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The EUISS summer reading list
If you are looking for some inspiration on what to read this summer, we have some suggestions! The team of analysts at the EUISS give their recommendations below, in a selection encompassing politics, a literary classic, a gripping thriller and a dystopian science fiction novel.
Gustav Lindstrom (EUISS Director)
The Premonition: A Pandemic Story by Michael Lewis (non-fiction)
This book is about the US response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Even though the topic is a complex one, the book is an easy and entertaining read. As in previous works by the same author, the focus on individual efforts and initiatives makes it an engaging reading experience, all the while reminding us that individuals sometimes can, and do, make a difference.
Marie Brethous (Associate Analyst, Transatlantic relations and EU-NATO affairs)
Not One Inch: America, Russia, and the Making of Post-Cold War Stalemate by M. E. Sarotte (non-fiction)
M.E. Sarotte’s book presents an interesting analysis of a critical period for US-Russia relations in the 1990s, one that resulted in NATO expansion. The author provides great insight into the dynamics between the US and Russia in the post-Cold War period, which continue to impact NATO and the global geopolitical landscape to this day.
Viola Fee Dreikhausen (Associate Analyst, Conflict Research)
The Frontlines of Peace: An Insider's Guide to Changing the World by Séverine Autesserre (non-fiction)
The author of this book, presented as a compelling mix of memoir and ethnography, draws on several decades of experience in war-torn countries such as Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Kosovo, to paint an eye-opening portrait of nongovernmental organisations, diplomats and peacekeepers struggling to resolve conflicts. By turns humorous, disconcerting and hopeful, Autesserre offers a critique of the top-down, outsider-led approach to international peacemaking, arguing that in these sorts of operations, external peacekeepers and aid officials tend to interact primarily with national-level political and military leaders instead of venturing into the local conflict they are endeavouring to resolve. The book’s evocative and often moving stories illustrate her core finding: that ‘peace communities’ are built at the local level, neighbourhood by neighbourhood. In so arguing, she invites us to re-think and re-evaluate our assumptions about peacebuilding and its implications.
Alice Ekman (Senior Analyst, Asia)
Guerre d’Influence – Les Etats à la conquête des esprits by Frédéric Charillo (non-fiction)
Influence, not power, is the new key to deciphering the game of international relations according to the author of this book. It presents a perceptive analysis of influence strategies currently promoted by several governments, examined from a comparative perspective, and conveys a powerful reminder that ideas matter.
Giovanni Faleg (Senior Analyst, Sub-Saharan Africa)
The Charterhouse of Parma by Stendhal (fiction)
Italo Calvino declared this book the most beautiful novel in the world. A major historical-political journey, rich in humour and anecdotes about the relationship between French and Italian cultures. Just wonderfully written.
Dalia Ghanem (Senior Analyst, Middle East and North Africa)
The Age of Reinvention by Karine Tuile (fiction)
Sam Tahar, a New York elite criminal defence attorney, seems to have it all: he is brilliant, powerful, wealthy and famous, and has a beautiful wife and two children. However, his entire life and success are based on ‘big little lies’. Samir Tahar, born and raised in a poor Muslim family in a grim apartment block, was destined for a life on the margins of French society. To succeed, Samir left France for the US. But to make it in post-9/11 America, Samir created another identity for himself which he borrowed from the Jewish origins of his best friend Samuel, a failed writer condemned to a life of obscurity in a bleak French suburb, where he lives with his beautiful and enigmatic girlfriend, Nina. 20 years later, Samir, Nina and Samuel will meet again, and their lives will explode.
Nad’a Kovalčíková (Senior Analyst, Transnational security) & Yana Popkostova (Associate analyst, Environmental security).
You know a book is good when two analysts recommend it! The Ministry for the Future by Kim Stanley Robinson (fiction) wins plaudits from both Nad’a Kovalčíková and Yana Popkostova.
The story is set in 2025, and portrays an imminent and chilling future which we all may be facing if we don’t take more radical action to address the climate challenges of today and tomorrow.
It is a brilliant, albeit harrowing, account of a dystopian reality where high temperatures lead to massive population displacement, power systems experience systemic failures and geopolitical fissures widen while a few entities embark on a desperate quest to save humanity. A baleful reality that is a direct result of the world’s failure to tackle climate change. A great and thought-provoking read.
Stanislav Secrieru (Senior Anayst: Russia and Eastern Partnership states)
The art of sanctions: a view from the field by Richard Nephew (non-fiction)
The ultimate guide on how to design, implement and escalate sanctions with the aim to enhance their effectiveness. The book looks at sanctions in an original and dynamic way, examining the factors that could hamper the effectiveness of first-wave sanctions and proposing how subsequent waves of sanctions might be calibrated to deliver the desired effects. The author worked on Iranian sanctions in the Obama administration.