Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Review: “The Empire Trap” by Noel Maurer (Princeton University Press)

MaurerN-EmpireTrapThe Rise and Fall of U.S. Intervention to Protect American Property Overseas, 1893-2013

Throughout the twentieth century, the U.S. government willingly deployed power, hard and soft, to protect American investments all around the globe. Why did the United States get into the business of defending its citizens’ property rights abroad?

In The Empire Trap, Noel Maurer assesses how modern US involvement in the “empire business” began – that is, how American foreign policy became increasingly tied to the influence, whims and even manipulation of private economic interests, and how postwar administrations eventually extricated the country from economic interventionism. For the main, this is a very good book – cogently argued, detailed, and well-written (if a little dense and tautologous at times). There was, however, one major flaw, which I will touch upon below.

US “Lashes Out” against Chinese Hackers

American accusations of Chinese hacking – especially government-sponsored hacking – is nothing new. Cyber attacks, and Huawei in particular, were a case study in one of my PhD chapters – a chapter I first drafted in 2010.

Whether attempts to acquire intellectual property or explore and, potentially, undermine US governmental information structures, this has apparently been going on for a long time. Chinese cyber attacks have even made its way into pop culture – the effect of cyber-attacks in US-China relations is the foreign policy plotline for the second season of Netflix’s House of Cards. (I’m watching this again at the moment, as it happens, and today’s headlines could appear to be plagiarism…)

Saturday, 17 May 2014

Upcoming, Noteworthy Books…


The inaugural post of this type. Below, you’ll find the covers and official publisher synopses* for some of the most interesting new non-fiction books I’ve received and bought recently. I’ve kept commentary to a minimum, as there are quite a few titles. However, some of them deserve special mention. If there are other new and upcoming books you think I or other readers should be made aware of, feel free to leave recommendations in the comments section at the end.

* Given how long these tend to be, I’m not sure I’ll maintain this template in the future…

Featuring: David Bromwich, Paul Evans, Edmund Fawcett, Robert M. Gates, Martin Gilens, Chris Hedges, Charles R. Morris, Jürgen Osterhammel, Thomas Piketty, Nomi Prins, Linda Robinson, Peter H. Schuck, James C. Scott

New Feature: “Upcoming, Noteworthy Books…”

This is going to be a new feature for Politics Reader, and one I intend to run quite frequently. This blog has been sadly neglected, of late. Partly, this is because my day-job requires far more effort and attention to be paid to fiction (specifically, SFF), which has meant my non-fiction reviewing time has dropped a little bit. I have not stopped reading and working on politics and history texts, though. In fact, I have about six books that still need reviewing. What’s extra frustrating is the fact that they have all been excellent – a rare string of brilliant books that have been sadly neglected…

Anyway, I’ve been running a series of posts detailing recently acquired books for my fiction website, but for some reason I never thought it would work on here. That will now change. Given that it takes more time to read and review a non-fiction book properly, this will allow me to draw readers’ attention to books that will be coming out soon that I think are worth your time and attention. Where possible, these posts will be followed up by reviews as soon as possible. I’ll focus on books I’ve received, but I will also post occasional information on books I am looking forward to. They won’t always be new books, although newer titles will most likely dominate the coverage.

The first post in this series will go up in a few minutes. And after that…? Well, I hope you find these posts useful, and that they help you discover non-fiction books that will be of value and interest to you – whether academically or otherwise.

Watch this space…