Need Something to Read Over the Winter? Here are Our Top 5 Recommended Reads!

Recommendations from Young Professionals in International Affairs Volunteers

In the Footsteps of Mr. Kurtz: Living on the Brink of Disaster in Mobutu’s Congo by Michela Wrong

A modern perspective of Africa and governance with a human face

With her first-person account of Mobutu’s last days, Michela Wrong’s book is a great choice to usher in African American History Month in just over 40 days from now!

Book Quote: “When the motor-launch deposited me in the cacophony of the quayside, engine churning mats of water hyacinth as it turned to head back across the brown expanse of oily water that was the River Zaire, I was hit by the sensation that so unnerves first-time visitors Africa.”

Do Muslim Women Need Saving? by Lila Abu-Lughod

Photo courtesy of Amazon

A must read for anyone who considers themselves a feminist in global terms

Okay, we gave you a preparatory read for February, but what about Women’s History Month in March? Well, we suggest this book from Columbia University professor Lila Abu-Lughod! In her seventh book, Ms. Abu-Lughod takes a closer look at what it really means to “save” Muslim women.

Book Quote: “Her shock at my suggestion that anyone would think she was oppressed by her religion was significant. Like so many women I have known across the Arab world — from university professors and businesswomen to villagers — her identity as a Muslim is deeply meaningful to her, and her faith in God is integral to her sense of self and community.”

The Dead Hand: The Untold Story of the Cold War Arms Race and its Dangerous Legacy by David E. Hoffman

Photo courtesy of Amazon

For anyone interested in learning more about the role of weapons of mass destruction in national security

You’re not a national security expert, but you want a bit more context about the stuff you hear on the news? We think this book can help with that. In Mr. Hoffman’s Pulitzer Prize-winning book, he delves into the origins of the Cold War, how it escalated, and the legacy it left.

Book Quote: “Genetics expanded rapidly in the West with the discovery of the structure of DNA by James Watson, Francis Crick and Maurice Wilkins in 1953. In the decades that followed, scientists found ways to manipulate DNA in the laboratory. But in the Soviet Union, this was known only to a few Soviet scientists through smuggled journals and reports.”

Private Empire: ExxonMobil and American Power by Steve Coll

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ExxonMobil’s influence on foreign policy

Have you ever heard someone mention the role of oil in American foreign policy? Well, with this book can help you delve further and better form your perspective on the matter!

Book Quote: “State-owned petroleum companies from China, India, Brazil, and elsewhere were rising quickly as competitors. Exxon might be America’s largest and most powerful oil corporation, but it would require all the political influence, financial resources, dazzling technology, speed, and stamina that its leaders could muster to seize the lucrative oil deals made possible by communism’s fall and capitalism’s revival.”

The Post-American World by Fareed Zakaria

Photo courtesy of Amazon

“The rise of the rest” and how American foreign policy should adapt to change

Most policy wonks have heard the name Fareed Zakaria and are acquainted with his work. If not though, no worries! From the outset, he makes it clear to the reader this book does not argue about American decline but how the country can adapt in a transforming world.

Book Quote: “This is a book not about the decline of America but rather about the rise of everyone else.”


In the spirit of book recommendations, don’t forget to check out Doing the Continental: A New Canadian-American Relationship by David Dyment. Furthermore, join us for our book discussion on it on January 31st! Sign up at

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