Book Reviews

The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined

by Steven Pinker

Appearances often deceive. Steven Pinker’s “The Better Angels of Our Nature” landed on my desk in the immediate aftermath of that terrible massacre in Norway. As I read the book, Syrian forces slaughtered pro-democracy protesters, riots engulfed English cities, and murders punctuated the news. But, if ...

Reviewed by Gerard Degroot Washington Post November 30, 2011

Dancing in the Glory of Monsters: The Collapse of the Congo and the Great War of Africa

by Jason K. Stearns

Most books about Congo’s war focus, understandably, on the victims. Perhaps 5 million have died in this central African inferno, though that is a guess — no one is counting the corpses. Some were murdered with clubs, knives or farm tools. Most died more slowly, of war-induced hunger and disease. Their st ...

Reviewed by Robert Guest Washington Post October 30, 2011

UNWARRANTED INFLUENCE Dwight D. Eisenhower and the Military-Industrial Complex

by James Ledbetter

The history of the Victorian age, wrote Lytton Strachey, can never be written: We know too much about it. The wise historian ought rather to examine specimen ...

Reviewed by Josiah Bunting III Washington Post September 30, 2011

PROPHETS OF WAR Lockheed Martin and the Making of the Military-Industrial Complex

by William D. Hartung

The history of the Victorian age, wrote Lytton Strachey, can never be written: We know ...

Reviewed by Josiah Bunting III Washington Post September 1, 2011

We Meant Well: How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People

by Peter Van Buren

Keep the lights on? How can it be that in 2011, blackouts are still part of daily life, drinking water remains a luxury, and only about a quarter of the population has sewage? If reliable utilities are fundamental to both the grand goal of nation-building and the narrower mandate of counterinsurgency, why di ...

Reviewed by Marisa Bellack Washington Post August 30, 2011

Unnatural Selection: Choosing Boys Over Girls and the Consequences of a World Full of Men

by Mara Hvistendahl

Earlier versions of this book review incorrectly said that the United States has the highest homicide rate in the world. In her book, Mara Hvistendahl describes the United States as the most violent industrialized nation in the world. This version has been corrected. ...

Reviewed by Elaine Showalter Washington Post July 1, 2011

Monetization of Food Aid: Reconsidering U.S. Policy and Practice

by Emmy Simmons

“Monetization” is one of the more misunderstood and increasingly controversial forms of US food assistance abroad. It has rarely been reviewed by an independent entity. In June 2009, the DC-based non-profit, the Partnership to Cut Hunger and Poverty in Africa, published an important, 56-page report, “M ...

Reviewed by Steven Hansch December 30, 2010

Chasing the Flame: Sergio Vieira Vieira de Mello and the fight to save the world

by Samantha Power

Sergio Vieira de Mello was singular in the humanitarian aid world for being at the same time more handsome, well-spoken, charming, and accomplished than any of his contemporaries. He was also intrepid, swooshing in ahead of others in his own emergency agency into post-conflict war zones. ...

Reviewed by Steven Hansch October 30, 2010

Economics for Everyone: A short guide to the economics of capitalism

by Jim Stanford

The world in which we live is very complicated. As human beings, and, as citizens and people of faith to name just two important roles, we have to understand this if we are going to make human decisions that will advance the well-being and security of the people of the world. Economic relations--country, wo ...

Reviewed by Lane Vanderslice August 30, 2010

Plan B 3.0: Mobilizing to Save Civilization

by Lester Brown

Updating and expanding on his earlier Plan B and Plan B 2.0, Plan B 3.0: Mobilizing to Save Civilization, is Lester Brown’s most urgent call yet for a rapid and all-out restructuring of the world’s economy. Economist and president of Earth Policy Institute, Brown builds an excellent case for the need fo ...

Reviewed by Kristin Saucier Hunger Notes April 30, 2010
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