Skip to content

What I’m Reading

This page is a record of non-fiction books I have read, in reverse chronological order. ♦ indicates favorites.

The Dispensable Nation: American Foreign Policy in Retreat, by Vali Nasr.

The Shia Revival: How Conflicts within Islam Will Shape the Future, by Vali Nasr.

The Mantle of the Prophet: Religion and Politics in Iran, by Roy Mottahedeh.

Bridled Ambition: Why Countries Constrain Their Nuclear Capabilities, by Mitchell Reiss. Published in 1995 a bit dated, but the chapters on South Africa, Argentina, and Brazil are a valuable look at underreported nuclear weapons programs.

Mexico’s Criminal Insurgency, by John P. Sullivan and Robert J. Bunker.

♦El Narco: Inside Mexico’s Criminal Insurgency, by Ioan Grillo.

The Story of Latin and the Romance Languages, by Mario Andrew Pei.

The Origins of Major War, by Dale C. Copeland.

Grounded: The Case for Abolishing the United States Air Force, by Robert Farley.

The Insurgents: David Petraeus and the Plot to Change the American Way of War,  by Fred Kaplan.

The Way of the Knife: The CIA, a Secret Army, and a War at the Ends of the Earth, by Mark Mazzetti.

Aztecs: An Interpretation, by Inga Clendinnen. Recommended by Xavier Marquez.

The Civilization of the Middle Ages: A Completely Revised and Expanded Edition of Medieval History, by Norman F. Cantor. A very readable overview, but front-heavy and oddly error prone.

The Warthog and the Close Air Support Debate, by Douglas N. Campbell.

The Darker Nations: A People’s History of the Third World, by Vijay Prashad. Prashad’s examination of the Third World as a political project is worthwhile, but the book’s half-century scope makes it too broad to go into real detail.

Vanished Kingdoms: The Rise and Fall of States and Nations, by Norman Davies.

Insurgent Collective Action and Civil War in El Salvador, by Elisabeth Jean Wood.

Counterinsurgency, by David Kilcullen.

A Problem From Hell: America and the Age of Genocide, by Samantha Power.

The End: The Defiance and Destruction of Hitler’s Germany, 1944-1945, by Ian Kershaw.

The Southern Tiger: Chile’s Fight for a Democratic and Prosperous Future, by Ricardo Lagos, Blake Hounshell, and Elizabeth Dickinson.

The Globalization Paradox: Democracy and the Future of the World Economy, by Dani Rodrik.

The Command and Control of Nuclear Forces, by Paul Braken.

Red Cloud at Dawn: Truman, Stalin, and the End of the Atomic Monopoly, by Michael D. Gordon.

When Armies Divide: The Security of Nuclear Arsenals During Revolts, Coups, and Civil Wars, by Brian Jenkins.

France Since 1945, by Robert Gildea.

Neorealism, States, and the Modern Mass Army, by Joao Resende-Santos. Cited by Horowitz, with rare Latin American focus. An excellent look at a largely forgotten arms race.

Latin America: A Naval History, 1810-1987, by Robert L. Scheina.

Eastward to Tartary: Travels in the Balkans, the Middle East, and the Caucasus, by Robert D. Kaplan. Kaplan divides the world into the West and the “Orient,” and spends the rest of this travelogue deciding who gets to be in which group.

The Diffusion of Military Power, by Michael C. Horowitz.

Argentina: Illusions & Realities, by Gary W. Wynia. Dated (published 1986), but an interesting snapshot of a vital moment in Argentine history.

Can Intervention Work?, by Rory Stewart and Gerald Knaus.

The Battle for the Falklands, by Max Hastings and Simon Jenkins.

International Systems in World History, by Barry Buzan and Richard Little. Thought-provoking and recommended.

Understanding Long-Run Economic Growth: Geography, Institutions, and the Knowledge Economy, ed. Dora L. Costa and Naomi R. Lamoreaux.

Left Behind: Latin America and the False Promise of Populism, by Sebastian Edwards. Broad and introductory.

Let the Swords Encircle Me: Iran — A Journey Behind the Headlines, by Scott Peterson. A fascinating, extremely well reported look at Iranian society; highly recommended.

Blogging the Revolution: Caracas Chronicles and the Hugo Chávez Era, by Francisco Toro and Juan Cristobal Nagel. An anecdote-rich look at recent Venezuelan history.

Forgotten Continent: The Battle for Latin America’s Soul, by Michael Reid.

Globalization and Armed Conflict, ed. by Gerald Schneider, Katherine Barbieri, and Nils Petter Gleditsch.

Armageddon Averted: The Soviet Collapse, 1970-2000, by Stephen Kotkin.

The Idea of Justice, by Amartya Sen.

America’s Half-Century: United States Foreign Policy in the Cold War, by Thomas J. McCormick. Very dated, but included decent history of early Cold War.

The Great Peace: Why is Armed Conflict on the Wane?, by Erik Gartzke, Andrew Mack, Bartosz Stanislawski, John Owen, and Jason Kuznicki.

Atomic Obsession: Nuclear Alarmism from Hiroshima to Al-Qaeda, by John E. Mueller.

Violent Peace: Militarized Interstate Bargaining in Latin America, by David Mares. Recommended look at a neglected region in security studies.

The Grand Strategy of the Roman Empire: From the First Century A.D. to the Third, by Edward N. Luttwak. Luttwak’s thesis appears largely disproven, but is still an interesting synthesis of Roman military policy.

A Single Roll of the Dice: Obama’s Diplomacy with Iran, by Trita Parsi.

Castles of Steel: Britain, Germany, and the Winning of the Great War at Sea, by Robert K. Massie.

Going to Tehran: Why the United States Must Come to Terms with the Islamic Republic of Iran, by Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann Leverett.

Beyond bin Laden: America and the Future of Terror, ed. Jon Meacham.

If the Universe Is Teeming with Aliens … Where Is Everybody?: Fifty Solutions to the Fermi Paradox and the Problem of Extraterrestrial Life, by Stephen Webb. A very accessible, if basic, collection of the most interesting proposed solutions to the paradoxical failure to observe alien civilizations.

The Gun, by C.J. Chivers.

Economic Development in the Americas since 1500: Endowments and Institutions, by Stanley L. Engerman. Highly recommended.

The Politics of Secularism in International Relations, by Elizabeth Shakman Hurd.

International Political Economy: Perspectives on Global Power and Wealth, by Jeffry A. Frieden, David A. Lake, and J. Lawrence Broz.

Afghanistan, by David Isby.

Talons of the Eagle: Dynamics of U.S.-Latin American Relations, by Peter H. Smith. A good thorough, if introductory, history of US-Latin American relations. The author overestimates the impact of the War on Terror, though.

Foreign Devils on the Silk Road: The Search for the Lost Treasures of Central Asia, by Peter Hopkirk.

The Persian Puzzle, by Kenneth M. Pollack. Dated, but worth reading for a strong general history of US-Iranian relations up to 2003.

Empires, by Michael W. Doyle.

Lessons in Disaster: McGeorge Bundy and the Path to War in Vietnam, by Gordon M. Goldstein.

Medieval Warfare: A History, edited by Maurice Keen.

A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Century, by Barbara W. Tuchman.

Advertisements