Time for Strategic Europe’s annual summer reading suggestions! Carnegie Europe has asked a cross-section of diplomats, policymakers, and analysts to share their favorite books. The full selection of reading lists is available here.
Sandro GoziItalian minister for European affairs
The Anarchical Society: A Study of Order in World Politics by Hedley Bull. The strength of this book is that Bull wrote it when the world was bipolar, but the analysis fits perfectly nowadays, in a multipolar scenario. The anarchical society, one of the outstanding works of the English School of international relations, represents a precious attempt to combine order and cooperation at the international level—a lesson that is still extremely crucial in the current world.
American Pastoral by Philip Roth. In my opinion, the highest level reached by Roth. The rise and fall of a family and a society, described by Roth’s mastery at its best, beginning with the astonishing opening words: “The Swede.”
Home Country (Italy)
Bar Sport (Sports Bar) by Stefano Benni. A forty-year-old book that will make you laugh from the first to the last page. The Italian society that lives in the Bar Sport doesn’t exist anymore, but some of its characters—in a mix of irony, humanity, and curiosity—still live in our collective imagination.
What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami. Given that I am a runner, with the experience of several marathons, I could not exclude this formidable essay by Murakami. In this book, you can feel all the passion that comes from running amid day-to-day struggles.
Ryan HeathSenior EU correspondent at Politico Europe
The Churchill Factor: How One Man Made History by Boris Johnson. No one writes better about politics, and no one mattered more in politics.
Wild Things by Brigid Delaney. There are deep, unpleasant racial and class undercurrents in most societies—mix them in with the rashness of youth, and you can get a nasty cocktail.
Home Country (Australia)
Barracuda by Christos Tsiolkas. The author of The Slap kept me turning the pages during the last Australian summer as he depicted an outsider’s struggle to rise and detailed the surprising choices he makes after he falls.
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. It’s better than the movie, and it’s great for that rainy day when you can’t go to the beach.
Dominik JankowskiChief specialist for crisis management at the Security Policy Department of the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs
War of Necessity, War of Choice: A Memoir of Two Iraq Wars by Richard N. Haass. Since 2014, another war in Iraq has been looming. Yet, it is still not clear in the West whether one should treat it as a war of necessity or a war of choice. This book could serve as a much-needed political and military compass.
L’art français de la guerre (The French Art of War) by Alexis Jenni. This Goncourt Prize–winning novel not only dissects France’s colonial past and its wars in Indochina and Algeria but also serves as a secret passage to understanding the current European challenges with multiculturalism.
Home Country (Poland)
Obłęd ’44 (The Madness of ’44) by Piotr Zychowicz. A very controversial book for Poles. It formulates a hypothesis that the 1944 Warsaw Uprising was a disastrous political and military mistake for Poland and a strategic gift for the Soviet Union. Still, Zychowicz analyzes in a fascinating way the political decisionmaking process in times of war.
Le printemps des Arabes (The Spring of the Arabs) by Jean-Pierre Filiu and Cyrille Pomès. Is there a better way to portray a revolution of a generation of young Arabs who redefined the use of social media and rediscovered youth for international relations than to do so in a comic book? #AdultsReadComicBooks #YoungGenerationPower
Jan TechauDirector of Carnegie Europe
Germany: Memories of a Nation by Neil MacGregor. Britain’s foremost museum genius and history story teller delivers a lighthearted yet deeply erudite inquiry into what made Germany the nation it is today. Highly relevant for those interested in today’s tricky European affairs.
The Yiddish Policemen’s Union by Michael Chabon. What if the Jewish homeland had been founded in Sitka, Alaska, not in the Holy Land? What if the lease on that territory were about to expire? I am rereading this mock-hard-boiled, dystopian story about murder, redemption, and American-Yiddish culture this summer because it had a strange, lasting grip on me when I first read it years ago.
Home Country (Germany)
Vormacht wider Willen (Unsought Dominance) by Stephan Bierling. Hands down the best analysis of Germany’s newfound importance as a foreign policy power, and of the domestic and external factors that shape its actions.
Confessions of an Art Addict by Peggy Guggenheim. This chatty, bubbly, entirely unconventional and hugely fascinating autobiography of the famous art collector, who was a truly independent, larger-than-life character, still has lots of freshness more than fifty years after its first publication. It is also, of course, a treasure for anyone in love with Venice.