The End of the Cold War 1985-1991 by Robert Service: A Book Review Essay

Robert Service’s The End of the Cold War 1985-1991 is foremost a retelling of the nuclear arms control negotiations between the US and the Soviet Union during the Gorbachev era. Service, a long time British scholar at Oxford, is most comfortable and at his best in recounting the details of the rarefied nuclear arms reduction negotiations and does so in admirable English – without a non-specialist forced to consult a glossary of arms control terms. I, however, think that the Soviet Union fell apart as a result of its crumbling economic system brought to a head by the plummeting price of petroleum on the world market upon which the country was far too dependent. This combined with unsustainable military overreach based on decisions by a geriatric leadership that had been dying like flies in the proverbial pot full of honey prior to Gorbachev’s selection as Secretary General in 1985. Read more »

Sri Lanka and the Scars of War: A Review Article

Although the vainglorious war President Mahinda Rajapaksa has since failed to win reelection and his successor is, reputedly, a more moderate member of the same party, the process of rapprochement between the Singhalese Buddhist majority and the Tamil minority (to say nothing of the also victimized Christians and Muslims) remains far from complete. When the wounds of the savage American Civil War are not fully healed, how could anyone expect the mood of the island to be cheery and forgiving? Read more »

National Minorities in Putin’s Russia: Diversity and Assimilation by Federica Prino – A Book Review Essay

Since National Minorities in Putin's Russia is based on Prino's doctoral dissertation perhaps she might wish to expand her research to explore the question of emigration versus assimilation (as opposed to diversity and assimilation) for members of ethnic minorities living in the former Soviet Union. Data for the Finno-Ugrics should be easy to access from Finnish, Estonian and Swedish statistical services which is lively where many of the Karelians and Ingrains now live. Read more »

How English Keeps India Together

Hindi, to hundreds of millions of Indians is a foreign language. If it became the sole national language, non-Hindi speakers and their children would be severely disadvantaged in seeking out-of-state jobs and education. However, so long as all ambitious Indians must be able to handle English effectively, the playing ground is level for the entire population. It may be a tough hurdle, it may be an odd hurdle that has its roots in the colonial past, but it’s the same hurdle for everyone. Read more »

Midnight at the Pera Palace: the Birth of Modern Istanbul – A Book Review Essay

By Patricia H Kushlis CALAIS-ISTANBUL: All Aboard! I have long been an Agatha Christie fan, especially of her murder mysteries set in the Middle East. The Murder on the Orient Express, of course, is the classic - but rumors to... Read more »

Introverts Aren’t Losers: Re-reading Haruki Murakami’s Latest

Murakami’s Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and his Years of Pilgrimage isn’t the story of a reclusive sad sack. It’s a success story. And his pilgrimage? It’s a journey to understanding. Why did so many American critics fail to see this? Partly, I think, it’s because Murakami slyly invites the derogatory interpretation. He depicts Tsukuru as thoroughly brainwashed into believing that only flamingly colorful extroversion is real personality. But mostly, I believe, the critical blindness stems from the deeply-ingrained American preference for extroverts, a phenomenon that is brilliantly examined by Susan Cain in her recent book entitled Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. Even in intellectual circles, evidently, there’s little appreciation for quiet accomplishment. Read more »

The Ideal Man: Jim Thompson and the American Way of War – Book Review Essay

Jim Thompson himself, though, was a mystery and that contributes to questions surrounding his disappearance. Joshua Kurlantzick’s The Ideal Man: The Tragedy of Jim Thompson and the American Way of War (Johnathan Wiley and Sons, 2011) tries hard to solve that mystery but in the end the trail runs cold. The only thing we’re pretty sure of is that Thompson had a number of enemies as well as friends, was likely not eaten by wild tigers or other four legged predators then inhabiting the Cameron Highlands, did not commit suicide and would not have taken a fatal misstep and slipped into some ravine. Read more »

Lawrence Freedman’s Strategy: A History – A Book Review Essay

The major reason I decided to embark upon Freedman’s journey – and see it through to the end – was because the term strategy (or lack thereof) has become one of those words that are tossed around all too easily by people complaining that so and so or such and such organization has no strategy. But they then fail to define what they mean or they give it such a rigid, outdated meaning that they, in essence, render the term useless. Read more »

Persuasion and Power: The Art of Strategic Communication Book Review Essay

James Farwell’s soon to be published book Persuasion and Power: The Art of Strategic Communication (Georgetown University Press) is a “how to” book for professionals and wannabe professionals as well as an interesting read for those who simply want to learn more about how governments and politicians (elected and non-elected) have informed and influenced publics about their policies and candidates. Read more »

Public Diplomacy: Books, Articles, Websites #62

Courtesy of Bruce Gregory, here is the latest update on resources that may be of general interest for teachers, students, and practitioners of public diplomacy and related courses and activities. Suggestions for future updates are welcome. Bruce Gregory is an adjunct professor at George Washington University and at Georgetown University and a pre-eminant font of knowledge […] Read more »