There are two kinds of politics: international, which deals with diplomacy and international institutions like the United Nations, and national, which deals with domestic issues like taxes and education and the economy. As long as the national politics you’re reading about isn’t your native country, it counts for this challenge. After all, it’s a national government that decides its country’s diplomacy! Speaking of which, foreign policy really combines international and domestic politics. All books about foreign policy also fall under this category, and feel free to read books about your native country’s foreign policy as well as any other. So, since I’m an American, I could read a book about US foreign policy but not a book about the US supreme court. I could read all about South Africa’s apartheid system.
I’ve put together a reading list addressing various topics:

International Diplomacy

  • Summits by David Reynolds: this book looks at six key summits-diplomatic meetings between national leaders-of the twentieth century. I thought this was well-written and engaging-Reynolds tries to figure out why summits sometimes work and sometimes don’t.
  • Paris 1919: Six Months That Changed the World by Margaret Macmillan: a look at the peace talks after World War One. I haven’t read this one, but Janet says “The Margaret Macmillan one truly is worth the while. She is also the great(?)-granddaughter of Lloyd George, one of the main players in the book. I will confess that my head began to spin with the complexity of it all – imagine the difficulties faced by the participants. Even if they had been entirely selfless and altruistic, it would have been simply impossible to achieve results that would have satisfied everyone involved. Trying to answer the national aspirations of peoples they barely knew anything of was daunting, at the least. You come out of it with a vivid appreciation of the complexities of geopolitics, if nothing else.”
  • Diplomacy by Henry Kissinger: an examination of diplomacy, and international relations, beginning in the early 17th century Europe and going through twentieth century America. Despite how one feel’s about Kissinger’s politics, he’s quite a scholar, and the majority of the book is quite strong. However, Kissinger’s analysis of the time when he was in political power is hazy.
  • Chasing the Flame: One Man’s Fight to Save the World by Samantha Power: this biography of UN official Sergio Vieira de Mello also looks at UN refugee policies since the 1970s. Impeccably researched and well written, I absolutely loved this one! See my review.
  • The Cold War: A New History by John Lewis Gaddis: even though I made the line betwen history and politics the Cold War, on the assumption that most people know about it, a refresher course is always good. This one is very impressive: it’s readable, short, and intelligent. I recommend it!

International Relations

American Foreign Policy

Politics in Europe

Politics in Asia

Politics in Africa

Politics in the Middle East

Politics in Latin America


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