Has the West Lost It?: A Provocation


Kishore Mahbubani - 2018
    It is hard to disagree with this advice from such a well-informed friend of the west' Martin Wolf, Financial TimesThe West's two-century epoch as global powerhouse is at an end. A new world order, with China and India as the strongest economies, dawns. How will the West react to its new status of superpower in decline? In Kishore Mahbubani's timely polemic, he argues passionately that the West can no longer presume to impose its ideology on the world, and crucially, that it must stop seeking to intervene, politically and militarily, in the affairs of other nations. He examines the West's greatest follies of recent times: the humiliation of Russia at the end of the Cold War, which led to the rise of Putin, and the invasion of Iraq after 9/11, which destabilised the Middle East. Yet, he argues, essential to future world peace are the Western constructs of democracy and reason, which it must continue to promote, by diplomacy rather than force, via multilateral institutions of global governance such as the UN. Only by recognising its changing status, and seeking to influence rather than dominate, he warns, can the West continue to play a key geopolitical role.'Kishore Mahbubani might well be the most intelligent, friendly and doggedly persistent critic of the West. In this brief book, he delivers some of his trademark analysis and pungent observations. We should all think of it as the cold shower that is urgently needed to revive the West' Fareed Zakaria, author of The Post-American World

Twilight in the Desert: The Coming Saudi Oil Shock and the World Economy


Matthew R. Simmons - 2005
    In this exhaustively researched book, veteran oil industry analyst Matthew Simmons draws on his three-plus decades of insider experience and more than 200 independently produced reports about Saudi petroleum resources and production operations. He uncovers a story about Saudi Arabia's troubled oil industry, not to mention its political and societal instability, which differs sharply from the globally accepted Saudi version. It's a story that is provocative and disturbing, based on undeniable facts, but until now never told in its entirety. Twilight in the Desert answers all readers' questions about Saudi oil and production industries with keen examination instead of unsubstantiated posturing, and takes its place as one of the most important books of this still-young century.

The End of the Asian Century: War, Stagnation, and the Risks to the World’s Most Dynamic Region


Michael R. Auslin - 2017
    Yet from China’s slumping economy to war clouds over the South China Sea and from environmental devastation to demographic crisis, Asia’s future is increasingly uncertain. Historian and geopolitical expert Michael Auslin argues that far from being a cohesive powerhouse, Asia is a fractured region threatened by stagnation and instability. Here, he provides a comprehensive account of the economic, military, political, and demographic risks that bedevil half of our world, arguing that Asia, working with the United States, has a unique opportunity to avert catastrophe – but only if it acts boldly. Bringing together firsthand observations and decades of research, Auslin’s provocative reassessment of Asia’s future will be a must‑read for industry and investors, as well as politicians and scholars, for years to come.

The Third Revolution: Xi Jinping and the New Chinese State


Elizabeth C. Economy - 2018
    Economy provides an incisive look at the transformative changes underway in China today. Chinese leader Xi Jinping has unleashed a powerful set of political and economic reforms: the centralization of power under Xi, himself, the expansion of the Communist Party's role in Chinese political, social, and economic life, and the construction of a virtual wall of regulations to control more closely the exchange of ideas and capital between China and the outside world. Beyond its borders, Beijing has recast itself as a great power, seeking to reclaim its past glory and to create a system of international norms that better serves its more ambitious geostrategic objectives. In so doing, the Chinese leadership is reversing the trends toward greater political and economic opening, as well as the low-profile foreign policy, that had been put in motion by Deng Xiaoping's "Second Revolution" thirty years earlier.Through a wide-ranging exploration of Xi Jinping's top political, economic and foreign policy priorities-fighting corruption, managing the Internet, reforming the state-owned enterprise sector, improving the country's innovation capacity, enhancing air quality, and elevating China's presence on the global stage-Economy identifies the tensions, shortcomings, and successes of Xi's reform efforts over the course of his first five years in office. She also assesses their implications for the rest of the world, and provides recommendations for how the United States and others should navigate their relationship with this vast nation in the coming years.

Power, Inc.: The Epic Rivalry Between Big Business and Government- —and the Reckoning That Lies Ahead


David Rothkopf - 2012
    Its employees outnumber the populations of almost a hundred nations. The world's largest asset manager, a secretive New York company called Black Rock, controls assets greater than the national reserves of any country on the planet. A private philanthropy, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, spends as much worldwide on health care as the World Health Organization. The rise of private power may be the most important and least understood trend of our time. David Rothkopf provides a fresh, timely look at how we have reached a point where thousands of companies have greater power than all but a handful of states. Beginning with the story of an inquisitive Swedish goat wandering off from his master and inadvertently triggering the birth of the oldest company still in existence, Power, Inc. follows the rise and fall of kings and empires, the making of great fortunes, and the chaos of bloody revolutions. A fast-paced tale in which champions of liberty are revealed to be paid pamphleteers of moneyed interests and greedy scoundrels trigger changes that lift billions from deprivation, Power, Inc. traces the bruising jockeying for influence right up to today's financial crises, growing inequality, broken international system, and battles over the proper role of government and markets.Rothkopf argues that these recent developments, coupled with the rise of powers like China and India, may not lead to the triumph of American capitalism that was celebrated just a few years ago. Instead, he considers an unexpected scenario, a contest among competing capitalisms offering different visions for how the world should work, a global ideological struggle in which European and Asian models may have advantages. An important look at the power struggle that is defining our times, Power, Inc. also offers critical insights into how to navigate the tumultuous years ahead.

The New Map: Energy, Climate, and the Clash of Nations


Daniel Yergin - 2020
    The shale revolution in oil and gas--made possible by fracking technology, but not without controversy--has transformed the American economy, ending the era of shortage, but introducing a turbulent new era. Almost overnight, the United States has become the world's number one energy powerhouse--and, during the coronavirus crisis, brokered a tense truce between Russia and Saudi Arabia. Yet concern about energy's role in climate change is challenging our economy and way of life, accelerating a second energy revolution in the search for a low carbon future. All of this has been made starker and more urgent by the coronavirus pandemic and the economic dark age that it has wrought.World politics is being upended, as a new cold war develops between the United States and China, and the rivalry grows more dangerous with Russia, which is pivoting east toward Beijing. Vladimir Putin and China's Xi Jinping are converging both on energy and on challenging American leadership, as China projects its power and influence in all directions. The South China Sea, claimed by China and the world's most critical trade route, could become the arena where the United States and China directly collide. The map of the Middle East, which was laid down after World War I, is being challenged by jihadists, revolutionary Iran, ethnic and religious clashes, and restive populations. But the region has also been shocked by the two recent oil price collapses--one from the rise of shale, the other the coronavirus--and by the very question of oil's future in the rest of this century.A master storyteller and global energy expert, Daniel Yergin takes the reader on an utterly riveting and timely journey across the world's new map. He illuminates the great energy and geopolitical questions in an era of rising political turbulence and points to the profound challenges that lie ahead.

Bailout: An Inside Account of How Washington Abandoned Main Street While Rescuing Wall Street


Neil Barofsky - 2010
    In behind-the-scenes detail, he shows the extreme degree to which government officials bent over backward to serve the interests of Wall Street firms at the expense of the public—& at the expense of effective financial reform. During the height of the financial crisis in 2008, Barofsky gave up his job as a prosecutor in the US Attorney’s Office in NYC, where he'd convicted drug kingpins, Wall Street executives & mortgage fraud perpetrators, to become the special inspector general in charge of oversight of bailout money spending. From the first his efforts to protect against fraud & to hold big banks accountable for how they spent taxpayer money were met with outright hostility from Treasury officials in charge of the bailouts.Barofsky discloses how, in serving banking interests, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner & his team worked with Wall Street executives to design programs to would funnel vast amounts of taxpayer money to their firms & would have allowed them to game the markets & make huge profits with almost no risk or accountability, while repeatedly fighting efforts to put the necessary fraud protections in place. His investigations also uncovered abject mismanagement of the bailout of insurance giant AIG & Geithner’s decision to allow the payment of millions of dollars in bonuses & that the Obama administration’s TARP Czar lobbied for the executives to retain their high pay.Providing details about how, meanwhile, the interests of homeowners & the broader public were betrayed, Barofsky recounts how Geithner & his team steadfastly failed to fix glaring flaws in the Obama administration’s homeowner relief program pointed out by bailout watchdogs, rejecting anti-fraud measures, which unleashed a wave of abuses by mortgage providers against homeowners, even causing some who wouldn't have lost their homes otherwise to go into foreclosure. Ultimately only a small fraction ($1.4 billion when he stepped down) of the $50 billion allocated to help homeowners was spent, while the funds expended to prop up the financial system totaled $4.7 trillion. As he raised the alarm about the bailout failures, he met with obstruction. He recounts in blow-by-blow detail how an increasingly aggressive war was waged against his efforts, with even the White House launching a broadside against him. Bailout is a riveting account of his plunge into the political meat grinder of Washington, as well as a vital revelation of just how captured by Wall Street the political system is & why the too-big-to-fail banks have only become bigger & more dangerous in the wake of the crisis.

American Amnesia: Business, Government, and the Forgotten Roots of Our Prosperity


Jacob S. Hacker - 2016
    Hacker and Paul Pierson explained how political elites have enabled and propelled plutocracy. They trace the economic and political history of the United States over the last century and show how a viable mixed economy has long been the dominant engine of America’s prosperity.Like every other prospering democracy, the United States developed a mixed economy that channeled the spirit of capitalism into strong growth and healthy social development. In this bargain, government and business were as much partners as rivals. Public investments in education, science, transportation, and technology laid the foundation for broadly based prosperity. Programs of economic security and progressive taxation provided a floor of protection and business focused on the pursuit of profit—and government addressed needs business could not.The mixed economy was the most important social innovation of the twentieth century. It spread a previously unimaginable level of broad prosperity. It enabled steep increases in education, health, longevity, and economic security. And yet, extraordinarily, it is anathema to many current economic and political elites. And as the advocates of anti-government free market fundamentalist have gained power, they are hell-bent on scrapping the instrument of nearly a century of unprecedented economic and social progress. In American Amnesia, Hacker and Pierson explain how—and why they must be stopped.

Saudi, Inc.: The Arabian Kingdom's Pursuit of Profit and Power


Ellen R. Wald - 2018
     Today, that corporation is poised to pull off the biggest IPO in history.Over more than a century, fed by ambition and oil wealth, al Saud, as the royal family is known, has come from next to nothing to rule as absolute monarchs, a contrast with the world around them and modernity itself.  The story starts with Saudi Arabia's founder, Abdul Aziz, a lowly refugee embarking on a daring gambit to reconquer his family's ancestral home?the mud-walled city of Riyadh. It takes readers almost to present day, when the multinational family business has made al Saud the wealthiest family in the world and on the cusp of a new transformation. Now al Saud and its family business, Aramco, are embarking on their most ambitious move: taking the company public and preparing the country for the next generation.

The Next Factory of the World: How Chinese Investment Is Reshaping Africa


Irene Yuan Sun - 2017
    Chinese entrepreneurs are flooding into the continent, investing in long-term assets such as factories and heavy equipment.Considering Africa's difficult history of colonialism, one might suspect that China's activity there is another instance of a foreign power exploiting resources. But as author Irene Yuan Sun vividly shows in this remarkable book, it is really a story about resilient Chinese entrepreneurs building in Africa what they so recently learned to build in China--a global manufacturing powerhouse.The fact that China sees Africa not for its poverty but for its potential wealth is a striking departure from the attitude of the West, particularly that of the United States. Despite fifty years of Western aid programs, Africa still has more people living in extreme poverty than any other region in the world. Those who are serious about raising living standards across the continent know that another strategy is needed.Chinese investment gives rise to a tantalizing possibility: that Africa can industrialize in the coming generation. With a manufacturing-led transformation, Africa would be following in the footsteps of the United States in the nineteenth century, Japan in the early twentieth, and the Asian Tigers in the late twentieth. Many may consider this an old-fashioned way to develop, but as Sun argues, it's the only one that's proven to raise living standards across entire societies in a lasting way. And with every new Chinese factory boss setting up machinery and hiring African workers--and managers--that possibility becomes more real for Africa.With fascinating and moving human stories along with incisive business and economic analysis, The Next Factory of the World will make you rethink both China's role in the world and Africa's future in the globalized economy.

Power Hungry: The Myths of "Green" Energy and the Real Fuels of the Future


Robert Bryce - 2010
    But as Robert Bryce makes clear in this provocative book, that vision needs a major re-vision. We cannot—and will not—quit using carbon-based fuels at any time in the near future for a simple reason: they provide the horsepower that we crave. The hard reality is that oil, coal, and natural gas are here to stay.Fueling our society requires more than sentiment and rhetoric; we need to make good decisions and smart investments based on facts. In Power Hungry, Bryce provides a supertanker-load of footnoted facts while shepherding readers through basic physics and math. And with the help of a panoply of vivid graphics and tables, he crushes a phalanx of energy myths, showing why renewables are not green, carbon capture and sequestration won’t work, and even—surprise!—that the U.S. is leading the world in energy efficiency. He also charts the amazing growth of the fuels of the future: natural gas and nuclear.Power Hungry delivers a clear-eyed view of what America has “in the tank,” and what’s needed to transform the gargantuan global energy sector.

The Bet: Paul Ehrlich, Julian Simon, and Our Gamble over Earth's Future


Paul Sabin - 2013
    Their wager on the future prices of five metals captured the public’s imagination as a test of coming prosperity or doom. Ehrlich, author of the landmark book The Population Bomb, predicted that rising populations would cause overconsumption, resource scarcity, and famine—with apocalyptic consequences for humanity. Simon optimistically countered that human welfare would flourish thanks to flexible markets, technological change, and our collective ingenuity. Simon and Ehrlich’s debate reflected a deepening national conflict over the future of the planet. The Bet weaves the two men’s lives and ideas together with the era’s partisan political clashes over the environment and the role of government. In a lively narrative leading from the dawning environmentalism of the 1960s through the pivotal presidential contest between Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan and on into the 1990s, Paul Sabin shows how the fight between Ehrlich and Simon—between environmental fears and free-market confidence—helped create the gulf separating environmentalists and their critics today. Drawing insights from both sides, Sabin argues for using social values, rather than economic or biological absolutes, to guide society’s crucial choices relating to climate change, the planet’s health, and our own.

Blood and Oil: The Dangers and Consequences of America's Growing Dependency on Imported Petroleum


Michael T. Klare - 2000
    Now, in Blood and Oil, he concentrates on a single precious commodity, petroleum, while issuing a warning to the United States--its most powerful, and most dependent, global consumer.Since September 11 and the commencement of the "war on terror," the world's attention has been focused on the relationship between U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East and the oceans of crude oil that lie beneath the region's soil. Klare traces oil's impact on international affairs since World War II, revealing its influence on the Truman, Eisenhower, Nixon, and Carter doctrines. He shows how America's own wells are drying up as our demand increases; by 2010 the United States will need to import 60 percent of its oil. And since most of this supply will have to come from chronically unstable, often violently anti-American zones--the Persian Gulf, the Caspian Sea, Latin America, and Africa--our dependency is bound to lead to recurrent military involvement.With clarity and urgency, Blood and Oil delineates the United States' predicament and cautions that it is time to change our energy policies, before we spend the next decades paying for oil with blood.

Everything Under the Heavens: How the Past Helps Shape China’s Push for Global Power


Howard W. French - 2017
    That diffidence has now been set aside. China has asserted its place among the global heavyweights, revealing its plans for pan-Asian geopolitical dominance by building up its navy, fabricating new islands to support its territorial claims in areas like the South China Sea, and diplomatically bullying smaller players.Underlying this shift in attitude is a strain of thinking that casts China's present-day actions in historical terms. China is now once more on the path to restoring the glories of its dynastic past. Howard W. French demonstrates that if we can understand how that historical identity informs current actions — in ways ideological, philosophical, and even legal — we can learn to forecast just what kind of global power China intends to become — and to interact wisely with the superpower.

Xi Jinping: The Backlash


Richard McGregor - 2019
    Finally, he is meeting resistance, both at home among disgruntled officials and disillusioned technocrats, and abroad from an emerging coalition of Western nations that seem determined to resist China’s geopolitical and high-tech expansion. With the United States and China at loggerheads, Richard McGregor outlines how the world came to be split in two.