This holiday season I finally had some time to enjoy a good book or two. I would recommend reading Ian McEwans Solar, one of his strongest novels, but that carries the risk of me being carried away and, after all, this is a blog devoted to international politics. So, here is my holiday reading list:
1. Ron E. Hassner, War on Sacred Grounds. Conveniently short, Hassner looks at why conflicts with religious underpinnings are particularly hard to resolve and usually drag on for centuries. His basic argument is that whereas territorial conflicts can be resolved by partitions, religious conflicts cannot. They are characterised by the indivisibility of the religious site over which a conflict is being waged, making a religious conflict really inextricable. Its a good read, though the thesis would hardly have needed 200 pages.
2. Colin Dueck, Hard Line. Dueck has written a superb short history of American Republican Presidents. His basic question is not whether Democratic or Republican Presidents have had more success in international politics and crisis management. He looks at changes within the Republican Party itself and at the different angles from which Republican Presidents approached international relations. In doing so, he describes major realignments in party loyalties and concludes that some Republican presidents had more success than is usually ascribed to them, i.e. Nixon and Bush.
3. David Priestland, The Red Flag. Priestland added the latest in a row of book on gobal history. His 600 pages are an apt description of the development of communism, from its inception to its collapse. Always sharp, this book is worthwhile reading. Priestland pays attention to developments within the Soviet Union and has a particularly readable chapter on communist inspired rebel movements. Its a brilliant book and historical science at its best.