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I’m coming to the end of the oh-so-optional summer reading list.  Here’s this week’s installment.

Prof. Papa, F03, F10 (a graduate of Fletcher’s PhD program) wrote, “This is a super-exciting time for sustainable development and global governance because of major geopolitical and environmental challenges, which we will cover in my course Sustainable Development Diplomacy.  Two brand new books can put students on the frontiers of the current debates:  Want, Waste or War? The Global Resource Nexus and the Struggle for Land, Energy, Food, Water and Minerals, by Philip Andrews-Speed, Raimund Bleischwitz, Tim Boersma, Corey Johnson, Geoffrey Kemp, and Stacy D. VanDeveer Routledge; and The BRICS and the Future of Global Order, by Oliver Stuenkel.”

For Fletcher’s Processes of International Negotiation course, Prof. Babbitt suggests the classic, Getting to Yes.

Prof. Trachtman, accepting my invitation to make us aware of professors’ own writing, points us to his The Tools of Argument: How the Best Lawyers Think, Argue and Win, which he wrote based on his teaching experience and believes will be “excellent preparation for law courses.”

Prof. Lavdas also pointed us toward a book that he co-authored, the timely Stateness and Sovereign Debt: Greece in the European-Conundrum.

Finally, Prof. Mankad recommends Resonate by Nancy Duarte, as well as This I Believe: The Personal Philosophies of Remarkable Men and Womenby Jay Allison and Dan Gediman.

It’s Monday, so it must be time for another set of book suggestions from Fletcher faculty members.

From Prof. Conley-Zilkic at the World Peace FoundationRegarding the Pain of Others, by Susan Sontag; The Garden of Evening Mists: Nixon, Kissinger, and a Forgotten Genocide, by Tan Twan Eng; and The Blood Telegram, by Gary Bass.  With her focus on mass atrocities, Prof. Conley-Zilkic’s suggestions will always be meaningful, but also unsettling.

Prof. Everett wrote, “I would like to suggest The Prize by Daniel Yergin, which is a great read and will introduce students to the long historical connection between the oil industry and geopolitics.”

Prof. Hannum, one of the law professors who provided their picks, suggested The Improbability Principle: Why Coincidences, Miracles, and Rare Events Happen Every Day, by David J. Hand.

And Prof. Klein notes, “For background reading, I would suggest Alan Blinder’s book on the financial and economic crisis, After the Music Stopped.”

Continuing to aim for suggestions in a mix of fields, here’s the latest installment of the (utterly optional) summer reading list, provided by Fletcher professors.

The first suggestion comes from an unexpected place.  After last week’s posts ran, I received a note from Erin Coutts, the Outreach Coordinator for the Tufts Global Development and Environment Institute.  She had bumped into a tweet of one of the book lists and wanted to add a suggestion.  She wrote:

Jeffrey Ashe, a Research Fellow at Tufts’ Global Development And Environment Institute, has recently published In Their Own Hands: How Savings Groups are Revolutionizing Development, a history of community finance and financial empowerment.  Kim Wilson, a Fletcher Lecturer in International Business and Human Security and co-editor of Financial Promise for the Poor: How Groups Build Microsavings, called the book “essential for any practitioner interested in helping the poor transform small amounts of money into meaningful ways of changing their lives.”  In the book’s forward, Frances Moore Lappee proclaims that the stories in this book bury the myth that poor people have too little to save and that financial independence begins with a loan.

I’m happy to spread the word about a book by a Tufts professor, and I appreciate that Erin reached out to tell me about it.

Prof. Schaffner recommends The Last Hunger Season: A Year in an African Community on the Brink of Change, by Roger Thurow, noting that it “follows four real farm families in western Kenya through a year of hunger and hope.  It’s a great introduction to the difficult choices faced by poor rural households (something development economists think about a lot), which engages the heart as well as the mind.”

And, our last suggestion for today comes from Prof. Henrikson, who writes, “I would recommend:  Robert M. Gates, Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War.  The book is a remarkably candid reflection on American leadership, government and politics, written from a personal perspective and from deep knowledge of the affairs of the world.  It shows realism at its best, with humanism (and not simply power) at its center.”

I’m going to end my week the same way as I started it — with summer reading suggestions from the faculty.  In response to my request, the law faculty provided the most, and most varied, choices.  Here is Prof. Glennon’s list — so interesting! — ranging from weighty to light:

Sapiens, by Yuval Noah Harari (Prof. Glennon’s top pick.)
The Law of Nations: An Introduction to the International Law of Peace, edited by Sir Claud Humphrey Waldock and James Leslie Brierly
Incompleteness: The Proof and Paradox of Kurt Gödel, by Rebecca Goldstein
The Essential Holmes, edited by Richard A. Posner
“Melian Dialogue,” in Thucydides, History of the Peloponnesian War, (translated by Rex Warner)
A Man for All Seasons, by Robert Bolt
West with the Night, by Beryl Markham
Imperium, by Robert Harris
The Great Dissent: How Oliver Wendell Holmes Changed His Mind—and Changed the History of Free Speech in America, by Thomas Healy
The Metaphysical Club: A Story of Ideas in America, by Louis Menand
Catch-22, by Joseph Heller

Perhaps you’ll want to dive into Thucydides on the beach, or read Catch-22 on your way to work.  But it’s summer, and you might enjoy Prof. Knudsen’s suggestion: John Oliver on social responsibility in fashion (April 26, 2015).  She notes, “This is maybe on the light end — but definitely interesting as a bit of preparation for my Corporate Social Responsibility in the Age of Globalization seminar.”

Incoming students often ask us for a pre-Fletcher reading list, but, frankly, we don’t have one.  In fact, there is no reason at all why incoming students should worry about completing preparatory reading.  (Brushing up language and quant skills is a different matter.)  Nonetheless, it’s not like you shouldn’t or couldn’t do a little prep.  Or maybe you’d simply like to let experts in various fields point you toward their favorites, saving you the time and trouble of reading everything out there and making your own choices.

Whatever your reasons for wanting a reading list, and whether you are an incoming student or considering applying in the future, I am happy to help.  As in past years, I asked our professors for suggestions, but I made the request very broad, so that I wouldn’t be supplying a tedious list of text books.  Here are the ideas that I offered in my request for suggestions:

  • A book that you assign for your class and that incoming students might benefit from reading at a leisurely pace in the summer;
  • A book that provides good contextual explanation of your field;
  • Fiction or popular non-fiction that provides context for your field;
  • Articles or blogs that incoming students may not already know about;
  • A newly published book of your own that provides general context.

Today I’ll share the first batch of suggestions, covering much of the territory (from politics to business) of the Fletcher curriculum.

From Prof. Ladwig, the 2014-15 European Union Fellow in Residence: The Foreign Policy of the European Union, by Stephan Keukeleire and  Tom Delreux.  Prof. Ladwig notes, “I would recommend one particular book — not because it is about a subject I could be perceived to be selfishly promoting, but because it simply is the authoritative and well written book on foreign policy and one of its key players.”

From Prof. Salacuse:, a lawyer by training who has done a great deal of work on negotiations: Thirteen Days in September — Carter, Begin and Sadat at Camp David, by Lawrence Wright.  Prof. Salacuse notes, “For students interested in international conflict resolution, the Middle East, or just international relations generally, I would strongly recommend this book, for a readable, day-by-day account of what transpired at the Camp David negotiations in 1978, leading to the peace treaty between Egypt and Israel.  It nicely captures all the frustrations and successes of those talks and the impact of the three protagonists’ personalities on the process.”

And from Prof. Jacque, who guides students to an understanding of international finance, several selections from diverse genres: Capital in the 21st Century, by Thomas Piketty; Flash Boys, by Michael Lewis; The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable, by Nassim Nicholas Taleb; and his own Global Derivative Debacles: From Theory to Malpractice.

I’ll be back with more suggestions throughout this month.

A few weeks back, I pointed readers toward the book lists that I had compiled in past years for incoming students.  Along the way, I was included (essentially for eavesdropping purposes) in an email discussion among a few professors, who were each considering what books might be included in a list of foundational readings for their corner of the International Affairs field.  A more complete list may become a reality in the future, but for now, I wanted to share the introductory list.

Ian Johnstone, Fletcher’s academic dean, recommended this “short list of influential IR books that spill over into international law and organizations”:

Kenneth Waltz, Theory of International Politics
Robert Keohane and Joseph Nye, Power and Interdependence
Martha Finnemore and Michael Barnett, Rules for the World: International Organizations in Global Politics
Rosalyn Higgins, Problems and Process: International Law and How We Use It

Prof. Joel Trachtman noted:

“I would recommend Rethinking Social Inquiry, edited by Henry Brady and David Collier, as an introduction to how we know and argue in social science.  For an introduction to international law, there’s Sean Murphy’s Principles of International Law.”

Prof. Michael Klein wrote:

“For a background book, I would suggest Alan Blinder’s book on the financial and economic crisis, After the Music Stopped.”

Finally, for this very short list, Prof. Alan Henrikson said:

“My top candidate for inclusion on such a list now is Robert Gates, Duty, a truly instructive book about American government and much more, including personal ethics and the dilemmas of public policy.”

Naturally, I’m still not assigning reading for blog readers, but I wanted to share what I had learned.

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I was asked last week whether the Admissions Blog would feature a list of recommended readings for incoming students this year.  As it happens, I wasn’t planning to gather a new list, but I’m happy to be able to point you back toward suggestions provided by our professors in previous years.  I’ve gathered all the posts, dating back to 2007, in a cleaned up Professors Suggest tag.

Though no reading at all is required in the summer before you enroll, you might want to pick up a book to get your mind around upcoming coursework.  Or maybe you just want to see how many of the listed books you have already read.  Not all the suggestions are heavy — at least one of the posts includes a few fiction options.

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For the final entry in this series of posts listing suggested reading, I’m not going to try to create an underlying theme.  Here is a diverse mix of theoretical and practical works.

Prof. John Burgess — who teaches Fletcher courses on international mergers and acquisitions and international finance, in addition to his day job at a Boston law firm — recommends, “Benn Steil’s The Battle of Bretton Woods, which deftly combines geopolitics, economic theory and practice, and personalities to describe the history of the Bretton Woods Conference and its implications for the post-war world.  A great combination of diplomatic history, biography and analysis.”

Prof. Jes Salacuse told me, “One recent book that might be of interest is Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson’s, Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty.”

Prof. Bill Martel suggests, “One work I assign in my Decision Making and Public Policy and my Evolution of Grand Strategy, which incoming students would benefit from reading, is Jonah Lehrer’s How We Decide.”

Two professors who followed my instruction to include their own recent work among their suggestions are Prof. Joel Trachtman, who recently published The Future of International Law: Global Government, and Prof. James Forest, who noted that his The Terrorism Lectures, is “good prep for my Modern Terrorism and Counterterrorism class, and an inexpensive book as well.”

A suggestion from Prof. Leila Fawaz came with an apology that she wasn’t supplying more suggestions.  She told me to point readers “back to an old but reliable one, Albert Hourani, A History of the Arab Peoples.”

Prof. Cheyanne Scharbatke-Church said that “anyone interested in the NGO sector and donors to it” should read Uncharitable by Dan Pallotta, which will connect to NGO Management and to her DME module series.

And, finally, because Fletcher students will all, ultimately, need to go beyond reading and do some writing themselves, Prof. John Perry suggests, Jacques Barzun, Simple and Direct: A Rhetoric for Writers.

Happy reading (and writing) everyone!

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Continuing the reading list theme, I would nonetheless be remiss if I didn’t first tell you about the beautiful late spring day we’re experiencing today.  The sky is completely cloud free — so beautiful I couldn’t resist snapping a photo.  See for yourself:

June 4 sky

If I weren’t at work, it would be a perfect day to grab a book and read.  Before I go ahead and list more suggestions for your summer reading, I want to take a step back and provide a more complete explanation of why I’m including the faculty book picks in the first place.  I generally try not to post information that is relevant only to one subset of blog readers, and the blog is not, in fact, the most efficient way for us to reach incoming students.  But some of the people who will be joining us for Orientation in August check the blog, and some of those are interested in a little pre-Fletcher reading.  And if you’re not an incoming student this year?  Well, you may still want to read something recommended by our professors.  So back to the list.

Today’s amazing list comes from a single source.  Prof. Bridget Conley-Zilkic, the research director for the World Peace Foundation, offered up at least a season’s worth of options, explaining, “Given that we’re talking about summer reading, I’ll do my best to keep it to the more narrative-focused texts.  Granted, many of these are atrocity focused.”  Even those who may never interact with the WPF might want to read about these still-relevant international events.  Here’s the list:

Chinua Achebe, Girls at War (short stories, Nigerian civil war)

Deborah Scroggins, Emma’s War (non-fiction, Sudan)

Sven Lindquist, Exterminate All the Brutes (non-fiction, colonial Africa)

Kang Chol-Hwan, The Aquariums of Pyongyang (non-fiction, North Korea)

Jason Stearns, Dancing in the Glory of Monsters (non-fiction, DRC)

Sheri Fink, War Hospital (non-fiction, Bosnia)

Clea Koff, The Bone Woman (non-fiction, Bosnia, Rwanda, Kosovo)

Semezdin Mehmedinovic, Sarajevo Blues (poetry, Bosnia)

Aleksander Hemon, The Question of Bruno (short stories, former Yugoslavia)

Courtney Angela Brkic, The Stone Fields (fiction, Bosnia)

Anything by Slavenka Drakulic (fiction & non-fiction, Croatia)

Bob Shacochis, The Immaculate Invasion (non-fiction, Haiti)

James Dawes, That the World May Know: Bearing Witness to Atrocity (non-fiction, human rights)

Adam Hochschild, King Leopold’s Ghost (history, Congo) or To End All Wars (history, peace movement and WWI)

Wade Davis, Into the Silence: The Great War, Mallory and the Conquest of Everest (history, UK, WWI and, obviously, Mt. Everest).

And for anyone who can handle theory by the beach: Judith Butler, Frames of War and Susan Sontag, Regarding the Pain of Others (these two are best read together), and just about anything by Hannah Arendt or Jacques Rancière.

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As promised, I’m ready today to start a series of posts with suggested materials that an incoming student might want to read.  I emphasize “might” because you are not under any obligation to read anything!  Still, to get your intellectual juices flowing, you might want to check out a few of the professors’ picks.

I’ll start with the request I sent to the faculty.  I pointed them toward past reading lists that can be found in the blog archives (which is a good resource for current readers, as well) and then I asked them to send a suggestion that would fit one of these descriptions.

  • A book that you assign for your class and that incoming students might benefit from reading at a leisurely pace in the summer;
  • A book that provides good contextual explanation of your field;
  • Fiction or popular non-fiction that provides context for your field;
  • Articles or blogs that incoming students may not already know about;
  • A newly published book of your own that provides general context.

I hope that sharing my request to the professors will make it clear why their suggested books/articles/blogs take many forms.  This post will kick off the lists with a couple of picks for the economics folks (actual or aspiring) out there.  First, Prof. Michael Klein recommends After the Music Stopped by Alan Blinder, which he thinks is the best book on the economic crisis, and which relates to his classes on International Finance and Finance, Growth and Business Cycles.

For general background, Prof. Dan Richards (whose primary position is in the Economics Department, but who also teaches at Fletcher) says, “They’re both a little older, but either Freakonomics  or SuperFreakonomics are still good reads that give a decent presentation of how economists approach problems — if not always the answers that all economists agree on.  There is also the Freakonomics blog.”

Read these choices or not, blog friends — it’s totally up to you.  More reading suggestions will be coming soon!

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