiveness and identify the means by which an operation can be locally legitimized. Fourth, the new power–legitimacy framework is applied to study two peace operations in depth: the United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC), and the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI). Finally, the book concludes by examining the implications of this new approach for practice and identifying a set of policy reforms to help peace operations work better.
John Paul Lederach, Angela Jill Lederach (2011): When Blood and Bones Cry Out: Journeys Through the Soundscape of Healing and Reconciliation
Around the world, communities that have suffered the trauma of unspeakable violence – in Liberia, Somalia, West Africa, Colombia, and elsewhere – are struggling to recover and reconcile, searching for ways not just to survive but to heal.
In When Blood and Bones Cry Out, John Paul Lederach, a pioneer of peacebuilding, and his daughter, Angela Jill Lederach, show how communities can recover and reconnect through the power of making music, creating metaphors, and telling their extraordinary stories of suffering and survival.
Instead of relying on more common linear explanations of healing and reconciliation, the Lederachs demonstrate how healing is circular, dynamic, and continuing, even in the midst of ongoing violence. They explore the concept of "social healing," a profoundly important intermediary step between active warfare and reconciliation. Social healing focuses on the lived experience of those who have suffered protracted violence and their need to give voice to that experience, both individually and collectively. Giving voice, speaking the unspeakable, in words and sounds that echo throughout traumatized communities, can have enormous healing power.
Indeed, the Lederachs stress the remarkable effects of sound and vibration through tales of Tibetan singing bowls, Van Morrison's transcendent lyrics, the voices of mothers in West Africa, and their own personal journeys. They also include inspiring stories of transformation: a mass women's protest movement in Liberia that forces leaders to keep negotiating until a peace agreement is signed; elders in Somalia who walk between warring clans year after year to encourage dialogue; former child soldiers who run drum workshops and grow gardens in refugee camps; and rape victims in Sierra Leone who express their pain in poetry. With equal measures of insight and compassion, When Blood and Bones Cry Out offers a promising new approach to healing traumatized communities.
Kurt Schock (2004): Unarmed Insurrections: People Power Movements in Nondemocracies. University of Minnesota Press.
Kurt Schock compares, along with other examples, the successes of anti-apartheid in South Africa and the people power movement in the Philippines with the failures of the pro-democracy movement in China and the anti-regime challenge in Burma. Unarmed Insurrections looks at how these methods promoted change in some countries but not in others, and provides insight into the power of nonviolent action.

Maria Eriksson Baaz & Maria Stern (2013): Sexual Violence as a Weapon of War?: Perceptions, Prescriptions, Problems in the Congo and Beyond (Zed books).


Too often in conflict situations rape is referred to as a "weapon of war" - a term presented as self-explanatory. In this provocative book, Baaz and Stern challenge the dominant understandings of sexual violence in conflict and post-conflict settings. Drawing upon original fieldwork in the Democratic Republic of Congo, as well as research material from other conflict zones, the authors emphasize the importance of context and the multiplicity of factors involved in gender-based violence, such as the nature of civilian-military relations, and ultimately argue that it is misleading to isolate sexual violence from other aspects of conflict. A much-anticipated book by two acknowledged experts in the field dealing with an issue that has become an increasingly important security and legal topic.

Mary B. Anderson & Marshall Wallace (2012): Opting Out of War: Strategies to Prevent Violent Conflict (Lynne Rienner).


How do ordinary people, neither pacifists nor peace activists, come to decide collectively to eschew violent conflict and then develop strategies for maintaining their region as a nonwar area despite myriad pressures to the contrary? Mary Anderson and Marshall Wallace analyze the experiences of thirteen nonwar communities that made conscious and effective choices not to engage in the fighting that surrounded them. Tracing the steps that these communities took, the strategies that evolved in each setting in response to local circumstances, the authors find lessons, as well, with broader relevance for international efforts to prevent violent conflict.
Mary H Kaldor & Shannon D Beebe (2010): The Ultimate Weapon is No Weapon. Human Security and the New Rules of War and Peace
This title presents a unique combination of British academic and pacifist and American Lt Colonel with background in political science who develop a shared concept of the nature of violence in the 21st century, and a programme for how to make populations threatened by military, economic, and social upheaval feel secure. The twenty-first century has seen millions unemployed. It has seen livelihoods undermined by environmental degradation. Middle-class cities in Europe, Asia, and Africa have become cauldrons of violence and resentment. Tribalism, ethnic nationalism, and religious fundamentalism have flared dangerously, from Russia to Spain. The use of force is unlikely to help. What works when counter-insurgency has run its course: in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and beyond? In this book, two authors brought together from distant points on the political spectrum by their concerns about the repercussions of violent political conflict on human lives, explain and explore a new idea for stabilising the dangerous neighborhoods of the world. They challenge head-on Condoleezza Rice's declaration that 'it is not the job of the 82nd Airborne Division to escort kids to kindergarten' contending that, in fact, it should be. When marginalized populations are trapped in poverty and lawlessness and denied political power and justice brutality, and fascism thrive. Human security is a new concept for clarifying what peace requires and the policies and priorities by which to achieve it.
Nevin Aiken (2013): Identity, reconciliation and transitional justice: overcoming intractability in divided societies. NEW
Building upon an interdisciplinary synthesis of recent literature from the fields of transitional justice and conflict transformation, this book introduces a groundbreaking theoretical framework that highlights the critical importance of identity in the relationship between transitional justice and reconciliation in deeply divided societies. Using this framework, Aiken argues that transitional justice interventions will be successful in promoting reconciliation and sustainable peace to the extent that they can help to catalyze those crucial processes of 'social learning' needed to transform the antagonistic relationships and identifications that divide post-conflict societies even after the signing of formal peace agreements. Combining original field research and an extensive series of expert interviews, Aiken applies this social learning model in a comprehensive examination of both the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the uniquely 'decentralized' approach to transitional justice that has emerged in Northern Ireland. By offering new insight into the experiences of these countries, Aiken provides compelling firsthand evidence to suggest that transitional justice interventions can best contribute to post-conflict reconciliation if they not only provide truth and justice for past human rights abuses, but also help to promote contact, dialogue and the amelioration of structural and material inequalities between former antagonists. Identity, Reconciliation and Transitional Justice makes a timely contribution to debates about how to best understand and address past human rights violations in post-conflict societies.
Noam Chomsky & Andre Vltchek (2013): On Western Terrorism: From Hiroshima to Drone Warfare
In On Western Terrorism Noam Chomsky, world renowned dissident intellectual, discusses Western power and propaganda with filmmaker and investigative journalist Andre Vltchek. The discussion weaves together a historical narrative with the two men's personal experiences which led them to a life of activism. The discussion includes personal memories, such as the New York newsstand where Chomsky began his political education, and broadens out to look at the shifting forms of imperial control and the Western propaganda apparatus. Along the way the discussion touches on many countries of which the authors have personal experience, from Nicaragua and Cuba, to China, Chile, Turkey and many more. A blast of fresh air which blows away the cobwebs of propaganda and deception, On Western Terrorism is a powerful critique of the West's role in the world which will inspire all those who read it to think independently and critically.

Patrick Porter (2009): Military orientalism: Eastern war through Western eyes. NEW


Porter (King's College, Univ. of London) provides rich accounts of how Western observers construct various biased understandings of the military cultures of Eastern societies. First, he argues, although accounts of another culture are prone to biases, some depictions are better than others and many depictions are not derogatory, as suggested by the theory of Orientalism. Second, though military culture plays a crucial role in shaping military actions, its impact is not deterministic, because a culture contains multiple, often incoherent, messages allowing actors to make strategic choices. The repertoire of military culture is also highly mutable because actors are capable of adopting more-effective strategies, including strategies of the enemy. Although the book's topic is limited to military culture, its implications are general, for they quite effectively challenge conventional cultural analyses that regard culture as a collection of coherent messages with deterministic power over social actors. Instead of simply labeling an observed social action as a cultural action, perhaps a better way of understanding the role of culture in social action is to explain why social actors act out some but not other parts of cultural messages.
Paul Amar (2013): The Security Archipelago: Human-Security States, Sexuality Politics, and the End of Neoliberalism
In The Security Archipelago, Paul Amar provides an alternative historical and theoretical framing of the refashioning of free-market states and the rise of humanitarian security regimes in the Global South by examining the pivotal, trendsetting cases of Brazil and Egypt. Addressing gaps in the study of neoliberalism and biopolitics, Amar describes how coercive security operations and cultural rescue campaigns confronting waves of resistance have appropriated progressive, antimarket discourses around morality, sexuality, and labor. The products of these struggles—including powerful new police practices, religious politics, sexuality identifications, and gender normativities—have traveled across an archipelago, a metaphorical island chain of what the global security industry calls "hot spots." Homing in on Cairo and Rio de Janeiro, Amar reveals the innovative resistances and unexpected alliances that have coalesced in new polities emerging from the Arab Spring and South America's Pink Tide. These have generated a shared modern governance model that he terms the "human-security state."

Paul Farmer (2004): Pathologies of Power: Health, Human Rights and the New War on the Poor


Pathologies of Power uses harrowing stories of life—and death—in extreme situations to interrogate our understanding of human rights. Paul Farmer, a physician and anthropologist with twenty years of experience working in Haiti, Peru, and Russia, argues that promoting the social and economic rights of the world’s poor is the most important human rights struggle of our times. With passionate eyewitness accounts from the prisons of Russia and the beleaguered villages of Haiti and Chiapas, this book links the lived experiences of individual victims to a broader analysis of structural violence. Farmer challenges conventional thinking within human rights circles and exposes the relationships between political and economic injustice, on one hand, and the suffering and illness of the powerless, on the other.
Farmer shows that the same social forces that give rise to epidemic diseases such as HIV and tuberculosis also sculpt risk for human rights violations. He illustrates the ways that racism and gender inequality in the United States are embodied as disease and death. Yet this book is far from a hopeless inventory of abuse. Farmer’s disturbing examples are linked to a guarded optimism that new medical and social technologies will develop in tandem with a more informed sense of social justice. Otherwise, he concludes, we will be guilty of managing social inequality rather than addressing structural violence. Farmer’s urgent plea to think about human rights in the context of global public health and to consider critical issues of quality and access for the world’s poor should be of fundamental concern to a world characterized by the bizarre proximity of surfeit and suffering

Richard J. Regan (2013): Just war: principles and cases NEW


Bringing Just War Doctrine to Life, Richard J. Regan raises difficult questions about the evils of war. First and foremost he asks whether war is ever justified, and, if so, for what purposes? Regan considers the basic principles of just war theory and applies those principles to historical and ongoing conflicts through case studies and discussion questions. His well-received 1996 work is updated with the addition of case studies on Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, and Islamist terrorist organizations. Regan considers the roles of the president, Congress, and the U.N. Security Council in determining when long-term U.S. military involvement is justified.

Vivienne Jabri (2010): War and the transformation of global politics (Palgrave Macmillan)


Late modern wars are legitimised through invocations of humanity; variously the rescue and protection of populations, the re-shaping of entire societies, and the re-constitution of the sphere of the international into a pacified cosmopolitan arena. Drawing on critical social and political thought, this book explores the implications of this legitimisation. It argues that these wars, often referred to as 'liberal', extend forms of exclusion and domination that make war a tool of control now articulated in global terms. In highlighting the domination of contemporary politics by discourses and practices that blur distinctions between war and peace, the international and the human, Jabri points to the dangers that lie at the heart of such practices. These dangers have implications not only for the liberal democratic state, but for the emergence of a global sphere of interaction based on mutual recognition.
Zohar Kampf & Tamar Liebes (2013): Transforming media coverage of violent conflicts: the new face of war NEW
Transforming Media Coverage of Violent Conflicts offers a fresh view of contemporary violent conflicts, suggesting an explanation to the dramatic changes in the ways in which war and terror are covered by Western media. It argues that viewers around the globe follow violent events, literally and metaphorically, on "wide" and "flat" screens, in "high-definition". The "wide-screen" means that at present the screen is wide enough to include new actors - terrorists, 'enemy' leaders, ordinary people in a range of roles, and journalists in the field - who have gained status of the kind that in the past was exclusive to editors, army generals and governmental actors. The "high-definition" metaphor means that the eye of the camera closes in on both traditional and new actors, probing their emotions, experiences and beliefs in ways that were irrelevant in past conflicts. The "flat-screen" metaphor stands for the consequences of the two former phenomena, leading to a loss of the hierarchy of the meanings of war. Paradoxically, the better the quality of viewing, the less the understanding of what we see. Through these metaphors, Kampf and Liebes systematically analyse changes in the practices, technologies, infrastructures and external institutional relationships of journalism.


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