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New Books in National Security
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New Books in National Security

Author: Marshall Poe

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Interviews with Scholars of National Security about their New Books
185 Episodes
The United States has been the world's dominant power for more than a century. Now many analysts and commentators believe that other countries such as China are rising and the United States is in decline. Is the era of American hegemony over? Is America finished as a superpower?In his superb and learned book, Unrivaled: Why America Will remain the World's Sole Superpower(Cornell University Press, 2018), Michael Beckley, Professor in the Department of Political Science at Tufts University cogently argues that the United States has unique advantages over other nations that, if used wisely, will allow it to remain the world's sole superpower throughout this century. We are not living in a transitional, post-hegemonic, pluralist era. Instead, we are in the midst of what he calls the unipolar era―a period as singular and important as any epoch in modern history. This era, Beckley contends, will endure because the US has a much larger economic and military lead over its closest rival, China, than most people think and the best prospects of any nation to amass wealth and power in the decades ahead.Deeply researched and brilliantly argued, Professor Beckley’s book covers hundreds of years of great power politics and develops new methods for measuring power and predicting the rise and fall of nations. According to Chatham House’s International Affairs, Unrivaled, “is by far the most comprehensive analysis to date on the power dynamics of the international system and clearly debunks the established narrative on US decline”. By documenting long-term trends in the global balance of power and explaining their implications for world politics, the book provides guidance for policymakers, businesspeople, and scholars alike.Charles Coutinho has a doctorate in history from New York University. Where he studied with Tony Judt, Stewart Stehlin and McGeorge Bundy. His Ph. D. dissertation was on Anglo-American relations in the run-up to the Suez Crisis of 1956. His area of specialization is 19th and 20th-century European, American diplomatic and political history. He has written recently for the Journal of Intelligence History and Chatham House’s International Affairs. It you have a recent title to suggest for a podcast, please send an e-mail to more about your ad choices. Visit
The past decade has seen a tremendous production of scholarship on American missionary endeavors in the Middle East. In Faithful Encounters: Authorities and American Missionaries in the Ottoman Empire (McGill-Queens University Press, 2018), Emrah Şahin approaches this dynamic field of inquiry from a less-common perspective, that of the Ottoman Empire. Relying on largely untapped official imperial sources emanating from the Sublime Porte, Şahin recounts complaints from local authorities and fraught diplomatic considerations, which Ottoman sultans, ministers, and bureaucrats were forced to grapple with as they sought to maintain control of their Empire. Weaving together compelling stories from Ottoman records, the book describes the Sublime Porte’s efforts to regulate physical space, censor missionary publications, and monitor missionary activities. With engaging anecdotes, Faithful Encounters offers a more complex look at Muslim-Christian relations and America’s engagement with the Ottomans.Emrah Şahin is the director of the Turkish Studies Program at the University of Florida and a lecturer at their Center for European Studies. He earned his PhD in History from McGill University in Canada.Joshua Donovan is a PhD candidate at Columbia University’s Department of History. His dissertation examines national and sectarian identity formation within the Greek Orthodox Christian community in Syria, Lebanon, and the diaspora.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Illiberal China: The Ideological Challenge of the People's Republic of China (Palgrave, 2018) by Daniel Vukovich analyzes the 'intellectual political culture' of post-Tiananmen China in comparison to and in conflict with liberalism inside and outside the P.R.C. It questions how mainland politics and discourses challenge ‘our’ own, chiefly liberal and anti-‘statist’ political frameworks and how can one understand its general refusal of liberalism? Daniel argues that the Party-state poses a challenge to our understandings of politics, globalization, and even progress. To be illiberal is not necessarily to be reactionary and vulgar but to be anti-liberal and to seek alternatives to a degraded liberalism. The book analyses the history of liberalism within China, the forces of the New Left, and some of the sites of struggle such as Wukan and Hong Kong. Today I spoke with Daniel about his new book.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
In his book  Peacemakers: American Leadership and the End of Genocide in the Balkans (University of Kentucky Press, 2017), Ambassador James W. Pardew describes the role of the U.S. involvement in ending the wars and genocide in the Balkans.  As a soldier-diplomat, Pardew reminds us of the human nature of diplomacy.  Pardew was the one of the major players in U.S. policy making, leading Balkan task forces. He was also a policy advisor to NATO.  His book reflects the perspective of an experienced soldier who led the peace-making process through his use of compassion when dealing with mass murdering despots.  He refocuses the nature of the dissolution of the Yugoslavia as a humanitarian crisis that could not be settled without dealing with all of the participants.  His work is inspiring in the face of the senseless destruction of 100,000+ dead and thousands more displaced.  He proves that the good guys can win without dropping down to the levels of the tyrants.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
If today’s geopolitical fragmentation and the complexities of a ‘multipolar’ world order have led some to reminisce about the apparent stability of the Cold War era’s two ‘camps’, it should be remembered that things were of course never so straightforward. As Jeremy Friedman shows in Shadow Cold War: The Sino-Soviet Competition for the Third World, the 1960s-1980s Sino-Soviet Split(UNC Press, 2018) generated a much more fractious and divided global situation than today’s nostalgia would imply.Taking ideology seriously as a component of socialist foreign policy, Friedman’s new and compelling analysis shows how deep Moscow and Beijing’s disagreements ran, and argues that the division was based at heart on two quite different revolutionary agendas. Drawing on archives all over the world in multiple languages, Shadow Cold War traces the origins of these agendas in revolutionary experience in each of Russia and China, and reveals how these continued to manifest themselves as Soviet and Chinese interests competed in the developing world in the latter half of the twentieth century. With China in particular now a major player in many of the locations discussed here, this book should be indispensable reading for anyone seeking clarity about how we got to where we are today.Ed Pulford is a postdoctoral researcher at the Slavic-Eurasian Research Center, Hokkaido University. His research focuses on friendships and histories between the Chinese, Korean and Russian worlds, and northeast Asian indigenous groups.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
The practice of Partition understood as the physical division of territory along ethno-religious lines into separate nation-states is often regarded as a successful political "solution" to ethnic conflict. In their edited volume Partitions: A Transnational History of Twentieth-Century Territorial Separatism (Stanford University Press, 2019), Laura Robson and Arie Dubnov uncover the collective history of the concept of partition and locate its genealogy in the politics of twentieth-century empire and decolonization. Moving beyond the nationalist frameworks that served in the first instance to promote partition as a natural phenomenon, the volume discusses creation of new political entities in the world of the British empire, from the Irish Free State, to the Dominions (later Republics) of India and Pakistan, and Palestine.Yorgos Giannakopoulos is a currently a Junior Research Fellow in Durham University, UK. He is a historian of Modern Britain and Europe. His published research recovers the regional impact of British Intellectuals in Eastern Europe in the age of nationalism and internationalism.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
In this provocative challenge to United States policy and strategy, former Professor of Strategy & Policy at the US Naval War College, and author or editor of eleven books, Dr. Donald Stoker argues that America endures endless wars because its leaders no longer know how to think about war in strategic terms and he reveals how ideas on limited war and war in general have evolved against the backdrop of American conflicts in Korea, Vietnam, and Iraq. These ideas, he shows, were and are flawed and have undermined America's ability to understand, wage, and win its wars, and to secure peace afterwards. America's leaders he argues have too often taken the nation to war without understanding what they want or valuing victory, leading to the “forever wars” of today in Afghanistan and Iraq. Why America Loses Wars: Limited War and US Strategy from the Korean War to the Present(Cambridge University Press, 2019) dismantles seventy years of misguided thinking and lays the foundations for a new approach to the wars of tomorrow. Why American Loses War is a must read for policy practitioners, serving soldiers and the lay educated public.Charles Coutinho has a doctorate in history from New York University. Where he studied with Tony Judt, Stewart Stehlin and McGeorge Bundy. His Ph. D. dissertation was on Anglo-American relations in the run-up to the Suez Crisis of 1956. His area of specialization is 19th and 20th-century European, American diplomatic and political history. He has written recently for the Journal of Intelligence History and Chatham House’s International Affairs. It you have a recent title to suggest for a podcast, please send an e-mail to more about your ad choices. Visit
With the US in the midst of on-going negotiations with Iran, North Korea, and China, how is Congress playing a part? How is the new generation of Congress advocating for and against US action? Jeffrey Lantis’ new book answers these questions. He is the author of Foreign Policy Advocacy and Entrepreneurship: How a New Generation in Congress Is Shaping U.S. Engagement with the World(University of Michigan Press, 2019). Lantis is professor of political science at the College of Wooster.Through several case studies, Lantis shows how some of the freshest faces on Capitol Hill are advocating for change. From Elizabeth Warren to Tom Cotton, Michelle Bachman to Carlos Curbelo, members of Congress are staking out bold foreign policy stances on everything from trade to climate change. Lantis’ book weaves these cases together into a meaningful account of the contemporary Congress.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Anointed with Oil: How Christianity and Crude Made Modern America (Basic Books, 2019) places religion and oil at the center of American history. As prize-winning historian Darren Dochuk reveals, from the earliest discovery of oil in America during the Civil War, citizens saw oil as the nation's special blessing and its peculiar burden, the source of its prophetic mission in the world. Over the century that followed and down to the present day, the oil industry's leaders and its ordinary workers together fundamentally transformed American religion, business, and politics -- boosting America's ascent as the preeminent global power, giving shape to modern evangelical Christianity, fueling the rise of the Republican Right, and setting the terms for today's political and environmental debates.Ranging from the Civil War to the present, from West Texas to Saudi Arabia to the Alberta Tar Sands, and from oil-patch boomtowns to the White House, this is a sweeping, magisterial book that transforms how we understand our nation's history.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
In his new book, The Deepest Border: The Strait of Gibraltar and the Making of the Hispano-African Border(Stanford, 2019), Sasha D. Pack considers the Strait of Gibraltar as an untamed in-between space—from “shatter zone” to borderland. Far from the centers of authority of contending empires, the North African and Southern Iberian coast was a place where imperial, colonial, private, and piratical agents competed for local advantage. Sometimes they outmaneuvered each other; sometimes they cooperated.Gibraltar entered European politics in the Middle Ages, and became a symbol of the Atlantic Empire in the Early Modern period (the Pillars of Hercules of Emperor Charles V are featured on the Spanish flag to this day), but Pack’s study focuses on the nineteenth century. Europe’s new imperialism, Britannic naval supremacy, the age of steam, the ever-present danger of cholera, all mark the change of a Spanish-Moorish border into a multilateral one. So too does the multicultural mix of Europeans and North Africans, Muslims, Jews, Catholics, and Protestants who brought a spirit of convivencia (mutual toleration) into the region, unlike the nineteenth- and twentieth- century homogenizing nationalism that was at play elsewhere.In the middle of this theater, Dr. Pack follows the careers of adventuresome entrepreneurs, who manipulated the weak enforcement of conflicting laws in overlapping jurisdictions for their own gain. He calls these characters “slipstream potentates” because they maneuvered creatively in the wakes of great ships of state on their courses in the seas of international politics. (Other historians have called them “the last Barbary pirates.”) They bring color and detail to this already gripping narrative of international politics in Spain and North Africa in the century between Napoleon and Franco.Sasha D. Pack is Associate Professor of History at the University of Buffalo. He studies Modern Europe, Spain and Portugal, and the Mediterranean, focusing on transnational and political history.Krzysztof Odyniec is a historian of the Early Modern Spanish Empire specializing in culture, diplomacy, and travel. He completed his PhD in 2017 at UC Berkeley where he is now a Visiting Scholar and a Fellow in the Berkeley Connect in History program.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
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