Monday, November 3, 2014

Political season is in full swing @ your library

The Roosevelts: An Intimate History by Geoffrey C. Ward and Ken Burns

“The very definition of ‘lavishly illustrated’ . . . a lucid text . . . superbly curated photographs . . . documenting such things as bracing hunts in the Rockies, anti-lynching demonstrations in Washington and boats full of teenage soldiers powering toward the beaches of Normandy . . . Excellent, as we have come to expect from the team of Ward and Burns—an eye-opening look at a political dynasty worthy of the name and at a state of politics far better than our own.”







13 Hours: The Inside Account of What Really Happened In Benghazi by Mitchell Zuckoff
 "13 HOURS provide(s) a moving reminder of the sacrifice made by these men who had voluntarily put themselves in harm's way, and who 'believed in their work and their country.'"







Thirteen Days in September: Carter, Begin, and Sadat at Camp David by Lawrence Wright
Wright (Going Clear), Pulitzer Prize winner and staff writer for the New Yorker, offers a thorough study of the Camp David Accords of 1978 in this meticulously researched affair, which goes beyond the core events to address a multitude of historical factors. On the surface, this is about U.S. President Jimmy Carter, Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin and the 13 days the men and their respective staffs spent trying to hammer out a peace treaty. Wright takes the conference day by day, detailing the clashes and compromises that marked the final results. He also delves into biblical events and the numerous conflicts following Israel’s creation in 1948. As Wright puts it, “This book is an account of how these three flawed men, strengthened but also encumbered by their faiths, managed to forge a partial and incomplete peace, an achievement that nonetheless stands as one of the great diplomatic triumphs of the twentieth century.” Alternating between biographical studies of the people involved, sociopolitical histories of the countries and faiths represented, and an almost nail-bitingly tense unfolding of the conference itself, Wright delivers an authoritative, fascinating, and relatively unbiased exploration of a pivotal period and a complicated subject. Maps & photos.

World Order by Henry Kissinger

Former U.S. Secretary of State Kissinger elicits strong reactions; the man some call "war criminal" also won the 1973 Nobel Peace Prize. At 91, he is still crafting his own record and place in history. A fixture in international politics since the 1960s, Kissinger argues that, assisted by the U.S., the spread of independent sovereign states, democratic aspirations, and global networks in communications, finance, and health have brought the "enterprise of world ordering... to fruition." Kissinger's guiding principle is what he calls the "global Westphalian system," named for the 17th-century treaty that ended the 30 Years' War. In studying the U.S.'s role in this system, his main theme is the "contest between idealism and realism" in American foreign policy. Kissinger's section on the Middle East focuses on U.S. partner Saudi Arabia and adversary Iran, but sidesteps the elephants-in-the-room of Israel and world oil. While considering the threat posed by the acquisition of nuclear weapons by rogue states, he also discusses the possibility, tenuous as it may be, of rapprochement between the U.S. and Iran. Some readers will feel Kissinger whitewashes the Bush administration's legacy in Iraq and the Middle East. Others will ask if Kissinger's stark title is ironic, given sharply escalating international conflict. Nonetheless, Kissinger's thoughts, grounded in some 50 years of experience, deserve a wide, attentive audience that should include anyone interested in foreign affairs or the global future.


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