Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Reading Foreign Affairs

I only rarely buy Foreign Affairs, as at nearly eight quid a pop, it's as expensive as most paperback books. This month, I just had to give in though.

Eliot Cohen weighs in with his analysis of America as empire "History and the Hyperpower", which says more in fourteen pages than Niall Ferguson does in 300-odd, and is worth a post in its own right. I was also pleasantly surprised to see long reviews of three books on Xinjiang, China restive Central Asian province, Reinhard Gehlen, the West German spy chief and an article by John Browne, chairman of BP on clmate policy.

"A middlebrow journals"?? Pretentious? Moi? Among the ads were a lot from academic publishers, including a breathless plug for the WTO World Trade Report (looks fascinating), and a new book on climate policy by their expert, Stanford Professor David Victor, available in full online at It's comprehensive, completely accessible and very persuasive in putting the arguments for the do-nothing, moderate limitation and panic-button policies. I'll blog more on it when I've finished, but I think that this is THE book to read on the subject.

Speaking of environmental matters, Frank McGahon has been entertaining us all by making farting noises in the church of ecological correctness with a recent post as Samizdata.

I'm also reading three books at the moment: One World, Philippe Legrain's defence of globalisation against its media-friendly enemies Klein, Grey, Monbiot and Herz. It's not as engaging or well-sourced as Martin Wolf's, but it's well worth a read nonetheless. The jacket photo, also available on his site, depicts the author with a fierce scowl, as if he were a sneaker factory manager seeing some labourer falling into a vat of molten plastic on company time.

I just finished most of the 200 or so pages relevant to fossil fuels in the International Energy Agency's 2001 World Energy Outlook.

Finally, I also just wrapped up Robert Gilpin's The Challenge of Global Capitalism, which told me a lot about the international trade and monetary systems and their history that I hadn't learned during my more technical training in economics and only been dimly aware of as a banker following the news.

I've so much to write about, including about half a dozen book reviews - but so little time. Now that my reader figures seem to be reaching a fairly respectable twenty a day, I feel have some kind of audience to satisfy.