Book covers & overviews provided by
1990's - present = Democratization
by Dan-el Padilla Peralta Year Published:Dan-el Padilla Peralta has lived the American dream. As a boy, he came here legally with his family. Together they left Santo Domingo behind, but life in New York City was harder than they imagined. Their visas lapsed, and Dan-el’s father returned home. But Dan-el’s courageous mother was determined to make a better life for her bright sons. Without papers, she faced tremendous obstacles. While Dan-el was only in grade school, the family joined the ranks of the city’s homeless. Dan-el, his mother, and brother lived in a downtown shelter where Dan-el’s only refuge was the meager library. There he met Jeff, a young volunteer from a wealthy family. Jeff was immediately struck by Dan-el’s passion for books and learning. With Jeff’s help, Dan-el was accepted on scholarship to Collegiate, the oldest private school in the country. There, Dan-el thrived. Throughout his youth, Dan-el navigated these two worlds: the rough streets of East Harlem, where he lived with his brother and his mother and tried to make friends, and the ultra-elite halls of a Manhattan private school, where he could immerse himself in a world of books and where he soon rose to the top of his class. From Collegiate, Dan-el went to Princeton, where he thrived, and where he made the momentous decision to come out as an undocumented student in a Wall Street Journal profile a few months before he gave the salutatorian’s traditional address in Latin at his commencement. by Mohsin Hamid Year Published:
At a café table in Lahore, a bearded Pakistani man converses with an uneasy American stranger. As dusk deepens to night, he begins the tale that has brought them to this fateful encounter. Changez is living an immigrant’s dream of America. At the top of his class at Princeton, he is snapped up by an elite valuation firm. He thrives on the energy of New York, and his budding romance with elegant, beautiful Erica promises entry into Manhattan society at the same exalted level once occupied by his own family back in Lahore. But in the wake of September 11, Changez finds his position in his adopted city suddenly overturned, and his relationship with Erica shifting. And Changez’s own identity is in seismic shift as well, unearthing allegiances more fundamental than money, power, and maybe even love.
by Layla Al-Zubaidi & Matthew Cassel Year Published:
As revolution swept through the Arab world in spring of 2011, much of the writing that reached the West came via analysts and academics, experts and expats. We heard about Facebook posts and tweeted calls to action, but what was missing was testimony from on-the-ground participants—which is precisely what Layla Al-Zubaidi and Matthew Cassel have brought together in Diaries of an Unfinished Revolution. These essays and profoundly moving, often harrowing, firsthand accounts span the region from Tunisia to Syria and include contributors ranging from student activists to seasoned journalists—half of whom are women. This unique collection explores just how deeply politics can be held within the personal and highlights the power of writing in a time of revolution.
by Kenan Trebincevic & Susan Shapiro Year Published:
At age eleven, Kenan Trebincevic was a happy, karate-loving kid living with his family in the quiet Eastern European town of Brcko. Then, in the spring of 1992, war broke out and his friends, neighbors and teammates all turned on him. Pero - Kenan's beloved karate coach - showed up at his door with an AK-47 - screaming: "You have one hour to leave or be killed!" Kenan’s only crime: he was Muslim. This poignant, searing memoir chronicles Kenan’s miraculous escape from the brutal ethnic cleansing campaign that swept the former Yugoslavia. After two decades in the United States, Kenan honors his father’s wish to visit their homeland, making a list of what he wants to do there. Kenan decides to confront the former next door neighbor who stole from his mother, see the concentration camp where his Dad and brother were imprisoned and stand on the grave of his first betrayer to make sure he’s really dead. Back in the land of his birth, Kenan finds something more powerful—and shocking—than revenge.
by Howard W. French Year Published:In A Continent for the Taking Howard W. French, a veteran correspondent for The New York Times, gives a compelling firsthand account of some of Africa’s most devastating recent history–from the fall of Mobutu Sese Seko, to Charles Taylor’s arrival in Monrovia, to the genocide in Rwanda and the Congo that left millions dead. Blending eyewitness reportage with rich historical insight, French searches deeply into the causes of today’s events, illuminating the debilitating legacy of colonization and the abiding hypocrisy and inhumanity of both Western and African political leaders. While he captures the tragedies that have repeatedly befallen Africa’s peoples, French also opens our eyes to the immense possibility that lies in Africa’s complexity, diversity, and myriad cultural strengths. The culmination of twenty-five years of passionate exploration and understanding, this is a powerful and ultimately hopeful book about a fascinating and misunderstood continent. by Wangari Maathai Year Published:The troubles of Africa today are severe and wide-ranging. Yet, too often, they are portrayed by the media in extreme terms connoting poverty, dependence, and desperation. Here Wangari Maathai, Nobel Peace Prize laureate and founder of the Green Belt Movement, offers a refreshingly unique perspective on these challenges, even as she calls for a moral revolution among Africans themselves. Illuminating the complex and dynamic nature of the continent, Maathai offers “hardheaded hope” and “realistic options” for change and improvement. She deftly describes what Africans can and need to do for themselves, stressing all the while responsibility and accountability. Impassioned and empathetic, The Challenge for Africa is a book of immense importance. by Alaa Al Aswany Year Published:From one of Egypt’s most acclaimed novelists, here is a vivid chronicle of Egyptian society, with penetrating analysis of all the most urgent issues—economic stagnation, police brutality, poverty, the harassment of women and of the Christian minority, to name a few—that led to the stunning overthrow of the Mubarak government. Al-Aswany addresses himself to all the questions being asked within Egypt and beyond: who will be the next president, and how will he be chosen in a land where heretofore only simpletons, opportunists and stooges involved themselves with elections? What role will the Muslim Brotherhood play? How can democratic reforms be effected among a people used to such contradictions as the religiously observant policeman who commits torture? In a candid and controversial assessment of both the potential and limitations that will determine his country’s future, Al-Aswany reveals why the revolt that surprised the world was destined to happen.
by Hooman Majd Year Published:A Los Angeles Times and Economist Best Book of the YearWith a New Preface. The grandson of an eminent ayatollah and the son of an Iranian diplomat, journalist Hooman Majd is uniquely qualified to explain contemporary Iran's complex and misunderstood culture to Western readers. The Ayatollah Begs to Differ provides an intimate look at a paradoxical country that is both deeply religious and highly cosmopolitan, authoritarian yet informed by a history of democratic and reformist traditions. Majd offers an insightful tour of Iranian culture, introducing fascinating characters from all walks of life, including zealous government officials, tough female cab drivers, and open-minded, reformist ayatollahs. It's an Iran that will surprise readers and challenge Western stereotypes.In his new preface, Majd discusses the Iranian mood during and after the June 2009 presidential election which set off the largest street protests since the revolution that brought the ayatollahs to power. by Koonchung Chan Year Published:Banned in China, this controversial and politically charged novel tells the story of the search for an entire month erased from official Chinese history. Beijing, sometime in the near future: a month has gone missing from official records. No one has any memory of it, and no one could care less—except for a small circle of friends, who will stop at nothing to get to the bottom of the sinister cheerfulness and amnesia that have possessed the Chinese nation. When they kidnap a high-ranking official and force him to reveal all, what they learn—not only about their leaders, but also about their own people—stuns them to the core. It is a message that will astound the world. A kind of Brave New World reflecting the China of our times, The Fat Years is a complex novel of ideas that reveals all too chillingly the machinations of the postmodern totalitarian state, and sets in sharp relief the importance of remembering the past to protect the future. by Jim Yardley Year Published:From the former New York Times Beijing bureau chief comes a closely observed story of a struggling Chinese basketball team and its quixotic, often comical attempt to make the playoffs by copying the American stars of the NBA. When the worst professional basketball team in China, the Shanxi Brave Dragons, hired former NBA coach Bob Weiss to improve its fortunes, the team's owner, Boss Wang, promised that Weiss would be allowed to Americanize his players by teaching them "advanced basketball culture." That promise would be broken from the moment Weiss landed in China. As we follow this team of colorful oddballs on a fascinating road trip through modern China, we see Weiss learn firsthand what so many other foreigners there have discovered: that changing China happens only when and how China wants to be changed. by Paul Rusesabagina Year Published:Readers who were moved and horrified by Hotel Rwanda will respond even more intensely to Paul Rusesabagina’s unforgettable autobiography. As Rwanda was thrown into chaos during the 1994 genocide, Rusesabagina, a hotel manager, turned the luxurious Hotel Milles Collines into a refuge for more than 1,200 Tutsi and moderate Hutu refugees, while fending off their would-be killers with a combination of diplomacy and deception. In An Ordinary Man, he tells the story of his childhood, retraces his accidental path to heroism, revisits the 100 days in which he was the only thing standing between his “guests” and a hideous death, and recounts his subsequent life as a refugee and activist. by Dexter Filkins Year Published: Available in the IMCFilkins, a New York Times prize–winning reporter, is widely regarded as among the finest war correspondents of this generation. His richly textured book is based on his work in Afghanistan and Iraq since 1998. It begins with a Taliban-staged execution in Kabul. It ends with Filkins musing on the names in a WWI British cemetery in Baghdad. In between, the work is a vivid kaleidoscope of vig-nettes. Individually, the strength of each story is its immediacy; together they portray a theater of the absurd, in which Filkins, an extraordinarily brave man, moves as both participant and observer. Filkins does not editorialize—a welcome change from the punditry that shapes most writing from these war zones. This book also differs essentially from traditional war correspondence because of its universal empathy, feelings enhanced by Filkins's spare prose. Saudi women in Kabul airport, clad in burqas and stylish shoes, bemoan their husbands' devotion to jihad. An Iraqi casually says to his friend, Let's go kill some Americans. A marine is shot dead escorting Filkins on a photo opportunity. Iraqi soldiers are disconcerted when he appears in running shorts (They looked at [my legs] in horror, as if I were naked). Carl von Clausewitz said war is a chameleon. In vividly illustrating the varied ways people in Afghanistan and iraq have been affected by ongoing war, Filkins demonstrates that truth in prose. by Katherine Boo Year Published: Available in the IMCWhile the distance between rich and poor is growing in the U.S., the gap between the haves and have-nots in India is staggering to behold. This first book by a New Yorker staff writer (and Pulitzer Prize–winning reporter for the Washington Post) jolts the reader’s consciousness with the opposing realities of poverty and wealth in a searing visit to the Annawaldi settlement, a flimflam slum that has recently sprung up in the western suburbs of the gigantic city of Mumbai, perched tentatively along the modern highway leading to the airport and almost within a stone’s throw of new, luxurious hotels. We first meet Abdul, whose daily grind is to collect trash and sell it; in doing so, he has “lifted his large family above subsistence.” Boo takes us all around the community, introducing us to a slew of disadvantaged individuals who, nevertheless, draw on their inner strength to not only face the dreary day but also ponder a day to come that will, perhaps, be a little brighter. Sympathetic yet objective and eloquently rendered. by William R. Polk Year Published:
The destinies of Iraq and America will be tightly intertwined into the foreseeable future due to the U.S. incursion into this complex, perplexing desert nation -- the latest in a long history of violent outside interventions. A country sitting atop the world's largest supply of crude oil, Iraq will continue to play an essential role in global economics and in Middle Eastern politics for many decades to come. Therefore, it is more important than ever for Westerners to have a clear understanding of the volatile, enigmatic "Land of Two Rivers" -- its turbulent past and its looming possibilities. In this acutely penetrating and endlessly fascinating study, acknowledged Middle East authority William R. Polk presents a comprehensive history of the tumultuous events that shaped modern Iraq, while offering well-reasoned judgments on what we can expect there in the years to come.
by Elvia Alvarado Year Published:"Elvia Alvarado tells the story of her life and the life of the people of Honduras. Read it and understand the struggle against tyranny of the poor. Read it and act."-- journalist Alice Walker by Khaled Hosseini Year Published:The timely and critically acclaimed debut novel that's becoming a word-of-mouth phenomenon. An epic tale of fathers and sons, of friendship and betrayal, that takes us from Afghanistan in the final days of the monarchy to the atrocities of the present. The unforgettable, heartbreaking story of the unlikely friendship between a wealthy boy and the son of his father's servant, The Kite Runner is a beautifully crafted novel set in a country that is in the process of being destroyed. It is about the power of reading, the price of betrayal, and the possibility of redemption, and it is also about the power of fathers over sons-their love, their sacrifices, their lies. The first Afghan novel to be written in English, The Kite Runner tells a sweeping story of family, love, and friendship against a backdrop of history that has not been told in fiction before, bringing to mind the large canvases of the Russian writers of the nineteenth century. But just as it is old-fashioned in its narration, it is contemporary in its subject-the devastating history of Afghanistan over the last thirty years. As emotionally gripping as it is tender, The Kite Runner is an unusual and powerful debut. by Mende Nazer Year Published:Mende Nazer lost her childhood at age twelve, when she was sold into slavery. It all began one horrific night in 1993, when Arab raiders swept through her Nuba village, murdering the adults and rounding up thirty-one children, including Mende. Mende was sold to a wealthy Arab family who lived in Sudan's capital city, Khartoum. So began her dark years of enslavement. Her Arab owners called her "Yebit," or "black slave." She called them "master." She was subjected to appalling physical, sexual, and mental abuse. She slept in a shed and ate the family leftovers like a dog. She had no rights, no freedom, and no life of her own. Normally, Mende's story never would have come to light. But seven years after she was seized and sold into slavery, she was sent to work for another master—a diplomat working in the United Kingdom. In London, she managed to make contact with other Sudanese, who took pity on her. In September 2000, she made a dramatic break for freedom. Slave is a story almost beyond belief. It depicts the strength and dignity of the Nuba tribe. It recounts the savage way in which the Nuba and their ancient culture are being destroyed by a secret modern-day trade in slaves. Most of all, it is a remarkable testimony to one young woman's unbreakable spirit and tremendous courage. by Edwin Black Year Published:In Banking on Baghdad, New York Times and international bestselling author Edwin Black chronicles the dramatic and tragic history of a land long the center of world commerce and conflict. Tracing the involvement of Western governments and militaries, as well as oil, banking, and other corporate interests, Black pinpoints why today, just as throughout modern history, the world needs Iraq's resources—and remains determined to acquire and protect them. Banking on Baghdad almost painfully documents the many ways Iraq's recent history mirrors its tumultuous past. by Thomas Bender Year Published:In rethinking and reframing the American national narrative in a wider context, the contributors to this volume ask questions about both nationalism and the discipline of history itself. The essays offer fresh ways of thinking about the traditional themes and periods of American history. By locating the study of American history in a transnational context, they examine the history of nation-making and the relation of the United States to other nations and to transnational developments. What is now called globalization is here placed in a historical context. Rethinking American History in a Global Age advances an emerging but important conversation marked by divergent voices, many of which are represented here. The various essays explore big concepts and offer historical narratives that enrich the content and context of American history. The aim is to provide a history that more accurately reflects the dimensions of American experience and better connects the past with contemporary concerns for American identity, structures of power, and world presence. by Philip Gourevitch Year Published: Available in the IMCIn April 1994, the Rwandan government called upon everyone in the Hutu majority to kill each member of the Tutsi minority, and over the next three months 800,000 Tutsis perished in the most unambiguous case of genocide since Hitler's war against the Jews. Philip Gourevitch's haunting work is an anatomy of the war in Rwanda, a vivid history of the tragedy's background, and an unforgettable account of its aftermath. One of the most acclaimed books of the year, this account will endure as a chilling document of our time. by John Follain & Rita Cristofari Year Published: Available in the IMCThough she is only twenty-three, Zoya has witnessed and endured more tragedy and terror than most people experience in a lifetime. Born in a land ravaged by war, she was robbed of her parents when they were murdered by Muslim fundamentalists. Devastated, she fled Kabul with her grandmother and started a new life in exile in Pakistan. She joined the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA), an organization that challenged the crushing edicts of the Taliban government, and she took destiny into her own hands, joining a dangerous, clandestine war to save her nation. Direct and unsentimental, Zoya vividly brings to life the realities of growing up in a Muslim culture, the terror of living in a perpetual war zone, the pain of losing those she has loved, the horrors of a woman’s life under the Taliban, and the discovered healing and transformation that lead her on a path of resistance. by Bernard Lewis Year Published:In this landmark volume, an authority on the Middle East examines the anguished reaction of the Islamic world as it tries to understand why things have changed, how they have been overtaken, overshadowed, and to an increasing extent dominated by the West. by Geraldine Brooks Year Published:As a prizewinning foreign correspondent for The Wall Street Journal, Geraldine Brooks spent six years covering the Middle East through wars, insurrections, and the volcanic upheaval of resurgent fundamentalism. Yet for her, headline events were only the backdrop to a less obvious but more enduring drama: the daily life of Muslim women. Nine Parts of Desire is the story of Brooks' intrepid journey toward an understanding of the women behind the veils, and of the often contradictory political, religious, and cultural forces that shape their lives. Defying our stereotypes about the Muslim world, Brooks' acute analysis of the world's fastest growing religion deftly illustrates how Islam's holiest texts have been misused to justify repression of women, and how male pride and power have warped the original message of a once liberating faith. by Greg Mortenson Year Published: Available in the IMCThe astonishing, uplifting story of a real-life Indiana Jones and his humanitarian campaign to use education to combat terrorism in the Taliban’s backyard Anyone who despairs of the individual’s power to change lives has to read the story of Greg Mortenson, a homeless mountaineer who, following a 1993 climb of Pakistan’s treacherous K2, was inspired by a chance encounter with impoverished mountain villagers and promised to build them a school. Over the next decade he built fifty-five schools—especially for girls—that offer a balanced education in one of the most isolated and dangerous regions on earth. As it chronicles Mortenson’s quest, which has brought him into conflict with both enraged Islamists and uncomprehending Americans, Three Cups of Tea combines adventure with a celebration of the humanitarian spirit.