Wednesday, November 26, 2003

*Book Reviews of the Moment*

I was going to put of the day...but most of you should know by now that my blog is rarely updated...=P Vat to do? Two computers in the mess in camp.... And a heck load of specialists....

Anyway one question that was often put to me back in HC debate was "What book should I read to improve my knowledge?". Most unfortunately, I can't give an answer beyond: "Read widely". The following books that I strongly recommand, have a very strong economics and political bias...which is why I really suck at gender (and social) motions...other than the fact that my MCPishness gets in the way...=)

So, in no particular order, these are the top ten fave non-fiction books (for debate or otherwise).

1. New Ideas by Dead Economist ~ Simply one of the most accessible books on economic thought and history. Puntuated with great puns and wit and encompassing everything from Adam Smith's invisible hand to Rational Expectations, it is the definative guide for the debater wanting a crash course in econs

2. The Rise and Fall of Great Empires by Paul Kennedy ~ A classic. Brilliant and ambitious sweep from the 1500s to the 1980s. Yes the thesis crumbles at times (quite expectedly honestly) but there's something for everyone in there, from the professional historian to the humanz student to the debater who wants lessons and examples on a realist and materialist version of IR (International Relations)

3. The Lexus and the Olive Tree by Thomas Friedman ~ Once described as the bible of Globalisation, the highly annedotal book while somewhat lacking in analysis nevertheless provides valuable starting and launching points in defence of Globalisation. Admittedly Mr Friedman goes too far by arguing the 'Golden Straighsjacket' but wit, humour and loads of tasty examples make for a good read for any side.

4. Open World: The Truth about Globalisation ~ One of the most balanced books I've read so far on Globalisation, it snocks shots at both the rapid anti-globalist as well as the fervent globalist whom he sees as hurting the truth and ultimately, us the people of Earth. Depth of analysis, a balanced viewpoint and loads of evidence make for a valuable guide for the busy debater. However, I don't agree with his analysis of pharmas....*shrugg*

5. The End of History and the last Man by Francis Fukuyama (?) ~ Stirring expository on the greatness of Liberal Democracy, its arguments on why Liberal Democracy having no fundemental contradictions (as opposed to the rest) makes for a inspiring read. At the same time, the book is full of sections which argue why democracy is 'bad', not least the which is that it reduces us as 'Man' in that it limits our desire to overcome and conquer other man (I know it looks weird here, but read the book to understand it). If nothing else, you learn more about philo (Nietzche especially amongst others)...=P

6. (Still halfway through the book) The Clash of Civilisations and the remaking of the world order by Samuel Huntington ~ A daring thesis made all the more pertinent with 911 and the liberalisation/invasion of Iraq. Despite its dated feel with loads of examples of our darling leaders and those of others of similar bent crowing 'Asian Values', the fact is that its analysis and predictions were borne out by recent developments (Pax Americana and the Asian Flu). Personally, I feel his earlier sections feel higher biased...selective use of facts to support his main thesis. However, his is one book where one tries to deny what one reads but grudgingly admits the various truths inherent in it. Besides he sees the development of civilisations as both the reason for a fractured world and the possibility of similar healing it.

7. Mastering Modern World History ~ The SCGS history textbook in my year. Strongly adviced as a primer for debaters without an inkling on how our world turned out the way it did. Starting from the turn of the century to the disollution of the Soviet Union, this book does not simplify and explains rather technical terms like Declining Terms of Trade in a straightforward and easily understood fashion (admitedly without the economic analysis)

8. The Seekers and The Discoverers by Daniel J. Boorstein ~ One of my fave historians...particularly for this particular trilogy (I have however forgotten the title of his last book) The Discoverers is a marvellous sweep of the history of science and it is highly fasicnating because it doesn't focus exclusively on technical developments but examines the spirit of the times... The Seekers is a similarly good (and similar) book on the history of philosophy and I wish I could rave more but nine months of self reading got me nowhere except the ability to bluff convincingly in any conversation involving that topic...=P

9. Sophie's World ~ Okay...fine...this is a fiction book but it is much more interesting than The Seekers because of the way it weaves the history of philosophical thought into a story with an interesting twist...

10. Understanding Internation Relations by Chris Brown ~ It's on the recommanded reading list for IR at LSE...and for good reason. A dense book tracing all the thoughts and histories of (and surrouding) the various schools but highly readable and enjoyable at the same time. I can honestly say, this book inspired me to really want to go to LSE to read IR...ah well...=)

A couple more books worth exploring (and which I'm planning to sometime in the future) are stuff by John Kenneth Galbraith, the Tofflers and Noam Chomsky and heck maybe Naomi Klein...=( And schtuff to definately reread: McWorld vs Jihad and Future War...


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