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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

199 Episodes
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There is perhaps no more iconic symbol of the Cold War than the Berlin Wall, the 96-mile-long barrier erected around West Berlin in 1961 to stem the flow of refugees from Eastern Europe. In Checkpoint Charlie: The Cold War, The Berlin Wall, and the Most Dangerous Place On Earth (Scribner, 2019), Iain MacGregor draws upon interviews with a wide range of people to recount the history of the wall and how it affected the lives of the people on either side of it. Through their firsthand experiences he recounts the tension-filled hours when East German workers began constructing the first elements of what became an elaborate series of obstacles that restricted access to the two sides of the partitioned city. As Berliners gradually adapted to the presence of the wall, thousands of people on the eastern side risked their lives in their search for ways around, above, and below the barriers to gain their freedom in the West. As MacGregor explains, underlying much of this was the assumption by nearly all sides of the permanence of the wall, a belief that was proven false by the dramatic events of November 1989 which resulted in the fall of the Berlin Wall and the reuniting of the two sides of the German city.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
As Dr. Sara Lorenzini points out in her new book Global Development: A Cold War History (Princeton UP, 2019), the idea of economic development was a relatively novel one even as late as the 1940s. Much of the language of development was still being invented or refined by experts and policymakers. And yet, within a few decades, the idea of foreign aid for development had become a critical soft power tool for the United States, the Soviet Union, and the European powers during the Cold War. Newly independent states, meanwhile, articulated a need for development aid to help them overcome the impoverishing legacy of colonialism.Dr. Lorenzini’s book charts the development of this idea beginning in the early middle of the twentieth century until the late 1980s, when the end of the Cold War took some of the impetus away from demands for development aid. In addition to showing how the superpowers and Europeans participated in development schemes, she pays close attention to the role of multinational organizations in trying to facilitate and coordinate these demands while granting a voice to those in the Global South seeking development. The book is a useful reminder to those that development as an idea is never uncomplicated, and that the support for development had powerful domestic roots in addition to its international connections.Zeb Larson is a recent graduate of The Ohio State University with a PhD in History. His research deals with the anti-apartheid movement in the United States. To suggest a recent title or to contact him, please send an e-mail to zeb.larson@gmail.com.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Following World War II, in the midst of global decolonization and intensifying freedom struggles within its borders, the United States developed a worldwide police assistance program that aimed to crush left radicalism and extend its racial imperium. Although policing had long been part of the US colonial project, this new roving cadre of advisors funded, supplied, and trained foreign counterinsurgency forces on an unprecedented scale, developing a global cop-consciousness that spanned from Los Angeles to Saigon. In ​Badges Without Borders: How Global Counterinsurgency Transformed American Policing​ (University of California Press, 2019), Stuart Schrader makes the compelling case that the growth of carceral state is just one front of a “discretionary empire” that persists today.Badges Without Borders​ traces the tangled routes of police bureaucrats as they brought their munitions, methods, and money to precincts at home and abroad, and obviates the divide between “foreign” and “domestic” policy. Ultimately, Schrader suggests that US global power has relied on police reform to endlessly reproduce an ideology of “security.”Patrick Reilly​ is a PhD student in US History at Vanderbilt University. He studies police, community organizations, and urban development.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Speaking to an advisor in 1966 about America's escalation of forces in Vietnam, American Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara confessed: 'We've made mistakes in Vietnam … I've made mistakes. But the mistakes I made are not the ones they say I made'. In her book, 'I Made Mistakes': Robert McNamara's Vietnam War Policy, 1960-1968 (Cambridge University Press, 2018), Dr. Aurélie Basha i Novosejt, Lecturer in American History at the University of Kent, provides a fresh and controversial examination of McNamara's decisions during the Vietnam War. Although McNamara is remembered as the architect of the Vietnam War, Dr. Novosejt draws on new primary sources - including the diaries of his close confidant & advisor John T. McNaughton - to reveal a man who resisted the war more than most. As Secretary of Defense, he did not want the costs of the war associated with a new international commitment in Vietnam, but he sacrificed these misgivings to instead become the public face of the war out of a sense of loyalty to the President Lyndon B. Johnson.  Cambridge University Professor Andrew Preston calls Dr. Novosejt’s book: ‘boldly original’, which sheds ‘new light on the subject’. In short Dr. Novosejt's books is a must read for any serious student of the Americanization of the Vietnam War in the 1960's.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 Charlescoutinho@aol.com.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
As you may know, university presses publish a lot of good books. In fact, they publish thousands of them every year. They are different from most trade books in that most of them are what you might called "fundamental research." Their authors--dedicated researchers one and all--provide the scholarly stuff upon which many non-fiction trade books are based. So when you are reading, say, a popular history, you are often reading UP books at one remove. Of course, some UP books are also bestsellers, and they are all well written (and, I should say, thoroughly vetted thanks to the peer review system), but the greatest contribution of UPs is to provide a base of fundamental research to the public. And they do a great job of it.How do they do it? Today I talked to Kathryn Conrad, the president of the Association of University Presses, about the work of UPs, the challenges they face, and some terrific new directions they are going. We also talked about why, if you have a scholarly book in progress, you should talk to UP editors early and often. And she explains how! Listen in.Marshall Poe is the editor of the New Books Network. He can be reached at marshallpoe@gmail.com.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
In July 1958, U.S. Marines stormed the beach in Beirut, Lebanon, ready for combat. Farcically. they were greeted by vendors and sunbathers. Fortunately, the rest of their mission—helping to end Lebanon’s first civil war—went nearly as smoothly and successfully, thanks in large part to the skillful work of American diplomats on site, who helped arrange a compromise solution. Future American interventions in the region would not work out quite as well.Bruce Rydel’s new book Beirut 1958: How America's Wars in the Middle East Began (Brookings, 2019), tells the now-forgotten story (forgotten, that is, in the United States) of the first U.S. combat operation in the Middle East. President Eisenhower sent the Marines in the wake of a bloody coup in Iraq, a seismic event that altered politics not only of that country but eventually of the entire region. Eisenhower feared that the coup, along with other conspiracies and events that seemed mysterious back in Washington, threatened American interests in the Middle East. His action, and those of others, were driven in large part by a cast of fascinating characters whose espionage and covert actions could be grist for a movie.Although Eisenhower’s intervention in Lebanon was unique, certainly in its relatively benign outcome, it does hold important lessons for today’s policymakers as they seek to deal with the always unexpected challenges in the Middle East. Veteran CIA analyst, National Security Council Staff member and Assistant Secretary of Defence Bruce Reidel describes the scene as it emerged six decades ago, and he suggests that some of the lessons learned then are still valid today. A key lesson? Not to rush to judgment when surprised by the unexpected. And don’t assume the worst.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 Charlescoutinho@aol.com.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Whether man-made or naturally occurring, large-scale disasters can cause fatalities and injuries, devastate property and communities, savage the environment, impose significant financial burdens on individuals and firms, and test political leadership. Moreover, global challenges such as climate change and terrorism reveal the interdependent and interconnected nature of our current moment: what occurs in one nation or geographical region is likely to have effects across the globe. Our information age creates new and more integrated forms of communication that incur risks that are difficult to evaluate, let alone anticipate. All of this makes clear that innovative approaches to assessing and managing risk are urgently required.When catastrophic risk management was in its inception thirty years ago, scientists and engineers would provide estimates of the probability of specific types of accidents and their potential consequences. Economists would then propose risk management policies based on those experts' estimates with little thought as to how this data would be used by interested parties. Today, however, the disciplines of finance, geography, history, insurance, marketing, political science, sociology, and the decision sciences combine scientific knowledge on risk assessment with a better appreciation for the importance of improving individual and collective decision-making processes.The essays in The Future of Risk Management (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2019), edited by Howard Kunreuther, Robert J. Meyer, Erwann O. Michel-Kerjan, highlight past research, recent discoveries, and open questions written by leading thinkers in risk management and behavioral sciences. The Future of Risk Management provides scholars, businesses, civil servants, and the concerned public tools for making more informed decisions and developing long-term strategies for reducing future losses from potentially catastrophic events.Visit the University of Pennsylvania Press and enter promo code RISK50 during checkout to receive a 50% discount. Valid until November 15, 2019.Beth Windisch is a national security practitioner. You can tweet her @bethwindisch.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
In the twenty-five years after 1989, the world enjoyed the deepest peace in history. In The Rise and Fall of Peace on Earth (Oxford Univiersity Press, 2019), the eminent foreign policy scholar Michael Mandelbaum examines that remarkable quarter century, describing how and why the peace was established and then fell apart. To be sure, wars took place in this era, but less frequently and on a far smaller scale than in previous periods. Mandelbaum argues that the widespread peace ended because three major countries -- Vladimir Putin's Russia in Europe, Xi Jinping's China in East Asia, and the Shia clerics' Iran in the Middle East -- put an end to it with aggressive nationalist policies aimed at overturning the prevailing political arrangements in their respective regions. The three had a common motive: their need to survive in a democratic age with their countries' prospects for economic growth uncertain.Mandelbaum further argues that the key to the return of peace lies in the advent of genuine democracy, including free elections and the protection of religious, economic, and political liberty. Yet, since recent history has shown that democracy cannot be imposed from the outside, The Rise and Fall of Peace on Earth has a dual message: while the world has a formula for peace, there is no way to ensure that all countries will embrace itCharles 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 Charlescoutinho@aol.com.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
The things that make people academics -- as deep fascination with some arcane subject, often bordering on obsession, and a comfort with the solitude that developing expertise requires -- do not necessarily make us good teachers. Jessamyn Neuhaus’s Geeky Pedagogy: A Guide for Intellectuals, Introverts, and Nerds Who Want to Be Effective Teachers (West Virginia University Press, 2019) helps us to identify and embrace that geekiness in us and then offers practical, step-by-step guidelines for how to turn it to effective pedagogy. It’s a sharp, slim, and entertaining volume that can make better teachers of us all.Stephen Pimpare is Senior Lecturer in the Politics & Society Program and Faculty Fellow at the Carsey School of Public Policy at the University of New Hampshire. He is the author of The New Victorians (New Press, 2004), A Peoples History of Poverty in America (New Press, 2008), winner of the Michael Harrington Award, and Ghettos, Tramps and Welfare Queens: Down and Out on the Silver Screen (Oxford, 2017).Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
In his new book The War for Muddy Waters: Pirates, Terrorists, Traffickers, and Maritime Security (Naval Institute Press, 2019), Joshua Tallis uses the “broken windows” theory of policing to reexamine the littorals, developing a multidimensional view of the maritime threat environment. With a foundational case study of the Caribbean, Tallis explores the connections between the narcotics trade, trafficking, money laundering, and weak institutions. He finds that networks are leveraged for multiple streams of illicit activity, but enforcement efforts sometimes only focus on a single threat. Additionally, Tallis compares these findings in two comparative case studies in the Gulf of Guinea and the Straits of Malacca and Singapore. Hybrid threats emerge as a theme in these case studies, marked by the fusion of criminality and terrorism and conventional and unconventional tactics. Ultimately, Tallis recommends actors in the maritime environment evaluate threats in this multidimensional context and collaborate with communities to achieve overarching strategic objectives.Beth Windisch is a national security practitioner. You can tweet her @bethwindisch.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
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