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 thing, or helps them decide what to read next.
So I thought I would seek your guidance with a poll. Which of the following do you want me to review next? In no particular order, title, cover and blurb for each of them so you can choose, and compare who does it best.
David Sims, Development Delusions and Contradictions
This book analyses the shortcomings of the Western development aid programme. Through exploring the evolution of aid over more than seven decades, development is examined as an industry with a variety of motives and actors. The driving forces and dynamics in the relationship between aid and economic development are highlighted in relation to faulty development structures and misaligned aims. With a particular focus on Egypt, radical questions are posed on how global aid and development can be improved, including how it can respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.
This book aims to present an alternative aid framework to help overcome the dysfunctionality of the current international development system. It will be of interest to researchers and policymakers working within development economics and development policy.
Claire Provost and Matt Kennard, Silent Coup
As European empires crumbled in the 20th century, the power structures that had dominated the world for centuries were up for renegotiation. Yet instead of a rebirth for democracy, what emerged was a silent coup against its very core – namely, the unstoppable rise of global corporate power.
Exposing the origins of this epic power grab as well as its present-day consequences, Silent Coup is the result of investigative journalists Claire Provost and Matt Kennard’s reports from 30 countries around the world. It provides an explosive guide to the rise of a corporate empire that now dictates how resources are allocated, how territories are governed, and how justice is defined.
The story moves from the frontlines of local struggles to the basement archives of the institutions created to ensure this takeover was permanent – revealing how corporations have established a supranational legal framework impervious to any democratic will, and how our media has largely failed to investigate it.
Erica Harper, The Last 10 per cent
Criticism that the development sector has not delivered in terms of eliminating extreme poverty, fast-tracking growth and preventing conflict, is neither new nor surprising. In fact, it may be the one thing that scholars, donors and practitioners agree on. While many of these concerns are valid, this book makes a case that the sector is closer to unlocking the gates to more effective and efficient development outcomes than is popularly believed. Specifically, it argues that by overturning a few myths, making better use of evidence and employing some different rules, practitioners, policy specialists and donors can foster the changes in the development architecture that are needed to reach the 10 percent of the world’s population still living in extreme poverty.
Engaging, provocative and clear sighted, the book provides insight into interventions around democratic governance, refugee response, counterterrorism, gender mainstreaming, environmental protection and private sector engagement. It is instructive reading for professionals across the development sector, think tanks and NGOs.
Philippe Sands, The Last Colony
After the Second World War, new international rules heralded an age of human rights and self-determination. Supported by Britain, these unprecedented changes sought to end the scourge of colonialism. But how committed was Britain?
In the 1960s, its colonial instinct ignited once more: a secret decision was taken to offer the US a base at Diego Garcia, one of the islands of the Chagos Archipelago in the Indian Ocean, create a new colony (the ‘British Indian Ocean Territory’) and deport the entire local population. One of those inhabitants was Liseby Elysé, twenty years old, newly married, expecting her first child. One suitcase, no pets, the British ordered, expelling her from the only home she had ever known.
For four decades the government of Mauritius fought for the return of Chagos, and the past decade Philippe Sands has been intimately involved in the cases. In 2018 Chagos and colonialism finally reached the World Court in The Hague. As Mauritius and the entire African continent challenged British and American lawlessness, fourteen international judges faced a landmark decision: would they rule that Britain illegally detached Chagos from Mauritius? Would they open the door to Liseby Elysé and her fellow Chagossians returning home – or exile them forever?
Taking us on a disturbing journey across international law, THE LAST COLONY illuminates the continuing horrors of colonial rule, the devastating impact of Britain’s racist grip on its last colony in Africa, and the struggle for justice in the face of a crime against humanity. It is a tale about the making of modern international law and one woman’s fight for justice, a courtroom drama and a personal journey that ends with a historic ruling.
Renate Kirsch, Elke Siehl and Albrecht Stockmayer (eds), Transformation, Politics and Implementation
Working in environments characterised by a high degree of uncertainty, uncontrollability and unpredictability, development agents try to organise complex realities into manageable units. What principles influence the decision on adequate approaches and necessary steps? Through theoretical considerations and nine case studies, the GIZ traces implementation processes and identifies underlying guiding principles which provide the flexibility and adaptability that is necessary for acting in complex contexts. Main findings show that an adaptive and reflexive management structure is crucial for successful implementation. Quick iteration and tight feedback loops facilitate adaptation and reorientation. Context-sensitive knowledge and constant monitoring create a space for learning and innovation. A joint vision for the future which is used for orientation purposes and can be modified according to new findings and developments fosters fruitful cooperation.
Angus Deaton, Economics in America
When economist Angus Deaton immigrated to the United States from Britain in the early 1980s, he was awed by America’s strengths and shocked by the extraordinary gaps he witnessed between people. Economics in America explains in clear terms how the field of economics addresses the most pressing issues of our time—from poverty, retirement, and the minimum wage to the ravages of the nation’s uniquely disastrous health care system—and narrates Deaton’s account of his experiences as a naturalized US citizen and academic economist. Deaton is witty and pulls no punches. In this incisive, candid, and funny book, he describes the everyday lives of working economists, recounting the triumphs as well as the disasters, and tells the inside story of the Nobel Prize in economics and the journey that led him to Stockholm to receive one. He discusses the ongoing tensions between economics and politics—and the extent to which economics has any content beyond the political prejudices of economists—and reflects on whether economists bear at least some responsibility for the growing despair and rising populism in America. Blending rare personal insights with illuminating perspectives on the social challenges that confront us today, Deaton offers a disarmingly frank critique of his own profession while shining a light on his adopted country’s policy accomplishments and failures.
Please vote now, and authors, if you want to mobilize friends and family, hey, all’s fair in the promo game!
(and if no-one votes, this lot are going straight to the Oxfam shop)