SFS Faculty Share Summer Reading Picks

School of Foreign Service faculty share what they are reading this summer.  The reading list ranges from history, politics and the economy, to fiction and even a children’s story.  Some books even made it in multiple times!


Jim Reardon-Anderson

Acting Dean of SFS and Sun Yat-Sen Professor of Chinese Studies

Death in the Andes by Mario Vargas Llosa

War! What is it good for?  by Ian Morris


Fida Adely

Clovis and Hala Salaam Maksoud Chair in Arab Studies and Associate Professor

Lineages of Revolt: Issues of Contemporary Capitalism in the Middle East by Adam Hanieh

Dissident Gardens: A Novel by Jonathan Lethem

Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty


Jeffrey Anderson

Director of the BMW Center for German and European Studies and Graf Goltz Professor

Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty


Anthony Arend

Director of the Master in Foreign Service Program and Professor of Government and Foreign Service

Careers in International Affairs, edited by Laura Cressey, Barrett Helmer and Jennifer Steffensen

“I’m really excited about the latest edition of Careers in International Affairs.  OK, I know it’s not Dan Brown, Walter Issacson, or J.K. Rowling, but it’s actually fun to read up-to-date material on the jobs landscape in international affairs.  And given the breadth of career options covered by a collection of amazing authors, I am learning many new things!”


Barbara Bodine

Director of the Institute for the Study of Diplomacy and Distinguished Professor in the Practice of Diplomacy

Pain: A Political History by Keith Wailoo


Jonathan Brown

Associate Professor of Islam and Muslim Christian Relations

The Proud Tower: A Portrait of the World Before the War, 1890-1914 by Barbara Tuchman


Daniel Byman

Professor of Security Studies and Government

“Just finished George Saunders’ fantastic collection The Tenth of December: Stories.  The stories are both beautiful and painful – a bit like watching a sunset while being hit by a baseball bat.”


Marc Chernick

Director of the Center for Latin American Studies and Associate Professor of Political Science

“2666: A Novel by Chilean writer Roberto Bolaño, an epic and deeply innovative novel, which is, on one level, a literary detective story spanning Latin America and the globe but on another is an exploration of the dramatic increase in killings of women in the northern Mexican city of Ciudad Juarez.

Obscurity (El olvido que seremos) by Colombian writer Hector Abad, a memoir about a son’s relationship to his father in a large family in Medellin, Colombia, capturing beautifully both the filial relationship while also chronicling the transformation of Medellin in the 1980s from a traditional provincial capital into the center of Colombian political and social violence, culminating in the assassination of Abad’s father, a prominent professor of medicine and human rights activist.”


Mark Giordano

Director of the Science, Technology and International Affairs major and Associate Professor of Environment and Energy

A River Lost: The Life and Death of the Columbia by Blaine Harden. “It is a nicely written and easy to read book telling the story of the Columbia River through the perspectives of people with different interests in how the river is used.”


Bruce Hoffman

Director of the Center for Security Studies and Professor of Security Studies

“The classic novel about American academe (not potheads)

Stoner by John Williams


Shareen Joshi

Assistant Professor

“I am reading The Other Hand by Chris Cleave. It is a story about a Nigerian asylum-seeker and a British magazine editor, who meet during the oil conflict in the Niger Delta and then again in England years later. It is a powerful story about friendship, forgiveness, and the fragility of life and relationships. The novel delves into issues faced by refugees within the asylum system. It also touches on issues of globalization and the human costs of political violence.

I am also reading Economic Gangsters: Corruption, Violence and the Poverty of Nations by Raymond Fisman and Edward Miguel. Fascinating stuff about government failure, corruption and the methods to detect it all!”


Charles King

Professor of International Affairs and Government

The Most Dangerous Book: The Battle for James Joyce’s Ulysses by Kevin Birmingham.  “A remarkable story of the fight against censorship and the making of one of the great works of world literary culture.”


Mark Lagon

Professor in the Practice of International Affairs

“I’m reading Tip and the Gipper: When Politics Worked by Chris Matthews. It’s a lively eyewitness account of conflict but also constructive cooperation between President Reagan and Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill by the latter’ aide. The U.S. desperately needs to reclaim the foreign policy bipartisanship today it had then and even still when I was a Senate Foreign Relations Committee Staffer 1999-2002 in the era of Helms-Biden cooperation.”
Robert Laprade

Adjunct Instructor for Global Human Development Program

“I’m trying to get out of the rut of reading the latest book trashing the humanitarian system–like I had my students read! So I’ve branched out a bit to the following fiction/semi autobiographies totally not related to international development:

Dear Life by Alice Munro.  Short stories all set in Canada, mostly around Lake Huron and set around WW2. Great Metro or plane read.

Running With Scissors: A Memoir by Augusten Burroughs. Bizarre childhood description in Western Mass. Riled the child protection anger in me, but oddly humorous.

Underworld, by Don DeLillo


Katherine Marshall

Visiting Professor and Senior Fellow, Berkley Center

“On the serious side, I have read Beth Baron’s The Orphan Scandal: Christian Missionaries and the Rise of the Muslim Brotherhood. Fascinating account of how a scandal in Egypt involving forced conversion of an orphan girl and the role of Christian missions in providing social services encouraged the early development of the Muslim Brotherhood in the early 1930s.

Also read Bill Easterly’s Tyranny of Experts: Economists, Dictators, and the Forgotten Rights of the Poor. Flashes of insight, very focused on narratives from a select group of countries and situations but not compellingly persuasive overall!

More fun: Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows’ The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. Fascinating novel done as letters telling the story of Guernsey under German occupation during World War II.

And Farid ud-din Attar’s The Conference of the Birds. 12th century poem by Persian poet, very much in the style of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, said to be the best introduction to Sufi Islam, fascinating vignettes of a by-gone era. It was the theme for the Fes Festival of World Sacred Music this year.”


Daniel Neep

Assistant Professor in Arab politics

Time in the Shadows: Confinement in Counterinsurgencies by Laleh Khalili.

“Winner of the 2013 Susan Strange Prize from the British International Studies Association, Khalili’s vividly written and richly textured book traces the development of distinctly ‘liberal’ doctrines and practices of counterinsurgency from the colonial past to the US and Israeli present.
Mary Hope Schwoebel

Adjunct faculty for the Global Human Development Program

“The Burgess Boys by Elizabeth Strout, about a small town in Maine with a large Somali population. It is beautifully written and the characters and relationships if the main (Maine) characters are beautifully drawn. But she gets a lot of the Somali culture and politics wrong and she does not manage to get the reader inside the heads of the Somali characters.

Lawrence in Arabia: War, Deceit, Imperial Folly and the Making of the Modern MIddle East by Scott Anderson. A rather depressing revisiting of how colonial Middle East policies were made and maps were drawn. Not only does it remind is how the Middle East got to where it is today, it is depressing because it highlights how so little has changed in terms of how foreign policy is made.”


George Shambaugh

Associate Professor of International Affairs and Government

Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty


Angela Stent

Director of the Center for Eurasian, Russian and East European Studies and Professor of Government and Foreign Service

Ruling Russia: Authoritarianism from the Revolution to Putin by William Zimmerman


Alan Tidwell

Director of the Center for Australian, New Zealand and Pacific Studies

“New Zealand author”

The Oil Kings: How the U.S., Iran, and Saudi Arabia Changed the Balance of Power in the Middle East


Ann Van Dusen

Director of the Global Human Development Program and Visiting Associate Professor

“I am looking backward this summer. Just finished No Ordinary Time: Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt: The Home Front in World War I, by Doris Kearns Goodwin, and am tearing through Alan Furst’s world war II novels. Going even further back, Hillary Mantel’s novels on pre-Elizabethan England. And Stephen Greenblatt’s The Swerve: How the World Became Modern, about the cultural sources of the Renaissance.”


Holly Wise

Visiting Associate Professor in Global Human Development

“I am reading Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Coming of age in Nigeria and the US, this novel follows Ifemelu as she bridges cultures and emerges.

Also reading Building a Culture for Sustainability: People, Planet, and Profits in a New Green Economy by Jeana Wirtenberg.”


Casimir Yost

Adjunct Professor

Maximalist America in the World from Truman to Obama by Stephen Sestanovich.  “Best survey of US foreign policy to come out in a long time.”

Empire of the Summer Moon: Quanah Parker and the Rise and Fall of the Comanches, the Most Powerful Indian Tribe in American History by S.C Gwynne.  “Great bio of Quanah Parker and the rise and fall of the Commanches.”

The Wonderful Adventures of Nils by Selma Lagerlof.  “Reading to my 7 year old grandson as it was read to me many years ago by my father.”