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As summer winds down and you look for ways to extend those warm days on the beach or the porch, we've put together reviews of a selection of recent books by Fletcher professors and alumni to keep you reading. 

Red Dress in Black and White

Award-winning writer ELLIOTT ACKERMAN, A03, F03, served five tours in Iraq and Afghanistan and has said he’s “always been interested in the intersection between the political and the personal.” In this, his third novel and fourth book, he revisits twenty-four hours in that space through the story of Catherine, an American looking to divorce her Turkish husband, Murat, a real estate developer, and move back to the U.S. with her son and her photographer lover. When Murat attempts to prevent her, he unwittingly exposes a web of deception and corruption in this intricately suspenseful yarn.



Transforming US Intelligence for Irregular War

How could the U.S. dismantle a terror organization of multiple independently operating networks that harnessed cutting-edge information technologies? U.S. intelligence operatives faced just this challenge when confronting Al-Qaeda in Iraq. In his latest book, Professor RICHARD SHULTZ, director of Fletcher's International Security Studies Program, traces the origin and rise of the Joint Special Operations Task Force (known as Task Force 714) and its cooperation with U.S. intelligence agencies in tracking and eliminating Al-Qaeda’s leadership, destroying its infrastructure, and suppressing its insurgency through covert means. Shultz also explores the new challenges of the information era in intelligence collection and how U.S. intelligence agencies have evolved to meet them.

Toddler in Chief: What Donald Trump Teaches Us About the Modern Presidency

In this volume inspired by a Twitter thread, DANIEL DREZNER, a professor of international politics at Fletcher, comments on reports of President Trump’s behavior by his own staff and supporters. On Twitter, Drezner collected more than 1,000 instances in which an ally or subordinate of the president described him as if he were a toddler, with a short attention span, little self-control, and similar attributes. Such behavior is particularly troublesome in the nation’s chief executive now, Drezner argues, because presidential power has increased as the legislative and judicial branches have ceded authority to the White House since the 1980s. Drezner’s analysis will interest anyone concerned with the erosion of formal and informal checks on the presidency.

China and Intervention at the UN Security Council

In this scholarly work, COURTNEY J. FUNG, F12, an assistant professor of international relations at the University of Hong Kong and member of Fletcher’s Board of Advisors, focuses on China’s status, or standing in the international system. She argues that status is an often overlooked factor motivating the country’s foreign policy and its views on regime change and humanitarian intervention by the United Nations. By parsing Beijing’s behavior regarding interventions in Sudan, Libya, and Syria, Fung shows that status is not only a cause for conflict, as is commonly assumed, but also a “determinant for cooperation.” Her ideas provide an important foundation for anyone interested in the international relations of this rising global superpower.

Chosen: The First Book of The Beautiful Ones trilogy

Comprised of the volumes "Chosen," "Torn," and "United," the entire Beautiful Ones trilogy was released in June 2019, so you won’t have to wait to find out what happens next. Set more than a half-century in the future, the fast-paced adventure thrillers alternate chapters in the voices of Olivia, a British lawyer, and DeAnn, an American geneticist, rivals in a strange competition run by an organization called the Cassandra Programme. Tension builds as the two women realize their lives are at stake—and eventually that if they fail, millions of others will die as well—in this series by OM FAURE, F99, a futures expert and principal at SAMI Consulting in Newbury, England.


The Hermit King: The Dangerous Game of Kim Jong Un

“The North Korean story isn’t just about nuclear weapons and long-range missiles,” writes CHUNG MIN LEE, F84, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and an expert on Korean and East Asian security affairs. “It’s about 25 million people incarcerated in the world’s biggest jail.” Kim Jong Un is a figure of endless fascination for Americans—and has taken on even greater prominence in the age of Trump—partly because his actions and motivations are shrouded in mystery. Lee helps shed light on them here, concluding that all of the possible futures of Kim’s isolated, constrained, and despondent country “may end in a global humanitarian crisis.”

Breaking Protocol: America's First Female Ambassadors, 1933-1964

John Adams became the first ambassador for the newly formed United States in 1785, and for nearly a century and a half after that it was unthinkable that a woman could step into the role. Women were considered too emotional, unprepared for the potential dangers inherent in a foreign posting, and lacking the social contacts necessary for the job. Then, in 1933, the famously progressive Franklin Delano Roosevelt took a chance and appointed filmmaker and Florida Congresswoman Ruth Bryan Owen ambassador to Denmark and Iceland as part of his “new deal for women.” PHILIP NASH, F88, an associate professor of history at Penn State Shenango, ably tells her story, and those of five other pioneering women, here in engaging mini-biographies.

Re-Imagining America: Finding Hope in Difficult Times 

America has become a place many no longer recognize, with democracy and the environment under siege and plutocrats running the show, argues CHRISTOPHER SCHAEFER, F65, F67, F69, a consultant and the founder of the Waldorf School in Lexington, Massachusetts. Schaefer calls the current moment “the long emergency,” and has written this book of essays to analyze and solve, through radical social reform, the problems he says are destroying the earth and human well-being. Among his topics:  9/11, the crisis of Western capitalism, toxic excess, income inequality, oppression, and Donald Trump. With a foreword by writer and entrepreneur Eric Utne.


Partner with Purpose: Solving 21st Century Business Problems Through Cross-Sector Collaboration

In the 21st century, businesses are increasingly faced with complex, "wicked" problems--challenges with social and environmental dimensions they cannot solve on their own. This is especially common in the frontier markets of Asia, Africa, Latin America, and the former Soviet bloc. In many cases, the best solution is to create cross-sector partnerships with organizations from outside the business world--foundations, nonprofits, government agencies, and more. The resulting partnerships can generate business value as well as positive social impact, thereby benefiting companies and communities alike. "Partner With Purpose" by Steve Schmida, F04, is a step-by-step guide to planning, launching, and successfully maintaining cross-sector partnerships, illustrated with vivid real-life stories from the author's work with companies around the world.

What Remains: Bringing America’s Missing Home from the Vietnam War

The Vietnam War remains an unfinished chapter in the lives of 1,600 American families whose loved ones—along with more than 300,000 Vietnamese—were never accounted for when the fighting stopped. In this, her third war-related book, SARAH E. WAGNER, F02, an associate professor of anthropology at George Washington University, brings to life the stories of some of these young men, seen in poignant photographs. She also describes the work of the forensic scientists still working to identify the missing from bare slivers of remains, and visits the families grappling with their return a half-century after their loved ones left home to risk the ultimate sacrifice.


How Luxury Conquered the World: The Inside Story of its Pioneers

As a former European luxury goods correspondent for Reuters, ASTRID WENDLANDT, F99, author of two previous books published in French, is in a unique position to observe and analyze a world many readers will only ever dream about. The luxury industry would not exist, the author writes, “if we did not nurture irrational needs,” yet it generates $1.3 trillion in worldwide sales. Here, Wendlandt profiles legendary luxury goods executives—along with the late Karl Lagerfeld, longtime creative director of Chanel—to gain insights into leadership and the origins, symbolism, and future of luxury.

Turkey and America: East & West - Where the Twain Meet

In this exhaustive, 600-page volume, investment banker, historian, and noted expert on Turkey and the Middle East HENRY P. WILLIAMS III, F74, an adjunct professor at the Institute of World Politics in Washington, distills his lecture series and transports the reader “from East to West, across the centuries, juxtaposing geography and discovery, politics and war, religion and arts, terrorism, key figures, and human triumph,” as he writes in his preface. The book starts with the Pentateuch and the Koran and goes right up to 2016, touching on religion, history, commerce, law, leadership, nationalism, civil rights and minorities in both countries, immigration, and more. It’s a lot to cover, but for those interested in the two countries, it’s a must read.


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Winter 2019 Reading List

As 2019 comes to a close, we've put together reviews of a selection of recent books, authored by alumni and staff, to add to your Fletcher-inspired holiday reading list.

Boy on the Bridge: The Story of John Shalikashvili’s American Success

John Shalikashvili may not be a household name, but his story of becoming the first foreign-born chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff—among several other career “firsts” he achieved—is one of the U.S. military’s more impressive. Andrew Marble (F94) gives that story its due in this nearly 400-page biography. “Shali,” as the general was called, was born to an aristocratic family that fled Poland after the Warsaw Uprising of 1944, eventually landing in Illinois, penniless. How he rose to become such a powerful force in the U.S. military while somehow maintaining his humility and nice-guy status is the focus of this highly readable book, and Marble, who clearly spent thousands of hours researching his subject, makes the journey suspenseful and fun.

China’s Global Influence: Perspectives and Recommendations

Edited and with an introduction and a summary by current Fletcher Ph.D. student Scott D. McDonald and Michael C. Burgoyne, a military professor at the Daniel K. Inouye Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies in Honolulu, this volume brings together ideas from a 2019 workshop at the center titled China’s Global Reach: A Security Assessment. It looks at the worldwide foreign policy strategies of the People’s Republic, as well as its “tools of influence”—including economic coercion, military diplomacy, technological innovation, and propaganda—and how they affect the U.S. The editors offer half a dozen policy recommendations.

Dad and Dunk in the Great War

This engaging story of two ordinary men who developed a lifelong friendship working side by side behind the front lines during World War I is told largely in their own words through diaries and letters. Jenifer Burckett-Picker, director of Fletcher's Ph.D. and MA programs in international relations, began uncovering this part of her late father’s life after opening a trunk of his WWI memorabilia that was stored in her basement. The result is a charming portrait of her father, Douglas Mellon Burckett, then an MIT student, and George Wylie Duncan, a young Montana Forest Service employee, as they go from basic training through their service in France and back to their post-war lives in the U.S.

The Green New Deal: Why the Fossil Fuel Civilization Will Collapse by 2028, and the Bold Economic Plan to Save Life on Earth

Despite its somewhat depressing subtitle, this 23rd book from economist and social theorist Jeremy Rifkin (F68) offers hope in the form of a “parallel movement emerging within the business community” that isn’t waiting for politicians to catch up or for climate controversy to die down. “The marketplace is speaking,” Rifkin writes, and governments will soon have no choice but to adapt, when the fossil fuel bubble bursts. The Green New Deal, he concludes, is “the first call for a new kind of peer political movement and commons governance that can empower entire communities to take direct charge of their futures.”

Kissinger on Kissinger: Reflections on Diplomacy, Grand Strategy, and Leadership

In 2015 and 2016, former U.S. ambassador to China and NGO leader Winston Lord (F60) and former deputy national security advisor K.T. McFarland sat down with Henry Kissinger six times for videotaped interviews. The result of those sessions with the man who served as U.S. secretary of state and national security advisor under presidents Nixon and Ford is published here as a wide-ranging oral history covering statesmanship; relations with China, Russia, Vietnam, and the Middle East during the Nixon era; and foreign policy and strategy in general. Brief introductions to each chapter by Lord provide context. It’s a must-read for historical perspective on today’s international political situation.

Fletcher alum Ambassador Lord joined former interim Dean Ian Johnstone to discuss how his time at Fletcher prepared him for his experiences as a life-long diplomat, helping to inform his book about Kissinger. Watch here

Red Star Over the Pacific: China’s Rise and the Challenge to U.S. Maritime Strategy

This revised edition of a well-written, comprehensively researched book originally published in 2011 examines how the sea power of the People’s Republic will affect U.S. maritime strategy in light of what Chinese President Xi Jinping called his nation’s “greatest dream:” domestic and international prosperity, collective effort, and prominence on the world stage. Authors Toshi Yoshihara (F04) and James Holmes (F98) include Chinese-language sources and bring complementary experience to the table—Yoshihara’s as former chair of Asia-Pacific studies at the Naval War College and Holmes’s as the college’s chair of maritime strategy—to conclude that “China now presents a challenge to America’s strategic position of such magnitude that Washington must compete in earnest” or lose its advantage.


Reviews by Elizabeth Gehrman

Have you published a book this year? Let us know by emailing