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.
Kris BledowskiDirector of economic studies at the Manufacturers Alliance for Productivity and Innovation
Anders gemeinsam (Together but Differently) by Wolfgang Schäuble/Ulrich Wickert and Michel Sapin/Dominique Seux. A crisp, no-nonsense give-and-take on burning issues facing Europe—from refugees via Greece and ever-closer union to intricate domestic politics intelligible only to Germans. Set as a free-flowing conversation between the Germans and the French, the dialogue lays out how differently the two neighbors reason and articulate yet strive passionately to come to common conclusions.
Tales of Mystery and Imagination by Edgar Allan Poe. A collection of short stories that mix horror, mystery, and detective deduction, these gems are beautifully set in the English vernacular. I enjoyed the imaginative genius as much as the mastery of the language.
Home Country (Poland)
Priceless by Zygmunt Miłoszewski. A fast-paced thriller set in Communist-era Poland, this long narration mixes fiction and history to move the reader around the globe at breakneck speed. Think James Bond but with more cliff-hangers and faster speeds.
Canada-Québec : Synthèse historique, 1534–2000 (Canada-Quebec: Historical Summary, 1534–2000) by Jacques Lacoursière, Jean Provencher, and Denis Vaugeois. This massive history of lands that roughly correspond to Lower Canada is told through the eyes of French-Canadian historians. It remains refreshingly neutral in political tone, which gives the narrative credibility to a non-Canadian reader. A go-to reference for all those who are mystified by the province’s complicated politics and need a deeper backdrop.
Dalia Ghanem-YazbeckNonresident scholar at the Carnegie Middle East Center
I don’t know if we can consider it foreign policy, but I am reading ISIS: The State of Terror by Jessica Stern and J. M. Berger. The book explores how the self-proclaimed Islamic State is a 2.0 jihadist movement and how it has better know-how than any other group. A quote that can summarize the book is “If Al Qaeda was publicity shy . . . ISIS, in contrast, is a publicity whore.”
Les putes voilées n’iront jamais au Paradis ! (Veiled Whores Will Never Enter Heaven!) by Chahdortt Djavann. A powerful title for a powerful book. Between fiction and documentary, the book discusses the aberrations of the Sharia system in Iran and the prostitution of women (from all ages and all social categories), which is a social phenomenon and not an epiphenomenon.
Home Country (Algeria)
La dernière nuit du Raïs (The Last Night of the Raïs [President]) by Yasmina Khadra. An amazing and powerful book in which Khadra puts himself in the shoes of former Libyan strongman leader Muammar Qaddafi during his last night before his fall and lynching by an angry mob. A vertiginous plunge into the head of a man who did not see himself as a tyrant but as the father of a nation that was a bunch of tribes and that he reunited.
Listening to The Very Best of Marvin Gaye . . . and watching Game of Thrones.
Paul HaenleDirector of the Carnegie–Tsinghua Center for Global Policy
Dreadnought: Britain, Germany, and the Coming of the Great War by Robert K. Massie. While no comparison to Barbara Tuchman’s books on the same time period, Dreadnought provides a thorough look at the role of the British and German navies and monarchs in the great arms race that led to World War I, with relevant lessons for anyone studying current dynamics in the South China Sea.
To Live by Yu Hua. A recommendation by the Carnegie–Tsinghua Center’s government relations coordinator, Thena Li, this is the account of a Chinese man and his family’s experiences through four decades of modern Chinese history, shaped by political, cultural, and societal transformation.
Home Country (United States)
Destiny and Power: The American Odyssey of George Herbert Walker Bush by Jon Meacham. An important reminder, amid the current political circus, of a U.S. president who appreciated diplomacy, sought out consensus, and believed compromise was not a dirty word. A great account of 41’s remarkable life.
Where the Hell Have You Been? by Tom Carver. The incredible story of adventure and bravery of Carver’s father, Richard Carver, and step-grandfather, Field Marshal Viscount Montgomery. I read it recently and sent it to my uncle for Father’s Day.
Bruno MaçãesNonresident associate at Carnegie Europe
A Study of History by Arnold J. Toynbee. Better than Samuel P. Huntington on the main foreign policy question: civilizations and why they clash.
Kokoro by Natsume Sōseki. Written by someone who understood both East and West, Kokoro can be read 1,000 times without being exhausted.
Home Country (Portugal)
The Book of Disquiet by Fernando Pessoa. Heart and mind combined. A thing of wonder.
I read philosophy of science all the time. Ours is a scientific civililization; you need to understand science to understand everything else.
Mikhail MinakovAssociate professor in the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies at the National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy and editor in chief of the Ideology and Politics Journal
The Global Transformation: History, Modernity and the Making of International Relations by Barry Buzan and George Lawson.
The Kindly Ones by Jonathan Littell.
Home Country (Ukraine)
The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov.
Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin by Timothy Snyder and Warped Mourning: Stories of the Undead in the Land of the Unburied by Alexander Etkind.