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.
Steven ErlangerLondon bureau chief of the New York Times
Germany matters, so in combination: Germany: Memories of a Nation by Neil MacGregor, with wonderful illustrations and insight, based on the British Museum exhibition; and Reluctant Meister: How Germany’s Past is Shaping its European Future by Stephen Green.
Preparation for the Next Life by Atticus Lish. A deeply moving and deeply reported novel about an illegal Chinese immigrant and an Iraqi war veteran, struggling to make a life in the far boroughs of New York City.
Home Country (United States)
The Harder They Come by T. C. Boyle. A great novel of Californian and American obsessions with independence, the wilderness, and violence—but with a weak title, presumably derived from the Jimmy Cliff movie.
Not so guilty, but the novels of Kent Haruf, who recently died, about the people of a Colorado town of the imagination. Especially Plainsong and Benediction.
Mark LeonardCo-founder and director of the European Council on Foreign Relations
China’s Second Continent: How a Million Migrants Are Building a New Empire in Africa by Howard French. This is an amazing story about the million or more Chinese settlers who are remaking the African continent and pioneering a new model of globalization. That model is defined not by the West but by Chinese entrepreneurs, banks, and construction companies who roam the planet in search of outlets for their money and goods and the markets and raw materials needed to sustain China’s growth.
The Map and the Territory by Michel Houellebecq. The map is more interesting than the territory according to the protagonist in this typically cynical tome by one of France’s most controversial authors. The book provides a sobering picture of the future available to European countries such as France in a world where economic and military power are moving elsewhere.
Home Country (United Kingdom)
The China-Pakistan Axis: Asia’s New Geopolitics by Andrew Small. With America withdrawing from Afghanistan and China launching its monumentally ambitious Silk Road projects, Small’s remarkable book could not be more topical. It shines a light on China’s most intense and secretive relationship, which was forged in the Cold War but which now offers the prospect of helping China move from being a regional to a global power by building a series of ports, pipelines, and other connections with the rest of the world.
Radosław SikorskiFormer Polish foreign minister
The Great Powers and Poland, 1919–1945: From Versailles to Yalta by Jan Karski. The Polish courier who told U.S. president Franklin D. Roosevelt about the Holocaust was also a considerable scholar.
Scoop by Evelyn Waugh. Every war reporter’s must-read on how to grab your readers’ attention.
Home Country (Poland)
Madame by Antoni Libera. A brilliant rendering of an anti-Communist childhood in Communist Poland.
Lucky Bastard by Charles McCarry. A spoof of a political thriller with a testosterone overdose.