From the monthly archives: June 2007

Our around-the-office conversation last week about book choices led to a different idea. I asked some members of our faculty (randomly selected on the basis of who is currently in town) what they would recommend to new students who said they would like to do some preparatory reading, but only had time for one book. Some of the professors linked the book to their courses. Others provided a more general recommendation. These might not be the books you would want to take to the beach this summer, but here are some of the professors’ ideas for useful preparation.

Ian Johnstone, one of our international lawyers recommended Foundations of International Law and Politics (edited by Oona Anne Hathaway and Harold Hongju Koh) for his International Organizations course (ILO L220), and Understanding Peacekeeping, written by Alex J. Bellamy, Paul Williams, and Stuart Griffin for his Peace Operations course (ILO L224).

Another member of the law faculty, Joel Trachtman makes a general recommendation: Research Handbook in International Economic Law (by Andrew T. Guzman & Alan O. Sykes), which he notes has a number of excellent papers introducing various topics in international economic law.

Switching to a different Fletcher division, historian Leila Fawaz suggests: Between Memory And Desire: The Middle East In A Troubled Age (by R. Stephen Humphreys). She adds that Guests of the Sheik: An Ethnography of an Iraqi Village (by Elizabeth W. Fernea) is “a wonderful very old book” that is useful for beginners in the field.

Covering a different part of the world, Alan Wachman notes that future students interested in “understanding the narrative of modern China” could begin with In Search of Modern China (by Jonathan D. Spence), while those wishing to focus on Chinese international relations and strategy could look at Cultural Realism: Strategic Culture and Grand Strategy in Chinese History (by Alastair Iain Johnston). His last suggestion for those interested in China, particularly modern China’s history of territorial disputes in Asia, is Imperial Rivals: China, Russia, and their Disputed Frontier (by S.C.M. Paine). But his suggestion for general knowledge is that “every student of international politics ought to read Thucydides’s history of the Peloponnesian Wars.”

As for warfare in a more modern setting, Richard Shultz recommends Utility of Force: The Art of War in the Modern World (by Rupert Smith), which he calls an “interesting walk through the 90s, up to the present” dealing with the changing nature of war.

Last, Alan Henrikson suggests a book that he has, in fact, told his students to start this summer, though they won’t take his course until the spring semester: Postwar: A History of Europe Since 1945 (by Tony Judt). He tells me it’s long (“Tolstoian” is how he refers to it) but that it’s a “perfect book for serious students in international relations and history to read for background” and not only for those interested in Europe.

More suggestions may be coming later in the summer. Rest assured — there’s no required pre-Fletcher reading. But this list may give you a sense of the type of material out there to help you prepare for your graduate studies. Happy reading!

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I was surprised last week when I inadvertently caused a fuss in the office. I had asked my colleagues to give me some book picks for a Summer Reading List. I wanted the books to be ones that we either had, in fact, or might, in the future, recommend to Fletcher students in a casual way. Over coffee in the Hall of Flags, for example. I thought our book choices would tell our readers a bit more about the Admissions staff.

And I think it’s true! The fuss was caused by everyone’s indecision about which of many favorite books to include. It turns out that we all have a ready list in mind of Fletcher-friendly books to recommend. So here goes. I’ve included the book title and author, and a note on why it was chosen. (Be warned, though, that these are the books to help you prepare for coffee hour only! Not for Fletcher classes!)

Covering many geographic locations, Peter recommends:
Ghostwritten, by David Mitchell
“This novel loosely weaves together nine interconnected stories that span the globe and follow such characters as a Japanese cultist, a corrupt British lawyer in Hong Kong, the owner of a Chinese tea-shop, a Russian art thief, an Irish physicist, and a late-night radio host. Each story takes place in a different location — Okinawa, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Mongolia, St. Petersburg, London, Ireland, and New York — and explores themes of coincidence, causality, and fate.”

Roxana, who has spent most of her life outside the U.S., looked for a book centered in a place she knows, and chose:
Dreams of Trespass: Tales of a Harem Girlhood, by Fatima Mernissi
“This is an excellent book about a harem in 1940s Fez, Morocco. The book touches upon issues of gender equality, Islam, and Morocco during World War II.”

Laurie decided to offer a book to prepare you for Social Hour, rather than Coffee Hour:
How to Taste: A Guide to Enjoying Wine, by Jancis Robinson
“We often chat socially with students during social hours or at one of Fletcher’s many wine and cheese events; therefore I’d like to recommend this wine book. It’s a great book for beginners who are starting to explore the world of wine, a fun thing to do with international friends at Fletcher.”

It turns out Justin’s book selection works well in or out of Fletcher classes:
The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11 by Lawrence Wright
“I initially heard about this book on a radio show with Lawrence Wright. The discussion focused on topics like the historical rise of radical Islam, how Al-Qaeda evolved and why it went on to view the United States as a mortal enemy of Islam. I’m impressed by the scope, depth, and clarity of Wright’s reporting on the motivations of people like Osama Bin Laden. It is a landmark book in the search for answers as to why events like 9/11 happen.”

Sticking with the non-fiction trend, Kristen chose:
Full Tilt: Ireland to India with a Bicycle, by Dervla Murphy
“In 1965, Murphy set off — alone — on her bike, riding from her native Ireland to India. This book mainly chronicles her journey across Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. While it’s fascinating in its own right as an extraordinary story, it’s even more poignant from today’s perspective when thinking about the massive change in the region.”

And as for me:
My own summer reading can be all over the map. (In the interest of full disclosure, I admit that my whole family is waiting for the final Harry Potter book. My daughter will read it first – I’ll need to get in line. When I have finally read it, though, I’m sure I can count on many HP conversations at Fletcher.) But my choice for this reading list is Interpreter of Maladies, by Jhumpa Lahiri. It’s a collection of short stories with much to share about Indian culture and themes of assimilation. A special characteristic, for a Fletcher over-coffee conversation, is that some of the stories (as well as Lahiri’s novel The Namesake) take place in the Boston area.

So that’s our first attempt at a Summer Reading List. If you read any of our choices, please let us know what you think. Or post your own Fletcher-friendly choices in a comment. Happy Summer Reading!


Several of our recent entries have mentioned that we’re preparing for the fall and the 2007-08 admissions cycle. Now you can join us in getting ready by scheduling a visit. The full schedule of Information Sessions and Evaluative Interviews will start on Monday, September 17, by which time classes will be in full swing. (Check out our class schedule if you would like to sit in on any particularly class, or meet a certain professor.)

If you know when you will be in the Boston area, or if you’re ready to make that decision, please do yourself a favor and schedule your interview now. Although you may be successful in September if you call for a last minute appointment, we’ll almost never have anything available on short notice in November. We hate to turn anyone away! Book your appointment now!

Fletcher applicants (as well as our students and alumni) are a mobile bunch. If you wish you could participate in an interview, but you are leaving in July for a year in a remote location, we would be happy to try to accommodate you this summer. Although we encourage everyone to visit when classes are in session, and we have only very limited times available for summer interviews, we understand that the fall schedule may not work for everyone.

So, come on over! We’re looking forward to meeting you!


My colleague, Peter VanDerwater has taken the lead on a new project for the Admissions Office. In this entry, he’ll introduce you to a new Fletcher degree program.

With the arrival of the summer’s warm temperatures, the academic degrees at Fletcher are also on the rise. As you may have noticed when browsing our website, we have been working hard to develop and strengthen our academic offerings. In addition to the new MIB program that Kristen mentioned in her recent blog entry, and several new exchange programs, we are also excited to introduce a new Master of Laws (LLM) in International Law degree starting in Fall 2008.

With a quick glance at the headlines on the front page of any major newspaper — covering topics ranging from climate change agreements and trade negotiations, to the detention of terror suspects, and nuclear non-proliferation regulations — it is easy to see why the study of international law is increasingly important in the 21st Century.

Drawing upon our unique strength in international law, Fletcher’s LLM will address the historical, political, cultural, and economic framework within which contemporary international lawyers operate. While law schools worldwide offer many different LLM programs, Fletcher is the only school of international affairs to offer such a degree. A distinguishing feature of our program, and the hallmark of The Fletcher School, is its interdisciplinary nature. Students will examine international law through the prism of international affairs — encompassing interrelated areas such as development economics, international business, human security, international environment and resource policy, security studies, international trade and commercial policies, and diplomacy.

Fletcher’s LLM will be a one-year residential program consisting of eight courses: at least five in law and two from the other divisions at Fletcher (Economics and International Business, and Diplomacy, History, and Politics). While LLM students will have the flexibility to individualize their own programs within this framework, they may also choose to follow three optional curricular tracks within the law curriculum. In addition, students will participate in an international law High Table — an on-going colloquium run by the international law faculty that includes presentations by faculty, visiting scholars, speakers, and students — and will attend a three-day, year-end capstone symposium held at Tufts’ European Center in beautiful Talloires, France.

The LLM is designed for students who have already earned a JD degree from an ABA-approved law school in the U.S., or who have received an equivalent legal education from a foreign university, and who have several years of professional legal experience. The program will prepare students to begin or continue a career in international or non-governmental organizations, executive and congressional offices, diplomatic missions, foreign and defense ministries, law firms, media, and other international institutions.

Our new website has more details regarding the LLM admissions requirements. In the coming months we will be updating all of our materials to reflect our new degree offerings. In the meantime, you are welcome to contact us if you have any additional questions.

More information on all of our degree programs can be found on the Fletcher web site.


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