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New Poli-Sci Titles in Collection

September 28, 2020

Too often, students learn about the United States’ place in the world from white, Ivy-league educated men from upper-middle class backgrounds. Sammy Fogel, the ISIP intern who selected these titles notes, “As a student in the Political Science department, one persistent issue I have noticed is the lack of diversity of perspective in instruction.” Despite individually being brilliant and accommodating professors, the chronic sameness of their worldviews and the factors which inform them, have brought about this booklist. Some of these books introduce an otherwise not taught situation, while others provide additional perspective on events with which readers are already likely familiar. The goal of this selection effort is to provide titles for other students who have noticed this same sameness and are seeking a broader perspective.


  • The Long Honduran Night by Dana Frank: This book details the US-backed coup d’etat of Honduras in 2009, interweaving a narrative of the author’s personal experience with the relevant actors, motives, and aftermath. 

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    US Policy Toward Africa: Eight Decades of Realpolitik by Herman Cohen: A broad overview of United States foreign policy towards Africa, comparing every Presidential administration since FDR’s approach towards the continent. Author Herman Cohen served for years in the State Department and Foreign Service, and consequently, the book assumes a surface level, DC-centered perspective.

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    Women as Foreign Policy Leaders: National Security and Gender Politics in Superpower America by Sylvia Bashkevin: A comparative analysis of four of the highest ranking women in US foreign policy history (Jeane Kirkpatrick, Madeleine Albright, Condoleezza Rice, and Hillary Clinton): the actions they took, how/if they differed from men in similar posts, and the relative importance to each of feminist issues. 

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    Triple-Axis: Iran’s Relations with Russia and China by Dina Esfandiary & Ariane Tabatabai: Discusses Iran’s increasing friendliness towards Russia and China, arguing that this increase is driven by a desire to more firmly counter American hegemonic power.

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    Fierce Enigmas: A History of the United States in South Asia by Srinath Raghavan: A detailed historical overview of American foreign policy in India, Pakistan, and Afghanistan and its impacts on the power structure of the region, during which Raghavan argues that the US’ presence has had a destabilizing effect. 

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    US Democracy Promotion in the Arab World: Beyond Interests vs Ideals by Mieczysław P. Boduszyński: US Foreign Service veteran Boduszyński takes an analytical approach towards US policy towards the Middle East in a post-Arab Spring world, applying Graham Allison’s quintessential framework as outlined in his classic Essence of Decision: Explaining the Cuban Missile Crisis.

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    The Lands In Between: Russia vs the West and the New Politics of Hybrid War by Mitchell Orenstein: Outlines the pre-2016 behavior of the Russian military and government which the author argues should have rendered their 2016 Presidential election meddling unsurprising, discussing other instances of election interference, most notably in the Brexit referendum. Aside Russia has, argues Orenstein, taken up a “hybrid war,” leveraging its commodities to shun European countries into silence and continuing to promote their right-wing political parties.

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    The Dark Double: US Media, Russia, and the Politics of Values by Andrei P. Tsygankov: Provides an alternative to the conventional narrative which has emerged on Russia in recent years, criticizing the media in particular as alarmist and drawing on an existing suspiciousness towards Russia which looms large in the American psyche.

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    Tomorrow’s Battlefield: U.S. Proxy Wars and Secret Ops in Africa by Nick Turse: Unlike Cohen’s U.S. Policy Toward Africa, Terse takes a critical approach to more contemporary and less official American military interventions in Africa. Recommended for anyone seeking to understand the ambush on American forces in Niger a couple years ago, or for anyone looking for a more critical look at America’s more sinister motives for prolifically operating in Africa. 

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    The Long Telegram 2.0: a Neo-Kennanite Approach to Russia by Piotr Andreevich Eltsov: Uses George Kennan’s famous “Long Telegram,” considered to be fundamental to US policy towards Russia during the Cold War, as a framework to analyze contemporary Russian government activities, arguing that American democracy promotion efforts there are a waste of time because the Russian state will implode on its own.

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    The Rise of the Civilizational State by Christopher Coker: Frames the hegemon in the international system as viewing their own identity in “civilizational” terms, discusses this principle at work in the West, Russia, and China, then seeks to explain the failure of this principle to predominate in India and the Middle East.

     

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    A Nation Unmade by War by Tom Engelhardt: In which anti-imperialist Tom Engelhardt analyzes the US military’s 21st century engagements in the Middle East and Africa, arguing that America has effectively destabilized the region and won nothing.

     

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    Badges without Borders: How Global Counterinsurgency Transformed American Policing by Stuart Schraeder: Details the decades long effort by the US to assist regimes around the world in violently silencing dissent, after which those same tactics were brought home, manifested in increasingly militarized police departments throughout the country.