The Ancien Régime and the Revolution

With all the hubbub about China as of late, I thought it might be worth reading Alexis De Tocqueville’s The Ancien Régime and the Revolution (Penguin: 2008). A number of China Hands say the Party has used this book to inform their approach to domestic stability and harmony.1 I have no idea whether these assertions …

Thoughts on James Fallows’s “Chickenhawk Nation”

In a Chickenhawk nation, policy still matters (featuring a case study on Somalia)
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Favorite Books of 2014

Following the smashing success1 of last year’s post on my favorite books from 2013, I thought I’d aim for a repeat and perhaps inspire some gift ideas for the holidays. Here are 11 standouts that I remember from this year.

Politics and Culture in International History

The concept of order that has underpinned the modern era is in crisis. The search for world order has long been defined almost exclusively by the concepts of Western societies … But vast regions of the world have never shared and only acquiesced in the Western concept of order … [The United States must think] …

David Bromwich and the Vanishing Art of Independent Thinking

The intelligence is defeated as soon as the expression of one’s thoughts is preceded, explicitly or implicitly, by the little word “we.”1 Recently, in The London Review of Books, David Bromwich penned an excoriating piece on Barack Obama and the political class that had me chuckling in my chair (see “The World’s Most Important Spectator”). The writing …

Entropy: The Defining Characteristic of Global Affairs

Markets are pricing for utopia but is tectonic change afoot?
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Pope Francis’s Critique of Capitalism and the Quest for the Good Life

Last month, FT Alphaville’s Izabella Kaminska picked up a potent critique of free-market capitalism from Pope Francis’s first Apostolic Exhortation.1  I must confess, I’m not a regular reader of papal exhortations—indeed, papal pronouncements of any variety tend not to make my “to read” list2—but the snippets Kaminska selected gave me pause.