Featured image for “Which book should I review next? You decide please!”

Which book should I review next? You decide please!

October 10, 2023
My reviews pile has crept higher over the summer and is now becoming a bit of a health and safety issue. Reviewing books takes a lot of time, which I don’t have much of right now as term has started at the LSE. But FP2P readers often appreciate the reviews for the same reason – saves them reading the whole
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Book Review: Power and Progress. Our Thousand-Year Struggle Over Technology and Prosperity

September 14, 2023
I started reading Power and Progress in a fairly sceptical frame of mind, because I didn’t much like Why Nations Fail. But it won me over in the end, especially the final chapter on what to do about the current tech clusterfxck of AI, filter bubbles, mis- and disinformation, gig economy exploitation etc etc. Main message: Since roughly 1980, something
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The Role of ‘Critical Friends’ in Research and Aid Programmes

July 20, 2023
One particular chapter in How to Engage Policy Makers with your Research felt particularly relevant to me. For some years, I have been working with Exfamer Jane Lonsdale, in Tanzania, Myanmar and now in Papua New Guinea (PNG), where she helps run a big Aussie-funded programme on citizen engagement. I support Jane and the teams she works with by commenting
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How Can Researchers Support the Policy Shift to Sustainability?

July 19, 2023
My favourite chapter in How to Engage Policy Makers with your Research (in addition to the one on Critical Friends which goes up tomorrow) was by Alice Owen, a prof at Leeds university, on ‘Supporting policy towards sustainability’. It’s a lovely reflection from a senior academic on the lessons she has learned in engaging with policy makers over the years.
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How to Engage Policy Makers with your Research: The Art of Informing and Impacting Policy. Book Review to kick off Research for Impact week on FP2P

July 18, 2023
Edited by a bunch of UK academics (Oxford Brookes and Manchester), this book is a gold mine for anyone interested in research for impact (R4I) – the holy grail (at least in terms of lip service) of much of modern academia. Best thing I’ve read on the subject, with something for more or less everyone, so I’m going to devote
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Book Review: How to Stand Up to a Dictator, by Maria Ressa

June 13, 2023
Reading this book by the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize winner, Maria Ressa, got me thinking about the mental landscapes of the journalists I know. Articles are essentially linear (beginning, middle end), and a good journalist keeps shades of grey to a minimum if they don’t want to lose their readers. For those activist journalists who are motivated to change their
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Book Review: Reimagining Civil Society Collaborations in Development: Starting from the South

April 26, 2023
‘Localization’ of aid, when you think about it, is actually quite an outsider’s word. It suggests taking the assets currently held in the North (money, knowledge, power) and somehow transferring them to the South. The value of this book, edited By Margit van Wessel, Tiina Kontinen, Justice Nyigmah Bawole is captured in the subtitle. It discards that idea and asks how CSOs in
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The Revenge of Power: A Great Book that will help you better understand Modern Politics

April 19, 2023
I do love a ‘big book’ – one with a grand sweep, which tries to make sense of disparate events and processes, and leaves you feeling a little wiser. Think Francis Fukuyama (on the rise of the state), Ha-Joon Chang (on economics of development) or Yuen Yuen Ang (on China). I came away from Moises Naim’s latest book, The Revenge
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Book Review: Lives Amid Violence: Transforming Development in the Wake of Conflict

March 21, 2023
Lives Amid Violence: Transforming Development in the Wake of Conflict, by Mareike Schomerus, (Open Access here) is one of the wisest books I’ve read in a long time. To write it, she became a modern day hermit (‘solitude, storms and music’), retreating to the Shetland Islands to reflect on and synthesize the lessons of a monster 10 year ODI research
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White Saviorism in International development. Theories, Practices and Lived Experiences

March 9, 2023
Themrise Khan, Kanakulya Dickson and Maika Sondarjee introducing their new book Since the racial uprising following the murder of George Floyd in 2020, the world has been faced with the reality of racism in most of what is known as the progressive, Western world. Movements like Black Lives Matter and Rhodes Must Fall have brought to the forefront the ingrained
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Upshift: Turning Pressure into Performance and Crisis into Creativity

February 16, 2023
Ben Ramalingam introduces his new book In Upshift: Turning Pressure into Performance and Crisis into Creativity, I set out to explore how stress, pressure and crisis can be transformed into performance and creativity through a process that I call ‘Upshifting’. This book was originally inspired by my work on humanitarian innovation. But as I researched and learned, the scope expanded
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Book Review: The Systems Work of Social Change

February 9, 2023
Following on yesterday’s post on a new guide to Systems Thinking and Practice, this was the last and most interesting of my Christmas break catch-up reads. It also had the longest title. In full: ‘The Systems Work of Social Change: How to Harness Connection, Context, and Power to Cultivate Deep and Enduring Change’. (I think the punctuation is wrong, but
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