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It’s a hot day around here — a good one for thinking about summer reading, even though spending a day with a book isn’t on the Admissions Office agenda. For blog readers, the first suggestion list-within-a-list for today comes from Prof. Hess, who’s got you covered if you may be taking his DHP D260 or D267 class this September. Prof. Hess suggests:
Jihad in Saudi Arabia: Violence and Pan-Islamism since 1979, by Thomas Hegghammer
The Long Divergence: How Islamic Law Held Back the Middle East, by Timur Kuran
The Iran Primer: Power, Politics, and U.S. Policy, by Robin Wright
Afghanistan: A Cultural and Political History, by Thomas Barfield
A World Without Islam, by Graham E. Fuller
How Capitalism Was Built: The Transformation of Central and Eastern Europe, Russia, and Central Asia, by Anders Aslund
Black Garden: Armenia and Azerbaijan Through Peace and War, by Thomas de Waal
In response to my request, Prof. Perry told me the first book that came to mind is Jared Diamond’s Guns, Germs, and Steel, which he said is, “appropriate for Fletcher because it is cross-disciplinary — an anthropologist takes up an historical subject — and because it is jargon-free, a relief from so much that students must read.”
Finally (for today), Prof. Chayes keeps her recommendation in the family, by “heartily” recommending The Punishment of Virtue: Inside Afghanistan After the Taliban, by Sarah Chayes. She notes that, “It has been much used by military and civilians alike in Afghanistan.” And then Prof. Chayes offers an antidote for all this serious reading — a fiction selection: Wolf Hall, by Hilary Mantel. “Fascinating on the intrigues of government in the era of Henry VIII — much has not changed!”
Next week, I’ll point you toward some new work by the professors themselves.
In an annual ritual, a few weeks ago I asked the Fletcher faculty to recommend books for those who may want to pack a little preparatory reading into their pre-Fletcher summer. There’s really no obligation to cast aside your beach-worthy paperbacks! But, for those who want to feel more firmly on the grad school train, I’m happy to pass along some picks from the professors.
I’ll start with Prof. Uvin, who always comes through with some out-of-the-box choices. He wrote:
The best books I have read this year are Matterhorn by Karl Marlantes (a novel of the Vietnam War that brings war to life in a direct way I have never read before) and K Blows Top by Peter Carlson (a hysterically funny non-fiction book of Khrushchev’s visit to the U.S. in 1959 — pure Vonnegut, but all real!). I am currently reading The Information by James Gleick, which is a stunningly ambitious, well-written and interesting book so far. I am drowning in information already, and yet this book is a true pleasure in getting me to think differently about the flood I am in….
Next, even before I asked the professors, students were asking, and I happened to see the response of Prof. Fawaz to an inquiry about books on Syria’s politics, foreign policy, or history. (Timely reading for any of us right now.) Rather than provide a limited book list, Prof. Fawaz pointed the student toward several authors: Abdul-Karim Rafeq, Hanna Batatu, Patrick Seale, Raymond Hinnebusch, and Steve Heydeman.
And, in response to my request, Prof. Blackhurst (who teaches in Fletcher’s GMAP program) reaffirmed a choice from last year, Pop Internationalism by Paul Krugman. Prof. Blackhurst calls it “easy-to-understand economics,” and said, “Every essay in the book is very relevant to the Fletcher program.”
I’ll pass along the remaining suggestions in the next week or two. Meanwhile, you can find previous years’ lists in the archives: 2010, 2009, 2008, and 2007. (There is more than one post in some years. You can scroll through all the choices by going to the Our Faculty category.)
April is a crazy time at Fletcher! Classes are nearing their conclusion on the 29th, which should be enough to keep students busy. But added to the reading, paper writing, and test taking, is a sudden burst of lectures and conferences that are the culmination of the year’s work of the School’s groups, programs, and faculty.
Cheating a bit by starting off on March 30, I’m going to list some of the events from which Fletcher students have been choosing. Coming up, or recently passed, we have:
The Center for Emerging Markets Enterprise conference on country management.
The WSSS (Water: Systems, Science and Society) symposium on Water in 2050.
The Tufts Institute for Global Leadership conference on A World of (wiki) Leaks.
The World Economic Forum at The Fletcher School.
The Killing Cash conference.
That may not even capture all the conferences since, for all I know, another notice will go out by email as soon as I post this blog entry.
And in addition to the conferences, there have been lectures (Bob Woodward) and films (The Dark Side of Chocolate) and book talks (Prof. Ian Johnstone) and more. In sum, a zillion opportunities to learn (and procrastinate) before the end of the semester and exams.
Tagged with: Events
The Grammy award ceremony took place last night, but I know what you were thinking: What I really want to know is which albums were considered best of 2010 by the Fletcher community! Am I right, reader friends? Well, the Admissions blog has got your back. Thanks to a time-killer of an email sent out last December by Fletcher Academic Dean Peter Uvin, I can share the top picks of 2010 with you. First, you may want to know how Dean Uvin kicked off the discussion. His message to the Social List said:
OK, students, it is time to have more important discussions here than the critical topics of international affairs. What are the 10 best albums of 2010? There seems to be no official Fletcher position on the matter, and I believe we need to address this right away. So here is my first take on it (in no order). All feedback welcome.
Arcade Fire, The Suburbs
Deerhunter, Halcyon Digest
Maximum Balloon, Maximum Balloon
Cloud Cult, Light Chasers
Blue Water White Death, Blue Water White Death
The Kissaway Trail, Sleep Mountain
Doveman, The Conformist
The Young Gods, Everybody Knows
I should point out that Dean Uvin is also Henry J. Leir Professor of International Humanitarian Studies and Director of the Institute for Human Security, titles that surely reinforce his qualifications as a music critic. Nonetheless, additions to his list poured in. Here are some of the student picks, both those that turned up several times, and those that seemed special. They’re in no particular order — just how I plucked them off of email responses.
Sleigh Bells, Treats
Tallest Man on Earth, The Wild Hunt
Big Boi, Sir Luscious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty
Cee Lo Green, The Lady Killer
Example, Won’t Go Quietly
Kanye West, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
Janelle Monae, Archandroid
Girls, Broken Dreams Club
Girl Talk, All Day
Nevermore, The Obsidian Conspiracy
Erykah Badu, New Amerykah
Gil Scott-Heron, I’m New Here
Group Inerane, Guitars from Agadez Vol. 3
Black Mountain, Wilderness Heart
Neil Young, Le Noise
A metal lover listed:
Audrey Horne, Audrey Horne
Black Label Society, Order of the Black
Black Keys, Brothers
A Nordic jazz/electronica lover included:
Efterklang, Magic Chairs
Jaga Jazzist, One Armed Bandit
There were more suggestions. Many, many more. More than I’m able to sort through and add to the list, but I’m sure the titles above will keep your ears busy for a while. Despite the over-abundance of listed choices, when I told my husband, Paul, about the discussion, he noted a few that have received a lot of ear-time in our house:
Corinne Bailey-Rae, The Sea
Mumford & Sons, Sigh No More
Sade, Soldier of Love
Florence & The Machine, Lungs
Any noteworthy omissions from your perspective? Feel free to include your choices as a comment. Happy listening!
I’ve been putting together summer reading lists for the blog for the last few years now. Scroll down through the posts in the Our Faculty category and you’ll see the previous compilations. I hasten to add that you are not, in any way, obligated to do any summer reading! Feel 100% comfortable sitting on the beach with your favorite Calvin and Hobbes collection! But I know that some students want a little something more, and my goal is to provide it.
This year, I may have presented the professors with a tougher assignment than I realized. I had thought it would be a nice complement to previous lists if we went with a new theme. I gave them two choices: to suggest something newly published; or to suggest a work of fiction. I think that’s where I lost them. Even several reminders didn’t (with a few exceptions) shake works of fiction out of their collective brains. So here’s the short list I was able to pull together this year.
First, on the new publications theme, Michael Klein came through right away, writing, “There have been a spate of books this year about the financial crisis. I would recommend: Too Big to Fail, by Andrew Ross Sorkin; and In Fed We Trust, by David Wessel. I’ve not read Simon Johnson’s book 13 Bankers, but it has gotten a lot of press, and is less complimentary of the efforts to combat the crisis than the other two books. I also enjoyed the book The Myth of the Rational Market by Justin Fox, which is more broadly about the development of the field of financial economics.”
Sticking with new non-fiction, Kim Wilson suggests an upcoming book on which she served as co-editor: Financial Promise for the Poor: How Groups Build Microsavings, along with 2009′s Portfolios of the Poor: How the World’s Poor Live on $2 a Day.
And then, after a wee bit of pestering on my part, I did receive a trickle of fiction suggestions. None other than Dean Stephen Bosworth came through for me with a few picks. On the fiction side, he suggests a series of North Korea-centered mysteries by James Church, which he describes as “written by a westerner but one with a remarkable feel for life in North Korea.” Dean Bosworth also threw in a non-fiction selection: Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea, by Barbara Demick. Finally, he wrote that “students interested in Asia might enjoy the book I wrote with Morton Abramawitz: Chasing the Sun, a series of essays on the U.S. and East Asia.”
John Perry suggested a book that was later suggested by a student and included in the list I posted earlier. He told me, “I would recommend Vermeer’s Hat, by Timothy Brooks. It is a beautifully written account, using some of Vermeer’s paintings to provide a window into the world of the 17th century. Both Andy Hess, as I hear, and I are using it in classes.”
And, last, Bill Martel, who so kindly stopped by the office to apologize for failing to send me a selection, not knowing that I would bar the door until he came up with something. He finally chose The Kite Runner, for its portrayal of society in Afghanistan.
So that’s this summer’s list from the professors. Next year, I’ll define their assignment differently so that I can develop a longer list. Meanwhile, a little bit of fiction could be just the thing for a summer day.
One last little note about my vacation travels. On the flight from Boston to London, I spotted Fletcher Professor John Hammock, who was on his way to Oxford. Two weeks later, there he was again, on our return flight. I was a zillion rows behind him on the way home and didn’t have a chance to say hello — though our flight was so thoroughly delayed that I could have shared my entire life’s story!
But seeing Prof. Hammock on the plane reminded me that, many years ago, I found myself on a flight from California with Professor Bill Moomaw. No one ever wants to talk on a red-eye, but we had a chance to chat on a connecting flight from Pittsburgh (or was it Philadelphia?) to Boston.
And, there was the time that I spotted Michael Klein in the waiting area by the gates at Boston’s Logan Airport. We were (as usual) going to London. I think he and his family were on their way to San Juan.
And…there was the afternoon that Graham Bird and I were both waiting at Logan for family to arrive from London. Prof. Bird teaches in Fletcher’s Summer School, but spends the off-season (i.e., the academic year) at University of Sussex.
Since I don’t really travel all that much, I attribute these shared planes and sightings to the busy travels of the Fletcher faculty. But since I like to travel, working among so many people who have road-trip tales to share is one of the benefits of my many years at Fletcher.
By alphabetic coincidence, today’s list of book picks includes two on economic issues — but also two books perfect for airplane reading.
Laurent Jacque suggests When Genius Failed: The Rise and Fall of Long-Term Capital Management, by Roger Lowenstein.
Michael Klein also points us toward books that can help us understand the current economy. He wrote: “I hesitate a bit to recommend anything on the financial crisis, since it is such a fluid situation, but a good background to it can be gained by reading Financial Shock: Global Panic and Government Bailouts — How We Got Here and What Must Be Done to Fix It, by Mark Zandi. Also, at this time when finance is seen as a problem, it is useful to remember how well-functioning financial markets can help, so I also recommend Saving Capitalism from the Capitalists by Raghuram G. Rajan and Luigi Zingales.”
As I said in the first picks post, there’s something here for everyone, even if you want to rest your brain this summer. (Though I also hasten to add that NOTHING is required and brain-resters need not worry.) I’d love to hear your reaction to the list. Post your comments — which books have you read? Any that you particularly recommend to fellow students? Chime in!
Doing a little pre-Fletcher reading doesn’t mean you need to lock yourself in the library. Some of the professors’ picks are beach-worthy! No matter where (or whether) you decide to read, here’s Part II of the professors’ suggestion list.
Michael Glennon offers an array of choices, from a variety of time periods and genres. Something for every reader! He lists:
1. Groupthink, by Irving Janus.
2. The Arrogance of Power, by J. William Fulbright
3. The Metaphysical Club, by Louis Menand
4. Memoirs: 1925-1950, by George F. Kennan
5. West with the Night, by Beryl Markham
6. Age of Extremes, by Eric Hobsbawm
7. Imperium, by Robert Harris
I’m going to try to pick up West with the Night for my daughter — looks like her kind of book, and I might well borrow it back from her.
Donald Gonson not only makes suggestions but provides context for the choices: “I have two books that might be good for your summer reading list. One is The New Financial Order: Risk in the 21st Century by Robert J. Shiller. The focus of corporate governance is increasingly about management of risk these days. Corporate failure to manage risk has not only put the existence of business institutions in jeopardy, but has threatened the entire global financial system! With his usual prescience — he wrote widely read and widely admired books about the dot.com and housing bubbles before they burst — Shiller looks at the challenge of managing risk in the modern world. Other books focus on the specific issues of the current market meltdowns, but this book is useful in that it provides a broader context for our current difficulties. (It also suggests extremely relevant reforms which could have mitigated our current crisis, if only….)
“The other book I recommend is Guns, Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond. This is a fascinating look at the evolution of societies, politically and economically, from earliest days. In fact, the book could well have been subtitled “Early History as a Study in Political Economy,” although that would have been a surprise for two reasons: Diamond is an anthropologist, and the book is too much fun for such a sober title. It presents a great analysis of the rise of the rule of law and of the economic forces that shape the law (both very relevant to the study of corporate governance).”
The last picks for today come from Hurst Hannum. His first suggestion is Farhad Manjoo’s True Enough: Learning to Live in a Post-Fact Society. His second suggestion is possibly the most intriguing of this year’s list. He chooses The Plague by Albert Camus. Certainly a book you can slip in your bag and that will engage you while you wait for your vacation flight.
The final selections, from professors whose last names start with I through Z, will appear next week. Stay tuned!
Just before classes ended, I sent a note to the faculty asking for summer reading suggestions for incoming students. (I like to think that this list will be useful for our newest Fletcher students, as well as anyone still reading the blog who will attend a different grad school.) I’ve collected suggestions before, and ran short lists last summer, and in 2007. This year I modified my request slightly: Instead of asking the professors to suggest books that incoming students could read to prepare, I asked them instead for the books they might pass along to a family member who wanted to learn about their area of expertise. I hoped it would result in some “lighter” reading, and I think it did.
Of course, suggesting that you do preparatory reading contradicts the students’ advice, posted recently. I’ll just need to leave it to you to decide whether you should follow the advice to relax and recharge, or read one of the books listed below.
One final note: I only asked the profs for their picks. I didn’t ask them to elaborate on their choices. I regret that now, though I think the simplicity of the assignment led to the high number of responses. I’ll include any comments they happened to send.
So, with no further discussion, here (alphabetically by the professors’ last names) are the first of the book picks.
First, Richard Blackhurst, who teaches the mid-career folk in the GMAP program, suggests Paul Krugman’s Pop Internationalism. He notes: “The students will, of course, recognize Paul Krugman’s name. However, this collection of economic essays pre-dates his much more political New York Times weekly columns, and is both very entertaining, accessible, and directly relevant to many — if not all — of the economics and political science courses they will take at Tufts.”
Antonia Chayes gives a little shout-out to her daughter, when she says, “I would add first and foremost, Sarah Chayes, The Punishment of Virtue: Inside Afghanistan After the Taliban.” Prof. Chayes also suggests Tom Ricks’s new book on Iraq, The Gamble: General David Petraeus and the American Military Adventure in Iraq, 2006-2008, as well as A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier, Ishmael Beah’s memoir on child soldiers in Sierra Leone.
And last (for today), Brian Ganson suggests Kings of Peace, Pawns of War: The Untold Story of Peace-Making by Harriet Martin (with a foreward by Kofi Annan), and Making Social Science Matter: Why Social Inquiry Fails and How It Can Succeed Again by Bent Flyvbjerg (translated by Steven Sampson).
That should keep you all busy for the week. More to come soon!
A feature on the work of Fletcher Professor John Hammock appears in this week’s on-line Tufts Journal. In writing his recent book, Practical Idealists: Changing the World and Getting Paid, Prof. Hammock worked with Fletcher alum Alissa Wilson. Alissa is an old Admissions favorite. She served two years on the Admissions Committee, conducted interviews, and just hung around here being helpful whenever she could. I should also note that Prof. Hammock is a Fletcher alum, and the parent of a Fletcher alum.
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