Tag Archives: Book Reviews

Video Interviews: Author Joseph S. Nye, Jr. On His Book “Do Morals Matter?”

As one of the leading figures in the field of international relations, Joseph S. Nye, Jr., Harvard University Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus, has had a major influence on the way that policymakers think American foreign policy.

In his new book, “Do Morals Matter: Presidents and Foreign Policy from FDR to Trump,” Professor Nye explores the question of how heavily moral questions weigh on the decisions of U.S. presidents since the end of World War II. On this episode of Behind The Book, produced by Library and Knowledge Services at Harvard Kennedy School, we take a look at Professor Nye’s new book and how he assesses the legacy of past presidents based on the morality of their foreign policy.

“Do Morals Matter: Presidents and Foreign Policy from FDR to Trump” is published by Oxford University Press.

Joseph S. Nye Jr., is the University Distinguished Service Professor, Emeritus and former Dean of the Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. He has served as Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs, Chair of the National Intelligence Council, and Deputy Under Secretary of State for Security Assistance, Science and Technology.

His most recent books include The Power to Lead; The Future of Power; Presidential Leadership and the Creation of the American Era; and Is the American Century Over. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the British Academy, and the American Academy of Diplomacy.

In a recent survey of international relations scholars, he was ranked as the most influential scholar on American foreign policy, and in 2011, Foreign Policy named him one of the top 100 Global Thinkers.

Performing Arts: “The Letters Of Cole Porter” (New Yorker Review)

From a New Yorker online article review:

The Letters Of Cole Porter Yale University Press November 2019Beneath his smooth, genial, almost inhumanly productive and evasive surface, there were turbulent waters. His very name, for all its air of Ivy League ease, represents a burdened legacy. The Porters were his difficult, scapegrace father’s family; the Coles were his mother’s rich and ambitious Indiana family. He was a Porter by birth but, if his mother had anything to do with it, would be a Cole for life.

Certainly, Porter’s ghost could not ask for better care than he has been given in “The Letters of Cole Porter” (Yale), edited by Cliff Eisen, a professor of music history at King’s College London, and Dominic McHugh, a musicologist at the University of Sheffield (and the editor of Alan Jay Lerner’s letters). Laid out with a meticulous scholarly apparatus, as though this were the correspondence of Grover Cleveland, every turn in the songwriter’s story is deep-dived for exact chronology, and every name casually dropped by Porter gets a worried, explicatory footnote.

Read New Yorker Article

Top Nonfiction Books: “97,196 Words: Essays” By Emmanuel Carrère (NYT)

From a New York Times online review:

97,196 Words Essays by Emmanuel Carrère 2019At the trial, experts analyzed and propounded, and he himself spoke lucidly and in apparent control. Yet Carrère, on hand to cover the proceedings for Le Nouvel Observateur, remarks that those in the courtroom “have had ample time to wonder, from the height of our clinical ignorance and flying in the face of four psychiatric experts, if he really belonged in a criminal court, and if what you felt on your nape wasn’t the cold wind of psychosis.” He ends his two-part article this way: “Behind his glass enclosure, Romand listens expressionless. No one knows what he’s thinking, not even him.”

“At dawn on Monday, Jan. 11, 1993, the fire brigade came to put out a fire in a house in Prévessin-Moëns, a small village in France’s Ain department, near the Swiss border. They found the partially charred bodies of a woman and two children, and a badly burned man, who was taken to the hospital in a critical state.”

So begins the first account by Emmanuel Carrère (now reprinted in “97,196 Words,” his new collection of essays) of the horrifying case of Dr. Jean-Claude Romand that galvanized France: No one had heard of anything like it; no one could understand it. Yet the facts were incontestable, the verdict and sentence assured: guilty, and life imprisonment, the death penalty being a thing of the past in France. (In fact, he was released from prison just this past spring, after serving 26 years.)

To read more: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/12/12/books/review/97196-words-emmanuel-carrere.html?te=1&nl=books&emc=edit_bk_20191220?campaign_id=69&instance_id=14730&segment_id=19794&user_id=415092ec82728104b9ca7bbb44eeb7d3&regi_id=7441254120191220

New Tech Books: “The Future Is Faster Than You Think”, Peter H. Diamandis & Steven Kotler (Jan 2020)

The Future Is Faster Than You Think Peter H. Diamandis and Steven Kotler 2020Technology is accelerating far more quickly than anyone could have imagined. During the next decade, we will experience more upheaval and create more wealth than we have in the past hundred years. In this gripping and insightful roadmap to our near future, Diamandis and Kotler investigate how wave after wave of exponentially accelerating technologies will impact both our daily lives and society as a whole. What happens as AI, robotics, virtual reality, digital biology, and sensors crash into 3D printing, blockchain, and global gigabit networks? How will these convergences transform today’s legacy industries? What will happen to the way we raise our kids, govern our nations, and care for our planet?

Peter Diamandis The Future Is Faster Than You ThinkRecently named by Fortune as one of the “World’s 50 Greatest Leaders,” Peter H. Diamandis is the founder and executive chairman of the XPRIZE Foundation, which leads the world in designing and operating large-scale incentive competitions.  He is also the executive founder of Singularity University, a graduate-level Silicon Valley institution that counsels the world’s leaders on exponentially growing technologies.

As an entrepreneur, Diamandis has started over 20 companies in the areas of longevity, space, venture capital and education. He is co-founder of BOLD Capital Partners, a venture fund with $250M investing in exponential technologies, and co-founder and Vice
Chairman of Celularity, Inc., a cellular therapeutics company.

Website: https://www.diamandis.com/

Books On Aging: “Old Man Country – My Search For Meaning Among The Elders” (Thomas R. Cole)

From a NextAvenue.org online review:

Old Man Country Thomas R. Cole 2019Am I Still a Man?

Masculinity is not a natural collection of individual traits but, rather, a cultural story, a plot or a script by which men are judged and judge themselves. One problem is that this script for masculinity stops at midlife. For most old men in American society, there are no landmarks of achievement or value; no lighthouse guiding one’s moral compass; no employment office with the sign “old men wanted.” There is only the province of retirement — a barren place often marked by an absence of wealth, prestige and personal meaning.

Do I Still Matter?

At least since the institutionalization of retirement in the mid-20th century, old men have often felt marginalized, useless or invisible. Retirement is a primary source of depression for those whose identities and self-esteem have depended on being productive, earning a living and being engaged with others in the workplace. Employment and volunteer work are often less possible for men who have reached their 80s.

What Is the Meaning of My Life?

Because our society provides old people with no widely shared meanings or norms by which to live, the task of finding significance in later life falls to individuals in their relationships with family and community.

Meaning is partly a matter of love and of relevance. If I love and am loved, my life has significance. Meaning is also a moral question: Have I lived a good life by my own lights? Did I, and do I, measure up to my own expectations and to the standards of my family, religion, community and nation?

Am I Still Loved?

Love, of course, means many things. There is love of God. There is love that comes from God or a Divine Being or Beings — love that carries existential meaning. It is the kind of love Ram Dass received from his guru Neem Karoli Baba, who inspired him to live a life of loving service on the path toward merging with Brahman, the ultimate reality in Hinduism.

To read more: https://www.nextavenue.org/questions-older-men-ask-themselves/?hide_newsletter=true&utm_source=Next+Avenue+Email+Newsletter&utm_campaign=1eb08d4dfa-12.10.2019_Tuesday_Newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_056a405b5a-1eb08d4dfa-166479103&mc_cid=1eb08d4dfa&mc_eid=6cab05fae0